Monday, December 7, 2015

Retro Review C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness By Allen Hammack For Advance Dungeons And Dragons First Edition and Your Old School Campaigns

A shadow from the past, the Ghost Tower of Inverness has loomed ever larger in the mind of the great Seer of Urnst. Now he has convinced the Duke that an expedition should be organized to go to the ancient keep and recover its greatest treasure - the fabled Soul Gem. And so begins one of the more troubling and controversial modules for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons or so it would seem. Right out of the gate  this isn't a light weight module, once again the C here stands for competition and that's exactly what the Ghost Tower of Inverness was meant for. This adventure centers around an adventure for 5-10 PCs, levels 5-7. That's right you can shove ten friends through this adventure and it has the potential to grind their character sheets  into confetti. This adventure was meant for tournament play and in fact its the second in the series that shows how to run a convention set for a game. C2 has a reputation as somewhat of a 'fun house' dungeon with lots of interesting tricks and puzzles inside of it. There's also lots of potential for sword and sorcery action!

So what do the dungeon master do once your party of adventurers has conquered the Temple of Elemental Evil and had the audacity to take over The Keep on The Borderlands? Well you stick them into the dungeons of the Duke of Urnst and have the Seer of Urnst have visions of their greater destiny conquering the Ghost Tower of Inverness! Its  former lair of the legendary wizard, Galap-Dreidel whose tower spies out from the mists of Woolly Bay. But why does the tower still exist and what are its secrets? Well, our answer lays with the wizard Galap-Dreidel whose always been lurking in the back of my campaigns with his chaos artifact the Soul Gem. Now if you've read or played through C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness By Allen Hammack then you know that the dungeon is rather interestingly aligned with the four elements in rather clever and puzzle like ways. Why? What possible reason is there for the 'fun house' like element of the tower? Well imagine if you will that the chaos gods who hold Galap-Dreidel's soul leak out a bauble or treasure or two into the bays and surrounding area of the tower to allow the legendary status to continue among the world of men. This keeps the tower fresh in the minds of the locals and allows the tower to collects but most of all keep the gods of  chaos entertained. Evil gods are funny that way and the adventure elements of the tower amount to reality television for the gods. Perhaps its because I read the a 'The Vanishing Tower of Voilodon Ghagnasdiak' by Michael Moorcock's Elric saga back in high school but many of the adventure setting elements of the tournament module have always plugged right into C2.

Yes, this is a fun house dungeon with some rather shall we say unique issues. This included an interesting way of purchasing magic items before play began, those choices of which affected the entire outcome of the adventure. C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness is the type of module that fits into the background of a Dark Albion or Lamentations of the Flame Princess pseudo historical setting quite readily, the place to stick it near frog men of France on a small island or remote location. The reputation and legendary status of the place would attract adventurers like flies or moths to the lamp light to have it snuff out their souls

Now I've used this module as an introductory adventure to really challenge some new players to AD&D style games and have quite successfully done so in the past because all of the PC classes from AD&D 1st edition are represented. The Wiki entry for the Ghost Tower has a very nice break down of them; "
Players may choose from one of five pre-determined characters listed in the module. 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 Duke, after providing gold for the characters to equip themselves, also provides a magic item (the Amulet of Recall) which teleports the party back to the Duke, no matter where they are. After equipping is complete, the palace guard escort the characters to the ruined site of the ghost tower, where players must then figure out actions on their own how to best enter the tower and recover the gem. Tournament Points are added, or deducted, from both team and individual scores depending on how characters choose to handle the situations they encounter. These include a chess room, a "frozen bugbear" room, a "tunnel" room, and others."  So what does this tell us about the make up of the 'party'? Well its been created for tournament play obviously but it could also be that these adventurers could have been gathered from across the campaign face because of the Duke's personal connections to the adventurers. Well, over the years I run a sort of Clue movie connection thread through the NPC's so that each of them had a dark secret connecting family, loved ones, friends to the Duke thus giving and tying in far more motive to the Tower itself. I've also thrown in the Duke's murder after completing the tower adventure itself.

Yeah so where would I place this inside of the environs of Hyperborea? I wouldn't exactly. In point of fact I've used the tower as a ghostly place that comes and goes of its own volitation and magical whims making it just that more dangerous and enabling a dungeon master to dove tail it into the back end of a campaign where  and when its need according to the adventure plot line of the players. The player's actions and motivations move everything along in a campaign. But is the timing of these that ties the whole campaign together. Always the let the players move the action and swing of things.

Is the C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness still relevant to OSR gaming and should you use it at your table? Yes and once again yes. Here's why the module remains actually useful. The internal workings of the adventure present a highly dangerous and deadly series of adventures that can easily modified to suit your own campaigns quite easily. You don't have to change the internal puzzles, monsters,or adventure elements at all. Just have the tower show up as needed then go from there; in other words place the tower at regular places and as the needs of your campaign dictate. 

Confession time, I've used C2 from time to time in many other games especially the Stormbringer rpg, the mad cap horrors of The Tower of Inverness suits the weird nature of the rpg and the tower has appeared in the Young Kingdoms a number of times. The weird nature of it suits one of the lesser used chaos gods. Balo the Jester of the Chaos Gods has his thumb prints all over the ghost tower. The traps and tricks are his hallmark and make an excellent in for this whack job of a god to come bum rushing  into your campaigns through the tower's machinations.

C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness By Allen Hammack remains a very interesting module that runs the gamut of fun house and dungeon crawl with lots of deadliness thrown into its mix but it can also make an amusing and deadly addition into your old school campaign mix if presented an interesting way.

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