Ruins of the Dwarvern Delve marks part II of Purple Duck Games‘ dungeoneering through their labyrinthine lair: the Purple Mountain; serving as either a standalone romp or the awaited continuation of the Temple of the Locust Lord, this time the torch has been taken up by David Nicholas Ross as the megadungeon continues. Grab your haversacks and ten foot poles and let’s take a trip beneath the surface to see how the dungeon fares!
We open up with a bit of back-story about the Delve, which serves as the second level to the mountain; dwarven settlers seeking fortune were foiled by yellow musk creepers and gremlin jinkins–the pair of which prove to be the primary menaces lurking within the dungeon. After an adventure overview and recaps including likely avenues which may have brought adventurers to the location, we get a collection of quest objectives to entice and reward heroes and heroines making the delve.
As with the first Purple Mountain installment, we’re provided with sections for Standard Features and Dungeon Populations to help with descriptive prep and dungeoneering flow; I’m fond of how Purple Duck Games handles presentation in these segments, particularly for prospective DMs new at the table. Then we’ve got a breakdown of the random encounters on this level of the dungeon and with that, we’re off and running!
Through the Ruins of the Dwarvern Delve, each room gets a nice clip of flavored box text (which may seem a minor thing, but having such present persistently is nice just the same.) Creatures, traps and treasure are offered up accessibly and PDG is very thorough about documentation and references–so it’s easy to track down appropriate resources and when utilizing the PDF for dungeoneering there’s even ample active links, which is another nice touch.
Down to the dungeon itself, as mentioned much of the encounters shake down between the yellow musk’s remnants, reside and zombies and the jinkins–with extensive booby-traps in between; there are a few outliers such as an otyugh (it’s PDG, how could there not be!) a poltergeist and a blindbraun–a new undead monster provided in detail at the rear of the product. Generally, it’s the traps which are liable to prove the most dangerous component of the delve–especially if a party of adventurers isn’t properly prepared for such of cautious in their exploration.
While overall the encounters are fairly straightforward–and the heavy dosage of traps may prove frustrating for some parties depending on their composition–there are still some fairly entertaining set pieces to be found here. The waterworks room in particular is inventive, with jinkins utilizing a combination of pumps and steam jets in their maneuvering and the prevalent jinkin-cursed water itself is a keen element with its random effects; there’s even a riddle to solve, which is always a welcome change of pace.
Following the rooms of the dungeon the adventure closes out with appendices for unique enemies, the new blindbraun and a section with all of the dungeon denizen stat blocks collected for quick reference. Finally, we close out with a record of the experience and noteworthy treasure available throughout the dungeon which I found to be a particularly nice, helpful touch for DM prep and reviewing any tweaks or changes to suit for a given party.
Overall: Purple Mountain II – Ruins of the Dwarvern Delve is 28 pages long with the cover, credits, OGL and catalogue occupying 6 pages–leaving us 22 for the dungeon and its dressing. While there may not be a fight as memorable as the Worm that Walks from the first floor, the second level of the Purple Mountain is nevertheless solidly put together and still avoids over-used adversaries for relatively low-level adventuring parties to tangle with.
Due to the trap-heavy nature of the delve, some party compositions may have heightened difficulty making an expedition through these environs–which in turn may make the endeavor a much longer one than most as well. I’d have liked to have seen a bigger finale, but there’s still certainly fun fights to be found just the same and by and large the traps are fairly neat as well (looking again to the waterworks room in particular for staging.)
Something which bears particular note is the treasure present in the delve, much like the monster menagerie, boasts some unconventional goodies to be discovered by dungeoneering adventurers; a glowing glove and a cowardly crouching cloak are among the finds, for example. Having a new monster included in the mix was a nice perk as well, as this is a fine element to ensure both new and experienced adventurers find something unexpected to face and puzzle out.
In closing, I liked Ruins of the Dwarvern Delve–it’s just tough to beat the first floor’s finale; what we have here is solid, if potentially tough, with some interesting encounters, trials and treasures for low-level adventurers to enjoy. I’ll settle on four stars for this one, and look forward to the next delve to come!