Icewind Dale, Ten-Towns, Regis the lovable halfling scoundrel, and Drizzt Do'Urden, drow ranger. These names are legendary in the annals of the Forgotten Realms setting, made famous in the best-selling novels by author R.A. Salvatore.
Now, Salvatore and his original gaming group, the Seven Swords, return to the Savage Frontier in this exciting 32-page adventure. The PCs begin in the port city of Luskan, where they're hired on by a caravaning merchant to perform guard duty for the long, dangerous journey over the Spine of the World Mountains. If the heroes do well, they reach the small town of Targos, where they hear rumors of a dead mage's lost tower out on the tundra. In order to find it, the PCs must overcome numerous obstacles but may find allies in the peoples of the Ten-Towns region, including a barbarian prince, a sly halfling, and a unique ranger.
Not all is as it seems, though, nor can all smiling faces be trusted. Can the PCs separate the truth from the lies, locate the Accursed Tower, determine all its secrets, and survive?
This low-level stand-alone adventure fits into any existing Forgotten Realms campaign. It's also easily adapted to any other AD&D game campaign world. For 4 to 8 characters of levels 1st-3rd.
"The Accursed Tower," by R.A. Salvatore and the Seven Swords, is an adventure set in the Forgotten Realms. It was published in February 1999.
The Triumphant Return of the Writer. When the Realms first appeared in 1987, it was envisioned as a multimedia property, spanning both fiction and gaming. Five writers were invited to author the first novels for the setting: Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb, Douglas Niles, Kate Novak, and R.A. Salvatore. Of the five, Salvatore was the only "outsider." His work had come to TSR's notice almost by chance; despite that, The Crystal Shard (1988) would prove to be the start of one of TSR's longest-running and best-selling series of novels.
Over the years, Salvatore wrote over a dozen novels for TSR. His most famous ones were set in the North, on the Savage Frontier of the Realms, and continued the story of the dark elf Drizzt and his friends. These books included Streams of Silver (1989), The Halfling's Gem (1990), Homeland (1990), Exile (1990), Sojourn (1991), The Legacy (1992), Starless Night (1993), Siege of Darkness (1994), and Passage to Dawn (1996).
Despite Salvatore's ongoing success, TSR did something totally inexplicable in its final years: They took Drizzt away from Salvatore and assigned a new writer to author his next novel. Mark Anthony's "The Shores of Dusk" was completed and ready to publish; it would have been the next episode in the Drizzt saga if not for TSR's near bankruptcy.
When Wizards of the Coast took over TSR's properties, they corrected TSR's error by shelving "The Shores of Dusk" and reestablishing a relationship with Salvatore. His first novel with them was The Silent Blade (1998). However Salvatore's work with Wizards would also extend beyond novels to include an adventure module - and one set in his favorite stomping ground in the Realms. It appeared just a few months after The Silent Blade.
Of course, Salvatore didn't write "The Accursed Tower" alone; it was co-authored by the Seven Swords.
Who Are the Seven Swords? The Seven Swords was a small company created by R.A. Salvatore's eight-member gaming group after Salvatore's older brother, Gary, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The intent of the organization was to give Gary something new to do, to take his mind off his health problems. The members included Mike Leger, Brian Newton, Tom Parker, David Salvatore, Gary Salvatore, and Jim Underdown.
"The Accursed Tower" was the first project for the group. Afterward, they contributed some minor elements to Quake III Arena (1999) and created an online web store to resell objects of interest to gamers. This "online fantasy connection" sold t-shirts, novels (mostly by R.A. Salvatore), and gaming supplies. It was similar to the original conception of Chaosium's Wizard's Attic, which resold Cthulhu products to the general public.
Unfortunately, Gary Salvatore succumbed to his cancer in 2000. The Seven Swords as a company and online web site disappeared shortly thereafter. They remain together as a gaming group and reunited as a team years later to help Salvatore create a history for 38 Studios' (now defunct) MMORPG.
Adventure Tropes. "The Accursed Tower" is an adventure of the sort that you might have found in a previous era. The players guard a caravan through a wilderness, visit a city, and then investigate a "dungeon" (the eponymous tower) - which is to say, it uses all of the big three adventure locales of the 80s.
With that said, events and investigation give the adventure depth once the players reach the city. There's also some interesting backstory behind the tower and even underlying the players' investigation of it. Better, some of that backstory actually makes a difference in the adventure.
On the whole, "The Accursed Tower" is a nice combination and execution of two and a half decades worth of adventuring tropes.
Expanding the Realms. "The Accursed Tower" begins in Luskan, the City of Sails; from there, it takes players to Icewind Dale and the towns of Targos and Lonelywood. As such, it broadly encompasses the setting of Salvatore's "The Icewind Dale Trilogy" (1988-90), translating the places described by Salvatore in The Crystal Shard, Streams of Silver, and The Halfling's Gem into gaming locales. It even gives cameos to two characters from the trilogy: Drizzt the ranger and Regis the halfing.
There are many TSR setting books that give more detail to the area, including FR5: "The Savage Frontier" (1988), Volo's Guide to the North (1993), and The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (1996). However, background material tends to be very different from actual adventuring material, as appears here.
Wizards would return to the area for another adventure the next year in "The Dungeon of Death" (2000).
About the Creators. Though Salvatore is best known for his Forgotten Realms novels, he'd previously written one major AD&D supplement, FR9: "The Bloodstone Lands" (1989), and contributed to a few others. However, most of that RPG work had been a decade previous, before Salvatore's writing career took off, and thus "The Accursed Tower" was a return.
Today, Salvatore says that he'd still love to write another adventure module because he's "a DM by nature."
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.