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.