When a new, piratey RPG product comes out, I generally take note. Many of the items either seem to be reworking familiar material or just jamming pirates into an otherwise standard fantasy adventure. Sometimes, the material rises above that level and I take notice. Razor Coast is one such product.
It is interesting to compare this product with Freeport as they both nominally mine the same territory: a mashup of Pirates and Fantasy. It is truly a credit to Razor Coast that it really has very little in common with Freeport. Where the older product is set on a small island chain that is close enough to a home continent to prey on well established trade lanes on an existing continent, Razor Coast has a very different feel. Port Shaw, the central location of the game is a colony port, far removed from the mainland. To give it a buzzword tagline it feels like Fantasy Pirates of Polynesia.
To be sure, the colonizers fill some of the usual fantasy tropes, but the setting details feel very different. The natives are of a Pacific tribal bent, hard pressed to reconcile their current oppressed status with their warrior past. Meanwhile, there are threats and machinations from on land, under the sea, and even from within. The local volcano god may very well be real, and if he is, he is pissed! The local enemies are of an interesting stripe as well: Alligator men in the swamps, Weresharks ply the deep, and mutated cannibal pygmies await the unwary. I cannot express how much I want to unleash mutant cannibal pygmies on my players!
|Weresharks. These aren't in your daddy's Monster Manual.|
My campaign idea for Razor Coast allows the players a lot of rope when creating characters. A mix of natives, citizens of Port Shaw, and new arrivals would all fit for what I have in mind. They will all begin the game in Port Shaw one personal business, but circumstances will cast them together and force some initial cooperation. Afterward, the adventures will interweave the best elements of the "adventure path" from the original book, plot elements of my own device, and the usual ramifications of player actions into a singularly tasty seafood chowder. With weresharks. And mutant cannibal pygmies.