Karak Azgal (subtitled “Adventures of the Dragon Crag”) brings a small touch of D&D dungeon crawling to Warhammer – but with a distinct Warhammer touch, which is a good thing. The setup is quite amusing: the Dwarfs have an ancient stronghold (the titular “Karak Azgal”), which was overrun by Chaos hordes some time back and is now slowly being reclaimed. The problem is that the cavern are infested with all sorts of nasty monsters, and the Dwarfs simply don’t have the manpower to clear them out. On the other hand, this is an ancient stronghold, with lots of valuable relics sitting around down there, and the Dwarfs aren’t crazy about a general call to come help fight against Chaos either – they assume (probably correctly) that all too many “helpers” would only go in to grab some quick loot and then vanish with their ancient heirlooms. What to do?
Well, here they’ve invented a wonderfully pragmatic solution. They’ve opened up the caverns to “adventurers”, with a catch: everything brought up is taxed (heavily), as is access in the first place. So they get a steady stream of fortune-hunters, which provide an equally steady stream of tax income… and if they’re lucky, they might also manage to kill some Chaos nasties and make the caverns a bit more habitable (by their rightful owners). Of course, not everyone likes this arrangement, there are groups of Dwarfs who are (violently) opposed to the idea of grubby strangers coming in to loot their ancestors’ tombs.
Take all this together, and you get a lot of story options. In addition to the “dungeon crawl” action, there’s also the fact that most PC groups will likely try to evade the dwarfish tax system, providing fun “interaction” with the law and all sorts of plot possibilities. In addition, the resentment that some Dwarf feel towards looters is in itself a great plot element; the PCs may face both covert and overt opposition to their looting plans (in addition to Chaos beasts, that is).
So, if you’re feeling like adding some good ol’ dungeon crawling to your Warhammer game, this book provides a pretty nice framework for such. It’s a thin book, but crammed full of stuff. In fact, somewhat over-crammed – the font used is ridiculously small. My own eyesight isn’t what it used to be and I’ll need reading glasses at some point, buy honestly guys, the font size used here is tiring to read even with good eyesight. Probably this was due to a pre-ordained page count, and then getting more material than could comfortably fit in the allotted space… at which point someone said “can’t we just use a smaller font?”. Yes, you can, but it’s not always a great idea. Thankfully, the later Warhammer books seem to have a more legible font size, so I guess I’m not the only one who found this somewhat tough reading.