2012-06-26 : The Seclusium of Orphone

The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions, in which are perils and treasure both material and obscure, made vulnerable to incursion by her imprisonment in the subrealm Paume

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?

The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions: a system for creating an original wizard's seclusium to fit into your own game's world, campaign and level, inspired by the iconic work of Jack Vance, with notes on tone and technique, including Orphone's Seclusium itself as a complete and playable example.

It's my contribution to Lamentations of the Flame Princess' July Grand Adventure Campaign. Due to start any day now!

1. On 2012-06-26, Vincent said:

When James Raggi contacted me and asked me to participate, I ummed and hummed, until he said that what he wants is a piece that will make Vincent Baker fans happy, and will introduce Lamentations of the Flame Princess fans to Vincent Baker ideas. A better pitch he couldn't've made.

I hope he meant it, because that's what I'm going to give him.


2. On 2012-06-26, John Harper said:

And, yup, that's what we want. So, yay!


3. On 2012-06-26, Ed Heil said:


Pelgrane Press is mobilizing an army of angry lawyers.


4. On 2012-06-26, adam m said:

i've been playing too much dominion

i read this description and i'm like, clearly a dominion board!

City, Market, Gardens, Island, Bazaar, Venture


5. On 2012-06-26, Evan said:

The emergence of this exploration elicits elation.


6. On 2012-06-26, Vincent said:

Have I talked all your ears off about Jack Vance already?

I love his ridiculous language, of course, but dang can the guy make a situation. My goal with this project is to capture something of his situations, not so much to get GMs and players talking like he wrote. Also I'll be drawing a ton from the Lyonesse books, not just the Dying Earth books. They're my favorites. So you're safe, The Dying Earth Roleplaying Game.

I admit, it's going to be difficult for me to limit myself to creating just this adventure creation system thing, not a whole game to go with it.


7. On 2012-06-26, Judd said:

It feels like Jack Vance and Ars Magica got in a car accident and you are taking pictures of the glorious wreckage.


8. On 2012-06-26, Vincent said:

Oh my god Judd have you read Lyonesse? I bet a hundred dollars that Tweet and/or Rein*Hagan did!


9. On 2012-06-27, Jeff Russell said:

This seems like an excellent opportunity to thank you for getting me to read Jack Vance via the recommended reading in "In a Wicked Age". The whole "D&D's magic was inspired by Vance" had been kicking around my gaming cultural awareness for a while, but it was IAWA that finally got me around to reading his stuff, and whoo boy am I glad I did. So thanks!


10. On 2012-06-27, TheLoneAmigo said:

I'm not a LotFP fan, but I'll definitely be taking a piece of this away.


11. On 2012-06-27, Judd said:

I haven't read Lyonesse. I'll have to rectify that.


12. On 2012-06-27, Vincent said:

Here's the opening of chapter 10 of the first Lyonesse book, Suldrun's Garden:

DURING THE REIGNS OF OLAM I, Great King of the Elder Isles, and his immediate successors, the throne Evandig and the sacred stone table Cairbra an Meadhan occupied place in Haidion. Olam III, "the Vain," moved throne and table to Avallon. This act and its consequences came about as an oblique result of discord among the arch-magicians of the land. At this time they numbered eight: Murgen, Sartzanek, Desmei, Myolander, Baibal-ides, Widdefut, Coddefut and Noumique. Murgen was reckoned first among his fellows, by no means to the satisfaction of all. Sartzanek in particular resented Murgen's austere inflexibility, while Desmei deplored his strictures against meddling with affairs of the countryside, which was her sport.

Murgen made his residence at Swer Smod, a rambling stone manse in the northwest part of Lyonesse, where the Teach tac Teach sloped down into the Forest of Tantrevalles. He based his edict on the thesis that any assistance rendered to a favorite must sooner or later transgress upon the interests of other magicians.

Sartzanek, perhaps the most capricious and unpredictable of all the magicians, resided at Faroli, deep inside the forest, in the then Grand Duchy of Dahaut. He long had resented Murgen's prohibitions, and contravened them as flagrantly as he dared.

Sartzanek occasionally conducted erotic experiments with the witch Desmei. Stung by the derision of Widdefut, Sartzanek retaliated with the Spell of Total Enlightenment, so that Widdefut suddenly knew everything which might be known: the history of each atom of the universe, the devolvements of eight kinds of time, the possible phases of each succeeding instant; all the flavors, sounds, sights, smells of the world, as well as percepts relative to nine other more unusual senses. Widdefut became palsied and paralyzed and could not so much as feed himself. He stood trembling in confusion until he dessicated to a wisp and blew away on the wind.

Coddefut made an indignant protest, exciting Sartzanek to such a rage that he put by all caution and destroyed Coddefut with a plague of maggots. Coddefut's entire surface seethed under an inchthick layer of worms, to such effect that Coddefut lost control of his wisdom and tore himself to pieces.

The surviving magicians, with the exception of Desmei, invoked pressures which Sartzanek could not repugn. He was compressed into an iron post seven feet tall and four inches square, so that only upon careful scrutiny might his distorted features be noted. This post was similar to the post at Twitten's Corner. The Sartzanek post was implanted at the very peak of Mount Agon. Whenever lightning struck down, Sartzanek's etched features were said to twitch and quiver.

A certain Tamurello immediately took up residence in Sartzanek's manse, Faroli, and all understood him to be Sartzanek's alter ego, or scion: in certain respects an extension of Sartzanek himself.

Like Sartzanek, Tamurello was tall, heavy of physique, with black eyes, black curls, a full mouth, round chin, and a temperament which expressed itself in terms of vivid emotion.

The witch Desmei, who had performed erotic conjunctions with Sartzanek, now amused herself with King Olam III. She appeared to him as a female clothed with a soft pelt of black fur and an oddly beautiful cat-like mask. This creature knew a thousand lascivious tricks; King Olam, befuddled and foolish, succumbed to her will.

To spite Murgen, Desmei persuaded Olam to move his throne Evandig and the table Cairbra an Meadhan to Avallon.

The old tranquility was gone. The magicians were at odds, each suspicious of the other. Murgen, in cold disgust, isolated himself at Swer Smod.

See what I mean? I read that and I was like, wait, am I witnessing the conception of Ars Magica here?


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This reminds...
JSS of Sepulchrave's Story Hour

This makes...
lpl go "Sold."

13. On 2012-06-27, silerias said:

Arghhhh, Vincent how cruel you are to remind me Lyonesse...
/me looking to his old good books on the shelf...

Sure it's a great insight into Ars Magica conception!


14. On 2012-06-28, Judd said:

Picked up Suldrun's Garden last night before checking back to this from a buddy of mine. Looking forward to digging in.


15. On 2012-07-01, Larry said:

It has started:

We'll do our best to see that this one outsells all its peers.


16. On 2012-07-01, Vincent said:


17. On 2012-07-02, Vincent said:

Later scholars will identify seven phases in the cycle of development and decline of a wizard's seclusium. It is the fifth phase, the "vulnerable," that interests us here.

Even in its "vulnerable" phase, a wizard's seclusium consists of:
- The physical structure of its seclusium proper;
- The quasi-real footprint of its magical existence;
- Its grounds, gardens, and picturesque vistas;
- Outbuildings for various purposes, both obvious and obscure;
- Passways, checkpoints, and baffles to entry, like walls, gates, paths, and vestibules;
- A position in the countryside and landscape, both physical and customary.

In its "vulnerable" phase, a wizard's seclusium nevertheless has:
- A wizard, but he or she is in some form absent;
- Guardians, but they are no longer intent;
- Portals to other wizards' seclusia;
- Portals to alternate spaces or other modes of being;
- Portals to other places of wizardly significance;
- Long term guests or prisoners of the wizard, whose needs have now gone unattended;
- Evidence or remains of previous treasure-seekers and interlopers;
- Remains of the wizard's endeavors, including dangerous failures and promising experiments;
- The wizard's trappings and treasures.
- Under some circumstances, remnants of the wizard him- or herself, embodied or dis-.

In its "vulnerable" phase, a wizard's seclusium has the attention of:
- Rival wizards hoping for spoils;
- Friendly and allied wizards, concerned for their fellow's wellbeing;
- Local kings, lords, churches, and scholars;
- Treasure seekers;
- Otherworldly entities.

When a wizard's seclusium is in its "vulnerable" phase, it shows as:
- Long inaction with an air of finality;
- Magically communicated calls for help or attention from its guests and prisoners;
- The departure of its notable guardians or servants;
- Unheeded communications, and neglected associations and obligations;
- Successful incursions.

- The grotesque: horrific, comedic, pathetic, fantastic;
- Relativism, self-justification, delicacy, understatement, putting the best light on a bad deal;
- There are no status quos. There are catastrophes that unfold at different rates;
- Play to find out what happens.


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This makes...
go "This is really cool."
JR go "Doubled my psych level for this adventure."

18. On 2012-07-03, Vincent said:

If anybody else is following the campaign as a whole, here's a thing: the LotFP July Grand Adventures Campaign!


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This makes...
ET go "I have a feeling Raggi will find this huge undertaking a little mi?lungen in the end.."

19. On 2012-07-08, Simon C said:

Funded! Looking forward to this, hope it gets funded!


20. On 2012-07-09, Vincent said:

The Seclusium's broken $1000! Woo!

I really want this thing to make it. Might it? I don't know! I hope it does.


21. On 2012-07-09, Vincent said:

Why is the wizard neglecting his seclusium? When you create the seclusium, be sure to include the requisite features.

1. He has been trapped in one of his own experiments. (Requisite features: the experiment created as a trap, and his remnant if any remains.)

2. He has departed to another realm, world, or mode of existence, to pursue his ambitions, perhaps never to return. (Requisite feature: the portal through which he passed.)

3. He has been stripped or robbed of all of his potent wizardries, leaving him unsafe in his own workspaces. (Requisite features: the enemy wizard, trap, or mishap that stripped or robbed him, and his remnant.)

4. He has been seized, reft from his work, and bound into servitude by a power greater than he. (Requisite features: the enemy wizard or power who has bound him, the portal through which it acted, his castoff power, and his remnant if any remains.)

5. He has been driven mad, and now runs howling in the hills, unrecognized. (Requisite features: the enemy wizard, power, or trap that drove him mad, and his remnant.)

6. He has been murdered by the machinations of a rival wizard, who has not herself yet realized the fact. (Requisite features: the enemy wizard, and the trap or portal through which she acted.)

7. He has renounced wizardry and now pursues earthly, vulgar pleasures in faraway lands. (Requisite features: his castoff power, the impetus for his renunciation, and perhaps the portal through which he departed.)

8. He has renounced wizardry and now devotes himself to healing the unwell and expounding the path of virtue. (Requisite features: his castoff power, the impetus for his renunciation, and perhaps the portal through which he departed.)

9. He has been trapped and held by a rival wizard, against whom he was himself incurring. (Requisite features: the enemy wizard, and the portal through which he entered her domains.)

10. He has confronted a vast magical paradox and retired to an isolate zone to contemplate its resolution. (Requisite features: the outline of the paradox, and the portal to his isolate zone.)

11. By magical mishap his soul has been reft from his body, perhaps irredeemably, and now his body only grunts and pursues base satiation. (Requisite features: the mishap, and his remnant.)

12. He has rendered himself into a selection of new identities, the better to achieve his ambitions, but they have abandoned their duties to him and pursue instead their own ends. (Requisite features: three or more remnants.)

(Roll, choose, or invent an explanation and requisite features of your own.)


22. On 2012-07-09, Vincent said:

Ask me questions! I want to make a little video Q&A for this project (which I just learned how to do by working on one for Meg). Ask me whatever you want about Orphone's Seclusium and I'll answer on camera.


23. On 2012-07-09, Ben Lehman said:

What are the 6th and 7th stages of a wizard's Seclusium?


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This makes...
VB go "Uh oh."

24. On 2012-07-10, Daniel Davis said:

Will there be any sort of map generation?


25. On 2012-07-10, Larry said:

Did you ever, in your wildest dreams, imagine the circumstances of life might someday find you competing with/working alongside the lead singer of GWAR?


26. On 2012-07-10, Scott Bennett said:

Did this grow organically out of your LoFP game or is this something that came because of the constraints of the project.


27. On 2012-07-10, Simon R said:

The Dying Earth Roleplaying Game does not want to be safe.


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This makes...
ET go "Dying Earth RPG = I barter for a camel, only to run out of my dice pool and then have to take a bath or something"

28. On 2012-07-10, Simon R said:

Is it any use for any other game?

(Incidentally, Robin has just finished the Gaean Reach game which is all about REVENGE)


29. On 2012-07-11, Simon C said:

Is the Seclusium the kind of place explored by young rogues hungry for fame, but hungrier for a square meal? Or is it the kind of place where a handful of seasoned heroes stages their last great heist before retirement? Somewhere in between?


30. On 2012-07-11, Jeff Russell said:

So, potentially stupid question: can you change backer levels on indiegogo? When I funded, I got the impression the answer was no, but getting updates that talk about new backer levels imply yes.

Anyhow, I ask because I initially funded at the PDF for this adventure only level, mostly as a "yay new Vincent Baker stuff" move, but I've since read and enjoyed LOTFP and am more enthusiastic about receiving more adventures for it. So, let me know if I can promise you more money, please.


31. On 2012-07-11, Alex said:


There should be an "upsell" level at $1 for just this feature. You simply upsell the difference and put in a note to this effect.


32. On 2012-07-11, Jeff Russell said:

@ Alex

Thanks much!


33. On 2012-07-11, Jeff Russell said:

Okay, did the "upsell" perk, but put in $170 bucks to go from "pdf only" to "the faithful". Hopefully there won't be any issues with getting that sorted out.


34. On 2012-07-12, GB Steve said:

There was also a Lyonesse game, produced by Men in Cheese (a Swiss company of course). Graphically it resembled much of LotFP's output, especially Carcosa.


35. On 2012-07-12, Weeks said:

In my head, Orphone was oar-foe-neigh until I saw your videos on G+


36. On 2012-07-12, Alex D said:

From the start, I assumed oar-phone.


37. On 2012-07-12, Vincent said:

Weeks, I didn't decide until I had to say it out loud.


38. On 2012-07-13, Alex D said:

Vincent, the format for this (a set of guidelines for building some particular thing (location + situation, I guess), plus an example) is really rather cool. I can see where it builds upon a lot of things you've done before, but also goes off on it's on direction.

So the actual question: Do you think we'll see more of these "structured content generation" (probably a dumb name!) systems from you in the future that could "plug in" to either LotFP or another game?


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