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The Ruined Tower of Zenopus
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The Ruined Tower of Zenopus


Now with an illustration by CHRIS HOLMES and a PRINTER-FRIENDLY DUNGEON MAP!

THE RUINED TOWER OF ZENOPUS is a fifth edition (5E) conversion of the ground-breaking introductory adventure for Dungeons & Dragons that served as a DM aid in the first D&D Basic Set, released by TSR in 1977. This set included a 48-page rulebook covering the first three levels of play, and was skillfully edited by Dr. J. Eric Holmes from the original 1974 D&D rules written by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Holmes advanced the "Sample Dungeon" concept by writing a new thematic dungeon with a strong backstory, creating an adventure that has remained a fan favorite over the decades. Officially, its only title is "Sample Dungeon" but colloquially it goes by various names based on Zenopus, the doomed wizard who built the dungeon under his tower.

An adventure for 1st to 2nd level characters; four pregenerated characters are included. Also includes ideas for using it as an adventure site in Ghosts of Saltmarsh.

NOTE: Using this conversion requires a copy of the original dungeon found in the (1977) Basic D&D rulebook. However, Wizards of the Coast has provided a free pdf of this dungeon since 2008 on their website, see the first page of the pdf for the link.


Introduction, page 2
The Setting, page 3
About the Dungeon, page 4
Dungeon Master's Map, page 5
Areas of the Dungeon, pages 6-13
Appendix A: Further Reading, page 13
Appendix B: Dungeon Factions, page 14
Appendix C: Portown Rumors, pages 15-17
Appendix D: Use with Ghosts of Saltmarsh, pages 18-19
Appendix E: Pre-generated 1st level characters, page 20

Includes the following new monsters, NPCs, and Magic Items for 5E: Cleaning Cube, Veteran Smuggler, Thaumaturgist, Monstrous Sand Crab, Lemunda, Monstrous Rat, Brazen Head of Zenopus, Verminslayer Longsword, Lesser Wand of Petrification, Scroll of Stone to Flesh


A third map file has been added on request of a customer (see comments below). This file is a printer-friendly version of the dungeon map that appears in the 2.0 version of the PDF.


The PDF file has been updated to Version 2.0. There two main changes, each an addition:

(1) A new full-page illustration by Chris Holmes (son of J. Eric Holmes), and

(2) a Printer-Friendly DM's map, rendered with the application Gridmapper. This map is similar to the one shown below, but without the black background, and with the lettering redone to improve legibility.


The Ruined Tower of Zenopus was featured as part of the "D&D Classics" column in Issue #32 of Dragon+ magazine! Go to or find the link on the Wikipeda page for Dragon magazine.


This now includes two separate map files (png images) drawn with Gridmapper. One is a DM's Map with the room letters shown. The other is a Player's Map with the room letters removed. Each is very large (8400 pixels by 8190) in order to optimize them for use in a VTT (particularly Roll20). They are also printable but may use a lot of ink or toner for the black background. I hope to add a print-friendly verison in the future

Dungeon Master's Map for the Ruined Tower of Zenopus


Original Dungeon: J. Eric Holmes
Conversion, Added Content & Cartography: Zach Howard
Content Review & Editing: Scott McKinley
Interior Art: Chris Holmes (“Octopus Attack”, page 9)
Cover Art: “Italian Coast Scene with Ruined Tower” by Thomas Cole, 1838. Open Access Image from the National Gallery of Art at
Format: Derived from the “Adventure Template for Open Office/LibreOffice” by Dale Robbins on DMs Guild

Dungeon Maps drawn using the application Gridmapper by Alex Schroeder

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (2)
Discussions (10)
Customer avatar
Fred B May 16, 2022 10:31 pm UTC
Does this module have a player background adventure introduction?
Customer avatar
Zach H May 18, 2022 11:50 am UTC
The original version, written by J. Eric Holmes, found in the 1977 Basic Set rulebook, begins with a six page section titled "Background". This material is not included in this conversion for 5E D&D.
Customer avatar
Dave G March 08, 2022 12:02 am UTC
Hey Zach any chance of getting a printer friendly version of the Player Map?
Customer avatar
Zach H March 09, 2022 9:55 pm UTC
I looked, and I did have such a map already created! I added a header and uploaded the file. Let me know if you there are tweaks that you would suggest.
Customer avatar
Antonio W May 19, 2021 1:03 am UTC
I really like this and I strongly recommend the product. I rate it definitely 5 stars. My only complaint is the scale of the map. A 10 feet/square map makes no sense in 5e rules, It means the you only progress 3 squares if you use grid for combat. Just consider 5 feet instead and you're fine.
Customer avatar
Zach H March 09, 2022 10:33 pm UTC
Thank you, Antonio! FWIW, the map files are optimized in size to be able to add a 5' square grid overlay in Roll20.
Customer avatar
Ernie N December 15, 2020 4:37 pm UTC
I've recently created a map for the Tower of Zenopus. I've run this conversion with my gaming group and it is very good. My compliments to Zach on a job well done.
Customer avatar
Zach H December 17, 2020 2:04 pm UTC
Thank you, and nice work on your colorful map! The Ruined Tower does come with a separate dungeon map file optimized for Roll20, although it is old school black and white (there is a preview image above). It's good to have multiple options.
Customer avatar
Ernie N December 17, 2020 2:20 pm UTC
Thanks Zach. I appreciate the feedback. Again, you did a wonderful job on your updated version of this adventure. I am running a homebrew campaign, and this adventure was the only published section I have inserted thus far.
Customer avatar
Joseph C June 24, 2020 4:59 pm UTC
Ok I'm confused. It says it requires the original version but the map is included now. So what's missing? Does this adventure not include "room descriptions"?
Is it just 5e stats for monsters and magic items?
Customer avatar
Zach H June 25, 2020 8:03 pm UTC
Hi. Thanks for your interest and sorry for the confusion. With the recent addition of the map, the need for the original is lessened, but you'll still need it if you want to read the full introduction/backstory for the dungeon, and the full room descriptions. The conversion does include "room descriptions" in the form of boxed text listing out what is seen when the room is entered, something the original lumped together with DM information.
Customer avatar
Joel C June 19, 2020 10:17 pm UTC
I'm excited to run this on Roll20 - however, I can't get the grid lines to match up. does anyone know what pixel size each grid is?
Customer avatar
Zach H June 20, 2020 4:52 pm UTC
Great to hear that!

I tried to optimize the map for use in Roll20 by making the image a multiple of 70 pixels, which is the default in Roll20. So the map image is exactly 8400 pixels in width, and it is 60 squares wide, so each square is 140 pixels wide. I have some detailed instructions on my blog that I will put in the next comment.
Customer avatar
Zach H June 20, 2020 4:55 pm UTC
Here are the steps I used when I was doing my final test in Roll20. (This will create four 5' squares within each 10' square on the map)

-Create a New Game. The Zoom should be set to 100% by default, but set it to that if not.

-Click on the Page Toolbar icon. There should be a Page called "Start". Hover your mouse over it and a gear will appear to the left titled "Page Settings". Click and a "Page Settings" menu will open. Change the Settings as follows:

-Under "Page Size", set the Width to 60 and the Height to 58.5. Under "Cell Width", change the size from 1 to 0.5.

-Leave the Page Toolbar by clicking on the page called "Start". Now go to the toolbar on the left, and click on the "pin" icon (second from top). A menu will open. Change from Objects and Tokens to "Maps and Background". If you don't do this, your map will import as a token and the grid will not overlay the map....See more
Customer avatar
Joel C June 23, 2020 7:46 pm UTC
That looks great, thank you!
Customer avatar
4552250139547702 A April 16, 2020 9:13 pm UTC
Where is the dungeon map?
Customer avatar
Zach H April 18, 2020 3:52 am UTC
Hi, the dungeon map can be found in the original product (the Sample Dungeon from the 1977 Basic Rulebook) for which this is a conversion of. Wizards has a free pdf of the Sample Dungoen on their website, the link can be found on the first page of the conversion. Here it is for quick reference:
Customer avatar
Zach H May 25, 2020 8:03 pm UTC
As indicated above, the files for this product now include two separate map files (png images) drawn with Gridmapper. One is a DM's Map with the room letters shown. The other is a Player's Map with the room letters removed. Each is very large (8400 pixels by 8190) in order to optimize them for use in a VTT (particularly Roll20). They are also printable but may use a lot of ink or toner for the black background. I hope to add a print-friendly verison in the future.
Customer avatar
Zach H November 13, 2020 2:43 am UTC
The pdf itself now includes a printer-friendly map of the dungeon. See the November update above.
Customer avatar
Ed S February 11, 2020 4:18 am UTC
I was reserved in purchasing this since many conversions lacked many of the aspects that made the original so great..... I am pleasantly surprised that this product is well worth the money spent, especially with all the bonuses gained with the appendixes. I was going to do a conversion of this myself for personal use, but there is no need to now... Thank You!
Customer avatar
Zach H February 23, 2020 3:29 pm UTC
You are welcome, and thank you for the positive comments!
Customer avatar
Evan D January 26, 2020 9:15 pm UTC
The link to the Holmes Basic PDF appears to be dead.
Customer avatar
Zach H January 26, 2020 9:29 pm UTC
I don't think the link is live in the PDF.
Try copying it from here into your browser:

Note it is just the Sample Dungeon, not the whole Holmes Basic rulebook.

Thanks for the interest!
Customer avatar
Demos S January 25, 2020 7:27 pm UTC
There's a lot of value for the money, packed into this 5E take on the classic dungeon. Perfect as an introductory adventure, the material lends itself well to any coastal setting. The tie-in to the recently published "Ghosts of Saltmarsh" is a nice touch.

I really like the appendices, particularly the expanded rumor table, which really gets the imagination rolling. The product actually doubles as a mini-urban setting, as I can easily envision some exciting town adventures, in between excursions to the dungeon. The four pregens are handy as NPCs, also.
Customer avatar
Zach H January 25, 2020 7:40 pm UTC
Thanks for the purchase & review, Demos!
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2020.