OSR: Review: The Boudoir, the Stone, the Garden, and the Mine

I don't like doing reviews but here we go. 4 modules in one post: The Bloodsoaked Boudoir of Velkis the Vile, The Full Dark Stone, The Gardens of Ynn, and the Mind Mine.
Viktor Vasnetsov


I'm only going to review stuff I like. There's a lot of chaff out there. If it's on the list, I bought it and read it and liked it. You might too.

What type of module is this?
I've written about the 3 types of modules here. Was this one written as Art (to prove something, to show off an idea)? As a Manual (purely functional, to help a GM and nothing else)? Or as a Novel (to be a pleasure to read)?

What Am I Using It For?
I'm only going to review things I would be willing to use. I don't buy stuff just to own it. I'll explain how I plan to use it in the review.

Again, I'm only going to review stuff I like and recommend that you buy. That being said, there's always something to criticize. Don't take anything I say too seriously. Assume I'm praising anything I don't mention specifically.

I like short, punchy, well-formatted, easy to print and use modules.

The Bloodsoaked Boudoir of Velkis the Vile

Pay what you want here. It's also on tape! That's a new one. By Nick Whelan.

What Is It?
A 9 page gag adventure. This module is somewhere between a Manual and a Novel; exactly where a really good gag should be.

There's a creepy old dude with a supernatural power. Any request he makes must be obeyed. Luckily, his belfry is chock full of bats, so he's not going to rule the world any time soon. That idea alone isn't worth money, but the idea is expanded, given a location, a table of hilarious examples, and a bit of flavour. Basically, it's Odin from Long Dark Teatime of the Soul meets Koschei the Deathless. Every Velkis quote is worth paying for. The rest... not so much.

What Am I Using It For?
It's going into a file called "Emergency Mini-Adventures". If I need a quick adventure to flesh out a location, provide comic relief, or fill out an encounter table, I can grab something from the folder and run it as-is.

There are significant issues. The text curls around the images, making quick reference difficult. Boxed text prints slightly too dark on a standard laser printer. Statblocks are scattered, and in a 9 page module that's just silly. The art is very basic. It's straight off a scanner, yellow paper and all. That feels straight-up lazy. The map isn't keyed. The text is padded with unnecessary detail and is presented in a very strange order; vital stuff goes last, usually.

It could be edited down to 5 pages:
1. A cover. 2. Velkis' stats, history, and behaviors. 3. A half page room map and most of the rooms. 4. The rest of the rooms. 5. How to kill him and a FAQ.

The Full Dark Stone

Free here. By Michael Prescott.

What Is It?
A 2 page dungeon. This module is a Manual, and a damn fine one at that.

There's a giant magic battery underground. It's been building up charge for years. There's a guy trying to use it for unwise experiments. There are a few odds-and-ends creatures roaming about. It's 8 rooms with a gorgeous isometric map.

What Am I Using It For?
It went into a folder called "Emergency Mini-Adventures". I used it for my Steam Hill group. They had a great time.

My main criticism is structural and comes with these short 2-page adventures. The Storm Seals are excellent, but they aren't given an evocative enough description. I can't visualize them. The Dire Fleas are horrifying but difficult to track for a scatter-brained GM.

There's also no real adventure. It's a location - and a good one - but it feels very static, very flat. There's a giant magic rock that shoots bolts of wild magic, but it only does 6 things and none of them are particularly astounding. There's very little for the PCs to interact with short of looting and fighting. When I ran it, I made the four "wizard flowers" into control rods. Remove them (they are good loot) and boom.

It feels like this adventure (and some of the other Trilemma ones) were never run through the "scheming ambitious raving lunatic player character" test. The adventures are very easy for a GM to run, but there's no easy hook to grab an ambitious wizard or a scheming thief, no temptations. There's a giant magic battery but no battery cables.

The Gardens of Ynn

$3 PDF / $18 PoD here. By Emmy Allen.

What Is It?
A 79 page procedurally generated pointcrawl. I'd say its 1/4 Art, 1/4 Manual, and 1/2 Novel.

It's an overgrown garden plane. A bit victorian, a bit gothic, a bit romantic, a bit mad. There are tables and encounters and enemies, all in excellent style. You don't need to read the whole thing before using it which I really appreciate.

What Am I Using It For?
It's in a folder called "Magical Disasters". Players are always mucking about and chucking dryads into time machines or putting keys into inappropriate holes. This should help.

The margins are a bit too broad. The art is black and white public domain stuff. The art is excellently curated but some pieces are pixelated. You'll waste a lot of ink printing all the art and borders and flourishes. The font can be annoying in places. It could use an editing pass to trim some of the excess text.. but honestly, what couldn't?

The Mind Mine

Free here. By Markerslinger.

What Is It?
A 6 page adventure seed. It's exactly between a Novel and a Manual.

There's a giant beast in the ground. It's asleep but it's waking up, and when it does it will be apocalyptic. Someone came up with a plan; mine into its brain, remove hunger and hate, and implant happy memories and good cheer. The art and the use of space is glorious. There are excellent plot seeds. The entire document provides exactly what you need in adventure seed. It's not an adventure, but it's pretty clear how to make the seed grow.

What Am I Using It For?
It's in the "Magical Disasters" folder as well as the "Emergency Mini-Adventures" section.

The 6th page is just a "thank you" page. I get why it exists, and it's nice to keep all the stuff you don't need to print together, but... I'm not a fan of thanking patrons by name, in a big long list, every single time you publish something. It's more egregious in kickstarter products.

The background of each page is a fancy faux-parchment pattern. It's easy to read in PDF form but it's wasteful while printing. Speaking of printing, the PDF size is 5.5x8.8 inches.

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