Periodically I try to catch up on reporting the various Swords & Wizardry releases (compatible with all old school games, blah blah) that are coming out as regularly as clockwork from Frog God Games. Since I wrote this, links to much more objective reviews are at the end of this post:
SPIRE OF IRON AND CRYSTAL
I wrote this module myself, and first ran it (other than playtesting) at North Texas RPGCon 2009. As it happens, I think this is the best module I've ever written. The Frog God version of it is basically unchanged except for a better map and the addition of illustrations -- the original version, I think, might only have had two pictures in it. If you already have a copy of the module, there's no need to buy the new one, although I think it has been much improved by the additions of great Robert Altbauer maps and some eerie illustrations by MKultra Studios. If you don't have a copy, all I can say is that I personally like this one best out of everything I have written over the years. I'm trying to top it with the ones I'm writing now, and although I'm really liking what I've got in the works, I'm getting less and less sanguine about actually being able to beat this one. We shall see. In the meantime, this one still stands as the best module I've done to date.
Deep in the wilderness stands the legendary Spire of Iron and Crystal, a bizarre structure of twisting iron and four enormous crystals that seem to grow from the very ground itself. The fabled riches of the Spire have never been plundered, for no entrances have ever been found.... until now. Your party of adventurers has discovered the long-hidden secret of entering the Spire.
An adventure for 4-6 characters level 5-6. Tournament scoring and characters are included (note: playtesting indicates it runs best without the time pressures of a tournament format).
Grognardia gave the original an excellent review with 9 out of 10 for creativity:
"this is an excellent mid-level adventure module for referees looking for a slightly more outré locale into which to throw the characters in their campaign. I suspect it will prove a very difficult challenge for many players. Finch pulled out all the stops in writing this one, creating both a truly memorable environment and filling it with obstacles to test even experienced players."
Philotomy Jurament's review is also awesome:
The Spire offers a unique and challenging adventuring environment that feels very alien in nature. Some elements of the dungeon are reassuringly familiar (there are cooridors, rooms, et cetera), but even those familiar elements have bizarre differences from the norm. Other elements are far from the norm, and often quite unexpected. When running my PC through the Spire, I had the feeling that anything could happen, and that I had crossed over into an uncertain world, almost like another dimension. The Spire possesses genre-bending weird-tech elements, but the presentation and the play feels natural (i.e. not jarring) and very suspenseful (fear of the unknown). I think the best way to describe the feeling I got, adventuring in the Spire, was that it reminded me of the anxiousness and uncertainty I remember from my earliest D&D experiences, going "in search of the unknown" and not having any idea what I might find. For a jaded gamer who has played since the 70s, that's quite a thrill.
Jeff Rients said (again, this is about the original publication, but the text is unchanged):
"So yesterday I read The Spire of Iron and Crystal, a Swords & Wizardry adventure from S&W guru Matthew Finch. Man, this is great stuff. The Spire compares very favorably in tone and content to module B4 The Lost City, by the late great Tom Moldvay. "
Dreams in the Lich House (that's Beedo) says:
"Let me just say up front, I found this to be one of the strongest adventures that's been published by the OSR. "
The printed module is $11.99 (includes the pdf as well), and the pdf alone is $4.99.
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