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B19: Tower of Screaming Sands $7.99
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B19: Tower of Screaming Sands
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B19: Tower of Screaming Sands
Publisher: AAW Games
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/04/2015 09:56:49

This adventure starts with a one background to introduce the main villain and the reason why he built this tower. The background contains enough detail to satisfy most players who wish to use their knowledge, but can be easily expanded if you want to make this adventure a part of your campaign.

Follows a few adventure hooks and then we get to the first part of the adventure covering the journey through the desert. Advice is given to make the journey interesting and three encounters complement this section. Two of these encounters are quite helpful to provide a bit more information about the tower if the characters are able to help the young nomad in distress. In the event that they fail, they can still get the information from the nomad tribe, but they are a bit less helpful. If you used random encounters before these two encounters, the nomad camp provides a good respite and chance to rest for the characters. The third encounter is more typical of desert encounters and does not provide any more details on the adventure background.

The rest of the adventure covers the exploration of the tower, the inhabitants, the traps protecting the tower and of course, the main antagonist. This part of the adventure is quite deadly in my opinion. Not many rooms are devoid of danger: they either contain traps or creatures. Options are provided to make the adventure even more deadly. Having the main entrance blocked after the characters enter is a nice one and prevents the group to stop and rest after each encounter. However, using the option to have the tower sink below the sands after a certain amount of time makes it one giant trap. Unless you are confident your players can navigate the tower easily and efficiently, I would not recommend this option.

Overall this is a nice desert adventure with very interesting traps and opponents. It is straightforward by desing and it is also what makes it easy to use in pretty much any campaign. I liked that although the traps are difficult, there is often a way to deactivate them after they are sprung. The characters need to find the hidden lever. Sadly, this is only for the first level of the tower, the traps on the other levels cannot be deactivated with a lever. That being, said a group without a character that deal traps will have a very hard time in this adventure. These traps can also be reset by the mephitis and the invisible stalker serving the master of the tower. It would have been nice to know how seriously they take this responsibility. The tower is supposed to come out of the sands every 60 years... So, some indication on how often they reset the traps, or if they patrol to check on the traps would be helpful. I assume it is left to the GM's discretion. If the characters fall back on the lower levels, you can always decide if the traps have been reset.

Besides this, the encounters are well detialed and the information is presented in a way that a GM can run this adventure without much preparation and without searching through books. Each encounter provides a fair amount of treasures, more than I usually give my players, but this can easily be adjusted.

A nice tough adventure!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
B19: Tower of Screaming Sands
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/18/2015 08:19:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

Conclusion:

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 and 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.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
B19: Tower of Screaming Sands
Publisher: AAW Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/11/2014 08:39:27

A simple and straightforward adventure: the party comes across an old abandoned tower deep in the desert and venture inside to loot it... or is it so simple?

The book starts with the adventure background, detailing how the tower - bored within an obsidian monolith rather than built stone by stone - came to be and telling the story of the deranged yet powerful wizard who made his home and last refuge here. Whilst the nature of the adventure is such that it can be incorporated into any suitable desert journey, several 'hooks' are provided to get the party headed in the right direction if you prefer that approach.

First, of course, they have to get there. Deserts are not safe places to travel in what with the heat, natural hazards and hostile wildlife... and some good advice is provided for running desert journeys which you'll want to hang on to for any time your players take it into their heads to have a desert trip. It's recommended that you use a mix of random encounters as well as the three provided, and that you keep the players interested by keeping time fluid, glossing over the long hours of plodding and highlighting encounters. Do not forget that the environment can be as much of an enemy as any monster - heat, thirst, the weather and the lack of landmarks can all take their toll on even well-prepared parties.

The encounters provided (by the way, there are THREE encounters, don't get confused by two of them being headed 'Encounter Two'!) give a good mix of excitement: with natural hazards, monsters and a nomad tribe to deal with. It's not all combat, interaction and thinking things through also play their part.

Provided the party survives mostly intact, they will eventually arrive at the tower. It may be by chance, or they may be here because of one of the hooks - or even after talking to the nomads during their journey. Here, there's a wealth of information to aid you in running this, the main part of the adventure - including two options that make things decidedly more stressful and potentially deadly for the characters.

The place is full of traps! Now, the background makes it clear why this is so, but it will not be obvious to the party - as some players do not care for lots of traps you may wish to consider if this is the right adventure for them, but you know your group... Many are deadly, so beware. There is loot to be had, so many groups will find it worth the risk.

The tower boasts three levels, and as well as the traps there are plenty of other threats, mostly undead. If run as a one-shot, having a cleric and a rogue in the party will be advantageous. The top level is the lair of the original creator of the dungeon and provides the scene for the climactic battle... one which must be won if the party is to escape alive.

The usual high standard of presentation from AAW is displayed, with copious amounts of information well-organised in colourful blocks that make it clear what's what: read-aloud text, information, trap mechanics, monster notes, skill checks and so on. This makes the adventure very easy to run, although like most some study beforehand would be a benefit. Appendices provide the mechanics for encounters in detail, using both Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rulesets.

Overall this is a good 'classic' dungeon crawl with lots to do and see, a good challenge for the intended level of party with the focus mostly on trap-solving and combat. An exciting time should be had by all!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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