Sandbox RPG: help me understand

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TJS

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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.
That's fine I guess. As I said the first go round in this thread, if we are going to use these terms this way, then fine, but that just means I need alternative terms, because I don't think these distinctions get at what really matters.

I've played in games that were theoretically unlimited where my options felt very limited and constrained in practical terms, and I've played in quite bounded games where I genuinely felt I had huge amounts of freedom to influence the direction of the game.

I think the structures that are put in place, the way the game is organised even the kinds of characters and motivations that are encouraged is vastly more important.
 

Black Leaf

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That's fine I guess. As I said the first go round in this thread, if we are going to use these terms this way, then fine, but that just means I need alternative terms, because I don't think these distinctions get at what really matters.

I've played in games that were theoretically limited where my options felt very limited and constrained in practical terms, and I've played in quite bounded games where I genuinely felt I had huge amounts of freedom to influence the direction of the game.
It's probably best taking a few steps back then.

What are the mandatory factors for the kind of game you want to describe?
 

AsenRG

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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 can't roleplay a character consistently without stats? What of games without social stats, :shock:?
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?
Improv is illusionism now:shock:?

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.
:shock:
And what makes you say that?
 

Black Leaf

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I can't roleplay a character consistently without stats? What of games without social stats, :shock:?
If the players choose to rob the store, you're going to need combat stats.

Improv is illusionism now:shock:?

Yes, at least in many cases.
:shock:
And what makes you say that?
Simple.

Compare the standard Quantum Ogre to the Quantum Armourer.

In the first, it doesn't matter what door you go through, there's an ogre there.

In the second, it doesn't matter which armourer's shop you visit, the same armourer will be there the first time.

The two are structurally very similar.

Note: I don't consider illusionism a bad thing per se, depending on how it's used.
 

robertsconley

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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
It shouldn't be odd. The point of tabletop roleplaying is have fun roleplaying a character within the setting of the campaign. Settings are imaginary worlds and if the group decide to see what it is like to live a characters within a 10 km asteroid then so be it. A sandbox campaign within that setting means that the player can do whatever characters can do within that setting. And if that campaign occurred then my guess is that referee made a pretty interesting place to adventure for the players to have decided that where they want to roleplay.

While I haven't done it, I don't see any issue with a sandbox campaign using the Starship Warden as a setting. To pick a real example rather than a contrived one.
 

Lundgren

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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.
Well, using "sandbox" as a theoretical but unattainable opposition of the theoretical extreme railroad would put everything on a sliding scale in between.

An umbrella term still works for a sliding scale, but fit anything where there's no pre-planned plot and people can "trash the setting" (just because a specific way to trash the setting is "banned" won't mean the player are not allowed to trash it in a bunch of other ways, so most of the arguments seems to be around if the players have to be allowed to trash it in any way they happens to fancy).
 

TJS

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Well, using "sandbox" as a theoretical but unattainable opposition of the theoretical extreme railroad would put everything on a sliding scale in between.

An umbrella term still works for a sliding scale, but fit anything where there's no pre-planned plot and people can "trash the setting" (just because a specific way to trash the setting is "banned" won't mean the player are not allowed to trash it in a bunch of other ways, so most of the arguments seems to be around if the players have to be allowed to trash it in any way they happens to fancy).
I've done that in the past, but I don't think that works too well when we're talking definitions on the big campaign scale as people are doing here. I know from experience that you can have a railroad within a sandbox (perhaps not technically a railroad, but close enough for government work anyway).

The opposite of a railroad is very open structures of play, not the absence of GM limits.
 

hawkeyefan

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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)

Sure, I agree with you there. There's always a starting point, right? An initial situation. How specific that may be will vary, but there's always some kind of starting point that can and should influence how things proceed from there. My point is even if the starting point is loosely defined enough to allow a wide range of possibilities, it's still a starting point and will still influence things.

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.

While true, I think people also very often feel as if they don't always control their own lives, or that they lack the ability to make a change for themselves. And every point in between those two extremes.

Having the sense of being able to try anything is, to me, more about the player's awareness of the game than about portraying the character.
 

BedrockBrendan

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Sure, I agree with you there. There's always a starting point, right? An initial situation. How specific that may be will vary, but there's always some kind of starting point that can and should influence how things proceed from there. My point is even if the starting point is loosely defined enough to allow a wide range of possibilities, it's still a starting point and will still influence things.

I am not terribly worried about the initial situation. I am more concerned about what lines have been laid down for the duration of the campaign. I think the big thing for me, is my concept of a 'true sandbox' is everything is on the table in terms of exploration. It is the ability to not engage the premise if you want (or maybe more accurately, not really having a premise beyond: this is the world). In terms of qualifying that further, it is more when the GM establishes: this is a campaign where you are X, or this is a campaign limited to this area. Now it is important for me to note, I really love these kinds of campaigns. I just think drawing a distinction between the pure sandbox (which I don't really run that often anymore, but occasionally do) and a qualified sandbox (which I do tend to run more often in recent years) is helpful and important.
 

Lundgren

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I've done that in the past, but I don't think that works too well when we're talking definitions on the big campaign scale as people are doing here. I know from experience that you can have a railroad within a sandbox (perhaps not technically a railroad, but close enough for government work anyway).

The opposite of a railroad is very open structures of play, not the absence of GM limits.
Well, there you have one of the other semantic debacles. Is "railroad" only mean heavy handed and thereby bad versions of linear games (pre planned plot), or can it be used also for good linear games.

Anyhow, I don't see "linear games" and "sandboxes" as the only way to run a game. Which is one of the reasons I see it as an umbrella term where different kinds of "sandboxy" games could fit. After all, take two different "sandboxy" games, and people can disagree which one is the more or less sandboxy one.

However, while there's a linear plot the players are to follow in there, then it's very different from the GM having thought out what will happen if the players won't get involved, but will deviate the second the PCs start acting on it.

When it comes to having liner storylines in an open setting, but the players can deal with the different linear stories in any way they see fit, then I personally prefer the term "theme park" :smile:
 

BedrockBrendan

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I think
I've done that in the past, but I don't think that works too well when we're talking definitions on the big campaign scale as people are doing here. I know from experience that you can have a railroad within a sandbox (perhaps not technically a railroad, but close enough for government work anyway).

The opposite of a railroad is very open structures of play, not the absence of GM limits.
There are lots of opposite to railroads. 'Railroading' is a problem that has many solutions. Sandbox is one solution to railroad. I think though when you get into arguments, which I have seen online, where people say things like "an adventure path can be a sandbox" "Everything can be a sandbox" then the term really loses meaning. But I would say a sandbox is a very open structure of play. The whole point is like Rob says, the players can do what they want within the setting. There are in setting 'physics' that place constraints on those choices. No one is saying it is 100% freedom to ignore the parameters that are going to exist within the setting. If you want that kind of freedom (freedom beyond the setting), that is fine, but it isn't what sandbox is trying to supply you with.
 

TJS

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I think

There are lots of opposite to railroads. 'Railroading' is a problem that has many solutions. Sandbox is one solution to railroad. I think though when you get into arguments, which I have seen online, where people say things like "an adventure path can be a sandbox" "Everything can be a sandbox" then the term really loses meaning. But I would say a sandbox is a very open structure of play. The whole point is like Rob says, the players can do what they want within the setting. There are in setting 'physics' that place constraints on those choices. No one is saying it is 100% freedom to ignore the parameters that are going to exist within the setting. If you want that kind of freedom (freedom beyond the setting), that is fine, but it isn't what sandbox is trying to supply you with.
I would say that an open structure of play involves the GM doing things like prepping dynamic situations rather than plots, having factions with clear motivations, rumour tables or timelines of events that will happen regardless of what the players do, a good map, with enough basic notes or random tables to facilitate free travel, or other similiar techniques of GMing.

Whether this meets the technical definitions of sandbox that people insist we adhere to in this thread seems rather irrelevant. This is what really matters - what the GM does to faciliate open play rather than what the GM doesn't do.

In the reality of play, if we have a pirate ship and we have a whole lot of pirate factions we can interact with, and we can sail to dozens of different places try out innumerous different schemes, then the openness of the situation right in front of us matters a lot more than whether or not we are theoretically free to go and fight in the French Indian war or not.

I really don't like mission based games. So if I'm playing in 'sandbox' but the party joins the army and starts being given concrete missions, then the game is no longer particularly open (except for the proviso that the GM would be happy if we deserted and went to do something else - but this is all academic if the rest of the players are all happy playing soldiers, with missions doled out to them. I am no longer playing in an open game).
 
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BedrockBrendan

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I would say that an open structure of play involves the GM doing things like prepping dynamic situations rather than plots, having factions with clear motivations, rumour tables or timelines of events that will happen regardless of what the players do, a good map, with enough basic notes or random tables to facilitate free travel, or other similiar techniques of GMing.

I think those are all part of a good sandbox. I think most sandbox GMs avoid crafting plots and think more in terms of places, NPCs, groups, situations, etc.
 

TJS

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I think those are all part of a good sandbox. I think most sandbox GMs avoid crafting plots and think more in terms of places, NPCs, groups, situations, etc.
No doubt they are, but they are also completely independent of any distinction between sandbox and qualified sandbox and possibly something that doesn't even qualify as the latter.
 

BedrockBrendan

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Whether this meets the technical definitions of sandbox that people insist we adhere to in this thread seems rather irrelevant. This is what really matters - what the GM does to faciliate open play rather than what the GM doesn't do.

What I am interested in is what the word means in use among gamers generally. I don't think the term has evolved broadly enough that very focused or limited sandbox scenarios are the default meaning. I think the default meaning is one where you are free to engage the setting how you want as a group. That doesn't mean other approaches are bad. Like I said, i actually prefer more focused scenarios and tend to think of them as focused, contained, limited sandboxes. The qualifiers are simply there to set the right expectations and communicate what I am talking about. If I tell people this is a sandbox but is contained within X parameters, they usually know exactly what I mean: they have total freedom to do what they want within the confines of X. That is pretty useful. Sometimes I want to run a more general sandbox and saying this is a sandbox campaign, let's the players know that. That is also useful.

In the reality of play, if we have a pirate ship and we have a whole lot of pirate factions we can interact with, and we can sail to dozens of different places try out innumerous different schemes, then the openness of the situation right in fron of us matters a lot more than whether or not we are theoretically free to go and fight in the French Indian war or not.

I think the point isn't so much about whether you can specifically join the french indian war, but are you free to not engage the piracy premise, are you free to go off and do other things in the setting. Can you disengage from that if you want to and do something else. I think for me a key thing about a pure sandbox, is the idea that the GM can be totally surprised by what the PCs do, including wrecking the premise, or finding some far off war to fight in.

Again, there is nothing wrong, lesser, or bad about a sandbox focused on being pirates. I think that is a kind of sandbox campaign. I would just qualify it myself because I do think there is an expectation when players hear sandbox that anything is on the table (including burning the pirate ship and collecting the insurance so you can start a mercenary venture).
 

BedrockBrendan

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I really don't like mission based games. So if I'm playing in 'sandbox' but the party joins the army and starts being given concrete missions, then the game is no longer particularly open (except for the proviso that the GM would be happy if we deserted and went to do something else - but this is all academic if the rest of the players are all happy playing soldiers, with missions doled out to them. I am no longer playing in an open game).

There is nothing wrong with not liking mission based games. Lots of players hate them. I think though if you are running a sandbox, the idea is let the players pursue what they want to pursue. If they happen to settle on joining the army and doing missions, it is a now leading them on more linear adventures. But that is a choice they are making within the sandbox. The sandbox is open, they have just decided to do missions instead.

Again, I think it is about why and how is making the choice. If the GM says, I am going to run a sandbox where you are all in the army and go on missions: that isn't a sandbox.

Now, if you as a player want to say to the other players: "hey this is supposed to be sandbox, why on earth on you choosing to go on mission adventures in this; you can do that in any other campaign"....you would be making a pretty good point, and there is some validity to the idea that they are missing out on the openness a sandbox is supposed to afford. That to me isn't so much sandbox versus non-sandbox, but a matter of player interests aligning.
 

BedrockBrendan

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While true, I think people also very often feel as if they don't always control their own lives, or that they lack the ability to make a change for themselves. And every point in between those two extremes.

Having the sense of being able to try anything is, to me, more about the player's awareness of the game than about portraying the character.

You are going to love my existentialist RPG: No Exit!
 

BedrockBrendan

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Well, using "sandbox" as a theoretical but unattainable opposition of the theoretical extreme railroad would put everything on a sliding scale in between.

An umbrella term still works for a sliding scale, but fit anything where there's no pre-planned plot and people can "trash the setting" (just because a specific way to trash the setting is "banned" won't mean the player are not allowed to trash it in a bunch of other ways, so most of the arguments seems to be around if the players have to be allowed to trash it in any way they happens to fancy).

These terms are useful for communicating ideas and helping people know what RPG books they might like. I think though if people are wringing their hands over whether they are being true to an idea like sandbox, rather than just doing what they feel they need to to make their game function, then it is probably best to stop worrying about definitions. I got there at one point and had to step back and reassess (that is one reason why I am less invested in online conversations). Talking about this stuff online was very useful to help clarify what I wanted and needed at the table, but it can also, especially if you have been debating topics like this, lead you to paint yourself into a corner style-wise. This is by the way, one reason I find qualified sandbox terminology useful. I understand there is an expectation when you say sandbox, and I find I often want 70% of that. But there is 30% I want that isn't orthodox in sandbox. So qualifying it, makes it much easier for me to explain what I am doing without people feeling like I am warping the terms meaning. Again, I can enjoy a pure sandbox, occasionally do so, and lord knows I have defended the concept here and elsewhere, but I also think people shouldn't worry about whether their game meets someone else's definition of [insert playstyle X]. They should worry about their own table.
 

hawkeyefan

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What I am interested in is what the word means in use among gamers generally. I don't think the term has evolved broadly enough that very focused or limited sandbox scenarios are the default meaning. I think the default meaning is one where you are free to engage the setting how you want as a group. That doesn't mean other approaches are bad. Like I said, i actually prefer more focused scenarios and tend to think of them as focused, contained, limited sandboxes. The qualifiers are simply there to set the right expectations and communicate what I am talking about. If I tell people this is a sandbox but is contained within X parameters, they usually know exactly what I mean: they have total freedom to do what they want within the confines of X. That is pretty useful. Sometimes I want to run a more general sandbox and saying this is a sandbox campaign, let's the players know that. That is also useful.



I think the point isn't so much about whether you can specifically join the french indian war, but are you free to not engage the piracy premise, are you free to go off and do other things in the setting. Can you disengage from that if you want to and do something else. I think for me a key thing about a pure sandbox, is the idea that the GM can be totally surprised by what the PCs do, including wrecking the premise, or finding some far off war to fight in.

Again, there is nothing wrong, lesser, or bad about a sandbox focused on being pirates. I think that is a kind of sandbox campaign. I would just qualify it myself because I do think there is an expectation when players hear sandbox that anything is on the table (including burning the pirate ship and collecting the insurance so you can start a mercenary venture).

This is very close to how I see it, honestly. I know if I said to my players specifically “hey I was thinking of running a pirate sandbox game if there’s interest” they’d know what to expect with a reasonable amount of certainty.

If I said the same to a new group of players, I think it’s a perfectly good starting point, but I expect there might be some question, or some points of clarification. I doubt there’d be huge amounts of surprise at the answers though, even if there was a little.
 

Fenris-77

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This is very close to how I see it, honestly. I know if I said to my players specifically “hey I was thinking of running a pirate sandbox game if there’s interest” they’d know what to expect with a reasonable amount of certainty.

If I said the same to a new group of players, I think it’s a perfectly good starting point, but I expect there might be some question, or some points of clarification. I doubt there’d be huge amounts of surprise at the answers though, even if there was a little.
This exactly. If I say "pirate sandbox" people know what I mean. It's not a strange usage or anything. People know that they're playing pirates, and that it's going to be an open world, not something with linear plot. I know that some of you want the word to mean a whole lot more than that, but I think you'll just need to be disappointed. So yeah, go be pirates, do what you like, its a sandbox. However, you know what that game isn't? A game about being freeholding farmers in Colorado. That notion might be inside the time-space coordinates of the actual premise, but it's not the game we all agreed on. Now, that said, is there some way that the fiction might lead from pirates in the Caribbean to farming in Colorado? Yeah, sure, maybe, but mostly not. I'm fine with leaving room for the fiction to go where it needs to, but, at least for me, that's a separate thing from needing to indulge every possible player whim about what might be possible because of some ridiculous notion that all outcomes are equal in a game that started as "lets play pirates and do pirate stuff".
 

Fenris-77

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Yeah, they know what you mean...because you Qualified it
And the word exists in some sort of unqualified ideal Aristotelian state otherwise? I would submit that mostly is=t doesn't, but then again this is the meat and potatoes of the argument at hand I think. I don't think 'sandbox' without qualifications, describes much of anything in terms of what people actually play. Nice use of bold font btw. :thumbsup:
 

TristramEvans

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And the word exists in some sort of unqualified ideal Aristotelian state otherwise?


Well, if you were to alternately say to your group - "I'm going to run a sandbox", without the qualifier, are they going to know that you mean they can do anything a real person living in the gameworld could do if that world was real, as long as they are/remain pirates? Or should that one arbitrary restriction that you are placing on the game as a GM be stated upfront to communicate to your players your intentions?
 

Fenris-77

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Well, if you were to alternately say to your group - "I'm going to run a sandbox", without the qualifier, are they going to know that you mean they can do anything a real person living in the gameworld could do if that world was real, as long as they are/remain pirates? Or should that one arbitrary restriction that you are placing on the game as a GM be stated upfront to communicate to your players your intentions?
I think this might be the root of the issue. I would never say "I'm going to run a sandbox", full stop. Moreover, I don't think anyone else says that either, which is the core of my objection this this line of thought. Back to the mater at hand though, I don't expect anyone to 'remain pirates' like it's a commandment or something. However, what I do expect is for them to play their characters honestly and forthrightly, and the characters are pirates. Is there some wioggle room there? Sure there is. Lots actually. But that's not the same as me saying "let's play pirates of the Caribbean!" and my players saying "yeah, that sounds cool" only to have the first thing they do is move to Colorado to be potato farmers.

What I'm getting at is that the premise of a campaign, the thing that is agreed upon before hand, acts a limiter to what kind of sandbox decisions are reasonable within the fiction as framed. The idea that we're going to play pirates sets some soft boundaries on where play is likely to go. That doesn't take anything away from the sandbox-ness of the thing, it just means people are treating the fiction like it matters.
 

Tommy Brownell

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I think I got kinda close.

I told my players I was gonna run a fantasy sandbox (is "fantasy" qualified or no?). I even let them pick the system (we're doing D&D 5).

I used one of those sweet Hexroll maps (though I'm rewriting a lot of the encounters and stuff for various reasons), but all the hooks came after they made the characters. And so now we have a Bugbear Paladin, a Minotaur Fighter (who was raised by dwarves) and a Human Ranger venturing into a neighboring kingdom that is plagued by a horrible disease and ruled by a necromancer, except they are searching for a pack of gnolls that raided their homes and inflicted grievous damage...and along the way, they've run afoul of a goblin tribe that comes down from the mountains and preys on the isolated towns, and that was sessions 0 and 1.

But aside from "fantasy", I legitimately didn't put any other qualifiers on it.

(And it may turn out to be a fucking disaster...that's real possible.)
 

TristramEvans

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I think this might be the root of the issue. I would never say "I'm going to run a sandbox", full stop. Moreover, I don't think anyone else says that either, which is the core of my objection this this line of thought.

I guess I don't understand why the multiple people who have said that, on this forum, including myself, don't count?

But just in general, linguistically speaking, you need to have a conceot to qualify for you to add a qualifier to it an have that make sense. Otherwise there'd be no difference between saying "I'm going to run a Pirate game". And if - certain folks - were to succeed in watering down the definition of the term in common usage, it woul probably end up being more like "I want to run a Piratepunk game" - no one would have any real idea what that meant.

Your ability to say to your players "I want to run a Pirate Sandbox" and them understanding what you mean by that depends on "Sandbox" remaining an identifiable concept on it's own.

Back to the mater at hand though, I don't expect anyone to 'remain pirates' like it's a commandment or something. However, what I do expect is for them to play their characters honestly and forthrightly, and the characters are pirates. Is there some wioggle room there? Sure there is. Lots actually. But that's not the same as me saying "let's play pirates of the Caribbean!" and my players saying "yeah, that sounds cool" only to have the first thing they do is move to Colorado to be potato farmers.

Well, I don't think anyone would expect that, because it's pretty absurd and is clearly an example of miscommunication between the GM and players.

But taking the absurd hypothetical at face value, I guess how you determine in what way it's Qualified is to ask yourself - lol, how much pirating do your players have to do before they are allowed to become Potato farmers?


What I'm getting at is that the premise of a campaign, the thing that is agreed upon before hand, acts a limiter to what kind of sandbox decisions are reasonable within the fiction as framed.

Yes. But not every game has a premise. And a GM's willingness to let the players "trash the premise" is pretty much the integral part of the definition. from the beginning.
 

TristramEvans

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I think I got kinda close.

I told my players I was gonna run a fantasy sandbox (is "fantasy" qualified or no?)

No, fantasy isn't a qualifier, it just describes the game setting. So sounds like you were running a "pure" Sandbox
 

Fenris-77

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I guess I don't understand why the multiple people who have said that, on this forum, including myself, don't count?

But just in general, linguistically speaking, you need to have a conceot to qualify for you to add a qualifier to it an have that make sense. Otherwise there'd be no difference between saying "I'm going to run a Pirate game". And if - certain folks - were to succeed in watering down the definition of the term in common usage, it woul probably end up being more like "I want to run a Piratepunk game" - no one would have any real idea what that meant.

Your ability to say to your players "I want to run a Pirate Sandbox" and them understanding what you mean by that depends on "Sandbox" remaining an identifiable concept on it's own.

Well, I don't think anyone would expect that, because it's pretty absurd and is clearly an example of miscommunication between the GM and players.

But taking the absurd hypothetical at face value, I guess how you determine in what way it's Qualified is to ask yourself - lol, how much pirating do your players have to do before they are allowed to become Potato farmers?

Yes. But not every game has a premise. And a GM's willingness to let the players "trash the premise" is pretty much the integral part of the definition. from the beginning.
This shit makes me tired. But I'll take one more run at it. I'm not selling you, or Rob, or anyone else here short in terms of what you think or believe about the term sandbox. Rob, especially, has his place carved in stone there. However, people might be using the term in question differently, and that's not a bad thing, it's just shifting usage. I think your focus on the idea of a qualifier is both interesting and telling. I say that because I don't think the term you are trying so actively to preserve gets a lot of use without a qualifier, as much as that might not make you happy.

There's no watering down here, there's no failure to understand, there's none of that, I just don't agree with your definition, and I really would like for you not to be a a dick about it. You can Lol all you want and pretend you aren't being a dick, but you are. So quit it.

Edit: Moderate away if you feel like you need to. :thumbsup:
 

TristramEvans

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I say that because I don't think the term you are trying so actively to preserve gets a lot of use without a qualifier, as much as that might not make you happy.

Yeah, you said that, and my response is the same as the one last time - I don't know why the multiple posters here that have done just that "don't count" to you, or what basis your using for making that statement (shrug). But then I also don't understand what connection your making between the number of people out there playing sandbox games without qualifiers and my "happiness" is, unless that's just a snide remark.

I just don't agree with your definition,

It's not my definition. Literally, a group of posters with years of experience with the playstyle and involved in the initial popularization of the term on hobby forums, got together and hashed out a definition.

So, you can disagree if you want, for whatever purpose you think that serves, but I'm not going to stop disagreeing with you unless you were able to make a convincing argument (which saying to someone who uses the term "I don't think the term gets a lot of use" isn't particularly, obviously).

and I really would like for you not to be a a dick about it. You can Lol all you want and pretend you aren't being a dick, but you are. So quit it.

Your perception is noted, but discarded. I don't think it's a coincidence the two people accusing me of treating them badly are the two people in the thread who have resorted to name-calling (though it does make me slightly curious how you would define "being a dick")


Edit: Moderate away if you feel like you need to. :thumbsup:

I'm not participating in this debate as a mod. I've never moderated anyone for making personal attacks against myself, only other people.
 

Fenris-77

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Yeah, I know you don't shit where you mod. We're good there.

I'm going to bow out. I don't really care about this particular definition, and you seem to care enough that you're willing to cast aspersions on me to make your point, which is a place I have no interest in going. So discard away I guess. I don't know why this particular issue means so much to you, but I hope its worth looking like a dick. No harm done I guess.
 

hawkeyefan

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TristramEvans TristramEvans Without any qualifiers, “sandbox game” is incomplete as a description, no?

“I’m going to run a sandbox” is not much more specific than “I’m going to run a game.”

I imagine that if a sandbox game is proposed…just a sandbox without any further description….then the responses are likely going to be along the lines of “Okay cool….what setting?” Or “Sci-fi or fantasy?” Or “What system?” And so on.

Sure, the word on its own may give folks some ideas of what the game may be like, or how it’ll work. But it won’t be complete in and of itself.
 

TristramEvans

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TristramEvans TristramEvans Without any qualifiers, “sandbox game” is incomplete as a description, no?

“I’m going to run a sandbox” is not much more specific than “I’m going to run a game.”

I imagine that if a sandbox game is proposed…just a sandbox without any further description….then the responses are likely going to be along the lines of “Okay cool….what setting?” Or “Sci-fi or fantasy?” Or “What system?” And so on.

Sure, the word on its own may give folks some ideas of what the game may be like, or how it’ll work. But it won’t be complete in and of itself.

A Sandbox has to take place in a setting, sure, but the setting itself doesn't impose any restrictions on it being a Sandbox, so it's not what we mean when we say "Qualified Sandbox", unlike say , a premise, where the premise places an OOC restriction on player agency.
 

Fenris-77

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A Sandbox has to take place in a setting, sure, but the setting itself doesn't impose any restrictions on it being a Sandbox, so it's not what we mean when we say "Qualified Sandbox", unlike say , a premise, where the premise places an OOC restriction on player agency.
So the 'premise' of pirates works for you as a restrictive element? I just want to make sure we're clear...
 

TristramEvans

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So the 'premise' of pirates works for you as a restrictive element? I just want to make sure we're clear...

I'm not certain I understand the question, in regards to "what works for me" (I don't exclusively run sandboxes). As to whether that specific premise means it's a "Qualified Sandbox", well just to go back to your earlier elaboration:

I don't expect anyone to 'remain pirates' like it's a commandment or something. However, what I do expect is for them to play their characters honestly and forthrightly, and the characters are pirates. Is there some wioggle room there? Sure there is. Lots actually. But that's not the same as me saying "let's play pirates of the Caribbean!" and my players saying "yeah, that sounds cool" only to have the first thing they do is move to Colorado to be potato farmers.

In general it sounds like a sandbox - what qualifies it is not the starting premise (i.e. we are playing pirates) but rather the adherence to that premise vs player agency. When you say " I do expect is for them to play their characters honestly and forthrightly, and the characters are pirates" that doesn't contradict the concept of a Sandbox, which is why my earlier question was "how much pirating do your players have to do before they are allowed to become Potato farmers?" I laughed because it's a silly situation, not because it's not a real indicator - for yourself as a GM - as to how strictly you expect players to adhere to your premise.
 

Fenris-77

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I'm not certain I understand the question, in regards to "what works for me" (I don't exclusively run sandboxes). As to whether that specific premise means it's a "Qualified Sandbox", well just to go back to your earlier elaboration:



In general it sounds like a sandbox - what qualifies it is not the starting premise (i.e. we are playing pirates) but rather the adherence to that premise vs player agency. When you say " I do expect is for them to play their characters honestly and forthrightly, and the characters are pirates" that doesn't contradict the concept of a Sandbox, which is why my earlier question was "how much pirating do your players have to do before they are allowed to become Potato farmers?" I laughed because it's a silly situation, not because it's not a real indicator - for yourself as a GM - as to how strictly you expect players to adhere to your premise.
Well fuck. I'm not certain I understand your lack of understanding. :grin: I completely agree that the salient point is player agency though, completely. What I was getting at is that player agency needs to be filtered through character appropriateness somehow. I'm really not advocating for denying player agency in any form, so long as those players are also adhering to the (in fiction) premise(s) they agreed to initially.
 

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If the players choose to rob the store, you're going to need combat stats.
...and what's wrong with him being Generic Template#3, based off the way I've roleplayed him so far? Or, more likely, me rolling - when the fight starts OR when they try to estimate his abilities - on the Degree Of Unusual* table and applying the template that fits the result (Random Civilian, Crippled Random Civilian, or Army/Highway Veteran)?
Then I take a note that this shopkeeper has X template and it's consistent from now on.
Or are you going to tell me that I must handcraft (i.e. giving it unique stats!) every NPC the players interact with, on top of making it in advance?

But most of all...what's the difference if the players try to rob a random store in a tightly-plotted big-city adventure? Do you have stats for every shopkeeper in said big city?
If not, do tightly-plotted big-city adventures "necessarily involve a degree of illusionism" (your statement)?
Or is it, you know, just a limitation of the Referee being human and not the team of a commercial PC game development studio, which yes, can have all the shopkeepers handcrafted:devil:?

*Usually, that's just rolling a d100, or 3d6+modifiers, with the bottom being better than usual and the top results worse than usual. I'm a roll-under guy since decades.

Yes, at least in many cases.
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I mean, I'm not surprised at the assertion, I know some people were holding to similar beliefs (I think Skarg Skarg seemed to be in favour of that). So I'm just surprised at hearing it from you. Ah well:shade:.

Simple.

Compare the standard Quantum Ogre to the Quantum Armourer.

In the first, it doesn't matter what door you go through, there's an ogre there.

In the second, it doesn't matter which armourer's shop you visit, the same armourer will be there the first time.

The two are structurally very similar.
As pointed above, they don't necessarily have the same stats. That's why I've got the Unusual Events Roll/Table. Granted, most of them MIGHT end up having the same stats...but that 1) partially depends on the system, less granular on the normal human scale ones (like Faserip) are more prone to such a result and 2) is the result of the fact that people in a non-fighting profession would tend to have roughly similar fighting skills across the board (my templates often give them some not-so-useful fighting skill). They would probably end up having different out-of-profession
Furthermore, unlike in the Quantum Ogre situation, where they are (possibly actively) denied the means to assess which way the Ogre is, because that would spoil the illusion if they decide to take on the other path...they can assess my shopkeepers. In fact, I always urge them to plan, and to start the plan by gathering intelligence.
If they don't do that, then yes, they're in for meeting whatever the dice roll had in store for them...unless rolling on a table is illusionism as well:tongue:?
I mean, they could get the same result...:devil:


Note: I don't consider illusionism a bad thing per se, depending on how it's used.
But, as you all know by now, I do - regardless of how it's used:devil:.

Addendum: I can see using illusionism for OOC reasons, like if a player has been having a shitty week and you just want to give him/her a break during the game...or if the player is a young kid.
Not something I'd recommend as good gaming practice, mind you, but sometimes it's not worth the OOC drama:angel:.
 

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Guys, here's a real situation where my expectation of a Full Sandbox clashed hard against the DM's expectation of Qualified Sandbox.

We were playing 1st level B/X characters in a game advertised as sandbox (you can approach whichever dungeon whichever way you want).
I'm playing a wizard by whim of the dice (3 Strength...), but whatever, I'm trying to make him thrive and prosper. His backstory is a mix of D&D and 1001 nights - he was a trader, got into studying the occult, squandered his father's inheritance on it, now is looking for a way to get prosperous again and thus, "atone for his missteps", as common in the source material. I even named him Hassan, Abdullah, or something similar because that's where I got the idea from (I was reading 1001 nights at the time, so that was meant to be "credit where credit is due").
Yes, that matters. Not the part about being wizard, the backstory.

Because then we managed to find a huge haul of diamonds. After first adventure, we had gold in the 4-5 digits. Each.
Of course, that means we're now 1 XP short of 3rd level.
So my IC suggestion was "let's make those money even more - we can become really respected traders if we invest them smartly, and along the way we'd get to see new places as well, find more magic for me, and teachers of martial techniques for the warriors, everyone wins!" (Or something like this, it was years and years ago).
I still maintain that made total sense IC:shade:!
DM's answer: "I'm running a dungeoncrawling game, and I see you're not mentioning dungeons".
Another player: "Yeah, and I'm here to dungeoncrawl".
Me, amazed: "But once the PCs, most of which have claimed being motivated by greed and love of luxury, that kind of stuff, now have that kind of money...why would they keep risking their lives when they can become both respectable, and live in luxury? We're playing dungeoncrawling adventurers, but you said the game is sandbox, right?"
End result, the GM told me via PM (we were playing on TBP) to leave the game. I was determined not be a good fit, or something. Even me offering to just drop the argument didn't work.
Well, I wasn't that sad to go. I was only sorry that, while I tried to leave my PC's money to the rest of the party, he was having none of it (as a Ref, I tend to kill off PCs that are no longer being played, barring request to the contrary). So the DM basically ended up giving a huge chunk of resources to what was now an NPC...which made no sense to me:devil:!

Now, who was in the wrong? Nobody (though they probably believed otherwise). It was a miscommunication, we just weren't playing the kind of game I thought we were - and the DM had never offered to run what I though he was.

But I'm sure you can see that this is clearly a case where making a distinction between sandbox and qualified sandbox at the recruitment would have helped to avoid the whole thing, right:thumbsup:?
 

Fenris-77

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Well, lets not have our heads turned by that sort of bullshit and shenanigans. A reasonable DM would have done something differently, so, in a word, fuck that guy.
 

TristramEvans

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Well fuck. I'm not certain I understand your lack of understanding. :grin: I completely agree that the salient point is player agency though, completely. What I was getting at is that player agency needs to be filtered through character appropriateness somehow. I'm really not advocating for denying player agency in any form, so long as those players are also adhering to the (in fiction) premise(s) they agreed to initially.

I'd consider that like a level up from discussing playstyles - just in general, I don't want to play role-playing games with folks who aren't going to role-play. Player Agency doesn't mean to me the players being goofy & absurd and their choices are unilaterally sacrosanct.
 

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Well, lets not have our heads turned by that sort of bullshit and shenanigans. A reasonable DM would have done something differently, so, in a word, fuck that guy.
If you're talking about my story...I don't consider that unreasonable GMing.
As stated above, it was a mismatch of expectations, but that happens to the best of us:shade:! So my point is that clearer communication would/should have helped preventing the issue in the first place. And clearer terms might help with that.

At least that's the lesson I took from it. So if I want to run a game of Pendragon, I'd run it with the expectation that the PCs would be knights doing knightly stuff. If I'm running a game of FWTD, I don't expect the PCs to leave North America for a long time.
However, if I'm running Delta Green, the only expectation would be...actually, none, though the PCs giving up on fighting the Mythos would make me stop for a quarter hour to mentally switch the gears:grin:!
 
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