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    Default Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase when applied to TRPG. Really, the term is pointless. One of the most basic and fundamental things about most TRPG is the Freedom of Choice. Anything can Happen. A DM can do anything they can think of, on a whim. A player can have a character try to do anything they think of, on a whim. In theory, it's total Freedom of Choice.

    So why does everyone somehow think TRPG's have ''No Choices'' ?

    I blame the Role Playing Video Gamers.

    Role Playing Video Games are the worst kind of No Choice Railroad Plot type games. But then they Have to be. A video game is finite. It's made by a couple people, and realistically, they can only program so much into the game. It's simple enough: anything in a video game has to not only be thought of by someone, but it also has to be programed into the game by someone. The player of a video game can only do what is already programed into the game to be done.

    Of course, anyone who has ever played a role playing video game knows this well. A lot of the stuff in any video game is pure background. A tree or even building in the background can only just be walked by, and nothing else. There is no button you can push, nothing you can do at all, to say have your video game character chop down a background tree. If someone has programed into the game a set tree you can chop down, then your video game character can chop that tree down....but only if someone put that into the game. And this is true of other things in the game too. The innkeeper NPC will always say the game think when you click on the 'talk' button. Even if the innkeeper can say say five or ten or even twenty random things...well they can still only say that set number of things...whatever is programed into the game.

    In most role playing video games you have to follow the plot the creators programed into the game: there is nothing else meaningful to do in the game. Anything with any real meaning or substance is programed in as part of the plot, because that is the whole reason the video game even exists. Some video games might have some side things programed in or even just 'busy' things you can do that are not part of the games plot, but still you can only do them if someone has programed them into the game.

    So then all the role playing video gamers sit down and play a Pen and Paper or Table Top RPG, and bring that role playing video game bias with them. Play a couple role playing video games and you will often get bored with the No Choice Railroad Plot. As much fun as the role playing video game is your just jumping through the hoops someone programed into the game. But Table Top RPG's are not like that. In the TRPG the player can do anything, and that is and will always be very appealing. A TRPG with a DM, a real life person, can make the game play do anything, more then any role playing video game with a program can ever do.

    Any well written TRPG adventure is a ''sandbox'', and you don't even really need to say it. The Freedom of Choice is a basic part of the game. It's not the pure random freedom chaos of the Storytelling activity, but it's nowhere near the No Choice Railroad of role playing video games. A writer of a well written TRPG adventure anticipates what the players might want or try to do and puts it in the adventure. The players don't have to do anything, but there are things there for them to see, find and do. The players can, of course, at least try to do anything and the DM can make, create or do anything, on a whim, as needed. Any well written TRPG adventure is full of ''if's''; if the players do this or that or if this or that happens.

    Really, the only way a TRPG can't be a Sandbox is if the game has a DM that is a Jerk, or is just a Bad DM. Of course, some people are jerks and that is just life. While some people are just bad at being a DM, a lot more bad DMing simply comes from lack of ability and real life experience. And this is where the dreaded Railroad comes in for most people: where the DM makes or forces no choice. As structured linear things still need to happen to advance any plot, they still do need to happen in a TRPG. But a good or even average DM can at least soften the blow and make it not such a high lighted obvious big deal to be noticed. The Jerk DM, of course, simply does not care as they are just being a jerk; and the Bad DM with just make the blow hard, highlighted and very obvious: exactly like many role playing video games.

    So 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase for a TRPG.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase when applied to TRPG. ...
    So 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase for a TRPG.
    Well, that was certainly a passionate rant against what you seem to think "sandbox" means. You never defined your terms and you seem to be using it with a different meaning, so maybe that's why you don't see the point.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    Well, that was certainly a passionate rant against what you seem to think "sandbox" means. You never defined your terms and you seem to be using it with a different meaning, so maybe that's why you don't see the point.
    Basically this. I have found Sandbox to be a quite useful phrase for defining the kind of game people want. Sure some people want decade long campaigns where they are the masters of their destiny and everything can change with the roll of the D20 or a well-turned phrase. Some people want to delve into a dungeon and murderhobo their way through randomly generated encounters.

    This entire rant carries with it a strong sense of "there is only one good type of campaign" or "my way is the right way" which makes me cringe.

    I've been playing for a long long time and played D&D before any video games. I remember my early games being random, brutal and really only having the choices the DM gave us and not a lot more. I enjoyed that style and, with the right player buy-in, I could still enjoy that style today.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasteomana View Post
    This entire rant carries with it a strong sense of "there is only one good type of campaign" or "my way is the right way" which makes me cringe.
    Welcome to Darth Ultron. Now watch as he uses the fact that he didn't use those exact words to claim you're trying to make him look bad.

    That's exactly what happened in the other thread where a 'linear versus sandbox' discussion appeared. Although DU was the one who started it off, I had little fun reading his contributions because they boiled down to 'you're stupid for not immediately agreeing with my unstated definitions and using the standard ones on this board'.

    I mean, at it's core DU's premise isn't wrong. All games except the most linear do include some sandbox elements. He just refuses to admit that there's a spectrum of 'linear to sandbox' and that people do legitimately enjoy games with minimal linear elements as a legitimate style. He's even insisted that sandbox scenarios only exist until the players decide they want more than 'random messing about', refusing to believe that a plot could emerge from it without the GM having to write an adventure.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    I mean, at it's core DU's premise isn't wrong. All games except the most linear do include some sandbox elements. He just refuses to admit that there's a spectrum of 'linear to sandbox' and that people do legitimately enjoy games with minimal linear elements as a legitimate style. He's even insisted that sandbox scenarios only exist until the players decide they want more than 'random messing about', refusing to believe that a plot could emerge from it without the GM having to write an adventure.
    I think itīs more a reaction on how some folks define and advocate "agency". I mean, even in a very classic Hex Crawl (think Wilderlands), you populate the map with stuff to interact with in some way, hex by hex. Decisions for this can be "Gygaxian Naturalism", aka. creating random tables that should reflect something (here's a swamp, let's use the Swamp table), whimsy (I think I place the City State of the Invincible Overlord... here, and the setting equivalent of Innsmouth.. there.) to a bit of simulationism (Itīs a national border, so there should be a watchtower or fort every 4 hexes).

    Now the way some folks write about their gaming style, "agency" seems to mean absolute whimsy and being pīd off when that doesn't work out as they intended. You come across the "Haunted House on the Hill" and declare that you want to investigate it in the next session, all is fine, you engage in a small site-based adventure that the gm has to prep. You get roped into the "Three Cults War in the City State", you engage with a small linear adventure based on a timeline. But the way itīs often phrased, even that minimal level of preparation shouldn't happen.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    Well, that was certainly a passionate rant against what you seem to think "sandbox" means. You never defined your terms and you seem to be using it with a different meaning, so maybe that's why you don't see the point.
    What term did I miss defining? Let me know and I'll post it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasteomana View Post
    Basically this. I have found Sandbox to be a quite useful phrase for defining the kind of game people want. Sure some people want decade long campaigns where they are the masters of their destiny and everything can change with the roll of the D20 or a well-turned phrase. Some people want to delve into a dungeon and murderhobo their way through randomly generated encounters.

    This entire rant carries with it a strong sense of "there is only one good type of campaign" or "my way is the right way" which makes me cringe.
    I agree that ''sandbox'' is a popular code word for ''cool game'', but my point is that it is meaningless. A lot like most modern buzz words, ''sandbox'' means ''whatever you want to mean (as long as it is good)"

    It's typical of people to ''read'' things into whatever I type, so your not alone there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    I mean, at it's core DU's premise isn't wrong. All games except the most linear do include some sandbox elements. He just refuses to admit that there's a spectrum of 'linear to sandbox' and that people do legitimately enjoy games with minimal linear elements as a legitimate style. He's even insisted that sandbox scenarios only exist until the players decide they want more than 'random messing about', refusing to believe that a plot could emerge from it without the GM having to write an adventure.
    I don't agree with the basic idea that you can do X amount of a thing, but still stomp your feet and demand that everyone must agree with you that your not doing X, until you personally say so. It's like saying you can commit 200 crimes and just be a 'normal citizen', but as soon as you do crime 201 you are a 'criminal'. That is not how it works.

    And yes, it's typical in a some games for the DM to not prepare any adventure for the game session and just let the players 'randomly do whatever they want', often for hours. And some players do in fact, love doing nothing meaningful and of consequence, often for hours. Though most players do want to get to the more adventure part of the game. So, eventually, the players will pick something to do...either from the DM's hooks or just make something up themselves to do. Then the DM makes an adventure and it's a normal game.

    I guess you might be talking about the One Step Too Far, where a Lazy DM, even once the players pick something to do, does not make an adventure. The Lazy DM just extends the sandbox play for a time, until the players make up (''emerge'') everything about the plot and adventure. Then the Lazy DM just needs to make the adventure the players made for them. Though if the DM is just the casual type, who will just Quantum Ogre whatever the players do, right in front of their characters to make an ''emergent'' plot, that is a whole other game type style.

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    I think itīs more a reaction on how some folks define and advocate "agency".
    I think so too.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I think I'll just lay out how I think about Sandbox games as opposed to non-Sandbox ("classical") games.

    For me, a "Classical" non-Sandbox game would be one where I sit down with the players before the game and tell them "Okay, I have written a rough outline of a campaign. I'd like you all to play characters that fulfill this condition and we'll mostly be staying in this general area". So, something like "You're all members of the explorer's guild", "You're all kobolds", "You're all hired to guard this caravan". It's a game where I, as the DM, have a plot outline with a beginning and end. How the players get from the beginning to end can still be quite open, but I'll usually geographically restrict it a bit. If the story I thought of is about saving the City of Redport from a demon cult, I'd roll my eyes at least if the players decided to jump on the first ship and sail to another continent. I'd call that miscommunication of expectations between players and DM.

    A sandbox would be more the kind of game where I lay out a map and a few adventure threads the players might follow and then let them go wild exploring. Where they set their own goals, and those goals will be the main focus of the campaign, instead of a side-goal.
    And if you gaze long into an abyss, sometimes the abyss blushes and looks away.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I see your point, Darth, and it sounds like you recently had a run in with a frustrating DM, but please allow me to counterpoint.

    First, RPG video games can be sandbox games. "A sandbox is a style of game in which minimal character limitations are placed on the gamer, allowing the gamer to roam and change a virtual world at will. In contrast to a progression-style game, a sandbox game emphasizes roaming and allows a gamer to select tasks." (Techopedia) I've seen and played quite a few, and I enjoy them greatly. I recently built a blacksmith in Skyrim. He's married, with two kids, and doesn't care much for adventuring. Sure, the options you have are still limited by the programs capabilities, but you still have the options to choose your own adventure.

    Secondly, not all railroaded campaigns are run by bad DMs. I'm generally the DM in my campaigns. And sometimes I just want to run a simple "kick-in-the-door" campaign. I explain to my players, ahead of time, that the campaign I'm running is on the tracks... there's no plot. Enter the dungeon, kill the boss, get the loot, head to town, buy better gear, repeat. It can be a great way to energize players when RP heavy campaigns start to bog down... or just a fun way to kill an hour. The players who agree to the terms always seem to have a blast, and often appreciate the dip in the shallow waters, so to speak.

    Thirdly, some DMs can be aggravating. Some players can be frustrating too. But I think the purpose of a game is to have fun, so I believe that as players, and as DMs, we're all trying to achieve that goal. I don't think it's productive to presume that DMs who prefer one style of play over another are jerks. The disparity doesn't intrinsically come from an antagonizing personality. It could simply be paradigm preferences, lack of experience, or a simply misinterpretation of their players gameplay preferences.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    I think itīs more a reaction on how some folks define and advocate "agency". I mean, even in a very classic Hex Crawl (think Wilderlands), you populate the map with stuff to interact with in some way, hex by hex. Decisions for this can be "Gygaxian Naturalism", aka. creating random tables that should reflect something (here's a swamp, let's use the Swamp table), whimsy (I think I place the City State of the Invincible Overlord... here, and the setting equivalent of Innsmouth.. there.) to a bit of simulationism (Itīs a national border, so there should be a watchtower or fort every 4 hexes).

    Now the way some folks write about their gaming style, "agency" seems to mean absolute whimsy and being pīd off when that doesn't work out as they intended. You come across the "Haunted House on the Hill" and declare that you want to investigate it in the next session, all is fine, you engage in a small site-based adventure that the gm has to prep. You get roped into the "Three Cults War in the City State", you engage with a small linear adventure based on a timeline. But the way itīs often phrased, even that minimal level of preparation shouldn't happen.
    Here's the thing, I 100% agree with you, and I actually agree with quite a bit of what Darth Ultron says on these forums (down to 'most groups prefer light railroading over having no goal'). Plus if we get onto agency we'll argue until the universe undergoes heat death, especially because we're going to have to get into 'real' agency versus 'perceived' agency.

    Heck, my actual style is mostly what DU talks about, I'll drop PCs in a sandbox with a goal and some planned situations I can build an adventure out of (I believe in lego adventures where you can move the bricks around). I'll also agree that there has been a large bias towards pushing sandboxes over the past decade or so (not sure about how much beforehand), which I suspect is a backlash to the push that happened about plot being the most important thing.

    The problem is now a backlash against sandboxing is developing, I've occasionally had group members complain when I do as much as buy a horse (okay, that happened once). I once decided that when we were having trouble investigating I'd make myself visible by street preaching in the temple distract, and was told by the group I was wasting my time by not following the leads we had (that were failing to give any progress, so I thought being visible would draw either help or harm).

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I don't agree with the basic idea that you can do X amount of a thing, but still stomp your feet and demand that everyone must agree with you that your not doing X, until you personally say so. It's like saying you can commit 200 crimes and just be a 'normal citizen', but as soon as you do crime 201 you are a 'criminal'. That is not how it works.

    And yes, it's typical in a some games for the DM to not prepare any adventure for the game session and just let the players 'randomly do whatever they want', often for hours. And some players do in fact, love doing nothing meaningful and of consequence, often for hours. Though most players do want to get to the more adventure part of the game. So, eventually, the players will pick something to do...either from the DM's hooks or just make something up themselves to do. Then the DM makes an adventure and it's a normal game.

    I guess you might be talking about the One Step Too Far, where a Lazy DM, even once the players pick something to do, does not make an adventure. The Lazy DM just extends the sandbox play for a time, until the players make up (''emerge'') everything about the plot and adventure. Then the Lazy DM just needs to make the adventure the players made for them. Though if the DM is just the casual type, who will just Quantum Ogre whatever the players do, right in front of their characters to make an ''emergent'' plot, that is a whole other game type style.
    I'm saying it's a scale, and it's important to realise games can be more or less sandbox. You seem to only consider three categories, 'heavily railroaded', 'plotted', and 'utter chaos', without realising that a lot of games aren't any of those three.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Does it strike anybody else that this is almost a 180 from Darth Ultron's usual position? Ignore the thesis title of the thread and read the post itself, and how he characterizes tabletop RPGs in it.

    That said, I agree with a lot of his post, this time around. Not the thesis, but with the notion that the allure of tabletop RPGs vs. video games is the level of freedom and the ability for the depth of the game setting to be focused just where the players focus their attention.

    I disagree with the thesis, however, because "sandbox" is a useful term to describe a style of gameplay where the GM doesn't have a Big Thing happening - either in the foreground or background - but rather has a lot of small to moderate things, some of which may or may not build up to big things as the players get involved. Lots is going on, and what gets developed depends on what the players latch onto.

    The one game I'm running right now (an Exalted game) actually isn't a sandbox, though it has a great deal of freedom for how the players explore the issues that face them. I had a small number of hooks, and most were related to the same starting problem. I have a few side plots, which can reveal some things in different orders if they go down them. And players chose which paths they'd take to find things out, which impacts the order in which they learn things and what things they learn.

    However, there is one big thing and several smaller things, not all related, going on, not a broad world with umpteen things that will develop independently of each other, or impacting each other on the smaller scale. I don't have that broad a setting developed. My game is not a sandbox. If the PCs had taken interest in playing in one, I'd have tried shifting it to accommodate, but that isn't what this game is.

    The extreme end of "sandbox" actually is achieved in one video game that's very popular, for the record: Minecraft.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I think the term is useful if people use it in a consistent way. At least, with my group, we use it to mean a standard thing, which seems to be the definition most here are using.

    I generally play games in 1 of 3 points along a gradient:
    1) we're running a module, and there's restrictions on what types of PCs to make and it's understood the players should have some reason their characters care about the plot. The DM will improvise when the players have cool ideas, but things are fairly set in stone & if the PCs just leave town (or equivalent) the game stalls
    Example: most modules, e.g., Pathfinder assuming you are members of the Pathfinder Society

    2) the game has a fairly set plot, and while the DM will improvise if the players just leave the rails, something bad will likely happen as a natural consequence and the game will likely stall. Still a lot of flexibility in how we do things and plenty of NPCs to interact with and go on side-plots with.
    E.g., an Exalted game we were in. If we had just ignored things, bad stuff like Nexus turning into a shadowland or fey-realm would've happened.

    3) the game is pretty much an open sandbox, but there's an overarching quest. Plot points related to it pop up every few weeks to months in-game, so our characters have time to focus on other stuff. We could ignore the plot-points if we want, but that generally has detrimental side effects. Sometimes major story arcs are the side-effect of us interacting with NPCs that were tangential to the main plot.
    E.g., a Mage game we were in that had an overarching plot of saving the universe but a lot of stuff just dealing with the local city or region as sandbox

    Note that #1 and #2 are pretty close together, and #2 and #3 are pretty close together, as we get away from reliance on pre-set modules and relying more on GM creativity.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I agree that ''sandbox'' is a popular code word for ''cool game'', but my point is that it is meaningless. A lot like most modern buzz words, ''sandbox'' means ''whatever you want to mean (as long as it is good)"

    It's typical of people to ''read'' things into whatever I type, so your not alone there.
    I didn't say that. If you actually read the words on the page, without your dismissive "reading into things", you will see that I didn't say Sandbox = Good, Not Sandbox = Bad. I said it can be a useful term for defining what kind of games people want. If people want a more freeform, player driven, group experience then it can be a helpful tool. The upside of that style is that the players feel they have a lot of agency to move around, they often feel they are the center of the plot and feel the sense of freedom the game can offer. The downside is that they often need to put a lot more work into the game than showing up and rolling some dice. The game can stall out if everything is player driven if the players don't have a way forward, aren't used to that much freedom (new players and very old-school players especially) and so it feels like they are wandering around not getting anything done. That is a possible downside. Personally I call this style of play, or at least the DM that supports it best, an "Enabler" DM.

    On the far other end of the Spectrum (and yes it is a spectrum with a lot in the middle and a bunch of other variables), you have a game with a concrete plot, defined edges and a clear story being told. People who run modules 'as written' or near to it work very well with this style. It might have less freedom, be dictated by the dm/module but that doesn't make it a bad experience. If the player buy-in is that we are playing "The Keep on the Shadowfell" and everyone has agreed to it, that means there is an assumption that the group will explore the Keep and not do something else. This works especially well with new players who don't really know what all they are free to do at table and are looking for structure to guide them. It also works well for the woman who is working 60 hours a week and doesn't want to think that hard on her time off, but wants to roll dice and enjoy food with friends. Personally I call this style of play, or at least the DM that supports it best, a "Director" DM.

    The basic point I'm making here is that the key to a successful, enjoyable, long lasting game is matching player expectations with DM expectations. Discussing how much of a 'sandbox' the game is going to be is a useful slider to use to see what everyone's expectation is going to be for the game.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasteomana View Post
    I didn't say that.
    If you keep engaging with that one, you'll find yourself having to make that clarification quite often.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I agree it's pretty much meaningless ... when used to describe gameplay. Especially for single person or single party games. The gameplay itself, the experience, is only one resulting path through the content regardless of options available. Freedom of choices being theoretically infinite in an TRPG doesn't change this.

    However, if the term is used to apply explicitly or implicitly to the content, it can haz meaning. Content itself can be designed on any continuum between "completely linear" and "completely non-linear". Which are often referred to as "sandbox" and "railroad". And this applies to both CRPGs and TRPGs. Amount of available choices being finite (CRPGs) vs the illusion of infinite (TRPGs via a GM) doesn't change that linearity is a continuum. It just changes how hard the content designers have to work to implement it in their content. As well as the possible lower bound (ie how close you can come to completely non-linear).

    Of course, where people draw the line on that continuum is fairly arbitrary, especially if as noted above, they're only experiencing the content once. They've got a restricted view of the content. If you want to use that to say the word is "meaningless", go for it.
    The distinction isn't in what's already happened, it's in what has yet to happen.

    "Infinite choice" is a strawman, an extreme example that is used to disprove the falsely excluded middle.

    The fact that I can't leap into the air and fly by will alone doesn't mean I don't have free will, and when gaming the choice isn't between "total railroad" or "absolutely uncontrolled chaos".
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I find sandbox and linear/structured helpful labels for discussion. The terms have been in use for a long time for a reason.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    lol, this guy's just gonna make a "x is meaningless" thread for every word in the english language
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Welcome to Darth Ultron.
    You can check out any time you like, but he will never leave.

    That just popped into my head when I read that line. And yes, it is to the music of Hotel California. ... Although if anyone is here just to complain about Darth Ultron, you might want to check out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Does it strike anybody else that this is almost a 180 from Darth Ultron's usual position? Ignore the thesis title of the thread and read the post itself, and how he characterizes tabletop RPGs in it.
    That is the weird thing I noticed too. He seems to say that it is meaningless because it applies to any non-dysfunctional game is a sandbox. Which is a very sharp contrast to the usual "sandboxes are pathetic random garbage" tone.

    Oddly, as I understand it, this is almost symmetric with my complaint of how he often uses the word railroading. The times it means any meaningful contribution to the game on the GMs part beyond just responding to player- whim.

    Personally, I feel sandbox is meaningful, actually I think it is a pretty well defined term as far as role-playing games go (more well defined than "role-playing game" for instance) describing a particular style of setting focused game. Where "where to next" is a big question and low focus or lack of a single threat that must be addressed. I would say more but I said it is well defined for a role-playing term.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    The term "sandbox" is not perfectly defined in a single unambiguous way that fits every conversation. But that doesn't make it a meaningless phrase; it makes it a vague one.

    It has been used to communicate many times. It has conveyed meaning. Therefore it is not meaningless.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I feel like I should apologise for linking definitions of Sandbox to Darth Ultron.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    That is the weird thing I noticed too. He seems to say that it is meaningless because it applies to any non-dysfunctional game is a sandbox. Which is a very sharp contrast to the usual "sandboxes are pathetic random garbage" tone.

    Oddly, as I understand it, this is almost symmetric with my complaint of how he often uses the word railroading. The times it means any meaningful contribution to the game on the GMs part beyond just responding to player- whim.
    It's two things.

    One, if he distorts "railroading" to include as much of what most GMs do as possible, he can claim that all GMs railroad, and since all GMs railroad and it includes all this reasonable stuff, it can't actually be bad -- thus "justifying" the actual railroading he actually does.

    Two, by asserting the false dichotomy that the only alternative to "railroading" is the GM sitting there passively responding to the players and giving them whatever they want, he seeks to prop up the first part, AND he can implicitly or explicitly state "well you don't want to be a passive useless yes-man GM, so you'd better railroad, right?"


    {It's another version of the "if I define this term broadly enough and get people to agree, I can then imply that they agreed with me on the narrow version and win the argument" that's happened in other gaming debates (see, "all gaming is about story" debate recently here).}


    On the flipside, and oddly, you'll see something like that ultra-broad and deceptively-open definition of "railroading" from the far opposite point from DU on the gaming landscape -- there really have been those who insisted that anything the GM actively does is "railroading" as an argument for eliminating the GM completely, shared narrative control, or other devices that take control of the setting and NPCs away from one player and divide it up evenly or whatever.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    But 'meaningless phrase' is a meaningless phrase. I mean, think about it. If it were actually meaningless, you wouldn't be able to parse that sentence at all. Your thesis here isn't that 'Sandbox' is 'meaningless' but that you hate railroad plots. Fine. Railroad plots are quite bad. Nobody disagrees with that. Nobody needed to be informed that you thought that - they could have inferred it directly from the fact that you play TTRPGs. Everyone who plays TTRPGs hates being subjected to a railroad plot. What we're left with is an unnecessary rant about how Video Games are the Devil.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post

    A sandbox would be more the kind of game where I lay out a map and a few adventure threads the players might follow and then let them go wild exploring. Where they set their own goals, and those goals will be the main focus of the campaign, instead of a side-goal.
    This sounds about right....except once the players stop ''sandboxing around'' and want to go on an adventure, then you as the DM need to make the adventure.

    Quote Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post

    First, RPG video games can be sandbox games. "A sandbox is a style of game in which minimal character limitations are placed on the gamer, allowing the gamer to roam and change a virtual world at will. In contrast to a progression-style game, a sandbox game emphasizes roaming and allows a gamer to select tasks." (Techopedia) I've seen and played quite a few, and I enjoy them greatly. I recently built a blacksmith in Skyrim. He's married, with two kids, and doesn't care much for adventuring. Sure, the options you have are still limited by the programs capabilities, but you still have the options to choose your own adventure.
    I call this the Second Life Activity, and it's not really a ''game''. It's simply a player making a character and 'virtually living' a second life. Exactly like Second Life(It's a virtual world were you can live a second life). Once upon a time, I was a crafter in Star Wars Galaxies(long, long ago..before they ruined it for the first time). I'd log in, craft some stuff, sell some stuff and log out. I lot like I'd just your blacksmith would do. Though, you have to admit that being something like a blacksmith in Skyrim is not ''playing the game''.

    Quote Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
    Secondly, not all railroaded campaigns are run by bad DMs. I'm generally the DM in my campaigns. And sometimes I just want to run a simple "kick-in-the-door" campaign. I explain to my players, ahead of time, that the campaign I'm running is on the tracks... there's no plot. Enter the dungeon, kill the boss, get the loot, head to town, buy better gear, repeat. It can be a great way to energize players when RP heavy campaigns start to bog down... or just a fun way to kill an hour. The players who agree to the terms always seem to have a blast, and often appreciate the dip in the shallow waters, so to speak.
    I know this well, I'm a good DM that ruins a hardcore railroad. Many more bad DMs run what they call 'sandboxes'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    The problem is now a backlash against sandboxing is developing, I've occasionally had group members complain when I do as much as buy a horse (okay, that happened once). I once decided that when we were having trouble investigating I'd make myself visible by street preaching in the temple distract, and was told by the group I was wasting my time by not following the leads we had (that were failing to give any progress, so I thought being visible would draw either help or harm).
    I have not seen any of this backlash. Though I'm a Huge nitpicker of not wasting time in a game, in general. I hate it when players want to say ''sit in a tavern and pretend to drink for five hours'' and do absolutely nothing of value or substance, except waste time. BUT I do love deep, detailed role playing as part of the adventure. So if the characters are looking for a contact as part of an adventure, I'm more then fine with role playing out a tavern drinking scene. Though I also craft, make, even force for things to happen in the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Does it strike anybody else that this is almost a 180 from Darth Ultron's usual position? Ignore the thesis title of the thread and read the post itself, and how he characterizes tabletop RPGs in it.
    Not sure where you see the 180?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I disagree with the thesis, however, because "sandbox" is a useful term to describe a style of gameplay where the GM doesn't have a Big Thing happening - either in the foreground or background - but rather has a lot of small to moderate things, some of which may or may not build up to big things as the players get involved. Lots is going on, and what gets developed depends on what the players latch onto.
    I get the mini things, but I'm not so sure of the premise. This might be another video game thing carried over into TRPGs. A lot, if not all, video games, are all about the Big Thing. Even more so the Super Big Amazing Wondrous Thing that is Super Special. But this is how you sell video games you the typical video game player, lots of hype and lots of big things: You the Big Dam Hero must stop the Evil Dragon Queen, before she destroys the universe!. And, this has crept into TRPG over the last couple years too..as they try to attract the video gamers.

    But a TRPG does not need to be so Super Duper Awesome...it can just be something happening somewhere. Like giant rats in a sewer with a Rat Lord. A group of bandits. A werewolf killer. And so on. Just little things. I've never been one for the: Pop Quiz Hot Shot-the demon monster will destroy the world at midnight- "what do you do?" I'm more for ''the cult will summon a succubus at midnight'', so not exactly ''the world will end'', but even 'one lone demon' will sure cause troubles(but still not blow up the world).

    But this is more of just a Way to Play. Some gamers only want to do the ''we gotz to save the world!" and would never want to play a game with ''what? We just have to defend a bridge?".

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    The extreme end of "sandbox" actually is achieved in one video game that's very popular, for the record: Minecraft.
    And, like I said: Second Life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasteomana View Post
    I didn't say that. If you actually read the words on the page, without your dismissive "reading into things", you will see that I didn't say Sandbox = Good, Not Sandbox = Bad. I said it can be a useful term for defining what kind of games people want. If people want a more freeform, player driven, group experience then it can be a helpful tool. The upside of that style is that the players feel they have a lot of agency to move around, they often feel they are the center of the plot and feel the sense of freedom the game can offer. The downside is that they often need to put a lot more work into the game than showing up and rolling some dice. The game can stall out if everything is player driven if the players don't have a way forward, aren't used to that much freedom (new players and very old-school players especially) and so it feels like they are wandering around not getting anything done. That is a possible downside. Personally I call this style of play, or at least the DM that supports it best, an "Enabler" DM.
    You sure make the Sandbox sound all Touchy Feely, but guess people like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasteomana View Post
    The basic point I'm making here is that the key to a successful, enjoyable, long lasting game is matching player expectations with DM expectations. Discussing how much of a 'sandbox' the game is going to be is a useful slider to use to see what everyone's expectation is going to be for the game.
    Except your stuck on the Sandbox=Ultimate cool touchy feely or anything you want it to be and Normal game=Eh, ok, but boring.

    My point is all games have 'sandboxes' in them. Yes you can do the random mess for a while and have tons of fun, but once the players pick anything of substance to do you need structure and a plot...the ''something'' it's a normal game. And in a normal game, it's all ready a 'sandbox': the players can at least ''try'' anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post

    That is the weird thing I noticed too.
    I don't really get what you ''see''?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I have not seen any of this backlash. Though I'm a Huge nitpicker of not wasting time in a game, in general. I hate it when players want to say ''sit in a tavern and pretend to drink for five hours'' and do absolutely nothing of value or substance, except waste time. BUT I do love deep, detailed role playing as part of the adventure. So if the characters are looking for a contact as part of an adventure, I'm more then fine with role playing out a tavern drinking scene. Though I also craft, make, even force for things to happen in the game.
    As somebody who did participate in an hour of roleplaying our characters sitting around drinking beer and talking (while we were sitting around drinking beer* and talking), it wasn't wasting time. It was a much slower game, but we all had fun using it as an excuse to get to know each other's characters, work out our motivations, and so on. No contact, although we kept the GM engaged by making the staff part of the conversation.

    But here's the thing, you're not seeing the backlash because you're part of the backlash. Such as how I don't see a lot of the anti-'GM may I' backlash because I'm an active part of it.

    Also, that last sentence, that's a great description of railroading. 'When the GM crafts, makes, or forces things to happen for the sake of "the game"'. And railroadinging isn't a bad thing when it's taken in moderation.

    (Although I do use railroading differently to many people on this forum, who only use it for the extreme cases.)

    * All ales actually, that was a very anti-lager group.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Grek View Post
    But 'meaningless phrase' is a meaningless phrase. I mean, think about it. If it were actually meaningless, you wouldn't be able to parse that sentence at all. Your thesis here isn't that 'Sandbox' is 'meaningless' but that you hate railroad plots. Fine. Railroad plots are quite bad. Nobody disagrees with that. Nobody needed to be informed that you thought that - they could have inferred it directly from the fact that you play TTRPGs. Everyone who plays TTRPGs hates being subjected to a railroad plot. What we're left with is an unnecessary rant about how Video Games are the Devil.
    Apologies for potentially stepping on a nice bit of humor, but I just feel the need to be pedantic:

    A phrase can be meaningless but still technically parsable. It just has to be so ambiguous that it requires fully defining it before people can figure out what it means, regardless of context clues. It can also apply, particularly in debate-type environments, to any phrase which is able to be twisted to mean anything you want it to in order to do as Max Killjoy mentioned, and claim that people who agree with any definition you twist it to must thus agree with whatever definition you really are using it for. At that point, it becomes meaningless because using it conveys different things at different times and confuses and confounds communication.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I call this the Second Life Activity, and it's not really a ''game''. It's simply a player making a character and 'virtually living' a second life. Exactly like Second Life(It's a virtual world were you can live a second life). Once upon a time, I was a crafter in Star Wars Galaxies(long, long ago..before they ruined it for the first time). I'd log in, craft some stuff, sell some stuff and log out. I lot like I'd just your blacksmith would do. Though, you have to admit that being something like a blacksmith in Skyrim is not ''playing the game''.
    Er, that definitely is a kind of game.


    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Not sure where you see the 180?
    Normally, you hold up "any game that isn't wacky crazy randomness is a railroad." Now you're holding up "all games are sandboxes." Previously, you've dismissed sandboxes as wacky-crazy-randomness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I get the mini things, but I'm not so sure of the premise. This might be another video game thing carried over into TRPGs. A lot, if not all, video games, are all about the Big Thing. Even more so the Super Big Amazing Wondrous Thing that is Super Special. But this is how you sell video games you the typical video game player, lots of hype and lots of big things: You the Big Dam Hero must stop the Evil Dragon Queen, before she destroys the universe!. And, this has crept into TRPG over the last couple years too..as they try to attract the video gamers.
    It's a matter of focus. Is the world under some grand epic threat that's building to a point where all other plots only matter insofar as they let the players prepare (or fail to prepare) to face this nigh-existential problem, or are the issues of the setting the ever-shifting problems that simply arise from people being people, possibly with magical/superpowers in the world for them to use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    And, like I said: Second Life.
    That's grossly overly broadly defining "second life." Minecraft is legos, not second life. It's almost the very DEFINITION of a sandbox. Here are a bunch of toys and random building materials. Go play with them by building stuff. Or destroying stuff. Or whatever floats your boat (which, incidentally, you make by playing with those resources over there in particular ways).



    A great example of a game that incorporates a lot of sandbox elements, many plots from which to pick and choose, and a grand existential plot you use the other plots and their interactions to help you build up to deal with - not to mention to investigate - is Star Control II. There's a free, fan-redone version (since the game became abandonware some years ago) called Star Control: The Ur-Quan Masters. I highly recommend it if people want an example of how a video game can manage to incorporate such elements. Though I will warn that it can be...hard...to play. The computer isn't necessarily a cheating bastard, but it's got nasty-good reflexes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    This sounds about right....except once the players stop ''sandboxing around'' and want to go on an adventure, then you as the DM need to make the adventure.
    Sandboxes are rife with adventures. I'm confused about what we're defining here. I'm currently running a sandbox in PbP... it's in my signature. There are wars, plagues, political intrigue, criminal syndicates, transplanar (interplanar?) trade guilds, social injustice, an undead uprising, dungeon divers, fetch quests, and for good measure: jobs. Regular mundane jobs. There are so many options/adventures in the campaign, that we've been playing for three years now, and no one has even left the town they started in. Heck, they spent three weeks as blacksmiths working a forge. But they just as easily could've joined any of a dozen various guilds, become common thugs, or just walked right out the front gate to pursue a life in the wilderness. I mapped out an entire planet for them, as well as presented options for exploring other planes, each with mapped out worlds. All they have to do is have fun, however they wish to define that. Isn't that what a sandbox is? How do you ever finish "sandboxing around"? How do you run out of adventures in a sandbox game?


    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I call this the Second Life Activity, and it's not really a ''game''. It's simply a player making a character and 'virtually living' a second life. Exactly like Second Life(It's a virtual world were you can live a second life). Once upon a time, I was a crafter in Star Wars Galaxies(long, long ago..before they ruined it for the first time). I'd log in, craft some stuff, sell some stuff and log out. I lot like I'd just your blacksmith would do. Though, you have to admit that being something like a blacksmith in Skyrim is not ''playing the game''.
    Also, how is that not really a game? This sounds dangerously like gatekeeping. As far as I know a game is a form of play. Simply put, it's a fun thing to do. I have fun playing a blacksmith in Skyrim. But I've also had fun playing as a sword-and-board female orc in Skyrim, and as a craven High Elf conjuror, and as a Breton merchant. Far as I can tell, I play the game almost too much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I know this well, I'm a good DM that ruins a hardcore railroad. Many more bad DMs run what they call 'sandboxes'.
    Assuming you meant to type "runs" instead of "ruins", your first post contradicts this entire statement. You said, "Really, the only way a TRPG can't be a Sandbox is if the game has a DM that is a Jerk, or is just a Bad DM." Before that, you also say, "Any well written TRPG adventure is a 'sandbox', and you don't even really need to say it." Are you changing your mind? Because, if you're a good DM, and you run a hardcore railroad, then that means you run good TRPGs that stay on the tracks, which means that these games you run aren't sandboxes. So not all campaigns are sandboxes, and therefore it is not a meaningless word, because open-world gaming isn't a prerequisite to a good TRPG experience. It's just a different form of play, and therefore it would be helpful to explain to your players beforehand whether or not this particular campaign is a sandbox.


    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I have not seen any of this backlash. Though I'm a Huge nitpicker of not wasting time in a game, in general. I hate it when players want to say ''sit in a tavern and pretend to drink for five hours'' and do absolutely nothing of value or substance, except waste time. BUT I do love deep, detailed role playing as part of the adventure. So if the characters are looking for a contact as part of an adventure, I'm more then fine with role playing out a tavern drinking scene. Though I also craft, make, even force for things to happen in the game.
    I'm 100% on your side here. Backlash for good roleplay? Anonymouswizard, if you get that involved in your character, you are welcome to play any of my campaigns anytime. Especially my sandboxes.



    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I get the mini things, but I'm not so sure of the premise. This might be another video game thing carried over into TRPGs. A lot, if not all, video games, are all about the Big Thing. Even more so the Super Big Amazing Wondrous Thing that is Super Special. But this is how you sell video games you the typical video game player, lots of hype and lots of big things: You the Big Dam Hero must stop the Evil Dragon Queen, before she destroys the universe!. And, this has crept into TRPG over the last couple years too..as they try to attract the video gamers.

    But a TRPG does not need to be so Super Duper Awesome...it can just be something happening somewhere. Like giant rats in a sewer with a Rat Lord. A group of bandits. A werewolf killer. And so on. Just little things. I've never been one for the: Pop Quiz Hot Shot-the demon monster will destroy the world at midnight- "what do you do?" I'm more for ''the cult will summon a succubus at midnight'', so not exactly ''the world will end'', but even 'one lone demon' will sure cause troubles(but still not blow up the world).

    But this is more of just a Way to Play. Some gamers only want to do the ''we gotz to save the world!" and would never want to play a game with ''what? We just have to defend a bridge?".
    Well, not to strain hairs, but... Dungeons and Dragons was originally about going into dungeons and slaying dragons. The RPG adventure games bit off that apple, not the other way around. And to be honest, the epic protagonist vs the epic antagonist concept goes way further back then that. Like waaaaaaaay back. I'm reminded of things like Beowulf, most Grecian myths, the Bible. The open exploration concept falls more in line with the 2-Person viewpoint books like the Choose Your Adventure series. If you never had those when you were a kid, I feel bad for you. Cause they were awesome. But I digress.


    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    My point is all games have 'sandboxes' in them. Yes you can do the random mess for a while and have tons of fun, but once the players pick anything of substance to do you need structure and a plot...the ''something'' it's a normal game. And in a normal game, it's all ready a 'sandbox': the players can at least ''try'' anything.
    I'm still unclear why you feel this way. Can you provide some examples? You have previously claimed that you keep your games on the rails. If it's on the rails, it's not a sandbox, and having a plot doesn't mean it can't still be a sandbox. The two are different, but they're not inherently mutually exclusive. Not all TRPGs are sandboxes, and not all RPG video games are railroaded. And a sandbox doesn't lose its status if there is a plot that the players chose to zero in on, as long as the option to choose a different course remains open.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase when applied to TRPG.
    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    And yes, it's typical in a some games for the DM to not prepare any adventure for the game session and just let the players 'randomly do whatever they want', often for hours. And some players do in fact, love doing nothing meaningful and of consequence, often for hours. Though most players do want to get to the more adventure part of the game. So, eventually, the players will pick something to do...either from the DM's hooks or just make something up themselves to do. Then the DM makes an adventure and it's a normal game.
    Ah, more definitions to work through.

    Clearly, we don't all use the word to mean exactly the same thing. When I say "sandbox", I parallel a real world sandbox as much as possible, by defining it as a world where the GM has placed a number of (usually thematic and hopefully intended to be interesting) elements, but it is up to the players to determine what to do with them / what the plot is, within that theme. So, for example, in a political sandbox, I expect the GM to populate the game primarily with items that they believe would be interesting in a political game, and for the players to hold true to the theme, and attempt to use some of those items in a fashion appropriate to a political game.

    However, I also use the word "sandbox" as the label for the other end of the "railroading" spectrum/axis. Which, as railroading involves the GM forcing one particular plot, usually works out to use this word both ways. Kinda like how "want" means both "desire" and "lack".

    Thus, I'm on the side that says that sandbox is not a meaningless term so much as, perhaps, an ambiguous one at times.

    Now, as to the idea that a sandbox must transition into a more "normal" railroad... This idea has more merit than most posters give you credit for. That is to say, many "sandbox" games are, in effect, a series of "choose your own railroad" games. And that is all the more freedom many players desire (or can handle!), and that's fine. But, if that is the only type of sandbox that you have experienced and can imagine, then, yes, I can see how the term might have dubious meaning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    the allure of tabletop RPGs vs. video games is the level of freedom and the ability for the depth of the game setting to be focused just where the players focus their attention.

    The extreme end of "sandbox" actually is achieved in one video game that's very popular, for the record: Minecraft.
    That certainly is one perk - one which I think deserves more attention - but I don't think it's the only one.

    Oh, and <3 Minecraft

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I disagree with the thesis, however, because "sandbox" is a useful term to describe a style of gameplay where the GM doesn't have a Big Thing happening - either in the foreground or background - but rather has a lot of small to moderate things, some of which may or may not build up to big things as the players get involved. Lots is going on, and what gets developed depends on what the players latch onto.
    I have to disagree with defining a sandbox by the size of the elements. One can have a sandbox with a dozen "end of the world" events going on simultaneously, and one can have a railroad about nothing, Seinfeld style.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I agree it's pretty much meaningless ... when used to describe gameplay. Especially for single person or single party games. The gameplay itself, the experience, is only one resulting path through the content regardless of options available. Freedom of choices being theoretically infinite in an TRPG doesn't change this.

    However, if the term is used to apply explicitly or implicitly to the content, it can haz meaning. Content itself can be designed on any continuum between "completely linear" and "completely non-linear". Which are often referred to as "sandbox" and "railroad". And this applies to both CRPGs and TRPGs. Amount of available choices being finite (CRPGs) vs the illusion of infinite (TRPGs via a GM) doesn't change that linearity is a continuum. It just changes how hard the content designers have to work to implement it in their content. As well as the possible lower bound (ie how close you can come to completely non-linear).

    Of course, where people draw the line on that continuum is fairly arbitrary, especially if as noted above, they're only experiencing the content once. They've got a restricted view of the content. If you want to use that to say the word is "meaningless", go for it.
    The Dragon has kidnapped the Princess, and plans to eat her in a week's time if its demands aren't met. The GM has planned for the possibility of the party gathering the Seven Shards of the Sword McGuffin, scattered across the land. Or for the party to attempt to actually fulfill the dragon's demands. But the party might instead choose to try to abduct the princess back. Or to sell the Dragon one of the shards of the Sword McGuffin. Or to sell the Dragon herbs and spices to make the Princess more palatable.

    Whether the GM can handle any of those player-driven plots is, to my mind, a factor of the GM, not of the scenario. To me, sandbox is still a description of the gameplay, nor of the content.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grek View Post
    Railroad plots are quite bad. Nobody disagrees with that.
    Actually, plenty of people disagree with that, myself included. Don't get me wrong, I personally strongly dislike most railroads, but even I accept "you stay off the published adventure path, you lose the game", and plenty of people accept and desire much tighter rails.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    As somebody who did participate in an hour of roleplaying our characters sitting around drinking beer and talking (while we were sitting around drinking beer* and talking), it wasn't wasting time. It was a much slower game, but we all had fun using it as an excuse to get to know each other's characters, work out our motivations, and so on. No contact, although we kept the GM engaged by making the staff part of the conversation.
    Yeah, those of us... "dedicated"... enough to brave a blizzard for our D&D game were rewarded with the opportunity to have our characters chat while on watch. Role-playing - being true to the character - can happen in combat, can happen at decision points, and, yes, can happen while just sitting around chatting. This isn't wasting time, it's developing the character, teambuilding, and, for me, at least, fun.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-02-06 at 02:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Yeah, those of us... "dedicated"... enough to brave a blizzard for our D&D game were rewarded with the opportunity to have or characters chatty while on watch. Role-playing - being true to the character - can happen in combat, can happen at decision points, and, yes, can happen while just sitting around chatting. This isn't wasting time, it's developing the character, teambuilding, and, for me, at least, fun.
    Okay, I quoted this thinking you were disagreeing with me, when you were agreeing with me.

    I once had a character declared an overconfident idiot because three rounds into a combat (us against the doors out of the room, poison gas was involved) I ran across a table and hit a door covered in thermite paste. It completely fit the character because he was overconfident (literally had the flaw) and he hadn't been paying attention to the alchemist, but that got brought up for the rest of the campaign. Then when the combat had finished the engineer tried to steal one of the doors (it had been a really good shield when I hit the thermite covered door, again). That group essentially banned me from playing paladins because my clerics tended to act suicidal, they didn't want the risk.

    That same game also included half an hour of dressing own the alchemist (who had the curious flaw, we weren't exactly the most functional group), exploring the reasons behind the party noble's PTSD, and we had the GM lecture us on the setting's trains for twenty minutes because the engineer rolled really high on a knowledge roll (he got confused as to why we hadn't stopped him, we were enjoying it). In another group I've been spending two weeks talking with the other players over who our characters are, to the point we have a rough idea as to why two of them might be working together, and the GM hasn't finished the setting yet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    You sure make the Sandbox sound all Touchy Feely, but guess people like that.

    Except your stuck on the Sandbox=Ultimate cool touchy feely or anything you want it to be and Normal game=Eh, ok, but boring.
    It is in these moments where I struggle with people on forums. I can't decide whether the lack of understanding basic concepts is something that you can't help or if you are actively trolling. I think either way you are going to not read / intentionally misread things.

    Glad I got this out of the way up front as a newcomer to the forums.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasteomana View Post
    It is in these moments where I struggle with people on forums. I can't decide whether the lack of understanding basic concepts is something that you can't help or if you are actively trolling. I think either way you are going to not read / intentionally misread things.

    Glad I got this out of the way up front as a newcomer to the forums.
    If I may offer a bit of hope, the playground mods have little tolerance for trolling here. I find it is best to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are genuinely attempting to understand a concept. With patience, open mindedness, and a sincere attempt to communicate respectfully, we all tend to play nice and get along around here, even if we don't always see eye to eye.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Two, by asserting the false dichotomy that the only alternative to "railroading" is the GM sitting there passively responding to the players and giving them whatever they want, he seeks to prop up the first part, AND he can implicitly or explicitly state "well you don't want to be a passive useless yes-man GM, so you'd better railroad, right?"
    Actually this second point appears to be dying off. Slowly mind you but a differentiation between good railroading and bad railroading (what most people call railroading) has appeared. I'm not entirely sure why, although I have some optimistic interpretations I would like to believe, but there it is.

    And I will grant that this thread makes more sense than many of his "not railroading=la la random" (I can see more of the logic behind it at least). Still problems of course, that have been voice.

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