The Sanctuary Ruin, the excellent first module from Ludibrium Games, isn't exactly new: Grognardia reviewed it in October of 2010 and Tenkar's Tavern reviewed its sequel, Ironwood Gorge, in February of this year (there are also video reviews on Youtube, but I didn't watch those), but it is good enough for me to spend some time with it now. Sadly, it seems that Ludibrium Games has been dark since the beginning of the year and only those two modules from the Blackmarch series and one more separate 1st-level adventure, Kingmaker, have been produced. I would like to see more work from Eric Jones, as The Sanctuary Ruin is first-rate.
It's presentation makes it a joy to read--it looks as good as any OSR release I've seen (I haven't seen this year's two big ones from Jim Raggi yet) and better than many. My impression is probably helped by the simple layout and the attractive illustrations--and the absence of the embarrassing pieces that every OSR release seems to have at least one of.
As for the content, I do have to agree with Grognardia's assessment that "Unfortunately, what Eric Jones got right is something lots of other people have gotten right repeatedly since the dawn of the hobby" but I want to add that The Sanctuary Ruin makes up for its rather dull familiarity by being very well designed. The encounters are interconnected in simple ways that I imagine would greatly aid referees who are using it for those games when they haven't got time to write their own adventures. Many in the blognardosphere say (and prove it by publishing their own!) that they can write their own adventures and don't need to buy them, but there are plenty of other points of view: there's no shame in admitting that I'm not sure I could write an adventure as good as The Sanctuary Ruin, and there's no reason to assume that every referee would prefer to write their won adventures. I mean, we all buy adventures right?, and many of us love them.
I'm a recent convert to the Old Ways, in case you're just joining us: I haven't refereed or played The Keep on the Borderlands or The Village of Hommlet, and I really only started playing D&D for reals in the 3e era, so my perspective is much different from the Old Guard.
To recap, I think The Sanctuary Ruin is very well done, if too familiar, and I'll consider running it the next time I want to start a new campaign in OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord or LotFP or even D&D. I want to buy Ironwood Gorge and Kingmaker (which might be the subject of the next $3 Wednesday, given its price) as well, and anything else Eric Jones should publish in the future. Maybe I should send him an e-mail.
I should also mention that I found The Sanctuary Ruin on the sidebar of Gothridge Manor (um, I had already bought it, it turns out, but never read it. That's about par for the course.) I think his "Gaming Purchases" list is a great resource--especially, for someone looking or $3 or $4 dollar modules to review--and I want to make one of my own for 2012, if I can figure out how to do it. Thank you, Tim!