Dark Tower Design Diary: Writing a Dark Tower Adventure

Our Dark Tower Designer Diaries take an in depth behind-the-scenes look at the massive undertaking that was updating this gaming classic. Check out our entire range of Dark Tower products for 5E and DCC, and be sure to catch past and future Dark Tower Design Diaries.

In this installment of the Dark Tower Design Diaries, James Floyd Kelly tells us what it was like to design an all new adventure set in the world of this classic module.

Writing a Dark Tower Adventure

By James Floyd Kelly

Writing an adventure is always fun, but rarely do I get the opportunity to create something that will be added to a piece of history. I’ve been playing RPGs since 1980, and I’ve been a GM almost as long. During those early RPG days, many adventures caught my eye at the game store (it was actually a card & gift shop and the owner had a small section for gamers near the back of the store). I’ve run many of the most famous adventures (we called them modules back then), and Goodman Games has created OAR books for quite a few of them now. I had the opportunity to do a bit of writing for GG’s OAR book Temple of Elemental Evil, and I grinned ear to ear when that book released and I saw that my small contribution was now part of a well-known and historical RPG adventure known around the world. I took pride in that opportunity and never thought I’d find another chance to create something to go along with a legacy product.

And then Chris Doyle, the editor of the OAR line, contacted me and dropped two words that grabbed my attention and held on tight – Dark Tower. Oh, I remember Dark Tower. The cover was what first caught my attention, with its Egyptian-themed statue stretching up as if I were an adventurer standing at its base. That was a purchase I’ll never regret, although I do regret having lost that module somewhere during the last 40 years or so.

With its introduction to Set, one of the most evil and powerful deities to ever exist in the game, this was an adventure to make even veteran players think twice about every action they took.

Today, it still stands as a significant module in my mind, and the fact that Goodman Games decided to update it for a modern audience AND have additional adventures created in its setting AND that they asked me to create one of those adventures? Well, how could I say no? Here was another adventure from my youth, and one that I could possibly be running again at the gaming table!

I immediately opened and read and re-read my reprint of the entire adventure. Ideas formed, ideas ran amuck, and ideas mutated and squirmed and demanded to be released. Of course, for this to be successful, there had to be rules and guidelines. Thankfully, that’s where Goodman Games comes in. Goodman Games provides standards for how adventures are formatted and structured, they provide an editor (Chris) to make sure the writers are adhering to the rules as well as the 5e guidelines, and they create the amazing artwork and handouts that just seal the deal. As a fan of 5E and a fan of ancient Egypt, this writing opportunity was a real gift. Over a series of months, I worked with Chris and my fellow writers to create some new traps, new encounters, and… some really terrifying Sons of Set.

For my adventure, the characters will be going up against Caphet, one of the most vile and cruel Sons of Set. I like to design adventures that I would also enjoy playing, so players can expect a mix of traps, puzzles, and clues that will help them to defeat Caphet who has divided his heart into three pieces and hidden them in temple obelisks with some deadly guardians. Retrieve the heart pieces, destroy the obelisks, and summon the hidden Onyx Citadel and end the evil of Caphet once and for all!

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