The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions

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by Vincent Baker
Lamentations of the Flame Princess
LotFP
Level: Pretension

se•clu•si•um si-’klü-z?- m
n. pl. se•clu•sia -z?-
1. A place to which a wizard withdraws from the world to pursue mastery.
2. A place of magic and plasms and grotesques and horrors and treasures and doorways to other worlds.
3. A place which, when abandoned by the wizard but with its treasures and dangers remaining more or less intact, is a terrible and antic catastrophe in process.
4. A place which makes for marvelous location-based adventures.

This waste of time details three wizard lairs and has a bunch of tables to help you generate your own. Surprisingly, it’s both a preachy/pretentious design by Baker and another mostly useless publication from LotFP. Wait, no, I didn’t mean “surprisingly”. I meant “predictably.”

I don’t even know where to start with this. I guess the tables. The back half of the book is a list of tables to help you generate a wizards lair. One table, title “How did the wizard appear?” let’s you determine his eyes. Calm eyes. Vivid eyes. Dull eyes. and sixteen other choices. When you tire of that you can move on to their face. Wrinkled face. Stern face. Plain face. And fifteen other choices. Seriously? I paid for this? WHAT. THE. FUCK. I don’t know about this. It’s clearly an idea generator, or meant to be one. You flip through the pages and pick out a couple of tables and roll on them, get some choices, and then, hopefully, that spark some imagination in you to help you create the wizards lair. It doesn’t work for me. Telling me there’s an unusual fountain, or tree, or an iron post just doesn’t do it for me. You roll and roll and roll and generate ideas and then, hopefully, you can put it all together in your head and something sparks and you can then have your Eureka! moment and go create a map and populate it with dozens of rooms that you now have an idea for. I doubt it. It just doesn’t click that way for me in these tables. The choices are, somehow, too mundane. This isn’t the weirdness of the Random & Esoteric Creature Generator, or the immensely imaginative lists of the Dungeon Dozen. This is more like the endless lists in the back of the 1E DMG. “Pile of dust in the corner” or “wizards employees rooms are all spartan and bare.” There are dozens of sites that will generate random idea lists for a DM. You can search Dungeon Dozen with the following google: site:roll1d12.blogspot.com [YOURSEARCHHERE] What’s the point of this? “The people nearby are afraid of the wizards lair”, “the people nearby are distrustful of the wizards lair” Come on. I’m paying for that?The whole thing is laid out weird and hard to use and find things in.

The adventures, or, rather, wizards seclusiums, are another let down. It’s just a series of ideas, and not fully formed ideas at that. “The kitchens are: (roll on a table) 1. Tiny & Cramped. 2. Plain and Functional” That’s what you’re paying for. It goes on and on like that, table after table that describes nothing meaningful. There’s no adventure here, just some bizarre mimicry of what someone thinks D&D is after playing a game of telephone. It’s like Baker heard that random tables defined D&D and so he delivered some … only his tables miss the point of D&D. He tries to build up some bizarro-world version of D&D that isn’t bizarre at all, in spire of the central premise of the title being that wizards lairs are bizarre and weird and full of the fantastic. Here, here’s a genius table from the Three Visions lair: “The staffs personal rooms are: 1. Tiny & cramped. 2. pare & meager. 3. Plain & functional.” Seriously? That’s supposed to generate adventure? That’s why a guy drove 22 minutes to get to my house? Three non-choices, none of which generate anything close to an idea, all of which are essentially the same choice (“boring”) and NONE of which is gameable. Thats fucking absurd. In comparison, here’s a random entry off of wizards “Eldritch Side-Kicks” table from Dungeon Dozen: “Dragon’s attendant/bodyguard: bright young troll ruthlessly conditioned to respond instantly and decisively to widely varied sets of stimuli.” That’s interesting. That’s gameable. That generate ideas. The sample worksheet that comprises the three wizards lairs does none of that. It’s laid out badly, its almost indecipherable in its description of the lairs and provides little gameable content.

Like a lot of recent LotFP titles it sells itself as this great thing but what it delivers is something mediocre at best. Jim: Time to deliver something that doesn’t suck. I HATE feeling like I’ve been cheated. More than anything other product in recent memory, I feel like this product has cheated me. Maybe it can generate some ideas. MAYBE. A BIG maybe. But its not fucking worth it.

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20 Responses to The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions

  1. Back when I got it, I wasn’t as angry as you seem to be, but I noted that random dungeon stocking seemed to be faster. ;) http://alexschroeder.ch/wiki/2013-08-21_Moldvay_Dungeon_Stocking_vs._Seclusium

  2. Jack says:

    Yeah, it’s just not a very interesting book…I guess if you can’t imagine what someone’s eyes look like it could be helpful, but then again if you have such a deficit of imagination why are you playing RPGs anyway? I feel bad for people who backed this one.

  3. kent says:

    What are your favourite supplements or modules from the 70s to early 80s, and do you have any reviews here? I ask because I have no interest in osr material because of the universally shit quality and so I can’t get a handle on your taste unless I read a review of something I know.

    • Bryce Lynch says:

      Kent, I don’t have a problem with being an ass but recall the saying When in Rome? This isn’t YDIS. My seclusium review is an extreme part of the spectrum.

      I don’t generally review older product. The slavish nostalgic devotion to older product is bewildering to me. In any thread asking for recommendations the same shit is trotted out over and over again: B2, X2, T1, U1. On an on they go. Time did not stop in the 80’s. The inability of people to look at newer product reveals a certain closed mindset and lack of enthusiasm. It becomes some kind of a “get off my lawn!” sort of devotion. Saying the OSR material is universally shit is hyperbole (something I am INFINITELY familiar with ;) and ignores the quality product being produced recently and by implication lauds the older product. And while I don’t review older product let me help you with an insight: the vast majority of it was shit. The vast majority of EVERYTHING is shit. The purpose of this blog is to weed through the shit and point people at stuff they might enjoy.

      Now: G1 and S3 are among the best ever done. WG5 has a fantastic first level. G1 is terse, the wanderers and creates in the rooms are doing things. The map is complex and the setting seems alive, with things going on around the players. The magic items are crap and the monsters are from the book, but otherwise this is a great adventure. Note that I’m not mentioning G2 & G3.

      • Kent says:

        That’s not the reply I expected, I thought I couldn’t find your reviews of the old stuff. By the way I create everything myself and have never used a module or supplement, and I used to think all the old stuff was just as bad the new but recommendations changed my mind about say 10 things none of which you mentioned above.

        Have to go, I’ll get back to this tomorrow.

      • Kent says:

        You have your standards and I have mine. I don’t agree that the osr has produced or is producing even *some* good work and so, as I said before, I find your dedication curious – Im fairly sure there is more useful content in your reviews than the products themselves. The osr needed an independent reviewer a few years ago when gamers were ostracised for not cooing like 7 year old girls over every effort. The result was the emergence of that black pearl of irritation and contempt, YDIS, which itself has decayed into a forum for the witless rage of repressed homosexuals.

        Ive read a dozen or two of your reviews and think your standard for acceptability is woeful. Your independence however is crucial – you have no friends – that is a good thing. And you are trying to be analytical rather than just emoting.

        My respect for a handful of the old material is not nostalgic because I never read the stuff till a couple of years ago. My short list of good stuff is: WG4 Tharizdun, D1-3, The map for G2, Jaquays 4 classic modules, JG Wilderlands 1 & 2, as an intro B5 Horror on the Hill and UK6 while not a classic scrapes in for the concept. And by the way I have read everything old and sampled much of the recommended osr material.

        Take Anomalous Subsurface Environment for example. Apart from three pages of atmospheric introduction to the set up which could easily have been offered in three blog posts the rest is exactly the same humdrum garbage, thinly veiled.

        * By the way if you want my reformatted, and so readable, Night of the Walking Wet I’ll send it to you. PM me on odd74.

        • NUNYA says:

          KENT – WAHT DEW YEW MEEN “REPRASSED”?!
          I AM HEAR YEW ARE OUT FULL FLAME!!1

          AND DAT IS RICH YEW AM SAY 10′ ARE HAS NO FRIENDS: PROJECT MUCH LATELY??

          :p
          -NUNYA

  4. kent says:

    Answer the question cretin, and while you are at it why dont you explain why reviewing so much osr material isnt a sickness.

    • Bryce Lynch says:

      I got excited about D&D again because of the OSR. It reminded me of what I was missing, especially the OD&D-style products. I went to GenCon and bought everything they had, and ended up disappointed. The covers has little relation to the contents. The descriptions didn’t tell you what was inside. The box lied. As I was thumbing through and making a short list to help myself later I thought “why should someone else be in the same situation? If I’m already making a list then why don’t I just publish it?”, so I did.

      I fucking LOVE d&d. I’m gonna buy product. It is, in some ways, no different than reading novels or watching Tv shows and taking inspiration from them. If I’m going to spend money then I might as well get some return out of it by reviewing the stuff and helping others make their own INFORMED decisions. Never again will some excited youth spend their allowance on some shit like WG7. Never again.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are an utter and complete piece of shit.

  5. Kilgore Trout says:

    Well it was only a matter of time before Kent started to shit up the neighborhood…

    I think your review is spot on with this one. It sounded awesome in theory but complete useless in practice. In fact it was so bad Jim felt compelled to include a 1 page flyer on how the hell to try and use it!

  6. Timotheus says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful review. You do have a great site, I have enjoyed it over the years even when I disagree with your thoughts.

    Sorry about letting kent out of his cage. We have no idea how he gets out of his gimp suit.

    As an aside, I have never been in Rom the Space Knight. Or did you mean Rome?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pretty sure that was aimed at Kent and not you, Bryce.

  8. Mike says:

    I found Seclusium to be inspiring and a fun workthrough, but not a ready-to-use product. At all.
    With time, lots of work, and patience, the book could help me generate something special. Unfortunately, most people aren’t looking to pay for potential. They want playable now. Or close to it. Happy I have it, but I couldn’t recommend it.

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