DMs Guild Review – The Dead Wizard’s Tower

A one-shot dungeon crawl in a magical tower for level 5.

dms guild review

A review copy of “The Dead Wizard’s Tower” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Jordan Carmichael

The Dead Wizard’s Tower is a short dungeon crawl that takes place – you guessed it – entirely within a magical tower. A wizard has recently passed and his friendly rival tasks a party of adventurers to go inside and retrieve his staff and spellbook.

Unfortunately the one-shot lacks any kind of map, and the dungeon quickly devolves into a series of linear combat encounters.

The Dead Wizard’s Tower is designed for a party of 3-5 players around level 5. Thanks to the tower’s magic, you can easily place it in anywhere on the road as a random side encounter.

The layout is solid, with the standard sepia parchment paper and D&D font styles, though I was aggrieved to note numerous grammatical errors – including in the damn title itself, which I’ve taken the liberty of fixing.

The dungeon crawl begins with an interesting premise. Outside of the tower is a halfling wizard mourning the loss of his friend and rival wizard. He hires the opportunistic party to enter the tower, brave its defenses, and retrieve the wizard’s staff and spellbook.

The recently deceased wizard specialized in studying life, and trying to create life out of magic. I was hoping we’d get something that touched on horror or sci-fi tropes of artificial intelligence.

dms guild

Instead the tower boils down a to series of linear combat encounters in a generic wizard dungeon. Animated Armor? Check. Flying Swords? Check. Gargoyles? Check. The arboretum floor has potential, but again, it’s nothing more than a combat room full of blights (and a random Couatl showing up that you can easily brush off).

The only trap or hazard is with the gargoyle encounter, and involves a sand timer, though I was confused about what exactly the PCs need to do other than simply survive and wait for time to tick down and the doors to open. A series of riddles at the end helps break up the fighting before taking on the final boss battle of a Spectator at the top of the tower.

The only real inkling of the life theme is through a sentient clay golem found in the final treasure room, which can also very easily turn into yet another combat encounter, as it requires two challenging DC 18 Persuasion checks to avoid a fight. I would’ve liked to see this unique character expanded on and used throughout the dungeon, maybe even as a potential NPC party member if it goes over well with the PCs.

As many problems as I had with the adventure, the epilogue wasn’t one of them. Too many adventures and dungeon crawls ignore or truncate the final epilogue, and I appreciate how we get half a page of multiple paragraphs explaining the different ways the quest-giving wizard can react depending on if the PCs turn in the requested loot, or the golem.

The Dead Wizard’s Tower has a lot of wasted potential. It needed a lot less combat (not to mention the time constraints for a one-shot!), needed a series of grid maps for each floor, and needed something beyond a generic wizard lair dungeon

Pros:

  • Solid layout and organization.
  • Epilogue details multiple endings.

Cons:

  • Grammatical errors.
  • No map.
  • Combat heavy and extremely linear.

The Verdict: The Dead Wizard’s Tower begins with a Solid premise, but quickly devolves into a series of linear combat encounters.

A review copy of “The Dead Wizard’s Tower” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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