9.22.2009

The Newer System Sandbox

This is more a quick musing than anything else, but I was wondering why it seems that everyone who talks about such things doesn't seem to think that newer versions of the old Double D and the Ampersand can make a Sandbox campaign.

Why?

What, inherently, sends this model to the grave prematurely? The tropes that create the Sandbox... free-roaming adventure, on-the-fly gaming, stripped-down fun...why are these system-specific, as so many claim? I think that's bogus, really. I think anyone, if so inclined, can run any type of game they want within the system, and it's spurred me to rethink the direction of my upcoming Dark Sun game.

I've always felt that adventuring in Athas kinda lends itself to those things, anyway. Survival is key to success when playing in Dark Sun adventures, so why not let the PCs go where they will and experience the world on their terms to achieve those goals? The more I think about it, the more the setting seems to have been written with that playstyle in mind. I wonder then, what some of the playtesting was like for the setting, and if anyone who happens to be reading this has a story or two to recant about Athas? I know at least one of my readers has experience with the setting.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of the games and flow of ideas that the Old School Renaissance has spawned, but truth be told, it's easier for me to get people interested in 3.x than in any other system out there. I'm not trying to add to the system war, as I just love the hobby of gaming, and if it doesn't matter what rules you throw at me as long as there's fun to be had.

So...in addition to working on the Sandbox I was already putting effort into, as well as the other things I mentioned in a previous post, I'm gonna start putting together some thoughts on attacking my Dark Sun game as...hmm, what would you call it? An established Sandbox? Not really sure if taking a pre-existing setting as the backdrop still qualifies it as the game type intended. Oh well, I'm doing it anyway!

Now, I need to look at the hexmaps from Dark Sun and figure out the scale.

4 comments:

Josh said...

DS is a great setting for a free roaming game. However, sandbox gaming takes a lot more preparation in my opinion. In a regular adventure, you already have a plot in mind and a direction for the group to go. With a sandbox setting, you'll either need several potential adventures planned for the group to discover, or a mess of random encounter/npc/plot hook charts and let chance and wits pull a story out of it. Both ways work well enough, and you can even mix & match, lol.
Can't wait to read you game reports!

BTW, did BaldMan Games ever get Space Hulk in?

Buddy Richards said...

The shop is actually going through some hard times and might have to shut down temporarily due to it, so I don't think Tony was able to order it.

Hoping to finish this month ok, then things will start looking better. Sorry, man. I meant to relay that to you before, but it had slipped my mind.

Also, I don't necessarily feel that sandbox gaming requires more. In most of the actual plays I read dealing with sandbox, there's a home base of sorts, and before every session, the group agrees on where to go next to explore.

Do I want to enforce that? Not really, but I don't think the flavor of DS would be lost if it was the case.

We'll see.

Josh said...

That sucks about the shop man, small business specialty stores like game & comic book shops are always a struggle to keep afloat. I really hope Tony can pull through.

Like any game, DS can definitely be played in many ways and accommodate any style, I was just sharing my perspective with sandboxing. A thorough knowledge of the game environment can make it alive in your head, so regardless where the PCs head to, you have an idea of what adventure to feed them. I just like to have a few of those plots ready ahead of time and see what fits. I'm sure there's plenty of GMs that can create plot on the fly and improvise with ease which is perfect for sandbox gaming. Me, I need a little prep, lol.

Buddy Richards said...

See, that's my fear...I'm a heavy prep guy. I like to be ready to go when I need to go when it comes to D&D. I feel comfy with stuff in front of me that I can reference.

From what I've heard from other sandboxers, the style requires alot of prep up front, lessening the burden in-game, just minus plot...which is another thing I run with heavily.

I've been running Dark Heresy with minimal prep, just some notes scrawled here and there, and my current Tuesday night D&D has alot of conversion for setting and flavor that I do on the fly, so I don't need the training wheels, I just feel more secure with them.

I'm rambling, but I guess what I'm trying to say is in there somewhere