15 Feb

Review: James M. Ward’s Tower of the Scarlet Wizard

Eldritch Enterprises LogoTower of the Scarlet Wizard is an adventure put out by Eldritch Enterprises’ to be adapted to any fantasy setting. Written by James M. Ward, the writer of Dark Outpost (previously reviewed here), this adventure offers the unique twist of allowing a PC to inherit the dungeon after it is explored.

Eldritch Enterprises once again serves up an old-school, open-ended adventure that fits easily into any campaign and adapts to nearly any rules set you might use. It calls for “three or more players of moderate experience” on the cover and threatens a 60% fatality rating, although, at a glance, I think it is certainly more forgiving than several other Eldritch Enterprises offerings. Like all their products, it is a very easy matter to further increase or decrease the difficulty of the adventure and Tower of the Scarlet Wizard offers a number of encounters that are not based on combat alone. (Be warned, there might be some spoilers ahead.)

Rewards of Tower of the Scarlet Wizard

Tower of the Scarlet WizardJames M. Ward points out in his introduction that he is a fan of doling out treasure and magic, and he issues fair warning to GMs who may need to adjust things to their setting. The rewards do not seem out of place coming from a wizard of great power, though, and the largest reward is the tower itself which falls to one of the PCs as the heir to the wizard’s abode. Of course, there is a rival that competes for that same prize.

This simple hook opens possibilities beyond this adventure that immediately set my mind working. Published adventures, to me, are merely launching points and sources of inspiration and I rarely run them straight from the pages. Tower of the Scarlet Wizard can very easily be run that way, though, and can probably fill a full day’s session (dependent on how much detailed exploration the PCs attempt). I’ll admit, it felt a little short compared to previous Eldritch Enterprises offerings, but it was so rich in potential future plots that I think any reasonably experienced GM can add in additional off-the-cuff material (or even have some prepared encounters derived from this adventure) to extend the adventure as needed.

Some Nuts and Bolts of Tower of the Scarlet Wizard

Stats are presented in a generic format, as is any “crunch” that would be derived directly from the system being used. I’ve discussed Eldritch Enterprises method frequently in previous reviews so, rather than repeat myself, I’ll direct you to some of those reviews. Suffice to say, you’ll need to do a little prep work before your game session, but it’s easy to adapt after spending a little time with it.

The maps and artwork were in line with the “old school” style, although I preferred what I found in Curse of the Weaver Queen overall. The material is well-organized and presented in a sensible order and even a quick skim of the adventure is enough to prepare a reasonably experienced GM if time is short.

Tower of the Scarlet Wizard can leave unanswered questions for the PCs setting the stage for further adventures. And with the tower as a potential base of operations, it sets up a perfect opportunity for the “reverse dungeon” scenario, where the PCs have the home court advantage when their enemies seek them out and attack. If handled well, and not destroyed, a number of the tower’s defenses will work to the party’s advantage if the warlord/demon/lich they recently angered comes calling.

As always, DriveThruRPG.com has Tower of the Scarlet Wizard available for download and fans of Eldritch Enterprise’s work and old-school material should certainly check it out. I reviewed the PDF version of the adventure, but it is also available in softcover from DriveThruRPG.com.

2 thoughts on “Review: James M. Ward’s Tower of the Scarlet Wizard

    1. I’ve not read it, but now I’m curious. I’ll have to track it down. I was aware of Metamorphosis Alpha when I first started playing D&D but my budget for games as a kid was limited enough that I could only really pursue one system at a time. I loved the concept then, and even more as an adult, and its on my short list of things to dive back into and explore, even from just a design standpoint.

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