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2018-06-20T02:27:29.893Z

I am quite used to standard DnD dungeon play and linear modules. How hard is it to run these sandboxes? I am really drawn to Godbound and SWN. I love the idea of players running around in a randomly generated universe. I have bought both in hard cover but I haven't run either.

Part of me feels like, ack! What do I do when the players do X? With online play, I am so used to prepping maps and npcs and the focus being on tactical combat set pieces. A dungeon is many nights of entertainment and its easy to adjudicate. Running a sandbox seems like such a different cognitive shift. You cant just fall back on a bunch of predetermined rooms and their encounters.

I have never even brewed my own adventure. Mostly, I just take prefab campaigns, adventure paths or modules and run with those (often combining or modifying as needed). But totally new adventures made up by me? Nope, I haven't done that.

Of the two, Godbound and SWN Revised, which would be easier for a novice to sandboxes to run? Any advice you would give a DM who has never experienced sandbox gaming? I really want to move away from linear combat grinds but, man, it seems so daunting!

Tag Schatten
2018-06-20T02:27:29.893Z

It's not essentially harder for the DM, just very different. Instead of being able to memorize use chunks of detail you need to be quick on your feet (and in a long-running SB-campaign you will later on have to remember a darn lot of details - always have a player take notes and reward him/her with a little extra next time). A good and extensive set of tables is required, the more, the better. Make nice maps.

It actually is harder on your players: They (and their characters) need to bei self-motivated and pro-active, always on the search for rumours, legends, adventure. There is no "story" besides the one they write actively. There are mysteries to explore, there are plots of murder, treason etc. going on, but they have to find and follow ithem actively. They also need to understand that there are no balanced encounters (a conecept strangely hard to accept for some). The encounters are whta they are. If in first level they hear of the mighty wyrm Smalag the Terrible and decide to check out his lair and treasure - well, hope you brought spare sheets.

TLDR; it is not so much more difficult but very, very different.

Ian Borchardt (Reverance Pavane)
2018-06-20T02:27:29.893Z

Start as you already know. Write an introductory adventure - and possibly a couple more to drop in the pot at a later date - an use that to introduce the game. Every player needs a bit of promptng to begin a new sandbox game. Use this to introduce both yourself and the players to the new game.

One thing is really let the players dig into the general setting material rather than try to keep it secret. Let it inspire them to try generating their own storylines. The details are yours to keep secret, of course.
In non-sandbox games the players are trying to extract information from the gamemaster; in a sandbox game you have to overcome that attempt to keep things secretive and be generous with information, so that players can form plans of their own.

Also, for Godbound think large scale. Instead of a dingy inn players may be attending a famous festival, which is then disrupted by something. Use this as an opportunity to let the players individually decide why they are there, but have them meet each other mid fight stopping nasty somethings attacking the festival. Let them make introductions in the fight.

Personally a good random encounter table (stealable from many sources s an excellent idea for future inspriration). Don't be afraid to be generous with advice. One big difference is that it's not you versus them, it's them versus the campaign (and perhaps each other), with you there to help them. make suggestions (both in character and out). And more importantly listen to their plans and wants and desires.

Tag Schatten
2018-06-20T02:27:29.893Z

A postscriptum concerning note taking: It is essential to have a player (switch that task around the table) take them. Don't do it yourself. You have your hands full and besides: You need to know what they understood, not what you wanted to convey. Thus you see where possible communication problems are and by knowing what they deem important you know what most interests them. Keep the notes - the deeper you go into the campaign, the more often you gonna consult them to keep everything consistent, especially if you wing a lot, which I recommend.

Jason Abdin
2018-06-20T02:27:29.893Z

A long time ago, I played D&D and did way too much prep work for all my games. Then I discovered sandbox play, and now I never prep. Running a Sandbox campaign requires a good bit of upfront work, involving random tables for names, Adventure hooks, rumors, loot, NPCs, and whatever else. When you use one of Kevin Crawford's books, he does a lot of this work for you already. The hardest part about being a GM for these kind of games is having the think on your feet and improvise, creating a story alongside your players. The benefit, is that you experience the game similarly as if you were one of the players. One of the drawbacks, as someone else has mentioned, the story is what everybody makes together, and very dependent on players creating goals and developing their characters.

The two games that helped me the most with this style of Gaming are dungeon world and mouse guard. Dungeon world is good at teaching improvisation and not plan out your game sessions. Mouse guard was great as a Sandbox game where the role play was built into the game mechanics. Nowadays, I mostly play Dungeon Crawl classics but use a lot of Kevin Crawford material, such as red tide, an echo resounding, other dust, and stars without number, to assist with sandbox play.

Michael Blank
2018-06-20T02:27:29.893Z

With Godbound, one thing to remember is that many parties will throw lots of D&D staples out the window.

Earth word = party can walk through stone walls.

Command word = party can charm the king

Beast word = 80% of your wilderness random encounters are just "Hello Mr. Wolf."

This is totally ok to have happen. If something is no challenge to them, move past it as quick as they want.

I would also recommend go so far as to poll them and see what they want to explore.

Scott Maclure
2018-06-20T02:27:29.893Z

+Jason Abdin do you like DCC for the various tables it has going on?

Jason Abdin
2018-06-20T02:27:29.893Z

+Scott Maclure DCC certainly isn't built for sandbox play any more than other games, but it is a simple and fun system that gives a particular flavor and tone to D&D that I love and is easy to build off of. The tables for crits, fumbles, and spells are lots of fun and allow for many unexpected things to happen, which I suppose contributes to a sandbox campaign mindset. I should also mention that there's a third party supplement for DCC called Hubris which has some great tables for sandbox gaming.

Jon Sadler
2018-06-20T02:27:29.893Z

Know your world setting one region at a time. Only focus on where your PC's are currently and what they are doing. If they are exploring ruins there's no need to work on stuff two kingdoms over.

Know the NPCs wants/needs. When your players interact with the world you'll then have an answer on what to do to respond. Don't create endless outcomes based on probable PC actions. You'll be spinning wheels, wasting energy and time better spent elsewhere.

I watch this video at least a few times a year to refresh my memory

https://youtu.be/l6d5NvbMvT4
youtube.com - Damn Good D&D

Scott Maclure
2018-06-20T02:27:29.893Z

+Jason Abdin I wanted to run ASE module, current front-runners were DCC or White Box FMAG :)