An ancient stone edifice pokes from the shifting dunes of the deep desert. In a world of magic and monsters, tomb looting is the most dangerous adventure. A tomb is a locale whose very design is to defeat the curious and greedy. The most difficult crypts are locked, hidden, trapped, and guarded vaults, and this one is no different.
This encounter area continues a series called Ancient Encounters, culled from ancient notebooks of campaigns past. The idea came after writing about re-using an old adventure, and I realized these great encounters deserve a little more attention. Hopefully others can be inspired by this series to make their own adventures, or to use elements of these admittedly “brief,” “vague,” and “improvisational encounters as building blocks for great games.
The ancient desert tomb is located deep in the vast wasteland of the scorching desert near a dried up river bed. It is a low lying rectangular building of tightly fitted stone blocks, now mostly covered by sand. Only one corner and the doorway are visible. The door is inset into the wall at a slight incline so that it will always slam shut unless barred by something strong enough to hold the heavy stone door open.
Once inside the dim foyer, the tomb robber is greeted with a chamber with two exits. Across from one locked door is a small fountain with fresh water trickling into a basin. Across from the other locked door is a bench. On the wall opposite the entrance is written in ancient hieroglyphic script “Enter ye who find this place. Take water if thou thirst. Find rest if thou art weary. Do thou not transgress beyond this chamber. The eternal slumber of Pharaoh will be disturbed and thou will provoke his wrath.”
The water is fresh and pure but an undetectable curse befalls anyone who touches either door within twelve hours of drinking the water. It will instantly turn to poison in the gut, requiring the creature to immediately make a saving throw versus poison or die painful death.
Beyond the doors are scorpions. In the next room is a pedestal that shoots laser beams and endless piles of skeletons that rise and attack, 1-4 per round while anyone living remains in the room or util the mummy in the next chamber is slain. The final chamber houses the false pharaoh, in a sarcophagus richly adorned in gold and lapis lazuli, worth at least 500 gold intact, or half that for the stripped gold and gems. Inside is a mummy wearing royal death jewelry worth at least 1,000 gold pieces who will attack until destroyed or until no one living remains int he tomb. The floor is made of round stone tiles, and the tile under the sarcophagus is a secret door (unedetectable unless the 2,000 lb casket is moved) that leads to the lower level.
It continues on from there. Trapped hallways. Poisonous beetles shaped like gold coins and mixed within piles of real coins. Fireball flinging flaming skeletons. Royal sacrificial chamber. A magical portal chamber to who knows where. Second false tomb, and final real tomb with a mummified skull demilich in a suit of ethereal armor. Or something. You get the idea: locked, hidden, trapped, and guarded