Table ShotHere it is, the grand finale… the buildup and confrontation with the demi-lich Acererak. Here is the story so far:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

In the next area there is a rainbow staircase leading up to a magical door. I won’t tell you exactly how we got through this door, not because I don’t remember, but because I want you to figure it out for yourself when the time comes. However, part us figuring out this room involved teleporting one the characters to the entrance of the dungeon, naked. Why is he naked? His gear gets teleported somewhere else. Where? Read on, we’ll get to it. Sprocket is teleported away and presumably goes off to live the rest of her life as a sad, ugly little naked gnome.

After dealing with the magic door we make it into what is clearly the tomb of the demi lich. Written in platinum above the tomb are the words “Here Lies the Demi-Lich Acererak, Suck My Dick”. Or it may as well have at this point. In this room there is a set of iron armor in each of the four corners, a large sealed jar, two chests and the tomb itself. We pop open both chests, temporarily forgetting where we are. In one chest is 10,000 platinum pieces, in the other there are thousands of poisonous needles that kill Bernadette McGillicuddy.  We clearly forgot to disarm trap or something. We come back to our senses and set in motion the golden rule and search the shit out of everything. We discover two things. First, the big jar contains a goddamned Ifrit. Let’s not fuck with that. Second, one of the suits of armor conceals a hidden passage. What do we do then? We keep fucking going. We don’t fuck with the jar, we don’t fuck with the tomb, we don’t fuck with anything.  I cannot stress this enough. Don’t fuck around with anything that might be dangerous because it will fucking kill you.

For the readers who aren’t DnD nerds, an Ifrit is like a genie.  Think like an Aladdin style genie who doesn’t grant wishes, who is just super powerful and can grant favors.  I don’t understand the logic behind this room.  If you open the jar, the Ifrit shows up and performs tasks for you.  That was it.  This is the second to last room, and there’s a free Ifrit jar.

We head down what is probably the fifteenth or fourteenth hidden passage (protip: all the passages are hidden) and solely because Scotchington says the words “I carefully check all the walls” do we find a teensy tiny key hole on one of the walls. At the end of hall, there is a doorway. We would find out later that if we had went through the doorway it was a one-way door back to the middle of the Tomb. We have two keys to try in the key hole, we choose the first. We chose wisely. The door opens up and we advance into another room with another key hole.

We try the second key. <click!> Nothing happens. We try the first key. EXPLOSION. Our good friend the druid is rocketed skyhigh and falls on his face. Mercifully, this is not an insta-kill and he merely takes the usual damage of being blown 20 feet into the air. We try the second key again <click!>. Still nothing. Just for shits and giggles we try the second key for a third time <click!>. This time another secret passage opens up and we find a mythril vault with an inset ring to open it. No locks, no anything. Throwing caution to the wind (after Detecting Magic, Detecting Trap, Detecting Anything We Can Detect) we open the vault.

It’s the real fucking tomb motherfuckers.

In the vault there’s a pile of loot (remember the teleporter that teleports your gear?), a tomb, a bunch of fancy gems and a skull with gems for eyes and diamonds for teeth. Our new wizard Entropetra (who replaced Bernedette) picks up a Staff of the Magi from the loot and gets ready. The paladin casts Negative Plane Protection and assumes a battle stance. Or thief picks up some scrolls and quickly discovers he cannot read them because ha ha old school D&D.

Our druid throws a gem at the skull and the skull floats in the air and a spectral form begins to float over the tomb as well. Jesusephus the paladin takes a few swings at the spectral form ineffectually, the rest of the party focuses on the skull.

True story:  I rolled “DM’s choice” on the random loot table for that staff and picked the best staff in all of DnD.  Also true story:  it didn’t have a single spell or power which could affect Acererak.  Gary would have liked that.  Also:  that ghost was just a distraction.  If you’d wanted you could have looted the treasure and walked away.  Acererak only attacks you after you engage him first.

Now, here is where we meta-game a little. There are only a handful of things that can actually do damage to Acererak and through word-of-mouth some of this valuable knowledge has been passed on to one of our players. One of them is this: if a thief throws one of the large gems at the skull at hits it does damage equal to the value of the gem divided by a thousand (or something like that). Another is the spell “Shatter” cast by a wizard (found conveniently in the Staff of the Magi). We take advantage of that knowledge and our thief throws gems and our wizard casts “Shatter”.

Meta-game a little?  Naga, please.  Shatter is a non-combat non-damaging spell.  Throwing gems at the skull was completely bonkers, had no clue that that would do any damage at all, and those two were over 50% of the damage you did to Acererak.  You were dead without knowing about both of these ludicrously spurious damage sources.  Nowhere in DnD has there ever been a more random solution to a nearly invincible foe.

Another one of Acererak’s weaknesses is a +4 sword being wielded by a Paladin. I don’t think we knew about this one but I was a Paladin wielding a +4 sword so guess what? My sword actually did damage where it otherwise might not have.

Having an 18/77 strength helped too.  Also, if you guys had randomly picked the Paladin character earlier in the game he might have been dead.

Here he is ladies and gents, Jesusephus in the flesh (paper).

Here he is ladies and gents, Jesusephus in the flesh (paper).

Acererak has one attack. He looks at the character that has been most effective against him in the previous and steals his soul. I don’t even think there’s an attack roll. The soul of the character is ripped from their body, which is reduced to dust and the soul is then trapped within one of Acererak’s diamond teeth. His gem eyes then gleam wickedly (that’s part of the attack).

Yep.  No attack roll.  He kills 1 player per turn, every turn, unless the whole party disengages, and then he floats to the ground and stops attacking.  He utterly doesn’t care about the players.

First to go is Entropetra, who cast Shatter one round and then had her soul destroyed. Second round would have been Jesusephus, however, due to a ruling by the DM that this attack pretty much had to be Negative Plane magic, Jesusephus managed to save against the soul-sucking.  With gem after gem being hurled by the thief, the Shatter spell of Entropetra and a few well rolled attacks with a +4 sword we did it.

Acererak was slain. +100,000 xp but by the way fuck you all of the treasure was actually worthless.

Just for the record, Jono made 16 characters. 2 of them stopped playing (Sprocket and Gildrapot) so I guess could be called “survivors”. 2 of them were unused. 3 of them survived the final battle. The rest fell victim to the Tomb of Horrors. I feel like “only” losing 9 characters to this fucking module is a bit of a victory for us as players.

What next? Any classic modules you’d like us to tackle?