Tower to the Abyss, Dungeons & Dragons adventure review

By Tyler Lee
Self published
Level 3

Players take on the roll of adventurers hired by the nearby village to investigate the recent disapearances and monster sightings around the nearby military outpost. Reckless magical research has thrown Kalem’s Tower into chaos as demons and devils pour out from the abyss. Players must use their wits, their skills, and every magical item at their disposal to survive the tower and close the portal to the chaotic hellscape.

This thiry page adventure adventure uses ten pages to describe a wizards tower with, I don’t know, twenty rooms? It’s the usual 5e fare; I’m only reviewing it because someone requested it.

Some VERY VERY BAD PERSON asked that I review this. I had turned a corner. No longer reviewing 5e shovelware. Just reviewing OSR and DCC shovelware. I was there man! Happy! And then someone says “Hey, it’s just one drink man.” … that’s how EVerything’s Gone Green (Cicada Mix) gets put on repeat for four or five days. Seems like I’ve been here before.

In this adventure you start at Level 3. By the end you are level 8. In, I don’t know, three hours or so? Mearls once said that people should level, like, every session. I got his logic in what he was saying for that playstyle, but this seems fucking excessive. You reach level four after fighting like four bandits and two imps. Yeah! Level!

The things a mess. A month ago people in the village stopped hearing from the tower nearby that guards their village. It’s mile away. A FUCKING MILE AWAY. No one has gone there for a month. It’s mile away. What the fuck man? I get it, it’s just the fucking fluff, but, still, put some fucking effort in! 

Besides which this whole “we haven’t heard from X in awhile, go investigate” is the new fucking caravan guards. It’s fucking everywhere. Jesus H Fucking Christ make a fucking effort people! At least the caravan guard thing was just to get to the village and then you could go fuck up the dungeon. This whole “go investigate” shit is boring.  I’m hesitant to assign blame, but this whole thing FEELS like a computer RPG close. Questgiver tells you to go do something and then you collect the keys (literally in this case) to close the portals, fighting the bosses as you go. This is just about the lowest effort you canmake in designing an adventure. I don’t know, maybe one of those fucking Trtaining Grounds adventure also. I loaaaathe life. This is how NE starts out. Every NE lich you meet was a fucking optimist worn down by life.

To get to the tower you need to wander through the forest. There’s a map, but as far as I can tell  there is not path/road, etc. Or hexes, etc. Just numbers thrown out in the “map.” The first is with some dead villagers in the forest. Dead bodies. Except you have to roll to see/find them. What the fuck is the point of this? Why would you hide this content? The entire encounter is meant to foreshadow, to raise tension, to put a feeling in to the players. But not if you don’t make the skill check! You just wander on by if you don’t, missing all of that. BAD DESIGN. The entire fucking point is to make things serious to the players, to let them know what is goingon, to set the scene for THE FEELS later. But not if you don’t make your fucking roll. I fucking swear. It’s the same with spotting some dretch on a ridgeline. The fucking purpose is to scare the fuckers … to what end does NOT scaring the fuckers work? 

There’s an encounter with bandits. The leader pretends to be camping waiting for friends. Then 1d6 bandits walk out of the woods and attack. It takes two fucking paragrapghs to describe this. Two. For something that is, literally, “she pretends to be camping and waiting for her friends.” That’s what, ten words? THATS THE FUCKING ADVENTURE! That’s the part you should be spending your fucking word count on. But no, not here. 

Ok, so, you can go to the courtyard to start the adventure or to the battlements to start the adventure. You’re never given the choice. I guess you just wander to one or the other. Again, bad design. CHoices only matter is they are meaningful and the players know they are making them. Then they can be DELICIOUS. But if you DONT KNOW you are making the choice then its the same as not having a choice. 

I don’t know. The read-aloud runs in to the DM text. Or it’s not boxed properly, only partially boxed. Whatever the cause, there is read-aloud masquerading as DM text or DM text in the voice of read-aloud. “People here would do the player harm …” I think you mean the characters. 

The actual text of the adventure is just paragraph after paragraph of infor dump with little fucking formatting. IE: the WOTC way. You can’t follow it, it’s hard to scan and look things up, it’s full of extraneous things. The usual bad writing. In the actual tower you get to fight monsters to get the keys to unlock the next section to fight more monsters to get the yellow key so you can unlock the yellow door and fight more monsters to get the red key to …. You get it. 

Who the fuck wanted me to review this?

This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is four pages and doesn’t really show you any of the adventure, just the summary. You do get to see, on the last page, an example of the read-aloud and DM text in the same voice. Weird. Formatting fuck up, I guess? Not proof read?

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7 Responses to Tower to the Abyss, Dungeons & Dragons adventure review

  1. Stripe says:

    OSR isn’t bound to ruleset, but it is bound to a mindset.

    If it’s not OSR, I just don’t care.

  2. Franky Panky says:

    Everything’s Gone Green? By now, if you are not listening to the “Closer” LP on repeat in its entirety, with the pauses, as Martin Hannett intended it to be heard, you’re doing it wrong.

    5e doesn’t seem to be very conducive to good adventures. The whole kill monsters but don’t bother taking their stuff part. A most unwise decision, awarding XP only for killing monsters as the default.

    • Robert, OSR Heretic says:

      Sure, the hipster lemmings may believe that about “Closer”, but us One True Fan(tm) know that everything from The Ideal of Living through Movement and the 1983 EP are acceptable.

  3. Saxinis Kion says:

    So this isn’t receiving the buy recommendation? 🙂

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