[Let's Read] Forgotten Realms: The Revised Campaign Setting

Thane of Fife

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With the Village of Shadowdale complete, we now move to the adventure - Under the Twisted Tower. In contrast to the two dungeons in the Gray Box, this adventure is a lot longer and seemingly more linear, as it's broken up into a number of different parts.

The adventure is intended for characters of 1st-3rd level, though it doesn't tell us how many, and they can be natives to Shadowdale or travelers who have just arrived. Suzail is called out as a good point of origin.

The first part of the adventure focuses on the town. There are a handful of NPCs in the Old Skull Inn whom the PCs might interact with, a few messages on the message board, an example deflection by Lhaeo, and an encounter with Llewellyn the Loud, professional plot hook. Essentially, this part of the adventure exists to direct the PCs to the dungeons under the Twisted Tower. It doesn't have a very firm hook, though, so it is probably best used as one possible adventure out of the variety which might be encountered in Shadowdale.
 

Thane of Fife

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The first three dungeon bits basically involve getting in. There's some discussion of how the PCs might pass through the Twisted Tower, and how the inhabitants might respond to them, but this is not dwelled on overmuch. After all, the Twisted Tower was described in the previous section. Similarly, the known tunnels are not considered part of the adventure.

But eventually, the PCs reach the border between the cellars and the dungeon proper. They immediately begin to run into tough encounters and deadly traps. From these, I think it would be pretty tricky for first level PCs to challenge this dungeon. There are a number of fairly dangerous fights which verge on unavoidable, and traps which are almost preposterously elaborate. There is also a remarkable lack of actual treasure. I would probably judge this as reasonable for 3rd or 4th level PCs, or maybe a large, clever party at a lower level.
 
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Thane of Fife

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Alright, so let's try to finish this dungeon up here.

From the entranceway, the PCs have two opportunities to advance further into the dungeon. One is a deathtrap, the other just unpleasant. But, assuming that the PCs survive, they make it to the last chunk of dungeon. Basically, this bit is

<<SPOILERS ALERT>>





a drow lair. They've come up from the Underdark along an underground river, along with an aboleth, and are here enacting their sinister plan to attack Shadowdale. Specifically, they are kidnapping dwarves from around the Moonsea and are using aboleth magic to turn these dwarves into gibberlings. Then they unleash these monsters on Shadowdale through a small, secret exit.

This is not a terrible plot for an adventure, and it does seem to provide a somewhat official answer to what gibberlings are (the dwarf equivalent of skum) and where they get their swords (other slaves make them).

The dungeon itself, though, is very dangerous. It's full of deathtraps that could fairly easily TPK a low-level party. There is minimal opportunity for any sort of negotiations - it's much more an assault on an enemy stronghold, except that the PCs don't know it. And the combat encounters are crazy! The dungeon claims to be for low-level parties, but such a group can't take a group of drow armed to the teeth with magic weapons, or an aboleth, or 30 gibberlings. I think you need more of a party in the low mid-levels (4-6, maybe).

There is also a bit on what to do if the PCs get too beat up. Basically, it says, if it's their fault, tough, but if they're just having bad luck, have Elminster show up and heal them.

All said, this isn't the worst adventure ever, but it would need a lot of work before I would run it. The premise has a lot of merit, though, I think.
 

roryb

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The dungeon itself, though, is very dangerous. It's full of deathtraps that could fairly easily TPK a low-level party. There is minimal opportunity for any sort of negotiations - it's much more an assault on an enemy stronghold, except that the PCs don't know it. And the combat encounters are crazy! The dungeon claims to be for low-level parties, but such a group can't take a group of drow armed to the teeth with magic weapons, or an aboleth, or 30 gibberlings. I think you need more of a party in the low mid-levels (4-6, maybe).

There is also a bit on what to do if the PCs get too beat up. Basically, it says, if it's their fault, tough, but if they're just having bad luck, have Elminster show up and heal them.

All said, this isn't the worst adventure ever, but it would need a lot of work before I would run it. The premise has a lot of merit, though, I think.
That seemed like a really fun adventure with a great plot. Sadly, my group never made it past the first few traps before — not a TPK — we permanently disbanded. The lack of balance never concerned me too much, as I always adjusted on the fly. If memory serves, wasn't the drow sorcerer something like level 9?
 

zasvid

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This is not a terrible plot for an adventure, and it does seem to provide a somewhat official answer to what gibberlings are (the dwarf equivalent of skum) and where they get their swords (other slaves make them).
While it's a perfectly cromulent (if unexpected) explanation to the quandary that so energized the thread a few posts back (which is quite an amazing turn of events), I think I liked the one where Tempus provided them with swords better.

There is also a bit on what to do if the PCs get too beat up. Basically, it says, if it's their fault, tough, but if they're just having bad luck, have Elminster show up and heal them.

All said, this isn't the worst adventure ever, but it would need a lot of work before I would run it. The premise has a lot of merit, though, I think.
The premise is interesting, though advice on running it seems pretty bad from that description. I presume that's the kind of thing some people hate Elminster for.
 

Thane of Fife

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That seemed like a really fun adventure with a great plot. Sadly, my group never made it past the first few traps before — not a TPK — we permanently disbanded. The lack of balance never concerned me too much, as I always adjusted on the fly. If memory serves, wasn't the drow sorcerer something like level 9?
That's right. The module says that low-level characters are unlikely to find him, and so you shouldn't worry about that potential TPK.

I think there are two flaws in the module (sort of). First, it's basically just a series of set-piece combat encounters interspersed with the occasional trap. It's very linear. So you're missing out on the social bit of D&D and the exploring bit of D&D, which are the two most interesting parts, in favor of combat and weird puzzle-solving.

Second, the traps are... geared, I think, towards depriving people of spells. That is, the only way to avoid these traps is to cast the right spells ahead of time to scout it out. So, for example, you've found three chimneys pointing upwards. When you shine a torch up them, you can see a slight glint of light at the top of one. What do you do? Your options are basically either guess or cast some spell to scout them out (or turn around or search for secret doors or something). As CaliberX said above, the adventure looks basically like a meat grinder or obstacle course. Get to the end with the minimum resource expenditure.

While it's a perfectly cromulent (if unexpected) explanation to the quandary that so energized the thread a few posts back (which is quite an amazing turn of events), I think I liked the one where Tempus provided them with swords better.
It's not very interesting from a gibberling point of view, but I do think it's the only thing that has ever made me interested in aboleths.

The premise is interesting, though advice on running it seems pretty bad from that description. I presume that's the kind of thing some people hate Elminster for.
In fairness to the adventure, that part probably wouldn't be that bad in play. The PCs have an encounter with an old man and his dog, he "accidentally" heals some of them, and they can try to "trick" him into healing them more. There's no reason that the PCs would ever know it's Elminster.

So, I mean, mixed opinions. On one hand, the idea of "players occasionally meet eccentric, helpful weirdos in dungeons, and eventually discover that they're all the same person" isn't terrible. On the other hand, it's so out of thin air that it seems very much the deus ex machina. If it was more like "Elminster was here doing something unrelated, and 'accidentally' leaves something behind to help the PCs," that would be a lot less painful.
 

CaliberX

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[F]or example, you've found three chimneys pointing upwards. When you shine a torch up them, you can see a slight glint of light at the top of one. What do you do? Your options are basically either guess or cast some spell to scout them out (or turn around or search for secret doors or something). As CaliberX said above, the adventure looks basically like a meat grinder or obstacle course. Get to the end with the minimum resource expenditure.
Ah, the three chimneys. They probably wiped the majority of the parties that I chucked through this thing, or wounded them so much that chance of success was essentially lost. Weren't they a climb of a few hundred feet to start with? And of the three, only one was passable, with the other two being death traps. Good times.
 

MacBalance

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Ah, the three chimneys. They probably wiped the majority of the parties that I chucked through this thing, or wounded them so much that chance of success was essentially lost. Weren't they a climb of a few hundred feet to start with? And of the three, only one was passable, with the other two being death traps. Good times.
Seems like some sort of twisted Let's Make a Deal inspired deathtrap. Monty Hall in D&D in a different way than normally expected...
 

Thane of Fife

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Ah, the three chimneys. They probably wiped the majority of the parties that I chucked through this thing, or wounded them so much that chance of success was essentially lost. Weren't they a climb of a few hundred feet to start with? And of the three, only one was passable, with the other two being death traps. Good times.
100 ft each. That said, it's implied that they aren't sheer drops, and so anyone falling will "only" take 2d6 damage rather than the full falling damage. It's the razors that are the real threat.

Of course, if you survive the chimneys, there's another trap shortly after that I suspect will very likely kill at least 1 PC, and very plausibly TPK.

Seems like some sort of twisted Let's Make a Deal inspired deathtrap. Monty Hall in D&D in a different way than normally expected...
If you serve the Internet for the old "Netbook of Traps" sorts of things, these crazy gameshow traps were seemingly pretty popular at some point. There is admittedly some weird appeal to them, in a "ha-ha, I outsmarted you" sort of way, but I don't think they do much for play.
 
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