Laboratory of Ord

By Cameron Shanton
Shanton Productions
Levels 1-3

The Laboratory of Ord has within it a self-contained mystery for players to piece together and solve, centered around the maddened sorcerer Thorngage Ord. Rumors of mass disappearances have plagued the local countryside, and many believe that Ord is to blame.

This nine page adventure uses four pages to describe the eleven rooms, on two levels, of … an alchemist lair! I was prepared to hate it and instead just merely dislike it. The writing is ineffective, the environment mostly boring, and, overall, more than a little confusing.

Who, today, troubles my weary slumber?

First, there’s no context for this adventure. You see that marketing blurb? That’s what you get. That’s ALL of the context you get. Otherwise we just get a “room 1” start. This is after a boring table of wanderers and one for random loot. Both of which filled me with dread. “Oh no! Will I be expected to roll on each room to determine what’s inside?” Well, kind of, but, no, there ARE encounters and treasure in this other than the stuff on the random tables. So, major crisis averted. But, also, no context on the dungeon. A stairwell leading down? I guess so, since that’s what outside of room one. But, nothing else. I don’t need a lot here, but a single sentence noting the dungeon environment, it’s entrance, etc would have gone a LONG way to helping a mood here. But, no, just what’s in the marketing blurb. Again, not two pages of backstory. But, fuck, even G1 had SOMETHING for the DM to work with.

The map is two levels. It’s kind of “manorly” in tha the rooms are essentially opening in to each other. No creature reactions for an environment that small. And, the map is rather generic. A large hole in the floor in room one, indicates the text. Is the hole on the map? No. A curtain sealing off an alcove in room three. On the map? You know better than that! Pillars and staircases are the extent of what we get. Even though the hole down IS the way forward. This is a homemade map, it looks like, not a Dyson affair. Put some fucking shit on it, man, to help a DM out! I don’t need every table and chair, but help me out!

Descriptions? How about we use the magic items as an example? BOOK items, for the most part, as boring as any book items listing. Also, how about “a strange +1 dagger, with an inlaid opal.” This is the height of descriptive text. An inlaid opal. What the fuck does “strange” even mean in this context? Are yu going to tell the players its strange? When they ask “How?” then what will you answer? “It’s strange.” Yes, please, do that. There are two things goin on here. First, the word strange is meaningless. You want to provide a description that makes the PLAYERS think “hmmm, thats strange.” Whats part of the value you are adding as a designer. You need to do more then just roll some random monster and put them on the map. You need to bring some things to life. Use all of the joy present in the english language to make inspire the DM so they can then inspire their players with wonder and awe. Strange is not that. Strange is a conclusion. “Evil looking” is another common thing that designers do. Don’t do that. Provide a description that makes me think Oooo, thats fucking evil!” Second, beef that shit up. Gimme a description, or an effect, that’s more than just a roll on the table of magic items. Make me WANT it. Make it special. No, not in The CHosen One way, but just something to make the fucking thing stand out. Players LUSTafter magic items. Its part of the reward for playing. Make them happy to be here and to risk life and limb. With an over-powered item? No. Just with SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Make it fucking mundane. I don’t care. Just put SOME effort in to it.

I mentioned confusing. How now brown cow?

Room one tells us “The dungeon is crawling with the ancient bones of old priests and people who fled here.” What does this mean? Literally? Figuratively? It’s never mentioned again. It’s not mentioned in any concrete way, or even alluded to, after this sentence.What am I to do with that? Do I take it as a description of the current room? Of the entire environment? Even if I did so, it’s a pretty boring description. There’s no specificity. Bring it to life! … and let me know what the fuck is actually going on in rooms. Especially every other room which imply, heavily, they are clean.

“A lever at the end of the hallway seems to control something unseen” Yes. Wonderful. That’s what levers in hallways do. I’m not even sure how this works. I think maybe it controls gas in a nearby room and not in the hallway? Not to mention the padding.

“There are four Normal Humans standing idly huddled in the bottom corner, breathing loudly in unison and concealing daggers. See Monsters, in Old-School Essentials Undeadnormal human” Ok, so, I’m guessing these are zombies? Another entry has four normal humans in it, without mentioning they are zombies. I don’t know anymore. I don’t cARE.

I think I’m done caring. I’m done seeing the good in things. All I see is a de rigeur attempt, and a poor one at that, at creating eleven rooms.

Hey, you know what? Let’s do all this shit all over again tomorrow!

This is $2 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages. It shows you the first eight rooms, so, good preview. AND it puts the level range in the product description. Most don’t. Nice job.

Is this a review? No. Why should I try if no one cares to?

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12 Responses to Laboratory of Ord

  1. Shitty Adventure says:

    I think someone needs a hug

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would get in there good

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would hug the ever living fuck out of you

  4. callingoutreviewersasblowhards says:

    ….another one I will like since you don’t

  5. Anonymous says:

    Allowing adventures of this poor quality to carry the “Designed for use with Old-School Essentials” logo will in the long run destroy the good will and name that NG has developed for their Old-School Essentials line! Is NG aware of this danger?

    • Alex says:

      You jest but the OSE logo is like 10 times larger than the adventure title. It looks at a glance like an OSE product.

      • Mithgarthr says:

        Directly from NG’s OSE 3rd party license, “The ‘designed for use with’ logo must be displayed smaller in size than your product’s title.”

        So he’s literally breaking the terms of using the logo by displaying it so fuckin’ huge.

  6. squeen says:

    double line-spaced text? really?

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