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Razor Coast (PFRPG)

****( ) (based on 7 ratings)
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Under the heat of the salted sun, along a pirate-riddled coast bloated fat with forgotten riches and forbidden secrets, the subjugation of the native tribes awakens long banished horrors. Horrors whose deadly plans threaten not only Port Shaw—the corrupt fingerhold of a distant and decadent civilization—but existence, itself.

A sea of blood caresses the savage shore of the Razor. Rising from the abyssal depths, Harthagoa, the bastard spawn of a She-Kraken and Demogorgon drags whole fleets beneath the waves.

In the fetid Blacksink Marsh, unspeakable horrors lurk beneath the bog water, accursed cannibals pay gory obeisance to an ancient shark god of slaughter—begging its return.

A ghostly armada, murderous pirates, and balesharks prowl the waves—all threaten Port Shaw, the only bastion of "civilization" on the Razor. The city hosts foreign invaders chasing baleen, ambergris, and gold. They menace the native Tulita tribes and drive them from their ancestral home with smoke-belching cannonade.

Pele, The Goddess of Fire and Wrack, watches from her smoldering throne on Dreadsmoke Mountain. She stands ever ready to purge the people of Port Shaw from her domain in a torrent of ash and molten lava.

An adventure for 4 – 6 PCs. Character Levels 5 – 12 Pages: 544

Razor Coast is the long anticipated Caribe-Polynesian flavored, Age of Sail swashbuckling RPG campaign envisioned and designed by Nicolas Logue. It is applauded for its ambitious and original design, its epic flavor and its lurid, full-color art—including a cover by the award winning Wayne Reynolds. Logue tapped a team of veteran designers to help develop and write Razor Coast, including Lou Agresta, Adam Daigle, Tim Hitchcock, and John Ling.

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Product Reviews (7)
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****( ) (based on 7 ratings)

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

*****

46 pages, 1 page front cover (by Wayne Reynolds), 1 page editorial, 3 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page dedication, 5 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover. That leaves 534 pages.

534. Pages.

It's been a long time since Razor Coast has been released and there's a reason my review took this long. First of all, let me preface this with a disclaimer: I can't, by any means, be truly neutral regarding Razor Coast. I just can't. you see, there would be no Endzeitgeist without this book. It was Razor Coast that made me excited enough about a book to actually end my online abstinence and register at Sinister Adventures back in the day. I didn't even have a Paizo account. I had no idea Rite Publishing or Open Design even existed. Without this book, NONE of my reviews would have ever been written. Without it, none of the friendships, none of the kind people would have ever entered my life. I was stunned by the kindness of Nick and Lou and then...Sinister Adventures went down. My heart bled, I raged, I reasoned...all the steps of grief, as pathetic as that may sound. I never ordered a refund. I waited. When Frog God Games took Razor Coast and uploaded the KS, I thought "NO WAY" - why? Because the funding goal seemed insane. The requirement to commit 30-buck preorders from back in the day, get new artwork etc. blew up the goal and you can't begin to understand the amount of exhilaration I felt when it funded...with flying colors, reaching all those stretch-goals. I couldn't believe it. At this point, not only had Razor Coast's prior vapor ware status been the grain of sand that was in the center of my decision to go reviewer, it had amassed such a n epic level of expectations, I started dreading the arrival of the massive tome (#213, btw.!) and all the bonus books I went for via the KS.

Then, I started reading it. And from a reviewer's perspective, I was looking at a problem of no small proportions - Razor Coast seems to defy proper reviewing. Usually, when I take a look at a module, I take a look at the plot, hooks etc. and then give you a synopsis of what to expect, try to analyze issues with the plot etc. Alternatively, a sandbox gets a similar treatment, but more free-form. Well, Razor Coast refuses to fit in either mold. So what is this monster's structure? We have inciting incidents, that kick off a given arc - two massive major plot-arcs suffuse this tome. These are supplemented with vignettes, set-pieces and stand-alone encounters as well as relationship subplots. These are here, and in the end, it's up to DM and players to decide in- and outgame which/what to pursue. Essentially, Razor Coast tries to combine the free-form modularity of a true sandbox campaign with the plot-driven structure of an AP.

Now, usually, I'd just give you a run-down of the general plot-structure - that doesn't work here. If I were to list everything herein, this review would probably be as long as all my Slumbering Tsar-reviews combined. So instead, I'll tell you about what can be found herein: First of all, there would be indulgences, i.e. Sinister Adventures' small pdfs, converted to the PFRPG-ruleset. This means that Craig Shackleton's dueling rules, including the bind combat maneuver, have been updated. These are intended to essentially make the swashbuckler a more valid option char-build wise and if used as intended for low-armor, dex-based fighter, makes sense. The thing is, the feats aren't particularly weak and while not per se broken, e.g. treating a one-handed piercing weapon as a reach weapon can be broken badly - enlarge character, magus levels etc. At prereq BAB +1, too easy to abuse, also thanks to the feat not requiring an explicit action, thus making it possible to combine this with other feats. Then again, the parrying rules per se are solid and have seen some use in my game. The Tulita-ethnography comes the throw maneuver (which feels unnecessary) and also some feats, one of which isn't as broken as it was in 3.X, but fixing unarmed threat range at 18 sans following usual rules of threat range enhancements would be bound to lead to confusion. The Mai'kal archetype gets a somewhat broken ability at 15th level, allowing them to, as an immediate action, reverse an attack on the adversary 1/round as an immediate action for 1 ki point. The essay on underwater adventuring contained here is also nice, though after the release of both Sunken Empires and Alluria Publishing's glorious Cerulean Seas, there are better options.

But you don't want me to pick this one apart crunch-wise, do you? The adventure is what counts, so what can I say about it before I go into spoilers?

Let's give you an overview - the Razor Coast is a tropical paradise, though not one sans its dark past. The native population, the Tulita, lived in relative peace until colonialization began and the white/yellow/black/whatever men came and defeated them handsomely. Now, the once sacred whales are hunted, the eggs of the venerable turtle smashed and colonial ignorance has erected Port Shaw, a thriving port on sacred ground. Dark days have found the paradise in peril, as racial tensions rise and evil conspires above and beneath the waves. Here, one thing should be noted - the writing is superb. In a genre, where Freeport and Sasserine constitute two very iconic settlements with their own flavor, making a given age of sail-style settlement stand out is quite a feat and neither settlement would be confused with Port Shaw (though they probably could replace it with some work) -the writing makes the settlement, the whole coast really, come to life from the pages. immersion is also increased via the entries on e.g. deities in the appendix. Oh, have I mentioned that5 thanks to a collaborative effort with Green Ronin, the book actually offers information on how to handle both Freeport and Port Shaw in the same setting and how they geographically relate? Yes. Awesome.

Now beyond the leitmotif of colonialism and the resulting racial tensions and cultural warfare, we have a leitmotif of progress vs. nature in the guise of colonial powers destroying natural resources and killing essentially the sacred animal guides of the Tulita. This topic per se is rather subdued, though its presence can be felt in one of the main plots, but more on that later. Now I've mentioned relationship subplots - and these deserve the moniker. Essentially, Razor Coast is as character-driven and NPC-rich as you want and a former band of heroes, down on their luck and destined for an inglorious downfall, is provided in excruciating detail - these beings are characters in the truest sense of the word and while they all have been broken, the PCs have a chance to mend them. The same btw. holds true for the legendary widow of Captain Razor and even some antagonists - overall, indifference will lead to depressing ends indeed, while invested PCs can truly make a difference and save those souls from the abyss into which they gaze. If you're like me and read these, you'll probably recognize yourself or some of your friends n their darkest hours in these NPCs - yes, they're that detailed. So if your PCs are big on the ROLE of roleplaying, Razor Coast provides ample potential.

A DM also gets special tools - essentially, a level-by-level breakdown of potential plotlines/encounters to run as well as check-list-sheets for the respective levels/phases of the plot as well as an NPC-relationship tracker help further in making sense of the tremendously complex, vast array of potential plots one can craft from Razor Coast. Which is rather interesting, for the plot per se is as strong as you'd expect from a linear AP:

SPOILERS

Essentially, colonialism and the killing of animals has helped dread shark-god Dajobas and his chosen to return to shore. Dread were-sharks have infiltrated Port Shaw and expect to hold a massive feast of carnage and death in its streets. Furthermore, the legendary kraken-fiend has all but taken control of Port Shaw via a secret society and plans to soon reap the city. Then former plot is conspiracy 1, the second one no.2 and both make for linear, rather epic (apocalyptic, even!) scenes - within the modularity of the vast tome, these stories are what drives the meta-plot. And yes, they're infinitely more complex, tied to x characters, strange islands, sunken treasures, betrayals long past etc. And yes, in order to not bloat this review beyond 20 pages, that's all you'll be hearing from me regarding the plot(s).

/SPOILERS

Soooo...those plots and all the encounters, flavor etc. need to be organized. The tools are there. Before we go into that, another caveat, though - look at the end of the book. Among the indulgences, several mini-modules await and the book also features essentially what can be considered an additional Voodoo-themed adventure that is completely optional. These are NOT part of the main-book's outline, nor are the modules from the expansion "Heart of the Razor", though the latter help with levels in which the main material is a bit less versatile than one would expect. It should also be noted that the appendix features new creatures galore, including, yes, undead cannibal pygmies (and their unliving totems!), a race of degenerate Cyclopes, drugs, items both mundane and magical and much, much more. Have I mentioned the hand-out driven puzzle/treasure map, options for underwater adventuring etc.?

Since its formal approach to adventure-craft is so different, the grand question would be how to rate this... which brings me, perhaps to a surprisingly early

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are surprisingly good for a book of this length - while there are glitches in here, they are relatively few and far in-between. Layout adheres to a parched-map-style full-color 2-column standard that is easy to read. The respective full color artworks are universally drop-dead-gorgeous and the maps are as well. While some maps have the scaling-numbers slightly pixelated, the maps themselves are plenty and beautiful. Furthermore, the map folio offers player-handout-style maps of the respective areas herein, adding for me tremendously to their use. The massive tome comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience. The pdf's artworks sometimes feel a bit less high-res than those present in the hardcover - if you can, I'd definitely suggest going for the full-color dead tree tome. Printing this would probably cost more in ink/toner than just getting the book anyways.

There's another reason for this - you'll need post-its. Seriously. A metric ton of post-its. I have a very good memory, but still - running this behemoth will require you to have a lot of things at your fingertips, even with all the help the book tries to give you.

Which also brings me to the reason why this took forever - first of all: Novice-DMs need not apply. Sorry. Even for me, who considers running modules of ZEITGEIST-complexity easy, with years of sandboxing campaign information, this is a rather complex endeavor. The best advice I can give is to read the whole book. At least twice. Which won't be an issue, since the respective areas are full of iconic encounters, compelling characters and superbly dark, gritty, nail-biting climaxes. The writing is superb and just glorious. It should also be noted that the shades-of-grey themes actually are there - while the Tulita generally are pictured as the good guys, there are ample exceptions and only scarcely does the book stoop to painting a clear b/w-contrast. When it does, though, it MAY be slightly jarring - the whole book essentially portrays the process of colonialization in all its violence and despicable facets. Indigenous population under control via drugs? Yes. Cultures destroyed? Yes. Slavery? Yes.

There are not much saving graces for the powers that be here and thematically, that is the only narrative weak spot in an otherwise surprisingly versatile plot. While the book actually manages for the most part to maintain complex moralities and shades of grey in all protagonists and even in some of the more despicable antagonists, when it comes to the Tulita, it sometimes reverts to simple b/w: Portraying them in a very much romanticized noble savage-way. I'm been discriminated against and personally, it's probably this experience that makes me consider this to be, in its way, just as problematic as a demonization of a given people. In any other setting/module, I wouldn't have complained here, but in the gritty, surprisingly deep Razor Coast, this feels a bit off at times, especially due to generally, the depiction maintains an enlightened, non-glorifying stance. But then again, perhaps that's just the cultural studies mayor talking. To let me make this abundantly clear - this is NO white guilt-trip, theme-wise, but it also falls, by a margin, short of what it could have been in that regard.

It took me some time to analyze what made this, at least in my perception, harder to run than e.g. Slumbering Tsar and similar massive campaigns. The reasons are twofold: For one, the massive tome shoots itself somewhat in the proverbial foot by noting several sample motivations à la "Champion of the Tulita", "Allied with the Powers that be" etc. IGNORE THESE PREMISES. While one could craft a Razor Coast-campaign with these themes, the overall narrative is imho neutered by trying to shoehorn it into one of these adventure-path-like premises. Essentially, the whole of the book does not particularly support these themes. Yes, they're there, but looking for them and trying to jam the sandbox into that frame tremendously hurts the experience and limits players/could lead to a less versatile experience for them. The support for these pseudo-AP-motivations is just not pronounced enough and I'm of the conviction these hurt the book more than anything else. So, again: Ignore those.

Secondly, the organization of the massive material is more confusing than it ought to be - the "build-your-own-AP"-section with all its checklists and help doesn't help that much - or at least, it didn't help me. Why? Because it lacks the supplemental material, even from the same book. Tying indulgences and "bonus-storyline" (and Heart of the Razor) into the whole would have made this section much more useful. Another issue would be that you first get Port Shaw, then the Key-NPCs, then the planner and then the encounters/meat of the book. Essentially, the planner is talking about things, which, if you read this in a linear way, you haven't read and have no clue about. So if you start reading, skip this section and return after reading. While this isn't bad, it also makes preparing this behemoth more challenging, at least at first sight, than it ought to be. Much of the problems simply dissipate if you just read the meat of the adventure, the setting-information etc. and start planning for yourself.

One of the reasons some people experienced a slight backlash here, can be explained via the tremendous expectations associated with this tome, while others lie primarily at the problematic organization. This book would have imho fared better by sticking to a sandbox-presentation and then just add a generic time-line and insert encounters into that. Just my 2 cents, of course. Endeavoring to make this both an AP and a sandbox ends up unnecessarily complicating this.

Now all of this sounds awfully negative - and it shouldn't, let me make abundantly clear that this is a rite-of-passage-style monster-tome to separate the men from the boys, DM-wise. It's challenging (Though not Frog God Games-hard.) and ultimately a great module that takes cultural cues otherwise scarcely, if at all, explored and provides a rich, fun, dark and at times downright evil setting that oozes unique style and flair, provides superb writing, ideas galore and more potential for fun than MANY collective modules/APs of similar length.

Part 2 of my review in the product discussion, post 89.


I wish I could get a refund for this

**( )( )( )

I had started a sea voyage campaign when I got the PDF for this, hoping to use its material. Unfortunately, I ended up regretting this. The PDF is so poorly optimized that loading it on my gamer desktop computer lags like crazy. It flat out crashes any PDF reader I use on my tablet. I wish I could say the material is worth the hardcover price, but this is not so. I find the book very difficult to follow and study as a GM. I still haven't figured out what the overall plot of some of the adventure paths are. The setting leaves much to be desired.

The only value I got out of Razor Coast was a two room dungeon that my players ended up bypassing anyway. This felt like $40 down the drain.


Surprising weaknesses

**( )( )( )

I had never been disappointed by any Frog God Games product, so I eagerly joined the kickstarter for this product for the pdf when it was announced. It took a while before I had time to read the whole thing, and now I'm torn about what to think about this book. It's not bad, but there are problems that should not be there.

Let's start with formal issues.
The worst is maps. They are so low resolution that I can't read room numbers on most of them.
Many stat blocks refer to the chapter of the full stat block, but never give a page number. Since several chapters are over a hundred pages, that makes for a lot of wasted time finding them.
The pdf bookmarks are basic at best and not always accurate.
The book presents some interesting feats and equipment, but some of the feats and the archetype appear to be very powerful.

But that's not what you would buy this book for. It's the AP that matters in the end. The AP is supposedly a very sandbox AP, but the problems start right at the beginning. There is no overview over the area and environs for the DM. No guidelines whatsoever. What is told about the area is told in the various adventure scenes and encounters, so it's very easy to miss and very difficult to look up without reading several hundred pages.

During the AP the characters have, according to the book, four paths they can walk. There isn't an absolute separation, but some are impossible to combine.
'The Individualists' is poorly supported and essentially ineffective. And with the abundance of high level NPCs about, very hard to walk.
'Powers That Be' is probably the default route as it is about working with the rather charismatic authorities of the port town. Sadly they are all about betrayal and work for the final boss. Worse, only three characters of this path are described in any detail. That's worse since everyone in authority is in a secret cult and we have no idea why they joined; and while you can turn the cult leader away from the cult, the book provides no guidelines about how this affects the cult as a whole, and what other members would defect. So while this is the default path, almost everything is for the GM to make up.
'Hero worshipping fan boys' is the third path. Well, it’s officially 'former heroes and their friends', but that's what it ends up being. A lot of space is dedicated to a late adventuring group who failed, including instructions about what NPC may have a romance with what other NPC, but nothing regarding romances with PCs. Oh, and if you don't care about them, don't rescue them from the consequences of the crimes they did commit (including stealing from the party), and so on, you will get victory point penalties. Thankfully in this adventure VP only decide how many encounters come before the big guy, so failing to worship the npcs won't mean you automatically loose.
'Worship the failed native culture' is the final option, actually called 'The Tulita'. Unlike the worship the npcs option above, not following this path makes the campaign an auto loss. Because if you don't aid them and their mad shaman to force their believes upon everyone the Tulita will turn to demon worship and cannibalism, turn themselves into scum and within a decade leave the whole area abandoned, regardless of what the PCs do. The VP penalties are just insult to injury since any victory at that point is utterly meaningless.

Who are the Tulita? It's a tribe based culture that has just recently tried to wage war against the local cities and after what sounds like a bloody war lost. Some of them are adapting and thriving, but most cling to old ways that have no place in modern society while the rest turns to crime, drugs, and demon worship.
Perhaps the most annoying part reading the AP was that the Tulita can do no wrong. Their racism was always justified as understandable xenophobia and when someone acted that way towards them it was condemned as vile racism. The double standard is a recurring theme and if you get easily annoyed by such things it would be best to avoid the book completely. Perhaps an example will best shown what I mean. The encounter: by accident a barrel falls from a crane and injures a Tulita. His friends immediately begin to verbally abuse the crew of the ship responsible, and when they answer in kind, the Tulita attack. And since they were once proud noble warriors now reduced to work like everyone else, the PCs are expected to help them beat up the helpless crew of the whaling vessel in a 'feel good' encounter. The whaling crew is CR ½, the Tulita that attack them CR2. The editor's note explicitly calls the beating up of innocent CR ½ sailors a way to feel heroic.

There are two main plotlines weaved through just about every encounter described in the book. The first is the plot of the demon Dajobas (well he's called a god, but acts more like a demon), lord of were-sharks and scum tries to 'recruit' from the city. The options given in the book for handling the plague are limited, and sometimes quite ridiculous. For example at one point the book says that the only option is for players to find a 12th level cleric to handle the curse, but the senior cleric in the book, explicitly called the last cleric remaining in the city, is level 9. As GM I'm now left scratching my head where the 12th level cleric is supposed to come from. And how the plot can proceed as described, if I introduce one.
Leaving that point and the Tulita worship aside, the plot is fairly interesting and disturbing. How can a lycanthropy outbreak be contained if there are many weres that willingly spread it. The book is silent on that topic and deals only with the first full-moon assault, but it gives many good hints in how to handle the spreading curse in game. How much you enjoy this plot line will depend on how much you like lycanthropy in general. If you dislike it, this AP probably is not for you.
Oh and Dajobas can only be contained by the Tulita gods, apparently all other gods are impotent when it comes to him. Why? Well, the author never gives a reason, so I guess it must be because the Tulita are awesome and therefore their gods are as well.

The second plot line is the Ring of the Kraken. The setup and conclusion are good, even most of the events are good, but the path leading to the conclusion is not only a monorail, but it rips the party completely out of the developments and forces them to go after an NPC they never met because he could have months old information that is probably worthless. Another problem is that while the two most important members of the cult are fleshed out and there's even hints how you can get the local leader to defect, there is no information about the other members and their motives, so you need to make them up, as mentioned above. That said, there are a lot of good hooks and scenes dealing with the Ring of the Kraken, and there is little doubt about what the real goals of the leader are.
But the conclusion remains: for a sandbox AP there's not enough sand in this plot.

Overall, there are lots of ideas for how to spice up sea adventures, some good conspiracies, plots, and even whole encounters and complex NPCs ready for use. But run the AP? Filling in the missing information and NPCs and then making sure they fit with everything else that's hidden among the hundreds of pages will probably be more time consuming than making your own campaign, using what you like form this book.

On the positive side, there are lots of high level NPCs in this book. Well, for those that are looking for stat blocks that is. Trying to explain why someone abhorring physical confrontation and commanding from home since childhood is level 14 in a PC class will be quite hard when trying to run the AP, if you care for stuff like that.

The ideas of how to organize sandbox APs are interesting, but not fully thought out. When fully implemented it will be a good way to put the information in pdfs, but since most information would need to be repeated at least three times (by NPC, by plot line, in the encounter, often by location), it would be a 'waste' of hundreds of pages in a print product, so I don't think this method will find much popularity.

At the end I'm struggling between two and three stars for this book. I do find a lot of it useful, but it just seems incomplete and lacking as sandbox AP. So for forty dollars it has to be two stars.


Glorious Sandbox Setting

*****

First of all, this book has beautiful art. The cover just leaps out at you and tells you “this is one badass, high-adventure, high-stakes, high-seas campaign world.” Before the first chapter there’s also a full-page color map of the Razor Coast.

This may be a strange comment, but the OGL License page is really good too. It’s nice to see a third-party publication really make use of open game content and pull monsters, classes, and spells from a half-dozen sources. It makes the material feel expansive and more applicable to a variety of games—plus it tells me the writers were free to use material they felt was cool and appropriate.

The book’s introduction defines Razor Coast as “a sandbox-style, mini-campaign setting and toolkit that guides GMs to create a high-fantasy, age of sail adventure path for a party of player characters ranger from 5th to approximately 12th level.” The book is divided into 7 chapters, plus appendices.

Chapter One: History and setting details of the Razor Coast.
Chapter Two: GM advice and plot points for creating an adventure path.
Chapter Three: Setting details for the main community of Port Shaw and prominent NPCs.
Chapter Four: Setting details for the area surrounding Port Shaw and the “dungeon” style sewers beneath the city.
Chapter Five: Ship and sea combat rules.
Chapter Six: Details on a main “plot arc” of Razor Coast and guidance for the GM on “designing and executing your unique conclusion” to the plot arc.
Chapter Seven: Details on a potential “finale” to the main Razor Coast plot arc and how the GM can design and execute the adventures.
Appendices: New magic items, new monsters, NPC stats, and gazetteer-style information on the campaign world.

There isn't much I can add to the other reviews save that this book exceeded my expectations. It has a ton of great content and take a really unique slant on adventure design by guiding the GM on how to use the presented components. Also one of the coolest, creepiest "end bosses" I've ever seen. Fantastic book all around.


Not Just a Campaign; It's a Sandboxer's Speed-Bag

****( )

I lost several thousand pages of my initial review due to connection boredom. Enjoy what's left.

I remember WAY back in 2008 or so listening to Ed Healy, Rone Barton, and Nick Logue talking about this bad boy on a podcast and immediately flying to my computer to throw piles of money at it. When I found out the project died, well, I've thrown money into plenty of dead projects back when I used to have it (anyone else subscribe to GameGO! but me?), and it seemed worthy enough to show my support and call it good.

This was well before KickstarterGoGo, kids, when we used to IM about our Compuserve BBS with updates to our Ultima MUD in the Angelfire webrings on Geocities. It was a dark time. But I digress.

Fast forward to, like, 2012, where Bill Webb's throwing bourbon down my throat and talking about Lou Agresta, He of the Many Tentacles, revitalizing the project with new content and putting our long-lost money where his gaming mouth is. They literally had to find me. I feel weird about that. But when gaming veterans are putting a flintlock under your nose and offering you cake or death, you take cake 'til there's none left.

Ahem. Review.
I love this book. Really. I do. Not because of all the above reasons (again, I counted that money as lost), but because it takes sandbox games to the level only found in Ed Greenwood's basement.

Not the one full of redheads. The other basement.

The one with every square inch of the Realms mapped, written about, codified, distilled, folded, spindled, and mutilated into thirty-thousand little flood-stained cardboard boxes.

We've all put together something akin to a sandbox game, whether we know it or not. When the PCs are s'posed to go right but they go left, BOOM. Into the sandbox they go. When the alcoholic artist offers a game at PaizoCon but makes the pregen PCs half at lunch and half at the table and everyone has a blast anyway, we all have to shake the sand out of our shoes. When we're thirteen and haven't even bothered to read the rules and we base it all off a console RPG we played last year, my god but the granules are up in our shorts. And it's about time someone with a lizard head and twelve feisty pseudopods helped us turn all that stuff into a campaign, dammit.

And Razor Coast delivers.

Not only do you get a massive pile of encounters to build into a campaign, but you get HOW to pick said encounters, WHERE to put them, and WHY to put them. And suggestions on how to do it yourself, for ANY campaign. That itself is worth Gary Gygax's weight in gold.

I should know. I dug him up for a special, unreleased Crystal Caste set.

On top of this, you get several easily portable locations for adventure, piles of stat blocks, maps, more maps, a new prostate (that's a lie), NPCs, villains, monsters... serious goodies for less than 19 cents per page.

An interesting concept with this book is something I'd like to call "more allies than you can handle." By this I mean that there's serious RP options with a load of characters, but chances are your group won't even know half of them are alive until they're not. Seriously. NPCs of note that the PCs don't get invested in will go bad, die, or go bad and THEN die. Which means even if a group decides to re-play Razor Coast (and like a handful of modules out there from days of yore, that's a serious possibility), even if they pick the same general alliance (did I mention those? No? Sowwy), they can go looking for those same dead bodies/former villains and team up with THEM instead. Or team up with them AND their old buddies.

It's like a Bethesda game. But with more replay value, built-in multiplayer, and literally unlimited expansions.

"But Ashton," you cry, "you're just a schill for the man, whose tentacle blorts from your mouth-parts even now!" Don't be fooled, dear reader. I gave it four stars for a reason. And Agresta hasn't even bought me a drink yet, so don't call me a sellout.

There's a handful of typos. Let's get that out of the way. It annoys me, it annoys you. We move on. Crap happens.

The occasional non-challenging NPC. That bugs me. Frog God essentially promises to stab my PCs in the aorta with the simplest of encounters, and after watching my group make a buffet of my tears, I see CR 12+ dudes doing 1d6+1 damage per attack and cry. Are they all gringo-salsa? Hardly. But enough of them are that I see some important villains getting chopped like gumbo just so's they can die spicy-like.

It's not enough to ruin a book that can seriously spawn a skrillion campaigns, though, believe me. Gygax put out a book of names well after Google came out and we could just search name lists for free, and people still bought it. YOU may have bought it. Hell, I looked at it, thought all the above, and I wanted to buy it. But this book, pennies per page, is damned impressive, even as a resource.

Hands up on who bought the 3.0 D&D Map Folios.

K.

This is worth WAY more than those. Trust me. I only fail 3 out of 5 times, and that's WAY worse than this book.


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