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Sunday, December 22, 2013

About to Open the Sandbox - Dyson's Maps Will Be the Toys

I've found that sandboxes work best AFTER the PCs have established themselves a bit - once they hit 3rd level or so, it's time to remove the training wheels and allow the players to explore the world at large as they wish.

My last campaign was set in Rappan Athuk, and as a megadungeon, it allowed for my players to decide on the challenges they were to seek out, but at the same time, I had an idea where they would probably be for the following session. That doesn't apply this time, especially since I'm running two groups in the same setting and allowing crossovers - the events experienced by one group may be reflected on the other.

So, my game plan is to load up a crapload of +Dyson Logosawesome dungeon maps into Roll20, each with a sentence fragment or so to describe it. From there, an index card to fill in some of the major encounters in each, as well as the seeds to plant for the groups and let it all fall where it may. I may also load up some DCC adventures, but these would be more in the line of major dungeons / ruins / events.

It's been many years since I allowed myself to DM an adventure that I can fit on an index card, but it allows for more spontaneity from my side of the screen. This past Friday's session fell into that category, as work and life events left most of my preparations unwritten and residing in my head.

I enjoyed the challenge and embrace it ;)


  1. I put together "warbands" of stats on a sheet. On half a piece of paper, I can generally stat up three to six monsters that roll around together. I also tend to have a "warband" of big predators in case I need one. So in a couple sheets of paper, I've got concise stats that allow me to project a variety of forces without flipping through books, making it up on the fly, or inserting the stats into the adventure.

    If they go this way and run into bandits who have a pet necromancer, bam--I'm set. If they run into the ogres with the bugbear and goblin slaves--bam, I'm set. If they run into knights and men-at-arms from the local keep--you get the idea.

  2. I have considered this same idea in the past. I'm curious, how do you plan on handling the secret door and other 'GM only' information that are included in Dyson's excellent maps?

    Thoughts I had were to leave them as is and make characters roll Will saves or INT checks for their characters to notice them. That solution strikes me as very un-old-school though.

  3. Are you sure you'll have enough dungeons for a sandbox?