So we finished ToA today. My players were very happy to have an epic battle after so many levels of puzzles and traps. It was a party of six – human cleric of the Raven Queen (4e version), an Aztec themed halfling shaman, a Spanish themed fighter, a dryad rogue, a dwarf barbarian (Hew the Guide, NPC), and Orvik who reveals himself to be a servant of the Raven Queen her to help – a shadar-kai soul monger (NPC). The party was level 14 by the time they got to the final boss. I leveled them up higher than the max level of the adventure which was 11 because I made the final fight much harder than as originally written and the next campaign – Scales of War – will start at level 14 so these players have the option to carry on if they like with the same characters.
Because I had kids and teenagers playing in this game I toned down all the horror aspects and completely removed the atropal. Which is a clever monster but a floating aborted space fetus is just… yuck. See below for specific changes I made to the adventure to make it kid-friendlier.
Chult. I moved this to a more Aztec setting/place simply called the new world. The natives of the land were lizardmen originally. Port Nynzaru is a colony/port of Estrella and Spanish themed land in my world.
Undead. Made all the undead and devils into robots. This fits my Dying Earth type setting well. But I said they are still undead as well as being constructs where appropriate so the cleric doesn’t lose undead advantage.
Wizards of Thay. These became vampiric conquistadors in my game from a place called the Blood Coast.
Orcus Robot. I converted the atropal into a full strength robot of Orcus. In my setting, Orcus was killed by the Raven Queen after one too many invasions of the Shadowfell. Accerak constructed a robot body and was using the Soul Monger to power him up to full strength. The party fought a full strength CR23 Orcus, though after destroying the Soul Monger I imposed disadvantage on all his d20 rolls. I also used the idea of the reanimated Orcus as a way of telling the party what was going on via dreams and visions sent by the Raven Queen – who doesn’t want to see him return.
Technolich. I turned Acererak into a technolich as well. Thematically it made more sense. And also a lot more kid-friendlier. The party fought both Orcus and Acerak in the same combat – two CR 20+ monsters. They outright killed Acererak in two rounds (multiple critical hits from the barbarian). The whole combat between both Orcus and Acererak took 7 rounds.
Overall, a good adventure path with some great traps and puzzles. But, the final dungeon, was way too long. And dungeons that are nearly entirely traps become tiresome for the PCs eventually. There is a reason these types of adventures are rare in D&D. They were all very happy to let loose some pent up rage in melee with Orcusbot and Technoilich Acererak.
I think this is a better adventure overall than Tomb of Horrors but ToH had better pacing being only a single level dungeon. The Tomb of the Nine Gods needed to be a couple levels shorter IMO.