Tomb of Horrors: 5E

Hi all,
I've been posting in the D&DN forums for awhile, but I'd like to make a slightly more formal introduction before getting into the meat of this post. I'm a student at a residential high school with several years of DMing experience, and my group's been playing a D&DN campaign since [month] of this year. One thing I've always wanted to do is run the adventure Tomb of Horrors, and with the active RPG community at my school this seems like a great opportunity. I'm planning to run the adventure around Febuary, so that'll give me plenty of time to prepare - get familiar with the module, convert to the new system, and make any changes necessary.
D&D Next seems like it'd be the best version of D&D to run Tomb of Horrors with since 1E/2E. While the rules generally curve toward the 3E/4E "formal" style of play, which as we see in the 3E conversion of the adventure basically turns it into a bunch of skill checks, there seems to be a lot of room for player ingenuity over character ingenuity, and rules-light play in general. I actually like the 3E approach much of the time, but Tomb of Horrors seems more appropriate for the 1E approach.

Players, on the off chance any of you stumble across this thread, now would be a great time to stop reading. You know who you are.

Alright, good.
So the first thing that comes to mind is simply what kinds of characters to allow - what level? What kinds of magic items should be allowed? What classes and subclasses (Illusion tradition, Sharpshooter fighting style, etc.) are relevant? Rolled stats or point-buy?
I'm gravitating towards a party of 5-8 level 10 characters made up of the four core classes. To keep a 1E feel, backgrounds and specialities won't be used, which translates to the absence of both skills and feats. To me, this makes sense. Most conflicts will be resolved through a combination of description ("I slide the knob - does the door open?") and ability rolls.
It seems as though, for a one-shot in the Tomb, most of the class options offered will simply be irrelevant. A Trickster rogue's bluffing skills will go unused, as will an Illusionist Wizard's at-will Minor Illusion. It seems as though most class functions will fit into the following categories:


  • Fighter: Have good physical scores and saves (Mighty Exertion, Great Fortitude, Lightning Reflexes) plus a ton of hit points. Maybe some damage-reduction capabilities.

  • Rogue: Have actual trap-detecting skills (Skill Mastery, Scheme skills), plus not getting hit by traps (Danger Sense, Lightning Reflexes, Defensive Roll)

  • Cleric: Keep other characters on their feet (Cure Wounds, Lesser Restoration, Death Ward) and have other useful spells (Divine Power, Divination).

  • Wizard: Become a veritable toolbox of magical ability (Feather Fall, Knock, Spider Climb, Haste, Polymorph, Telekinesis).


With this in mind, I'm considering restricting Fighters to the Protector and Veteran styles, Clerics to the Lifegiver and Protector deities, Rogues to the Acrobat and Thief schemes, and Wizards to the Academic tradition. This would be to preserve the 1E style of play, but also to ensure that characters would be capable of contributing to the party (I mean, what's an Enforcer rogue or a Battle Mage wizard going to do?).
I'm still not sure about magic items. The demilich in the original could only be defeated with ultrapowerful gear, but I'd like to reduce that somewhat - if the characters made it that far, they need some chance of winning. Perhaps each character could choose a +1 item (weapon, armor, or something like a Ring of Protection) and a utility item (Portable Hole, Immovable Rod, etc.). The lich could have higher hit points and resistance to nonmagical damage, perhaps?
Ability scores will probably be the standard 4d6 and arrange method.

As to converting the Tomb itself, things shouldn't be amazingly hard. Perhaps some of the traps could be changed to key off AC instead of saving throws - of course, saves in 1E were very different. I'll likely just pick hard DCs and an appropriate ability for each.
The few combat encounters will probably be balanced in terms of high-level monsters like the Chimera. I'm still not sure what to do with Acerack, however - that's one area in which I could really use some help.
Save or Die/Be Killed will absolutely stay a thing. In my opinion, it's an iconic part of the tomb. Poisons, for instance, will not do ability or regular damage; they will kill you. In my opinion, part of the skill of surviving the Tomb is simply not putting yourself in situations where there is the chance to die.

One final difficulty. Given that my players will probably not have the tons of experience with dungeon delving and killer scenarios in general that veteran 1E players did, I'd like to implement a way for them to have several shots at the tomb. I've thought about video game-y "save states" as well as simply rolling up new characters every TPK, but neither of those solutions seem great.

So, thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas? I'm especially interested in feedback about 1E-style character creation/play, appropriate DCs, making the Acerack fight work, and a method for multiple attempts at the Tomb.
I've never played the original Tomb of Horrors, but I was under the impression that even first level characters could best the dungeon with smart play?  As I heard, all the combats were either avoidable or had a way to win them using the environment.

For bringing in new characters, you could just have the players run two or three characters each.  That way you start with a whole lot of characters, and they get whittled down throughout the dungeon.  The chance of someone losing all their characters is comparatively small (compared to with just one character).  Then, if someone does lose all their characters, you can bring in reinforcements.

This might cause problems for combat, but combat's not a big focus for the Tomb anyway. 
I've never played the original Tomb of Horrors, but I was under the impression that even first level characters could best the dungeon with smart play?  As I heard, all the combats were either avoidable or had a way to win them using the environment.

For bringing in new characters, you could just have the players run two or three characters each.  That way you start with a whole lot of characters, and they get whittled down throughout the dungeon.  The chance of someone losing all their characters is comparatively small (compared to with just one character).  Then, if someone does lose all their characters, you can bring in reinforcements.

This might cause problems for combat, but combat's not a big focus for the Tomb anyway. 


Makes sense. It's probably possible that first level characters could beat the Tomb - as you said, the combats are avoidable - but there are enough saves being made and damage being dealt that the improved scores and HP of higher level characters makes them more likely to survive.

Running extra characters makes sense, but given that I plan to run this for a relatively large group (possibly 6-8 players), I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable with a party of eighteen characters entering the Tomb. Twelve, maybe. Actually, thinking about that idea more makes me like it - players will have the opportunity to get attached to their most survivable characters.
My biggest concern with that would be the numerous traps that have the potential to kill the entire party, often from the first few areas. If rocks fall and everyone dies within twenty minutes of entering the Tomb, then we just spent probably an hour rolling up characters for nothing.

Thanks for the feedback! 
I've never played the original Tomb of Horrors, but I was under the impression that even first level characters could best the dungeon with smart play?



... wow. No.

Much like the person who claims to have killed the tarrasque, whoever told you this was possible is either a liar or part of group that adheres to essentially none of the rules presented in the D&D game.

It's likely that in the time it took me to write this post, 90% of whatever players around the world that might have happened to be playing through the Tomb of Horrors died.
Being louder doesn't make you the majority, it makes you an *******.
And 66% of those who died would have went to the fake entrances and been killed without actually making it inside the Tomb. Even if you could somehow navigate all the traps, how can you take on a Lich with 1st level characters?

It's not the same as Q1 were Lolth only had 66HP so was killable if you get past her -10AC, he was just a straight up beast.

Certainly a smart party of lower level would stand about as good a chance as a dumb higher level party gifted with numerous magic items by a generous DM.

Cheers,
Lee

I remember reading an online account of winning the ToH at a convention.


There are 2 items in the tomb a crown and a scepter found in rood 25 D.


 Anyone wearing the crown touched by the scepter’s silver end is “… instantly snuffed out, turning to a fetid powder that cannot be brought to life…”


 The party lost members to this effect and when they got in the final room and lost a party member to the demi lich. A smart party member ran in put the crown on the skull then touched with the scepters silver end and Poof no Demi Lich.


Please note every time I ran it it was a TPK ro the party after losses bolted never to go back.

 

Killing a Tarrasque isn't nearly so hard. Done it in 3e and 4e and I aint' lyin. Anyone fight Asmodeus in the newest bestiary yet?
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