Tower of the Stargazer

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Tower of the Stargazer
It will be fun, I promise.
Module published by
Self published
Rule System Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Authors James Raggi IV

Tower of the Stargazer is (allegedly) an introductory adventure to Lamentations of the Flame Princess, written by James Edward Raggi IV. To quote the author, the goal of this adventure was to "be an example to new Referees about how to design and run adventures", which apparently involves being a dick toward your players as much as humanly possible.

The premise is quite simple: an abandoned wizard tower, full of treasures and weird contraptions. It's supposed to be somewhat dangerous because the wizard was paranoid, but (once again, allegedly) unless the PC "fiddle with things “just because” with no actual identifiable purpose", there shouldn't be "too much in the way of danger to be had". I’m sure this will end well, so let’s go!

The adventure[edit]

Spoiler.gifThis article contains spoilers! You have been warned.

The first step is obviously opening the doors of the tower. We’re already off to a good start: using the handle instead of the knocker will trigger a poison trap. If you fail your save roll, you die. Yep. You can die literally a few seconds after starting the adventure.

There isn’t much to discover on the first floor, except some valuable bottles of wine, one of which being poisoned and requiring a save versus poison to not die (I’m already sensing a theme, here). It is advised to the GM that “in no circumstances should the poisoned bottle be described any differently from the others unless someone actually drinks from it”.

The third floor is the wizard’s room (the second floor being mostly empty). The wizard is still here, trapped within a circle of salt after a spell gone wrong. The trick is that freeing the wizard (who acts friendly at first) will end the adventure, as he will give out a bit of money, then ask the players to leave or simply kill them. After 5 minutes of play, you’re potentially either getting a TPK or leaving just about empty-handed (well, or with a certain bottle of wine). Fun fun fun. (You do have some forewarning that he's a murderous lunatic off his gourd, but...)

The final floor is the telescope’s room, which is somewhat complex to activate. If your players manage to find the missing pieces and activate the mechanism, you can reward them by LITERALY TELEPORTING THEM THROUGH SPACE (they will die horrifically at the other end, if that wasn’t clear), because that’s what telescopes do. Of course, there’s a fake treasure room (and the chests are, of course, trapped with poison darts, which trigger, you guessed it, save versus poison or die).

There’s also a fake workshop, with unidentified potions (none of them having beneficial effects, but at least some of them being a great way to open a door to a magical realm). Then there’s the REAL workshop, which will make you regret leaving the fake one. It contains phials of living blood (hope you have a wizard in the group, because it’s invulnerable to physical attacks), a mirror which triggers a save versus magic or have your soul destroyed, and a zombie whose body is sewn up with golden thread, that a party can potentially attempt to loot. At that point I take a little pause and remind you of that little paragraph in a lot of RPG books telling you that you should ensure that everyone is comfortable with the tone of the game. None of that bullshit in LOFTP: there’s a little textbox advising you to make a very graphic description of the zombie ESPECIALLY if that makes your players uneasy. I can’t resist giving you this wonderful quote:

The game system is designed for convenience and expedited resolution, not to protect the sensibilities of the players! Nobody can blame people who want some mindless entertainment, but people who want to swing swords and slay the bad guys without ever thinking about the sucking wounds and spurting blood and screams of agony that are implicitly involved are not just living in the fantasy world of a game, they are living in denial.

Anyway, if you try to pull the thread out, the zombie's organs explode out of him and try to kill people.

Oh, there’s also a mirror which triggers a poison save for some reason. And a monster who challenges the players to a different game, like chess, which is supposed to be played out in real time. The module actually explains why this is a terrible idea, and how the playtest group, rather than all teaming up to help win, just kind of sat around bored while it resolved, but then doesn't tell you not to do it because... who knows?

The adventure ends with the treasure room (and a leech in a corpse triggering a save versus paralysis or die). The treasure room is a semi-standard "figure out the exact configuration of switches necessary to progress" puzzle, and once again, new quote:

For the record, the playtest group failed to collect the treasure. As they pulled the levers, they did nothing more than look at the force fields, hoping for a visual sign of change. There is none. So they destroyed the mechanism, hoping that would drop the force fields. It did not, so they were stuck staring at the treasure but not really having a way to get to it.

Because that’s obviously how you GM.

Well, that's it. It's not a terrible adventure, actually, if a bit old school, but if you want a good example of why James Edward Raggi IV's writing is infuriating, read it.