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Review: Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on August 08, 2013

Tagged: osr lotfp kickstarter vincentbaker jackvance

I am currently reading Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions by Vincent Baker. It’s the first of the LotFP adventure modules I helped fund last summer to ship. Between then and now the book somehow ballooned from a 32 page adventure to this 100-something page splat book about wizard’s lairs.

The book is full of tables upon tables to help you come up with your own wizard’s seclusium.1 The book opens with some discussion on magic and seclusiums. Baker than details three particular seclusiums, the titular Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions being the most fleshed out of the three. These three example seclusiums show the reader how to go about using the tables presented in the last part of the book to create a seclusium of their own from scratch. The evocative is mixed with the mundane to help you come up with a cool adventuring location. It is all very Jack Vance.

There is D&D the the role-playing game, and then there are all the meta-games that surround that game. For some players trying to min-max the ultimate character is more fun than actually using that character in a game of D&D. For others drawing and stocking a dungeon is all they want to do. In some ways making a seclusium is its own mini-game: you roll some dice and see how it evolves, imagining its backstory. In this way The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions reminds me a little bit of How to Host a Dungeon. Though the later is clearly presented as a game in its own right, I think it’s particularly appealing to those who enjoy imagining what’s going on in the dungeon they are growing. Similarly one could take The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions and add more elements to make it more of a game in and of itself.

To be honest, I wasn’t particularly interested in the book when I first heard about it. There were other adventures I had hoped would fund. The reviews for this book have been a little bit mixed2, but I quite like it. I own nothing else like it. I’m really glad it funded after all.

Update 2013-08-21: Alex Schroeder has posted a great follow-up to his earlier review on his blog. His opinions of the book now more closely mirror Zak’s.

Update 2013-08-23: I got the actual book a couple days ago, and it is so damn nice in real life.

  1. A seclusion being, “a place to which a wizard withdraws from the world to pursue mastery,” of course.

  2. Wayne Rossi really didn’t like it. He felt it could have been put together much better. Zak Smith seems to have enjoyed it for the most part, but finds it lacking in how it presents and uses random tables. Alex Schroeder seems to share my generally positive opinion of the book. Finally we have this review by Patrick Stuart in the style of the book itself. 10’ Pole reviewed the book: they are not a fan. At all.