The Tomb of Horrors: Somewhere under a lost and lonely hill of grim and foreboding aspect lies a labyrinthine crypt. It is filled with terrible traps and not a few strange and ferocious monsters to slay the unwary. It is filled with rich treasures both precious and magical, but in addition to the aforementioned guardians, there is said to be a demi-lich who still wards his final haunt. (Be warned that tales told have it that this being possess powers which make him nearly undefeatable!) Accounts relate that it is qquite unlikely that any adventurers will ever find the chamber where the demi-lich Acererak lingers, for passages and rooms of the Tomb are fraught with terrible traps, poison gases, and magical protections. Furthermore, the demi-lich has so well hidden his lair, that even those who avoid the pitfalls will not be likely to locate their true goal. So only large and well-prepared parties of the bravest and strongest should even consider the attempt, and if they do locate the Tomb, they must be prepared to fail. Any expedition must be composed of characters of high level and varied class. They must have magical protections and weapons, and equip themselves with every sort of device possible to insure their survival.
6. THE FACE OF THE GREAT GREEN DEVIL: The other form of the path leads right up to an evil-appearing devil face set in mosaic at the corridor's end (SHOW YOUR PLAYERS GRAPHIC #6). The face has a huge O of a mouth; it is dead black. The whole area radiates evil and magic if detected for. The mouth opening is similar to a (fixed) sphere of annihilation, but it is about 3' in diameter - plenty of room for those who wish to leap in and be completely and forever destroyed.
The False Crypt: The steps down to the chamber at the end are filled with webs which can only be removed by magical fire (burning hands, a flaming sword, etc.). Any character trying to break through them will become hopelessly entangled and can not get free unless magically burned free or wished out. At the very foot of the stairway is a silver-inlaid mace which will begin to glow with a bright golden light when it is picked up by any character. Whenever this weapon is swung at the pseudo-lich, it will hit. The pseudo-crypt is filled with rotting and decayed furnishings which were once most costly, and upon a solid gold couch (50,000 g.p. value) a lich-like figure with a crown on its head will be slowly rising (and throwing up its hands in apparent fear if the mace is being carried). A booming voice from the whole of the chamber will demand: «WHO DARES TO DISTURB THE REST OF ACERERAK? IT IS YOUR DEATH WHICH YOU HAVE FOUND.» (After this announcement you should show your players GRAPHIC #18.) The purported lich is actually a magically-prepared zombie with spells upon him which give the following stats: AC -4; move base 12”; H.P.: 32; attacks 1/round as a 6 hit dice monster for 3-10 h.p. damage; and anti-magic charms will absorb 12 levels of spells cast before any will take effect (any spell partially absorbed is spoiled). Between strikes the zombie will gesture magically with its hands as if readying a spell. If it is struck by the golden mace it will make a roaring bellow (magic mouth spell), and the weapon will obviously stagger it (roll dice and shake your head). The 3rd time it is struck by the gold mace the zombie will instantly wither and disappear in a puff of dust, the mace will shatter, and at this moment the room will start to shake and stones will begin to come down from the ceiling. OBVIOUSLY THE PLACE IS BEGINNING TO COLLAPSE, but take your time detailing the rumblings, tremors, grinding noises, falling hunks of celling, and so forth; and if players inquire they can see a jade coffer, the dead monster’s fallen crown, and a fine leather bag (a give-away – it isn’t rotten) within easy reach. All other items are iron, locked, etc. NOW BEGIN COUNTING SLOWLY TO 10, and it is odds on that there will be a stampede up the stairs to get away! A programmed illusion from the pseudo-crypt will give the full effects of a cave-in, and actual dust will billow up the stairs, while bits of stone begin to fall in the east-west tunnel and then the north-south tunnel and stairs reached from the pit. If the party runs out, ask them if they thought it was too hard a dungeon ...
The jade coffer is worth 5,000 g.p. and contains 6 healing potions. The crown is begemmed and worth 25,000 g.p. The small sack holds 276 p.p., 29 base 10 g.p. gems, a scroll of 7 magic-user spells (pretend to roll, but they are all 1st and 2nd level), and a map showing a location several hundred miles away which supposedly has a rich treasure (it is a fake, naturally). If this doesn’t make them suspicious enough to take another run through to check things out, put the module away for use when you have a different group (or the same ones) inquiring about one of the key references in the Legend. Note that something so simple as a commune spell will reveal that the demi-lich has not been destroyed. In any event, Acererak will see to the righting of things eventually. The only treasure left in the pseudo-crypt is the gold couch.
If the final resting place of a demilich's remains are entered, the dust which was once its body will rise up and assume a man-like shape. In the case of the oldest demiliches (25%), the shape will advance and threaten, but dissipate without attacking in 3 rounds unless attacked. Younger demiliches (75%) still retain a link to their remains, however, and will form with the powers of a wraith. This dust form cannot be turned. In addition, it can store energy from attacks and use this power to engage its foes. If the dust form is attacked, each point of damage which is delivered to it is converted to an energy point. Since the demilich will fall back and seem to suffer injury from each attack (though none is actually inflicted), its attackers are likely to press on in their attempts to destroy it. Once the demilich has acquired 50 energy points, it will assume a manifestation which looks much like the lich's earlier undead form and has the powers and abilities of a ghost, but which cannot be turned.
If anyone touches the skull it will rise into the air and turn to face the most powerful of the intruders (a spell user will be chosen over a non-spell user). Instantly, it unleashes a howl which acts as a death ray, affecting all creatures within a 20' radius of the skull. Those who fail to save vs. death are permanently dead.
On the next round, the demilich will employ another manner of attack. In order to attain the status of a demilich, a lich must have replaced 5-8 (1d4+4) of its teeth with gems. Each of these gems now serves as a powerful magical device which can trap the soul of its adversaries. The physical body of someone hit with the demilich's spell collapses and rots away in a single round. Once it has drained the life essence from the most powerful member of the party, the skull sinks back to the floor. If it continues to be challenged, the demilich can repeat this attack until all of its gems are filled. An amulet of life protection will prevail over the gem, but the character's body will perish regardless.
In addition to the attacks mentioned above, a demilich can also pronounce a powerful curse on those who disturb it. These can be so mighty as to include: always being hit by one's enemies, never making a saving throw, or the inability to acquire new experience points. Demilich curses can be overcome with a remove curse, but the victim loses one point of charisma permanently when the curse is removed.
The skull of a demilich is Armor Class -6 and has 50 hit points. It can be affected by spells in only a few ways: a forget spell will cause it to sink down without attacking (either by howling or draining a soul), a dispel evil will do 5-8 (1d4+4) points of damage to it, a shatter spell will inflict 3-18 (3d6) points of damage to it, a holy word pronounced against it will deliver 5-30 (5d6) points of damage, and a power word kill spell cast by an ethereal or astral wizard will cause the skull to shatter (destroying it).
Most weapons will be unable to harm the skull of a demilich, but there are exceptions. A fighter or ranger with a vorpal sword, sword of sharpness, sword +5, or vorpal weapon can inflict normal damage on the skull, as can a paladin with a vorpal or +4 weapon. Further, any character with a +4 or better weapon or a mace of disruption can inflict 1 point of damage to the skull each time he strikes it.
Upon the destruction of the skull, those who have been trapped inside the gems must make a saving throw vs. spell. Those who fail are lost forever, having been consumed by the demilich to power its magical nature. If the character survives, the gem glows with a faint inner light, and true seeing will reveal a tiny figure trapped within. If the throw is made the soul can be freed by simply crushing the gem. A new body must be within 10 yards for the soul to enter or it will be lost. Such a body might be a clone or simulacrum. (See spells of those names.)
If the fragments of the destroyed skull are not destroyed by immersion in holy water and the casting of a dispel magic the demilich will reform in 1-10 days.
"The dungeon of the demi-lich Acererak was, for Gary [Gygax], a kind of thought experiment: If an undead sorcerer really wanted to keep his tomb from being plundered by greedy adventurers, how would he do it? The answer, of course, was to defend the crypt with tricks and traps designed not to challenge the intruders but to kill them dead. And furthermore, to do it in ways so horrific that all but the most determined party would give up and leave well enough alone."
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