Whenever I have run Tomb of Horrors, no one has been beyond the chapel. This is not a boast. I have read the whole module, but I did not know the Tomb well beyond this point. I had only an idea of what was to come, and was not sure how to get there.
Caspar lit a torch and descended the steps in front of him. At the bottom he faced a long hall that ended with a door.
Jay: Okay, it’s bad news to go to the very end around the corner. There are pit traps here. Not sure how many. I proceed slowly with my ten foot pole.
There were pit traps on the other side of each door. At the bottom of each ten foot drop were poisoned spikes. If the spikes did not kill you, the poison would. I managed to jump the first two pits traps.
Caspar triggered the third pit trap with his pole.
Jay: What about this one?
LL: Let’s see . . .yes, you do see the outline of a wooden door below. It was painted to look like stone wall. It was pretty easy to spot. 5 in 6 chance by the way.
Yes! One of the “fortuitous falls” was there. Beyond that was a secret door and beyond that . . . I am getting ahead of myself.
Caspar secured his only rope to the door above the pit and descended. He opened the painted wooden door at the bottom of the pit and made his way towards the stairs. He pulled out his Gem of Seeing and located the secret door marked on the map.
Jay: Awesome! I cast Knock.
I was on the right path! This was it! Bragging rights were in my future.
I felt a sense of accomplishment. I knew this door needed a magic-user spell or cleric spell to get through. I was so excited!
LL: Nothing happens.
Jay: What? I thought it took magic. Can you describe the door again?
LL: Are you looking with or without your Gem?
Jay: Ugh, why?
LL: Are you asking the Gem?
As a Dungeon Master you ask players “why” all the time. I was not trying to be difficult, old habits are hard to break. The Labyrinth Lord did a good job at shutting me down every time I did this.
Jay: With the gem.
LL: Nothing seems unusual about the door.
Jay: Argh . . . damn . . . I have no idea. Caspar is going to head back to the chapel.
Caspar was furious. He must be reading Selenor’s map wrong. Thoughts of all the various clues and cryptic messages ran through his head as he climbed the rope back out of the pit. What was he missing?
It was not until after the game that I grabbed the module and looked for entry 17. Damn it! I had recalled a door that needed magic (which is why I chose Knock), but I needed Dispel Magic or Remove Curse to open the door! I was on a futile endeavor. Neither a Cleric or a Magic-user can cast the needed spells at level 3. It did not matter that there was no Cleric in the party.
Maybe thoughts of a Cleric in the party passed through Caspar’s mind as he fell into the last pit. Maybe thoughts of a Cleric passed through his mind as the spikes at the bottom pierced his body.
At least he was still alive . . .
LL: Save versus poison.
Caspar closed his eyes for the last time grasping the Gem of Seeing as the poisoned seeped through his veins.
Even in death, the look of defeat remained on Casper’s face.
Reading over the module, I also realized why she kept asking me if I was looking through the Gem or not. It had 12 charges and I was using it carelessly throughout the dungeon. She was keeping a close tally on her side of the screen.
Maybe my other two characters could at least make it out with the loot.