What Lives in the Tomb?
Wondrous, Dangerous Things!
Tomb of Tiberesh is an adventure for the Southlands Campaign Setting for five or six 2nd-level characters and uses the 5th Edition rules. It is easily adapted to any fantasy desert campaign.
Just outside Per-Bastet, in the kingdom of Nuria Natal, lie the newly discovered remains of Anu-Asir, a city once believed to exist only in myth. The ruins of Anu-Asir lie submerged under accumulations of sand, floodwater, and tall tales. It is now a hub of activity for those seeking to uncover its secrets—and profit from them. Droves of the curious, hopeful, greedy, and eccentric congregate around the unearthed city.
And just outside Anu-Asir, across the River Nuria, lies the most recently surfaced relic: the Pyramid of Tiberesh. Dare you explore its deadly mysteries?
This adventure premiered at Gen Con 2015 in Indianapolis, to much acclaim, and is presented here in an expanded version.
Megan Robertson –
This adventure is based around an archaeological project in the Southlands (or indeed any suitable location in your campaign world – somewhere hot and dry with ancient long-dead cultures to explore, basically). There’s plenty of background to set the scene, both notes on ancient times and the present-day excavations, including the group of scholars who will hire the party to explore the tomb. Now, you may say that your group wouldn’t hire out like that, well, this was originally a convention scenario, but if you don’t care for such constraints you’ll have to come up with alternate reasons for the tomb to catch the party’s attention – there are some suggestions for characters initially unwilling to sign up. On the other hand, hiring out may prove an attractive proposition for a relatively new group of adventurers (this is a 2nd-level adventure after all), and the first part of the adventure covers getting hired in the first place. For reasons made plain in the background information and throughout, even if the party doesn’t choose to work for the group – Golden Falcon Antiquities – you will want to have them around.
OK, once they have signed up (or evaded GSA to undertake their own exploration), the next – and main – part of the adventure comprises the visit to the tomb itself, in two stages (above and below ground). It’s a fifty-foot high pyramid with an adjacent mortuary temple which provides the entrance to the pyramid. Detailed descriptions and plans let you navigate your way through, although you do need to study the text closely to make sense of the plans.
The challenges to be faced include traps, puzzles, other visitors and undead… and needless to say, the place was constructed with an eye to dealing with tomb robbers in a permanent manner. And of course there is the odd curse or two as well!
Eventually, when the place has been investigated thoroughly (or the party has had enough!), they emerge into the light of day. If they had been hired by GFA they need to report back on their findings and collect their pay – if they choose not to, or were acting independently, they are likely to be hunted down and brought back to do so. Here it gets interesting, there are several alternate endings to pick from: decide which one works best for your campaign. At least one could lead to a whole campaignful of adventures. There’s also some details of notable treasures the party might have acquired and a bestiary to introduce some novel monsters in full (their stat block also appear at the relevant point in the adventure).
This is an exciting excavation of the fantasy equivalent of an ancient Egyptian pyramid, with a good mix of standard tropes and novel ideas to maintain the atmosphere and yet surprise the party. A neat low-level adventure which could set the path for your party for a while to come, depending on the options you – and they – choose.
An Endzeitgeist.com review
This module taking place in the Southlands of Midgard clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? Great! right outside the absolutely amazing metropolis of Per-Bastet (one of my favorite fantasy cities of the last 5 years…), there supposedly lies hidden and sunken Anu-Asir, which has recently emerged from the sands and became a kind of hub…and not far from it, there is the eponymous Tomb of the self-proclaimed god-king Tiberesh. The PCs are hired as an archaeological team by the Golden Falcon Antiquities (GFA), an organization which looms over the frontier-expedition outpost. The module begins with the negotiation of the exploration of the tomb, though the offer itself is actually rather generous. A total of 3 sketches for alternate lead-ins into the module can also be found in the pdf, should you dislike the angle, though, as we’ll come to see, I’d strongly suggest running with the GFA-angle.
The tomb of Tiberesh’s exploration would be up next and the small dungeon does feature a side-view of the pyramid and a rather evocative full-color map (2 such maps are provided), though they only come in 1/2 page size, which is a pity: Considering the rather beautiful renditions and their details, one-page hand-out style maps sans keys, you know, that you can print, cut up and hand to the players, would have been a great type of icing on the cake.
But back to the subject matter: Unlike quite a few modules with a similar angle, there is actually a lot of indirect storytelling about the fish-headed pseudo-deity Tiberesh going on in the exploration of the complex and the place even features alternate means of ingress, which is a neat touch. Similarly, the PCs will not only meet the forgotten – they will meet intruders, find rooms used to extract venom for medicinal purposes and test their mettle against gnolls…and nkosi in stasis. What are Nkosi? They are challenge 1/2 feline hunters and shapechangers and get their own, gorgeous artwork reproduced for your convenience herein.
The interesting component and what makes this a good example of a tomb exploration, si due to the fact that aforementioned indirect storytelling can be employed by clever PCs to deduce the sequence required to e.g. open a specific sarcophagus via a unobtrusive puzzle. Similarly, there is a classic “seal itself”-room trap that features some seriously nice teamwork options required to survive it once it is triggered. In order to find the true heart of the tomb of Tiberesh, the PCs will have to brave another puzzle that blends knowledge of symbolism with what the PCs have learned exploring the complex.
Once the true heart of the complex is unlocked, the tomb turns decidedly sinister – the weird iconoography is one-upped; color and symbols become more threatening…and ultimate, the PCs will stumble into the alabaster hall, which seals itself with fire, to face of against the unique mummy (stats and artworks provided) of the man who thought himself a godking and his retinue. At challenge 3, he is a powerful adversary and the pdf does feature no less than 4 magic items that are generally well-crafted.
Regarding the finale…well, GFA, as per default, is actually seeking to reanimate Tiberesh and thus won’t be too happy, providing an unpleasant surprise…but the alternate means of concluding the module, while brief, make for nice alternate means. One further gripe I have: The leaders of the GFA do not get stats in this module, when at least two of them may be part of the epilogue encounter.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports numerous, absolutely amazing full-color artworks, which, fans of Midgard may recognize from previous Southlands books, though. The pdf’s cartography is great, but I would have loved 1-page, player-friendly versions. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Jerry LeNeave’s Tomb of Tiberesh is a great example for an unpretentious, nice tomb-exploration that does its indirect storytelling rather well. It has some highlights regarding the things you explore, both regarding combat, traps and flavor and the progression of its layers is nice. The relatively easy puzzles and the nice retributive hazards for failing as well as the cool boss make for an overall rewarding tomb exploration. Apart from the epilogue encounter and the lack of player-friendly maps, there is not much to complain about here – and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
Hi! This is another adventure that looks amazing — but doesn’t have VTT maps anywhere that I can find. Is it possible for them to be put up so I can buy them? They look amazing and it’ll be a crime if I can’t have my players experience it!
Head Kobold –
Sure, the VTT version with full map support is at Fantasy Grounds: https://www.fantasygrounds.com/store/product.php?id=KPMA9TOMBTIBERESH5E
A version for Roll20 is planned for this summer.
Is there a way to purchase the JPG/PNG files themselves like with other products here? I don’t use Fantasy Grounds but I’d like to get the maps!
Head Kobold –
Yes, we’re working on a set of those. This book was published before VTT really took off, so we are playing catchup a bit.