In today’s review I will be taking a look at Crooked Rock Tower, one of the 3 adventures contained in Chris Gonnerman’s BF2 – Fortress, Tomb Tower series. The adventure is recommended for characters of level 3-6. It contains maps for the tower and 3 distinct dungeon levels. There is no included wandering monster tables for the adventure.
Chris has included a very deep back story for the adventure so instead of just repeating it verbatim here I will try to summarize it. The area the tower is located on has a very long and varied history. The first is the rock itself. It contains an ancient Lizardman temple where a sword of great power was buried thousands of years ago. During the adventure the party will run into a group of Lizardman looking for the sword. Long after the temple was lost to time, A wizard came to the area and built the Crooked Rock Tower as well as the dungeons below it. He turned one of the levels into a manufacturing facility where he created a race of clockwork men. He lived there for several years before he suddenly disappeared. A few years later another wizard came to the tower in search of the clockwork men he thought might still be hidden within. He tortured the remaining clockwork man he did find, to get it to reveal where the army was hidden, but the creature would not tell him. During one of these tortures, the wizard killed a woman in hopes of making the clockwork man talk. When it didn’t, he spared the life of her child and made it a servant instead. When the child became an adult it turned on the wizard and killed him before fleeing the tower. It has remained empty since.
Setting the Hook
The characters were hired by a lumber company owner to investigate a string of kidnappings at a lumber camp called Mosquito Marsh. When they arrive at the camp they find out the kidnappers are Lizardmen and that night repel an attack by a band of Lizardmen. They get word of a man in camp who followed the last band to a tower deep in the forest. They pay him to lead them to its location and from there the adventure starts.
Fitting it In
Chris created these adventures for his own campaign setting of Glain so I did have to do some major tweaking to get it to fit into mine. I located the tower deep in the Mirewood, a forest/swamp that fits in well with the Lizardmen. I kept the deep back story about the Lizardman and the sword the same. However I expanded on the Lizardman currently in the keep. They are searching for the sword to cement the clan chief as ruler over all other Lizardman clans. I also kept most of the Clockwork Wizard in as well, except I tweaked him to have some tie-in to my own custom race, The Soulforged. I did remove the manufacturing facility level from the adventure, because I am considering using it as a standalone piece later on. so I made the secret door behind one of the jail cells in room 11, lead to the temple instead. I also had the party find some of the abducted villagers in the tower basement. The other major thing I did was make the elevator mechanism work, just because I thought it was a cool addition. I just made the thing loud as hell when it ran.
The adventure through the tower itself, was pretty uneventful except at the top level where the party was ambushed by 8 lizardmen. At first the Lizardmen were more interested in capturing the adventurers as more slaves so it was the first chance I got to use some brawling and wrestling rules from the core rules. It turned into a good fight and with another nasty fight with Lizardmen in the basement, the players actually had to return to the camp to heal for a few days.
Now in the first level dungeon Chris created the ‘Count Down Trap’ in Room 14. This was very ingenious and has a very cool ‘Lost’ countdown clock vibe to it. But while my players headed back to town to heal I knew the Lizardman Clan Chief wouldn’t just be sitting around so I did some random dice rolling to have them wandering around this level. And lo and behold, they found both the Stirges in Room 13 and the trap in 14. So when the party returned to the ungeon they found 13 dead stirges and one dead Lizardman in Room 13 and some very starved and dehydrated Lizardmen in Room 14. the party had found a set of numbers earlier and talked the Lizardman through turning the dials. This freed them but they were in no condition to fight so the party locked them up in cells in Room 11.
One thing I learned is that Chris loves Golems and constructs and the temple level is full of them. This level single-handedly gave my players a serious butt whupping, especially Room 35, where they lost the cleric. Even though Chris didn’t mention it in the adventure I decided that by destroying the drummers, the metal Godzilla Chris put in this room would become inanimate.
One of the other cool rooms in the temple level is Room 29. A mummy trapped here by a God as punishment for her misdeeds. The party had destroyed the mummy earlier in the adventure so this gave me a cool idea. I decided that I would raise the cleric, but he would no longer be a cleric of his old god, but of the God that trapped the mummy here in the first place, Vordane, The God of Retribution. It was all very cool, the armor changed color etc. So when they finally found the Sword Sashra, there was a loud explosion and the sword was gone, but now the Cleric’s mace pulsed with the same light as the sword. So I basically made the sword into a mace with a new name, Vorhaze.
As I mentioned earlier this module took some work to fit into my campaign. Not all of it was the the fault of the adventure, I just saw an opportunity to expand some of the pieces into something greater later on. Chris’ modules are always the most challenging that I run, because sometimes the smartest thing to do in his adventures is to not fight. Plus he always throws in something that puts the players on their toes, either a puzzle or something else that involves using your wits to figure it out. I would recommend that they party be on the higher end of the level requirements because there are a couple of fights that were touch and go for the party and I believe they were all around level 4 when they went through this.