By Stephen Ashmore Sword and Tower Games OSR Level 5?
The Tomb of Kor is a legendary tomb of the great king Kor, never before opened, until now. Your players will venture into this legendary tomb that robbers have recently opened, inside they will find secret doors, traps, and treasure; and may awaken mummies who have been sealed away for centuries.
Kor was man!
I mean, he was a mummy man
Or maybe he was just a mummy
but he was still Kor!
This seventeen page adventure uses nine pages to describe an eight room tomb with a mummy. Two encounters. Lot’s of boring traps. And a writing style aimed at two years olds. Yes sir, it’s a banner day in the old brych place, full of the fucking dreck that makes life worth living!
Let us talk my loathing of the hallway trap. Random. Out of nowhere. Take damage. Or, I mean, you can search. And slow the fucking game down to the crawl. Yeah yeah, I know you disagree. I’ve never seen it NOT slow the game down. You know what else is fun? A room with six pit traps in it ! In fact, there are pit traps everywhere in this place, with five more making an appearance in other places! Weeee! Pit trap! We get a paragraph up front at the start (or, actually, three) telling up how to run a pit trap! You can search and find one! Blah blah blah. Roll a search to find one. Does it find ALL of the pit traps in the room? It doesn’t say but I presume not. I’d be shitty as a player. But, as a DM, I’m shitty because of the text. Ready kids? “Traps and other room mechanics are handled in the same way. The room determines all skill checks’ difficulty levels, including finding secret doors, dodging a trap, or investigating something. For example, in room one, the DC is 14. That means to find or disarm a trap, it requires a roll of 14. It also means that to find a secret door a roll of 14 is required.” Congrats! Now you know how to run a pit trap! Just like every other trap. Just like every trap you’ve EVER run. Good thing the designer was there to tell us how to do it!
But wait, there’s more! We are also told that “… two secret doors can be found in this room, as well as several traps. Floor traps are small, five-foot by five-foot pit traps that are triggered by any weight above a handful of pounds leading to a drop of around twenty feet. Ceiling traps spill large quantities of debris, sharpened quartz stones, and various sharpened pieces of bone when anything steps on a pressure plate on the ground below. Both kinds of traps deal 2D6 damage, or half if a reflex or dexterity save is successful.” Yes sir, the text repeats! Yeah! Now I’m not dumb anymore! I’ve been told how to breathe AND then had it reinforce! An excellent use of space and a text budget!
No? Ok, how about this: “How the adventure works: Each room of the dungeon is listed separately, with a description that should be read to the players.” Yes, the designer has told us how room keys work! No one, in the history of the fucking world, needs to be fucking told how a room key works. Jesus H fucking Chris. Maybe, also, you can tell me how to count to eight so I can follow that as well? I mean, what the fuck were you thinking? This? Thiis is good adventure design?! This is whatyou dreamed of doing and stayed awake at night pouring over in your head as youlay in bed? How to tell people what an adventure key looks like and how to use it?
“ To increase their chances of finding a secret door, allow extra rolls for searching different areas of the rooms. Perhaps a failed roll can reveal the location of the door, but not how to open it.”
IE: do not play D&D.
“Searching the room can lead to treasure with a successful search check. Roll 1D6 on the following table to determine the treasure. Each character can search one time.”
IE: life is fair. I want to puke. (That may not be the adventure, I had eight shots of fireball and three long islands at hte bar last night. Hmmm, or, maybe its a combination of the adventure AND the liquor? Whatever; I’m blaming the adventure.)
The adventure backstories. “Brought here at great expense is the Throne of Kor How do you know this? You don’t. How does it improve the players experience to know this? It doesn’t. How does it help the DM to run the room to have this information presented to them? It doesn’t. “The room has been disturbed recently” How do you know this? You don’t.
Here’s a great example of some room text. It embodies the spirit of the entire adventure: “Pulling the players in: There are a few ways to position Kor’s Tomb as a hook for players. First, the king of the land, or some other ruler, hires them to chase down the tomb robbers who have broken into the Tomb. Second, perhaps the players come across the tomb while exploring the desert. Third, the players could be associated with the tomb robbers themselves, arriving to help their friends. There are certainly many other ways to draw the players to the tomb, it should be made clear that the tomb is famous for being undisturbed, full of traps and legendary treasure.” That paragraph says nothing. NOTHING. It’s just words. Filler words. Words that add absolutely nothing to the adventure. No specificity. NOTHING. Nothing to work with at all. And that is the adventure room after room of that nothing.
The tomb entrance was covered by a large boulder of marble, too heavy for most to move.” and then in the read aloud “it has never been moved until now. The tomb robbers who entered before have not been seen since.” Note the contradictions.
It’s just crap.
Did I mention all the, long, read-aloud is in italics?
Save yourselves, my children.
This is $2 at DriveThru. The preview is four pages. It shows you the traps page and a couple of rooms, so, good preview. Enjoy the fuck out of it.
Even weirder, the author is putting in all the redundant “how to play” crap which is not only the kind of stuff you put in a rulebook for your heartbreaker usually, or an intro adventure…
But he’s putting it in a 5th level adventure? Not a lot of use in that for anyone in a mid level adventure, however well meaning. And if the advice is all about _the joy of skillchex_ then I’m out.
If you want to roll dice a bunch, if that’s the primary source of fun—rolling against a target number—then it’s not the OSR. You’re better served by a modern system like D20 or 5e or whatever.
In the OSR, the answer isn’t on the character sheet. You’re not relying on *your character*, you’re relying on your own skill *as a player*.
Bryce on how to do checks in the OSR:
“[Mount Saint-Mikkel] occasionally handles a skill check well. In one notable example, you find a cave IF you are following footsteps … OR you can make a PER check if you are not. That’s how you handle a skill check in the OSR. If you search you find the fucking trap, otherwise you fling yourself to the fickle hand of fate.”
As for traps in the OSR, specifically, Goblin Punch made a good post: https://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2018/08/some-traps.html
As does Bastionland: https://www.bastionland.com/2018/08/34-good-traps.html
For more information:
Principia Apocrypha: Principles of Old School RPGs, or, A New OSR Primer: https://lithyscaphe.blogspot.com/p/principia-apocrypha.html
Quick Primer for Old School Gaming: http://www.lulu.com/shop/matthew-finch/quick-primer-for-old-school-gaming/ebook/product-3159558.html
Cursinating the flood plains
Cursinating the lower caste
Cursinating all the peoples
And their mud-brick dwellings!
And the Kor comes in the NIIIIGHT!
At least it has tomb robbers? The great Pyramid likely had a hole hacked into the front of it (resealed and reopened multiple times) within a generation and it was a tourist attraction by 25 BC (which admittedly that’s 2500 years). Still these things aren’t safe unless they’re hidden.
I have never read a good “Ancient Egypt Adventure”. Pharaoh and such are typical Hickman – earlier Hickman – so not entirely railroaded, but not good in several other ways (I can’t forgive having a final mummy tomb location at the heart of your pyramid with boring treasure) … and they are some of the best. I suspect it’s cause people don’t bother to read anything about ancient Egypt, pyramids, and such before writing these things and it’s all just vague memories of some Brendan Frasier movie (would make a good start really) and Yummy Mummy cereal.
This one sounds like it has other problems, but still someone with some ideas should write a Egyptian Tomb thing. Unless there’s a decent one out there? Is there?
A historic tomb robbing campaign could be very cool, or at least a historically plausible case of dungeon delving. Most of the tombs in the Valley of Kings (that we know of) were looted in ancient times and one theory is that the government did it after the Bronze Age Collapse during a period of economic crisis to pay their mercenaries. The government had access to the treasure maps of these hidden tombs! The partially looted tomb of the very minor pharaoh Tutankhamun had enormous riches, I can’t imagine what loot the big guys took with them.
There are a couple of free adventures you might try:
Sethotep, Imagine Magazine 16, available as a free download from Graeme Davis’s blog;
Desolation of the God-King, a Dragon Warriors solo, DriveThru.
I believe the AD+D 2E adventure RA3 Touch of Death has its supporters. I’ve read it but never played it.
@OSR – Any campaign that took the actual history of tombs and tomb robbing as a basis would be interesting. It might also be very weird D&D. The protections on Egyptian tombs largely seem to be magic wards and dropping big stone blocks to close off hallways. I enjoy some of the Eastern European and Celtic barrows with their ghost mazes, and of course the Imperial Chinese tombs – Terracotta Army or the one rumored to have a model of the empire with water features made of mercury absolutely deserve D&Ding.
@Wombat – I’ll check those out. Jaquays did a mid-TSR BECMI (Master – 20th level!) adventure with a big Egypt thing, and she’s someone I trust to have actually read some archeological and historical accounts, but 20th level domain and quest for immortality stuff is always pretty wacky. Hard to do dungeon crawls for as well – so I need to read it, but fear it’s gonna be standard BECMI Trad, late 80’s TSR house boxed text, big heroes mediocrity despite Jaquays.
Anyone interested can reserve a spot in my game at Phoenix Con in Appleton, WI on Friday, July 15, 2022, which is titled “The Dungeon Below Fortress Grai-Ji” for such a tomb that interests you and likely others. (And this is a serious adventure – a part of a mega dungeon – that I crafted in a space of 3 years, unlike the one I submitted for Bryce’s contest here earlier this year dashed out in 2 weeks for laughs). https://tabletop.events/conventions/phoenix-con-of-wisconsin
EGG’s Necropolis…probably. The choice between biting the bullet and learning Dangerous Journeys, going for a S&W console port or subjecting oneself to the impenetrable wall of arithmetic that is the D20 system is a hard one, but the module does have an enduring legacy that the myriad other post TSR publications cannot boast.
I own both versions, DJ and d20, it’s really intriguing and I would love to run it. But, boy, this is the D&D version of Beyond the Mountains of Madness (which I ran in ‘06). It’s vast, it’s epic and scale, and it’s absurdly difficult. Truly a module only for the most experienced players, a DM willing to put in n the work, and even then…
A Rolls Royce of an adventure. It’s on my review list (the DJ) but having to go through 3 tomes worth of DJ for fear of missing vital context has bumped it back a bit.
“You know what else is fun? A room with six pit traps in it !”
I can see that working actually. Like there’s an obvious treasure on the far side, but a checkerboard of pit traps in the way. In fact I may use that some day.
A roughly 200 x 30 ft. hall of pit traps worked just fine at this year’s Legends of Roleplaying Tournament at Gary Con. They were admittedly interesting pit traps for higher level characters, and stymied maybe 85% of parties for varying lengths of time. Recommend picking up Lucien and Stormberg’s “Tomb of Terrors” module. Is a review needed?