There has been some great feedback to my adventure notes 9 and 10. Very noteworthy being from Joshua at Tales of the Rambling Bumblers, which I encourage everyone to check out, as he really takes the “Sandbox Concept” and spells it out to crystal clarity.
His post serves as a cautionary tale about what to avoid in a sandbox campaign. It seems Ripper X was a little too wedded to the sandbox concept and could probably have been a bit more liberal with his random encounters (as in, fudge the die rolls so they actually happen, or adjust the rules so you’re rolling more frequently) without infringing too much on the spirit of the game. Moreover, it’s important to note that sandbox games are defined by their lack of a linear plot — but not necessarily their lack of story. Time spent exploring should be time well spent; the PCs should learn something important about the area, uncover a villain or stumble across a previously unknown map feature.
This is just a snippet of Joshua’s suggestions, he also offers detailed advice which can help any game.
I have played a sandbox-type game before, my goal was to take a high-level party into unexplored map, explore it, and clear an area out for construction of my castle. IT WAS FUN!!! The challenges were up to par with my level. I know that this isn’t something that a lot of players are into, building a fortress isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but I found it both entertaining and engaging.
I will be trying the sandbox-style again, and I think that I have uncovered where I made my mistakes.
First, my goal was to dire. A race for a piece of artifact, and your competition is already on the island. I had already slowed stuff down pretty heavily with my Dopplegangers aboard the ship mystery, which went well. I was able to capture the feel and spirit of ship-life, but, I felt that it was time to speed up the pace, and I over-did it.
Also, map making is a skill that not every player has. I know that in our old group we had an anally-obsessive map-maker who drew complex maps as we went along, he knew how to get the details out of the DM which he needed to build a usable and accurate map of the area. This is very rare! I don’t have anyone like that currently playing.
Not a big deal, I am always trying a variety of different styles to see what the players like to do, they don’t like making maps, or maybe they just aren’t skilled enough players. Mapping terrain is easy, the problem is rivers and lakes, these I should place on the map before hand.
D&D also requires a slow and leisurely pace in order for me to be happy. I sacrificed minor accomplishments and achievements for fast pacing, and the game suffered for it. Capturing the setting is important, and it is normally the first thing that gets scrapped when a DM is in a rush.
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