EZG reviewsSlumbering Tsar 2, Part 4 and 5

Hey everybody,

today, I'm going to take a look at Greg A. Vaughan's epic Slumbering Tsar series once again!

Slumbering Tsar: The Crooked Tower

This installment of the epic Slumbering Tsar series is 76 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC and 1 page of SRD, leaving 73 pages of content, so let's take a good look at this rather big installment detailing the dread crooked tower!

This being an adventure review, the following contains massive


so please, potential players, stop reading.

This installment of the epic Slumbering Tsar saga sees the PCs take on the tower of Belishan the legendary blood mage and his cunning actually kicks off by providing a sufficiently cunning bluff - the stables feature a nightmare disguised as a paladin's mount, hopefully prompting the PCs into some rather rash and potentially deadly decisions. It's kind of nice that the Pcs get a scribbled note in the saddle-bags as a handout. The 10 levels of the tower are depicted over 7 pages of maps and a map of the city is also provided for your convenience, though it does not feature prominently in this installment. It should be noted that apart from a false throne room including a rather deadly trap/ambush, e.g. the groundskeeper makes for a quite disturbing enemy: Ever fought a natural wererat yellow-musk-creeper symbiote rogue? Thought so!

And yes, a huge and deadly advanced creeper is also on the list of things the PCs will have to kill to end the dreadful threat the inhabitants of this tower pose. Even worse, though, is that among the inhabitants of the tower, an unique entity of incorporeal hate called "Malice" still lurks and guards the bloodmage's most secure coffin. Coffin? Yup, as you might expect, the PCs are up against a rather terrible vampire of the worst caliber. It is also here the PCs can obtain some of Belishan's spells (some of which have been converted from 3.5's legendary relics and rituals - books) as well as another hand-out.

Among other obstacles, the Pcs will also have to contend with a visiting champion of Hel and might find a gallery of magical portraits, which should prove challenging, as the traps will drain the PCs resources. Traps? Oh yeah, don't forget to bring your rogue on this merry delve into the tower - the bloodmage has LITTERED his lair with traps, traps and even more traps that range from strategically placed symbols (that might plunge PCs to a 20d6 fall) to scything blades, poisons and false rung ladders. The treasury, though, containing a sepia snake sigil'd rogue/assassin/potential replacement character/helpful NPC makes up for this dangers in its rather generous and detailed treasures.

While exploring the deadly tower, the PCs will have to deal with Belishan's twisted court while not falling prey to the deceptions and false clues the vampire has spread throughout his tower, e.g. trying to bluff the PCs into releasing and fighting a dreadful petrified horror (another new creature that gets its own entry in the appendices, including artwork). Thankfully, Belishan is also not stupid in his final confrontation, bringing powerful allies with him into the fray and making for a potentially extremely deadly showdown that might be prolonged though several rooms. The PCs may also save a half-elf slave-girl and do some good, though truly getting the poor maiden to safety proves to be more difficult than anticipated, possibly resulting in a rather heart-wrenching scene. After concluding this adventures, the PCs have hopefully dealt with the vampire and found the two disciples hidden in his tower, leading off to the final installment of the Temple-City of Orcus.

The pdf closes by providing 2.5 pages of spell conversions from relics and rituals, 7 new monsters (all with their own, kick-ass b/w-artwork), new magic items (also with their own beautiful kick-ass artworks and also offer an artifact-level chess-game) and the hand-outs and maps.


Once again, the installment of the epic Slumbering Tsar saga is practically devoid of editing or formatting glitches - at least I didn't notice any. The book is also EXTENSIVELY bookmarked, providing for a resource that is very easy to navigate and use. More importantly, the vampire mage's tower offers a challenging crawl against a very well prepared villain that deserves the moniker both in terms of deviousness as well as combat prowess. Layout adheres to the established two-column b/w-standard established in FGG-products and the plethora of high-quality b/w-artworks further serves to enhance the creepy atmosphere of the crooked tower. My only true gripe is that we don't get player-friendly, key-less maps of the tower, but oh well: Taking the spell-conversions, the amount of content, the hand-outs, the cool creatures and the superb atmosphere into account, I can easily look over this minor gripe. In contrast to other ST-installments, this tower, though, is practically ready-made to drop into just about any setting, making it VERY easy to insert into any remote stretch of landscape and using it on your own. If you're on the fence about Tsar and want to check out the quality of the writing of the series or just look for a vampire's hold that is on par with e.g. "Skeletons of Scarwall" and features a more organic, intelligently planning villain, this tower is practically a must for you. Do yourself and any cocky players you might have a favor and let them run the gauntlet that is the crooked tower. Subsequently, my final verdict practically has to be a full 5 Rudii with the Endzeitgeist seal of approval - highly recommended for just about anyone who enjoys a challenging crawl and dark atmosphere.

Foundations of Infamy

This installment of the epic Slumbering Tsar series is 40 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisements and 1 page of SRD, leaving 34 pages of content, so let's take a good look at the conclusion to the venture into the dread temple-city of Orcus!

This being an adventure review, the following contains massive


so please, potential players, stop reading.

Still here? All right! The foundations of infamy detail the plateau of the city that has originally been reserved for the upper class and the clergy and it was at this center of the city that the legendary citadel of Orcus vanished. This area is supposed to be wicked, and damn, wicked it is! The Tower Gate leading into the part of the city is a beautifully complex and deadly trap waiting to crush, pierce and kill your PCs. Better yet, the tower gets its own one-page map. Nice!

Next up on the list of locations provided is the so-called cold dell, where the nobles of the city once had their bodies interred. As befitting of the wicked ruling caste, they do not rest easy in their graves and undead abound. The dell also gets its one-page map.

Next up on the iconic locales is the troll stone, a petrified troll-lord who sends out a telepathic call for help and tries to use one of the disciples to erode his prison - once the Pcs have taken the statue, they'll ahve to deal with trolls. A lot of trolls. (See the lower city for information on this)

Oh yeah, then there's the maze, a VERY convoluted area of street-building gone horribly wrong that is patrolled by many flying creatures, necessitating either combat prowess on part of the PCs or survival skills. On the other hand, if they've come this far, both can be expected. I would have really loved to see a map here rather than the abstract confusion that is resolved via dice, but oh well.

Then there's the High Church - the place of worship for the decadent and corrupt elite of the city, whose demonic inhabitants bow to one of the major adversaries of the city, the vrock Plaguebone. The huge army of ghasts and the mummy lord and his entourage that can be found in the crypts make for even more deadly sparring partners. The church also gets 4 pages of maps, depicting both its inside and outside and contains another one of the disciples.

The last section of the temple-city is also detailed herein - the plateau of the demon prince that contains both the remaining servants of a fallen dragon and the place where the 9 disciples can conjure back the legendary citadel of Orcus, whose reappearance is breathtakingly described, thus concluding the second part of the Slumbering Tsar saga.

The pdf concludes with 2 entries for magic items (one of which being the disciples), both of which get their artworks as well as the map appendix.


Formatting is top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. I did notice an instance of an upper case letter too much, but not enough to detract a star for editing glitches. The pdf is extensively bookmarked. Layout adheres to the beautiful b/w-two-column standard of the series and the maps, once again, come with the used parchment look and grids and once again, I would have loved to see some gridless, player-friendly versions to print out, cut up and hand to my players. Apart from that, well...this installment of the temple-city somewhat underwhelmed me at a very high level: I would have expected something unique, something special, a final guardian of the disciples, possibly divine intervention from the forces of heaven to warn the PCs (offering some rp-opportunities...), a maze that is a bit more original, something along those lines. Additionally, this being the finale of this part of the saga, its stand-alone qualities are not as pronounced as in other installments. If you're looking for a single file, the crooked tower would be a better choice. Finale...perhaps that's it: I would have loved to see some final encounter accompanying the return of the citadel, a kind of battle worthy of the monumental reintroduction of the evil sinkhole in which the PCs summon the place, something analogue to the dragon Malerix guarding the city of Tsar in ST:D3. Perhaps if some additional pages were included, the climax would be more epic, this is after all, the shortest of the ST-parts since the first.

For everyone following the series, this is nevertheless an excellent conclusion to the temple-city arc and thus a must-buy. For people just looking to scavenge bits and pieces, I'd refer you to another part. Not the best installment of the series, but still a good buy, my final verdict will be 4 Rudii.

This concludes my reviews of Part 2 of Slumbering Tsar, see you in Orcus' dread Citadel! Or rather, prior to that, with some other reviews! Until then, as always, thank you for reading my ramblings,

Endzeitgeist out.

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