Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: The Tower of Azal’Lan DF32

Dragonsfoot isn’t a place I visit very often. In general I read blogs and G+, but forums just don’t keep my attention, mostly because they don’t feed into my RSS reader. Yet it seems that it was the place that those who never stopped playing classic D&D went before the advent of the OSR. Since then, I’ve heard it said that they claim there is no such thing as the OSR. I’m not sure how that works out, but in the dark times before the OSR they managed to produce a fair amount of new material that’s still in their archives. One such item is DF32 - The Tower of Azal’Lan, a 1e adventure for 5-9 PCs of level 4-6.

This is as much a mini campaign guide as it is an adventure, clocking in at an impressive 48 pages, including cover. It begins in the city, moves to a pair of wilderness journeys that ends at the tower itself. One of the wilderness tracks is longer but safer, the other shorter and more dangerous.

Information on Innspa (the town) takes up 9 pages that covers quite a lot of information. Topics covered include:
  • History and geography get about a page
  • Taxation is given half a page
  • Food Lodging and Entertainment is half a page
  • Shops 1 full page, 2 column list format
  • Religion 1 page, mostly a list of the gods of greyhawk showing the type of temple and the basic info on the high priests.
  • Weather gets a quarter page
  • 8 random encounters (half day, half night) take up the remaining 5 pages.

All of this before we get to the adventure! Unfortunately the entirety of the urban events take place within a single inn, and spans only 3 pages, at the end of which the players will receive a map to a long lost magical treasure.

The wilderness map (which doesn’t show Innspa - there’s a village shown as “minerstown” where Innspa should be) and the background story for the players are the next two pages.

The two wilderness tracks each consist of 8 possible random encounters (again half day, half night), while one offers the possibility of meeting up with some elves - I mean olves. while the other route you might encounter some dwarves- I mean dwur. Depending on how things go, these might be friendly encounters, or they might not.

This brings us to the final act of the adventure, the tower itself. It is, of course, defended, but more than that, the defenders will actually respond to the adventurers, not just stand around waiting for them to take them out one room at a time. On top of that there is a twist with the appearance of other adventurers.

Overall this is a pretty impressive product. The town is highly fleshed out, the two sets of wilderness encounters are nice, and the end is satisfying. The encounters are a nice mix of the expected and the unexpected, where the unexpected can be both deadly and rewarding. The interior art is above average for a free booklet, and I especially like Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s art. I wish it had been Beaulieu’s art throughout, but given that he seems to be a professional artist, I can see why that might be difficult.

On the flip side I really don’t understand why the author renamed elves, dwarves, etc. It drove me nuts reading through the adventure. I also don’t get why the town is described so fully and then not used, and the lack of a rumor table is almost criminal for an adventure like this!Easy enough to take advantage of the town info, and use the adventure to figure out some rumor tables if you're so inclined.


  1. Didn't the original Greyhawk folio label elves as olves and dwarves as dwur?

    1. Did it? Way before my time, and I've never gotten my hands on a copy. Even so, this is an adventure that's written for AD&D1e, not OD&D.