Tuesday, January 4, 2022
The video I have begun this post with is an old TV commercial for the Parker Brother's board game, TOWER OF THE WIZARD KING.
I've included it because I have recently acquired TOWER OF THE WIZARD KING in a shoppe of many ancient gaming relics. I found this box languishing in a forgotten corner and was immediately drawn to the old school box illo, which evoked TSR artist Roslof to me.
This game is one which has what I term a "Toy Gimmick", much like the game MouseTrap or Operation- that means a mechanical toy element is central to the game.
In the case of TOWER OF THE WIZARD KING, the Toy Gimmick is a plastic tower with a lever (molded as a battle axe with a skull on top) which has a spinner mechanism inside to deliver up a different fantasy figurine at the door each time you spin it, randomizing a selection of fantasy heroes and monsters.
Throughout the game, any one of the players will transform into a different character or monster by choice or by the choosing of an opposing player through the use of a certain token. When this happens, the lever of the Wizard Tower is pushed and a new character or monster, with new powers and weaknesses, becomes a player's new avatar in the game board.
The premise of the game is that the Wizard King, an ultra powerful Magi, is soon to shuffle off his mortal coil for a new, immaterial but transcendent state of being, bequeathing his rule to one of four of his proteges.
These proteges are four wizards, each typified and named by the particular element of their chosen domain- Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
The game of TOWER OF THE WIZARD KING is a conflict amongst these four Magi, played out through the various fantasy figurines which represent their designated champions. These include Orc, Minotaur, Dwarf, Elf, Human Warrior, and others, eight in all.
The object of the game is to move about the board in a number of territories and vanquish castles, opposing players, and other enemies to win pennants of you wizard's colors to adorn your castles. As you do so, you will transform via the Wizard Tower or force you enemies to transform. Each time a player transforms the old Wizard King ascends one of fifteen steps towards the roof of the Tower.
When he reaches the top, the game ends, with the player holding the most pennants claiming the new title of Wizard King and winning the game.
The physical components of the game are very well made, very quality, with very good sculpting, The board is a tri-fold display of four different types of terrain, and an interesting and strategic element of the game is that different characters/monsters have lesser or greater movement options based on what terrain they are in- Swamp, Forest, Plain or Mountain. The character and monster cards are printed on a very durable and colorful card-stock.
To further expand movement options are the inclusion of Caves on some terrain areas, allowing faster travel to and from cave areas for characters that warrant such concessions, such as the Minotaur or Ogre.
There is a river which dissects the game board and most characters may only cross the river if they are in a territory that has a bridge- two exception are the Dragon or Skeleton form- the Dragon can fly over and I presume the Skeleton doesn't need a bridge because it can simply traverse the river botton without a care!
As you move through territories, there are tokens you can land on: many are castles, either your own or that of one of the other three enemy Magi, or, in some case, a lair or stronghold of a monster you must vanquish. Other tokens are magic spells you can use to hinder or assault an enemy Mage. Other Tokens give you the right to force an enemy to transform, leaving them to a randomized result of champion. In addition, each of the four Magi who aspire to be King have a personalized spell fitted to their element (Air, Fir, Earth, Water) they can use during the game.
This game has a great component and visual strength- it also has good mechanics that allow for more than luck but invite strategic calculation. It can last up to two hours for four players, although the game can be a three or two player game as well.
If it has a weakness, most comments online I have examined reveal that after repeated use, the Tower of Transformation can become sticky and not spin as well. I obtained a set that had never been played and after testing the Tower I would advise that if you acquire this game, the lever be moved very gently to prolong it's use. Rough handling will likely impair the Toy Gimmick.
The last thing I have to comment on is the Combat System. During the game, characters will face various fores and even player vs. player conflicts.
The combats are resolved by throwing a number of six sided dice dictated by character type. Stronger character, more dice. Any "tie" dice cancel each other out- after ties are resolved, the side with the highest single dice roll is triumphant.
I have yet to play this game, but I have set it up and worked out the rules of movement and placement and it is sure to be a a good time.
Below is a video review of the game which you will find most enlightening! Please give a like and maybe a comment or even a subscribe to the Channel TableTop Island- he puts out alot of energy and entertains as well as informs!
I should say I got lucky and only dropped Two Jacksons for my set, which was pristine, tokens not punched, all pieces in the original sealed bags. The game is somewhat collectible and can cost as much as near $200 USD for an upopened set. Used sets are usually close to a $100 USD.
I will note, however, that HASBRO has a free PDF of the rules, and a clever and resourceful person could construct their own components and board. The Tower would be tricky, but if you couldn't build a mechanism that randomized figures, you could just use dice to randomize character/monster type. I actually plan on constructing my own, more model-like board and components.
I just love these old games and I know they still resonate with people today.
Till next time, GOOD GAMING!!
TABELTOP ISLAND REVIEW OF TOWER OF THE WIZARD KING:
Monday, November 29, 2021
Perhaps you need a challenging room to drop into a dungeon which it suits.
The Chamber of the Potentate is sure to test the party's mettle!
An illustration and diagram of the Chamber may be uploaded at some point; for now, a simple description will equip the Dungeon Master in placing this encounter in his dungeon map.
There is seemingly but one entrance/exit to the Chamber, which is shaped rather like the Omega symbol of the Greek Alphabet, except that set in either side of the arms of the Omega shape are two alcoves that are semi circle shaped and have a floor space of around ten feet each.
If viewed as a room diagram, the bottom of the Omega symbol is a wall set with a double door (connected to a hall or room in your dungeon) which opens of it's own accord if the someone in the party uses the brazen knocker that adorns the door in it's center. The doors open inward to reveal the curved room and it's alcoves.
30' from the door, set in the center of the curved back wall are two stylized towers about 5' in height. They are 10' apart from each other and jut out in 2-D relief, being, in fact, unlit braziers, though this will not be immediately apparent at a glance.
Betwixt the towers hang, each on twin brass hooks, two long swords of equal length, one having a white hilt set with three small diamonds, the other a black hilt set with three onyx stones.
Above the swords, situated in the center of the wall as if presiding over the two towers, is a great iron visage of a king's face, crowned and hooded with beard and flowing mustache. In each tine of his crown are set four stones, two onyx and two diamonds, the onyx stones being over the black sword, the diamonds over the white one.
In the alcoves are two thaumaturgical pentagons filled with lines and incomprehensible symbols, directly opposite one another.
In the center of the chamber is a roughly hewn great stone, some four feet in height, set with a bronze tablet which inclines towards the door.
There are unlit torches on the wall which can illuminate the room brightly if kindled.
The bronze plaque reads as follows in Common:
By Fire and Sword
Shall the Way be
And the Voice Be Known.
Choose Thy Blade.
The two swords are magical, and of opposing alignments. The black sword represents Chaos, the white one Law. Their properties and magical bonuses should be decided by the DM in accord with the level of the party and the creatures chosen by the DM that appear in a pentagon if a sword is taken.
Both swords have the power to Change Alignment, which happens instantaneously to anyone who lifts a blade from it's hooks. If someone of the same alignment as the sword draws it no change of alignment occurs, though the summoning of guardians takes place.
If the black sword is chosen by any character able to use it, at that instant inside the right alcove will materialize a Lawful Good monster of the DM's choice which will immediately attack the black sword wielder in a fight to the death.
If the white sword is chosen, a chaotic evil creature will appear in the left alcove and immediately beset the white sword wielder in the same fashion. If two characters each take a sword, it will play out the same way.
The monsters will attack only the sword holder and ignore any attacks from others; if they are killed, they do not die but vanish. They can kill the characters, though.
The party should not be told of the alignment change, or the "why"- though the DM can let affected players know later in private so they can begin playing their new alignment.
Examination of the towers reveal their turrets to be inlaid metal channels with old scorch marks. Lighting fires in them will unlock a magical effect ONLY AFTER the guardian or guardians have been defeated.
Once the battle has ended, the face of iron's mouth will animate and say in a metallic, echoing voice:
One Question of Each
Will I Answer
And the Way Then Reveal,
At this point, characters may ask the visage of the Potentate a question, about anything, really, and receive an answer. They can ask about identifying magical items (including the magic swords), campaign related inquiries, the sky is the limit.
This will only happen if the braziers have been lit.
After all inquiries are done, a peal of mirthful laughter will echo through the chamber and the center wall between the two towers will pivot 180 degrees, revealing a landing at the top of a flight of steps leading to a lower level of the dungeon. The magic swords will now be in possession of the party and may be used for the rest of the adventure, though the DM should follow the rules of Ego creation for the blades.
This concludes Dungeon Room Idea #1. Stay tuned for further ideas!
Sunday, September 12, 2021
A wizard creature levitates while reading a spell book. This monster (?) has arms which originate well below human shoulders...not having shoulders as as such, it's arms are almost insect like, except that it only has two arms, like a human, and legs, and a long tail like a rattle snake. This creature is one of a race that divides it's people into Wizards, warriors, and Workers, ruled by a Priest Class. I'm thinking they are called the Zreen. God help the party that ever runs into a Zreen Sorcerer.
Friday, September 3, 2021
You are members of a tribe of people who dwell in a sequestered valley amid well forested mountains.
The winters are harsh in your land, but your fur-skin clothing and fur draped dwellings protect you from the bitter winds and snows, and the other seasons being rich and pleasant, your people, on the whole, rejoice in their home and celebrate it in festivals and hymns to Holl, the one god of your tribe.
Your people know some farming, and in lowlands of the valley a few hardy crops of squash, beans and corn are grown, but you mainly live by hunting and trapping game and by harvesting nuts and berries and the like, as well as fishing the streams and rivers and a few lakes in the region.
The rigorous life and hardy diet of your mountain fastness bear a proud and strong people, the Children of Holl.
Many many moons ago, more than can be now be counted by your crude time keeping, your ancestors were led here from the Burning Lands to escape the judgment of Holl upon the world. Their guide was a fanatical priest figure named named Arn. Arn was Hol's prophet, and the god told him of the mountain valley, as well as providing him with the charisma and wisdom to lead, guide and govern a new tribe whose origins, it is said, came from Holl making One of Many.
Arn died in course of time, but long after establishing the Children of Holl in their new home and raising up an order or priests, as well as beginning the building of an elaborate stone Temple to Holl in the cliffs of a distant mountain.
It is said to have taken three generations to see the completion of the temple of Holl. and much labor. Holl's priests were learned in secret studies that ensured a truly wondrous edifice to their god. For many moons, the priests governed the Children of Holl and a thriving and largely peaceful society flourished.
In course of time, others came to the mountains. New tribes of humans, but also strange beings who were like men but not men, some small, some great. There were early conflicts and struggles with the desperate people, people who knew not Holl. But the most significant incursions were by the Wolfen, a strange and terrifying race hitherto unknown to the children of Holl-- the Wolfen walked upright and were in bodily shape as a man, but covered with coarse fur, long brushy tails, and having wolve's heads.
They were abominations to your people, though some could speak the tongue of Holl's Children to the astonishment of your people.
There were many battles with the aggressive and warlike Wolfen, with great losses on both sides.
The Wolfen had all the forest senses and skills of a real wolf, but also cunning and iron smith skills like those of your people. They bore not only fang and claw but sword, knife and spear. And there were priests among them as well, ministers of a strange religion who, it is said, wielded Ancient Magic from before the Great Burning.
The greatest victory of the Wolfen, however, was the isolation of the
Temple of Holl from your tribe and the slaughter of the priests and
priestesses therein.They devoured everyone in the Temple and defiled and cast down its sanctums. With the near decimation of the Order of Holl, the knowledge of the priests and priestess was lessened when it died with it's greatest teachers, who, it is said, preserved nothing save through spoken learning. This knowledge included astronomical and numerical arts.
Yet Holl was with your tribe.
After a decade of intense warfare with ruthlessness on both sides, the Wolfen were brought to yield to demands of an end to the battles.
Your people were blessed by Holl with a secret weapon that led to this truce-- the Lost Wolfen.
It is the custom of the Wolfen to subject their cubs to an ordeal in very early childhood of a lone quest in the wilderness for a period of days during which the weaned cubs are commanded to survive by their own cunning, strength and devices before being returning to their home and being fully accepted into a Pack.
Many do not survive the ordeal--known among the Wolfen as the Quickening. These usually perish to wild animals, poison, the elements, or human hunters. The Wolfen do not mourn such unfortunates as they believe this affair is the means by which their goddess, the Moon, purges the weak and unfit from their ranks.
Early in the Wolfen/Man wars, questing Wolfen cubs were discovered by people of your tribe, lost and weakened in the mountain forests.
The more bloodthirsty of your people demanded the execution, and even the torture, of such Lost Wolfen. But the priests of Holl sternly forbade this, issuing prophetic words of Holl; these pitiful ones would become the salvation of your tribe.
They were to be rescued, raised and nurtured among humans.
In this way, Lost Wolfen became one with your tribe.
These Lost Wolfen became indomitable scouts and warriors. Although it was impossible to eradicate in them their native reverence for the Moon Goddess, they also became Children of Holl, and in course of time, some even became priests and priestesses to the god.
Confronted by the tenacity of your tribe combined with the Lost Wolfen advantage, the Wolfen were forced, after serious defeats, to agree to a peace.
Now comes the tale of your life time.
The lands of the Wolfen lie between your tribe and the ruins of the Temple of Holl.
The Children of Holl are not permitted to send re-builders or new acolytes to restore and populate the Temple, but small groups of pilgrims, including clerics, are allowed to pass through the Wolf Lands to the Temple and to return without violence, albeit being followed and watched by Wolfen scouts.
Lost Wolfen are hated by the Packs, but their tribal affiliation with the humans is honored in so far as pilgrimage is concerned.
Over time, the Temple has become a testing ground for certain brave Children of Holl.
Many perils are are said to lie within Holl's Temple, as well as treasures and artifacts.
To go and return grants one both wisdom and status, as ones having known the secrets of the Temple, though to speak of what lies within it's gates is forbidden, save among those who have made the pilgrimage and returned. Many who go never return...some return insane.
Now, you are of age to decide whether or no you will journey to the Temple of Holl and seek the secrets of the god and of the lost past of the Old Tribes, who were destroyed in the Great Burning.
What say you, Child of Holl?
Will you go? And with whom?
Friday, November 27, 2020
|A Short Bibliography in the Intro|
|Territorial Maps by Period|
|Irish Warriors at top and Visigoth Infantry at bottom|
|Harness and fittings of 9th and 10th Century Carolingian mounts.|
|Norman Warriors and their Banners|
|Viking Warriors, including wolf-skinned Berserks, and various Raven standards.|
|Back in the Day!|
|Evil Evie, the Huntress, permits me to give her a small serving of milk. Nothing says wargaming like a cat sipping milk. |