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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Completionist players in a sandbox

    My latest sandbox campaign has come to an end a while ago, taking players from level 1 to the heady heights of level 17 in 3.5. I'm doing some thinking and reviewing.
    One thing I noticed was that many or even most mission callers were very completionist in their approach to the game. This lead to the occasional rather boring hour, when characters five levels or more above the content waded through just to get it done.
    My next sandbox I intend to make E6, which should diminish the problem somewhat, but I'd like to hear players and GMs out there if they have any thoughts on this? Do you as players feel a need to stomp out every last goblin lair? Do you as GMs give players any meta-warning to keep them from doing this? Any other thoughts or experiences to share?
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    Avoid world stasis. That 3rd level goblin den? If they get around to it at level 6 have it grown to a full war fort. Or have the goblins run off and abandon it when they start looking for it when they are overleved. Appropriate reactions from creatures + Dynamic world should prevent this problem.
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    Nothing wrong with having goals, and if that goal is genocide . . .?
    Eh, it's a living.
    Of course, it should also be explained. If that goblin lair they stomped out comes back, even better, maybe the goblins got a loan of resources from a giant tribe and now they have to steal from villagers even more to pay off that debt. Or something bigger, meaner moved into those caves.
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    There comes a point, in some combats, where I just hand wave the result.
    If the result of the combat is a forgone conclusion, such as the cases you describe, then it is fairly pointless running through the numbers.

    Ed: one thing you can do, sometimes, is to have reinforcements turn up. Now another 400 CR 1/2 goblins is not going to cut it, but a tribe of Hill Giants, say, just might. Just have the sound of the fighting attract a 'random' encounter.
    Last edited by nedz; 2012-11-11 at 11:46 AM.
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    @ jindra34: Yeah, and I do try to avoid stasis. On the other hand, it loses the sandboxy feeling if everything is just as pwerful as the PCs at all times. There should be some variation, so the players can decide to try something hard for great reward, or they can go stomp some goblins if they feel like squashing easy prey for mostly humorous reward.

    @ Ravens_cry: True on the goals thing. I'm just worried whether my players fear they'll miss out on something important if they don't go into every nook and cranny. If they feel obligated to go everywhere, there's no real choice - and giving them meaningful choices to make was the idea in making a sandbox.

    @ nedz: Good thinking. We did get to a point where certain random encounters in the lower CR zones were announced, and we looked at the sorcerer and I asked him if he'd spend a fireball on it. No rolls needed, just murder them and get on with it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Col. Sherman T. Potter
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    Well, one way to do it subtly, would be to have your world spanning quest givers mention a few threats they could go after in such a way that you can tell it will get worse the longer they put off taking care of it. A new necromancer that is rapidly moving up in the ranks of what he can summon and control for example. Find a way to phrase it so, if they think about it, they know eventually they will be facing some sort of lich with a massive army of the most powerful undead abominations that have taken over half of the world by this point, leading to a massive survival horror campaign as they try to clear out the towns and surrounding areas before moving on. Always wondering if the undead will just move right back into the town behind them, cutting off their retreat. They will realize the sooner they go after it, the weaker he will be, and conversely, the longer they take, the harder things will get.

    You could, if you tried hard enough, do something similar for most of your threats. Instead of just a random band of goblins attacking travelers, leave signs of them trying to unite tribes, form allies with more powerful groups like giants or trolls, or ogres, I dunno, whatever, and generally getting more dangerous the longer they are left alone. This justifies things getter harder as time goes on, while at the same time also allowing you to adjust the encounters as the group levels up without so much of a hand wave as just saying, "Ok, those goblins are now vampire goblin demiliches and also have elder black dragon pets." Just to make it tougher for them.

    Have the group get reports from quest givers, merchants, and other sorts for info on how the various world threats and such are progressing. They can overhear scared villager babble for gossip and such as well. They return to Townville after wiping out the nascent goblin/giant army, only to hear that another three towns have been overrun by the undead and the reports of what they are facing get scarier. You know, at first they hear about ghouls and basic skeletons, then later they hear rumors of wights, ghasts and shadows, then they hear about mummies vampire spawns and wraiths, etc etc etc.
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    @ Ravens_cry: True on the goals thing. I'm just worried whether my players fear they'll miss out on something important if they don't go into every nook and cranny. If they feel obligated to go everywhere, there's no real choice - and giving them meaningful choices to make was the idea in making a sandbox.
    In that case, I second the thought to be sure to explain to them before hand. Players used to more plot based games can sometimes find a more open world disconcerting. Still, if that's what they really want to do, that's their choice, no?
    I also like the idea of an active world.
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    Assuming you're playing D&D 3.5, remember that low-level enemies can stay effective as enemies pretty deep into the game with a little build know-how.

    Those CR 1/2 Goblins aren't much of a threat past 3rd level, unless you take 50 and either dump a Mob template (Small-Large creature Swarm, DMG II) on them or use the Heroes of Battle Volley Fire rules to let them throw down walls of fire with their shortbows.

    Hobgoblin Fighter 3's with the Non-Elite Array and NPC WBL can still be pretty brutal with feats which put emphasis on teamwork. The Shield Wall / Phalanx Fighting / Block Arrow feats, when combined, give an unreasonably strong Testudo formation. Using the PHB II Teamwork Benefit Volley Fire (different one than before), Dragonfire Inspiration and composite Longbows mean squads of 8 archers and a Bard can hit like snipers with anti-materiel rifles. Weapons with the Brace ability and a few feats like Hold the Line or Stand Still are the bane of Uberchargers even when held by low-level mooks. Low level spells like Grease and Web remain effective for a long time.

    I've put the fear of Asmodeus into decently optimized level 14 PCs with nothing over level 6, just using simple infantry tactics and a little foresight with timed explosives (Blast Discs FTW). Feel free to add a mid-high level BBEG coordinating for flavor.
    Last edited by Water_Bear; 2012-11-11 at 12:57 PM.

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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    @ Traab: Nifty thought. :) Knowing my players though, they'd head off to fight that foe as soon as I spent more than ten seconds talking about it. I've had one character out of about 30 in the campaign, a druid, that preferred not to go on a mission in a magical ruin, because it wasn't of any interest to her.
    My players bite at any hook they can find, bless them.

    @ Ravens_cry: Very true.

    @ Water-Bear: Sure, I can up the challenge arbitrarily to account for their newfound strength, but as I mentioned, I really ought not to. It's supposed to feel more organic than that, a world that's going about it's own business until the PCs interfere.

    But I may just worry too much over too little. There's been some good thoughts so far, though. :)
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    As a player, I feel completionist when my PC isn't on time constraints. When there's no pressure to move on, I want to explore everything. Part of it out of politeness to the GM (he made this whole dungeon, I might as well check it out), part of it knowing I probably won't be able to explore it again, part of it feeling there might be some goodies lying around in that last room.

    It's kind of like in video games. There are usually incentives to such exploration, like loot, scenery, and more enemies to farm xp from. I also don't want to be tormented by the thought "Well, what was behind door #3?"
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    @ Slipperychicken: I think that's how most of my players feel, too. Two of them I play Diablo with, and they insist on going everywhere and doing everything. I've tried telling them that we plow through monsters, we ought to move ahead and get to where some better lewts drop and the monsters give som real XP, but that's completely alien to their mindset.
    I guess I ought to just embrace it in my players. They'll go everywhere they can. Fine, I guess I can live with that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    @ Traab: Nifty thought. :) Knowing my players though, they'd head off to fight that foe as soon as I spent more than ten seconds talking about it. I've had one character out of about 30 in the campaign, a druid, that preferred not to go on a mission in a magical ruin, because it wasn't of any interest to her.
    My players bite at any hook they can find, bless them.

    @ Ravens_cry: Very true.

    @ Water-Bear: Sure, I can up the challenge arbitrarily to account for their newfound strength, but as I mentioned, I really ought not to. It's supposed to feel more organic than that, a world that's going about it's own business until the PCs interfere.

    But I may just worry too much over too little. There's been some good thoughts so far, though. :)
    True, but the real point is, there are SEVERAL of these slowly growing threats all going on at once. So no matter which they pick, the others are getting worse. So while they are fighting the necro before he gets really strong, that goblin problem is getting worse. Going by the assumption that someone is controlling/uniting them, as time goes on, he is bringing in other enemy tribes of humanoids, and getting stronger himself. Add in a couple of other growing threats, maybe even throw in a sneak attack on your sandbox main quest hub area while they were busy in whatever dungeon they were clearing out. Basically, whatever the last threat on the list was, has finally gotten strong enough to make a direct bid for total control of the game world, and its now up to your party to go on an epic quest to free the town, clear the countryside, then march on the enemy stronghold. Fighting minibosses, and interesting high end creatures the entire time.
    "Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum Europae vincendarum"
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    Avoiding stasis doesn't mean everything levels up with you, but the world changes all the time.

    That goblin den pestering the village could be
    1) Destroyed by someone else.
    2) Done with the place after the peasants fled somewhere nicer.
    3) Somewhat grown as guys from #1 kept failing.
    4) The same as always.

    #1 is the boring end, but a common one once people decide to take action (which they did summoning your players, and again since the players didn't come)
    #2 is common as well, since people react different to being fed up.
    #3 is a middle ground, and the evolution should be coherent. Maybe the den is now three. The goblins got a couple levels under their belts (just a couple, really), upgraded from warriors to fighters if things really evolved. More elaborate fortifications, traps and raiding methods.
    #4 happens too, more common to situations where all intelligences involved are similar (wildlife on timespans under thousands of years is here, as well as enmity between States without power to stomp each other and its neighbors)

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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    Quote Originally Posted by jindra34 View Post
    Avoid world stasis. That 3rd level goblin den? If they get around to it at level 6 have it grown to a full war fort. Or have the goblins run off and abandon it when they start looking for it when they are overleved. Appropriate reactions from creatures + Dynamic world should prevent this problem.
    To add to this... occasionally, someone else does it for you.

    If you ignore the goblin den to do something else (you are, after all, only mortal), then some other group of punk kids with swords and swagger are going to go do it. Or a retired adventurer well take his friends and take care of the problem. Or maybe the local lord will mobilize the militia against them. This is especially true of low-level threats.... things that you only need a sword and a disregard for your personal safety to take care of. It's unlikely anyone is going to do anything about the Evil Count and his Army of Undead... but a group of 20 goblins, holed up in a cave?

    Mix it up. Sometimes, they'll get into town, and the tavern'll be toasting the local heroes who trashed the goblins at the Bitter Cave. Other times, everyone will be worried because the hobgoblins sent back a ransom note for Billy Ray, with one of Billy Ray's fingers attached. Or because Skeeter, Cooter, and Billy Bob haven't come back from the Cave of Horrendous Doom.

    Or, occasionally, they come back to find a couple buildings burned down, a number of people dead, and everyone accusing them of "doing nothing about the orc problem".

    FWIW, in a sandbox game, I try to keep in mind what the opposition is doing. "If you don't take care of the Drow, they're going to have X accomplished by first frost." I don't tell this to the players... but I keep it in mind.
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2012-11-12 at 01:24 PM.
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    If they want to attack a goblin den that's way below their level, you should let them. You're not forcing them. If I were playing a character in a sandbox campaign, I'd do stuff like that.

    However, not every goblin den should have just a bunch of low level goblins.
    Some might have wererat rogues. Some might have advanced, templated wargs. Some might have barghests. One of them might be a doppleganger, or polymorphed mind flayer looking for slaves. Some might be under the protection of a more powerful creature that wants those goblins alive (like a giant[s] or dragon that uses them as slaves or guards). Maybe human-hunting goblin rangers with human bane weapons go after the pc's if they make a habit of it.

    If the players keep going after the little threats, that just gives the bigger [read: real] threats more time and opportunity.

    This isn't punishing the players, it's just "real life". Delta Force operatives don't go after gas station robbers.
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    @ Traab: Duly noted. Thanks!

    @ Andreaz: Again, chafing a little against things being arbitrarily more dangerous because the heroes happen to be higher level, but worth keeping in mind.

    @ Mark Hall: A little of the two above answers. ;) Thanks.

    @ Seharvepernfan: Yeah, I'm coming to the conclusion that if they want to do it, it's not really my business to discourage it. There are several options other than just advancing through the tedium that sometimes occurred.
    Last edited by hymer; 2012-11-12 at 06:23 PM.
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    How would they react if you just had the residual mooks surrender ?
    Or run away ?
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    I guess it depends on the mooks. There was a goblin outpost which had negotiated with some magicians to get some elementals to help defend them (in other words, I advanced the adventure site based on what was going on in the world). The PCs killed the elementals and the occasional goblin that got in the way or tried to shoot at them. Afterwards, I just handwaved it. I asked them how many hours they wanted to spend hunting goblins in the wilderness, and then told them they killed this many and everyone else ran away. They looted and proceeded to the cave under the goblin temple.

    This is a little harder to do with dungeons, though, except for going "You kill five goblins, one of them has a red tattoo on his nose," (to get them to check him for handouts) and just skip the battle. It's just not very exciting either way, the curbstomp or the handwave.

    So, I could have the tattooed goblin have 8 levels in something and have him be at least a surprise. But this raises all sorts of questions. The players are going to wonder at this extremely powerful goblin, that could have done real damage if he had met a group of their allies on a routine patrol. And I don't want to spend a lot of time working out in-game answers to what is basically a metagame issue.

    Edit: To answer your question: A lot of the time it'd work. Sometimes they'd prefer to go over those mooks with a finetoothed comb and fully appreciate every overkill, making contests over who can kill the most goblins with a magic missile, and so on. Slightly tricky to know when they'd like one or the other (they might not even know for sure themselves 'till they're there).
    Either way, curbstomps are more often boring than not, and handwaves are always boring, though they're at least over quick.
    Last edited by hymer; 2012-11-12 at 06:54 PM.
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    Well if they are having fun, that's great. But it sounds like your not having quite so much fun, which is not great. The DM needs to have fun also, or the game will get stale.

    You probably need to move on from goblins, but they don't have to be quite so weak. Goblins can have class levels too; I find that the best mooks are about 2 levels below the PCs. If the PCs are genocideing the goblins, then they could call in some goblin hunters. Give them a couple of levels of Ranger/Rogue/Scout/Barbarian etc. and have them ambush/hunt down the party. Hit and run tactics from some woods should work. Add in an Adept and a Bard for variety and they might respect gobbos a bit more.
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    It may be fun for the players to stomp all over something that was formerly difficult but now is a breeze. Definitely keep some of these in the world as they level up, as they might choose to attack them for that reason alone.

    Gauging the threat levels of encounters allows decent opportunity for RP injection. As PCs advance, their fame in the world grows, but also their perceived responsibilities grow as well. When they are level 2, the townsfolk are grateful for their help against goblins, but the townsfolk are perplexed when level 17 demigods show up to slay the goblins - in the same way they'd be perplexed if the King showed up to mop their floor. Hell, the townsfolk probably are afraid to speak to the level 17 demigods, let alone bring up that they have a goblin problem. If the demigods do choose to attack the goblins, the goblins have also heard of them, and they flee the region at the mere hint of the PCs' coming. Meanwhile the Emperor grows annoyed that his level 17 allies are killing goblins while the Lich Lord plots to overthrow him.

    At high levels the PCs might be encouraged to network and develop contacts in the world such that killing the goblins can be outsourced to their followers. Perhaps at a certain point they become the lord of an area, or they have the ear of a lord of an area, and they send their police force to dispatch the goblins rather than going in person. Or maybe they have their own branch of a religion and they send their zealots. Or they have their own undead army and they send some skellingtons. Or whatever. They can start playing the grand chess game rather than being a pawn all the time. That way these low level threats remain fresh, in the context of pacifying whole regions.

    Another thought: intelligent monsters only choose to fight when they think they can win. As the PCs grow in power and fame, the same monsters begin to choose to run away, or if escape is impossible, to beg for their lives in exchange for something. Combat should become less frequent in low level encounters if the monsters are realistically intelligent, and these encounters become more about surrender negotiation and/or intimidation.
    Last edited by snikrept; 2012-11-13 at 12:35 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    @ Andreaz: Again, chafing a little against things being arbitrarily more dangerous because the heroes happen to be higher level, but worth keeping in mind.
    The important thing to notice here is that these enemies are not more dangerous "because the heroes are higher leveled". They are more dangerous because "they had time to grow while the heroes that could have solved the problem were away".

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    So, what about XP? And treasure? I mean, if they're going after all these lowly goblins, they should be receiving not many of either, right? I am leery of any attempts to force the characters into doing something they don't want to do. Perhaps the best thing would be for you to sit down with the players and have a little chat. "Hey guys, I don't know if you are having fun wiping out goblin tribe after goblin tribe, but I'm ready for something new."
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    Quote Originally Posted by thirdkingdom View Post
    So, what about XP? And treasure? I mean, if they're going after all these lowly goblins, they should be receiving not many of either, right? I am leery of any attempts to force the characters into doing something they don't want to do. Perhaps the best thing would be for you to sit down with the players and have a little chat. "Hey guys, I don't know if you are having fun wiping out goblin tribe after goblin tribe, but I'm ready for something new."
    You are correct. I did not see, however, any implication in the text that the players were forced to do these things. It's just good sense that they should expect treasure coherent to the place they plunder.
    Namely, goblins would have mostly things like steel tools and food.

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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    @ nedz: Well, I guess I can suck it up. It's not really a major or frequent issue, just one I'd like to kick around and see what other people thought. You've definitely helped there.

    @ snikrept: There's certainly something to be said for that. I just need to balance it with the players' legitimate wish to have the option of an easy mission.

    @ Andreaz: I may be too pedantic, but it seems to me that you're giving a great in-game explanation for what is essentially a metagame issue. :) But I guess you can say that about a lot of things, really.

    @ thirdkingdom: In the words of Hawkeye: "The direct approach, what a sneaky trick!"
    There were times when they gained little or no XP (though I gave out a bit of XP for exploration, so there was usually that). Treasure was never a prime motivator for killing goblins, though. :)
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    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    @ Andreaz: I may be too pedantic, but it seems to me that you're giving a great in-game explanation for what is essentially a metagame issue. :) But I guess you can say that about a lot of things, really.
    It's just good sense: Time passes. Things change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    On the other hand, it loses the sandboxy feeling if everything is just as pwerful as the PCs at all times. There should be some variation, so the players can decide to try something hard for great reward, or they can go stomp some goblins if they feel like squashing easy prey for mostly humorous reward.
    Why do you think sandbox= weak world? You can have a sandbox world where everyone is a dragon lord gestalt barbarian 20/sorcerer 20. And, in general, most of the world should be more powerful then the PCs. There is always a bigger fish....

    It also works if you go for more of a high fantasy and high magic level game. If each goblin barbarian 3 has six potions of invisibility and 12 arrows of flaming and such, then suddenly they are much more of a threat then a mook goblin with a club. Players can't keep their defenses up all the time, and even if they did, you can just switch attacks.

    And at higher levels, more attackers are better. An archmage with stoneskin can just wade into battle with a single monster sure.....but make that 25 archer foes and he will loose his stoneskin right quick. The same way a fighter type can only hit a couple targets. He can do 100 damage and kill a foe who only had 50 hit points, but that does nothing to stop the rest of the foes attacking him.


    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    True on the goals thing. I'm just worried whether my players fear they'll miss out on something important if they don't go into every nook and cranny. If they feel obligated to go everywhere, there's no real choice - and giving them meaningful choices to make was the idea in making a sandbox.
    My fendish trick: Make everything important and have the players want to go there...

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    Why do you think I believe that sandbox = weak world?
    It goes both ways, of course. It would be just as weird if the Evil Overlord of All Evil Ever was level 3, because the players went for him as their first thing.

    The sandbox world would ideally be fully fleshed out before the first session, with things to do for characters of all levels. That's not practical for many reasons, but it's the ideal.

    If everything is equally important (or equally unimportant), the choice is moot. You might as well roll dice to determine where to go. Unimportant is actually better then, since it means the players can decide to skip things they don't think they would enjoy in favour of things they would.
    Quote Originally Posted by Col. Sherman T. Potter
    The itch is mightier than the stench.

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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    I'm gearing up to run a sandbox for a friend of mine. She's going to start at level 1, with no party members. The setting is a rural farms/woods region in-between a large forest, a human knights'n'lords kingdom, and a lake. There is a hobgoblin realm not-quite on the othe side the lake. The main BBEG is going to be slenderman (a lesser altered nightwalker, CR 10-12ish). However, at first she won't even know about it - it's something like a mini-elder evil that comes around ever few generations.

    There is also going to be a powerful witch (or covey of witches) who are secondary BBEG(s), and are somehow connected to the Slenderman. She will know of them before she knows of the slenderman, and she might think its' work is their work.

    There is also going to be a cult (or several cults) that are going to be connected to the witches/slenderman - making them something of an "enemy organization" - but only if she attracts their attention or is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    In the big forest, there is a no-man's land region that is considered haunted/evil/possessed - and it is. As my friend progresses, it will look more and more likely that this region has a lot to do with the slenderman/witchs/cult, so she'll probably go there to investigate, if nothing else. This is the most dangerous region in the entire sandbox. It has plant monsters (many are templated) - some are unique to this region, it is supernatural in that it's kinda not in this world (it's easy to get lost, the woods work against you, etc.), it *is* haunted, but the ghosts/undead are evil tree spirits (not people spirits), and it has it's own little BBEG (a powerful intellient outsider plant monster) that is actually higher CR than the slenderman, but is not the cause of the regions problems (and doesn't ever leave this region - it is a threat that needs to be dealt with eventually, but it's not the focus of the campaign). If she goes against that thing, she will most likely lose, and the slenderman/witches/cult will win in her absence. It will likely be her next big goal if she completes this campaign.
    -Slenderman *does* have something to do with this region, but not in the way that it seems to.- ...something of a red herring.

    In addition to these "main" problems, the region is going to have the usual problems as well - bandits, werewolves, goblins, human/elf tensions, independent-farmer/knight-lord tensions, minor common undead (ghosts, ghouls, petty necromancers), hobgoblin slavers/invaders, gnoll raiders from farther west, common regional monsters & animals (wolves, bears, mountain lions, ankegs, bulletes, griffons, etc.), resident fey creatures, environmental problems (storms, floods, blizzards, drought, blights, plague, etc.), the occasional rare & powerful monster who may or may not be a threat to the region (dragons being the best example), other adventurers (either resident, passing through, or purposeful enemies from elsewhere), and the occasional odd problem (the mill catches fire, the dam breaks, nearby kingdom gets caught up in a war which disrupts trade, etc.).

    There are also going to be local legends and mysteries that don't ever need to be looked into, but are there nevertheless and could potentially be relevant to the campaign goal. Also, "dungeons" exist in the sandbox, even if most of them aren't related to the campaign goal.

    She can get (or involuntarily attract) "party members" - could be a farmer that wants to check out a problem (N commoner 2 - who can't fight worth a damn and is afraid of most things), could be people with skills and abilties who can be persuaded to join her, could be friends of hers, could be someone with mutual enemies to form a temporary alliance with - all of whom may be more or less temporary. Some might even be enemies in disguise.

    So, my sandbox has "boundaries" (the knight-lord kingdom to the east, the forest to the north [the mountains in it being the "hard" boundary], the hobgoblin realm, and the big lake), a history (the legends, dungeons), a local population/events/locations that exists regardless of the player or the BBEG(s) - but could potentially matter or be involved depending on how things go. There is even a more-dangerous but less pressing threat that the player could get mixed up in, but probably shouldn't - yet.

    Regardless of whether or not the player succeeds or fails, the world and even the nearby regions will likely not be too affected (the campaign is designed to end at around 10th level, so it's not going to be world-affecting) - the hobgoblin and knight-lord realms will still be there, the big forest (elves) and mountain range (dwarves) will still be there, other more-powerful people will still be there (but have problems and concerns of their own), but the people and places the characters knows and loves might be killed/destroyed/scarred-beyond-recognition and forever altered.

    I will start the campaign with her having no real direction (maybe a knowledge check result will point her towards one thing or another) - her goals will be her own. She has her sandbox to play in, but there is a time limit of sorts - the BBEG(s) are active; they have goals and are pursuing them whether or not she gets involved, but is she goes long enough without getting involved, she will eventually be affected by them one way or another depending on how things go. The more she gets involved and succeeds against them, the longer its going to take them to "win", but also the more they are going to come after her.

    There will be progressively larger/obvious hints that point to the BBEG(s), but can be unnoticed/ignored/momentarily pushed aside as long as the player wants (or lasts). She *could* leave the sandbox, but slenderman being slenderman, that's not going to solve her problems

    ----

    My point being, the player can go straight for the BBEG(s) as soon as she catches wind of them, or she can wander off and get lost in the sandbox, but unlike skyrim, "dragons" show up eventually (and if not dealt with in time, "Alduin" will "eat the world").

    If she's level 9 and wants to raid a lair of 50 1st-3rd level goblins, she can, but the world turns while she is doing so.

    Did this help you out?
    Last edited by Seharvepernfan; 2012-11-13 at 03:03 PM.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    You could even have weird stuff happen. The goblins and the town have now cut a deal, and the goblins get a yearly payment of cheese/none-perishable foodstuffs in return for protecting the town from predators. The goblins have leveled repeatedly as a result of hunting dire bears/etc. and are now the mostly beneficial masters of the valley.

    Or they conquered the town, threw out/killed the inhabitants and own the region.


    An example from one of my games; the party had the option of killing a group of were-wolves in the woods or defeat a red dragon. They picked the dragon because it had better loot, and when they got back the were-wolves had created a federation out of the regions lesser clans. Orcs, goblins, ogres, worgs, etc. This federation had begun to conquer walled towns by infiltrating them with lycanthropes, and then opening the gates for the army when it showed up.
    Last edited by Tvtyrant; 2012-11-13 at 03:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Completionist players in a sandbox

    @ Seharvepernfan: Will you be my GM?
    Thanks for typing all that, gives a valuable insight into another way of doing things.
    It's structurally pretty close to what I did last time (haven't played Skyrim, but I think I understand what you mean).
    Though: I didn't want to force them into doing something about any 'dragons' or swallowers of worlds if they preferred something more lighthearted. So the LE elves trying to make their leader into a dragon (making her one of less than a handful of those left, all powerful enough in themselves to be threats to nations - they were doing it to regain their clan's position in the ancient city of the LE elves) and the beholder trying to lift the ancient curse on his kind were left pretty much alone, while the PCs made war on the remnant of a necromancer magocracy; and the area's archaeology was gone into in quite some detail. Plus I don't know how many sub-, side- and bonus plots, of course, as well as otherwise pointless dungeons, like the hill giant cave. Though even that had some pointers to the area's past.
    So the elves didn't like the necromancers any more than the PCs did, and so they agreed on a diplomatic solution, and the beholder, well... We never know what it got up to, other than what its kenku henchmen/slaves were doing. Though the epilogue had one PC gather an unspecified group and taking the beholder down in its magical flying city, which didn't fly, despite the scouts' insistence on that terminology. That was prior to heading off to expose a plot against the amazons, which actually had to do with how the magocracy was destroyed about a century earlier... Wow, it really got complicated in the end. :D

    I'm losing track on what I was trying to say, getting a little nostalgic here. Anyway, thanks again.

    Edit: @ Tvtyrant: I worked in the opposite direction too, e.g. with the LE elves above becoming allies rather than loot piñatas.
    Last edited by hymer; 2012-11-13 at 03:50 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Col. Sherman T. Potter
    The itch is mightier than the stench.

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