Saturday, September 14, 2013

Simon Washbourne's Tombs and Terrors

I normally don't write reviews of anything since I'm generally slower than most bloggers when it comes to spotting rules and other products as they come out. However, there doesn't seem to have been much talk in the blogosphere about Simon Washbourne's Tombs and Terrors, published by Beyond Belief Games.* Many blogs have talked about Washbourne's Barbarians of Lemuria, and Go Fer Yer Gun, so I was a bit surprised that Tombs and Terrors didn't get more press. I picked it up recently and, after a read-through – I haven't played it yet – I'm thinking it has a really good chance of being the next game I run.

Tombs and Terrors is an old-school-style fantasy RPG with a lot of the usual mechanics: six 3d6 attributes, the standard four core classes (along with optional barbarian and troubadour), most of the usual races (except that halflings are out and giant-kin are in), typical combat rules, etc. Strictly in terms of "weight" the rules have a relatively light feel to them, I'd say on par with the various "B/X" editions and clones (that's "weight" of rules, not necessarily flavor or style). The actual length of the rule book is 99 pages.

The Tombs and Terrors rule book offers a number of features that I like a lot, such as:

  • An attribute check mechanic based on primary, secondary, and tertiary attributes. Primary attributes are determined by class and race, secondary are chosen by the player, tertiary are what's left over. Primary have a base target number of 12, secondary 15, tertiary 18. Roll d20 and add your attribute modifier (and skill modifier if applicable) to succeed.
  • PCs gain an attribute point once every four levels.
  • Relatively few race/class/level restrictions. Each race except human has a favored class (automatic 200 xp bonus to start), and a restricted class (max level 8). Otherwise any race can be any class without restriction.
  • 0-level spells for the cleric, mage and the troubadour.
  • An easy skill system: you get a certain number of skills to start (based on class and INT), and an additional one at levels 3, 6, 9 and 12. Skills add your class level as a bonus to attribute checks where they would apply. You can even take skills not on your class list by announcing you wish to do so one level prior (which implies you are seeking out special training for it).
  • Saving throws that are basically treated as attribute checks, using the same mechanic.
  • Encumbrance that affects not only movement but also AC (I very much like the latter as it makes encumbrance far more meaningful).

Though my impressions are based solely on a read-through and not on actual play, my sense is that the added features would not present any sort of learning-curve obstacle for anyone already familiar with old-school game mechanics. It all has a very intuitive "well-that-makes-sense" feel to me.

The pdf version of the Tombs and Terrors rule book is available for FREE** at RPGnow:

As is the supplemental Book of Classes:

The rule book (but not the Book of Classes) is also available for sale in hardback at Lulu:

As well as in paperback:



*My web search turned up only two [edit] three other blogs that talk about Tombs and Terrors:

**As of the writing of this post.


  1. So, does this mean that you are in the queue to run a Monday Night campaign?

    1. I'd love to be in the queue to run a one-shot or a very short campaign if you get worn out or if no one else has something they want to run. I don't want to press for more than that (right now) for a number of reasons. One is that I just finished my PbB campaign after wrestling with a case of GM burnout (so I think I could handle something running a session or two, but anything longer might be a recipe for disaster at the moment). Second is that I'm the new guy and I know Dan wanted to run a GURPS campaign and Tim has something brewing, and your Montporte game is running strong, so I don't want to just "jump to the front of the line." Plus, while I've GM'd recently in the PbB format, I haven't done any "real-time" GMing in over twenty years, so it's probably better for all concerned if I were to ease into it with something short and sweet. That way if I fall on my face, it's just one session that implodes and not a whole campaign, lol.

    2. That makes sense. Like you said, Dan is working on a GURPS fantasy campaign and Tim looks like he will have us adventuring for coupons soon ( It would be a unique form of treasure.

    3. Ha, yes coupons for glory! Redeem this coupon at a local minstrel and he will compose a song about all your glorious deeds and bored the crap out of everyone else. I have no plans in the near future of running a campaign. I may do a one-shot now and then. I'd love to have Chris GM.

    4. Redeem this coupon at a local minstrel and he will compose a song about all your glorious deeds and bored the crap out of everyone else.

      I don't need a minstrel to do that. I'm a loud-mouthed braggart that tells every patron in every tavern in every town about my every exploit already, thank you very much. :)

      (And thank you for the vote of GMing confidence!)