This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.
Since this product line’s goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right! It can always get worse. This simple premise is represented in many an experience, many a module – and here, it is represented by the duergar. Evil and loathsome though they may be, they generally at least are sane. Well, Argyle the Betrayer has gone off the deep end after encounter the derro magister Angree, who turned the cave wizard into a kind of mad savior of a duergar cult – it is up to the PCs to stamp out the cult and stop the madness from spreading. The dungeon presented here provides a sufficient diversity regarding its challenges, with a small, nice random encounter table adding dynamics, read-aloud rune-inscriptions adding fluff and environmental challenges adding an additional dimension to the encounters. While two of the hyperlinks are dead, they pertain to environmental heat dangers and pulverizers, both components you can relatively easily look up. Stone/Magma-themed foes as well as the evil dwarves provide a concise theme regarding identity of the mini-dungeon.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!
Michael Smith’s “Dwarven Dread” is a solid addition to the Mini-dungeon line. While it is not as creative as the best of them, it provides an easy to insert dwarven-themed side-trek that features sufficient diversity in the challenges provided to make this a solid, fun romp. As a whole, this clocks in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo – a solid, easily inserted sidetrek if you require some padding for dwarven-centric scenarios.
You can get this solid mini-dungeon here on OBS!