Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/07/review-old-school-essentials-adventures.html
There are a lot of great clones out there but right now nothing is scratching my old-school itch quite like OSE. I got my Kickstarter package a bit back and while I was engrossed with the rules of the new books, I utterly failed to give much attention to the two included adventures. That is until I started hearing people talk about them more online. I went back to them and you know what? They are really kind of great.
For this review, I am considering both the hardcover copies I got with the Kickstarter and the PDF copies from DriveThru RPG.
The adventure is a 48-page, full-color book. The maps are printed on the inside covers with encounter areas labeled on the maps. The physical books are A5 format (5.8" x 8.3", 148mm x 210mm).
Halls of the Blood King
by Diogo Nogueira
Diogo Nogueira has been racking up an impressive list of RPG publications and getting him to pen an adventure for OSE is quite a score. And the adventure is pretty much what I hoped it would be like.
This time the artist is Justine Jones. If the art of Incandescent Grottoes is dream-like then the art here is nightmarish. I mean that in the most positive way.
The adventure is set up in a manner similar to other OSE adventures. We get maps with major encounter areas, descriptions and relationships of the major factions/NPCs/Monsters.
The adventure itself is a castle of a vampire lord for characters of 3rd to 5th level.
Detail-wise this adventure lives somewhere between the sparse-ness Palace of the Vampire Queen and the detail rich Ravenloft. I don't want this to sound like there not a lot of detail here, there is, but there is no over arching epic here. This is great since it allows you to take this adventure and work it into your world much easier. For example with a tweak or two here and there I could make this "Halls of the Blood Queen" and add it rather nicely to my War of the Witch Queens campaign. This would work out well since I am using OSE for that. The only thing stopping me is I have so many Vampire Queens now! But still, it would be fun and very, very easy.
The adventure is also rather good and looks like a lot of fun.
If these are examples of how adventures for OSE are going to be written in the future then OSE is going have a nice long shelf life. While neither adventure is revolutionary in design or concepts they are really good adventures.