People who know what this is already will either laugh or point out inaccuraciese. For people who don’t…
This is a mostly-accurate reconstruction of the final chamber, i.e. the “boss room” of the INFAMOUS 1970s D&D module, The Tomb of Horrors (it gets remade every edition, BTW). It is EXTREMELY FAMOUS, and also EXTREMELY INFAMOUS as possibly the most brutal module ever released. Y’see, the Tomb is owned by Acererak, a Demilich – a lich so old and powerful that all hat remains of his body is his skull, with jewels set in the eyes and teeth (I know, I know – but that tiny gold skull is the only skull I had in this scale. It’s actually TO SCALE with D&D minis). Acererak wants to be left alone, is very intelligent, very devious, and has a sense of humor. So here’s a rundown of SOME of the traps you will face in the Tomb of horrors. SOME. Not all:
*There are two entrances. Walk in the wrong entrance, and get sealed in tthe chamber forever. Walk in the right one, and the ceiling might squish you.
*There is a gigantic stone gargoyle face with a door-sized open mouth. It looks so inviting… but anything that goes inside is instantly destroyed by the Sphere of Annihilation in the mouth, just out of sight.
*One room is a big chapel, lined with pews (with hinges, hmmm!), with an altar at the end (radiating a good aura!), and a glowing mist-filled portal archway. If you open the pews, you find gold (it’[s fake gold, worth nothing), and the pews spray poison gas everywhere. Touch the altar, and the good aura goes away, and it shoots a lightning bolt down the aisle. Go into the portal, and it steals all your clothes and gear, swaps your gender, and spits you back out in a berserker rage until your friends beat the rage out of you. The solution is to find a hidden ring-sized slot in the wall and sacrifice a magic ring to open the door. If you lack a ring, one is provided for you in another room, in a treasure chest filled with poisonous vipers.
*Three levers. Tilt them all up, and you might escape. Tilt them down, and everybody dies.
*This room has a long spike pit. You have to clinb down and tiptoe between the spikes to proceed. But the last five feet oir so is a spring-loaded trap with MOAR SPIKES.
*In one room, there is a secret door in the wall. W hen you find it and pick the lock and open it, it turns out to be a spring-loaded spear trap.
*One room has several spiked pits. You can jump over them. But the space just past the last pit is a trap door, dropping you onto more spikes.
*Walk into a room, everybody breathes sleep gas and is knocked out. Then the steamroller comes a-rollin’ in…
*This one room is filled with broken debris, and has some nice, sturdy tapestries on the walls. The room shakes like an earthquake, tossing you around. You can steady yourself by grabbing the tapestries, only it turns out that they are disguised green slimes, and will kill you. The only way out is behind a tapestry.
*In one room, a powerful lich declares himself to be Acererak and attacks. Turns out he’s a zombie in disguise. A special holy staff in the room can kill him… though it’s not really holy, just a joke. If you kill him, EVERYTHING COLLAPSES AND EXPLODES AND THERE ARE ALARMS… no it doesn’t, it’s just a joke again. Ha-ha.
*Finally, there is a door with a big lock in it. If you insert the correct key (the wrong one will zap you), and turn it… nothing happens. Turn the key three times. And then there is a five-second countdown – see, that wasn’t a door, just a keyhole and switch. The final chamber will rise up from the floor beneath you, so get out of there in five seconds or get smooshed.
*Acererak is just a skull on the shelf. He won’t bother you if you don’t bother him. But if you DO bother him in any way, he can isntantly steal your soul and store it in a gem. And then eat it (though people can still be resurrected somehow, after). Breaking the skull is nearly impossible, and more of a puzzle than a fight (except in 4th Edition, at which point it is an INSANELY difficult fight with Mister Instakill).
So yes, this is a picture of one of D&D’s most dangerous villains ever. A tiny little skull on a shelf. Who built his home based on troll logic.
Acererak is the demilich who created the Tomb. This is the guy with the worst sense of humor ever. This is the monster responsible for more D&D deaths than anything else. HERE HE IS, READY TO STEAL YOUR SOUL!
Some fun info on Acererak – in two editions, he has twice had schemes to create new planes, rule planes, or become a god. Hey, he’s a Vecna fanboy, what can I say? Actually, wait, he used to work for Vecna, so yes, yes he is. BUT ANYWAY.
He’s a cambion – his dad was actually a Balor demon! Acererak has been a pretty significant baddie for long before he became undead, and in fact one module has the heroic party time-travelling to stop one of his ancient schemes. And inadvertantly helping him become a lich. oops!
Most recently, you can find some direct 4th Edition conversions of the Tomb of Horrors (the one my group went through was hilariously fun and lethal), but there’s also an extra-special SUPERADVENTURE set after the Tomb is “defeated.” In that one, you find other shrines, corrupted sites, and temples influenced by a certain demilich – all linked together into a massive scheme to sap the power of dead gods (including Nerull, the murdered god of murder) and become one himself in a new, massive “God-Golem” body. And if he is beaten then, a final showdown takes place in the ruins of the old Tomb, complete with artifacts of the spent and broken traps…
…But ya know, I still love his classic old self, just sitting on a shelf and waiting for idiots to try to touch him.
(And I think the next time I make one, I’m gonna use pins to anchor those tooth-diamonds in place.)
(Psssst… this was done with five minutes with those Halloween skulls from Walgreens, rhinestones, and superglue)