Tower of Dead Thieves Review: When D&D pushes on the brain

Tower of Dead Thieves Review: When D&D pushes on the brain

Tower of Dead Thieves Review

Published by Kaizoku Press, Tower of Dead Thieves is an adventure for the 5th edition of the world's most popular RPG for 3-6 characters of levels ranging from 1st to 4th. An impregnable solitary tower that opens every seven years, the myth of a great treasure and the death of all those who have tried before you. Here are the ingredients of a challenge designed to be tackled using more brain than combat .

The tower of dead thieves: the product

The tower of dead thieves looks like a staple of 32 pages, excellently edited from an editorial point of view: we have not encountered a single error or typo. The aesthetic side, on the other hand, is rather meager: excluding the maps necessary to carry on the adventure, there are only two images. As for the maps, they do not particularly shine for their artistic level, preferring more the functional aspect. In all honesty, if in other cases it would have disappointed us a little, we understand the choice; We have here a module to deal with in one session (two if it really goes wrong), which we will hardly take up again: filling it with illustrations would have been of little use (and would probably have required more expense).

L 'from an ergonomic point of view it is suitable for the type of product: the text is flowing and never unnecessarily long-winded; it will be possible to play even without having read the contents of the individual pages first.

Let's now analyze what the real adventure is; as already mentioned it will be necessary to make some spoilers: if this bothers you, or if you are not the Dungeon Master, stop here!

The background

In the distant past, the last representatives of an ancient race of giants managed to accumulate a power of such magnitude as to make them believe above everything and every creature, at the point to get to defy the gods. However their pride had made them blind to the reality of things: they could do nothing against the divinities who, to punish them, locked them up in a tower, admonishing them that no great hero would ever be able to free them. Over the centuries the memory of this event was lost, and the populations that came later developed the belief that the tower was a sort of magical casket, which only the most skilled of thieves would be able to "break into". As if to confirm this, every seven years a door opens on the top of the tower, inviting the bravest (or foolish) to challenge the unknown in search of fame and glory. So far everyone who has tried has failed. And they didn't come back to tell about it. The Characters, hired by the head of the local thieves' guild, are the last in chronological order to face the challenge.

Facing The Tower of Dead Thieves

We remind you again: there will be heavy spoilers in the next few lines. If you don't want to spoil the surprise, stop reading!

Going into the details of the individual rooms wouldn't do much to get an idea of ​​the adventure we have on our hands. It is more correct to go and see some of its peculiarities and if it succeeds in its intended purpose. The first thing you need to know is that this adventure subverts, at least in part, the rules of the game on which it is based. Specifically, just to keep faith with the anathema launched by those who wanted the tower, the competence bonuses of the Characters will be altered. To be precise, this change will mainly (but not only) affect thieves and the skills generally associated with them (such as Acrobatics, Stealth or Sleight of hand): the lower the level, the higher the "active" skill bonus ” in the tower.

Another is that the adventure is presented as a “freely approachable” dungeon without a pre-established path. True and not true. In fact, players will be able to freely roam six of the seven rooms present. But, in practice, there is only one correct path to follow. Attention: by correct we do not mean, at least in this case, the only right one, but the one that will allow us to get to the end by reducing any armed clashes to a minimum (even to zero). However, the adventure does not lie to the players: at the opening there will be a sort of riddle that will illustrate the right way forward. Not only that: the more "shrewd" (or those with the right magical means) will also obtain information on how to easily overcome the various tests along the way. We will return to this in the considerations

The adventure, assuming you have figured out how to move, actually continues from one room to another, with the collection of objects that will be used to open the last of the seven rooms and those necessary to get around the guardians of each of them. And it is here that the matter takes on its worst aspect: even one step away from the end, the Characters could find death or, on the contrary, take home great prizes. We will also return to this shortly. For the sake of completeness, we point out that, although the bulk of the story takes place inside the tower, the very first part of the module also includes challenges and trials outside. We will not go into the merits of individual situations since it would be of little use to know the details: it is enough to know that some of these could immediately put an end to everything or greatly raise the level of the challenge.

Who is it for

Since this is an adventure designed for the latest edition of D&D, it goes without saying that Tower of Dead Thieves is designed primarily for those who play the latest incarnation of the most famous RPG in the world. In particular, given the peculiar approach, for those who prefer a reflexive approach to combat tout court (which in any case is not lacking).

More: since it is an adventure designed to be tackled in a single evening ( at most two) The tower of dead thieves is suitable for those who want something that doesn't take up much time or, alternatively, that can be integrated without too much effort (or detours) into a pre-existing campaign.


There are several things to analyze in "The Tower of Dead Thieves". Personally we believe that the first, and in some ways the most important, is the assessment of the challenge offered and whether this is in line with what was promised. And the answer is yes and no. Let's go explain. The adventure, introducing the variation to the proficiency bonuses we have talked about, lives up to its premise: high-level Characters here will have a difficult and probably short life. But at the same time those of rank one (target of the adventure) could find it too simple: in the face of several tests with a difficulty ranging between 12 and 15, start with a starting bonus of +6 (a to add the ability modifier to) makes it pretty hard to fail. And without the thrill of possible failure, the adventure risks stagnating a bit.

The other big factor to consider is the risk of falling into repetition; Basically, "The tower of dead thieves" provides for a reiteration of the same cycle of actions: entering a room, facing or "bypassing" the guardians, obtaining what is necessary to overcome the following ones and one of the keys to open the final door. It must be said that this possibility becomes more concrete in the case of groups which, in contrast to the spirit of adventure, prefer a "hard-nosed" approach. For Players who, on the contrary, do not disdain a more reasoned approach, there is instead enough leeway to diversify the challenges offered, evaluate the options available and decide how to deal with everything.

There is then a mechanical element that has left us perplexed: some of the proposed elements will influence the Characters according to their Experience Points. Which means, first of all, that these must be used (when today many prefer the use of Milestones for levels) and secondly that there must be a difference between the members of the group in the accumulation of the same. Which is quite difficult to happen.

The last thing we believe should be evaluated is precisely the final act of the adventure: the decision that will determine definitive success or failure. Without going into too much detail, after having faced all the tests the Characters will be faced with one last, lethal challenge. But unlike what we have seen up to now, the outcome will essentially be in the hands of the Players and not their imaginary alter egos: if they have been able to grasp the clues along the "journey", it is likely that they will emerge victorious. And, it must be said, it is not sure that all players will appreciate this type of approach.


Overall The Tower of Dead Thieves is a decent adventure : although not the classic example of "milestone", able to be remembered even years after being played, manages to provide different moments of the game that can give an interesting game evening. Clearly meant to be tackled in a one-shot, it can be broken in two without problems. Its "agnostic" nature makes it easy to insert, with few (or no) modifications, both in an already ongoing campaign and in any setting.

The only concrete risk is that it may be somewhat repetitive: here the real discriminant will be the nature of the group of players. Those who prefer a combat-based approach may soon tire here, but if you don't disdain the use of gray matter and unconventional approaches, you will be able to enjoy the proposed challenge more.

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