Nagivating the Tower



0. Preface
1. Us
2. Them
3. Items
4. Structures
5. Skills
6. Construction
7. Actions
8. Attributes
9. Configuration

10. Conclusion

0. Preface

I am writing this for your benefit. I. You. How odd. I'm no solipsist, but I still don't get it.

1. Us

There is no Us, there is only You. You are a traveller.


Upon entering the Tower, you may choose a profession. The profession you choose will affect the kind of strategies you will invoke to navigate the Tower. Each profession represents a different starting point in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Given enough expended energy, all professions can learn all skills, so they converge to the same unified strength. (Or so I predict. Truth is I've never observed anyone reach that point.) Each profession has a set of starting attributes and skills.

Choosing the correct profession to match your play style is incredibly important and should not be underestimated. In fact, your choice will most likely affect the choices you make in your real life outside of Tower. Choosing a profession should only be attempted by a trained professionologist. Please consult your physician or spiritual guide.


Archeologists have a bit of skill in everything, making them very balanced adventurers. They automatically recognize valuable gems. Difficulty: moderate


Barbarians have no need for fanciful special abilities or complex strategies, for they more than compensate with brute force. In fact, most Barbarians stopped reading after the word 'Barbarian'. Difficulty: light


Rangers are more skilled at bows and throwing weapons than melee combat. They are most well-known for their uncanny ability to set and disarm traps. All that time alone in the wilderness has also stilled their minds, making them quite skilled at detecting secret doors and hidden structures. Difficulty: light


Depending on who you ask, Tinkerers are either eccentric geniuses or insane recluses. As always, the truth lies somewhere in between: they are eccentric genius recluses with bouts of insanity. While Tinkerers can build simple traps, their main skills involve constructing intricate structures and mechanical creatures. Generally very poor at direct combat, Tinkerers prefer to outwit, outmaneuver, or overpower enemies with their clever devices and robotic underlings. Difficulty: hard


Alchemists spend their lives in solitary pursuit of riches and knowledge. Their ability to automatically recognize all potions greatly aids anticipating the effects of chemical reactions. Alchemists must rely on their wits to survive, as their study leaves little time for combat practice. Difficulty: very hard


More than any other profession, priests are in tune with the world around them. Priets can automatically detect blessed or cursed items. If a priest can overcome his initial condition, he can become quite powerful. Priests are also adept at writing scrolls. Difficulty: hard

2. Them

"They" take on many guises. They are animals, monsters, robots, fellow humans, elves, orcs, shopkeepers, and townsfolk. There are also other, forgotten races, who have carved out various niches within the space of the Tower.


Animals initially show no particular loyalty to anyone. However, they can be tamed, usually with an offering of a tasty treat. Species of animals include dogs, cats (who like balls of yarn), pandas, and guinea pigs.


Monsters generally look out for themselves and their own, and are hostile toward any creature who enters their territory. Players are especially tasty. Unfortunately, most denizens of the Tower are monsters. It can't be helped, really. Got to look out for #1.


Robots act on decisions computed by their processors based on their perceived inputs. I only explicitly mention this fact to give you some semblance of superiority over those you perceive to be rote automatons.

Some people build robots. Robots constructed by the player will be friendly to the player and hostile to monsters. Contrarily, robots constructed by monsters will be hostile to the player.


Shopkeepers tend their stores, providing needed goods to travellers in exchange for gold, which they hoard in the pursuit of unknown ends. I have befriended many shopkeepers over the course of my journeys, and one defining trait threads like an eternal golden braid through each one: a fanatical fastidiousness to discipline and design. Shopkeepers are quick to anger and long to forgive. But treat them with respect, and not steal items from their shops, or use underlings to do so, or dig into their walls, and your relationship will grow reciprocally.

3. Items


Armor is the last thing between you and the end of the worldyou. (Like I said, I'm no solipsist.) Stronger armors, like iron and steel, will grant you more protection, but can also increase your encumbrance and decrease your quickness, either of which will make you easier to hit. Your choice of armor will usually depend on your profession.


Comestibles, or foodstuffs, provide sustenance to sustain your corporeal body on its long journey. All comestibles spoil after some time if not preserved or freeze-dried. Fruit, vegatables, and meat spoil fairly quickly. Rations, in contrast, are designed to remain palatable for extended periods. Keep this in mind when choosing your next meal.


Rare jewels can significantly contribute to your score. The trick is identifying which gems are valuable, and which are just poor imitations.

Stones are also classified under gems due to approximate physical similarity.

Rock - Hefty stone, a common byproduct of digging

Small stone - Useful as slingshot ammunition

Sharpening stone - Stone that can be used to keep weapons sharp


Anything not fitting into the above categories becomes junk. While junk is a superset of flotsam and jetsam, some junk can be used to build robots and structures.


Pills contain "transformative essence" or nutrients in solid form. Compared to potions, pills are much lighter, and thus many more pills can be carried than potions without incurring significant encumbrance. However, pills will dissolve on contact with water. Because of this, dipping a pill into a potion of water creates a potion of the same transformative effect. On the down side, pills carried on your person when entering a pool or stream will dissolve. I have also noted that the naturally-occuring forms of certain transformatives tend of favor either potion or pill form over the inverse.


Potions contain "transformative essence" in liquid form. Amongst other actions, otions may be quaffed, thrown, or poured. Other items can be dipped in potions to imbue them with the potion's transformative effects. Be warned that potions can freeze or shatter.


Scrolls are written incantations that can produce a variety of effects, from summoning monsters, to uncursing items, to even erupting in a deadly, scorching fire. When traveling through watery environs, be sure to laminate your collection of scrolls. Scrolls are created through scribing.


Tools come in a wide variety, from batteries and buckets of paint to torches and flashlights. Tools can be applied to many situations. A pick-axe, for example, can be applied to hack a lyophilizer to bits in order to extract the valuable battery contained within.

Some important kinds of tools are listed here. Make note.

Battery - Recharges any battery-powered device, including wands, lasers, lyophilizers. Also frequently used in robotics.

Ball of yarn - Toss at kittens or tigers, or use as reinforcement

Blindfold - Cover your eyes

Laminating kit - Prevent the ink on scrolls or books from dissolving on contact with water

Pick-axe - Dig through walls, carve new passageways, or destroy structures

Reinforcing kit - Increase armor strength or prevent potions from freezing and shattering. Requires a reinforcing material, like yarn.


Wands are powerful beam weapons. They are battery-powered. Due to their high power consumption, three or four zaps is enough to drain a fully-charged battery. The most common types of wands deal in elemental forces, like fire, ice, and lightning. However, rarer species of wands exist, and their distinct behaviors cannot be so easily classified.


Weaponry is a practical necessity for a mortal like you, especially in a dangerous place like the Tower. Fortunately--or unfortunately--weapons are in no short supply here. What can't be bought in the shops can be looted from fallen enemies. Knives and daggers of flickering swiftness, maces and hammers of face-stomping authority, slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or poisoned darts of pleasure: all can be had for a price.

Most weapons are blunted and made useless by extended use. It's important to hone a weapon's edge from time to time.

4. Structures


Altars may be sentient. Or perhaps they are gods, for they certainly enjoy sacrifice. Altars respond only when a scroll is read in their vicinity after the required sacrificial items have been placed upon them. All sacrifices require at least one corpse of a monster. Those rituals I have discovered are listed here. I am certain there are more.

Sacrificial ItemsScrollGift
CorpsesSummoningTransmogrified creature summoned
Corpses, potion of tunnelingTunnelingTunnel


Basins store liquids, and can be used to mix or create potions.


Fabricators appear to be related to shrines in that they are immobile and atomic. Put simply, fabricators eat corpses. Once consumed, the fabricator may be used to generate living copies of all consumed creatures. If there is a limit on the number of copies, I haven't found it. I have been unable to determine the source of a fabricator's energy. I fear it is being plundered from some secret universe, and I no longer use fabricators.


I can't give you any generalization around levers. When applied, each one may have an entirely different effect.


These wonderful battery-powered devices will freeze-dry perishable foodstuffs into lightweight, long-lasting nutrient pills.


Shops are run by shopkeepers and lay scattered throughout the Tower.

To buy an item, pick it up. The price will be automatically deducted from your coins as you leave the shop. (You do have enough to pay, right?) To sell an item, drop it on the shop floor and the shopkeeper will quote you a price.


Shrines are stranges boxes that can somehow cyclically modulate an item's status. A cursed pineapple, when placed in a shrine, will become an uncursed pineapple after the prescribed length of time. If left in the shrine, it will continue to become a blessed pineapple, then return to a cursed pineapple. Note that any item's status may be affected, not just that of pineapples. There are two kinds of shrines, distinguished by their tones. Short-toned shrines cycle in the manner described above, and long-toned shrines cycle withershindishwise. If there is any means to move a shrine, or to construct one from raw materials, it is beyond my ken. Like altars and fabricators, they seem to be relics of an age long past.


Tunnels connect non-contiguous spaces. For the most part, tunnels also strech between floors, thus providing a quick means of traversing sections of the Tower that would otherwise take a significant amount of time to cross. Tunnels seem to indicate that the Tower is a multiply-connected space.

Many years ago, I spoke with an old soldier from the Syndicate force, who had retired to Old Town. (This was obviously in the days before the area was occupied by troglodytes.) He claimed to know of a tunnel that not only spanned fifteen floors, but fifteen years as well. This may suggest some kind of symmetry between space and time, although I have not the time to speculate further.

5. Skills


Animals will follow you and help you in exchange for a bite to eat. Don't be shy--throw that tasty treat right at it! It's generally good behavior to call your pet some name after you've tamed it.

Weapon skills

Every weapon falls into a category, and each category corresponds to a weapon skill. The basic categories are unarmed, one-handed edged, one-handed crushing, two-handed edged, two-handed crushing, bows, pole-arms, and guns. More exotic weaponry may fall into additional categories.

Armor skills

Every piece of armor falls into a category, and each category corresponds to an armor skill. The basic categories are unarmored, cloth, light leather, heavy leather, chain, and plate. More exotic armors may fall into additional categories.



Building robot underlings can be a satisfying and rewarding experience. Let me emphasise the word underlings. Nothing ruins the fun quite so much as switching on a two-ton steel-plated mobile killing machine with laser guns for eyes as realizing it thinks you'll provide an excellent opportunity to verify its sighting algorithms.

The easiest way to obtain robot parts is from other robots. Not that they will necessarily hand them over without a fight, of course. I've also seen robot parts for sale in salvage shops and junkyards.

The simplest known robot is the gridbug.



Alchemy is a difficult and arcane science. (Some would question whether it should be called a science. In my studies, I have found it obeys certain basic rules, and so its effects are predictable. For that reason I call it a science.)

At its simplest level, an alchemical reaction occurs as the result of mixing the contents of two potions. There are three possible outcomes to any basic alchemical reaction: a mixture, a reaction, or a violent reaction. In a mixture, the substances coexist peacefully. In a reaction, a new, stable substance is created. In a violent reaction, a new, highly-excitable substance is created just long enough for it to blow up a spectacular manner sure to amuse those outside the blast radius.

Some basic combinations are listed here.

Blindness, waterstableHealing
Confusion, blindnessmixtureConfusion and blindness
Water, lightningunstableSomething


Animatronics is a simpler, creepier alternative to robotics. The key ingredient to all animatronics is a corpse of the creature that will be animated. I once created an army of animatronic rats in my younger days. I still have nightmares. Key: #robotics


Scribing is the process of writing a scroll. In addition to a blank parchment, scribing requires a catalyst of some kind, normally a gemstone. Key: #scribe

Building traps

Traps may be constructed provided you possess the necessary skill and raw materials, and are adjacent to a physical space suitable for trap placement. For example, there must be a nearby wall in order to build a dart trap. Key: #build

Disarming traps

If you're up for it, you can try to disarm a trap. Fail, and you risk setting it off. Intact parts from disarmed traps can be used in trap construction. Key: ^

6. Construction

Most structures found in Tower can be constructed provided enough raw materials and skill. For example, constructing a new door requires 3 boards, 7 nails, and adequate skill in carpentry. Key: #build

7. Actions


If it's possible to move upward from where you are, this will do it. Key: <


Apply applies to tools and applicable devices on the current space, like lyophilizers and levers. Key: a


At times it is convenient to give names to certain creatures. Most commonly this applies to tamed pets, but can be used with any creature.Key: C


If it's possible to move downward from where you are, this will do it. Key: >


Dipping an item in an aqueous substance imbues the original item with any special properties of the substance. I cannot begin to count the number of times this technique has spared my life. I remember the first time I entered the Disputed Zone. I had recovered a cyanide pill from the body of a fallen soldier, and dipped it in a water potion to create a potion of cyanide. Knowing that my skill with a broadsword far exceeded my aim with a potion, I dipped the sword in the potion. The act accomplished, I rounded the corner to find myself face-to-face with a fearsome invisigoth, his translucent form racing toward me. One stroke. The sensation didn't reach my brain until his form was falling to the floor.Key: #dip


When the collective burden becomes too great, it is necessary to drop the effluvia, the flotsam, and the jetsam. May also be used to enshrine an item. Key: d


Consuming organic matter is necessary to retain your corporeal form as constructed from self-same temporal organic matter. In other words, eat or die. You can also eat pills. Key: e


When wielding a missile weapon that does not require ammunition, such as any kind of laser gun, the weapon can be fired with this command. Key: f


Displays helpful summary information. Key: ?


Whether it be destroying doors, moving structures, or forcefully redirecting the fauna, everyone likes kicking. Key: Ctrl+d


Looking around reveals a more detailed description of your environs. Looking is a free action. Key: ;

Look here

Looks at the immediate vicinity. As with look, this is a free action. Key: :


Doors must be opened before they can be traversed. Open may also be used to close an open door. Key: o


Displays the previous narrative message. May be invoked repeatedly to display prior messages. Key: ,

Pick up

Acquiring items is an essential part of life in the Tower. You can pick up items from the ground, or from a structure like a shrine. Key: ,


Something good, odd, or terrible might happen when you quaff a potion. Key: q


Reading a scroll invokes its effect. Key: r


Do nothing for one turn. Key: .


Saves and quits Tower. The saved game will be automatically resumed when Tower is invoked. Key: Ctrl+s


Takes a screenshot. Key: Ctrl+c


I can certainly tell you that the Tower has many secrets. That much is evident to anyone here. I suppose you could say that secrets come in two varieties: the mundane, and the transcendental. Mundane secrets, that are covered here, that can be discovered by physical inspection, include secret doors, false ends, and invisible passages. The transcendental variety cannot be conjured on a mere command. Key: s

Take off

Removes a worn shield or armor. Key: T


Throwing is useful in any occasion. Throw food at animals to tame them. Throw food at hungry enemies to distract them. Throw food at, say, roaming packs of jackals to turn them on each other. Throw arrows when your bow is equipped to use the bow to shoot the arrow. The same goes for crossbows, slings, and other missile weapons with physical ammunition. Throw a potion of confusion at someone to confuse them. Key: t


Wears a shield or armor. Key: W


Wields a weapon. Key: w


Zaps a wand. Key: z

Zoom in

Moves the camera in. Key: =

Zoom out

Moves the camera out. Key: -

8. Attributes

Attributes define your abstract physical and mental characteristics in a quantitative form so that the Tower can more efficiently process your existence. Thank you for your understanding.

Strength (St) - Determines physical melee and missile damage, contributes to hit rate

Quickness (Qu) - Determines movement speed, helps avoid attacks

Constitution (Co) - Determines encumbrance penalty, helps in stomaching rotten food and corpses, resisting poisons

Agility (Ag) - Contributes to hit rate, missile and melee damage

Reasoning (Re) - Helps with complex mental skills like robotics and trap building, helps detect hidden features

Memory (Me) - Vestigial

Presence (Pr) - Helps establish pack hierarchy, get good prices in shops, and may have other uses

Empathy (Em) - Determines elemental attack resistance, contributes to enchanting ability

Intuition (In) - Vestigial

Self-Discipline (SD) - Helps with certain kinds of resistance

9. Configuration

Tower recognizes the file ~/.towerrc on initialization. Available properties include:

autolookAutomatically look at items when moving to a space.false
autopickupAutomatically pick up items when moving to a space.false
autopickupitemsAutomatically pick up specified categories of items when moving to a space. For example, "$!," would automatically pick up gold, potions, and pills.none
creatorStart in non-scoring debug mode.false
detailSacrifices visual detail for better frame rate. Valid values are from 0-6.0
uifontFont to user for user inferface. For example, Mac users can set this to "Monaco".Courier

10. Conclusion

Conclusions are an easy way out. The truth is, there is no conclusion. There is no final point where you find out the best answer, and who was right and who was wrong. There is no universal why. But maybe you can find one for yourself. I'd wish you luck if it existed. Instead: have fun. That's one thing I'm sure of.