Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tomb of Horrors for 4e. Is it REALLY that offensive?

So.  I have had some online conversations, I have had some in person ones and I have seen a number of blog and message board posts.  But that doesn't mean I get it.

Tomb of Horrors for 4E.  Why does it bother you?


Now. Here is the deal.  I am not challenging anyone's opinion on their hate for the new module.  You don't like it. Fine.  But, tell me why.

Here are a few arguments I have heard.  I am not taking these from any source in particular, just a lot of has been said to me.

"It is spitting in the face of old D&D fans!" 
Ok How?  I see more of an homage.  They know that old D&D fans loved the original ToH, so maybe they can use some of that love to help promote a new product.

"It's not the Tomb of Horrors!"
Ok. True. But they say that in the module too.  This is not S1 converted to D&D4.  This is the same dungeon XX number of years later.  See I like that idea.  I don't need to run people through the old Tomb of Horrors anymore.  I have my original copy if I want to do that.  But in truth, I don't care for TPK modules, though I do like ones that make the players think.

"It's just Wizards trying to make money!"
When did making money become such a bad thing?  Not making money was what killed TSR (among other things) a company has to make money to keep being a company.

"You can't remake Tomb of Horrors"
Well, TSR did with Return to the Tomb of Horrors back int he 2nd Ed days.  And Wizards isn't remaking it, they are revisiting it.

Now normally I wouldn't care what other thought about something I liked.  I am used to that and keep on liking what I like anyway.  But a lot of the people telling me this and the people posting this are people whoes opinions I generally trust.

AND it is not just that they don't like it, they hate it.

Of course this hate seems to be strongly tied to their hate of 4e.  But truthfully if you don't like 4e then this module was not for you in the first place.

What do you say?

Do you hate the new Tomb of Horrors?  If so why?


Rhonin84 said...

Tim I take this from the Wiki: Tomb of Horrors is a 1978 adventure module for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, written by Gary Gygax. It was originally written for and used at the 1975 Origins 1 convention. Gygax designed the adventure both to challenge the skill of expert players in his own campaign, and to test players who boasted of having mighty player characters able to best any challenge. Numbered "S1," the module was the first in the "S" (for "special series"[1]) series of modules. Several versions of the adventure have been published, the first in 1978 and the most recent, published online, in 2005. It also served as the basis for a novel published in 2002.

The module's plot revolves around the tomb of the demi-lich Acererak. The players' characters must battle their way past a variety of monsters and traps, with the ultimate goal of destroying Acererak. Tomb of Horrors is considered one of the greatest Dungeons & Dragons modules of all time, as well as one of the most difficult.

I didn't see any of these elements in the 4e version of Tomb of Horrors. I know that they said they weren't doing a re-make of ToH but let's be honest if you weren't trying to do that then you could of slapped ANY name on their, heck Tomb of Indigestion would have been fine with me. Sorry this was ANOTHER attempt at cashing in on an Old School name and coming up short.

The re-makes from previous edition worked better because they TRIED to stay true to what Gary wanted for his campaign back then, this one...well I think I've made how I feel clear.

James said...

"I've got 99 problems, but WotC ain't one."

I don't see a reason to get all worked up about this. I haven't read it and don't intend to. If it is a "souless hack job," I really don't care. I don't play 4e, nor do I buy WotC products.

Not that I want to see them producing crap, but I can only fret about so much of the Universe, and I have to draw the line, somewhere.

Furthermore, the kind of respect paid to Mr. Gygax, from quarters, such as Joe Bloch's Castle of the Mad Archmage, is of far more weight to me, than any disrespect, real or imagined, by WotC, doing what they want to with their intellectual property. I think some folks, just need something to bitch about. I'm ok with that, as well.:)

Tom Allman said...

A couple of weeks ago I recieved my Dungeon Masters Reward from Wizards. It was the 4th Ed. Tomb of Horrors Module, not the mini-campaign setting. It is awesome. The handouts are even from the original, and the poster map is epic. I first played the original in 1980 and I have loved it ever since. Hell, I even have a "I survived the Tomb of Horrors Bumper Sticker" If anything they might be guilty of is miss-naming the new book. I look forward to dropping my new group into it. None of which have ever played the original. Furthermore, I'm glad that they haven't released publicly, so I know that my peeps haven't seen it yet.

Dennis Laffey said...

I don't really care for 4E from what I've seen of it, and I came to dislike 3E over the years of playing it.

But I've got no problem with WotC milking the classic old properties for money. That's what they bought TSR to do.

It's also got the potential to point newer players back to the originals, which is a GOOD thing.

So I hope 4E players and DMs really like this module, find it fun, and want more. Then they'll learn that they're only a few downloads and a few die rolls away from experiencing the original in all its twisted glory.

Gaming Ronin said...

I really don't buy adventures. But I might just have to pick this one up.

Zachary Houghton said...

I'm not realy worked up about it, but the 4e version may as well have been called "The Tomb of Minor Discomfort".

I get not liking TPK modules, but it's like wanting to watch Hellraiser and getting Ernest Goes To Camp in its place.

Anonymous said...

I am geting it.

It's an homage (a $$$ making homage). I twist & tweak every module I purchase anyway for my players ('cause everyone knows they read them in the FLGS anyway). I can always make it one of Acererak's 'false' tombs at one of the other rumoured locations.

The original ToH will never be replaced. The RtToH was a salute to itn (Gygax even wrote an intro). This new beastie is in the same light. If its intriguing and entertaining for my players, that's what will determine its success in the end.


The Grey Elf said...

I believe I've made my opinions on this--and why--quite clear to you by now, so no need to rehash it. Suffice it to say that this latest travesty was the straw that broke the camel's back, and I won't be buying anything WotC produces from here on out. At all.

Rhonin84 said...


Now that Jason and I have agreed on something in writing...that should be an indication of how BAD this is.

Hello to Jason!

Nick said...

@Jason- THIS is what does it? Not the last near-decade of repackaging AD&D ideas with new art with 3e D&D?

Anyways, I don't see how this can get anybody worked up. So it's another soulless replica of great things that have come before it. Isn't that kind of par for the course for WoTC these days?

It seems like all they do is sell junk and wargaming supplies, and leave the innovation to the ghosts of oD&D and AD&D. It's sad how such a large company can't seem to come up with its own ideas.

Paul said...

Like @Yoo-Hoo Tom, I received the module as part of DM Rewards, a neat program on its own.

The new module of Tomb of Horrors is horrific. Pits within pits, fake Acereraks, flying blade traps, and a portal to a fiery furnace of no escape that opens as the walls start closing in. The module also has notes on the original Tomb and why they changed spots in the latest version.

If you enjoy playing D&D, here's a new dungeon to enjoy (and likely die within, but in the best way).

Pun Isaac said...

I'll admit that I've not read the newest version of Tomb of Horrors yet, though I have a feeling a lot of those that are hating the product haven't really read it either.

I'm to the point that I'm getting pretty fed up with people preaching that you should only play "'ol skool." I've played Basic D&D, D&D 2nd Edition, 3.0/3.5, 4th Edition, and (currently) am running Pathfinder (as well as many other rpg's). I've had fun with them all editions of D&D (and most of the other games I've played).

If you don't like a version of something, play your edition of it. Let those that enjoy a style, play their style and stop talking about how some big evil corporation ruined "your" game.

People are treating D&D like it's a religion. It reminds me of the Family Guy christmas episode.

"Peter: As we all know, Christmas is that mystical time of year when the ghost of Jesus rises from the grave to feast on the flesh of the living! So we all sing Christmas Carols to lull him back to sleep.

Bob: Outrageous, How dare he say such blasphemy! I've got to do something.

Man: Bob, there's nothing you can do.

Bob: Well I guess I'll just have to develop a sense of humour."

To sum it up, if you think 4E is a joke, then develop a sense of humor and laugh about, but some of us kind of like it. And if you don't want to give WotC your money, there are plenty of people who do. Support your game and let others support theirs.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Thanks for all the replies.

The one thing I have that the rest of you all might not is full back story on most of the posters.

Jason and I go around and around on D&D4 on nearly a daily basis. So I know where he is coming from.

Greg (Rhonin84) ran a D&D4 game for a very long time and has turned back to Pathfinder as D&D. So I know where he is coming from as well.

As a fan of the 1st Ed version I am likely to add elements of that into this newer one, but keep the newer plot. The Tomb of Horrors was emptied out decades ago, all that is left are the ruins.

Pun Isaac said...

Yeah, I am sorry if I came off as a jerk in my post. I didn't mean to. Tim, you did ask people why they don't like it so it's not like they're getting on the WotC flaming 4E.

I guess my issue with all of this comes from the facts that I have friends that I love to game with and really respect that refuse to give 4E a chance because they say it isn't an rpg at all and is a glorified minis game. Then there's all the stuff I read on various message boards...

I apologize for bringing a lot of baggage with my comment, though in general I do think you should do and play what makes you happy (as long as your not hurting anyone) and let others do the same.

Also, as a side note... Pathfinder rocks!

Timothy S. Brannan said...

No worries.

No one has come off as a jerk or too strong.

In fact everyone has been very civil. Which leads me to ask...

"Who the hell are you people and what did you do with the malcontents that were mocking me in emails last week???"


Gaming Ronin said...

well if it makes you feel any better pun, Im with you. I'll play any edition. None of them are so great that I'm willing to exclude any of the others.

Scott Fitzgerald Gray said...

Hey. A friend of mine caught this post and pointed me here, so i thought i'd check in. I co-wrote (with the excellent Ari Marmell) the Tomb of Horrors super-adventure and wrote the RPGA-only conversion of the original Tomb of Horrors module that's also out this month. I just wanted to say that the feedback i've been hearing on both pieces has been pretty uniformly positive, and that i'm sorry if the super-adventure isn't living up to some people's expectations. However, for my part, i can say that both Ari and i approached this project with an enormous amount of reverence for both the AD&D original and Bruce Cordell's Return to the Tomb of Horrors, which sets up the direct backstory for our adventure (and which is the backstory detailed under Acererak's entry in Open Grave.

If you don't like how the super-adventure turned out, that's totally fine. I won't say "I don't care", because i do care -- nobody who writes anything for a living does so hoping that he pisses off a certain percentage of his potential audience in advance. But i say with the utmost respect that this was a labor of love for both Ari and i, and an honest attempt to build on -- not just rehash -- the legend that Gary Gygax and Bruce Cordell created. Again, if what we did and the choices we made don't live up to your expectations, i'm sorry but i respect your opinion. However, any contention that the book was nothing more than an attempt to cash in on a classic name -- and that any crap slapped together under the ToH banner would have done the job just as well -- is simply wrong.

Timothy S. Brannan said...


Thanks for your comments. Again, I can see the homage in the adventure; to me it is obvious. And I have talked with Ari in the past too so I know his feelings on D&D's legacy.

One thing I think everyone tends to forget is that games are written by people, not companies. These people have histories and feelings. To me there is no way you could have written the Tomb of Horrors the way you did and not be a fan of the original.
I think anyone that doesn't see that is being abnormally obtuse or just projecting their dislike of 4e and/or Wizards on this adventure.

Perrin Rynning said...

I direct the attention of everyone reading this thread to this section of
... at least, those among the readership who haven't seen this specific section of tvtropes.
The readership is specifically directed to the "Tabletop Games" section, in which Dungeons & Dragons and its long history with the fanbase is specifically referenced.
Personally, my last deliberate D&D purchase was the blue box version in the 1970s, so my opinion doesn't carry a lot of weight. That said, I say that it's important to keep stuff on the radar of old AND new players. Old-skoolers might have somehow lost their original copy of ToH, and newbies might balk at the lengthy process of converting the 1st ed stats to 4e (or whichever edition they actually use). So the hobby gets a boost, customers vote with their dollars, and WoTC's own overlords at Hasbro allow the game line to continue.
Everybody wins.

Player 1 said...

I actually really enjoy this module- even years later. I consider it the final chapter of what I call the "tomb trilogy" with the original Tomb serving as chapter one, a deadly challenge to throw at players when they think they've become so good at DnD they can see everything coming (HA!, followed by Return to the Tomb of Horrors- in which I purposely have the tomb itself "nerfed" in that it's been picked apart by the necromancers from Skull City, with note cards and scholarly writings all but killing the challenge of the ORIGINAL tomb, but the proverbial sh*t hitting the fan when you figure out how to get to the City that Waits. Finally, 4th edition's "tomb of horrors" which I prefer to call "BEYOND the tomb of horrors" is the final, harrowing attempt to put Acererak down for good before he can complete the devious plot that unfolds through the adventure. With Tomb of Annihilation out now, I find that it gets kind of a soft pass as a "prequel" of sorts, since Acererak himself seems kinda... meh in that one. Let's just rename that one "BEFORE the Tomb of Horrors" shall we?