Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sandbox, Adventure Path, Megadungeon or Something Completely Different?

Different strokes for different folks. Or groups. Or "just because" ;)

Currently I'm running Rappan Athuk, which is a Mega Dungeon with more than a single rail - multiple ins and outs from each level (and the possibility to bypass levels) and players can easily stumble into areas and opponents beyond their capacity to dispatch - "Oh Shit! Run!" most certainly applies.

So, not a "sandbox" but not strictly "railed" either.

My other irregular campaign just kicked off, and initially it will be more of an "adventure path" until the players build up some character knowledge of the area, and which point it will transition to be more of a "sandbox" in nature.

As most of you know, I am immersing myself in the Razor Coast "setting", which is what the Swords & Wizardry version reminds me of. There are pre-plotted events and paths that will be going on (enough so that some GMs may feel overwhelmed - my instincts are to just fudge and handwave some events as needed) but the presentation is one hell of a detailed "sandbox" with plotted events.

Hmmm, I guess I use or feel comfortable with multiple campaign styles and none of the games I run (or plan to run) are strictly one style or another.

As a GM, do you ave a preferred style, or does it change with game and group needs and desires?

As a player, do you have a preferred game style?


  1. I'm curious to understand why you think that Rappan Athuk is "not a 'sandbox'". Could you expand on that idea?

    1. the party doesn't have complete freedom of movement - there are many options they can take from and too each level, but it's not a sandbox like the great outdoors can be.

      that being said, as a megadungeon, it has the greatest amount of "player choice" that I have seen thus far

    2. CotMA, which is coming out this year, has the same sort of ability to get in and out via multiple entrances, some of which come in quite deep in the dungeon.

      I'm not sure I'd agree, though, that having a finite number of ways to get from one level to another makes it less of a sandbox, any more than having an impassable canyon or a lake without a handy boat makes a wilderness less of a sandbox. You can, by and large, still take off in any direction.

      I think the point is more that one *can* go from level to level, rather than that one can do so from any point at which they happen to be standing.

    3. Tenkar: I'm still not clear. Do you mean that the dungeon has some sort of device that prevents the players from, say, tunneling into the complex at a chosen point (or using Pass-Wall or something similar)? I'm not saying that it has to be the best choice, but is it one that the players are arbitrarily prevented from making?

      Joseph: Yeah, that is my way of thinking, too.

  2. I honestly am a fan of more structured gameplay.. I don't mind going off the rails at times but its nice to have a reason for doing what you are doing.

  3. What's the 'episodic series of published modules' style called? Serial play? That's pretty much my default when I want something easy to run. Not an AP; the adventures aren't linked unless I create my own links. Not a linear railroad, eg I'll discard a possible future module if events in a prior module make it unfeasible.
    Within the modules, I tend to prefer stuff as open/sandboxy as possible; the players are pretty much stuck playing the module so they need plenty of options within it.

    1. BTW when I tried running a real sandbox, Southlands, it soon acquired dramatic impetus and rapidly evolved into something more like a plot-heavy adventure. Whereas when I start with an 'adventure of the week' it's easy to open the campaign out into a sandbox over time. Not sure what the lesson is there.

    2. But was the plot something that you created and imposed on the players, or was it something that resulted from their actions and choices (and thus something that they chose, even if they weren't necessarily happy with the results)?


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