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
[3 of 5 Stars!]