jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
A long time ago, there was a DnD module tomb of horrors, and every so often since there's been some controversy about it.

AIUI, it was the equivalent of playing a computer game on iron-man difficulty, with no saves, only one life, etc. It was designed for experienced players who wanted a really deadly challenge, often at conventions where there might be an audience.

The general features are (a) there's a lot of challenges that involve player decisions, not specific skills, whether the characters are appropriately really really careful about everything they do. (b) when something goes wrong, it's usually very deadly.

That meant, if you expected "fair" to mean "forgiving", it's really really not -- if you're the slightest bit incautious, you'll likely all die immediately. But if you expected "fair" to mean, "your death stem directly from your decisions" then it is more so than most adventures[1].

But if you don't know that, there is a lot of ire between people who loved it, people who think this is "the one true way" of how a session should be, and people who tried it and became incredibly resentful. It's good that the far end of a bell curve exists when that's something some people want to find, even if *most* modules should be somewhere left of it.

I did once play with a GM who played a few sessions of it inbetween campaigns. I liked the idea, although I usually like roleplaying with more story.

[1] There are some flaws where it might not be completely fair, or ambiguous descriptions, etc, but less than most modules at the time iirc.

Date: 2017-04-27 10:09 am (UTC)
aldabra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aldabra
I think that was the first one we got. Lots of obvious portals with no accompanying information, some of which go to interesting places or get you excellent kit; some of which vaporise you instantly. It was not a good introduction, especially given how long it takes to roll up the characters when you don't know what you're doing. You very quickly learn not to have any kind of attachment to your character, and then you stop caring whether they die, and then you stop playing.

Was that it? I'm visualising a temple passage with pitch-black round portals down the sides (I'm remembering it as Temple of Horrors...).

Date: 2017-04-27 11:53 am (UTC)
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekingferret
Not entirely true that that shift has happened- there are modern games, most notably Dungeon Crawl Classics, that emphasize the former strategy. DCC starts players off with 'the funnel', where each player creates several Zero Level characters and the DM runs them through an adventure likely to kill many of them, ending up with each player picking one of their Zero Level characters to level up to Level One for the post-funnel adventuring. But aside from such exceptions (Paranoia being in its own fashion another game with a tolerance for frequent and early death, because each player has clones), most modern games do try to make low level adventuring more survivable through a variety of strategies.

Date: 2017-04-27 11:09 am (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emperor
There certainly used to be a version of it findable online. The thing that grated for me was that it was essentially arbitrary - I would expect even skilled-dungeon-bashers to have some of their party insta-killed by it in a non-recoverable way without having done anything "wrong".

Date: 2017-04-27 02:23 pm (UTC)
gerald_duck: (howard)
From: [personal profile] gerald_duck
A few years back I picked up a copy on eBay out of curiosity, so I've read it but never GMed it.

It's important to recognise that it was created as a tournament module. This was not a mincer through which to feed campaign characters you cared about. And yes, characters will die. I believe the M:tG term of art is that "lives are a resource"? (-8

Provided the players understand what they're getting into — and if they are given the legends they can't say they weren't warned — part of the challenge is to mitigate disaster, to do things in such a way that only one character is toast rather than the entire party, when things go wrong.

I think it's a good thing that Tomb of Horrors exists, but also a good thing that it's singular rather than something the rest of D&D emulated!

Date: 2017-04-27 05:18 pm (UTC)
njj4: (Default)
From: [personal profile] njj4
I bought a copy when I was about twelve, but I don't think we ever got around to running it. There's an entertaining article about it here.