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  1. - Top - End - #121
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Is it? If it´s 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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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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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!''

  3. - Top - End - #123
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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.

  4. - Top - End - #124
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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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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    RangerGuy

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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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    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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  7. - Top - End - #127
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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.

  8. - Top - End - #128
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    SamuraiGuy

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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.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    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?
    It´s basically a good description of hex crawling. Even when you've got your initial plot hooks, you still have to "crawl" to them, doing the exploration and (random) encounters en route.

    Maybe 6 years ago, I gm´ed a rather typical hex crawl (frontier outpost, uncharted wilderness, lost civilizations, you know the drill) for a bunch of players new to the format. Although they managed to deal with and discover a lot, even in the initial session, by session four we even two emerging stories based not the prior action tentatively starting, when two of the players quit the game after that session.

    Reasons were:
    - Story development to slow, no overall coherent story.
    - Game not character focused.
    - Why don't we just skip the boring parts and only tackle the interesting stuff?

    So, ok, those guys were WoD players, so their understanding of "sandbox" might have been vastly different from mine.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    So, ok, those guys were WoD players, so their understanding of "sandbox" might have been vastly different from mine.
    Understatement of the YEAR.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    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.
    In Elminster's Forgotten Realms (splatbook, for no specific edition, created late in 4e) it talks about how, to make your world seem "alive" you need to constantly be creating new hooks - make it seem like time is passing, and that events keep happening around the players even if they do nothing and they don't see those events close up.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    In Elminster's Forgotten Realms (splatbook, for no specific edition, created late in 4e) it talks about how, to make your world seem "alive" you need to constantly be creating new hooks - make it seem like time is passing, and that events keep happening around the players even if they do nothing and they don't see those events close up.
    That's key, and something were a lot of video games, for example, fail -- the setting doesn't feel very real if it just sits around waiting for the PC(s) to show up and interact with it.
    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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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    In Elminster's Forgotten Realms (splatbook, for no specific edition, created late in 4e) it talks about how, to make your world seem "alive" you need to constantly be creating new hooks - make it seem like time is passing, and that events keep happening around the players even if they do nothing and they don't see those events close up.
    Ok then let me explain better. The GM has to place the hooks before the session starts. No quantum ogres!
    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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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I suspect it depends on the scale.
    The big situations ought to be from before the start. You start in a small region of squabbling countries surrounded by great empires (behind which may be even bigger fish).
    The fairly big situations for the campaign. The small region is more or less described. CountryB is invading, the Lords of Parliament and the Crown are at tensions over XYZ.
    ...
    Before the session after the one in which the group didn't join the army. A regiment is missing, lots of people in town have a connection. (slowly changing plot hooks)
    During the session, whatever a specific person's connection (if any) is to the lost regiment. Not QO but some similarities.
    Instantaneous, minor details, that specific person's strength, etc...

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    Ok then let me explain better. The GM has to place the hooks before the session starts. No quantum ogres!
    What if a new hook emerges from the events of a session?
    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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    SamuraiGuy

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

    Any of those three options are better.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    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 Cosi View Post
    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.
    You see when I was growing up and playing roleplaying games in 80s and 90s we didn't have internet or any source to tell us this. My parents didn't have answers for how to deal with a toxic GM and we had a hard time identifying them as we were pre-teens or early teens.

    One of the first games I joined was a BECMI game run by my older brother and I joined on the premise that they needed a healer so I got to play a cleric. You might scoff at this but this is a reality that preteens and early teens might be struggling with and there is a good chance they aren't on these forums to get advice. Being a GM at this age is a status symbol in the group because not everyone can or will be a GM as it seems hard and difficult task. Not everyone has a plethora of games to chose from.

    Just pointing people out that there are other hobbies doesn't help. I have always been passionate about gaming, starting as a kid and have been playing for rpgs over three decades. So should I have picked up another hobby because my brother forced me to play a cleric if I wanted join his game? So yes Florian, you swallow that toad and hope for better times and then you memorize the rules because you don't have the rulebooks or the money to buy them and start your own group
    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.

  17. - Top - End - #137
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    What if a new hook emerges from the events of a session?
    What exactly are hooks? They're pointers towards something, giving a direction to move forwards to, as most of the time, with a fresh new sandbox, you don't have a clue what exactly to do with it.

    A bit cliché, but such things as a rumor table and some wanted posters are simple tools to get things in motion. I mean, you didn't place/hide also those shiny toys in the sandbox for them not to be found and toyed with, right?

    So I guess you're rather talking about "emergent plot" instead of hook.

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    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.
    All I keep seeing is everyone saying Sandbox=Cool.

    Like you yourself say your one game is a sandbox...but then you detail that it is just a normal game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    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.
    Sidequests are not meaningless, though they do need a big main quest to ''be on the side'' of.

    And I'm not judging, as I've said lots of time and will say again: Any way to play the game is fine and any way people want to have fun is fine. I'm not talking about those people at all. Some people want to play an RPG and do nothing except roll a d20 to toss a peanut in their characters's mouth at a bar. And that is fine, for some people. I'm talking about the other players, the ones that want to role play more meaningful, exciting and adventurous things. They want to fight a dragon on the edge of a volcano much more then they just want to have a drink at a bar or do some dirty laundry.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    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.
    THIS is my point: all RPGS are the ''many paths''. The problem is that everyone else is seeing Sandbox= Cool Game and Jerk DM Railroad as the only two game types.

    If you follow a path that is does not lead anywhere...that is the definition of meaningless and pointless. You play the game, run around in a couple pointless circles, then stop playing that game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    You have no power directly to affect which way you're going, you're on a train that carries you).
    Again, this is my point. You can endlessly take meaningless actions in the game(and yes, have tons and tons of tons of fun...if this is your version of fun) and pointlessly wander lots of paths to nowhere. Eventually, though, most players pick a big main path...a quest, with a story and plot: basically something meaningful to do. And, yes, once you pick that path...you do have to follow it: that is how paths work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    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.
    Again, this is my point: A so called Sandbox is a Normal game.

    The players want to ''fight an evil king and save a kingdom''. So the DM makes the Adventure. A, at least average DM will make at least a couple ways (''paths''), especially the ''obvious'' ones: a good sister to the evil king, a hardy band of rebels against the king, an evil demon that is influencing the king and an imprisoned brass dragon(*Now* note it does not have to be these exact ones, they are just examples). Then when the game play starts, the players can have their characters do whatever they want along the adventure path of ''fight an evil king and save a kingdom''. The players are free to ignore everything the DM has made; like they can have their characters charge the evil kings castle in broad daylight and not get the rebel army to help(though admittedly this is stupid.) The characters in the game can only act/react to things the DM has made; the players can't just make stuff up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post

    First off you assume that what the players do wandering around is meaningless.
    Well, yes, objectively. I'm saying that in a typical action adventure RPG, where the players make a character that is a super hero, secret agent, or minotaur barbarian that yes it is meaningless to say wash some laundry or drink at a bar. Again, I'm not talking about where your playing the Cake Baking RPG, where you make a character to do nothing but bake cakes in the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    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.
    I guess this is just a matter of style. I think it's better to establish character and setting and build the base assumptions during an adventure, not spend hours doing it in a pre-adventure introduction.

    Like a player can make a character that is afraid of spiders. So the so called Sandbox way is to have the character drink at a bar, for hours of real time, and when they see a common normal spider at some point the player can say ''Oh, hey my character is afraid of spiders''. Or there is the normal game Adventure way of having the character, during the adventure, as they move through the Caves of Doom to sneak into the evil kings castle, they encounter a monstrous giant spider and role play their character as being afraid of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    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.
    I agree that for some players, the picky ones and ones likely to cause problems, it's better to let them ''pick'' something to do. In theory such players should follow the adventure path because they want too. Though, in reality, any player that wants to be a problem player will do so; even if they pick the adventure of ''destroy the lich king'', they can still whine and cry ten minutes into the game when they encounter a tough skeletal guard they can't destroy in front of a door.

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    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.
    So, it's more accurate to say: The game will have a Sandbox pre-game, and then be a normal game. So it's missleading to say it will be a ''sandbox game'', as the sandbox part only comes before the normal game play starts.

    So Sandbox = Pick a Plot?

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    You see when I was growing up and playing roleplaying games in 80s and 90s we didn't have internet or any source to tell us this. My parents didn't have answers for how to deal with a toxic GM and we had a hard time identifying them as we were pre-teens or early teens.

    One of the first games I joined was a BECMI game run by my older brother and I joined on the premise that they needed a healer so I got to play a cleric. You might scoff at this but this is a reality that preteens and early teens might be struggling with and there is a good chance they aren't on these forums to get advice. Being a GM at this age is a status symbol in the group because not everyone can or will be a GM as it seems hard and difficult task. Not everyone has a plethora of games to chose from.

    Just pointing people out that there are other hobbies doesn't help. I have always been passionate about gaming, starting as a kid and have been playing for rpgs over three decades. So should I have picked up another hobby because my brother forced me to play a cleric if I wanted join his game? So yes Florian, you swallow that toad and hope for better times and then you memorize the rules because you don't have the rulebooks or the money to buy them and start your own group
    Well, you live and you learn, but the fact that you didn't have people helping you doesn't mean that we should answer the question any differently.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    All I keep seeing is everyone saying Sandbox=Cool.

    Like you yourself say your one game is a sandbox...but then you detail that it is just a normal game.
    That's because Sandboxes ARE "Normal" games. Linear Games are "Normal" games. They're just different styles of Normal Games, which is why both terms are meaningful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Sidequests are not meaningless, though they do need a big main quest to ''be on the side'' of.
    No, they don't. Sure, the term originally came up to describe quests that were ancillary to a larger plot, but since then the Sidequest has evolved and no longer needs a larger companion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    THIS is my point: all RPGS are the ''many paths''. The problem is that everyone else is seeing Sandbox= Cool Game and Jerk DM Railroad as the only two game types.
    Nobody playing "Sandbox" games has a problem. You are the one struggling to understand them. The problem is with your understanding, not the principles they utilize.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    If you follow a path that is does not lead anywhere...that is the definition of meaningless and pointless. You play the game, run around in a couple pointless circles, then stop playing that game.
    Wrong on so many levels. Simple counterexample: NASCAR (or any looped race). You're not trying to go anywhere new, just trying to get there first. You go around in pointless circles, but the challenge is in perfecting your technique and racing alongside skilled competitors.

    It's not that these games have no meaning, it's that they have a different meaning which you are failing to recognize.

    Sometimes you follow a Path because you want to go to Point A and that location happens to be somewhere on the Path. That is taking a path to reach a destination.

    In Looped Racing, you follow the path the same as your competitors, not going anywhere in particular, but trying to go there the fastest.

    Then, in some games, you follow a path just to see where it will take you. You aren't deciding to go to any particular place, but to change your location to any other particular place. Pointless? Not in the least, though it does tend to have a more derivative, more emergent meaning. Many stories about the wandering traveler who just set out to see what was actually out there, not having any point of reference from which to decide on where they would go.

    Sandbox games aren't about "doing trivial stuff" like washing dishes, doing laundry, or walking the dog. They're about placing the story motivation on the player rather than the DM.

    And you're not allowed to take Sandbox games, relabel them as "Normal games" and use that as your justification for saying, "Sandbox game has no meaning." At that point, it only has no meaning because you have stripped it of the meaning it carried.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Again, this is my point. You can endlessly take meaningless actions in the game(and yes, have tons and tons of tons of fun...if this is your version of fun) and pointlessly wander lots of paths to nowhere. Eventually, though, most players pick a big main path...a quest, with a story and plot: basically something meaningful to do. And, yes, once you pick that path...you do have to follow it: that is how paths work.
    OR you can abandon that particular quest and pick up another one whenever you fancy. The quest that you decide as your "Big Main Quest" might be left unfinished and instead pursue an unrelated quest. Maybe because the new quest is bigger and more meaningful, or maybe just because your characters had personal motivation to settle down or lay low for a while.

    Anything is meaningful if a person attributes meaning to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Again, this is my point: A so called Sandbox is a Normal game.
    To propose a change of definition, we must gain something beneficial from the change. As it stands, Sandbox gives us a descriptive idea as to the motivating factors behind a game. Normal doesn't tell us much of anything at all.

    We change definitions to lose information? Seems like a terrible idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    The players want to ''fight an evil king and save a kingdom''. So the DM makes the Adventure. *snips* Then when the game play starts, the players can have their characters do whatever they want along the adventure path of ''fight an evil king and save a kingdom''. The players are free to ignore everything the DM has made; like they can have their characters charge the evil kings castle in broad daylight and not get the rebel army to help(though admittedly this is stupid.) The characters in the game can only act/react to things the DM has made; the players can't just make stuff up.
    No, they can't make stuff up, but in a Sandbox game, they can get partway into the story and say, "I don't want to do this quest anymore."

    Maybe they don't like the King's sister. Maybe they don't like the Rebels. Maybe they like the King. Maybe they just dislike all the people involved and wander off because, "these guys deserve each other." Whatever their reason, in a Sandbox Game, they can't just make a new Quest, but they CAN just abandon the quest and seek out a new one. At this point, the DM should either provide new primary motivating quests, adjust the factors in the old quest to make it more appealing, or retire the game.

    But if the players aren't allowed to hop off the train and find a new train going a different direction, then it's a Linear Game, not a Sandbox.
    Last edited by Pleh; 2018-02-11 at 04:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    What exactly are hooks? They're pointers towards something, giving a direction to move forwards to, as most of the time, with a fresh new sandbox, you don't have a clue what exactly to do with it.

    A bit cliché, but such things as a rumor table and some wanted posters are simple tools to get things in motion. I mean, you didn't place/hide also those shiny toys in the sandbox for them not to be found and toyed with, right?

    So I guess you're rather talking about "emergent plot" instead of hook.
    So what's the actual difference between establishing before the campaign starts that an NPC princess has lost her brother to an attack by demonic forces and has decided to dedicate her life to rooting out and destroying infernalists... and establishing as a result of the events of the ongoing campaign (an during an actual session of play) that an NPC princess has lost her brother to an attack by demonic forces and has decided to dedicate her life to rooting out and destroying infernalists?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    THIS is my point: all RPGS are the ''many paths''. The problem is that everyone else is seeing Sandbox= Cool Game and Jerk DM Railroad as the only two game types.
    What are you talking about? My favourite game structure is neither of those two. Its player-driven improvisational campaigns by the way.

    Again, I'm not talking about where your playing the Cake Baking RPG, where you make a character to do nothing but bake cakes in the game.
    I don't actually see how making the game about cooking would change the adventure structure. It will change the kind of challenges you overcome and so on. But you could have a linear adventure about a cake baking tournament or a sandbox about a cake baking catering service.

    I agree that for some players, the picky ones and ones likely to cause problems, it's better to let them ''pick'' something to do.
    For the other players, it is also better, because even if they are kind enough to run with whatever comes out of your mouth, picking the one that meshes with their characters the most will lead to better results.

    So Sandbox = Pick a Plot?[/QUOTE]

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    So what's the actual difference between establishing before the campaign starts that an NPC princess has lost her brother to an attack by demonic forces and has decided to dedicate her life to rooting out and destroying infernalists... and establishing as a result of the events of the outgoing campaign that an NPC princess has lost her brother to an attack by demonic forces and has decided to dedicate her life to rooting out and destroying infernalists?
    The first thing is actually akin to planting a "plot seed" - "Local rumor says that the princess has some serious grudge against the infernalists...". That's then either something to investigate or ignore. Incidentally, you now have established two facts about the world, first that there's a princess, second that there're infernalists, a topic that could also be investigated independently of the princess right now. Open decision.

    Applying consequences to actions is just moving the game world forward in response to what happens. You already have all elements into place (princess, brother, infernalists), you don't add anything new as "hook", you just change their state/status.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    The first thing is actually akin to planting a "plot seed" - "Local rumor says that the princess has some serious grudge against the infernalists...". That's then either something to investigate or ignore. Incidentally, you now have established two facts about the world, first that there's a princess, second that there're infernalists, a topic that could also be investigated independently of the princess right now. Open decision.

    Applying consequences to actions is just moving the game world forward in response to what happens. You already have all elements into place (princess, brother, infernalists), you don't add anything new as "hook", you just change their state/status.
    That seems to me to largely be a distinction without a difference. You can have a game where the GM prepares a 'princess hunting demons' subplot from day 0, and puts the rumor in hex F7. That's sort of the standard sandbox approach.

    You could also have a game with a bunch of pre-made plot hooks which the PCs can choose between, but after the party ignored the rumors of the cult rising in Feverfew Swamp, the GM decides that a demon attack killed the prince and led to a 'princess hunting demons' plot hook developing out of the decisions made during the game. You can argue that this one shouldn't be called a hook for some reason, but I don't see the use of such a distinction when it functions identically and the players might never be aware of the difference.

    Then you could have a campaign that's more branching, with a single definite quest that the GM prepared and which he nudges players back onto whenever they stray too far. But after the big battle against the cultists, if the players defend the gates then everyone survives and they gain the prince as an ally, but if they let too many demons through then the prince is killed and instead they gain the 'princess hunting demons' hook and the chance to earn her as an ally (or an enemy!).

    And then you could have the most railroady of games, where no matter what the PCs do or how their decisions turn out, they have to go investigate the cultists, there is going to be a battle, and the prince is going to die, leading to a 'princess hunting demons' hook which they will now be required to pursue.

    Lots of other points on that spectrum, of course, but the first two are recognizably an example of what people talk about when they talk about sandbox games, and the latter two are not. And in any of them, whenever and however the PCs hear about this 'princess hunting demons' as a possible thread to unravel and pursue, I'd call it a plot hook.
    Last edited by Steel Mirror; 2018-02-11 at 05:06 PM.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    @Steel Mirror:

    It´s pretty much changing the game itself, because it changes what should be explored and alters players agency. When the premise of the game is to explore the world and you start introducing non-player-initiated plot to said world, you're forcing your player to react to the emergent plots that you create instead of focussing on their own ones. So basically, you punish them for having made a choice at all. When you're presented with 4 "hooks" to start with and the three you didn't chose will lead to tragedy, the games not fun - been a player in one of those and it was a very frustrating experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    @Steel Mirror:

    It´s pretty much changing the game itself, because it changes what should be explored and alters players agency. When the premise of the game is to explore the world and you start introducing non-player-initiated plot to said world, you're forcing your player to react to the emergent plots that you create instead of focussing on their own ones. So basically, you punish them for having made a choice at all. When you're presented with 4 "hooks" to start with and the three you didn't chose will lead to tragedy, the games not fun - been a player in one of those and it was a very frustrating experience.
    Well that's a problem with a particular way to use plot hooks, and to structure a game. You can have a wide open sandbox that respects player choice and one just as wide open that spitefully spits on it. I'll leave that discussion aside, except to say that I sympathize with any bad experiences you've had.

    I was talking particularly about your splitting of hairs between a plot hook:
    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    What exactly are hooks? They're pointers towards something, giving a direction to move forwards to, as most of the time, with a fresh new sandbox, you don't have a clue what exactly to do with it.

    A bit cliché, but such things as a rumor table and some wanted posters are simple tools to get things in motion.
    and what you termed as 'emergent plot', distinct from plot hooks:
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    What if a new hook emerges from the events of a session?
    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    So I guess you're rather talking about "emergent plot" instead of hook.
    I agree that there can be plot hooks that the GM spins out of whole cloth, and plot hooks that emerge from gameplay or that the GM concocts based on things already established in the setting. But those ARE all plot hooks, and insisting on different terms for all of them in order to claim that some are plot hooks and others are not is a distinction without a difference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    So what's the actual difference between establishing before the campaign starts that an NPC princess has lost her brother to an attack by demonic forces and has decided to dedicate her life to rooting out and destroying infernalists... and establishing as a result of the events of the ongoing campaign (an during an actual session of play) that an NPC princess has lost her brother to an attack by demonic forces and has decided to dedicate her life to rooting out and destroying infernalists?
    The big difference is the details. Before the game, a DM can make up lots of details. Lots of perfectly made information that is all interconnected and makes sense. Very few (but sure there are some) people can just ''make up stuff'' in one second and have it be any good.

    Like just take the demon attack. Lets say it takes the DM ten minutes or so to make the details like when and where the attack happened...and can look up in the games timeline to fit it into the story, and then make the whole story too. During the game, sure the DM can toss out ''there was a whatever demon attack whatever or something and the brother was there''. But when asked when it happened the DM might have every game detail memorized...or they might need to look at that time line and take a couple minutes to look over things. But during the game the, if the DM does not know, they just have to say ''I don't know'', pause the game and say ''ok everyone just sit there and wait'' while they look up stuff or worst of all, just make up the random pile of mess of stuff.

    And the last one is by far the worst. The DM says ''oh, um, the demon attack was five years ago in the glass castle on May 5th''. But then a couple minutes later say the brother was on vacation on May 5th on Happy Island. Opps! Then the DM has to back track and change things...oh he meant to say four years ago...but then again, oops, that does not work so another three things need to be changed...and soon enough the story and plot is a mess beyond all other messes...and worse gets changed every couple of minutes. And like when you get to ''ok, um, for the 12th time we change this...um, the demon attack happened two years ago''.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    What are you talking about? My favourite game structure is neither of those two. Its player-driven improvisational campaigns by the way.
    So this is the Lazy DM Quantum Ogre type game right? The DM just sits back, and only reacts to the players. And when and if the players to ever pick any sort of plot or story to follow: the players just make up every single detail, that the DM then just uses and makes right in front of the characters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I don't actually see how making the game about cooking would change the adventure structure. It will change the kind of challenges you overcome and so on. But you could have a linear adventure about a cake baking tournament or a sandbox about a cake baking catering service.
    I'm talking about a game, like say D&D, where the player has a character that is a half gold dragon barbarian wizard made and meant to go on an action adventure...and the player wants to hang around the town of DullDale and bake cakes, for like five hours of real time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Some people want to play an RPG and do nothing except roll a d20 to toss a peanut in their characters's mouth at a bar. And that is fine, for some people. I'm talking about the other players, the ones that want to role play more meaningful, exciting and adventurous things. They want to fight a dragon on the edge of a volcano much more then they just want to have a drink at a bar or do some dirty laundry.
    ...
    Like a player can make a character that is afraid of spiders. So the so called Sandbox way is to have the character drink at a bar, for hours of real time, and when they see a common normal spider at some point the player can say ''Oh, hey my character is afraid of spiders''. Or there is the normal game Adventure way of having the character, during the adventure, as they move through the Caves of Doom to sneak into the evil kings castle, they encounter a monstrous giant spider and role play their character as being afraid of it.
    This is getting really frustrating to watch. Let me try to lay this out simply for you.

    "Sandbox vs Linear" describes how the adventure is organized. It has nothing to do with the SCALE or PACE of the action .

    A linear adventure can waste a lot of time on small scale stuff. A sandbox can move along at breakneck speed and full of constant explosions. What separates them is how they are organized.

    In a railroad, there is one path: you go from A to Z in alphabetical order. "The PCs want to get rid of the king, so first they need to... And then they can..." Etc.

    In a good linear game, there is more than one path: you go from A to B then choose C1 or C2 or C3 (C1 goes to D & E, C2 goes to E, C3 skips straight to M7), but they all lead to some version of Z. "The PCs want to get rid of the king, so they can swear fealty to the king's sister who wants to become queen, join the church that wants to put a priest on the throne to make a theocracy, or join the underground republican resistance. After that, their new patron will send them on a side quest to prove their loyalty. After they've proven themselves, they'll either go on an espionage mission to find out what the other factions are up to or they'll go dungeon-delving to retrieve a magic doohickey to boost their faction's power." Etc.

    In a sandbox, there are no paths. A through Z are all out there, some of the points are close together, some are far apart, and some might even be tightly connected. What makes a sandbox different is that there's no preferred order. There is no "the PCs are supposed to get to Z" or "the PCs have to pass through B". The world is full of places and things and people with their own goals and plans, but there's no plot from the GM. The plot is what the players do. "The king is a real doodoo head who heavily taxes the PCs' favorite ale, but most of the nobles support him. He is known to be worried that his sister is gaining support from the merchant class as well as a couple prominent dukes who control the major ports. The church of the Supreme Light claims that the king's castle is built on an ancient temple and the high priest should be running the kingdom as the Holy See of the Priest-King of Supreme Light. There's a growing republican movement composed mostly of intellectuals and free farmers who want to eliminate the monarchy completely. The king negotiated a favorable peace with the neighboring kingdoms a few years ago, which has been good for most people, but several large mercenary companies have been getting lean and hungry. It's no coincidence that piracy and banditry are becoming a more common problem." Etc.

    If the PCs want to overthrow the king, there are a lot of ways they can do it. How? I don't know. If they like one of the factions against the king, they can join and try to help out. Maybe they'll go fight bandits to suck up to become heroes of the merchants or fight pirates as privateers of the coastal dukes to worm their way into the good graces of the wannabe queen. Maybe they'll just try to take over the mercenaries-turned-bandits and raise their own army to sell to the highest bidder. Maybe they'll decide that they'd rather just be rich so they can easily afford all the ale they want no matter how much the king taxes it. It's up to the PCs and they can interact with the world and its inhabitants in any way they want. Within the limits of their ability, obviously. They have freedom, not unlimited wishes.

    A sandbox is like the real world. There are a lot of great stories and adventures, but they aren't plotted in advance. They happen and then people look back at what happened and tell the story. Sandboxes can be a lot of fun if you want to inhabit and explore another world or trod their jeweled thrones under your sandaled feet to become king by your own hand. Linear adventures are good if you want to be given various cool missions to do for a patron.

    If players just sit around a sandbox waiting to be told what they're "supposed to do next" like a linear adventure, sandboxes are really boring and feature a lot of small scale time-wasting. That's not the sandbox's fault. It's just a play style mismatch. Just like if you try to play a railroad game like it's a sandbox, you'll swerve off the tracks and derail everything. A railroad can be really fun if you want to go to the destination and the scenery on the way is cool, but it sucks if you want to do something else.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    And in either case, pre-seeded or emergent, the thing can come from, or not come from, PC actions -- or lack of actions.

    The situation that could arise with the princess and the infernalists might happen as a result of the PCs ignoring the infernalists in favor of uncovering a plot to replace the heads of the ruling houses in a neighboring country with doppelgangers, or whatever, and might only come to pass because some side-determinations (maybe even involving dice rolls for the NPCs!) by the GM resulted in the local priests or competing adventurers failing to stop the infenralists too. Events in "the world" are still taking place regardless of whether the PCs get involved, just like real life.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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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.
    Everything you just typed in this post is a meaningless phrase.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    In a sandbox, there are no paths.
    Ok, if there are no paths, then the game is a pointless random mess. How could it not be? Even if the characters just want to kill a giant rat in a cave...they have to first go over to the cave and then attack the rat. And 1.go to cave, and 2. attack rat IS a path....a very, very, very simple one...but still a path. But if a sandbox has NO paths, even that simple thing can't happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    A sandbox is like the real world.
    This goes along with Sandbox = Cool. But to say the game is like the real world is saying the non-game activity is dull and boring. I don't want to dispel any illusions, but in the real world nothing much ''adventure worthy'' happens.

    But RPGs are not Real World Simulators, they are Games. And not just games, but also settings for fictional stories and plots: because, again, I don't want to dispel any illusions, but nothing in an RPG is ''real''.

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