I DMed this dungeon crawling adventure at AetherCon last month and have decidedly mixed feelings about it. My players enjoyed the adventure, because it gave them a lot of options (particularly for a dungeon crawl). As a DM, I had to do a huge juggling act to make the positives work and cut the frustrations. 3.5/5 stars.
The dungeon has a definite character, as opposed to feeling generic. Adventurers go in to an abandoned dwarven mine to find a hidden entrance to undermountain. The mine’s character and history play an important role in some bonus objectives. This is a great carrot to hand to players (and DMs) who prefer narrative driven plots to dungeon delves. Future authors should take note.
The author does a good job of empowering players and giving characters opportunities to do what they are good at, instead of requiring a limited number of skills. I doubt anyone will feel like they picked the "wrong character" for this adventure. That’s a definite endorsement for dungeon crawls, which typically reward a particular set of skills.
There are only a few small, hand-drawn maps for the entire adventure. It felt like a dungeon crawl designed to be theatre of the mind. Out of combat, this worked much better than I would have expected. In scenes where there was a potential for combat, my players needed a map and were sorely disappointed.
I've never had to flip through a module so much at the table. As written, you first meet an NPC for bonus objective A around 30 minutes in to the adventure, but it doesn't make narrative sense to go in to the rest of the bonus objectives until completing a lot of the main objective and getting in to the depths of the mine. At this point, players may have forgotten the first bonus objective. There's no natural place in the main text to introduce bonus objective B. I had to flip through the module to have the questgiver for bonus objective B suddenly show up while the party kept watch during a rest.
As written, rocks just fall on the characters' heads in the scene after the first fight, save for half damage. There’s no warning, no sense of "we screwed up so now we have to suffer a cost," and no specific instructions for the DM on when in the scene the rocks fall. My weak party had some terrible luck in the first fight. They may have TPKed if I had rocks immediately fall on them. I rewrote the scene to say rocks only fall on the characters' heads if they fail a skill check in the scene. Otherwise there’s a skill check characters "must pass" that offers no mechanical consequences for failure.
If it’s possible to update reviews, I will update once the rest of the trilogy is released to talk about continuity of the series.
[4 of 5 Stars!]