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The Ruined Tower of Zenopus
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The Ruined Tower of Zenopus


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. The original set included an exemplary dungeon level, but it was a loose collection of examples and not geared toward starting characters. Holmes advanced this 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 rulebook, which includes the dungeon map to be used. 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 (Includes a sample map of Portown & Environs)
About the Dungeon, page 4 (Includes a Table of Wandering Monsters)
Areas of the Dungeon, pages 5-11 (Includes two expanded areas)
Appendix A: Further Reading, page 11
Appendix B: Dungeon Factions, page 12
Appendix C: Portown Rumors, pages 13-15
Appendix D: Use with Ghosts of Saltmarsh, page 16-17
Appendix E: Pre-generated 1st level characters, page 18 (four 1st level characters)

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

Original Dungeon: J. Eric Holmes
Conversion & Additional Content: Zach Howard
Content Review/Editing: Scott McKinley
Format: Derived from the "Adventure Template for Open Office/LibreOffice” by Dale Robbins on DMs Guild
Cover Art: "Italian Coast Scene with Ruined Tower" by Thomas Cole, 1838. Open Access Image from the National Gallery of Art at
Portown & Environs Map: Zach Howard
Version 1.0, January 2020

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Discussions (3)
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:
January 23, 2020
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2020.