Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Beneath The Fallen Tower (SWCL) Review

Premise: Fifty years ago, a magician known as Melchior the Despoiler, rumored to be consorting with dark forces near the town of Southfork was investigated by a troop of militia and a priest... all of who returned from his tower as undead attempting to slay their own families. They were defeated, and after a petition for aid, the Duke lent the village his trebuchet and his men leveled the mage's tower. Shortly before this assault was mounted, Melchior’s apprentice Xander escaped with a few books, a wand and a magical blade.

Now that Xander has died. His apprentice, Aurelia, together with her henchmen, have returned to find the master's library. Unknown to them, goblins have been living in the ruins for 30 years...



Beneath the fallen tower is written for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light, but is easily converted to any OSR type system.  The adventure is written fairly open ended, as a GM you could place it in your own home brew world without too much extra work.  The town where everything starts is called Southfork, and that could be just off the map, an explored section.  As well the adventure has a medieval feel, so keep that in mind when planning.  The premise of this adventure is pretty solid, you can easily create a bunch of rumours in the town of Southfork circulating about the wizard, and the line of apprentices.  The hero's are tasked with finding the son of a merchant.  The hope of course is that they stumble upon a bunch more bad guys, the tower, etc.  This adventure could easily be a few session thing.  Especially if the GM took some time to add in a few more things to do (according to the map).  Depending on which way the heroes end up going.  

The background for the adventure (the towns & world) is well thought out.  I would however have placed the section regarding the wizards tower earlier in the text, as it states "this is where the adventure takes place".  But all good.  The tavern is interesting, where the adventure starts.  There is a list of rumours and a table for how many true or false rumours you may receive.  This of course is a fairly typical but smart way of starting an adventure.  One thing I noticed is that the tavern is "fairly rat free" as far as the basement goes.  There's adventure right there! The actual town could have a bit more description as far as other stores.  Where do we buy weapons and armour? who can we sell our loot to? Once again easily figured out by a GM. 

Onward.  The hand drawn map detailing the surrounding area is cool, my only issue is that the text is a bit hard to read, although that is easily over come.  I would try and blow it up and bit, and throw a hex layer underneath for the sake of argument.  

I should note that this entire module is filled with great art, all of which are drawn by Denis Mcarthy (also the writer).  It's nice to see a product that is completely DIY, the writing, drawing, etc.  This is something I'd love to take a stab at, but my drawing is not really on point. 

Once the players find the son (and or lack thereof, I'm not ruining anything here) they will also notice that the ruins of the tower are fairly close to the sons position.  

The map of the ruins is pretty cool, hand drawn.  The actual dungeon is fairly straight forward, lots of monsters and some treasure.  A smart party will enter and re-enter the dungeon as many times as it takes to kill off monsters, and find any treasure.  And a smart GM will reload some of the monsters upon their return!  The dungeon has a few traps, and could be deadly for a party of 1st level adventurers.  As in most cases, if I was to run this I'd tweak the amount of monsters depending on the party.  Not that big of a deal. 

Overall this is a pretty cool adventure, straight forward.  As far as constructive criticism is concerned a layout job would make this adventure have a bit more eye candy.  (Which by the way I'd be totally up for!).  I read another review of this, in which the reviewer tore the whole thing apart, not linking to it though.  The text and descriptions of the dungeon could be expanded a bit, a few more sentences of description.  As well creating a gap between the player information and the GM information.  Obviously though an GM worth his or her salt can get this adventure going without an problem. 

This adventure is worth checking out, especially if you are looking for something to run for SWCL.  It could easily become a sandbox with a few other little adventures going on here and there.  As an example my Lizardmen of Illzathatch could be placed within the overland map no problem.  


And you can check out Denis's blog here: https://gwythaintny.wordpress.com/

Denis has playtested this adventure, and you can read about it here: https://gwythaintny.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/session-recap-of-beneath-the-fallen-tower-playtest-at-manhattan-minicon-3/  (which btw is friggin smart! We should all playtest our adventures!) 

I'd like to thank +Denis McCarthy for sending me a copy of this adventure!  If I ever get a old school group going again, this is something that I could incorporate.  And that's the thing about the OSR, you can grab little bits and pieces and just have a wonderful time.