"Go to the sign of Harvel's Axe, a dubious inn on the edge of the Thieves Quarter, in the City of Greyhawk, and look to your own wrist. If you perceive a bracelet and dangling dice, watch for the next throw in the war between Law and Chaos and be prepared to follow the compelling geas." -Signal

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Tomb of Abysthor, Death's Wish

The Tomb of Abysthor is an older module released by Necromancer  Games in 2001. It was released for the the the third edition of  D&D and carries the d20 logo on it. This is very much what they  say they wanted to create as it does have an old school feel to  it. I really think this as much as any module could be  retrofitted to an earlier edition and work well.

The module is set in the same world as Bard's Gate which is one  of the better d20 city offerings I have seen excluding the newer  version of the CSIO and Ptolus. I might actually go as far as to  say I like Bard's Gate better than one of those but I won't say  which. You do not need Bard's Gate though to run the module but  if you don't then you will have to do a little tweaking.

After the beginning location the module includes a wilderness adventure that is designed to get the party to the meat of the module. This part of the adventure can be skipped but I would suggest keeping it there. It will give the party a chance to come to the grips that they can die in this adventure. The module is  not written with kid gloves and there are parts of the adventure throughout that aren't in scale with everything else around it.

The main portion of the module is a nine level dungeon crawl.  There are seven main levels and two sub levels. The dungeon  itself scales in that the deeper you go the tougher it gets. The  dungeon though is not only linear though. There are ways to  bypass levels and end up in an area that they might have not  wanted to get to just yet. The party will need to be cautious or  they will be rolling new characters.

The dungeon is very well thought out as far as inhabitants as  well as the design itself. There are some option where a smart  party can play factions off against each other and let some of  the inhabitants do some of the work for them. The dungeon portion  also features just enough encounters where problem solving  matters more than equipment or dice rolls to keep the party on  its toes. Each of the levels also has a reason for being there  and yet each is distinct enough in feel that the party will be  able to understand if something has changed.

All being said this may be the best of the early d20 offerings  out there. The fact that there were so many different products  released for it makes that a hard call as it would be hard for  one person to actually have used all of them. There are few bad  comments on this module though. The one drawback is that it is  not easy and parties die if they are not well played and exhibit  a bit of caution. It is designed for four to six characters of  levels two to eight. I would suggest even with good players to go  with the higher end on both of those.

From the website:

"Enter the catacombs near the desecrated Temple of Muir, Goddess of Paladins, and search for the lost Tomb of Abysthor. Can your heroes survive long enough to discover the secret of Abysthor's Tomb? Details the wilderness surrounding the desecrated shrines and the nearby nine level dungeon, including new monsters, new monster races, new magic items and new spells. For 4 to 6 characters level 2 to 8 and higher!"


Death's Wish

Level: Sixth
Range: 6"
Duration: Special
Ares of Effect: One Creature
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: One Turn
Saving Throw: None

This spell allows the magic user to summon forth the spirit or  soul of someone long dead. The purpose of the summoning will be to  obtain information or a service from the spirit of the deceased.  The being summoned will be compelled to give the information or  perform the service, limited to what they can do as the dead, but  they are going to be able to ask for a wish in return.

The creature will provide the service or give the information  asked for. They will have to do this honestly and to the best of  their knowledge and ability. The DM will need to account for what  they might have knowledge of and how things might have changed  since they died. The requested action must be something that can  be accomplished within a few hours and is limited to the areas  nearby the location of the dead.

This spell will allow communication with the dead. The reaction  of the summoned being to the caster will depend on race and  alignment. It will also depend on where the dead are summoned  from. If the dead were properly buried they will be much less  inclined to be happy about the summoning. If they died alone in  the depth of a dungeon they might be happy to be summoned. The DM  should take this into account when they ask for their weregild.

Once the dead has accomplished the action asked of them they will  be able to ask the living to perform an action. This will come as  the effect of a self imposed geas on the caster. The task could be  as simple as bringing their remains out of the dungeon or  locating a loved one and letting them know what happened to the  level of exacting revenge on whoever caused their death to  anything the DM can think of.

Once asked to perform the action they must begin the task within  one day per their level. Once the clock starts ticking they must  begin the task and stay on it until completed. Any day they  deviate from the task they will suffer a wasting sickness (lose  one point of constitution). This will continue until they are  back on task. Once the task is completed the constitution lose is  restored. If their constitution were to drop below three they  will die and can only be brought back by use of a wish.

The material component for this spell is some portion or item  belonging to the being the caster is going to ask a service of  and perform one for.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.


Anthony Emmel said...


I ran ToA in Hackmaster a few years back. They didn't clear the whole thing, but much fun was had by all. :)

Anonymous said...

Like the Death's Wish spell, very nice use of the dead and the afterlife. Lost of good plot could be generated by that spell.

Wymarc said...

Anthony, ToA is one of those modules I wish I knew less about as I am sure it would be a blast to be run through it.

@seaosstarsrpg Thanks for the feedback on the spell. I thought of it more as a DM than as a player. I would love to have players use it as it can allow some nudge in a direction if needed. It would also allow you to drop a hint if the players needed it.

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