That’s just some rando meme I pulled down for the blog image, it doesn’t belong to the adventure.
By D.M. Ritzlin Self Published B/X Levels 1-3
This is an entry in my Wavestone Keep adventure design contest. Which I held to combat the crushing ennui I feel when reviewing too many bad adventures in a row. The challenge was to write and short adventure, eight pages, inspired by the concept and marketing tagline of the Wavestone Keep adventure. Now, to combat my crushing boredom, and the perfectionism which prevents me from working on larger projects, I’m going to review the entries!
When Atlantis began to sink, the wizard Oulvert invoked powerful magics to teleport his tower to a place of safety elsewhere on Earth. However, inaccuracies in the spellcasting combined with the destructive energies of the cataclysm resulted in an unforeseeable conjuncture. The three topmost levels of the tower were swept away on the tides of Chaos, and Oulvert found his home floating on the desolate seas of another dimension. As the years went by, the hands of Fate continued to pluck the tower from one world and deposit it in another, always placing it on a large body of water far from land. Now Oulvert’s tower has appeared in your campaign world…
What we’ve got here is a nine room wizards tower bobbing up and down on the ocean like a cork. It’s got decent focus and interactivity, and while the writing is not overly evocative it also is not generic either. A decent little wizard tower with the de rigeur wizard tower twists.
THis is a bare bones wizards tower, ruined, of course. The conceit is that the top five floors have broken off from the rest and bob, like a cork, up and down in the ocean, mostly upright, and then teleport from world to world sometimes. Thus we have some small opportunities to take advantage of the ocean, and the ruined lower levels/flooding, as well as a “everyone to the right side of the room!” mechanic to get it to lean … although that’s really nothing more than what I just mentioned I still like it and it could have been used more. While it shows up to, perhaps, open a secret door, another usage of it could have been cool also.
Wizard Tower means Fantastic Tower, which means Interactivity Tower. That’s what the trope is: it’s a fucked up place and you mess around and find out … and maybe get some treasure. We’ve got a stairwell on the lower floor that leads to the ocean underneath (spiral, of course …) and some broken floor that also drops off in to the watery deep. Fruit trees for eating shit, and scrying chambers to fuck around in (which, also, nice note, allow you to take the 1’ diameter giant scrying eyeball with you! I’m happy to see this. Of course, you also have to hit it up with forty drops of blood a day ala eye drops, but, hey man, you’re the one with the one foot diameter scrying eyeball. Think of it like changing your oil.) We’ve got the alchemists lab, of course, with a potion to drink … that has a gelatinous cube in it. Ouchies for the poor sucker who drinks that one! So, about one interactive element, of one sort or another beyond mere combat, in each room. It doesn’t FEEL like the designer is putting one in each room, it feels more natural than that and I adore adventures that FEEL right.
Formatting is decent. It’s basic two column, with mini-maps of the rooms appearing in the adventure in appropriate places. Bullets help keep major room concepts separate and the general format is that the most important/obvious things appear first. So, in the first room of the tower the broken windows are mentioned, sinc ethats what the ;ayers are likely to encounter first from the outside. Then the flooding, then the books floating in the flooded water and so forth. You get it. It’s done well. A bit of bolding might have helped a bit, there is a bit of a wall of text thing no matter the bullet format, or, perhaps, some more white space. There’s also a kind of “run on” with one room sometimes flowing in the next because of a need for whitespace to help separate it. It’s hard to describe … it’s not always a “read the entire column” thing but rather a “go to column two to finish the room and then back to column one again for the next room” kind of thing.
We are a little wordy in the descriptions, in places, and a little shy with the descriptions. “However, if opened without the use of a key …” is a bit conversational in tone. Certainly I wouldn’t expect a purely mechanistic description, with the joy of language in it or those snide DM asides that I love so much, but a little more focus on the editing could have helped. Then again, there was a short deadline in this contest. Likewise the descriptions are a little light in place, or, I mean, the descriptive phrases and adjectives. Our wanderersa re “orney lizardmen” or “inquisitive locath”, which, while better than nothing on a wanderer table, could use a little beefing up with an extra word or two, maybe. This sort of minimal approach is better than nothing, but really could use a little more work, in the room description in particular, to beef things up to the next level. “Murals were painted on the walls, but are not covered in so much reeking mold as to be illegible” Not bad. Not great, but not bad. Nice reeking.
So, decent little concept and adventure, better than most wizard towers, but not quite reaching the heights I would like. (The correct response to this is: “Fuck You Bryce, you gave me a week to fucking write it!”)
You can snag a copy here for download: