A reflection on the ideals of the sandbox gaming style in the context of a multithreaded RPG campaign

Most role-playing rule-sets confuse narrative and strategic differences. In an attempt to make the experience of playing a different "type" of character feel different they introduce a multitude of rules to govern the same actions.

Shot in the dark: has anyone ever attempted to play D&D (or any other game system) via a wiki INSTEAD of play-by-post or play-by-email? I'm not interested in comparing play-by-wiki with real-time digital solutions like Fantasy Grounds or Roll20 - I'm focussed on non-real-time comparisons only. There seems to be a healthy number of pros and cons to play-by-wiki vs. play-by-post, and I'm still compiling all the data, but I've seen very few examples of play-by-wiki in the wild - doesn't seem like a popular approach. Trying to understand why.

In early roleplaying games equipment was king. We deliberated over who could carry the gear we needed. Pots, pans, tents, and bedrolls were packed carefully onto our character sheets. Iron rations were bought and consumed -- suppplemented with fresh food when the prospect arose. Our dreams weren't preoccupied with magic items -- a suit of plate armor was a treasure worth countless toil and adventure. Like kids at the pet store we did as much time shopping in windows as we spent acquiring goods. We knew the local blacksmith by name.

The term "plot hook" can actually be more diminishing to your campaign than supportive. It immediately and clearly defines a few points at which the PCs can engage with the setting and the loose storyline you have in mind for the campaign. It limits the points of engagement to those few you planned out and sets you up to have to "wing it" far more than you have to if you're the type to give the PCs the freedom to go "off the map" as it were. Stop baiting plot hooks and instead just cast a net.

In a world of short attention spans and the media that caters to them it can be challenging for a gamemaster to establish long term buy in from their players. It's easy to blame this on the players but as in all things the problem, and therefore the solution, often lies closer to home than many are willing to admit. Using the simple writing techniques of series writers from the world of fiction and understanding a bit about the psychology of your players (and yourself) you can set yourself up from the start to establish a campaign with longevity.

Role-playing games use dice to resolve events and simulate results that are out of the control of the intentions of the character. When a character wants to say something, they can; when they want to pick up a stone and hurl it, they can. What they cannot control is whether the stone hits what they want -- or whether the words have the impact that they want. It the RPG world that is resolved by the dice.

Unless you have lived in a cave somewhere for the past couple of years or rabidly avoid the Fantasy genre entirely, you have heard about George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series published by Bantam Books. The novels regularly reside at #1 for Sci Fi/Fantasy when they debuted in the in the early '90's and the more recent books have made the top ten bestselling lists worldwide, despite being rather dark, adult oriented and dangerous to the lives of the main characters within it. Take note, this is not Tolkien or Jordan that we're talking about here.

The Burning Wheel RPG is not another d20 clone. It is a roleplaying game designed to appeal to the narrative gamer who doesn't want to get bogged down in mechanics. While the game shows a lot of promise, I remain unconvinced that it will work at the game table. The elements of shared storytelling are broken by a number of mechanics that seem added to give the player the extra mechanisms that they expect in a roleplaying game. Tactical combat, skill advancement, character creation are expectations in a roleplaying game; and Burning Wheel addresses these in detail. But, I find these rules are arbitrarily appended to a core system that was not constructed to bear their weight. As a whole it left me wondering if the original intent was to end the rules at chapter two.

As long as we're all back here together, let's catch up on some of what makes our campaigns so great; those moments that can never be forgotten as long as we game. Recent is what I'm looking for… not pining for the days of our campaigns years ago.

Syndicate content