Tomb of Horrors

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Tomb of Horrors
Type Adventure module
Code/ Abbreviation S1
Edition 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Author(s) Gary Gygax
First Published 1978
Series S1, S2, S3, S4,
Return to the Tomb of Horrors
Classification Canon

Tomb of Horrors is a 1978 adventure module for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, written by Gary Gygax. It was the original tournament dungeon used at the Origins Game Fair convention. The Tomb of Horrors is a 2002 novelization of the adventure written by Keith Strohm.

Numbered "S1," the module was the first in the "S" (for "Special") series of modules. It was followed by S2: White Plume Mountain, S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and S4: Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Although part of a series for the World of Greyhawk campaign setting, the four modules had no connecting plot or theme. Tomb of Horrors is one of the most famous Dungeons & Dragons modules.

The Tomb of Horrors is infamous among players of the game as a "killer dungeon," filled with all manner of extremely deadly traps and monsters that are capable of easily wiping out high-level parties of player characters. Indeed, some players consider Tomb of Horrors to be "unfair"; many of the traps within largely ignore game mechanics and story logic in their operation.

The plot of the original module, such as it was, was a simple dungeon crawl; the evil demilich Acererak was said to linger on in his ancient tomb in undead form, and the characters were to fight their way down through it to the demilich's inner sanctum to slay him once and for all. In 1998 a sequel was produced, Return to the Tomb of Horrors, which significantly updated the plot of the original.

Tomb of Horrors was ranked the 3rd greatest Dungeons & Dragons adventure of all time by Dungeon magazine in 2004, on the 30th anniversary of the Dungeons & Dragons game.


Wizards of the Coast released an updated version of the original module as a free download for Halloween 2005 [1]. It retains much of the original content, updated with content from the Dungeons and Dragons supplement book Libris Mortis. The update was designed using the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Edition rules.


Tomb of Horrors was made into the novel The Tomb of Horrors by Keith Francis Strohm for the Greyhawk Classics series. The book was published by Wizards of the Coast in 2002.

Creative origins

The concept of the Tomb of Horrors was conceived by Alan Lucien. Gary Gygax wrote the adventure from his basis with the particular goal of foiling Rob Kuntz and his son Ernie Gygax, whose characters Robilar and Tenser (respectively) had so far been invincible. Robilar ultimately managed to reach the final encounter by expending numerous orc servants. He fled with his loot rather than face Acererak. Tenser actually destroyed Acererak and kept his loot to boot, although the adventure (complete with demilich) would go on to slaughter countless other player characters.


  • Gygax, Gary. Tomb of Horrors. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1978.

External links