Monday, November 28, 2011

An interesting way to start a sandbox

I have been listening to podcasts again. Yeah, I do that a lot. Me and my spouse cover different ones. She listens to 'casts about book of fiction and science news while I enjoys listening to people talk about ways to explore and invent imaginary worlds. Yeah. Solid stuff.

I did pick up a nice idea from the Happy Jacks podcast which I now have listened to a new episode of. Blame none but me if you think the following is stupid, though, it's my interpretation of an off hand remark made on the show.

For me the idea of a sandbox hinges upon the very proactive players. Frankly, I have seen few that would fit the bill. So, how about a way to show them the possibilities and wet their appetites before letting them loose? I'm thinking like this. How about you start your sandbox campaign with a pilot? You know how they do tv-shows, when they have a longer pilot episode where the main players gets introduced and suitable arenas of conflicts are delineated? I'm thinking that maybe that is a good way to start a sandbox campaign.

The way I would do that, would be a short but quite scripted episode where I expose the players through a simple plot (yes a predetermined one), to the things they then can poke and prod to their hearts delight. That way you would show how a story could look like in this world, and who the powers are they might want to topple, or play nice with. Naturally this would be strict by scenes, with time limits and also by cut scenes. Very focused and railroady.

Then I'd let the loose.

I wonder if that would fly?


  1. I think that sounds like a great idea, personally. Certainly for players that didn't grow up within an 'old fashioned sandbox' environment (like myself).

    Better to show than tell, and better to let them interact than be bystanders.

    Even if the net result is that they say 'Well, we're going to avoid all of that', at least they're making some decisions about what it is they're interested in (although I imagine that would be less satisfactory for you as DM)

  2. That's more or less how the published Plot Point Campaigns for Savage Worlds start out. One or two railroady opening adventures to give the PC's a reason to stick together, then they're turned loose.

  3. James,

    sounds like a reality check. Good that it doesn't sound totally daft. :)

    I think it's a distinct possibility that some gamers will not take the baits at all, but in that case at least it is easy to keep laying down rails if you care to.

  4. G.W.

    Really? I have been very curious about those a long time now, and looked at some of then just today when I ordered some stuff from Nobleknight. None jump out and grab me, but maybe I shall have to just brave it. Now I know I really need to read one of those! Thanks.


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