This work presents a remote and complex mountain setting, ready for you to use as a base for a bad guy, or a place for adventurers to explore. Opening with a history of the mountain's original discovery by a tribe of dwarves, and the better part of a thousand years of their exploits, it moves on to describe some of the other visitors and residents. The location is remote enough that it should be simple to add it to your own campaign world even if it is well-developed - to make it easier, despite the rich history it is now more or less deserted (except for whoever you decide is based there) and so rarely if ever visited by those from civilised areas.
Despite the forsaken nature of the mountain, there is one township - rather run-down and full of the sort of people who might find it tough going in more civilised surroundings - in the area, which could be used as a base or staging point for further exploration, or as a source of supplies and a place to rest. It is definitely a frontier town, where the rough survive and prosper and others might go to the wall. However, many see this as their last chance to build a better life - so have both aspirations to better things and a strong desire to preserve the place. Should make for some interesting visits... plenty of scope for role-playing and interaction (and probably the odd brawl!).
While the inside of the mountain was delved by the dwarves, the exterior trails are in poor repair so even getting up there will present a considerable challenge. Of course, even once inside the ancient dwarf civilisation has long since been replaced by an assortment of monsters and worse who have made the place their home and tend not to be very welcoming to visitors. Plenty of ideas are provided, and of course you can mix in your own choices - or even replace the inhabitants entirely with denizens which fit your campaign intentions.
The whole thing hangs together extremely well - each creature or item has a reason within the backstory for being exactly where you'll find it and doing whatever it's doing. For the characters, naturally, that reason will not be immediately obvious, but it's there and very satisfying for the DM to be running a coherent rather than a random setting.
After the descriptions of the history of the mountain and what is to be found there now, several adventure hooks are given as ideas of how to get your characters to go there in the first place. 'Adventure hook' is a rather thin term, although each is but a paragraph long, the ideas contained therein could serve as springboard for an entire campaign if you so wish! There are also suggestions for incorporating the place into your existing campaign and world, be it a published one or one of your own design.
The last part of the book is filled with details of Horrendous Characters and Creatures - full details of the current inhabitants described earlier, should you decide to use them. There is also a section of New Monsters which dwell here (or who, of course, can be used elsewhere as required). To round things off, there are also some new spells - used by some of the residents, but who knows what spellbooks a curious visiting wizard might find? - and a few magical items to be discovered.
Overall, this is an exciting and challenging 'delve' with a setting somewhat different from the conventional dungeon but likely to appeal to those who enjoy dungeon delves. The internal consistency and coherence of the inhabitants, both with each other and with the backstory, is outstanding and a fine example of how to create believeable settings.
Return to Ironstorm Mountain page.
Reviewed: 23 August 2007