Friday, February 28, 2014
Finding the Gems: WGR1 Greyhawk Ruins [Part 2]
In this second and final installment reviewing WGR1: Greyhawk Ruins, we'll cover The Tower of War, The Tower of Power, and the Tower of Zagig--each of which are almost completely separate dungeons in their own right. But first, the obligatory SPOILER ALERT and a few notes:
--What I said about boxed texts in the first part of the review isn't necessarily true. While there is only one example of boxed text, many of the encounters begin with a short introductory paragraph that sounds like it should be read allowed to your players. You may or may not, but they are not "boxed" so to speak.
--There's lots of treasure to be found within the ruins--so much it might unbalance your game. Fortunately, there's ways of taking it away, too.
--Paint up more miniatures. Readers of 3e+ editions of D&D might be surprised at how many monsters there are in many of these encounters--especially in the Tower of War.
--The module features monsters that may have been lost in later editions: spriggans, the giant two-headed troll, the urd, the orog (though I'd prefer to call them "black orcs" or "Uruk-hai.")
The Tower of War
If you're looking for plot, you'll find it in this dungeon. The "underworlders" (as the module designers call them) have set their sights on attacking Greyhawk City itself. And they'll eventually have the means to do it. They first, however, need to secure the massive War Wagon on the first level and quell a civil war amid their ranks. Even a couple of gods have gotten involved.
Here you have lots and lots of goblinoids and giants, with a number of other races at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
The PCs also have to contend with dwarves exacting tribute everytime the PCs leave the dungeon.
The PCs will discover the secret behind this campaign against Greyhawk on the final level.
The Tower of Power
This place is sometimes called the "Tower of Magic"--sometimes the text alternates between the two names.
These dungeons are stocked full of weird magic and experiments. A cadre of spellcasters run this dungeon; the DM has to come with his own stats for them, which is fine. This enables the DM to customize the module for his own game.
A lot of interesting weapons and magic can be found, along with a history of Castle Greyhawk and Zagig--and even a secret pertaining to Oerth itself.
The Tower of Zagig
This is best described as an "adventurers graveyard." According to the introductory text, so many adventurers have died within this ruins that their bones litter the ground every where. During combat, both the PCs and their opponents must make dexterity checks for fall prone. Past adventurers/victims have scrawled graffiti on the walls.
This also the most difficult of the three towers. The PCs have to go through a series of landings (each with traps or monsters) to even reach the first level. Many encounters feature instant kills.
Also, there's a lot of empty rooms in comparison to the other towers. Not sure why--perhaps its to represent that the tower has been looted--but it also contains lots of potent monsters.
Be prepared for some weird encounters meant to confuse the PCs.
The final levels are almost unreachable unless the PCs know what to look for (or get lucky).
Augmenting Greyhawk Ruins
1. Avoiding the "Crawl" in Dungeon Crawl.
As I read through the Tower of Power, the "Crater Ridge Mines" from the 3e adventure Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil came to mind. Anybody who's played through it can attest to how much of a slog that area can be. The same might hold true for many parts of Greyhawk Ruins.
Solution: A lot of these areas are set up so that the creatures from one area can interact with creatures from another area. The PCs should always be on their guard for reinforcements--especially in the more populated areas. Use the random encounter charts.
2. Add your own levels. I mentioned this in part one. The best place to do this would be in the Tower of Zagig between each of the landings.
The Tower of War: Conan the Barbarian, Herzeleid
Tower of Power: Excalibur movie soundtrack
Tower of Zagig: The Ninth Gate, Selections from Eyes Wide Shut
Get this if: You want to complete your collection of Greyhawk materials. You want to run a campaign featuring the Greyhawk Ruins. Your players like exploring dungeons full of traps, monsters, and treasure--even though some it might not make logical sense.
Don't get this if: You're not interested in 2e adventures or you still have a 25 year old grudge against TSR.