Wheel of Evil is a module for use with Labyrinth Lord by Jeff "Bighara" Sparks and Joel Sparks, recommended for 4-6 characters of Levels 3-5. I ran this module as part of my ongoing home campaign, ran in Errant over the course of about 3 sessions, with 3-6 players ranging from levels 1 to 3.
The basic set-up of the adventure is that the party is hired to protect some generic town's prized cheeses from marauding kobolds. This familiar premise is soon up-ended as the party quickly discovers that there is something more sinister afoot. Soon they will stumble into a subterranean fungal hell ruled by a sentient mold with plans for world domination, and those lowly kobold the party was prepared to genocide are likely to become valuable comrades, their bottles of distilled urine a weapon to combat the mycelial menace.
A Blast From the Past
linked progressive development of challenges and PC power, with the rules existing to help keep those in rough proportion to one another and adjudicate the interactions of the two "fairly".
And it is this play ethos that I see reflected in Wheel of Evil primarily. This makes sense to me historically; that early in the OSR's history when values, norms, goals, and expectations around design were still inchoate and yet to cohere into a more stable play culture, early efforts by revivalists would align more closely with early D&D design as they actually remembered playing it, rather than how the "OSR" design orthodoxy which later emerged would dictate they remember it.
Taken within this context, the design decisions of Wheel of Evil seem much clearer. Structurally its very similar to a tournament module; even the reward structure of the adventure, with characters paid in shares of sales from the cheese festival, the value of those shares determined by a number of key factors related to the party's performance within the adventure, functions explicitly as a sort of grading system akin to those employed by Referees at conventions. Within this framework, the linear adventure and the set-piece encounters function to provide a uniform rubric against which the player's performance can be evaluated.
Yet more textual evidence for Wheel of Evil falling more squarely within a classic mode of play rather than a normatively OSR lies in the adventure's adherence to the aesthetics of Gygaxian vernacular fantasy. Yet another norm of the OSR is the reskinning of monsters, describing them in odd ways, and refusing to name them; this is to undermine player's attempts at system mastery and force them to engage with novel and unexpected challenges beyond those for which they have an expected frame of reference. By contrast, many of the encounters in Wheel of Evil seem to rely on an assumption of system mastery, that your players will know what a shrieker is, or a yellow mold or gelatinous cube or black pudding. It deploys these familiar creatures in novel situations, using their presence to signal to savvy players to be on the look-out for danger and treachery. Successful players will parlay their knowledge of these monsters to navigate the new and novel situations they've been reconfigured into, while those who do not recognise the black masses being spat out by a minion in the boss battle as a black pudding or the immobile skeleton floating down a tunnel to be evidence of a gelatinous cube and not some malign undead are likely to have a very bad time.