Sandbox RPG: help me understand

Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

hawkeyefan

Legendary Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2020
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
2,132
I disagree, deciding to remain in the Caribbean in-game is a completely different decision than deciding out of game that the campaign will be only in the caribbean. Player will make different choices as a result and this something I have observed for decades of running both types of games.

A player can always choose to make a different choice than his character would.

Two part decision here for a sandbox campaign. First the decision to play in 18th century Earth. Second the decision to have the group start out as pirates in the Caribbean.

Yes, of course, I was assuming the campaign had been agreed upon by the participants.

I am not talking about one character going off to fight the French and Indian War. I am talking about the group deciding in-game that their character should go fight the French and Indian War.

But then why wouldn't they want the game to be about that from the start?

If there's a connection....if the pirate activity is impacting the shipping of supplies and the war is a factor in the campaign, then sure, this may be a reasonable shift and perfectly fine. But if it has nothing to do with anything that's going on, that just seems like the players wanting to play a different game.

If I said the campaign was about the group adventuring as a mercenary company serving on the southern frontier of Nomar than that would colored all their subsequent decision. They would have not considered leaving the Baron's service and moving to the northeast frontier as that would violate the premise. I intensely dislike influencing players in this way as the results are never as interesting as when they feel completely to make any decision their character would.

As a side note I consider the common idea that a campaign has to be about something other than adventuring in the setting a pain in the ass to deal with. I have to constantly reassure novices not to worry about what I may or may not have prepared. Just do what you think your character ought to be doing.

I don't know....it's hard to know the scope of the region and so on. I'm not saying that things have to remain absolutely locked in as "we must be pirates" and "we must be in the Caribbean". I just think that if that's where things start, and everyone agreed upon that, then any major shift in that which isn't prompted by the in game fiction is arbitrary. I am not saying that all sandboxes must have a tight theme or constraints in place....if a GM is ready to run any and everything to do with 18th century earth, or any other setting, awesome, have at it.

As for doing what the character ought to be doing....ideally, sure. But most characters "ought" to be living a safe life. If you mean, make decisions as your character (which I take to be your meaning, but don't want to assume) then yes, generally they should do that. But barring some in game reason, I wouldn't expect the players to want to go traipsing away from one area to engage in a totally different one.

It was not a problem for the inhabitants of 18th century Earth therefore I see no problem if players decide to fight in the French and Indian War if the campaign started out in 18th century Caribbean region as pirate.

I would say the feedom to go anywhere and do anything is more fictional than mirroring the real world. Plenty of people in that era had plenty of problems with leaving one area for another.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
5,973
Reaction score
13,230
I said suboptimal because most games and products to which I've seen 'sandbox' appended dont make the cut, or even really address the idea that way.

I also think youre being pretty dramatic when you start casting aspersions about nefarious motivations. Just my two cents.
 

Black Leaf

We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
3,966
Reaction score
10,183
I think unlimited scope within the setting of the campaign covers what you are addressing here. Just because campaign doesn't allow a space marine when the setting is the World of Greyhawk does not disqualify it from being a sandbox. I am also talking about settings with fictional genre conventions like Swords & Sorcery.

Yeah, that works for me, apart from I'd use "game" rather than "campaign" to make clear it covers every aspect from character creation onwards.

I'd also possibly allow for determination of factors outside the player's control when it comes to background.

"You rolled a peasant background" is fine because nobody gets to choose their birth. So, to a lesser extent is "you all come from the visit of Irk".

"You're all members of the local thieves guild" is where it ceases to have that scope for me because it takes away a career choice that should be an in character decision. (Well, ok, unless you're either a) talking about a world where predestination is baked into the setting or b) some kind of weird grimdark dystopia like Paranoia with an extreme caste system).
 

Black Leaf

We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
3,966
Reaction score
10,183
I said suboptimal because most games and products to which I've seen 'sandbox' appended dont make the cut, or even really address the idea that way.
To throw another controversial spanner into the mix, I also think those that do qualify require a serious level of illusionism, simply because you can't stat up every NPC the players might meet.

I also think youre being pretty dramatic when you start casting aspersions about nefarious motivations. Just my two cents.
Tristram would have made a very good Old Testament prophet.
 

SJB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
100
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but the thread reads like a discussion less about sandboxes and more about the first rule of gaming: don’t be a tosser. I can only speak about my own club, but I think it is true to say, we have a very particular set of skills; skills that we acquired IRL. Skills that make us a nightmare for people who piss off on their own, make the GM’s life harder and create tension in our leisure time.
 

ffilz

Legendary Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
1,508
Reaction score
2,500
(shrug) Most of the definitions of sandbox I seen are variations of "It OK to trash the setting however you like". My opinion is that stuff like qualified sandox is mostly about people fears that the setting may be trashed in ways they don't personally like. Like the group deciding to leave the Caribbean and being pirates to fight the French and Indian War.
While I get your point about "fears" being behind the constraints of a qualified sandbox, they may also be fears about the available time and resources to run the campaign. Now yes, in a sense that's a fear of trashing the setting to the point where the time and resources to manage the campaign in that direction are too much.

I think a reality of many qualified sandboxes is that they don't feel that different to the player from a pure sandbox. On the other hand, with other qualified sandboxes the players are regularly making conscious decisions to stay inside the walls of the qualified sandbox.
 

CRKrueger

Eläytyminatör
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
6,288
Reaction score
12,152
To throw another controversial spanner into the mix, I also think those that do qualify require a serious level of illusionism, simply because you can't stat up every NPC the players might meet.


Tristram would have made a very good Old Testament prophet.
Because, you know, every single interaction with the same person is a complete and total tabula rasa, and you never have any idea what you’re gonna get or what could possibly happen.

Who knew?
 

Black Leaf

We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
3,966
Reaction score
10,183
Because, you know, every single interaction with the same person is a complete and total tabula rasa, and you never have any idea what you’re gonna get or what could possibly happen.

Who knew?
So if the players suddenly announce they're going to the local armourer you aren't going to make up that personality on the spot?
 

hawkeyefan

Legendary Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2020
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
2,132
And that's why you're wrong.

The Dude.jpg

lol, no one's carrying out a marketing campaign; it's not "suboptimal" just because it's uncommon.

He is literally saying that the actual definition of the term should just be a qualifier for the term, so that one person's preferred qualified version is accepted as the default version. This after multiple times making nonsensical false claims suggesting either they don't understand the simple definition of the word or they are deliberately being disingenuous.

The concept isn't hard to grasp. The definition is simple and intuitive. At this point literally all we're dealing with is someone blatantly trying to co-opt the term - for what motivation? I wouldn't like to guess.

It's suboptimal because it's needlessly specific. I'm not co-opting any phrase at all. I'm using it as it is commonly used outside of how you and some others here seem to want to use it. And I'm explaining why. It's a discussion.

I'm no more co-opting the term than you are. I realize in your head, you're Superman saving the day from my Lex Luthor, but you need to move past that. It's a discussion about opinions. There's no good and evil. There's no right or wrong.

Although, there is decency. And you've posted some douchey stuff here, man. Especially given that one of the things you posted is a link to a thread that called on people to assume good faith, accept each other at their word, and to be generally decent.

Follow your own direction.
 

BedrockBrendan

Legendary Member
Joined
May 3, 2017
Messages
1,036
Reaction score
2,440
It's suboptimal because it's needlessly specific. I'm not co-opting any phrase at all. I'm using it as it is commonly used outside of how you and some others here seem to want to use it. And I'm explaining why. It's a discussion.

I think this is where the disagreement lies. And I don't know it can be solved in this thread. People have stated their views on the term, and beyond this point would just be endless back and forth. My view is Rob's definition and Tristrams is the more widespread and usual definition of the word. I think at times that definition is being tested by extreme measures (like knowable reality extending to Mars or whatnot). But within reason, I think the main draw of a sandbox and the reason the term gained traction is you have this sense of limitless possibilities imposed on you as a player (you are free to go off map). And I think more focused campaigns, while they still can fit within the concept of sandbox, are definitely variations of that definition (they are more specific instances within that broad canvass of 'anywhere in the setting'). Now that might change over time. The meaning could naturally develop a different trajectory if say, it becomes more and more mainstream and the term adjusts as people employ it towards more focused campaigns. I don't think that has happened. I think the original meaning is still mostly understood by people.

All that said, from a playstyle point of view, I think limited and qualified sandboxes are great. I love them. Something like a contained sandbox or qualified sandbox with other elements that I like thrown in is probably becoming my preferred style. I just think it makes sense to draw a line around that as a different kind of sandbox because when I haven't it has led to confusion or even argument. To me what it boils down to is "How sandbox is this campaign, really"? Answering that question gives you a sense of the campaigns scope. But a pure and full sandbox, in my mind, is one where I drop the players in a world and let them go/do whatever.
 

hawkeyefan

Legendary Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2020
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
2,132
To throw another controversial spanner into the mix, I also think those that do qualify require a serious level of illusionism, simply because you can't stat up every NPC the players might meet.

I don't know if that's illusionism. Usually, you'll have some kind of template or default stat block for "merchant" or "royal guard" that can be used for a variety of reasons. That's the kind of resource that a sandbox game needs.

Then of course, there are games where the NPCs don't necessarily have any stats. In that case, you're just making up personality details and physical description and the like. Which is what you'd make up before the game if you did the prep, so I don't know if the timing of that creation really makes a difference.

While I get your point about "fears" being behind the constraints of a qualified sandbox, they may also be fears about the available time and resources to run the campaign. Now yes, in a sense that's a fear of trashing the setting to the point where the time and resources to manage the campaign in that direction are too much.

I think a reality of many qualified sandboxes is that they don't feel that different to the player from a pure sandbox. On the other hand, with other qualified sandboxes the players are regularly making conscious decisions to stay inside the walls of the qualified sandbox.

Right. If there are players in a "qualified sandbox" who never desire to go against the constraint that makes it qualified....then is it qualified? In this case, their experience fits that of the "true sandbox".

This is why those definitions are wonky.
 

BedrockBrendan

Legendary Member
Joined
May 3, 2017
Messages
1,036
Reaction score
2,440
But it's a constraint the players are aware of and agree to at the start. It's an accepted constraint.

And absent such a decision, would you consider "being adventurers" as similarly constraining? Isn't the idea of all the characters being free of obligation and available and capable of traveling anywhere equally specific?

I think if the players set a constraint on themselves at the start of play, it may be a bit of a gray area (since they could have set that constraint immediately after the start of play). I am not really worried about those kinds of edge cases if the rest of the campaign, they are permitted to do what they want (even break free from the constraint).

I don't think the characters being able to freely explore the world that specific. It is pretty broad. Here is the setting: have at it. I do think expecting them to go on adventures can be a constraint and this is why in sandbox circles you will often here of campaigns where the party started selling silk, or started their own religion, etc. This is also why I think something like the whole rulings over rules, has so much traction among this type of play. If the players are using a system like D&D but decide they want to start a temple of the coffee bean (involving themselves in the coffee trade and the worship of a coffee deity), I, as the GM, would probably try to adapt how I manage something like classes and levels around that. But even if I don't do that, I think in a real sandbox, they are free to sit in town and trade coffee if they want to.

I don't think sandbox means they won't ever have obligations. Obligations arise naturally in the world, often through choices they make. But they are free to break those obligations and deal with whatever consequences arise.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
25,865
Reaction score
68,292
View attachment 40629



It's suboptimal because it's needlessly specific. I'm not co-opting any phrase at all. I'm using it as it is commonly used outside of how you and some others here seem to want to use it. And I'm explaining why. It's a discussion.

I'm no more co-opting the term than you are. I realize in your head, you're Superman saving the day from my Lex Luthor, but you need to move past that. It's a discussion about opinions. There's no good and evil. There's no right or wrong.

Although, there is decency. And you've posted some douchey stuff here, man. Especially given that one of the things you posted is a link to a thread that called on people to assume good faith, accept each other at their word, and to be generally decent.

Follow your own direction.

You've shown that you are arguing in bad faith, this is the second time in less than 24 hours that you've resorted to ad hominems (if I was a regular poster, your ass would have been booted from the thread for that the first time), and I am summarily rejecting your assertions as to how the term is "commonly used" in the online RPG community that, let's face it, I've been pretty active in for 20 years now to the point that RPG message boards I've never even been to occasionally bring me up in conversations or link to my posts.

You can "discuss" things all you want, but, without any involvement of superheroics, I will continue to push back against all attempts to redefine the term. Continuously. That's not me being "Superman", that's me knowing exactly how this goes because I've been through it before with other hobby-related terms.
 

robertsconley

Legendary Member
Joined
May 3, 2018
Messages
3,422
Reaction score
6,953
A player can always choose to make a different choice than his character would.
Then they are not roleplaying as their characters.

But then why wouldn't they want the game to be about that from the start?
Are your circumstances the same as they were 20 years ago. Why should fictional character lives in a fictional setting be any different?

If there's a connection....if the pirate activity is impacting the shipping of supplies and the war is a factor in the campaign, then sure, this may be a reasonable shift and perfectly fine. But if it has nothing to do with anything that's going on, that just seems like the players wanting to play a different game.
Is still 18th century earth, the player still have all the skills and knowledge gained from being pirate. It the same game except the group is opting to have different adventures with that bunch of characters.

I don't know....it's hard to know the scope of the region and so on.
1642194771839.png

1 league = 1 hour of walking.

then any major shift in that which isn't prompted by the in game fiction is arbitrary.

What you makes you think that anything I said so far about choice isn't prompted by what going on in-game?

I hammer on the point that sandbox work best when players act if they are there as their character within the setting. That they base their decisions on what they know as if they are there as their character within the setting.

Furthermore in regards to sudden shift there are numerous example from life AND fiction where a person or a character make a decision that result in a radical shift in circumstance or the story.

But most characters "ought" to be living a safe life. If you mean, make decisions as your character (which I take to be your meaning, but don't want to assume) then yes, generally they should do that. But barring some in game reason, I wouldn't expect the players to want to go traipsing away from one area to engage in a totally different one.
Again I talk over and over again about doing things in-game for in-game reason. I fail to see how anything I wrote in this thread lead you to think I am not talking doing things for in-game reason.

I would say the feedom to go anywhere and do anything is more fictional than mirroring the real world. Plenty of people in that era had plenty of problems with leaving one area for another.

For the average human being in most time period, sure. But most of the time folks don't choose average human being to play in order to have adventures. So while a accurate observation it not relevant especially for the example of 18th century pirates.
 

robertsconley

Legendary Member
Joined
May 3, 2018
Messages
3,422
Reaction score
6,953
Right. If there are players in a "qualified sandbox" who never desire to go against the constraint that makes it qualified....then is it qualified? In this case, their experience fits that of the "true sandbox".

What I observed is that players behave one way when it is said that

This campaign is about being pirates in the 18th century Caribbean

And they behave somewhat differently when it said that

This campaign is set on 18th century Earth and the group is starting out as pirates in the Caribbean.

I said before the difference is that in former players keep evaluating whether they are staying within the premise and roleplaying their character. While in the latter they only concerned with roleplaying their character.
 

hawkeyefan

Legendary Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2020
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
2,132
I think if the players set a constraint on themselves at the start of play, it may be a bit of a gray area (since they could have set that constraint immediately after the start of play). I am not really worried about those kinds of edge cases if the rest of the campaign, they are permitted to do what they want (even break free from the constraint).

I don't think the characters being able to freely explore the world that specific. It is pretty broad. Here is the setting: have at it. I do think expecting them to go on adventures can be a constraint and this is why in sandbox circles you will often here of campaigns where the party started selling silk, or started their own religion, etc. This is also why I think something like the whole rulings over rules, has so much traction among this type of play. If the players are using a system like D&D but decide they want to start a temple of the coffee bean (involving themselves in the coffee trade and the worship of a coffee deity), I, as the GM, would probably try to adapt how I manage something like classes and levels around that. But even if I don't do that, I think in a real sandbox, they are free to sit in town and trade coffee if they want to.

I don't think sandbox means they won't ever have obligations. Obligations arise naturally in the world, often through choices they make. But they are free to break those obligations and deal with whatever consequences arise.

How is selling silk or starting their own religion different from being constables or pirates? I'm not quite following that.

There's always some kind of constraint at the start, no? It may be that you're all in the same town, or all have the same employer, or are all imprisoned together, etc.

My point about obligations is that they often (though obviously not always) tend to dictate what people can and can't do. So if we're comparing the game to the way life works, then imagining a group of people free of obligation such that they can all collectively abandon one home and head off to another, that's equally as constraining as any other "you're all X" ideas.

It's absolutely a need of the game that is dictating that, no?

Sure, we can come up with an example of such a group....a wagon train heading west in the 1840s would fitthat description. But then, I imagine most people who set off on a wagon train to head west didn't stop at Colorado and say "I wonder how things are in Australia" and head off for adventures in the Outback.

If we're going to compare these characters to how things work for real life people, then constraints abound.
 

CRKrueger

Eläytyminatör
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
6,288
Reaction score
12,152
What people are dancing around without realising it, is what makes the difference between Sandbox and non-Sandbox in the minds of different types of players - namely Meta Concerns.

Every game has one External Concern that has nothing to do with gameplay other than if gameplay will happen…people’s schedules. So if the GM says “I only have time to run a game once a week, so if we have two parties that means that they’ll have to alternate weeks or we’ll have to come up with a schedule to switch back and forth.” that has nothing to do with the actual game itself, any more than if you’re Live or Online or whether you play one RPG or four.

Every game has one Mandatory Boundary that says nothing about gameplay…the universe the game exists in, and the location in that universe’s Space-time where the campaign will begin.

Lovecraft’s Mythos - Arkham, Jan 23rd, 1934.
The Hyborian Age - Zingara, Kordava, First week of Spring 5 years after Hour of the Dragon.
The MCU - New York - The instant after “The Snap”
The Palladium Megaverse - Rifts Earth, Ishpeming P.A. 114
Historical Earth, France, Paris, 1627

None of these are limitations. They are definitions without which gameplay is impossible.

Then you have the kinds of limitations that will cause many to say “this isn’t a sandbox”. I won’t make you guess, I’ll tell you, these are all Meta-Concerns, ie. artificial limits that have nothing to do with the abilities or intentions of the characters.
  • PvP is not allowed.
  • We’re playing Pirates of the Caribbean - if it’s off the map from the Sid Meier game, you can’t go there.
  • You’re playing good guys, not evil guys.
  • Your Smuggler will never join The Empire, no matter what they offer.
  • Your character that lost a limb either plays as is or you write him out with a “Happily or whatever ever after” ending, but he can’t buy a tavern in the city where the PCs are and remain kinda sorta still in the campaign.
  • Your character can’t die unless you allow it beforehand by checking a box that says they can.
Someone tells me a campaign with any of these limitations is going to have “Sandbox Play”, we’re about to have a conversation.
54FA6BC5-4D24-402F-AC19-C0B7E7DB1C63.jpeg
 

CRKrueger

Eläytyminatör
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
6,288
Reaction score
12,152
So if the players suddenly announce they're going to the local armourer you aren't going to make up that personality on the spot?
I’ll take Non-Sequiturs for 1000, Alex.

Actually, unless they’re in a large city, there‘s a pretty good chance I know exactly who the local armourer is, as well as his family, his secrets and his motivations. I just don’t know how that question relates to my post.
 

ffilz

Legendary Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
1,508
Reaction score
2,500
How much of the terminology problem comes down to people feeling like a campaign is either a railroad or it's a sandbox and since they don't want to be labeled a railroad, their campaign must be a sandbox?

Clearly campaigns exist on a spectrum. At one end we have a sandbox and at the other end, we have a story that is presented as an RPG. Many campaigns strive to be a sandbox, but for whatever reason, the GM is unwilling to throw the doors as wide open as Robert is. Personally I don't have enough energy to throw the doors wide open, yet, with my constraints, I want the players to have as much freedom as possible. I'm happy calling what I run a qualified sandbox. It doesn't even approach being a railroad. If the players walk away from my prepared content, well I tried to take care in how much time I invested in it... Yet there are choices players could make that would piss me off. There are certainly other choices the players make because they want to respect my prep and interests.
 

Black Leaf

We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
3,966
Reaction score
10,183
I’ll take Non-Sequiturs for 1000, Alex.

Actually, unless they’re in a large city, there‘s a pretty good chance I know exactly who the local armourer is, as well as his family, his secrets and his motivations. I just don’t know how that question relates to my post.
If you know exactly who it is, obviously it doesn't apply in this case.

But the specific response to your post (which in turn is a response to my post) is that if you're improvising on the spot, it's illusionism. Because the entire personality of the armourer is determined by GM fiat and there would be no meaningful difference if the players had gone to a different armourer a few streets along.

Then you have the kinds of limitations that will cause many to say “this isn’t a sandbox”. I won’t make you guess, I’ll tell you, these are all Meta-Concerns, ie. artificial limits that have nothing to do with the abilities or intentions of the characters.

I'm not dancing round it, I'm arguing it and saying it should be extended to character gen.

"There is no magic in this world" = external concern

"You're not playing a necromancer" = meta concern

"You don't have magic because you're all warriors" = meta concern.

"There are elves but they're all weird fey folk and wouldn't mix with the rest of the party" = borderline
 

CRKrueger

Eläytyminatör
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
6,288
Reaction score
12,152
How is selling silk or starting their own religion different from being constables or pirates? I'm not quite following that.

There's always some kind of constraint at the start, no? It may be that you're all in the same town, or all have the same employer, or are all imprisoned together, etc.

My point about obligations is that they often (though obviously not always) tend to dictate what people can and can't do. So if we're comparing the game to the way life works, then imagining a group of people free of obligation such that they can all collectively abandon one home and head off to another, that's equally as constraining as any other "you're all X" ideas.

It's absolutely a need of the game that is dictating that, no?

Sure, we can come up with an example of such a group....a wagon train heading west in the 1840s would fitthat description. But then, I imagine most people who set off on a wagon train to head west didn't stop at Colorado and say "I wonder how things are in Australia" and head off for adventures in the Outback.

If we're going to compare these characters to how things work for real life people, then constraints abound.
The difference that you’re missing, or deliberately ignoring, are the constraints that exist within the reality of the characters and those that do not.

How things work in real life is…right now you can’t afford to go to Hawaii for two weeks this year. So, your options are…
  • See if you can afford a week, or romantic getaway weekend.
  • See if there’s a way you can get the money legally. (Overtime, side gigs, etc)
  • See if there’s a way you can get the money illegally. (Rob a bank, kill your boss so you get a promotion, etc)
  • Play the Lottery but realize we’re gonna have to wait a year or two.
  • Say fuck it, sell everything you own, move to Hawaii and get new jobs there, so you’ll never have to worry about vacations again.
You can attempt any of these. Whether you’ll be successful or not is something else.

The point is, there is no invisible wall, or Voice of God telling you, you can’t do these things. If you think there is, not being able to go to Hawaii is the least of your troubles.
 

CRKrueger

Eläytyminatör
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
6,288
Reaction score
12,152
If you know exactly who it is, obviously it doesn't apply in this case.

But the specific response to your post (which in turn is a response to my post) is that if you're improvising on the spot, it's illusionism. Because the entire personality of the armourer is determined by GM fiat and there would be no meaningful difference if the players had gone to a different armourer a few streets along.
Ah, I was just responding to the “Tristram is a prophet” part.
I'm not dancing round it, I'm arguing it and saying it should be extended to character gen.

"There is no magic in this world" = external concern

"You're not playing a necromancer" = meta concern

"You don't have magic because you're all warriors" = meta concern.

"There are elves but they're all weird fey folk and wouldn't mix with the rest of the party" = borderline
I’d pretty much agree with those.
 

Black Leaf

We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
3,966
Reaction score
10,183
Ah, I was just responding to the “Tristram is a prophet” part.
Ah, total misunderstanding then I think.

I didn't mean it in the sense of "can tell the future". I meant it as "has a similar style of polemic to the Old Testament prophets". The fiery denunciations of things in particular.
 

hawkeyefan

Legendary Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2020
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
2,132
What you makes you think that anything I said so far about choice isn't prompted by what going on in-game?

I hammer on the point that sandbox work best when players act if they are there as their character within the setting. That they base their decisions on what they know as if they are there as their character within the setting.

Furthermore in regards to sudden shift there are numerous example from life AND fiction where a person or a character make a decision that result in a radical shift in circumstance or the story.

I wasn't sure because I mentioned if going to fight in the French-Indian War was somehow a natural outgrowth based on what happens in the campaign, then that's one thing, but players just deciding "let's go do this" arbitrarily is quite another.

Again I talk over and over again about doing things in-game for in-game reason. I fail to see how anything I wrote in this thread lead you to think I am not talking doing things for in-game reason.

Sometimes it's hard to parse some comments, so I wanted to be sure.

For the average human being in most time period, sure. But most of the time folks don't choose average human being to play in order to have adventures. So while a accurate observation it not relevant especially for the example of 18th century pirates.

I have to imagine that pirates options would be pretty limited. Soldier though, might be one of them, so your idea of them going off to war certainly makes sense.

What I observed is that players behave one way when it is said that

This campaign is about being pirates in the 18th century Caribbean

And they behave somewhat differently when it said that

This campaign is set on 18th century Earth and the group is starting out as pirates in the Caribbean.

I said before the difference is that in former players keep evaluating whether they are staying within the premise and roleplaying their character. While in the latter they only concerned with roleplaying their character.

Okay, so this is where you're describing a change in the player's thoughts, right?

Do you think the thoughts of the pirate (or whatever) in the setting has the same sense of limitless possiblity for himself that his player has?

I think the lines between player and character are blurring here. Going anywhere and doing anything is something the player knows is possible. It's not something the character knows is possible. A pirate would very likely continue his life as a pirate. Not all....certainly some would leave or start off on some new kind of life, of course.

I don't see a player's opinion about this all as being problematic.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
25,865
Reaction score
68,292
Ah, total misunderstanding then I think.

I didn't mean it in the sense of "can tell the future". I meant it as "has a similar style of polemic to the Old Testament prophets". The fiery denunciations of things in particular.

I do look good in a Toga
 

hawkeyefan

Legendary Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2020
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
2,132
You've shown that you are arguing in bad faith, this is the second time in less than 24 hours that you've resorted to ad hominems (if I was a regular poster, your ass would have been booted from the thread for that the first time), and I am summarily rejecting your assertions as to how the term is "commonly used" in the online RPG community that, let's face it, I've been pretty active in for 20 years now to the point that RPG message boards I've never even been to occasionally bring me up in conversations or link to my posts.

You can "discuss" things all you want, but, without any involvement of superheroics, I will continue to push back against all attempts to redefine the term. Continuously. That's not me being "Superman", that's me knowing exactly how this goes because I've been through it before with other hobby-related terms.

I don't think I made any ad hominems. We disagree about the term, and we've both said why. Any criticism I may have aimed at you was about how you behave toward others, not the quality of your argument. I feel like those are separate things.

If I've done anything worth being moderated for, then moderate me, or ask another mod to do it. I'd be surprised if anyone else had any problems with my behavior here, however much they may disagree with me about how a word is used.
 

Black Leaf

We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
3,966
Reaction score
10,183
Theoretical question.

Is it possible for something to have too restrictive a setting to qualify as a sandbox?

I'm thinking of something like Paranoia.

Aside from maybe everyone starting as Troubleshooters, it would be entirely possible to run it in the described way.

But obviously an entirely in setting concern is that if you step out of line you're dead.
 

BedrockBrendan

Legendary Member
Joined
May 3, 2017
Messages
1,036
Reaction score
2,440
How is selling silk or starting their own religion different from being constables or pirates? I'm not quite following that.

These things are only constraints if the players are unable to switch gears and change course. I mean this came up because you asked if being an adventurer is a constraint, and I responded with silk selling because the idea was in a sandbox players aren't constrained to be adventurers, they can become silk merchants if they want (but they aren't constrained to that choice)
 

TJS

Legendary Member
Joined
May 5, 2018
Messages
2,045
Reaction score
4,186
Game A is set on an asteroid. A wizard gave it an atmosphere and earth like gravity and populated it with various species ten thousand years ago. However, it is only 10km in diameter. The PCs in this setting have complete freedom to go anywhere and do anything (although there aren't many places to physically go)

Game B is set in archipelago of the shining sea. Players have complete freedom to go anywhere and do anything so long as they don't leave the archipelago. (But the Archipelago is 1000 times bigger than the asteroid.)

The first is a pure sandbox and the second is not?
 
Last edited:

CRKrueger

Eläytyminatör
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
6,288
Reaction score
12,152
I never thought I’d see a Spherical Cow that was a spherical world.
 

TJS

Legendary Member
Joined
May 5, 2018
Messages
2,045
Reaction score
4,186
I never thought I’d see a Spherical Cow that was a spherical world.
Yeah seems to be the way of these dicussions. People insist on hard rigid discussions until the logical consequences of that rigidity are pointed out and then follows the quick retreat to "common sense".

Can you run a sandbox game on a limited size generation spaceship going through the endless void of space or not? Or is s 10km spaceship too small? And if it too small, then the absence of GM led meta constraints is obviously not sufficient.
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
9,507
Reaction score
10,340
I like when players go in directions I am not expecting. I feel like it helps me think through setting material more and expand in more places. Them doing that, forced me to think more about the celestial plume (the drug in question), network. And it led to some fun setting elements because I found myself taking inspiration from sources like the Chuck Norris movie Delta Force (I had a similar front and organization to the one that was operating out of the shop in that movie), and movies about Drug lords). Also it just makes the game more suprising for the GM when the players get their hands on a celestial plume shipment they've just intercepted and are like "hey we could sell this".
Same, except my players were selling an aphrodisiac drug with preciously few side-effects...OTOH, the tigers are really grateful:shade:!
 

robertsconley

Legendary Member
Joined
May 3, 2018
Messages
3,422
Reaction score
6,953
Game A is set on an asteroid. A wizard gave it an atmosphere and earth like gravity and populated it with various species ten thousand years ago. However, it is only 10km in diameter. The PCs in this setting have complete freedom to go anywhere and do anything (although there aren't many places to physically go)

Game B is set in archipelago of the shining sea. Players have complete freedom to go anywhere and do anything so long as they don't leave the archipelago. (But the Archipelago is 1000 times bigger than the asteroid.)

The first is a pure sandbox and the second is not?
Nice try but sandbox campaigns have nothing to with the physical size of the setting. Or any particular characteristic of the setting. And distinctions that don't limit the scope of what the characters can do are irrelevant. Just as in Hero System, you don't get the points of a disadvantage if it doesn't well... disadvantage you as a character.
 

robertsconley

Legendary Member
Joined
May 3, 2018
Messages
3,422
Reaction score
6,953
Can you run a sandbox game on a limited size generation spaceship going through the endless void of space or not? Or is s 10km spaceship too small? And if it too small, then the absence of GM led meta constraints is obviously not sufficient.
Not sure why you are so fixated on the physical size of the setting. Have you missed the memo that sandbox campaigns are not about wandering the landscape of the setting?
 

Lundgren

Legendary Member
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
404
Reaction score
683
Game A is set on an asteroid. A wizard gave it an atmosphere and earth like gravity and populated it with various species ten thousand years ago. However, it is only 10km in diameter. The PCs in this setting have complete freedom to go anywhere and do anything (although there aren't many places to physically go)

Game B is set in archipelago of the shining sea. Players have complete freedom to go anywhere and do anything so long as they don't leave the archipelago. (But the Archipelago is 1000 times bigger than the asteroid.)

The first is a pure sandbox and the second is not?
If all other constraints on the gameplay is equal, I would say Game A is more sandboxy than Game B, but as where the PCs can go isn't the only potential restriction Game A would most likely still not be that theoretical pure sandbox.

As I see it, a game can have three types of constraints.

* What's part of the games physics (do magic exists, technology, "world map", etc).

* Added constraints during char gen, but could change during game play.

* Meta limititations that hinders a player from letting the character do something that an NPC in the same situation would be able to do.

From the Traveller game I'm running, I have something in each category.

* I'm running with the 3I map, but using my own lore and only using the original Traveller setting as an inspiration. There is no psionics in my version, so neither PCs or NPCs can use psionics.

* The players were not allowed to create a character that wants to end up in combat.

* While the group can temporary split up, a character leaving the group becomes an NPC.

The first category won't affect a games sandboxiness in the slightest. That's just the physics of the setting. It's a matter of taste of the setting appeal to someone or not.

The third category is a clear meta restriction, and I think we all agree any such thing makes it less sandboxy. Saying that the PCs must stay in the archipelago is such a thing.

The second category is probably the most contentious one (besides the discussion point if "sandbox" is an umbrella term or the theoretical extreme point). I think the opinion quite much depends on the player style in regards to how much own personality the character.

If the characters would be created with strong ties to the archipelago, so it would require something extreme to make them leave, then it would be a category two. They can leave, but unless any very compelling reasons ingame would have turned up, it would probably rather be meta gaming to leave.

I however don't agree with the purists/endpoint people, so they might have another opinion on it.
 

TJS

Legendary Member
Joined
May 5, 2018
Messages
2,045
Reaction score
4,186
Not sure why you are so fixated on the physical size of the setting. Have you missed the memo that sandbox campaigns are not about wandering the landscape of the setting?
I'm not. I'm pointing at the distinction between meta constraints and setting constraints.

It seems odd to me to insist so much on the absence of the former being all important when the latter can be much more constraining
 

Black Leaf

We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
3,966
Reaction score
10,183
The first category won't affect a games sandboxiness in the slightest. That's just the physics of the setting. It's a matter of taste of the setting appeal to someone or not.

The third category is a clear meta restriction, and I think we all agree any such thing makes it less sandboxy. Saying that the PCs must stay in the archipelago is such a thing.

The second category is probably the most contentious one (besides the discussion point if "sandbox" is an umbrella term or the theoretical extreme point). I think the opinion quite much depends on the player style in regards to how much own personality the character.

If the characters would be created with strong ties to the archipelago, so it would require something extreme to make them leave, then it would be a category two. They can leave, but unless any very compelling reasons ingame would have turned up, it would probably rather be meta gaming to leave.

I however don't agree with the purists/endpoint people, so they might have another opinion on it.
Yeah, I'd say that category 2 makes it less sandboxy because it's a reasonably broad meta restriction.

It's not entirely theoretical either I think. I've run games that were pretty close to "anything goes" for character concepts. Hollow Earth Expedition only had the qualifier that it was starting on a cruise ship crossing the Bermuda Triangle so PCs needed to have a reason to be on there or play natives of the Hollow Earth.

Tales from the Floating Vagabond had the even broader "any PC from any time period or fictional world that might walk through the door to a bar or pub".

That said, I think it's best seen as neither an umbrella term or an extreme point. It's a sliding scale and how sandboxey something is best can be seen if you compare it to another game with more or less restrictions.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TJS

Black Leaf

We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
Moderator
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
3,966
Reaction score
10,183
It seems odd to me to insist so much on the absence of the former being all important when the latter can be much more constraining
Because it's not a value judgement per se, even if people sometimes see it as that.

A sandbox can lead to more freedom in play, but that doesn't mean that it necessarily does so. What your example shows is that something can be both a sandbox and have very narrow parameters at the table.
 

robertsconley

Legendary Member
Joined
May 3, 2018
Messages
3,422
Reaction score
6,953
I wasn't sure because I mentioned if going to fight in the French-Indian War was somehow a natural outgrowth based on what happens in the campaign, then that's one thing, but players just deciding "let's go do this" arbitrarily is quite another.
I don't try to mind read my players, if it something their character can do within the setting, I roll with it and figure out the consquences.


Okay, so this is where you're describing a change in the player's thoughts, right?

Do you think the thoughts of the pirate (or whatever) in the setting has the same sense of limitless possiblity for himself that his player has?
I think people are people regardless of the century. They dream just as broadly as we do in the 21st century although they may have an inaccurate view of the possibilities.

It's not something the character knows is possible.
If that is a concern then make it part of the setting. Require players when they make character to have period accurate background, wealth, and roleplay the knowledge the characters accordingly. Creatively it is no different than a decision to create around a science-fiction setting versus a fantasy setting. Most of the hobby play D&D using a quasi very loose medieval fantasy setting like Forgotten Realms. A small number want something more historical and so play Harnmaster, GURPS with realism options, or Chivalry & Sorcery.

And it irrelevant to letting players trash your setting or judging whether a campaign allow players to trash the setting.
 
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Top