The Ruined Tower Giant


By (Uncredited)
Unbalanced Dice Games
Labyrinth Lord
Mid-Level

The party must go to the tower the giant took with him when he ran away. Something is bugging the Duke and his Necromancer thinks it has to do with the tower. The tower must be explored and the purgative put in every room. Will they have an easy time doing this? Of course not. The tower is dangerous but someone else has taken residence up very close to it. Only by entering the tower will they find out who that is…

!!!I DON’T KNOW!!!

This is a 43 page six-level dungeon with about 65 rooms in it. I don’t know how to summarize it. The rooms feel random, but connected by an overall theme. It’s like junior high kid wrote a D&D adventure … and english wasn’t their first language but they were fluent in it but they were raised in a skinner box with only the LabLord rules. It’s all basic and to the point, simplistic almost to the point of being iconic. This is BARE BONES … but not minimally keyed. It’s somehow one step above that.

After I bought this and cracked it I had a sudden realization: I had seen this style before. Looking back it became clear: I had no fucking idea what was up with the previous product I reviewed and I have no idea what is up with this one.

Nearby is part of a tower and attached to it is a giant that has been turned to stone. You’re hired to go put some magic salt in every room in order to put to rest the spirit haunting the Duke every night. The tower has three levels and the giant has been hollowed out in to three levels also. The magic salt thing is an interesting way to get the party in to every room and to explore all levels/rooms. It also has the kind of old timey folklore vibe that I groove on.

The maps are pretty good, with decent looping and variety of design. The treasure seems light with not nearly enough to justify going in to the place. But, really, the “highlight” here are the encounters. One room has two shovels sticking out of the ground, forming a V. WTF is up with that, you ay ask. I have no idea. You know as much as I. It’s the “shovel themed” area, I guess, cause there’s a zombie digging a hole in another room nearby, and another that like to lie in the holes he’s digging to rest. And another room with a bunch of buried bodies in it with a skeletons hand sticking “partway out of the ground.” One room in the giant has some pink fluid oozing out of it, the giant is still alive and begs you to restore him! Another has a giant stone thumb sticking through the towers wall with a magic sword sticking in it. (Sword, is explicitly stated, has no discernable effects.) The rooms go on and on like this. Almost every one is short.

There is some kind of intelligent hand massaging things here, but the entire thing is unlike almost anything I’ve seen before. The encounters are … simple, but with detail like an icepick. It’s almost like a series of minimally keyed rooms, loosely connected, but with detail then added that is EXACTLY what is needed to bump it up a notch in to “terse & interesting” territory. Your mind races with what is going on. Room three on the top level of the tower has No Ceiling, according to room name: “This area no longer have a ceiling. The sky is visible. Anyone who climbs upwards will be standing on top of the tower. From there they can see everything for a long distance.”

This thing is creative. The zombie laying down in the grave it is digging. The giant still living. The fact that the giant (a folklore giant who just wanted something to eat) has RUN AWAY WITH THE TOWER. Almost all of the writing is direct and to the point.

There’s something WRONG with it though, beyond the light to non-existent treasure. The rooms, while lightly themed, generally creative, and connected to each other (recall all the shovel rooms?) are somehow lacking. It doesn’t feel like a cohesive whole.

Imagine I created a random dungeon from a generator. Then I went through and minimally expanded the rooms a bit, and themed them a bit, to turn the randomness in to a decent little room idea. That’s what this thing feels like, this sort of vibe of things being random or unconnected or somehow off center.

It’s hard to recommend this. As minimall keyed things go it’s a decent endeavor with room creativity and variety that’s a cut above. The minimal keying makes it pretty terse and easier to run than most adventures. Combined, they make this better than the dreck of most adventures. It doesn’t all click together though and your happiness with it probably depends on your views of minimally keying.

It’s worth checking out one of these Unbalanced Dice Games adventures, just to get a toehold on the design behind it.

It’s $4 on DriveThru. The preview is six pages and tells you almost nothing about what is inside. The only “real” adventure page is the background, which is not really representative. Which is too bad. I Wish ONE of the real room pages was present in one of these so people would think I’m not crazy as I struggle to describe the style.
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/213348/The-Ruined-Tower-Giant-An-OSR-Adventure

This entry was posted in No Regerts, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Ruined Tower Giant

  1. Edgewise says:

    All the Unbalanced Dice Games adventures read like they came from role-playing in bizarro world. There was a review on False Machine (Patrick Stuart’s blog).

    http://falsemachine.blogspot.com/2017/05/who-is-unbalanced-creator.html

  2. Herman Klang says:

    Maybe someone can track this person down by contacting drive through rpg. They have his contact info.Maybe they would pass on a message.

  3. Graham says:

    Going from the section you quoted I am wondering if the authors first language is something other than English, as there seems to be an odd sentence structure. You see this sometimes on Wikipedia where something has been translated into English from another language one word at a time without correcting for the way the original language was structured.

    • Chad Rose says:

      @Graham

      That’s what I thought. I had guessed maybe French. It reminds me of the way Nicolas Dessaux’s “Searchers of the Unkown” reads.

Leave a Reply