Yes, another adventure by Necromancer Games this month. But what can I say? They put out quality material back in the day.
For me, The Tomb of Abysthor represents the point where I knew it would be awhile before I got around to running certain modules that I’d purchase for 3e–if ever. The adventure itself came out in mid-2001 (if I recall correctly).
This was right before the glut of d20 material slammed the market.
Well, it was already happening, but it was just a taste of things to come. With all of the distractions, I didn’t run this adventure until almost 3.5e came out.
The Premise: The characters have gone to explore the catacombs near a ruined temple of the goddess of paladins. They might be on a quest to find a holy artifact known as the Stone of Tircople, or maybe they’re trying to find the Chamber of Earth Blood. The catacombs themselves are filled with wonders of bygone ages and evil factions to keep the players from their objectives.
It’s a classic dungeon crawl, complete with factions in the dungeon which work against each other.
My players made exactly two forays into the dungeon. They first explored the wilderness areas before entering the dungeon itself. Undead, more powerful versions of the average skeleton, on the first level drove them back.
They returned a second time, determined to wipe out the undead menace. Once again they were driven from the dungeon with an almost total party kill.
They decline to return a third time, complaining the module was too hard.
It’s a pity that nobody… checked for secret doors …prior to entering the room with the skeletons, the would have found… an entrance to the next level.
And I think at this point I realized not everybody understood what “First Edition Feel” meant. The players went at the module like a video game–at least that’s the best I can describe it.
Everybody was absorbed with what their own character could do rather than coordinating with the other players. One player have his character advance, another would retreat.
Or at the very least they were relying on the challenge rating and encounter level system to save them. But that’s not how adventures from Necromancer Games worked.
Which is a shame, had then gone farther into the Tome of Abysthor, I think they would have enjoyed it… and found some valuable treasures, one of which resembles…the Holy Grail.
Maybe I’ll get around to running another group through this adventure, someday.