Book Review: The Lonely Coast by Creighton Broadhurst and Raging Swan Press

Somewhere between the always free products of Stargazer Games and the never free books from some of the more traditional RPG publishers lies a happy middle ground. Give-aways have always been an important part of game marketing, even long before efforts like Free RPG Day sprung up to help get the word out. A well placed free adventure, quick start, monster, character sheet, and so on can go far to encourage potential customers to become actual ones. At least that’s the theory!

Well, these days Raging Swan Press seems to be chugging right along with books like Henchfolk & Hirelings, Villains, Figurines of Wondrous Power, Kobolds of the Fallen Halls, and many more. But when you buy one of their products or stop by the Raging Swan website, you’re reminded to check out their free setting supplement The Lonely Coast. As a fan of their paid products, I wanted to see what they were giving away for free – and I was not disappointed.

Designed for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, The Lonely Coast offers a locale with plenty of places adventurers can explore. The inside cover describes it like this: “The furthest flung outpost of a mighty kingdom, turbulent waters and forbidding, trackless forests separate the villages of the Lonely Coast from the glittering lights of civilization.” Nothing like the edge of man’s reach to create some tension.

Through the 33 pages of this supplement, you get plenty to to get your players started roleplaying here. Rumors, dark forests hiding unknown dangers, and the unexplored ruins of a far older civilization are just the beginning. Also included are hints and suggestions on getting your PCs to this mostly forgotten place, from the potential of giving it to a character as a reward as their personal fiefdom to the possibilities of starting over in a place offering monsters to defeat, treasure to find, and mysteries to unravel.

With a bit of history about the place, a description of the terrain, and a map of the area that shows you just how wild the area actually is, you’re introduced to the places where the few hearty souls who choose to live here gather. A single fortress – Caer Syllan – watches the sea for pirate activity. And the villages of Bossin, Hosford, Oakhurst, Swallowfield, and Wolverton are home to nearly 4,000 people. The map appears to be hand drawn and might be used more as a prop for the game than something useful – but it offers enough detail to show generally where the major features and roads are.

And as you dive deeper, you learn more about the Tangled Wood itself and the various ruins and locations that exist within its leafy darkness. From what’s left of the watch tower of a mighty conjurer and an ancient fort of the first people who tried to tame the wild, to more natural places like a deep lake with tales of treasure beneath the waves, a gorge pockmarked with hidden caves and passageways, and the coastline itself.

The “Adventure Hooks” section offers some great suggestion on practical ways to bring in your players. One of those hooks that caught my eye was the mention of Pestilence, which immediately made me think of Nevermet Press’ Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom supplement. It would be interesting to integrate those two supplements here to see what happened as a result. I can imagine the Red Monks seeking a potential refuge away from the bulk of humanity as a testing ground for their diseases…

And I love having random tables handy in an area to explore. Nothing works better to send players on wild goose chases or actual adventures than a random rumor table, and Broadhurst offers a great one of these to tap into as well.

Beyond the basics, you also get a new race and a new creature to use when tormenting your players. Half-Goblins seem like such pleasant, evil folk ready to destroy any potential new neighbors. And Shadow Wolves are creatures of the forest and warped druidic magic from a forgotten age. Send a pack of these into a camp and you may not have much left of your adventuring party!

Add to that a few one-page encounter descriptions to pit PCs against bears, goblin raiders, mercenaries, and even a local military patrol and you have plenty to get an adventure going. As with all of Raging Swan’s products, the NPCs the PCs meet are more than just stats – hints as to their personalities and behavior are described in enough detail to make things interesting. For example, the members the local lord’s guard includes a failed bard. “Cador has a terrible singing voice. Oblivious to this, Cador sings at every opportunity. So starved of appreciation is he, any positive comment or applause causes him to launch into an interminable round of songs.” This description made me laugh out loud and I’d love to have an opportunity to play him as a GM.

So if you’re looking around for ideas on where to start a campaign or where to send PCs on an existing campaign, I’d encourage you to look at The Lonely Coast from Raging Swan Press. Creighton Broadhurst puts the same quality I’ve come to expect from his paid products in his free products, so you really can’t go wrong. Even if you don’t use the whole setting, there are bits and pieces here worthy of any fantasy campagin.

Check out The Lonely Coast at RPGNow and DriveThruRPG and be sure to check out the rest of Raging Swan’s catalog while you’re at it!

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