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  • File : 1266621293.jpg-(12 KB, 318x230, Intrigued.jpg)
    12 KB A Sandbox Campaign Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:14 No.8175884  
    Hey, /tg/, I come to you as a Dungeon Master of five years, unsure of his capability, and interested in putting it to the test.

    I want to run a sandbox campaign, but...I don't.

    For those of you who don't know, a sandbox campaign is one where you tell the players "Well, here's the world! Go do something!" I find the idea extremely appealing, however, I DO like overall plots as well.

    Is there some kind of medium between a railroaded campaign and a sandbox campaign? I'm not exactly sure how the two can be combined.

    Does anyone have any advice on how to run a sandbox campaign with a plot?
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:16 No.8175908
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:17 No.8175918
    All Roads Lead To Rome. No matter where your players go, they always run into your plot, but their choices determine the context of the story.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:17 No.8175925
    Look at games like Fallout 3. Overarching plot, complete with adversaries that interact with most of the world. One central 'clue' players can explore to advance the plot, have a series of mini events that explore the effect that plot is having on the rest of the world and to flesh out the setting. End of the day, settings the story, the main plot is just the logical means to 'end' the game.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:18 No.8175933

    Actually, I would be interested in this as well. I haven't DM'd in a long while, however.


    oh you
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:18 No.8175942
    The best advice I can give you, is to just prepare for ANYTHING. When given total freedom, players will react in one of 2 ways:

    1) They'll embrace the concept, and think of shit to do in a world that is theirs. In that case, you'll want SOME quests ready, maybe a town needs some help, a king needs their help in a distant war, ... something to help them on their way in the world.

    2) they'll be overwhelmed, unsure what to do, if this is the case, you should give them a quest that leads up to them getting a small town for themselves, for them to govern as they please, to ease them into the whole "the world is yours" concept.

    hope this helps a bit.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:18 No.8175945
    i personally like to do that somewhat myself, but it requires some input from the characters and a general understanding of what it going on in multiple places at once and how their actions might influence it.

    i try to talk to my players somewhat often to see if they have any overall character goals, decent back history, really anything to help them get into it, because in the sandbox they push the game along, but you need to give them/ ytheir charcaters the motivation...if any of that made sense (fuck working long hours)
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:19 No.8175948
    The easiest way to do it would be to have the plot continue to function in the background. Maybe the BBEG plans on destroying a specific city at a certain time. Keep track of how much time has passed, and when the time comes, the PC's will start hearing rumours about how an entire city was erased from the land in a magical conflageration, or whatever.
    >> Dogstar !!MgA31eRve7T 02/19/10(Fri)18:19 No.8175955
    Figure out all the places in the world - the dungeons, the forests, the hills, the mountains, the backwards villages and the giant metroplexes. Figure out who's doing what sort of evil where (and I wouldn't have a single overarching 'this guy is TAKING OVER THE WORLD' bullshit, have multiple challenges for multiple levels around and slowly remove or ramp up the lower level stuff as they get to it.) and show the players how the things they don't get to or ignore or don't find out about progressively make the world a worse place. Drop them off in the 'Level 1' section of the world (preferably with a much higher level adventure or two floating around that they can't do anything about -just yet-) and feed them clues about situations and events happening in other places around the gamescape. And I said world earlier, but you can shrink it to taste - a barony, a dukedom, a nation, a country, a continent.. your choice. Just flesh the SHIT out of it and keep running notes on the NPCs everywhere - people will want to go back and deal with the ones they like.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:19 No.8175966
    You could have it be event-based. Outline a general plot and a timeline of things that will happen in the game world. There's no guarantee that the players will take interest in or even pick up on the plot, but if you make the events relate to them in some way then hopefully they'll respond
    >> Golden Neckbeard !!MA40nsGlj/I 02/19/10(Fri)18:20 No.8175981
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    >Is there some kind of medium between a railroaded campaign and a sandbox campaign? I'm not exactly sure how the two can be combined.

    Every DM I know does this, myself included.

    There's a contiuum of balances between complete player freedom and completely prepared narrative. You just have to find the one right for your players.

    Since you asked for advice, I will elaborate on some ways to do this...
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:20 No.8175986
    Find the articles online about the WEST MARCHES campaign. Repeat exactly what that guy did. Have fun.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:22 No.8176014

    Your neckbeard is so manly. Please be my DM
    >> Dogstar !!MgA31eRve7T 02/19/10(Fri)18:22 No.8176019
    This. Have events happen in the world around them, not just because they're in the area. Hell, wanna be a real dick? Have an event start across the map that they would have to run straight to (with maybe a month's leeway or something like that) and deal with right off, slightly above their level, and watch. They'll do the stuff that's nearby first, then hear later about 'oh, we could've used some adventurers like YOU around back a few months ago when the wererats were eating our babies!'

    This also brings up other adventuring groups - you need these to explain why some of the other lower level challenges are dropping off the board while others are advancing to be more difficult. Keep a personal map detailing where these other groups are and what they're running into - and try to determine their actions on a random scale. there's nothing more awesome than running into a pack of adventurers who were slightly less well geared than you and looting their stuff, then realizing 'Holy shit, these guys were almost as good as us and they all died. We're in trouble.'
    >> Golden Neckbeard !!MA40nsGlj/I 02/19/10(Fri)18:31 No.8176151

    ...seems a lot of people are beating me to the punch, and some of the above is actually good advice.

    ...really all you need is a plothook or two. If you have a good enough problem for your players, a problem which their characters are unavoidably invested in, they'll find solutions one way or another.

    For example. Say you decide you want one of your problems to be "An illithid has kidnapped <someone urgently important, like a PC's family member or the kingdom's spymaster> and is holding them at a badass UNDERWATER FORTRESS! HELL YEAH THIS IS GONNA BE AN AWESOME DUNGEON!"

    ...Don't worry too much about "how will my players get to a fortress at the bottom of the sea." Have a backup plan, maybe, if one occurs to you, if they really can't think of anything... but assume they'll come up with something, and they will.

    Assuming, of course, you let them. You'll need to be flexible. When they start pursuing an intented solution, produce content facilitating that solution, but also obstacles. For example, if they say "Fuck yeah, we're gonna make a medival submarine!" and start digging around for professional artificers, have one turn out to be barricaded in his own workshop fighting off his own creations.

    And so on.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:31 No.8176158
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    I posted a similar thread last night and received zero responses. Now, I find a thread brimming with good advice.

    Thank you, /tg/, you never cease to be awesome.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:32 No.8176166
    buttloads of different plothooks, if the PC's don't chase them the things that would logically happen from them not being dealt with happen.
    >> I've Never played a /tg/ game in my life !!KzWS+joeYZM 02/19/10(Fri)18:32 No.8176175
    I'd say create the framework for a world, capitol city locations and a few towns, major landmarks and land formations etc. Every NPC should know the rough direction to Capitol X and Y even if its just "to the north somewhere".

    Make a few major story lines. Nations at war, mages coming to power etc. Let these be the main gossip points that everyone has an opinion on, taverners, housewives, town guard etc. Let the players know these are the big issues in the world at the moment but dont make it seem like they have to get involved

    Make up a lot of 'side quests' (please excuse the term). Not major, but not so small as to be insignificant.
    The PCs are asleep in a random town when its attacked by zombies. It turns out a halfling stole an amulet from a local tomb, awakening the resident lich. The lich wants his shit back and is attacking everything till he gets it.

    Have a few quest notes at hand but keep them simple notes so you can use them in almost any situation. This is a no brainer, really.

    This is what i'd do, though keep in mind my tripname.
    >> Golden Neckbeard !!MA40nsGlj/I 02/19/10(Fri)18:34 No.8176197
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    You just keep doing that, creating content in the direction they thrust but also new problems necessitating new solutions to be come up with. Bam, high degree of player freedom, but also a certain degree of DM narrrative control at least in the big picture.

    It helps to have a solid setting document so they know what sorts of things are more feasible.


    Sorry, game's full.
    >> Gateway !A0rZLfg4Oc 02/19/10(Fri)18:36 No.8176233
    If you make a world, plotlines exist. The only difference between railroad and sandbox is choices.
    >> Dogstar !!MgA31eRve7T 02/19/10(Fri)18:37 No.8176242
    I read that article too. It was good, good stuff. Lemme... aha!
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:37 No.8176250


    just have hooks, and try to make up as much as you can along the way.
    >> Golden Neckbeard !!MA40nsGlj/I 02/19/10(Fri)18:38 No.8176263
    By the way, everyone saying "flesh out your world a shitton," I disagree with. I ran a fairly sandboxy game once with a completely nebulous world, nothing set in stone save the local form of government, general state of the world (points of light), and little else.

    I allowed the players to "fill in the blanks" as needed. What's that, you need a marcantile city in the throes of civil war for your backstory? Great. Name it. It now exists.

    This can be a little tricky to do wholesale, but the point is this.... you don't need a worldmap and details of every damn area to sandbox. Create very large-scale world details until you're confident that your own ad-lib (possibly combined with your players') is sufficient to deal with the finer levels of detail left.
    >> Golden Neckbeard !!MA40nsGlj/I 02/19/10(Fri)18:40 No.8176298
    Also, a lot of people seem to suggest having "lots of sidequests" possibly in addition to one "real" mainline quest as >>8175925 suggests.

    I dislike that model and would prefer multiple paralell quests that *all* eventually tie into eachother and the end-narrative, but I suppose that's just preference.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:41 No.8176303

    Indeed. Having a general world map, capital cities, and general ideas of who's in charge/the culture of each place is usually enough to start. Then fill it in as the players uncover territory. Sort of like fog of war in a RTS game.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:42 No.8176333
    Also, a hat full of index cards with potential sidequests or encounters to buy time when your players really fuck with your preparation.

    >> I've Never played a /tg/ game in my life !!KzWS+joeYZM 02/19/10(Fri)18:44 No.8176356

    Aye, same here. It's a bitch to pour your heart into a world and have the majority of the content go unseen.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:45 No.8176369

    Relevant to OP's question.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:46 No.8176395
    Even more relevant to OP's question:

    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)18:55 No.8176508
    Run a regular campaign with a plot, a world map, and some random encounter tables (probably tied to areas of the world map).

    But instead of having the random encounters be isolated events with no significance beyond the treasure and experience you get, script the encounters in an open-ended way, so that if you e.g. save the city from the brigands, it means you are now considered a member of the guard, and can exert influence within the guard to change their enforcement practices so that the PCs can now get away with highway robbery, or prevent it more effectively, or what have you.

    Basically, arrange for the PCs to have the sort of power that can meaningfully impact the plot.

    It will go off the rails. That's the point. You're a game master, you can just move the rails so that the PCs end up back on them at some later point.
    >> Dogstar !!MgA31eRve7T 02/19/10(Fri)19:12 No.8176733
    This thread needs archiving.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)19:15 No.8176776
    basically I'm of the same opinion as golden neckbeard. As long as you're confident in your improv ability, you only really need to work out who runs what nearby. decide on the flavour of your world,maybe sketch a worldmap with cities and larger geographic features, just to keep things consistent.

    if you're not so good at that, grab a campaign sourcebook for a world to play in- that's what they're for. doesn't even matter what system it's written for, if you're just using it for flavour and non-combat detail.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)19:16 No.8176793
    Not yet it doesn't, but with a bit of time and more advice given, yes.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)19:20 No.8176864
    As others have said - come up with loose plots that don't rely enormously on context, such that you can flesh them out wherever they happen to occur.

    Create cultures that are distinct. Have a general timeline for things that happen behind the PC's backs in the places they don't visit so it feels like their absence was meaningful. Adjust if they do massive things that would actually impact events.

    Mainly, try to play it loose. Be ready to improvise, or at least expand on things as you go. Don't worry too much about making them collect Quest Tokens to defeat/reach/serve the Bigbad.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)19:41 No.8177186
    hopefully you know your players, and can prep towards their preferences - if they just love to dungeonhack, you might want to have a basic dungeon prepared, unless you want to spend the whole session getting there. if they like political campaigns, flesh out the whos-doing-what-where details a little more.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)20:05 No.8177533
    if you're worried about the scope of of it you can artificially limit the world a bit. For example, right now I'm sketching out a campaign where it starts as a traditional dungeon delving adventure, but due to an unfortunate dungeon collapse the party become trapped in the Great Underwater Empire. kind of a cross between Zork, Bioshock and Eberron. A partially inhabited city with a lot of glass tubing and reasons not to use anything explosive.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)20:10 No.8177617
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    With these advice and links alone, I am now genuinely excited to play a sandbox 4e game.

    Thanks for all this, folks.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)20:13 No.8177673
    Take a world like Eberron - where there's lots of stuff written about it - and ask the players where they want to start, what level, and what classes. If they all decide on Warforged following the Lord of Blades, then its euthanasia of humans. If they're all Silver Flame Smiteyness, then go for an epic campaign of heroism in the name of greater good. If they're all fighters, have a merc campaign. By letting the players design their role in the world, it gives you the opportunity to fit challenges to them. Tell them screw the balanced party - make whatever they want!
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)20:17 No.8177743
    Well you didn't FUCKING TELL US THAT TO START.

    Would have never given advice...
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)20:19 No.8177770

    Possibly why the OP didn't tell you.

    any way it goes, all this advice is good.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)21:08 No.8178535
    It's really easy to sandbox in 4e with the way encounters can be quickly set up, OP.
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)21:31 No.8178958
    Please don't be the real OP
    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)21:34 No.8179018
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    >> Anonymous 02/19/10(Fri)23:58 No.8181122
    >> Anonymous 02/20/10(Sat)00:02 No.8181169
    Give them an airship and pirate hats.

    It's a sandbox game now whether you want it to be or not.
    >> Anonymous 02/20/10(Sat)00:03 No.8181176
    Can anyone give me advice on designing cities?
    The DH game I'm GMing is going to have a long period where the players are in the same city, and I'd like to make it a good experience.
    >> Anonymous 02/20/10(Sat)00:07 No.8181223
    Get a tourist map from a real city, change the major things to grimdark it up, and now you've got a fleshed out city. Voila.
    >> Anonymous 02/20/10(Sat)00:07 No.8181235
    holy shit, wow.
    >> Anonymous 02/20/10(Sat)02:04 No.8182794
    >> Shas'o R'myr !!TZikiEEr0tg 02/20/10(Sat)02:05 No.8182807
    I gave them control of an ornithopter for one in game day to do whatever they felt like. Excellent things happened.
    >> Anonymous 02/20/10(Sat)02:15 No.8182918
    Sandbox campaign with a plot is both notoriously difficult and shockingly easy.

    You find out what your players, in chearacter, want to accomplish, each and every one. You let them chose their beginning goals, and then start generally plannign the game around what they're interested in. Keep the ultimate gaol in mind. Take notes about NPCs they meed, a few lines will usually do. Draw them back in as the characters gain levels. Show the players people see how they grow and develop. While the ultimate goal will be the plot you are striving towards, feel free to adjust and manuver the plots around the characters as needed. Just let them know ahead of time, that this is a sandbox campaign, and you'll be counting on them to give you some idea of what they would like in a game, be it combat, intrigue, horror, etc.

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