Review: Toys for the Sandbox – The Old Pier

Author:  Quinn Conklin
Art: Teo Commons; Rodney Ruppert
Publisher:  Occult Moon Games
Price:  $1.99
Pages:   12

Occult Moon Games is already up to Issue #30 with their Toys for the Sandbox line. I admit, I’ve been following these Occult Moon guys on various social media networks and heard the name Toys for the Sandbox, but never really looked very closely. Recently though a couple of review copies from this line came my way.  It seems I have been missing out.

The Toys for the Sandbox line is described by Occult Moon as a framework for a GM to work from.  The product is system-less and provides the GM with a snack-sized chunk of a location that can be dropped into nearly any fantasy campaign world. Each issue contains a location with a map and flavor text, four NPCs with some background information, six plot hooks with twists to change them up a bit, and typically a table that includes rumors or encounters.

I was able to take a look at two different issues of the Toys for the Sandbox line, #23 The Pirate Island and #30 The Old Pier. As noted above, each contains a location with map, description, NPCs, and plot hooks. Both have enough story to get a GM up and running quickly for an evening’s diversion, without being tied too much to a particular setting. With that said, The Old Pier is written to fit in on the island described in The Pirate Island issue, but it could be transplanted to another city with minimal effort.

Each product described the location with enough detail for a GM to have an excellent starting point to drop the location into their own campaign. The NPCs included in each also had enough detail that a GM could read them with minimal prep and be ready to run them. The plot hooks, along with three twists per plot hook, were also wonderful time savers for a GM that needs to come up with something on the spur of the moment.

The maps in both products I reviewed were drawn by Teo Commons. Both were very well done, but the map in The Pirate Island was stunning. The map very clearly depicted the island as described and the color with aged effect was excellent.

Issue #30 has seen a page count increase and an improved layout. This issue contains a bookmarked table of contents. I find the bookmarks in the PDF valuable and a good improvement over Issue #23. One minor quibble was the font used for the text. The font looked nice, but I found it difficult to read.

Overall these are great resources when a GM needs to come up with something quickly for an evening of play. A GM that is planning ahead and simply wants a drop-in location with a lot of the heavy lifting already done can also use them. Being system-less is an added bonus. I will certainly be keeping a closer eye on this line from Occult Moon.

4 thoughts on “Review: Toys for the Sandbox – The Old Pier

  1. That is such a good idea! Price wise it looks sound too, with the initial outlay nothing much at all even if you don’t get that much use out of each issue. Do you know if the whole run fits into any particular setting type, or do they cover a lot of bases over the entire run?

    • They appear to be all for a relatively standard fantasy genre, unless I am overlooking one. The two I looked at were somewhat related to each other, but looking through their catalog on RPG Now it looks like they have everything from Inn’s to Islands to wizards towers to fairy glades and more.

      The two I read would have no issue being dropped into a either Golarion of Pathfinder fame or the homebrew world our group’s main DM uses. They would fit equally well.

      As you noted, the price is pretty reasonable. Even if you didn’t like the location there is a good chance you could use one of the NPCs in your game or vice versa. Maybe the NPCs weren’t doing it for you, but the location could be used.

      • The Toys for the Sandbox line is all fantasy all the time. There are loose connections between the issues so that if you did want to use it as a campaign setting you could.

        If you want Sci-Fi there is the Sci-Fi sandbox line also which is only on issue 5. Hope that helps.

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