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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
    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
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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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

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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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

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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."
    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
    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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

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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.
    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Some play RPG's like chess, some like charades.

    Everyone has their own jam.

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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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

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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 you tell the DM that you're not interested in that, and the group works together to find an acceptable compromise. If you set up your game by offering ultimatums to one another until either the players or the DM break down, you will end up with a bad game even if everyone accepts the same ultimatum. It's a group game, and its contents should be a group decision.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    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.
    That is not a common definition of a Sandbox, and it's sure not one I see used.



    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    The first game is a Frostfell themed game
    You say this is a sandbox? The players are free to do meaningless fluff things for as long as they want too. You as DM just sit back and do very little other then react to the players and drop random plot hooks. Then, maybe eventually, the players will final say ''ok, lets do something meaningful'' and pick a plot hook. Then the normal game starts.

    All the meaningless fluff things are great, for as long as everyone wants to do them. But, most often, people do eventually want to do ''more''.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    The second game is far more linear,
    So my question is, after all the meaningless fluff things, when the players do finally pick something meaningful to do that is adventure worthy...does not the game become linear?

    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.
    I think the two are a bit interchangeable. Though I'd say ''game world'' is a bit more ''the single planet'' and ''setting'' is more ''the multiverse''.

    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.
    I think that the vast majority of DMs, like just about all of them, do this. And the vast majority of players, like just about all of them are fine with this and agree with it.

    It's odd to see people disagree with that. Like when a DM says ''this game is set in a mythical Aztec like setting'' and a players is like ''I demand to have a ninja cyborg alien character!''

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    So my question is, after all the meaningless fluff things, when the players do finally pick something meaningful to do that is adventure worthy...does not the game become linear?
    Isn't that like saying when you come to a fork in the road and then choose a to turn one way or the other... wasn't there just a curve in the road? No of course not, the fact that you choose one option doesn't mean that the other options have not existed. Baring retcons, you will always have taken exactly one path, but choosing that path because it was the only one available is a very different experience than choosing one from many different options.

    Also Pleh's definition of sandbox seems to be pretty much the standard as far as I can tell.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Isn't that like saying when you come to a fork in the road and then choose a to turn one way or the other... wasn't there just a curve in the road? No of course not, the fact that you choose one option doesn't mean that the other options have not existed. Baring retcons, you will always have taken exactly one path, but choosing that path because it was the only one available is a very different experience than choosing one from many different options.

    Also Pleh's definition of sandbox seems to be pretty much the standard as far as I can tell.
    Well, no. The way I'm seeing it is the group is sitting at home just doing dull, normal stuff: going shopping, drinking at a bar, or doing laundry. And things don't and can't get exciting and interesting until they finally leave their safe home and start off down the road. Like all the stuff until the players pick a plot hook to do or follow is just pre-game.

    Really? It does not seem like when people say Sandbox they are saying ''roam and explore''. But is that somehow what people think they are saying? Because saying the game is a pointless, random mess does not seem to be a good thing.

    Like ok, the DM makes a setting and then does little else. So then for hours, the players can just have their characters wander around doing trivial, meaningless things. Then, eventually, the players will pick a plot hook and the normal game adventure will then start. And as a plot is linear that is that.

    So what is the point of highlighting the pre game fluff by going all out and saying it will be a sandbox game...especially as it will just be a normal game?

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    That is not a common definition of a Sandbox, and it's sure not one I see used.
    To be fair, you fairly commonly seem to have a different understanding of what other people are saying (even when others explicitly correct you).

    You don't seem to be a reliable authority on what other people have been saying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    You say this is a sandbox? The players are free to do meaningless fluff things for as long as they want too. You as DM just sit back and do very little other then react to the players and drop random plot hooks. Then, maybe eventually, the players will final say ''ok, lets do something meaningful'' and pick a plot hook. Then the normal game starts.

    All the meaningless fluff things are great, for as long as everyone wants to do them. But, most often, people do eventually want to do ''more''.
    Why are the endless sidequests "meaningless"? What if that's the game they prefer to play? My players don't seem to be in any hurry to get on with the "main quest."

    You're judging their game based on your own ideas about what makes games fun, ignoring the fact that other people think differently than you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    So my question is, after all the meaningless fluff things, when the players do finally pick something meaningful to do that is adventure worthy...does not the game become linear?
    Think of "Sandbox" like a forest full of hiking trails while a "linear" game is like riding a train on a rail. During most Sandbox games, you follow somewhat linear paths that aren't necessarily interconnected or interdependent. They seem linear, because they are still following some logical progression, just not necessarily leading anywhere (or if leading somewhere, not necessarily having any more purpose than getting to location X.

    In a Linear games, the point is to ride the train. You can move back and forth between compartments, climb out on top or on the sides, try to take control of the speed of the train, or maybe jump off (at which point the nature of the game changes). You have no power directly to affect which way you're going, you're on a train that carries you).

    In a sandbox, while you can walk along a set of rails and follow after the train, you move under your own power and determine your path at will, stepping on and off the rail track as you choose, or even embarking off into uncharted territory on a whim. No one objective is ever more meaningful than another, as the value in every quest is only what you choose to place in it.

    In a more linear game, you are already being swept along, you don't control so much where you go as much as how (though that *can* be altered, it's more difficult than in a sandbox).

    At no point are Sandbox or Linear games distinguished by objectives that are more or less meaningful. It's more that Linear games attempt to tie Meaning to the Overarching Plot. Sandbox games try to accumulate as much Meaning as possible in every various thing that the players pursue.
    Last edited by Pleh; 2018-02-10 at 09:38 PM. Reason: just grammar
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    Some play RPG's like chess, some like charades.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Dude, at this point it has to be willful ignorance. It's been spelled out for you repeatedly. People have told you that they game a certain way. You are busily alternating between calling them liars and telling them that they're bad/wrong about how to play RPGs. I don't think this can be made any clearer.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Like ok, the DM makes a setting and then does little else. So then for hours, the players can just have their characters wander around doing trivial, meaningless things. Then, eventually, the players will pick a plot hook and the normal game adventure will then start. And as a plot is linear that is that.
    Oh that part. Also no, but for a different reason, or reasons.

    First off you assume that what the players do wandering around is meaningless. Which if they are doing it, they obviously do not think it is. As an example, a lot of "narrative structure diagrams" I have seen include a gap before the trigger incident. This introduction period is used to establish character and setting and build the base assumptions used later. In a role-playing game, where you don't know what will be important later and have to make the decision as opposed to merely follow it. So that might explain the wandering in your example. (Actually, is it an example from your experience or guessing what happens in a sandbox game?)

    Second, picking a plot hook from options is still different from just being given a single one. Because people will choose the one that interests them, makes the most sense for their characters to follow, so you can get better results out of that.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Like ok, the DM makes a setting and then does little else. So then for hours, the players can just have their characters wander around doing trivial, meaningless things. Then, eventually, the players will pick a plot hook and the normal game adventure will then start. And as a plot is linear that is that.

    So what is the point of highlighting the pre game fluff by going all out and saying it will be a sandbox game...especially as it will just be a normal game?

    You pretty much summed it up. Sandbox game is a game where the GM places hooks beforehand and the players have the joy of wandering around hunting for those hooks. Remember the beforehand part is very important because for some players adding things after the fact is cheating on the GMs part. When the players finally find a hook they have to determine if they have the guts to go through with the adventure itself and then a normal linear or even not so linear adventrure starts. If the players don't like the hook or the adventure they are allowed to back out and find a new one.

    So I don't know where all the randomness or meaningless wandering stems from....maybe while the players are trying to find an appropriate hook?

    See in my books a sandbox just looks like a normal game where the GM doesn't just kick player agency in the balls and allows the players some freedom of choice.
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