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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    If someone uses "game world" and "setting" interchangeably, there's no confusion involved.

    If someone is trying to draw a big distinction between "setting" and "game world", then outside concepts that have nothing to do with RPGs are being dragged in.
    I was initially going to agree with this, but discovered I have a quibble: the "setting" is the general world, the basis of the fiction. It's the background, the dressing, the design parameters for the metaphorical stage. The "game world" is a little more specific. It's this particular game's world, and it includes the setting as modified by any table-unique alterations and the actions of the PCs.

    The setting is what could be defined in a world book or rule book. The game world is messier and more specific, and includes things like the rules for physics and magic and the like, because it's the simulation that is running when you actually play the game.

    Now, this is a quibble, because most of the time the terms really are interchangeable. But I think I would be more likely to say "setting" if I were discussing geography, geopolitics, culture, etc. of the fictional setting, and "game world" if I were discussing causal events and the interaction of the setting+NPCs+rules with the PCs.

    PCs act within the game world. The game world uses the setting as a basis.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    To the original post:

    The definition of Sandbox here is very limited (hence why it's so easy to misconstrue it as meaningless).

    You seem to only include a game's limitation on player choices when defining "Sandbox." You correctly pointed out that even some of the most restricting games still allow a reasonable amount of choice if the game is any good at all. You also correctly pointed out that any DM worth their salt can adjudicate games spontaneously ("on the fly").

    This is not what "sandbox" means, since both Sandbox and Linear games will both possess these qualities (albeit often to different degrees). As other people here have stated, a "Sandbox" game rather indicates that the game's primary purpose is to roam and explore, while a "Linear" game's purpose is to follow one of a few paths prepared by the DM. This latter type of game is often confused by inexperienced and power-hungry DMs as a method for control as opposed to a tool for creating goals and PC-Centered-Narrative.

    "Linear" games CAN be approximated as a very tiny Sandbox where the players are weak relative to the forces moving in the setting and "Sandbox" games CAN be approximated as Linear games with high degrees of agency paired with low degrees of urgency. This relationship between the types of games arises from their cohabitation of a single spectrum.

    But just because Blue and Red are both broad bands of colors on the greater Spectrum of Colors doesn't mean that Red and Blue are inherently meaningless.

    For application of the Definition to help outline the importance of the distinction.

    I am currently running two D&D games (not hypothetical, actual). One of them I would describe as a Sandbox style game, while the other I would not.

    The first game is a Frostfell themed game that is very similar in tone and content as Skyrim. Players are level 10 as rare exceptional heroes and thus are more or less free to do as they please (they almost are legendary in strength compared to most of the world around them). I've laid out a map with a few important local regions, people groups, common threats to society, then I had them make characters and inserted the characters into the story in a manner best suited for those characters. From there, I give them fairly little prompting besides a "starter quest" to get their feet wet in the world and help solidify their companionship as a party of heroes. Past that point, I try to let them lead the story. Often, they desire some prompting to help them make some choices, so they'll make some inquisitional skill checks (spot, listen, gather info, etc). One of them is a Swordsage Mercenary, so he almost always has something for the party to choose, if they like it, because he can always find a local bounty board and see what problems people in the area are willing to pay to have resolved for them. Recently, I pointed out that there seems to be a Region Wide Dire Winter preparing to set in and I told the players if they ever want to pursue encounters that will test their characters more gravely, they can head north and seek out the Cryomancer's Tower beyond the halls of the Viking Dwarves in the Sprawling Peaks, far in the Blighted North of the Arctic Winter. Until then, they can spend as much time as they want breaking bandits over their knees. I've given the players the heads up that I don't mean the urgency of the world to be urgency to their game: the "Main Quest" isn't moving forward until they choose to pursue it. I don't want to take away the sandbox of them doing whatever they want and going wherever they want, discovering small side quests along the way.

    The second game is far more linear, despite the world actually being larger and even more detailed on a large scale. This plot has a world with active political turmoil, putting the players into a critical position leading armies at the start of the world's first Great War. In this game, I'm planning where the adventure will go next and I take the time to work with the players to find out how best to incorporate their characters into my plans. I talk to the players out of game about sending them deep into the Bioshock-Inspired Dwarven Underdark to resolve the corruption that has taken hold there. In return, the Dwarves have promised to lend their armies to the war, having been freed from their struggle with the lower levels of their mountain confederacy. Out of game, the primary purpose for this side adventure was to power level the party so they would be prepared to face armies of Mindflayers, who would have otherwise been an army of Boss Level CR enemies. I'm not asking the party where they want to go next, but "this is the path, how do you think your character might choose to follow it?" That is where it becomes linear, not sandbox. They didn't choose the path, I did. And I'm not railroading, because I made it clear ahead of time that this is the adventure I've planned and the players were on board with it. I'm also not railroading because I do a lot of work with the players to justify their involvement in the plot. There aren't many true surprises in the story, because a lot of it is rather designed to get the characters from A to B, with the only uncertainty being the "how."

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    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.

    Can you sell me on your PoV?
    Oops, missed this on page one. Those aren't player driven plots. They're player driven solutions to a single content goal: save the princess. Except for the ones where they've failed to save the princess, obviously, which if the content writer hasn't written into the content was very silly. That's a very different thing from player driven plotting, in which they've created new goals of their own and plans to address them.

    However, I do see your more general point, that the ability of players to plot things, create their own goals and execute plans, including things like plot to overthrow the government, are often considered to be integral to a TRPG sandbox game.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I was initially going to agree with this, but discovered I have a quibble: the "setting" is the general world, the basis of the fiction. It's the background, the dressing, the design parameters for the metaphorical stage. The "game world" is a little more specific. It's this particular game's world, and it includes the setting as modified by any table-unique alterations and the actions of the PCs.

    The setting is what could be defined in a world book or rule book. The game world is messier and more specific, and includes things like the rules for physics and magic and the like, because it's the simulation that is running when you actually play the game.

    Now, this is a quibble, because most of the time the terms really are interchangeable. But I think I would be more likely to say "setting" if I were discussing geography, geopolitics, culture, etc. of the fictional setting, and "game world" if I were discussing causal events and the interaction of the setting+NPCs+rules with the PCs.

    PCs act within the game world. The game world uses the setting as a basis.
    Funny thing is, I get the impression (from past reading and here) that some want to draw what might be the opposite distinction -- that the "game world" is everything, the "setting" is akin to a stage or movie set, "where today's events take place", so that the "setting" of a dungeon crawl is the dungeon.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Funny thing is, I get the impression (from past reading and here) that some want to draw what might be the opposite distinction -- that the "game world" is everything, the "setting" is akin to a stage or movie set, "where today's events take place", so that the "setting" of a dungeon crawl is the dungeon.
    They're more words that vary.

    Game world can mean a published campaign setting, or it can mean the customized one at a given table by the GM, or it can mean the shared ongoing idea in everyone's head during the game (but mainly the GMs).

    Setting can be anything from global to local, to a more narrative meaning.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-02-09 at 10:14 AM.

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    To RFLS: Very nice, he seems to have misunderstood a lot of it, but still good job there. For the most part I will let you (if you feel the need) address that. Except for one thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    In a good game the plot will always be advancing, no matter what the players do, unless of course, they have the characters somehow stop the plot.
    Judging from how you use the word here, you are only counting the major, world state changing, events in the plot. The problem is this excludes moments that establish the current world state and develop characters and that sort of thing. In other words, it excludes all the moments that give us the reasons we need to care about the world in the first place. I know a number of stories that suffered by focusing on "the plot" without first establishing the stakes. Without first establishing why we should care.

    And I don't think a story people don't care about could be described as "good".

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Funny thing is, I get the impression (from past reading and here) that some want to draw what might be the opposite distinction -- that the "game world" is everything, the "setting" is akin to a stage or movie set, "where today's events take place", so that the "setting" of a dungeon crawl is the dungeon.
    That's so. You play a game of Undermountain, it is "set in" the city of Waterdeep which is in turn "set in" the Forgotten Realms. This gives meaning and context, but the game is still Undermountain.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    They're more words that vary.

    Game world can mean a published campaign setting, or it can mean the customized one at a given table by the GM, or it can mean the shared ongoing idea in everyone's head during the game (but mainly the GMs).

    Setting can be anything from global to local, to a more narrative meaning.
    I just use -- and many others seem to use -- the word "setting" to mean "the fictional reality in which the characters exist and the events take place".

    Nothing to do with locality or story.


    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    That's so. You play a game of Undermountain, it is "set in" the city of Waterdeep which is in turn "set in" the Forgotten Realms. This gives meaning and context, but the game is still Undermountain.
    I've never "played a game of Undermountain", or a "game of waterdeep"... or a "game of Seattle" to reference an old Vampire campaign that took place in Seattle.

    Never.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-09 at 10:35 AM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I just use -- and many others seem to use -- the word "setting" to mean "the fictional reality in which the characters exist and the events take place".

    Nothing to do with locality or story.
    I tend to agree (largely) with your interpretations on terms in RPGs, Max, but I have to disagree here. Perhaps not quite as often in RPGs as in fiction, but in my experience "setting" can be used to describe a particular locality within a greater reality. It's a matter of determining scale. One campaign may be "set" in NYC, for example, which would be very different from a campaign in Siberia, even if both share the greater reality of "Earth, in a universe generally resembling our own". I would go so far as to say that a game "set" in the greater United States would be in a different "setting" than a game "set" in just one city.

    The constraints, I'd argue, would define the limits of the setting. If the players are not expected (session 0) to leave the dungeon of Undermountain, then the setting of the campaign would be in Undermountain. Otherwise, the setting would be understood to contain the whole of the Forgotten Realms. Florian's wording is weird, but the premise, in this case, is perfectly sound.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Scripten View Post
    I tend to agree (largely) with your interpretations on terms in RPGs, Max, but I have to disagree here. Perhaps not quite as often in RPGs as in fiction, but in my experience "setting" can be used to describe a particular locality within a greater reality. It's a matter of determining scale. One campaign may be "set" in NYC, for example, which would be very different from a campaign in Siberia, even if both share the greater reality of "Earth, in a universe generally resembling our own". I would go so far as to say that a game "set" in the greater United States would be in a different "setting" than a game "set" in just one city.

    The constraints, I'd argue, would define the limits of the setting. If the players are not expected (session 0) to leave the dungeon of Undermountain, then the setting of the campaign would be in Undermountain. Otherwise, the setting would be understood to contain the whole of the Forgotten Realms. Florian's wording is weird, but the premise, in this case, is perfectly sound.
    I'm not going to argue strongly against that usage, I think in context it's generally clear.

    My objection is to the assertion that "setting" specifically and only means something like "a movie set" or "the specific limited area in which the direct events of the narrative take place", and that it would somehow be wrong to use it in the broader sense.

    This strikes me as just yet another attempt to impose the terminology and analytical approaches generally used for something that shares some parallels with RPGs, directly onto RPGs -- to treat RPGs as another form or mode of that thing.

    We see people who come in from authorial fiction writing and storytelling do it, people who come in from stage acting and/or improv do it, people who come in from various academic fields do it, and so on, and in each case they make the mistake of assuming that RPGs are somehow perfectly aligned with that other thing and can be understood and talked about in that framework -- and that those who approach creating, playing, or analyzing RPGs differently are "doing it wrong".
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-09 at 11:36 AM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    This strikes me as just yet another attempt to impose the terminology and analytical approaches generally used for something that shares some parallels with RPGs, directly onto RPGs -- to treat RPGs as another form or mode of that thing.
    Some times it is useful, sometimes it is not. For instance I also write and I have found that some concepts and guides transfer quite well to role-playing games. Pacing rules for instance mostly seem to stay the same. On the other hand anything about planning changes because dice and their randomness, people getting new ideas as the story progresses, or just having different clashing ideas that they let the plot resolve, and plan old improvisation. Although you can bring more of that over in more linear campaigns and some people do with success, but I find it doesn't work as well. So sometimes it works and some times it doesn't, sometimes you just got to try it and see.

    Also, going back another step, where do your campaigns occur? Original settings all the time?

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Some times it is useful, sometimes it is not. For instance I also write and I have found that some concepts and guides transfer quite well to role-playing games. Pacing rules for instance mostly seem to stay the same. On the other hand anything about planning changes because dice and their randomness, people getting new ideas as the story progresses, or just having different clashing ideas that they let the plot resolve, and plan old improvisation. Although you can bring more of that over in more linear campaigns and some people do with success, but I find it doesn't work as well. So sometimes it works and some times it doesn't, sometimes you just got to try it and see.
    Where there are parallels, the same tools and concepts can be useful, of course.

    My objection is to when "RPGs share some elements with improv acting" is taken to mean "RPGs are improv acting, and all the same theories and principles and terminology apply". Or "I'm a writer, I tell stories, and RPGs feel like stories to me, therefore RPGs are all about storytelling and story is everything".


    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Also, going back another step, where do your campaigns occur? Original settings all the time?
    If one considers "the real world, but..." an original setting, then yes. Even for something like Star Wars, it was never a published sector or supplement, or for the most part established planets, the PCs never encountered characters from the movies or novels, and we had our own very-unLucas take on what the Force is and is not (example, "the Dark Side" leaned heavily evil, but wouldn't turn a character into a cartoon villain, Evil Stupid, or a gibbering baby-murderer).
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-09 at 02:09 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Funny thing is, I get the impression (from past reading and here) that some want to draw what might be the opposite distinction -- that the "game world" is everything, the "setting" is akin to a stage or movie set, "where today's events take place", so that the "setting" of a dungeon crawl is the dungeon.
    Hm. Thinking on it more, I think what I, personally, mean by "setting" is "the physical location and all the set dressings." And by "game world," I mean, "the simulation."

    The difference between the stage and the play. The play includes the stage, but it also includes what the actors do within it.

    ...that's still not quite right. It's the difference between the environment and the simulation of what goes on in the environment.

    The game world is, to me, everything going on. Arguably minus the players, as I often will speak in terms of PCs interacting with the game world. They can't really interact, in my vernacular, with the "setting." They interact with the game world, and the setting might be altered in small or large ways by this.


    I may be getting way too nitpicky, here, in trying to explain in words the subtle difference in what I mean when I use one or the other of those terms. Because a lot of the time, they're so nearly interchangeable that little is lost if nobody knows why I picked one over the other.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I don't agree often with DU but the point he's making is mostly true. All roleplaying games are sandboxes, there is literally nothing stopping the PC's from doing something completely different or exploring the sandbox except the GM. The GM is the only one who can drag the PC's through the sand to his carefully built sand castle that the PC's are meant to explore. Now mostly the players and GM are in agreement on what content can be explored but if the game takes place in Forgotten Realms then the sandbox is literally the whole universe if the PC's find a means to jump between planes.


    The other thing is the illusion of agency. In a traditional RPG where the GM is in control of everything except the PC's, the only agency the players have is over their PC's and even there the only agency is what the GM gives them. There is nothing that stops the GM from invalidating every choice the PC's make which in a sense makes agency an illusion because the only agency the PC's have is what the GM allows them.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I don't agree often with DU but the point he's making is mostly true. All roleplaying games are sandboxes, there is literally nothing stopping the PC's from doing something completely different or exploring the sandbox except the GM. The GM is the only one who can drag the PC's through the sand to his carefully built sand castle that the PC's are meant to explore. Now mostly the players and GM are in agreement on what content can be explored but if the game takes place in Forgotten Realms then the sandbox is literally the whole universe if the PC's find a means to jump between planes.
    That doesn't make the term meaningless, or considerations of whether a campaign is more or less "sandboxy" pointless.


    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    The other thing is the illusion of agency. In a traditional RPG where the GM is in control of everything except the PC's, the only agency the players have is over their PC's and even there the only agency is what the GM gives them. There is nothing that stops the GM from invalidating every choice the PC's make which in a sense makes agency an illusion because the only agency the PC's have is what the GM allows them.
    By that standard, the GM also "has as much agency as the players allow". They can always refuse to go along with anything, or just get up from the table.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    That doesn't make the term meaningless, or considerations of whether a campaign is more or less "sandboxy" pointless.
    No, I get that sandbox is used for certain types of games.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post

    By that standard, the GM also "has as much agency as the players allow". They can always refuse to go along with anything, or just get up from the table.
    Well yes unless you are a mad dictator and have your players roleplaying at gunpoint.

    But heavyhandedness isn't required

    A GM can control the game by illusionism, which I think DU is alluding to.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    Well yes unless you are a mad dictator and have your players roleplaying at gunpoint.

    But heavyhandedness isn't required

    A GM can control the game by illusionism, which I think DU is alluding to.

    His sort of illusionism amounts to "I'm an awesome GM and players never see through my veil, except for the ones who do... but they're all jerks and I send them running from the game crying". (More likely they realize what's going on and leave, but hey.)


    But either way, I see very little need if any for illusionism -- a robust setting and a GM willing to improvise a little makes it almost entirely unnecessary.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    His sort of illusionism amounts to "I'm an awesome GM and players never see through my veil, except for the ones who do... but they're all jerks and I send them running from the game crying". (More likely they realize what's going on and leave, but hey.)
    Unintentional forum rules violation. Woops. Sorry mods.
    Last edited by RFLS; 2018-02-10 at 03:07 AM.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    His sort of illusionism amounts to "I'm an awesome GM and players never see through my veil, except for the ones who do... but they're all jerks and I send them running from the game crying". (More likely they realize what's going on and leave, but hey.)


    But either way, I see very little need if any for illusionism -- a robust setting and a GM willing to improvise a little makes it almost entirely unnecessary.

    I'm not advocating for removing player agency just pointing out that it can be removed both against the players will and via deception. I mean statistically if you go through enough players you are bound to find a group that you can bully around. If you don't like bullying then you can do the same thing via deception.

    This means that players agency within the game is dependent on the GM.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I'm not advocating for removing player agency just pointing out that it can be removed both against the players will and via deception. I mean statistically if you go through enough players you are bound to find a group that you can bully around. If you don't like bullying then you can do the same thing via deception.

    This means that players agency within the game is dependent on the GM.
    So rather than be a better DM and not have such an antagonistic view towards your players you... just cycle through enough people until eventually you find one you can bully or deceive?

    I feel there MIGHT be something wrong with that plan. Just something about it strikes me as not the best of ideas to promote...
    Interested in giving 4e D&D a shot? All players, new and old, are welcome to join us over at the Guild Living Campaign on Roll20. Feel free to post on the thread or PM me for more information.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I'm not going to argue strongly against that usage, I think in context it's generally clear.

    My objection is to the assertion that "setting" specifically and only means something like "a movie set" or "the specific limited area in which the direct events of the narrative take place", and that it would somehow be wrong to use it in the broader sense.
    The problem is that role-players traditionally use the term "setting" for a dual purpose of "provider of content" and "provider of context", so "stage" and "backdrop" at the same time. So using it in a broader sense is, well, wrong because you don't convey what of the two different things you mean when using it.

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I'm not advocating for removing player agency just pointing out that it can be removed both against the players will and via deception. I mean statistically if you go through enough players you are bound to find a group that you can bully around. If you don't like bullying then you can do the same thing via deception.

    This means that players agency within the game is dependent on the GM.
    That's just weird. You have to "bully" players around when there's a fundamental difference in how to understand the game and if the players didn't "buy in" to the game you actually offer. So, yes, naturally, in a "traditional" game where the GM is in charge of the content, the GM is the one setting the limits and boundaries which in turn will inform what agency is and means.

    Something must have gone wrong at some point when I offer a game of "Rise of the Runelords" and I do so with people more interested in exploring Varisia or don't bring characters suitable to do so.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    That's just weird. You have to "bully" players around when there's a fundamental difference in how to understand the game and if the players didn't "buy in" to the game you actually offer. So, yes, naturally, in a "traditional" game where the GM is in charge of the content, the GM is the one setting the limits and boundaries which in turn will inform what agency is and means.

    Something must have gone wrong at some point when I offer a game of "Rise of the Runelords" and I do so with people more interested in exploring Varisia or don't bring characters suitable to do so.
    Yes this might sound weird but I'm not advising anyone on bullying players. I'm using it to make a point that agency within the game is dependent on the GM and that might prompt DU's reaction on that player agency is an illusion, just to put things into context.

    But now that we're here I'll point out that there are a lot of GM's out there that severly limit agency.

    GM: "Guys I'm going to run Rise of the Runelords and you have no choice but to play it as I'm the only GM in the village.

    Bob "Oh again...but we died last time"

    GM: "That was because you went to do some stupid crap that wasn't in the module and the Gods got angry. So I need a fighter, cleric, rogue and wizard."

    Jim: "Can't I play a barbarian?"

    GM: "No, barbarians don't fit in with my vision of the campaign world. Soooo Jim, you get to play the fighter"

    Jim: "Great, fighter again"

    GM: "If you play well you might get to be a cleric next time....eh...how about that."
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    GM: "Guys I'm going to run Rise of the Runelords and you have no choice but to play it as I'm the only GM in the village.
    This is the point where you laugh and walk off.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Koo Rehtorb View Post
    This is the point where you laugh and walk off.
    Is it? If itīs the only game in town, you either swallow the toad or you GM yourself and offer another.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Is it? If itīs the only game in town, you either swallow the toad or you GM yourself and offer another.
    Or play on the internet instead.

    Any of those three options are better.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    The problem is that role-players traditionally use the term "setting" for a dual purpose of "provider of content" and "provider of context", so "stage" and "backdrop" at the same time. So using it in a broader sense is, well, wrong because you don't convey what of the two different things you mean when using it.
    That would assume that there's any distinction to be made there in the first place.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    But now that we're here I'll point out that there are a lot of GM's out there that severly limit agency.
    Yes, they are called bad GMs.

    If a GM runs a low agency game and the players just want in for tactical combat (or a number of other reasons), that is fine. But cutting down choices for no reason other than "you know what, what I want is more important than you want by the cult of GM, so we are just going to go with what I want," is both selfish and will result in a net loss of fun for the players. Which means they are doing a bad job.

    And honestly, although it doesn't happen very often, players can limit GM agency. Part of the reason it doesn't happen is people realize that would be rude, but I don't see how it would be any less rude than doing the same to the player. Agency can conflict and then of course you have to find some fair way to limit them. Fair can be a bit complicated, but it is not "just limit the player's agency until it doesn't conflict with the GM's".

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Is it?
    Yes, it is. Not gaming at all is better than a toxic game.

    There are other hobbies. Putting up with abuse is never worth it in any field of life.

    It's unhealthy to need these games so much you put up with abuse from other people to get it. At that point, you're probably better weaning yourself off this stuff a bit.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    That would assume that there's any distinction to be made there in the first place.
    Sure. That's why you can place a Rappan Athuk or Red Hand of Doom before the backdrop of nearly any setting, a Tales from the Infinite Staircase only works in combination with Planescape as a setting, tho.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Sure. That's why you can place a Rappan Athuk or Red Hand of Doom before the backdrop of nearly any setting, a Tales from the Infinite Staircase only works in combination with Planescape as a setting, tho.
    That still doesn't draw any distinction between "context" and "content".

    The "secondary reality", the "fictional world", the setting, whatever one wants to call it... that's the backdrop AND the stage, an integral part of the context and the content. The village one of the characters is from, the mountains in the distance, the history of the kingdoms, the city the characters first met in or operate out of, the constellations in the sky and the restaurant they gather in the back of for secret meetings... all of that is the setting.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-10 at 11:18 AM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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