What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook - 7th Print Edition

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weekend R&R: The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions

Some of the greatest breakthroughs in science were the result of accidents...  But what about gaming supplements which started out as an adventure?

A couple years back, James Raggi ran a campaign to publish some adventures (part of the LotFP July Grand Adventures Campaign which ran in, well, July of 2012) and one of the projects to get funding was 'The Seculsium of Orphone'.  The premise was fantastic and here's some of the text talking about it:

Orphone of the Three Visions is a wizardess of restless and fitful ambition, so often seen in city market and bazaar, paced always by her velvet half-human servant and bodyguard Ioma. For decades she has kept her seclusium unassailable upon an island of three concentric gardens in the Cove of Bar's Toll, working her magics, pursuing her grandizement and mastery, forbidding all to come. Now she has ventured into the subrealm Paume, for reasons of curiosity, provocation or entrapment, and has neither returned nor left any remnant impulse of her will. Even loyal Ioma has departed for other employment.

So her seclusium stands, not vacant, but vulnerable. The wise have not yet approached it, but cast greedy and speculative looks. Who will be the first to venture an incursion? What will they find within?

It didn't offer anything too complicated but the concept hit the right notes for the fans.  It sounded like it was something that a GM could just dive into and run as an adventure.  And, as a bonus, this proposed resource was basically described as a system to create these 'specialized wizard lairs' to drop into your campaign -- Ophone's Seclusium is included as a fully fleshed out example of this system.

Well, there certainly was no false advertising here and the book delivers EXACTLY what the campaign promises.  I also got the impression that this was originally intended to be a much shorter book as far as page count was concerned.  Unfortunately, based on what I have seen in various other reviews, I think some people where expecting something else.  To be fair, it was ALWAYS described as a system but, the complete example provided isn't near as complete as most would hope for.  Interestingly enough, there are two other examples provided but these are even less detailed than the first.

The best analogy I can offer are model kits.  You have kits for beginners, intermediate, and advanced modellers and each skill level will offer more pieces and prove increasingly challenging depending on the difficulty of the model and skill level assigned.  The three examples are a bit like that.  All three need work to put together to actually use but the first one (Orphone's) will require the least amount of work to have it ready to play.  But, know that there is quite a bit of work to get to that point where you can run it.  There are no maps with locations.  All that is provided for the three examples are 'areas' such as an island.  The manner of buildings or structures is all up to the GM to devise bases on scant (though arguably useful) information.

Simply put, the examples fails in every single way as potential adventure material.  It is a resource to create and populate an area -- nothing more and nothing less.

On the other hand, as a tool, the mileage you get out of the system will vary.  There are many lists that will help you bring about a concept of a seclusium into being and, for people who love tables and lists, this book has a lot.  Many can be used for completely different purposes for gaming, designing, and writing creatively.  While some detractors of the book have lamented on what was basically described as a book of lists, the various items spread out are interesting enough to engage the imagination and any gaming book that does that has merit and value.

The book itself has a page count of 160 pages and is divided in three sections.  The first part is basically an overview of the concepts presented in the book.  It's short and sweet and only takes up 7 pages or so.  The second part is just shy of 70 pages and you have the three examples provided for play.  The third section is about the same size and are just complete lists (tables) dealing with wizards, the seclusim itesl, magic items, people, and creatures.

There is no color in the book but it is cleanly and wonderfully presented and illustrated.  As a small hardcover format (A5), it is like other Lamentations of the Flame Princess recent releases and has that premium feel and look that so many people (like myself) happen to like.  Pricing is fair for what you are getting and is approximately $22 USD if you go to the LotFP site and order a physical copy (HERE).  Of course, shipping is a different matter but it might be cheaper to get a copy from Noble Knight Games (listed as $23.95 USD) depending where you order from.  However, if you don't think a physical copy is worth the investment, the PDF can easily be gotten for a mere $10 and, I think that's a great price to pay to start playing around with the material -- if you think this might be your thing.  You can find the PDF over HERE at RPGNow (part of the OBS family).

The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions is by no means a breakthrough but it wasn't a mistake either.  The mistake here would be to ignore this resource for not complying to some preconceived notion of what this should have been or was supposed to be.