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Return to the Tomb of Horrors is a 250-page adventure module for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition released in July 1998. It is for characters of level 13 to 16.

Official synopsis[]

The nightmare of Acererak's tomb once again hungers for life!

Imagine a place of unspeakable evil. It was built upon hopelessness and filled with unending terror and pain. This loathsome place shattered the life of everyone who ventured near. But through tremendous sacrifice and heroism, over the course of many years, it was finally gutted and its foul creator destroyed.

Now imagine that the horror is beginning all over again.

The sinister wizard Acererak took great pains to safeguard his tomb. It took many years, and many more lives, before his evil was finally laid to rest. But though the demilich is gone, he is not forgotten. Others who would become as he was have traveled to the site of Acererak's tomb seeking the secrets of mastery over death. Slowly these pilgrims gathered, eventually building in the shadow of the tomb itself a community dedicated to the dark arts: Skull City.

But even these twisted necromancers have no inkling of the true evil that swells and crackles beneath their feet.

This boxed adventure contains:

  • A 160-page adventure book;
  • A 32-page book of illustrations to be shown to players;
  • Player handouts, including an adventurer's diary filled with clues;
  • A 16-page book of maps and monsters;
  • And a reprinted facsimile of the original Tomb of Horrors adventure module as first published in 1978.

Return to the Tomb of Horrors is an epic adventure for characters of levels 13-16.


Return to the Tomb of Horrors is a reprise of the infamously difficult adventure module S1 Tomb of Horrors (1e) (1978).

The bulk of the product is the 160-page Return to the Tomb of Horrors adventure module, set primarily in the World of Greyhawk. Twenty years after the original module, the now famous tomb has become a hub for necromancers, who have established a settlement called Skull City. The adventure begins in the city of Kalstrand, leading the party to venture south into the Vast Swamp to seek out the Black Academy. They explore the City that Waits, the Fortress of Conclusion, where they face Acererak.

The module also introduces the new spells corpse candle, enlarge undead, shadow barge, sunward, vapor of idiocy/agony, animate moilian, blackfire, acererak's blackstone, create winter-right, andweight of the wait; and the magic items acererak's haphazard wheel, amulet of the void, blackcloak, the blade perilous, the blood codex, bonemali, bonewand, brooch of access, cursed rending hooks of Dargeshaad, deathtooth, ferranifer's brooch, gauntlet of guard, headsman's axe of moil, headsman's hood, illuck stone, mask of the Devourer, ring of negative elemenetal mastery, ring of universal movement, sentinel mask, and spirit shroud.

The boxed set features an Illustration Book, and a Maps & Monsters Book which gives maps for the areas. The latter includes statblocks for several monsters: the bone weird, moilian heart, moilian zombie, negative energy elemental, negative fundamental, vestige (undead dream), and winter-wight. It also includes various player handouts.

Finally, a copy of the original 1978 module is included.

Development and release[]


The book was written by Bruce R. Cordell, based on the original by Gary Gygax. Art was provided by Arnie Swekel and Glen Michael Angus, with graphic design by Tanya Matson.

Cordell dedicated the work to the "HK Cavaliers" Bob Baxter, Richard Bue, Bret Holien, J. D. Peterson, and Monte Cook for support; and thanked Skip Williams, John D. Rateliff, and Steve Winter for editing, which he praises as critical to the product's quality.


Return to the Tomb of Horrors was released by Wizards of the Coast in July 1998 for $29.95 US, or $39.95 Canadian.

On July 15, 2014, it was re-released in digital format. It is currently available on DriveThruRPG and Dungeon Masters Guild for $9.99.

Reception and influence[]

Critical reception[]

As of 2023, Return to the Tomb of Horrors reached the rank of Platinum seller on DriveThruRPG.

Influence on other works[]

The Black Academy appears in the D&D third edition sourcebook Tome and Blood (2001), under the name Bleak Academy.

External links[]


Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition
Core rules
Player's HandbookDungeon Master Guide
Monstrous Compendium Volume OneMonstrous Compendium Volume TwoMonstrous Manual
First QuestIntroduction to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons GameThe Complete Starter SetDungeons & Dragons Adventure Game
Optional core rules
Player's Option: Combat & TacticsPlayer's Option: Skills & PowersPlayer's Option: Spells & Magic
Dungeon Master Option: High-Level CampaignsCampaign Option: Council of Wyrms
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Player's Handbook Rules SupplementDungeon Master's Guide Rules Supplement
Monstrous Compendium AppendixMonstrous Compendium Annual
Encyclopedia MagicaHistorical ReferenceThe Magic EncyclopediaMonstrous ArcanaPriest's Spell CompendiumWizard's Spell Compendium
Other supplements
Bastion of FaithBook of ArtifactsCastle SitesChronomancerCity SitesCollege of WizardryCountry SitesDen of ThievesDungeon Builder's GuidebookGuide to HellLegends & LoreRogues' GalleryShamanTome of MagicThe Vortex of Madness and Other Planar PerilsWarriors of HeavenWorld Builder's Guidebook
The Apocalypse StoneAxe of the Dwarvish LordsCleric's Challenge (II) • The Dancing Hut of Baba YagaDestiny of KingsDie Vecna Die!Dragon MountainDungeons of DespairFighter's Challenge (II) • The Gates of Firestorm PeakA Hero's TaleLabyrinth of MadnessThe Lost Shrine of BundushaturMoonlight MadnessThe Murky DeepNight Below: An Underdark CampaignA Paladin in HellReturn to the Tomb of HorrorsReverse DungeonRoad to DangerThe Rod of Seven PartsThe Shattered CircleThe Silver KeySwamplightTale of the CometTales of EnchantmentTemple, Tower, & TombThief's Challenge (II) • TSR Jam 1999Wizard's Challenge (II)