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Vexing Sands $4.99 $1.99
Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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Vexing Sands
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Vexing Sands
Publisher: Escape Velocity Gaming
by Alastair M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/30/2014 08:15:33
Earlier reviewers here have ably sketched-out the general content and style of this package, combining a still-rare outdoors excursion for Inked Adventures' characteristic artwork, with some brief scenario notes and object descriptions by Escape Velocity Gaming, the latter especially helpful for times when inspiration fails. The grid-work has been cunningly handled. On the watchtower/fort, bold grid squares are formed from the edges of stones in the wall and the roof's flat planking; on the desert background, a beautifully subtle grid is present, made up of bits of stone, bone, the occasional plant and one small scorpion, so you see it, but it's not forceful. Even where a ruled grid is present (which includes one version of the desert background sheet), it's been applied with a light touch, so the artwork is never diminished.

Of course, it's easy to think of other things the package might have included, such as variant background sheets, a crescent sand dune or two, or a lower level for the fort, perhaps with a gateway. However, what is here can be adapted readily too. That dried-up oasis from the Bonus Sheet could be used as a small, sandy hill instead, while multiple copies of the watchtower could be cut-up and placed to make a larger castle, or a wall stretching out across the terrain.

The sole downside to the set is the desert background sheet has been provided only as a remarkably low-quality scan, unpleasantly pixellated no matter how it's printed. Initially unable to contact the publishers, artist Bill Babble very kindly sent me a copy of his original electronic artwork, so I can enjoy the Vexing Sands without the vexatious pixels. In a paid-for product though, Escape Velocity really need to get this problem resolved. It's a serious disservice to the artwork right now, and I've marked the pack down accordingly.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vexing Sands
Publisher: Escape Velocity Gaming
by JERRY M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/21/2012 08:53:10
For the price, I thought this was a nice value.

Now, I am a propo whore, and I love extra floorplans, so I am a bit biased. And I also like Billiam Babble's artwork and floorplans with Inked Adventures, so bear in mind that this style fits my own preferences.

That being said, the maps are nice. Simple, but nice. and the additional props are interesting too, between the ponds, the fish, and the fort, there are things that would fit in to other floorplan sets as well. A lot of this would work well for non-desert adventures as well.

(Even the sands would make nice beaches for a Pirates adventure or the scrubland for a steppe/wasteland encounter.)

And of course, the artwork blends well with not only Inked Adventures products, but all of the old GW Dungeon Floorplans/ Caverns/ Dungeons/ Halls of Horror/ Caverns of the Dead/ Nightmare at Blackmarsh/ Tragedy of McDeath/ etc. sets, so there is a lot of reuse there as well with some old school stuff.

Lastly, the floorplans are worth the $1.99 alone. The addition of scenario ideas and variant floorplans make this a decent value with a lot of reuse and some creative suggestions.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vexing Sands
Publisher: Escape Velocity Gaming
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/09/2011 10:20:00
I was the artist on this product, so my bias will be clear *grin* but I strongly believe we need to average out the rating on this product, because for starters, it's superb value for money.

I believe people forget that when they look at 16 pages of print and illustration, that it somehow it's just that. Excellent adventures hooks text aside, this set is tailored so that that tile sets are repeatable. The background desert can be printed at infinite number of times to cover a whole floor or gaming table. Many of the individual cut-out pieces can be used in a selection of settings: Indy Jones style pulp fantasy or Call of Cthullu, Star Trek away - forts and deserts, oases, obelisks. Historical warfare would also not be out of place (we're selling this at the Wargaming Vault I hope as well ;) )

For an example of large layout I recommend that the anybody interested in buying takes a little browse of these photos on flickr:
http://bit.ly/vex_photos
(copy and paste into your address bar)

I leapt at the chance to work with the talented writers of EVG who are fond of my old-school style illustration. I am more proud of this piece than I am of some of my own publications at Inked Adventures (which is saying something!).

May your players survive or perish, but at least in the process enjoy the scenery. :)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vexing Sands
Publisher: Escape Velocity Gaming
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/04/2010 13:52:13
Vexing Sands is a 16-page pdf that provides printable tiles with a desert theme. Note, however, that there are really only three independent pages of tiles: the rest is cover/credits/table of contents/ads (5 pages), an alternate set of tiles without grid lines (3 pages), suggestions on how to use the tiles (3 pages), and seven scenario suggestions using them (2 pages). The actual tiles include one page of mostly blank desert terrain (with some subtle features suggesting sand and a few scattered small rocks), one page of “desert dressing” (such as a fort, a pool, silt, cacti, etc.), and one “bonus” page of slightly modified desert dressing (different color schemes and some different permutations). The art is decent but leans toward the cartoonish rather than realistic; fine by me but unlikely to be to everyone’s tastes. (I’m not sure it would fit the tone of a Dark Sun setting, for example.) . Three pages doesn’t sound like a lot, but keep in mind that you can print as many copies as you’d like, and combine the dressing with the blank desert grid for lots of different setups. For the price it seems like a reasonable deal, provided you have the facilities, inclination, and budget to print as much as you want (and probably mount on cardstock). The three pages of descriptions for the tiles aren’t really necessary and rarely rise above the obvious in suggesting uses for them. The one-paragraph scenario suggestions are more interesting; most are pretty standard fare, but it’s nice that they give lists of tiles to use for each encounter (even better would have been pre-constructed templates!). All in all, this is a decent product if you have the inclination to print and assemble your own tiles. The range of “desert dressing” is pretty good. I’d just look at the preview to ensure you like the tone of the art before purchasing.

Note: I received a free review copy (in pdf form) of this title through DriveThruRPG.com

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Michael, Thanks for taking the time to review our product. I, personally, am a HUGE fan of Billiam Babble's old-school, highly-detailed, but not photo-realistic style...it's the reason I chose to work with him. I think you're dead on...if you like the art and it fits your campaign style this pack is a good deal. :D Thanks again, William C. Pfaff President, Escape Velocity Gaming
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