This module impressed me with its clarity, creativity, and boldness. The highlight of the adventure is the caving section, which has a top-down and a profile map on the same scale next to each other. This is very helpful! The only improvement I could suggest is a ¾ map as well, but that is additional luxury.
The scenario’s main boldness is in giving player characters a chance to really touch on the roots of dwarven identity and culture. If you have a generic fantasy setting, playing this scenario and accepting it into your game’s canon changes the background of an iconic fantasy race. Bold, but well done. These features can be adapted for a world that already has the background, but I think it is great that the elements were included in case your situation is more generic and you’d like some flavor and depth and epic-ness inserted into your game.
The ecology of the situation is thought out and the threats are situation-appropriate. The environment itself has a great mix of claustrophobia and wonder, as caves should have. Movement is not easy. Using mapping as an objective gives the characters a reason to explore. Gaining understanding of the environment is the greatest treasure in the adventure, and that speaks to me personally and meshes with my game style very well. Looting is much less important than exploring.
The time-keeping device for the scenario is genius. Characters are given a pupa of a cave moth; it will hatch in 3 days, and its wings will develop over another day. So you know what day of the adventure you are on, even underground. Thoughtful touches like that abound through the scenario, aiding the DM in providing an immersive experience.
Having explored the cave, the characters may find a connected, more finished compound. This is a more traditional dungeon crawl. Thematically, it connects to the holy divine space they are in, and it has some really unique encounters with monsters that will feel familiar in some ways but still be new to most players.
The module was also designed to function as a tournament, complete with time-keeping tools and scoring. I think that’s an interesting idea, and a valuable addition to the material, even though I would not run it as a tournament.
The adventure is very flexible. It has caves, and a dungeon. It can be used as a tournament. It can flesh out the cosmology of the dwarves in your setting. All in all, I think this resource provides a lot of different utility in a clean presentation with a great mix of new and old tropes, encounters, and locations. There are puzzles, mysteries, role playing encounters, treasure, exploration, and death in the dark.
So, my congratulations to Joseph Browning for writing a fine adventure. Also, my thanks to Expeditious Retreat Press for making this great product available.