Review of Towers of Adventure

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.

IN DETAIL

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.

SUMMARY

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.‭"

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