This choice is especially popular among vampires and mummies, although any form of pure evil should find that an ancient tomb makes an easily converted live-work space. The stone halls and Gothic decor will make you the envy of every angst-ridden teenager, and a coffin or mausoleum is usually available for your personal convenience. You can sleep until the foolish adventurers rouse you from your thousand-year slumber, and devour not just them but all mankind.
— How to Be a Villain, Neil Zawacki
Tombs, burial chambers, sepulchers, mausoleums, charnel houses, ossuaries, catacombs, crypts, sometimes even dungeons
An important stock setting.
Popular in both horror and action-adventure fiction. Eldritch Abominations
, and other stock horror-movie monsters can often be found here. Usually comes in two varieties; the elaborate Ancient Tomb
built by a similarly-ancient civilization (Aztecs
particularly) with plenty of Booby Traps
and ancient curses, and a European-style gothic tomb full of gargoyles, vampires
, and corpses chained there by petty nobles.
May overlap with Indian Burial Ground
, and in particularly elaborate cases, Temple of Doom
. Note that a can of evil
or Tailor-Made Prison
may be disguised as, or converted from, a tomb.
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- Tintin explored these in Cigars of the Pharaoh and Prisoners of the Sun.
- The Lord of the Rings had the Barrow-downs. Much of the underground cities and mines of Moria might also qualify; though not built as a tomb, it ended up as one.
- Star Wars: Korriban, the desert world, full of Sith tombs, Sith spirits, and living Sith busily using these things to learn new Sith abilities.
- In The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones, an ornate mausoleum sits in the courtyard of the royal palace, housing the body of King Amil the Great, who united Dalemark after a very, very long interregnum.
- Holehallow in the Old Kingdom series may count as both this and a Derelict Graveyard.
- The writings of Robert E. Howard are absolutely full of these. The creator and author of Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane, and numerous other characters, Howard is considered by many to also be the creator of the Sword and Sorcery genre itself.
- The writings of H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. Along with Robert E. Howard, they were the "big three" contributing authors to Weird Tales, the classic pulp magazine.
Live Action TV
- Farscape episode Taking the Stone takes place in the catacombs of a Royal Funeral Planet: though not inhabited by the undead, it has become home to a gang of thrillseeking teenagers.
- Unsuprisingly, the Stargate SG-1 episode "The Tomb" mostly takes place in one.
- Mumm-Ra in Thundercats had a pyramid with four obelisks that shot impressive force lightning into the sky whenever he got angry. It also had a large slimepit for scrying and a good deal of horror - flying mummy bandages that wrapped themselves around his enemies, for example.
- The Cave of Two Lovers in Avatar: The Last Airbender contains the vast tomb of Star-Crossed Lovers Oma and Shu, who are certainly ancient if their tale is accurate. Though several horror tropes are played with, the cave is ultimately not dangerous but romantic.
- ReBoot had a game with this setting, part of a Shout-Out to The Mummy.
- The Dungeons & Dragons Tomb of Horrors setting, obviously.
- Many Dungeons & Dragons campaigns or settings are going to feature at least a token Ancient Tomb or two and others will have far more than that. It's a staple of the game.
- In the Grim Dark 41st Millennium of Warhammer 40,000, you get all kinds of tombs: Gothically ornate catacombs of Imperial saints and nobles, strangely beautiful but often booby trapped Eldar soul shrines, massive memorials to legendary generals... And then you get mind-breaking citadels and catacombs dedicated to the most foul Chaos-aligned Evil Overlord in the system, always dangerous to those who value their lives and sanity, always haunted by daemonic energies and other horrible things.
- Exalted has a number of these, mainly First Age deathtraps built to house the bodies of Solars slain during the Usurpation. In-character, they were constructed and laden with the grave goods of the dead in the hopes of keeping the restless spirits of the "Anathema" sated. Out-of-character, it's mainly a reason for newly returned Solars to evade death traps and get all the cool stuff they collected in their last life.
- In Diablo, the cathedral holds many free-standing stone coffins, many of which contain skeletons that will attack you.
- And then there is an entire level called The Tomb of King Leoric, which is not particularly ancient, but is still crawling with skeletons.
- In Diablo II, Act II, the desert around Lut Gholein has the Stony Tomb and the Halls of the Dead. In the last section of the act, you reach the Valley of the Magi, which is lined with tombs.
- Diablo III has you revisiting the old ruins of the Tristram Cathedral, which includes its share of tombs, including the Crypt of the Skeleton King where you throw down with the resurrected title monster who is barring the path to the Fallen Star that takes up the first part of the game proper.
- In Drakensang Online, the dungeon of Grimmagstone which is north of the starter town, fulfills this role. Complete with roaming undead.
- The Elder Scrolls games have more ancient tombs per square mile than you can shake a magic katana at.
- Final Fantasy XI has King Ranperre's Tomb, as well as the Eldieme Necropolis, which is inhabited by undead even during the Crystal War of 20 years ago.
- Planescape: Torment has the Whispering Stone catacombs under Sigil. Naturally, this being Torment, the dead have formed a kind of necrocracy there.
- Rayman 2: The Great Escape has the Tomb of the Ancients.
- Thief: The Dark Project has:
- "Down in the Bonehoard". The entire mission is set in the Bonehoard, a gigantic underground tomb complex featuring lots of zombies.
- "The Lost City" includes an Ancient Egyptian-style tomb (not actually from that civilization, though).
- In the Thief II: The Metal Age mission "Eavesdropping", the seminary's catacombs contain some of the loot, and potentially a key that you will have to retrieve. Unfortunately, or not, they also contain Haunts.
- The Warcraftgames have the Tomb of Sargeras, where Sargeras' remains were hidden. It used to be in the underwater ruins of a city, but it was raised from the depths and is now an archipelago infested with demons.
- La-Mulana has the Mausoleum of the Giants and the Graveyard of the Giants.
- Both Jedi Academy and Knights of the Old Republic feature the Sith tombs on Korriban (see under Literature, above).
- Final Fantasy XII has several seeing as a key component of the plot involves salvaging artifacts from a dead king. the first in the long line is The Tomb of Raithwall. The most memorable and disturbing however is the Necrohol of Nabudis, which is actually an entire city turned tomb due an incident involving the same artifacts you're looking for.
- Hellgate: London has the five-level-deep Necropolis. It may or may not contain dead people (the probability is high that there'll be some form of undead or spirit,) but the graves at least are guaranteed features.
- One of the exhibits in Shivers is dedicated to tombs and curses.
- Assassin's Creed II has the Assassin Tombs (typically having larger structures like churches built around them) and the Auditore Family Crypt (which has no puzzles or guards but provides some interesting backstory). Brotherhood brings back the Crypt during the opening segment, where Desmond and Lucy go through the catacombs beneath modern Monteriggioni, including parts of the crypt, to get into the inner sanctum beneath the Villa Auditore.
- All three Dungeon Siege games and their expansions feature ancient crypts as areas that must be traversed during the course of the game, some having two or three in one scenario. Dungeon Siege III, in particular, features the Heroes' Tomb, in which all of the recruitable characters from the original game are buried.
- The final level of T'leth in X-COM: Terror From the Deep takes place in the crypt of the Great Dreamer.
- In Dominions, some Magic Sites are Ancient Tombs. Also, one might be found in a random event, which can provide both gold and a magic item.
- Practically all of Riddle of the Sphinx is spent poking around in a series of Ancient Tomb-related Egyptian ritual chambers, and there are Mesoamerican and Celtic tombs in the sequel (The Omega Stone) as well.
- The second dungeon in Tales of Phantasia is an elaborate tomb, which also serves as a can for the Big Bad.
- And let's just say that Tomb Raider is a Meaningful Name.
- The 2012 update of Dwarf Fortress added elaborate burial tombs where sentient creatures born and died during world generation will be interred. It makes for excellent Dungeon Crawling in Adventure Mode, and a source for necromancers to summon their armies from in Fortress Mode.
- In the city-building game Pharaoh, you build one of them. And then another. And yet another. It's really the point of the game, because pyramids are essentially just overtly huge ancient tombs.
- Tomb of the Lost Queen is about Nancy and others investigating one.
- The Legend of Zelda Oracle games have the Ancient Tomb and the Explorer's Tomb
- Aside from many obviously real burial tombs, Pharaohs would actually circulate legends about their tombs being cursed to prevent grave robbing. In the long run, this did not work.
- Indeed, most were raided by people who had been alive when the Pharaoh had died.
- The tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi is still mostly unexplored; the site is contaminated with mercury (and according to legend it includes a massive model of his empire with the waterways made of liquid mercury). The most famous excavated part is the Terracotta Army, which was protected by still-functioning traps. According to the stories it was built by 700,000 men, which would make the work camp the biggest city in the world at the time.