2018-11-27 What is Sandbox?

Brad J. Murray has been writing about his games: sandboxery asks about our definitions of a sandbox. What are they?

A few months ago I wrote that exploration is overrated. And I offered the following summary:

  1. start with an empty map
  2. talk to people or otherwise learn of new locations put these on the map
  3. choose to go here or there, which provides for opportunities go back to step #2

Thinking about this some more, and considering Brad’s blog post, the important part to me is this:

  1. people get to choose where to go and what adventures to pursue
  2. the world does not automatically rearrange itself due to this choice

This 2nd point is a bit soft, of course, but it’s the bigger world out there that’s important to me and my suspension of disbelief. I want things to be reall and to happen “out there.” I want the options not pursued to have an effect, for example.

So, does that put me in the upper left corner of Brad’s diagram, with lots of world planning? I really like to have a map, for example. They provide locations, names, inspiration, they anchor events and people in space. If actual travel on the map is glossed over, however, then in a way, the geography and the relationship map start to meld into each other. So if you have a large relationship map, is that “world plans”? I’d say so.

For a game that really has very little world plans, I’d nominate In a Wicked Age. There, the only thing that seems to carry over from the last game is a single character. Everything else is new and braindstormed based on the oracle. I love it, but it’s definitely not my favorite game.

OK, so I’m saying the geography and the relationships are basically one thing, they anchor the in-game reality outside of the immediate adventure. The only other thing that matters now is choice with respect to this reality outside of the immediate adventure. In an Adventure Path, that doesn’t happen. It doesn’t matter what the rest of Golarion does unless the adventure the referee is running will take you there. And if you choose not to go where the adventure wants you to go, then it ends.

I like games where in-game decisions affect the future adventures my characters are going to have.

Sure, if somebody says “Yo! I just bought X and want to run it!” then that’s not a problem. I can go along with that. I just feel that a campaign that is solely determined by the products we bought or by the adventures we picked from a shelf (in other words, decisions made outside the game), is less immersive, has less pull on me, than a campaign where we play for fifty sessions or more, moving through the world pulled along by our in-game decisions.

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Comments

Excellent, my response is up at https://takeonrules.com/2018/11/27/marching-through-the-sandbox/

Jeremy Friesen 2018-11-27 21:46 UTC


Wohoo!

– Alex Schroeder 2018-11-28 08:53 UTC


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