It’s been a long while since I checked out any of the Toys for the Sandbox series from Occult Moon, so I thought I’d grab a recent release. The lucky PDF in this case was Toys from the Sandbox 88: The Rift Market by Quinn Conklin. This system-agnostic fantasy supplement details an intriguing gateway to other planes tucked away in a corner of Bashful Sister Mountain.
A tear in the fabric of the world lies hidden behind a seriously locked door in a small town on a trade road used to get down the mountain and onto the plains for trade. As such, it’s a perfect place for a town and market to spring up offering all sorts of curious items from other planes of existence. Elementals, demons, and more have come to sell their wares. Wondrous items are available… for a price, if you are willing to pay.
In 18 pages (15 pages of content), Conklin not only introduces us to how this corner of the world came to be, but who and what we might find there. It’s a fascinating example of organically growing a location from a simple idea and the core concept behind it could also be used in other genres of games (urban fantasy and science fiction came to mind immediately). I think the town of the Rift Market could easily exist on a hundred different worlds and wonder if it doesn’t already…
Beyond the description, you get a four key NPCs to play with, from the market guide who can tell you where to find what you seek to the strange dark-skinned woman with an eerie glow beneath her skin trying to convert you to her faith. Each has a bit of history, a description, and an overview of any unique stats and skills they may have. These are the folks who inhabit the area of the market and each has a unique motivation or goal to accomplish with the help of the PCs.
You also get a collection of six plot hooks to help get those PCs involved in what’s going on at the market. Forces are gathering for various purposes not easily discerned, but your characters may quickly find themselves entangled in unique ways they may not always appreciate.
And lastly you get a couple of interesting items, some tables for random encounters or rumors to kick things off, and a collection of references to other Toys in the Sandbox products.
Let me start with what I really like about this product. First, I love the concept, which has a ton of application in just about any fantasy world you might consider. A stable rift offering not only travel to other worlds but access to other-worldly characters for the PCs to interact with in a relatively safe and controlled environment is awesome. Second, I love the layout, which though simple has some nice touches such as the graphical key in the upper right or upper left corner of the page to let you know what section you might be reading at a glance. And the notes area on every page is a terrific idea as well. You never know as GM when you might need to jot something down.
Now let me get to some of the issues I found with this PDF. First of all, it needs at least one more solid editing pass to catch the spelling errors (“discription” made me cringe when I saw it in the table of contents) and there are various grammatical issues scattered throughout. Nothing major, but the spelling errors and typos quickly caught my eye. Second, I wasn’t a big fan of the art, though I did really like the sketched map of the market on the last two pages.
Neither of these issues detracts much from the coolness of the concepts and ideas in the book, so I would encourage you to overlook them. I’m sure that the editing problems will be taken care of in a future revision.
If this is any indication of the cool ideas found in the other 86 issues of Toys from the Sandbox that I’ve missed, I’m sure I will have to grab another few before I’m done!
For more information about Toys for the Sandbox and Occult Moon…
- … check out Toys from the Sandbox #88: The Rift Market at DriveThruRPG.
- … and while you’re there, check out all the other goodies from Occult Moon.
- … hop over to the Occult Moon website.
- … check them out on Facebook