5E Adventure Review: Tomb of Tiberesh

Kobold Press’s latest 5E adventure, Tomb of Tiberesh, presents a group of 2nd-level characters the chance to explore an ancient, Egyptian-themed tomb. It’s also rather deadly; with one trap actually allowing the possibility of instant death. That trap is also interesting because it has a Stealth bonus; the DM rolls the Stealth check for the trap and compares it to the Passive Perceptions of the party to see if they notice it; other traps in the adventure use the more familiar static numbers for detection. The final encounter – a CR 3 monster and six CR 1/4 monsters – is likely to be very challenging for a party of only 2nd-level characters.

Just what you expect with an Egyptian-style adventure!

The adventure is heavy on the exploration aspect, and is fairly light on combat, with only four combats in the 18 areas of the tomb. There are some entertaining tricks and traps, but I can’t help feeling that there’s a lot of description for not quite enough action; further investigation reveals that this was originally written as a GenCon adventure to be played in under 4 hours, which explains the lack of combat.

It is very well written and described, with a lot to look at. Players who enjoy exploration and puzzles should enjoy this.

One of my major issues with the adventure likely comes from some editing decisions. The adventure posits that an ancient wizard-king followed the path for godhood, and is now stirring. His cult tricks the player characters into investigating the group, intending they be sacrifices to the newly-awakened Tiberesh and provide the energy for his final ascension to godhood. This is all well and good, but all this seems to have been forgotten by the end of the adventure. Tiberesh is a weak CR 3 threat, and doesn’t seem likely to ascend at all. The cult – upon discovering the PCs have killed him and taken his loot – reward the group. What the hell?

In fact, the first of the alternative “twist” endings is the one that matches the set-up: the Tiberesh the party destroy is a fake and the real one is already walking the world, so the true idea was for the cultists to retrieve his artefacts (which the PCs unwittingly do for him). It’s a real pity this isn’t presented as the standard ending; the adventure reads very weirdly as a result. The variety of potential endings give some good options for DMs who want to integrate the adventure into their campaigns.

There’s one misunderstanding of the rules that really bothers me: the adventure expects that the PCs can jump through a wall of fire without taking any damage at all because the damaging side is turned away from them. (Which, of course, will put them on the damaging side of the wall and taking damage!)

The production values are excellent, although I dislike how hard it is to see the grid on the maps. The price for the PDF,  only $3.99, is extremely good. (The price for the printed version, $19.99, is less so. I’m still trying to work out if that’s a valid listing).

There are a lot of things I like about Tomb of Tiberesh, although I would have preferred a longer adventure, as the short tournament adventure length doesn’t allow a deeper exploration of some really good ideas. The pdf version is definitely worth checking out.

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