Sunday, May 5, 2013

Taking the Plunge into the Razor Coast for Swords & Wizardry

Let me preface this with the following statement: I was not a supporter of the Razor Coast Kickstarter. The Kickstarter seemed geared towards the Pathfinder version (as the third party PDFs would attest to) and I was neck deep in supporting other Kickstarters at the time. Funds were short and something had to give.

Fast forward to last week when I got my hands of reviewer copies of the Razor Coast Freebooter's Guide and Heart of the Razor in PDF. One of the first things I thought I noticed was that the conversion work from Pathfinder to Swords & Wizardry wasn't just some simple stat swapping - it seemed more like a rebuilding or reworking.

After last night's Rappan Athuk session, I decided to plop my hard earned cash down on the pre-order of the Swords & Wizardry version of the Razor Coast Hardcover (and accompanying PDF). At over 400 pages, I've barely scratched the suface of the PDF, but what I've seen so far has me excited. On one level, I was expecting an "adventure path" as is so popular with the Pathfinder RPG, and instead I find this forward by Matt Finch (edited for length):

Razor Coast was originally written for the Pathfinder
Roleplaying Game by Nick Logue, and was edited and
produced by Lou Agresta. For better or worse, I have made
some very significant changes to the setting/campaign, so
Lou’s original introduction, which is to be found here in
the Pathfinder version, no longer fits the subsequent pages
particularly well. 
One of the signal differences between the two
introductions is that Lou introduces the Razor Coast as
a pure sandbox campaign, which, in the language of the
so-called “old schoolers” is not entirely correct. It’s true for
Pathfinder—don’t get me wrong—but over the years, the
definitions of the words “sandbox” and “campaign” have
evolved to have a very different meaning than many Swords
& Wizardry players might use... 
In the case of the Swords & Wizardry version, we had
in addition to myself a tremendously talented team of
adapters: Skeeter Green, James Redmon, and Jeff Harkness.
Our goal was to supplement the double-barreled adventure
sequence that weaves through the Razor Coast with
sandbox tools, such as the random encounter chart, and
also to downplay some of the elements that were originally
designed to move the adventure sequences forward, thereby
making it easier for the players to go on side-adventures
without causing undue grief to the hardworking Referee.
By doing so, I think we have successfully navigated – if the
gentle reader will pardon me the nautical analogy – a safe
channel between the shoals of “paralysis-by-too-manychoices”
on the one hand, and the sharp rocks of “tooscripted”
on the other hand. Some readers will no doubt
feel that the balance we have struck is neither the finest
nor the fittest that could have been achieved, for this is the
nature of a balancing act. However, there are many pure
sandboxes, and many pure adventure-sequences, but not so
many books that weave the two together. The book you are
about to read is something extremely appropriate to its own
subject matter—a hybrid form. 
From this point onward in the introduction, you
are reading a highly-edited version of Lou Agresta’s
introduction to the Pathfinder version, adapted to
the nature of the Swords & Wizardry version. I have
removed his signature from the bottom, because I have so
dramatically altered the details of what he wrote.
Good Gaming in the Demesnes of the Pirates! 
— Matt Finch
Now I'm really excited to dive into this, maybe as a side diversion during the summer months, when it's hard to get the weekly group together... weekly ;)

I do wish that the Frogs would change the descriptions of the Razor Coast's S&W versions at the RPGNow store - they are a copy and paste of the Pathfinder versions and only serve to confuse potential buyers in my opinion.

Fun stuff in store for me and my group.

As I get through sections I'll post reviews.


  1. I've been a big supporter of the Frogs, but didn't jump on board the Razor Coast Kickstarter either. Unlike the Tome of Horrors, where the Frogs took the space created by trimming down the Pathfinder stats and used it to provide the S&W version with additional content, it appeared that in this case, I would simply be paying the bloated Pathfinder price for a leaner S&W product. Moreover, the high buy-in and the color interiors, which I'm sure are costly but don't do much for me at the gaming table, further made this look like a bad value.

    Having said all of that, I'll be excited to take a look at the books in person if they have them at North Texas RPG Con. Matt's introduction to Razor Coast is surely interesting.

  2. Man, how does one get all these review copies! ;)

    I had heard some tidbits about the previous products as well and was dubious of RC for this exact purpose. As well, I was running BBF at the time of this Kickstarter and assumed there was no way I could get my group to convert over to S&W. That al l changed this last however when I wrangled my way into getting them to switch! That said, I almost never, ever run anything as printed and use purchased products merely as inspiration, but this looks pretty good. Might have to take a look at it, probably wait to read your review though.

  3. Going to the Frog God website gave raised a question about another Frog product. I was tempted to finaly buy Rappan Athuk S&W version, (using the money i "saved" not buying into dwarven forge) but is it just a cut and paste of the Pathfinder version with shorter stat blocks?

    1. to be honest, i don't know.

      i do have both versions (got the PF version as part of the Legendary Terrain kickstarter) but haven't looked at it as i don't run PF.

      maybe i'll peek later

  4. I would appreciate. I don't play PF either but I can convert PF to old school D&D but on the off chance I ever need to run pathfinder its nice to have.

  5. I'm really looking forward to more of this review. I'm curious to see how well it works out as a S&W adventure.

  6. Wow, thanks for this post. I was wondering just what the S&W version would be like, and now I am super excited for it! Does anyone know if you get the .pdf download as soon as you pre-order the physical book?

    1. you get the PDF immediately when the preorder the HC. That's what i did

    2. Thanks. I picked up the player's guide pdf, and it sure does spawn a ton of ideas. I feel like I could come up with so much adventure just using the player's guide!
      Yup, I definitely see myself pre-ordering the main book soon. Thanks so much for your help!


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