*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 15, 2014, 11:28:59 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 35 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Author Topic: "Sand Box" Adventures  (Read 7631 times)
hoefer
Member

Posts: 68


« on: September 25, 2008, 07:02:16 PM »

Over on Craig's site the topic of "Sand Box Adventures" was brought up.  For this discussion the term meant game modules, adventures, story arcs, etc. where the GM was simply given a well described/mapped setting and the players "play" within this setting making of it what they will (like an old school dungeon exploration).

Last summer, during a run of my Century's Edge game I tried to develop one of these "sand box" adventures.  This was a little out of my nature (I tend to like plot-driven stories/adventures as a GM).  The adventure was entitled "Son of Nemo" (remember my game's set on a Victorian Earth).  The basic synopsis was that the players were celebrating the launch of one character's "upper atmospheric weather observation station" (called "The Jacob's Ladder").  Through a espoused prologue and other events they learn of an escaped mental patient and come to find him stowed away (he was thought to be crazy because he believed in "atmospheric beasts" -invisible creatures living in the air.  This was a real 1800s phenomenon, and used by Lovecraft...I know.  Back to the point...).  Well, of course, the mental patient in a deranged attempt to prove the existence of the air creatures sabotages the station and takes it up too high.  The players fight to keep it together but finally have to succumb to the rescue of a strange airship (using anti-gravity "cavorite" material from Wells's The First Men in the Moon).  Long and short, the whole lot of them are taken to a floating palace and subject under the protection of Sultan Quisquis (who they later learn is the remorseful prodigal son of the now dead Captain Nemo).  The situation was a total homage to 20,000 Leagues, with the main contingency being that the PCs were ultimately captives and needed to escape, "but how?..."

When I wrote this adventure out I made full maps of everything, detailed all the pieces of the fortress and Quisquis men/court.  I placed within it a wide collection of characters and conflicts that could be resolved (for instance, there were a set of Congo natives at the palace that were being treated as second class citizens.  There was a harem of women being held by the sultan against their will in a well-guarded part of the complex, there were all sorts of mysterious technologies being implemented by the sultan that the players would want to muck around with -like the cavorite and the Herakleophorbia formula from the "Food of the Gods" book).  On top of that, there was a series of a half dozen "happenings" that would stir the players to some kind of action if the session began to bog down -for example there were stop-overs in the African savanna for a safari, prison rescues of individuals Quisquis wanted from Devil's Island, experiments gone wild, an actual run in with the atmospheric beasts, even mysterious murders (did I mention one of the Jack the Ripper suspects was working as a surgeon on Quisquis fortress?).

So I got all this stuff and my players are all unleashed and doing all sorts of stuff on this place, and though there are lots of great moments of discovery and action, there is never a moment in which it seems like the adventure should climax.  We played this one for around 2 months, and even though the PCs devised some explosives and a general plan to escape, they never once attempted to and never broke the "laws of the land" to the extent that I could justify the Sultan sentencing one of them to death (which might have triggered their escape plans).  I finally had Dr. Gull (Jack) frame the PC doctor for the murder/disfigurement of a harem woman and set him to be executed.  But instead of a rescue/escape attempt, the PCs decided to work through the problem of proving their friend's innocence and confronting Dr. Gull so they could stay aboard the palace.  At that point I'm like d*mn!  Finally by the end of the second month I had an experiment of Quisquis run a muck and destroy the fortress causing the PCs to HAVE to escape.  It was a sensible ending and tied up some of the loose strings as it was played out but did not have the resonance I wanted after all the great vignettes played out prior to the end.

Now, I forced the hand -you can tell that I'm too plot-centric as a GM.  But, is there a good way to bring a "Sand Box" adventure to a culmination?  Or do they always risk the dead pan ending?  I've played in several and ran several (especially all the old D&D stuff) and this seems like a pattern for this type of game.  I am wanting to redo this adventure and offer it on my website, but I almost feel like it is broke as-is. Like there is nothing to put before the final period of the thing.  Am I making any sense?  Maybe its enough for the PCs to have toyed around (the game was by no means a disappointment, but I could tell the players were ready for a change of setting -and I wasn't going to wait for them to get bored and THEN start working toward it).  Is an ending in gaming that important?  I sort of think it is...  How would/have you written the ending to a Sand Box adventure?

Louis Hoefer
Whole Sum Entertainment
Logged
Vulpinoid
Member

Posts: 936

Kitsune Trickster


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2008, 09:35:05 PM »

I tend to run short stories, over a session or two, or sandbox play.

The thing I love about "Sandbox" adventures is that they can go anywhere, and everything comes down to the actions of the players. Places are designed, relation maps are laid out, agendas are deployed...then the characters are let loose.

I always try to ensure that in the background, there are events constantly underway. Stories that arc through the exploration in those vignette scenes, each momentary glimpse of the larger picture takes the back-story a step closer to resolution (or prolongs the effects, depending on the characters action/inaction).

Allowing the players to make decisions of their own, they can choose to affect the destiny of the world...and if they don't, the intertwined stories will unfold in a way that you've predetermined.

Villains will move toward completion of their grand goals, allies will aim toward thwarting them.

But one of the things many people have troubles with in Sandbox play is the notion that carefully crafted background plot may not be intersected by the exploration of the players. A story might unfold in the southern part of town when the predefined story is meant to occur in the north. The great scenes might revolve around development of character, rather than development of plot.

This is one of the talking points regarding the season finale for season 4 of the new Doctor Who. Heaps of background development, heaps of intersecting storylines...some would say that there is the presence of too many lesser characters...others would say that dormant parts of the mythos should have been left to rest in peace. While the episode had many detractors due to a mish-mash of plots, it had just as many critics praising it for the depth of characterisation and the revelations it brought to the screen.

Not all finales have to be about the conclusion of an epic plot. It's just as valid to wind things up by resolving a piece of character tension for each of the PCs...possibly to help lay out the groundwork for a later campaign, or even just to give a sense of closure to the players.

Well defined characters will always have something lacking about them, an area where they need improvement, a regret that they need to face, or something similar. Perhaps these issues have come up during the course of play, or maybe they were written into the character from the outset.

Either way, when the fire of the campaign has died and many of the players feel it's time to move on, it's probably a good idea to give a countdown. This week we're having the penultimate session, and next week we wind everything up. Consider the characters and the things they've encountered along the way. If you can weave them together in some way, good work. If you can weave them into one of the background stories that was encountered but never resolved, then that's even better.

End it with a bang, end it with a cliffhanger that pulls a new sense of focus to the setting (consider the ending to "lock-stock-and-two-smoking-barrels"), just don't let players get tired of it.

This isn't an easy way out, it takes a bit of work; but it will certainly make the campaign more memorable. If you pull it off right, you can even kill off all the characters and the players will thank you for a great campaign.

V 

Logged

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
NN
Member

Posts: 98


« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2008, 01:23:34 AM »

In an "old-school D&D sandbox" the reward system is telling the players "Get xp and gp. Go clobber the monsters (or the good guys!)". Generally theres a hierachy of monsters and sites, and the "climax" is pasting the nastiest monster.  Id think about rewards and perhaps a different metaphor.
Logged
hoefer
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2008, 05:49:22 AM »

I always try to ensure that in the background, there are events constantly underway. Stories that arc through the exploration in those vignette scenes, each momentary glimpse of the larger picture takes the back-story a step closer to resolution (or prolongs the effects, depending on the characters action/inaction).

This is exactly how I set this thing up.  Lots of sub plots whose basic beat amounted to “Sultan Quisquis is a narcissistic tyrant who runs by an ethical code that is contra to the player’s mores and culture.”  There were at least 4 sub plots going, each of which were delved into by the players, but they never wanted to push any of them to the point of making them “boil over.”  A for instance is the “damsels in distress” sub plot where the players learn of the Sultans harem of captive women (most of which were “paid to him” by other rulers for his help/intercession).  They go through this whole sequence where they are awaken in the middle of the night to find a shadowy form being chase through the palace gardens by the sultan’s elite men.  They go to investigate learning the form is a woman (the first one they had ran into during their month on the palace).  She explains that she was traded to the sultan by her father for help rescuing him from a Siberian prison (she’s Russian).  They learn from her that part of the “off limits” area in the palace is a tower containing the captive women.  She begs for their help in escaping but a new thrush of elite guards intervenes and takes her away from the players.  The Sultan summons them to his court the next day and explains to them how the woman is his rightful property and that the women must be locked up for their own safety (that the lesser guards would do unsavory things to them should they find out about them/be given access to them).  With this the players were willing to “leave it alone until later.” 

Now, these are good players and they typically play in character, but I almost think that they were having too much fun dabbling in other parts of the game to push a resolution for any one conflict.  Perhaps they were developing their own characters…  I don’t know.  Maybe the issue is that as a GM I wanted to take my characters (NPCs, setting, plots) and develope them beyond what the characters had explored…

Allowing the players to make decisions of their own, they can choose to affect the destiny of the world...and if they don't, the intertwined stories will unfold in a way that you've predetermined.

This was the reason I put these background plots in, I guess maybe the game needed one outlying plot that was a “world is at risk –must take action now” sort of pot just to use as a back up

But one of the things many people have troubles with in Sandbox play is the notion that carefully crafted background plot may not be intersected by the exploration of the players. A story might unfold in the southern part of town when the predefined story is meant to occur in the north. The great scenes might revolve around development of character, rather than development of plot.

This was a big factor.  Now I want to market this game (not for sell, but for free on my site as a reason for people to buy the rules, and as a reward for doing so, etc…).  How do you help narrators (through the adventure write up) deal with multiple “plot starters” that can be used/connected in multiple ways to build the game to a satisfying finish.  Or how do you help the narrator to understand that the players just exploring and satisfying their own interests is enough of a culmination for the game.  I thought maybe some kind of storyboard flowchart with “emergency exits” (do this to bring the game to a climax now –i.e. “Have the experiment run amuck and damage the hydrogen-fueled power generator”)

Either way, when the fire of the campaign has died and many of the players feel it's time to move on, it's probably a good idea to give a countdown. This week we're having the penultimate session, and next week we wind everything up. Consider the characters and the things they've encountered along the way. If you can weave them together in some way, good work. If you can weave them into one of the background stories that was encountered but never resolved, then that's even better.

I could have been better with this.  I should have firmly said, “Hey guys there are other places in Century Earth to explore than just Quisquis’s palace.  Let’s make this our final session and I’ll five bonus Plot Points to anyone who ties up any of the lose ends we have floating around.”

End it with a bang, end it with a cliffhanger that pulls a new sense of focus to the setting (consider the ending to "lock-stock-and-two-smoking-barrels"), just don't let players get tired of it.

This I did.  The palace began crumbling apart and the players narrowly escaped leaving off stranded in the middle of the Amazon Plateau (the jungle from Doyle’s Dino-thriller The Lost World).  Now the trick is communicating how to do this to narrators who run this sand box adventure –though you sound like you wouldn’t need any help there are many GMs who would, a non-linear game seems to challenge a lot of them, but it shouldn’t.  Even with me, the game ended and had a climax of sorts, but seemed lacking compared to my more linear-plot games.  This is true of most sand box games I’ve ran.  Is it just the nature of the beast though?

Louis Hoefer
Whole Sum Entertainment
Logged
hoefer
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2008, 05:54:41 AM »

In an "old-school D&D sandbox" the reward system is telling the players "Get xp and gp. Go clobber the monsters (or the good guys!)". Generally theres a hierachy of monsters and sites, and the "climax" is pasting the nastiest monster.  Id think about rewards and perhaps a different metaphor.

I will give you that the old D&D games seemed centric on XP and Gold, but if played under the right Creative Agenda its Sand Box adventures usually climaxed with some out-right siege on a "goblin race" or their master (the nastiest monster).  I've only been in a few hack-n-slash D&D groups and found them to be the exception to the standard for the D&D games I've been it.  Still, your point is taken, that finding the "metaphor" for "rewards" is important if you are going to draw a group through one of these games into a finale.
Logged
hoefer
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2008, 07:46:00 AM »

Well, after toying with it for a while, I think I may write this game up more like a gazetteer then my traditional “Chapter/Scene format” adventures.  I would just insert the subplots in their own section and reference them in the write ups for the personalities of Quisquis’s palace and the map keys.  At the end of the “book” I could then have a section that story boards how the subplots would intersect and a few suggested points of “Climax.”  I still think there’s probably a better layout out there for a sandbox-style game…I just haven’t run into/come up with it. 

I also sill believe that sandbox-style games seem to lack climactic appeal.  Is there anyone out there that can refute this?  Is there a particular sandbox game you’ve played where the end of the sessions felt like a “high note” and wrapped up a lot of the loose ends?  If so, do you attribute this to the skills of the narrator, the movement of the players, or was there something about how the adventure was laid out/prepared that aided in it having this sort of finish (this is my target fellas, how can I, as a writer, produce a sandbox game that is more likely to result in a nice climax for most GMs…)

Louis Hoefer
www.wholesumentertainment.com
Logged
Markus
Member

Posts: 32


« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2008, 09:20:28 AM »

Hi Hoefer, I'm writing this to give you a quick answer to your main question, which is the following:

I also sill believe that sandbox-style games seem to lack climactic appeal.  Is there anyone out there that can refute this?  Is there a particular sandbox game you’ve played where the end of the sessions felt like a “high note” and wrapped up a lot of the loose ends?  If so, do you attribute this to the skills of the narrator, the movement of the players, or was there something about how the adventure was laid out/prepared that aided in it having this sort of finish (this is my target fellas, how can I, as a writer, produce a sandbox game that is more likely to result in a nice climax for most GMs…)

The problem lies here IMHO:

For this discussion the term meant game modules, adventures, story arcs, etc. where the GM was simply given a well described/mapped setting and the players "play" within this setting making of it what they will (like an old school dungeon exploration).

Well, according to my experience, the above elements are indeed not enough to guarantee "climactic appeal". I'd also say that with only the above elements (just a situation basically), I'd struggle to collaborate with my fellow players towards the creation of what I call "a story", as opposed to "a series of events". This is valid, IMHO, regardless of the complexity/detail/coolness of the setting/situation. Reading your posts, I suspect that you link (as I do) "climactic appeal" to the emergence of "story". So the big question is, what are the minimal elements you need to add to those you mentioned above to have "story" instead of an endless (and pointless, for my own personal esthetics) sequence of events? My personal answer is: characters who have conflicts hardwired to them. The resolution of *those* conflicts will provide the climaxes you're searching for, *regardless of the actual emerging 'plot'*.

Nothing terribly new I'm afraid, but it really works for me!

bye

M

P.S: I'm unsure, however, if by "climactic end" you mean a *nearly simultaneous* resolution of all the issues for all characters, in the same session. In this case, I'm not sure about how to help you.
Logged
hoefer
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2008, 12:14:36 PM »

My personal answer is: characters who have conflicts hardwired to them. The resolution of *those* conflicts will provide the climaxes you're searching for, *regardless of the actual emerging 'plot'*.

Your take on this (endless/pointless sequesnce of events) is exactly where I'm coming from.  "Personal, hardwired conflicts" may indeed help.  How would you develop this for a game you were writing that could be played by any group of gamers?  Perhaps the intro to the "module" should include a some kind of plot-card gimmick that tells the players(based maybe on their character's Archetype) what it is they need to accomplish by the final "Chapter" of the adventure...  This seems stilted though.  One option the system offers is that each character has a list of Archetype goals set up by the player and the narrator that must complete to continue advancing "Ranks" in their Archetype.  Maybe there should be some allusion in the "module" to having the narrator rework the goals for the characters going on this adventure to focus on issues that would work towards a climax.  This might be a valueable part to setting up a sandbox adventure that ends climatically.

P.S: I'm unsure, however, if by "climactic end" you mean a *nearly simultaneous* resolution of all the issues for all characters, in the same session. In this case, I'm not sure about how to help you.

That is the problem.  This game really played out like 20,000 leagues (as it was supposed to) -up to the end where it sort of fell flat.  If I were writing a novel, I could control the character's actions to bring it to a head all at once.  In a "sandbox" RPG this doesn't work so well.
Logged
E
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2008, 05:46:22 PM »

It feel like that a sandbox and a scripted finale are kind of opposed design goals. Since the players play in the sandbox, maybe they should have the tools to trigger the big finale. If I was a player in a sandbox game I would want the big finale to be directly about the events I have triggered or influenced as a character.

I must say that I have never played in a sandbox game that offered me something different from a standard scenario, except a unfocused still scripted story. When I was playing this kind of game I wish I had more tools to experiment and to play with the setting. 

When I was playing Morrowind Elder Scrolls III, I dint really like how the main plot was used, it felt like a different game was placed in the sandbox. I wish I could have used some tool to put the spotlight on different plot elements, characters, locations, etc and see how they interact together and how I could have an impact with those element using my character.

If I have to choose between a good scenario or a sandbox who in the end will have to be played like a standard scripted game, I think I would maybe choose to play the well scripted game. I don't want to play a sandbox game that need to feel like a scripted scenario in the end. But what is a satisfying sandbox game ending? I don't know, I need more gameplay experience with sandbox games to have a good idea of what I would like or want in the end.
Logged
Vulpinoid
Member

Posts: 936

Kitsune Trickster


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2008, 06:30:40 PM »

The worst "sandbox" style games that I've run are during the period when I was the main GM for an ongoing live-action campaign based in a modern gothic world.

The worst issue here was that half of the players expected a good climax to a story, while the other half wanted to keep roleplaying the minutiae of their characters daily lives in this alternate setting. Looking back on it now with a bit more experience and a new lexicon of terms to draw on, I guess it was a conflict of narrativist and simulationist goals.

Those who wanted to tell a good story resented the fact that those who wanted to keep their characters were always thwarting any storylines that evolved the world toward a climax.

Those who wanted to get into the psychological depths of their character resented the fact that there were other players pushing the dynamics of the world before they had fully explored their characters responses to this part of it.

In the end, we started developing a dual play concept, where players could exist in their normal lives and role-play the aspects of their day-to-day lives with bizarre powers and weaknesses. But all the while, hints were dropped about things that lay in the shadows. Players who picked up on these hints, and who actively made decisions regarding the backstory, would be offered the chance to become lured into sinister plots and more dramatic moments.

In this way, the players were offered the decision whether to continue the sandbox exploration, or whether to step up to the narrative aspects. Players were also encouraged to develop their own hidden agendas which could sweep other players up into narrative arcs of their own.

Based on my experiences, I'd have to agree with Evlyn here. The two goals can seem opposed. One style seems to be based on the narrative control of the GM, the other style seems to be based on the exploratory drive of the players. Earlier comments I made about players intersecting the backstory developed by the GM are still valid in this context. I guess it all depends how open the players and GM are to creative freedom.

If the GM is too focused on getting their story across, then sandbox play just isn't really an option. It may be called sandbox play, but it really just a loose form of narrative that gradually constricts the players into a pre-meditated story.

If the players are too focused on exploring the world and ignoring any hints, then the GM is just going to get frustrated that his concepts are being ignored.

Neither of these are conducive to enjoyable sessions.

This all links back into social contracts; written, verbal, or even instinctive. If the collective is interested in telling stories with a climax, then the basis of the game can come from a sandbox style where pieces are gathered through exploration of the world. There is no problem with that concept, as long as everyone is aware that this is how the sessions of play will proceed. It exists somewhere between the two extremes of linear narrative and open exploration, but it's a happy medium where I've found quite a few enjoyable moments and sessions.

Of course, the biggest problem is getting the collective to agree on anything. That's where the ongoing live campaigns with 40+ players had their biggest issues...

V
Logged

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
opsneakie
Member

Posts: 93


« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2008, 02:05:55 AM »

Well, sandboxing can be a fun time, but it does usually prevent anything from going the DM's way. If you have a big final fight planned out, the players might just skip out on it to beat up some villagers, and there's nothing you can do about it. However, I think you can hit a happy medium between scripting and sandboxy.

In advance: ok, ok, I know I seem to be the only one who does this, but I think it leads to really fun and engaging game experiences, both for the players and the DM/ST/GM/whatever

So, I like to get my plot to run, but I've long since gotten used to the idea that nothing will go quite the way I imagine it. Instead of trying to go fully sandbox or railroad the players onto my plot, my reaction to this was to stop prepping games. I ran a short D&D freeform where everyone was a member of one of a group of warring orc tribes, which got me used to generating content on the spot. This is where I think the games I run get to be a lot of fun. I throw a couple plot hooks here and there, and see which ones the players bite. Then we follow that one, and I just drop hints here and there, and they do the rest for me. No one feels like they're railroaded, and they really aren't because I don't prep much more than thinking of a couple NPCs that the players might encounter or a couple places they might visit. While I'm running whatever encounter they're in I'm thinking an encounter ahead. It keeps me really focused on the game, and it seems to suck the players in because the world seems to live a little more if there's always content wherever they go. It takes a detailed setting to do, but I've detailed out the setting for my current sci-fi game well enough to keep making stuff up as we play, and let the players decide how the game flows.

For example, the game I'm running right now, I dropped some hooks about an icky region of space, and that a character's missing son might be out there. They follow this hook, and end up exploring all over the place. When the players arrived in Dead Space, all I knew or had prepared was that there was a group called the Brotherhood that helps protect the people stranded out there. The organization got much more fleshed out and the players had a great time talking to all these NPCs I was pulling out of the air. I'm focused on getting my story (about alien stuff in Dead Space) across, but the players are getting there in their own time and on their own path, so it feels very sandboxy, but really does (eventually at least) follow a plot line I had planned in the beginning. Apparently I'm also now able to make up NPCs and encounters that seem as if they were planned.

I've found that instead of trying to get players to do what you want, they are surprisingly susceptible to simple splot hooks, and letting the players guide the story around is really a fun way to play. If you're having trouble with sandbox, try to kind of 1/2 sandbox it. I'd say run a game completely sandbox for a little bit so you get very used to building cities, NPCs, and encounters on the fly, and then give it a whirl. I think it's really a great way to do things. Obviously what works for me might not work for everyone, but eh, it's a thought.

Hope that helps,

Sneakie
Logged

- "aww, I wanted to explode..."
hoefer
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2008, 01:01:56 PM »

Sneakie,

I must say you sound like somewhat of a mutant when it comes to GMing.  Most GMs I've played under who started a game with just vague plot threads and a few NPCs do a pitiful job of running anything that has any semblance to a story.  This is largely because it is so hard for many to adjust to player actions and realize how a plot can be foreshadowed and developed in a given impromptu scene.  Kudos to you for being one fo teh few that can do this.

I think my vision of layout would suit the style you play to though.  It will give details of important places and people as well as some plot hooks, then have a story-board section where GMs who aren't as apt to think on the fly can follow the plots/characters' actions on a flow chart and be given suggestions on how to pull a climax from them...  My biggest fear is disappointing the GMs that would download this thing.  As a GM I would be disappointed if I got what I thought was a ready-to-go adventure and it wound up being just some "adventure notes" that I still had to do a ton of planning and on-the-fly thinking to make work.  Just my opinion, and I know this really contradicts the "game as a living developing thing between players" mantra that many of this sites regulars espouse (note, I am not disagreeing with this sentiment, I prefer a more plot-driven, cinematic game).

Louis Hoefer
www.wholesumentertainment.com
Logged
Vulpinoid
Member

Posts: 936

Kitsune Trickster


WWW
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2008, 07:04:33 PM »

If you want to apply foreshadowing into sandboxy adventures, there's a few simple tools.

1. A notebook.

If you quickly write some notes about events that come into play through player suggestions, these can often be linked together later.

2. Story Influencing Currency.

Allow the players to introduce a story element through a form of finite currency that exists outside the scope of the characters. Let players introduce NPCs that might be useful, then make note of these NPCs, it might costs 2 points of currency to introduce such a character the first time, but only one point for another player to introduce that same NPC later in the campaign. Players can build up these NPCs with every appearance scene, and in this way the more commonly faced NPCs really develop a life of their own. The same could work for place visited, the more currency a player spends on the place, the more descriptive they can be about it, and the more impact it may have toward a climax.

This ends up taking even more narrative control out of the GM's hands, but that's one of the aspects of Sandbox play isn't it?

V
Logged

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
opsneakie
Member

Posts: 93


« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2008, 04:02:54 AM »

Louis,

I must admit I am a bit of  GM mutant. I don't know quite how I do it, but I certainly don't do any prep except maybe a little day-of thinking along the lines of "this could be fun..."

I think the trick is to listen to your players and get a good feel for both the setting and the characters, then drop plot hooks you know they will like. I've noticed my games getting more cinematic as time goes on as well.  Now that I know how to tug the players a bit, I can brainstorm quickly and make an encounter very cinematic.

I am, however, a big subscriber to the "game is a living developing thing" idea though. This game is already very different than I anticipated, and we're kind of about to go off on an alien religion tangent. You do sacrifice some control over the plot, but I wouldn't say the game is any less plot-driven. It's just that the players are deciding a chunk of the plot instead of you, and you have to take that and run with it. Although this game, I really feel like I'm running six solo adventures every time because of all the sub-plots.

Anyways, long post short, I think the trick is in detailed characters + detailed setting + knowing how to tug on those characters --> perfect game. I'm still working on making it all come together, but it's been getting closer and closer.


- John
Logged

- "aww, I wanted to explode..."
Susan Calvin
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2008, 08:39:50 AM »

Most of what I've written is for conventions, so I usually have to set a very definite timespan in a limited environment, even if I like open-ended scenarios. The world doesn't stop, and eventually some kind of climax will develop. I like to pre-plan as much as I can, so there is usually half a dozen alternate endings depending on what they do. And when someone inevitable does something else, there must be leeway for improvisation. A typical scenario has a rough, detailed timetable for the groups, individuals and events in the world. If the Danish secret agent has been discovered (which is quite unlikely because he doesn't take any action before the last half hour), all events involving him are altered.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!