RPG Review – B19: Tower of Screaming Sands
This module clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
This being an adventure-review, the following review contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.
All right, still there?
As often, the powerful have fallen in this module: Neevoth-Ka, formerly a man of power and reputation, has succumbed to his paranoia. Served by only the spirits of his dead, consumed by his madness – he perished, but unlike Ozymandias, his creation remained – the tower of the screaming sands resurfaces, blown clear from the sands once every 60 years. The time has come. Enter the PCs.
The module begins with the overland journey towards the eponymous tower, with opportunities to save the innocent from dread silt traps, research opportunities and exploring a desert oasis to arrive at the tower, where the DM has to decide whether to opt for a lock-in option upon the PCs entering the place or not: While a time limit is implicit and can certainly be enforced by the DM, it is not required or an integral part of the module.
The exploration of the tower per se may seem run-of-the-mill at first glance – yet another tower? *yawn* This, however, would be a tragic miscalculation: In fact, the challenges presented herein are pretty interesting, innovative, even. Level One, for example, is haunted by whirlwinds screeching through the floors. Even before chambers of flooding sand, the perpetual screech of these dread, scouring winds prove to be a particularly interesting feature which may not look like much on paper, but in actual playtesting proved to be rather ingenious. Better yet – unlike quite a few dungeon-explorations, there is also ample chance for research and even social skills to be used – by e.g. cajoling information from spirits, helpful information on the tower and its dangers can be gleaned.
The second level, with its “chamber of a thousand teeth” and combination fo adversaries also makes for an interesting, though more combat-centric level, whereas the main attraction (and boss) await on the final, third level. Now unlike many a comparable module, the adversary herein comes with advice on foreshadowing his presence as well as completely unique tricks – defeating what once was Neevoth-Ka does require capable PCs!
It should be noted that the tower comes with full-color maps, including player-friendly versions, as well as stats for the adversaries for both PFRPG and D&D 3.X.
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a slightly Egyptian-style, beautiful custom 2-column full-color standard and the module comes with copious, beautiful full color artwork. The module comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
This is the first module by Matthew Eyles I’ve read and I can definitely say that he knows how to craft an iconic locale – the tower’s location a special hazards are downright brilliant, extremely iconic and hint at a potential to reach a level of craftsmanship in the footsteps of Greg A. Vaughan. That being said, the module does have some minor imperfections in its details.
For one, the journey towards the tower feel like it should either have been its own module or cut – it feels less detailed and ultimately, not necessary to the plot. Secondly, the tower’s first floor with its GLORIOUS hazards overshadows the follow-up floors by quite a margin, seeing how they become more conservative as we go. Why not instead utilize the damn cool theme more? Vault doors, wind puzzles, flying sections…the module practically begs for more weird, far-out challenges and instead opts for a by no means bad, but definitely more conservative take on the topic. Now yes, this fits seamlessly in with Legacy of Fire, Khemit, Osirion, etc. – but it also feels like it falls slightly short of the vast imaginative promise its cool beginning and furious finale show. I definitely hope the author will expand his strength for cool terrains/locations – the talent is there and the module remains easy to run and a fun, good dungeon crawl on the brink of greatness…but not completely there yet. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
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