So opens one of the more iconic & in some ways controversial titles in the 'C' or Competition series of modules, 1980's The Ghost Tower of Inverness is pure competition module right out of the gate. You can construct a storyline around it for your home campaign but the tower itself is situated in the world of Greyhawk an ancient magical tower located in the southern Abbor-Alz Hills. My version of the tower had a slightly more Moorcockian origin. The place moved between dimensions and the fabled Soul Gem, a legendary artifact of great power powered it. Wiki has a good breakdown of the adventure and of the process for tournament play;"All of the characters are in the dungeon of the Duke Justinian Lorimnar of Unst for various crimes and charged with the task of recovering the Soul Gem for the Duke:
Hodar - A sorcerer practicing forbidden magic specifically outlawed by the Duke
Zinethar - A priest who led a temple revolt against the Duke's citizens
Lembu - A fighter who killed the palace guard captain and 11 of his men in a barroom brawl
Discinque - A thief who attempted to steal jewels from the crown, only to fall off the wall on top of the guard patrol
Li Hon - A monk indentured into the Duke's service by her monastery in lieu of tax payment
The key to doing this is in the use of Duke Justinian Lorimnar of Unst who could be a minor official in the bureaucracy of Hyperborea or another sword & sorcery world. Think the bureaucracy of ancient Rome and uncaring attitude of an Eighties flick like Greed and you get the idea. This is a man willing to send others into harm's way to achieve his own ends. The tower is as much an npc as any other character in this adventure and care should be taken to get this point across the players. They've got to work together as a team and this is one that has to be played with experienced players to get the best out of the Ghost Tower of Inverness.
This one isn't player vs player its a team effort scaled around the adventure goals themselves which are reflected in the 'fun house' nature of the Ghost Tower, its dungeons, traps, items, and the adventure location's ins & outs. All of this revolves around the theme of the dungeon which highlights both its qualities and style of play.
So how does this relate to domain play? Well the tower could be one aspect of a right of succession which some retroclone & completing the adventure are part of a noble birth right. This all of course ties back into who and the elements of C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness,
There are few reasons why "The Ghost Tower of Inverness" (1980), by Allen Hammack, the second adventure in the competition (C-) series actually can work as an old school campaign venue :
- There's no tears or fuss setting this one up in your own campaign world setting. There so much D&D DIY that can be done with C2 that it lends itself for a different sort of style of play.
- Stretching the players and the party's role at the table marks the beginning of the use of the fun house as something more.
- Traps, tricks, and lethality makes this one a dangerous module to run as you the DM want or need it.
- This module has an air of the weird and pushing it in the extra direction of sword & sorcery isn't that hard.
- Have you ever wanted to push as clown or other dangerous NPC theme in a module? This is the module to unleash a bunch of psychotic clown or other nasty you always wanted to.
- Not easily broken, there are several strange bits in the Ghost Tower that can be adapted into your home campaign or to tackle their own version.
- There have been numerous adventure locations in sword & sorcery campaigns that are exactly the sort of fun house play.
- There are themes and setting ideas that roll themselves through C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, with a bit of foreshadowing these can be come wholly important to the party when they enter the tower.
- The tower can be as much a prize as the treasure and material within it. With a bit of luck & some good rolls the PC's can deal with both the hazards within the Tower and then I've had several players want to make the Tower their domains! I can so see this happening because of the artifact status of the tower.
- The tower works as both an iconic adventure and as a gate way to further explorations in the surrounding lands.
Because of the iconic nature of this module there's something about running it once per group that makes it stand out. This is only one of my experiences with C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness & there's lots of potential for expansion that makes this one a classic but as always your mileage may vary a bit.