Towers of Adventure is a Castles & Crusades supplement by James M Ward (yes, that Jim Ward) and published by Troll Lord Games. As usual, I’m behind the curve; this was written in 2008.
The manufacturer’s website says: "Tower Adventures offers the Castle Keeper a marvelous set of interchangeable tower levels, rooms, monsters, NPCs, traps and treasures. This box set allows you to make literally millions of exciting towers for your players to explore. Treasures, tower inhabitants, and tower maps are at your fingers and so easy to use you can put together a complex adventure in five minutes or less."
They’re playing my tune. So, one quick raid on the piggybank later, a copy has moved from RPGNow‘s servers to my hard drive. What have we here?
IN A NUTSHELL
Toolkit for generating one-shot dungeons. Cheap, fast, and easy to use. Not quite what I was expecting, but value for money, at least as a PDF.
The product is split into: Author Forward (one page - I think they mean Foreword); 15 different towers, one to a page; services and adventure hooks (three pages between them); NPCs and monsters (12 pages between them); treasures (8 pages); traps (4 pages). It looks like this was originally a three-volume boxed set, though they would have been thin booklets indeed.
Use of the product is intuitive and straightforward. You pick a tower, label the floor plan with numbers, and assign monsters, traps and treasure to the rooms ("Room 2: 117, 201.") - because all the entries in the monster and treasure sections are numbered sequentially, you need only scribble a couple of numbers on the key. You pick an adventure hook ("Hook 4") and explain it to the players. Their characters kick the door in, and off you go. Instant dungeon crawl.
Towers: Each tower is on one page, with a black and white illustration, a floor plan (which doesn’t always match the illustration), and a blank key for you to fill in with references to room occupants. I especially like the Troll Tower - a four level tower in the shape of a giant troll, carved into a cliff face.
Services: Suppose instead of killing the tower’s inhabitants for their loot, you wanted to hire them? This section lists the services provided by the assassins, thieves, wizards, clerics and fighters who live in these isolated keeps.
Adventure Hooks: 20 reasons to venture into one of the towers.
Non-Player Characters, Monsters: Each of these sections has a similar format; a number of entries, each of which has the C&C statblock for a single tower inhabitant or a small group, followed by a descriptive paragraph. There are 92 human characters, divided by level and class; 24 demi-humans, divided by race; 80 monsters, divided by level.
Treasure: 88 "treasure parcels", divided by character class or race of soon-to-be-dead owner ("Fighter themed treasure" or "dragon themed treasure") and value (generous, sizeable, substantial or huge).
Traps: 77 traps, divided by category - mechanical, creature, magical, poisoned, and my personal favourite, dangerously loud noises. These are fun, but some of them would need a little amendment to include in the towers provided - the barking guard dog, for example, as written requires a 300 yard corridor - none of the towers are that big.
It’s only going to make "millions of exciting towers" if you count every permutation and combination of towers, inhabitants and loot as a separate tower; at least 15, definitely, and you can probably reuse them a couple of times each over a long campaign. I was expecting something a little more modular. Still, for £6 that’s about 20p each, can’t complain at that.
I can see myself getting a couple of dozen sessions out of this before I start getting comments like "Oh no, not the lonely wizard’s tower again." (To which I will probably respond "Oh, that? The last great human empire used this as a standard guard tower on their minor trade routes, there are dozens of them in this region.") Even better, I can throw the adventures together at less than an hour’s notice… "Surprise birthday party? Dungeon crawl required? No problem, I’ll be there at eight."