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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    In this way, sandbox games lend themselves much better to playing the villain. Unless, of course, you're starting out in a highly dystopian world where anything that you build is going to be a lot better than what already exists.
    Or to settings in the aftermath of some catastrophic event when you want to rebuild and get back to a proper situation.
    Or to a setting where the old order is in danger and change is coming ... which might be fought or channeled.
    Or to exploration/expedition stories
    Or to general settlement/building stories.

    the last sandbox campaigns i played in the last year :
    1 - the heroes get handed the power over a small town in a wartorn region. They have to navigate between all the external factions and warlords, make general gouvernment decisions and have eventually to deal with a central gouvernment trying to reestablish order which might threaten all they have done so far. (of course they could just try to abuse their power, plunder the town and flee, but they choose differently)
    2 - A BBEG is starting his big plan. It will end in a big magic/demonic ritual in the open sea which will amongst others flood most of the coast. He already reigns over a whole host of sea monsters and seems to have a big pirate alliance and seems to employ lots of soldiers from underwater realms. All of that is revealed at the beginning. The PCs are already established as seafarers from a former campaign, have a ship, hav riches, are mostly born in coastel cities and have family ties there. Most of the coastel nations don't particular like each other
    3 - The PCs are living in a capital. They are not nobles, but certainly upper class. Some cult (forbidden by the established church) is rising and gaining influence on the souvereign who acts more and more tyrannical. politics turn violent, proscription ensures while the souverain acts more and more insane. There are dozens of NPCs with their own agendy. The PCs can try to influence all of that or try to hide from politics or whatever. They might even leave all that behind.
    4 - The PC inherit a family fortune in an oligarchy. Traditionally the family has right and duty to fill certain positions and take an active part in the gouvernment. But until the PCs actually prove that they can play this game of power, the other old families see possibilities to either steal some of those privileges or to make the PCs their pawns. Most of the family wealth is also bound in trading posts, ships, plantages, mining rights, slaves. The PCs will continously get money if they manage to keep this family empire alive. Obviously they could try to close some branches or make investments in new stuff. There is also a rebellion brewing because of unequality but mainly because of food prices.
    5 - A son of a noble gets the right to all the unknown land beyond some river. He tries to find settlers willing to accompany him to go there and carve out a new realm. The PCs are voluntaries for that and start more experienced than most other would be settlers which would allow them to take control of the whole thing or be the most qualified expert for whatever.

    None of that were villain setups. Sure, as sandboxes, the PCs could always act as villains, but all of them work fine, even better, if they don't

  2. - Top - End - #182
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    And yet, there is a distinction between the sandbox I described and the linear game I described, both of which are normal games. So "sandbox" isn't a meaningless phrase. If set S = {A, B}, A isn't a meaningless item just because both it and B are both in set S.

    normal game = {sandbox, linear game}.
    The ONLY thing that makes a sandbox a sandbox, according to everyone that has posted, is just the ''feeling'' that the players can choose to do ''anything''. And my whole point is that ''feeling'' is part of ANY TRPG (at least any one that is not bad or run by a bad DM, of course).

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    Linear and rather railroady. Let's ignore the issue of how the PCs are going to take action to stop the cult even if they don't know about it. The fact that you've already decided--in advance--that the PCs will try to stop it means it's not a sandbox.
    Right....well I'll expand my example to make my point a bit clearer.

    Ok, so the DM utterly does nothing but show up for the game. The players then spend hours and hours wandering around in the game world doing random mostly meaningless things and having mostly meaningless random encounters. The DM, other then just reacting to the players, occasionally drops a plot hook. Eventually, most players do get bored of just doing random mostly meaningless things and want to do something of more meaning and substance. So the players either make up a plot hook and hook themselves, or they pick one of the DMs plot hooks. Either way does not really matter. No matter what, the DM will make the adventure out of the plot hook.

    So in my example, the players characters learn about the cult, and the players decide to oppose them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    A real sandbox version:
    This is a Normal Game, and my whole point: Unless your in a bad game with a bad DM: All TRPG have the so called ''sandbox'' built in.

    Your example even provides examples of what I'm talking about: The DM HAS made VERY linear things the characters can TRY to do, if they want to, to stop the ritual. You mention two: the cult needs some set people and spices. So, the obvious and linear thing is to ''stop the cult from getting what they need; go from A(take action) -> B(stop the cult).

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    You can try to guess what the PCs will do so you can plan ahead to save time, but if you plan too much, it can become tempting to railroad them into doing what you planned for so your prep time isn't wasted.
    This is a bit more pre-game stuff: Simply pick Players you get along with/agree with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    Being a sandbox doesn't mean that things don't happen in a logical order. It just means the GM doesn't arrange that order in advance. PCs and NPCs in the world can have goals and step-by-step plans to achieve them, but the GM doesn't.
    BUT, in your very own example of a sandbox game, you DID arrange that order in advance. The cult needs to do X. I guess you can do the wacky crazy thing where you will say the ''cult comes alive in the DMs mind and tells them what to do, but the DM themselves does not do anything but listen to the voice in their head.''

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    Even something simple like "there's a giant rat in that cave over there". You can't say "if the PCs want to kill that rat then they have to go to the cave and fight it". It's up to the players to decide how to achieve the goal of killing the rat. They'll probably just go to the cave and fight it, because that's the simplest and most direct, but they might not. They might poison a big cheese wheel and leave it out for the giant rat or say "Hey, remember that homeless goblin who was begging us for work? Let's give him a knife and a map to the cave and offer him a gold piece for the dead rat."
    Right...but make it ''if the PC's want to kill the giant rat they must A)Go to where the giant rat is and B)interact with it in some way(even if it's indirect). There is NO way the PCs can do anything else and kill the rat.

    And I'd note your last example is just beyond stupid for most games. The vast majority of TRPG's only give rewards IF the PC's directly do something. So if the really lazy characters just hire NPC's to do everything for them, they won't get much of anything. I'd also note it's very boring to sit around and hire NPC.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    I mean...following philosophical advice from Star Wars is not...exactly ideal. We're 2/9 on movies with any serious intellectual oomph behind them.
    Any time you want to start a thread ''How Disney Ruined Star Wars'' or even ''How 'modern day thinking(aka after 2000)' Ruined Star Wars'' I'm up for it.

  3. - Top - End - #183
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    The ONLY thing that makes a sandbox a sandbox, according to everyone that has posted, is just the ''feeling'' that the players can choose to do ''anything''. And my whole point is that ''feeling'' is part of ANY TRPG (at least any one that is not bad or run by a bad DM, of course).
    And this is exactly where you are incorrect.

    Sandbox is not about a Feeling or an Illusion of the ability to choose "anything." It is the ACTUAL ABILITY to choose "anything."

    The real troublesome bit is the implication that these choices are meant to be limited to "within reason," which is where we differ in what we consider "reasonable" and the precise cause for a "sandbox spectrum" since most tables have a slightly different place where they drawn the lines of what they consider, "reasonable."

    It's a subjective choice, not an objective measurement, which is why the terms, "good," "bad," and "normal" are exceptionally poor choices.
    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    The ONLY thing that makes a sandbox a sandbox, according to everyone that has posted, is just the ''feeling'' that the players can choose to do ''anything''. And my whole point is that ''feeling'' is part of ANY TRPG (at least any one that is not bad or run by a bad DM, of course).
    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    And this is exactly where you are incorrect.

    Sandbox is not about a Feeling or an Illusion of the ability to choose "anything." It is the ACTUAL ABILITY to choose "anything."

    The real troublesome bit is the implication that these choices are meant to be limited to "within reason," which is where we differ in what we consider "reasonable" and the precise cause for a "sandbox spectrum" since most tables have a slightly different place where they drawn the lines of what they consider, "reasonable."

    It's a subjective choice, not an objective measurement, which is why the terms, "good," "bad," and "normal" are exceptionally poor choices.
    Pleh has the right of it, here. Darth Ultron, you're still ignoring what people say in favor of what you want to pretend they said.

    But I can make this simpler, if you'll refrain from pretending that anything other than your preference involves "random crazy nonsense."

    Sandboxes don't plan the path forward of what the PCs will do to resolve the problems. They just plan what the situation is, and may or may not have plans of what the likely next steps are as the situations evolve if the PCs don't intervene.

    Linear games, no matter how many paths, have paths designed for the PCs to traverse. They plan FOR the PCs' actions, and the PCs acting in a way that they were not planned for requires either that those unplanned-for actions be minimally disruptive to the planned-for path, that new paths be written ex nihilo, or that the PCs be tricked, forced, or cajoled back into making the planned-for actions of at least one of the extant paths.

    Does that difference make more sense to you? Or are you going to close your eyes and scream "crazy random!" rather than actually read what I wrote?

  5. - Top - End - #185
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Sandboxes don't plan the path forward of what the PCs will do to resolve the problems. They just plan what the situation is, and may or may not have plans of what the likely next steps are as the situations evolve if the PCs don't intervene.

    Linear games, no matter how many paths, have paths designed for the PCs to traverse. They plan FOR the PCs' actions, and the PCs acting in a way that they were not planned for requires either that those unplanned-for actions be minimally disruptive to the planned-for path, that new paths be written ex nihilo, or that the PCs be tricked, forced, or cajoled back into making the planned-for actions of at least one of the extant paths.
    These are just styles of DMing. To the players or an outside observer, there might well be no functional difference between them. Which is why it would be meaningless to advertise such a campaign as a "sandbox," because the players aren't really experiencing anything different from a homebrew BNSF campaign.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    These are just styles of DMing. To the players or an outside observer, there might well be no functional difference between them. Which is why it would be meaningless to advertise such a campaign as a "sandbox," because the players aren't really experiencing anything different from a homebrew BNSF campaign.
    What does BNSF stand for?

    And by that definition, there's no difference between a hardline railroad and any other game beyond "DMing style."

    But, no. There is a difference, in much the same way that there's a difference between a mac and a PC and a Linux machine. Even if you do everything you can to set your graphical look to have the same-looking interface, there are background differences in how the OSs run that will reflect in the machine's performance.

    Some players may never notice the difference. Some will. It will depend strongly on how well the players mesh with the GM's expectations and how well he predicted their responses and solutions. As well as how good the GM is at improvising and throwing out all his paths for a new one.

    Players who surprise the GM with their solutions and approaches will notice the linear game stalling a bit as the GM scrambles to change things up, and might see behind the thin walls of the prop city. Players who are used to following the GM-provided hooks and taking their cues for solutions from the structure of the game might find themselves befuddled by the way the sandbox game has a slower real-world update pace and how the GM seems to improv a fair bit of it. They may even think he's purely improvising the plot as he goes along, not realizing there's a whole detailed world the GM is referencing in his head.

    Yes, there is DMing style involved, but they do have meaningful differences. To say "that's just DMing style," though, means that there's no difference between Hero Quest and GURPS; just DMing style. (Okay, system shifts aren't a fair comparison. But my point is that there is a difference between GAMES based on difference in DMing styles, and trying to dismiss those differences as "only being DMing styles" is deliberately trying to muddy communication in order to "win" an argument through pedantry.)

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    So, to play DU's advocate here...

    Can I define things by GM mindset? Where "Sandbox" means that the GM plans the state of the world (and may or may not think through how things will play out of the PCs weren't there), whereas "Linear"/"Branching", the GM plans out one or more paths from the start state to the desired (or, I suppose, undesireable) possible end states?

    If that definition passes inspection, then... what is the difference between a Sandbox game, and a Linear game where the GM a) does not Railroad like a "bad jerk GM"; b) is able to improvise new linear paths on the fly?

    What I describe as my first and best Sandbox, I always ended the session with, "what are we doing next session?", so that I could plan out content for wherever the PCs were going / what they were doing, and have that area/concept "loaded up" in my headspace. How is that functionally different from a Branching adventure?

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    A lot of the more functional settings therefore feature a combination of post apocalypse and after the fall of rome scenario as their base background. All is there, but most of it has been lost and needs to be either reinvented or rediscovered. The main appeal of delving into ancient ruins should be to rediscover ancient mysteries now lost, like old spell books with "unknown" spells, artifacts and so on, hauling them back to civilization.
    This is what drew me to D&D, and the D&D Wizard archtype, in the first place.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Can I define things by GM mindset? Where "Sandbox" means that the GM plans the state of the world (and may or may not think through how things will play out of the PCs weren't there), whereas "Linear"/"Branching", the GM plans out one or more paths from the start state to the desired (or, I suppose, undesireable) possible end states?
    "Linear" is a game without (meaningful) choices, as the story has already been told, the players just have to reenact it. You could actually grab a beer and ask the gm to tell you the story of how your group of heroes do their heroic deed.

    "Sandbox" is a game of choices. The question of "meaningful" is more a matter of scope (and maybe style): Is the world static or is it set in motion (meta-plot)?

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    What does BNSF stand for?
    Burlington Northern Santa Fe
    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    And by that definition, there's no difference between a hardline railroad and any other game beyond "DMing style."
    Only if your definition hinges on DMing style. I've already presented a definition of what a sandbox is that does not rely on it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    But, no. There is a difference, in much the same way that there's a difference between a mac and a PC and a Linux machine. Even if you do everything you can to set your graphical look to have the same-looking interface, there are background differences in how the OSs run that will reflect in the machine's performance.
    This is very thin gruel. Whether I use Final Cut or Adobe Premiere, the audience is not going to know the difference. This is why no one advertises that they have a "Mac movie" versus a "PC movie."

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    Burlington Northern Santa Fe
    Er, okay. I'm... not sure what that region has to do with anything. Just an example place for a homebrew to be from?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    Only if your definition hinges on DMing style. I've already presented a definition of what a sandbox is that does not rely on it.
    Not...really. I could dismiss your definition as "DMing style" too, if I wanted to stretch the definition of "DMing style" as much as you have.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    This is very thin gruel. Whether I use Final Cut or Adobe Premiere, the audience is not going to know the difference. This is why no one advertises that they have a "Mac movie" versus a "PC movie."
    However, when the audience is sharing in the creation process (as players do in games), and thus is using the same software you are to generate the final product, they will eventually notice the differences between the tools they have available to create those "movies."

    Somebody reading the novelization of the campaign may never be able to tell what was pre-planned vs. what was "sandboxed" vs. what was hard-railroaded (unless the railroad was so bad it'd be bad writing in a normally-written novel). But the players may well be able to tell, with the probability that they never notice hints to what kind of game it is being very small, in fact.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Er, okay. I'm... not sure what that region has to do with anything. Just an example place for a homebrew to be from?
    They're a freight rail company.

    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-14 at 03:18 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
    They're a freight rail company.

    Ah! Okay, that makes much more sense now, and changes the connotation of the phrase entirely, now that I understand it. Thanks for the clarification.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Not...really. I could dismiss your definition as "DMing style" too, if I wanted to stretch the definition of "DMing style" as much as you have.
    Apparently defining "DMing style" as "what the DM does" is as much of a stretch as "what the players do." Ok...
    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    However, when the audience is sharing in the creation process (as players do in games), and thus is using the same software you are to generate the final product, they will eventually notice the differences between the tools they have available to create those "movies."

    Somebody reading the novelization of the campaign may never be able to tell what was pre-planned vs. what was "sandboxed" vs. what was hard-railroaded (unless the railroad was so bad it'd be bad writing in a normally-written novel). But the players may well be able to tell, with the probability that they never notice hints to what kind of game it is being very small, in fact.
    Or the improvisation was so hamfisted. "Oh look, they're fighting orcs in a burned out village for the sixth time." (Not hyperbole, that's real experience)

    There are people that are good at improv. There are people that are good at anticipating and planning. There are people in-between. How these people utilize their skills is the definition of DMing style. You cannot just say "people will know" when different DMs are going to thrive and die in different environments. This is why using "sandbox" as a synonym for improv tells you nothing, just as all that "Made on a Mac" tells you is Apple gave the producers money. It is, as DU says, meaningless if that's how you're using it.

    Which is why you shouldn't use it that way. You should strive for meaning.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    Apparently defining "DMing style" as "what the DM does" is as much of a stretch as "what the players do." Ok...

    Or the improvisation was so hamfisted. "Oh look, they're fighting orcs in a burned out village for the sixth time." (Not hyperbole, that's real experience)

    There are people that are good at improv. There are people that are good at anticipating and planning. There are people in-between. How these people utilize their skills is the definition of DMing style. You cannot just say "people will know" when different DMs are going to thrive and die in different environments. This is why using "sandbox" as a synonym for improv tells you nothing, just as all that "Made on a Mac" tells you is Apple gave the producers money. It is, as DU says, meaningless if that's how you're using it.

    Which is why you shouldn't use it that way. You should strive for meaning.
    I'm honestly not even sure what you're arguing at this point. I had thought you were arguing over definitions, but this post gives me the impression that you're arguing that improv is a bad way to run a game?

    What's your thesis? Or, if I sound too nerdy there, what's your point? I chose "thesis" because I'm not trying to be confrontational nor dismissive. I genuinely don't know what point you're trying to make.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I'm honestly not even sure what you're arguing at this point. I had thought you were arguing over definitions, but this post gives me the impression that you're arguing that improv is a bad way to run a game?
    Only if you were arguing that running a game linearly was a bad way to run a game. As your negative case was of a bad railroad, I threw in one of a bad improv. I certainly wouldn't be saying "sandbox" is meaningless if I thought improvisation was bad. To the contrary, "sandbox" would be a red flag. No, the point is neither is inherently superior to the other.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    No, the point is neither is inherently superior to the other.
    Who is arguing that? "Sandbox" is a useful, meaningful term for detailing how a DM approaches the progression of a campaign. All of the arguments otherwise that have been made so far have been made based either on a false premise or conjured up of outright fabrication of what "everyone" is saying.

    To whit, another bog-standard DU troll thread.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    No, the point is neither is inherently superior to the other.
    Then on what do you think you disagree with me?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scripten View Post
    Who is arguing that?
    Question for you: Why is it that giving a jab about bad railroading doesn't elicit any sort of response, but yet someone does the same thing to improvisation styles and OMGNOONESARGUINGTHATSERIOUSLY!?

    Why? If just tossing out a negative dig at railroading does not equal arguing linear play is bad, why does tossing out a negative dig at improvisation mean that choice is bad?

    The reactions tell me someone isn't being honest here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Then on what do you think you disagree with me?
    That the term "sandbox," how you use it, is in any sense a useful term (unless, I guess, you're giving DMs advice about what to do behind the screen, but then there are other, better words and terms for that, like improvisation, choice, open world). It's not.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    Question for you: Why is it that giving a jab about bad railroading doesn't elicit any sort of response, but yet someone does the same thing to improvisation styles and OMGNOONESARGUINGTHATSERIOUSLY!?

    Why? If just tossing out a negative dig at railroading does not equal arguing linear play is bad, why does tossing out a negative dig at improvisation mean that choice is bad?

    The reactions tell me someone isn't being honest here.
    They react that way because nobody here is arguing the inverse, either. Nobody has said Linear Is Bad, but they have said "Selling Linear as not that is bad" in the same way that if I sold you a Ford F-150 on craigslist and when you showed up I handed you the keys to a Civic, you would be justifiably confused and upset.

    Neither car is explicitly better, but they are different enough in purpose and use that they are not interchangeable. It is laughable to suggest otherwise. Same goes for the two styles. What is rejected is the idea that Linear and Sandbox are the same thing, or that there is no distinction between them. Which is like saying a Truck and a Coupe are the same thing.

    That the term "sandbox," how you use it, is in any sense a useful term (unless, I guess, you're giving DMs advice about what to do behind the screen, but then there are other, better words and terms for that, like improvisation, choice, open world). It's not.
    Except that Sandbox serves as a term that incorporates all those last three things. You are, at this point, quibbling that you don't happen to like that particular word for it, since you've highlighted all of the smaller pieces that go into the term "Sandbox" as currently used.

    It's basically like if you argued that "cherry" is a useless term when we can describe "red, round, pitted fruit that goes on top of banana splits." Well guess what? All of that is communicated by the word "cherry." So why would Cherry be a useless term, again?

    To Elaborate, it communicates the approach you yourself are taking from behind the screen and communicates a lot of general information rapidly. Namely, if I say "I'm running a Sandbox" that means most of these will be things I'm doing:

    -Focusing on what IS rather than what WILL BE.
    -Allowing characters to make decisions on what pieces of the world they interact with.
    -have a fairly large world full of things to do.
    -I use improv a lot
    -Player Agency is preserved as much as possible.
    -I have no planned out "end game" and probably have no "BBEG" or at least don't have just one.

    To name a few things.

    These things are communicated in the term Sandbox and serves as a quick preamble to what sort of things we'll hear about as they speak.

    Does that make sense? Have I lost you anywhere?
    Last edited by ImNotTrevor; 2018-02-14 at 08:14 PM.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    Question for you: Why is it that giving a jab about bad railroading doesn't elicit any sort of response, but yet someone does the same thing to improvisation styles and OMGNOONESARGUINGTHATSERIOUSLY!?

    Why? If just tossing out a negative dig at railroading does not equal arguing linear play is bad, why does tossing out a negative dig at improvisation mean that choice is bad?

    The reactions tell me someone isn't being honest here.
    OR... because the two terms aren't equivalent sorts of terms, despite being shoehorned into the far ends of a mistaken axis. One (railroading) is a blanket verb for a set of bad behaviors that some GMs have been known to engage. The other is really more of an adjective, a quality that most campaigns have across a wide range of degrees.


    And people don't react the same way because unlike railroading and the extremely linear sorts of campaigns associated with it, they just don't have a history of terrible experiences and gaming horror stories associated with really sandboxy campaigns.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    And this is exactly where you are incorrect.

    Sandbox is not about a Feeling or an Illusion of the ability to choose "anything." It is the ACTUAL ABILITY to choose "anything."
    Right Everyone is saying ''Sandboxes are where the Players can choose Anything!" and then they cover their ears and say ''lalalala" loudly.

    But when you finally get them to stop, they will admit that they don't really mean ''anything''. They agree that the players don't have game reality control and can't just wish things to happen.

    Then they agree that the players must follow the game rules.

    Then they agree that the players must follow the common sense game reality rules.

    Then they agree the players won't be jerk tyrants telling the DM what to do.

    So, that ''anything'', becomes a ''normal game''.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post

    Does that difference make more sense to you? Or are you going to close your eyes and scream "crazy random!" rather than actually read what I wrote?
    Ok, think I got it.

    Sandbox-A game run by a bad, lazy or casual DM, that on purpose does noting to plan any sort of path ahead and mostly just sits there and reacts to the PCs by doing the Quantum Ogre thing right in the players path.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Players who surprise the GM with their solutions and approaches will notice the linear game stalling a bit as the GM scrambles to change things up, and might see behind the thin walls of the prop city.
    Not True. There are plenty of Jerk Players that Only play the game vs the DM and just love to hit the DM with a surprise and watch the DM stall and get flustered. But, well jerks will be jerks.

    Again this is just about DM skill. A good DM will never have a stall or bump or skip...the game will all ways run smooth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Can I define things by GM mindset? Where "Sandbox" means that the GM plans the state of the world (and may or may not think through how things will play out of the PCs weren't there), whereas "Linear"/"Branching", the GM plans out one or more paths from the start state to the desired (or, I suppose, undesireable) possible end states?
    But there is no difference here.

    Game A-The DM makes up the good rebels that oppose the evil baron. The DM makes a couple rebel NPCs and gives them details and makes a vague ''rebel plan'' of what they tried (and failed) in the past and their plans for the future.

    Game B-The DM makes up the good rebels that oppose the evil baron. The DM makes a couple rebel NPCs and gives them details and makes a vague ''rebel plan'' of what they tried (and failed) in the past and their plans for the future.

    So is A or B the so called Sandbox? You can say both are just the ''state of the world''. And both have a vague plan for the future. You can even say both have a path, but sure you can do the twisting word play and say one is ''the fictional setting just coming alive and doing things on it's own as the DM does nothing'' and one is ''A DM being a DM''.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    If that definition passes inspection, then... what is the difference between a Sandbox game, and a Linear game where the GM a) does not Railroad like a "bad jerk GM"; b) is able to improvise new linear paths on the fly?
    I see no difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    What I describe as my first and best Sandbox, I always ended the session with, "what are we doing next session?", so that I could plan out content for wherever the PCs were going / what they were doing, and have that area/concept "loaded up" in my headspace. How is that functionally different from a Branching adventure?
    I end my game sessions that way too....

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    "Linear" is a game without (meaningful) choices, as the story has already been told, the players just have to reenact it.

    "Sandbox" is a game of choices. The question of "meaningful" is more a matter of scope (and maybe style): Is the world static or is it set in motion (meta-plot)?
    This is my original point then: A so-called sandbox IS a normal game.

    Though, too, here, your saying ''linear'' is automatically ''worst railroad ever'', but eh...

  22. - Top - End - #202
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Ok, think I got it.
    Finally!

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Sandbox-A game run by a bad, lazy or casual DM, that on purpose does noting to plan any sort of path ahead and mostly just sits there and reacts to the PCs by doing the Quantum Ogre thing right in the players path.
    You don't "got it".

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I mainly run Sandbox games, but my current campaign is a linear one. It hasn't had any railroading so far, and for some obstacles I don't even bother trying to think up ways for the players to overcome the obstacle because I know they can come up with something.

    But it's a linear game, the players know "this game revolves around x" and if they stop being interested in the plot we'll just stop the campaign and make a different one. They can as they please, as long as it relates to a plot plot and makes sense for their characters.

    In a sandbox game. There is no "this game revolves around x", you just make a setting and drop the players in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    There are people that are good at improv. There are people that are good at anticipating and planning. There are people in-between.
    Just to make sure, you aren't trying to put "improv skill" and "planning skill" as opposite ends of a spectrum, are you? Because, IME, there's people who are good at both, and people who are bad at both.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo v3 View Post
    In a sandbox game. There is no "this game revolves around x", you just make a setting and drop the players in.
    Yeah... no. Your sandbox also has a style, theme and mood to it, places and people to explore that are connected to that elements. When you place a Hobgobling kingdom on the map and decide that they follow a samurai-based culture and the kingdom is run as something like a shogunate, by the choice of content to be explored, you're already creating sets of "about" for the regions.
    Add in the previous "princess" discussion that things can and should involve once interacted with and you move some of the small "about" forward to be a big "about".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Yeah... no. Your sandbox also has a style, theme and mood to it, places and people to explore that are connected to that elements. When you place a Hobgobling kingdom on the map and decide that they follow a samurai-based culture and the kingdom is run as something like a shogunate, by the choice of content to be explored, you're already creating sets of "about" for the regions.
    Add in the previous "princess" discussion that things can and should involve once interacted with and you move some of the small "about" forward to be a big "about".
    Yeah, I often talk about buying in for a political sandbox, or even one based on a particular region. With a rare few exceptions, like Neil Armstrong, I think it's fair to say that all of us are in an Earth sandbox.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Yeah, I often talk about buying in for a political sandbox, or even one based on a particular region. With a rare few exceptions, like Neil Armstrong, I think it's fair to say that all of us are in an Earth sandbox.
    The political sandbox is a good example. You have to prep the number of organizations, power players, people connected, got to ask yourself the question if the game world has gods and if those also meddle in the political game, then draw up a power diagram, a relationship map and work out how all of that is connected. That by itself will generate a multitude of plots.

    Or using the Varisia region as a sandbox is terrific because you can scavenge so much material. Some 5-6 detailed cities, some interesting cultures in the region, tons of locations, monsters and dungeons as 4 APs play there, along with some modules, great thing. This will be all about varisians, shoanti and korvosans, the ruins of an age of glory now lost, the runelords secrets, and so on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Yeah... no. Your sandbox also has a style, theme and mood to it, places and people to explore that are connected to that elements.
    I consider all those aspects of the setting, so I am pretty sure we actually agree once we go past the barrier of everyone having slightly different views of many of the words that are being utilised in this discussion.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I really should stay away from this thread but...

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    These are just styles of DMing. To the players or an outside observer, there might well be no functional difference between them. Which is why it would be meaningless to advertise such a campaign as a "sandbox," because the players aren't really experiencing anything different from a homebrew BNSF campaign.
    There "might" be no functional difference. But there might also be functional differences. In my experience, most sandboxes give different experiences than a homebrew BNSE. While there can be cases where they are identical, that doesn't make it true for the majority of cases nor that "sandbox" looses its meaning as a useful word.


    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    Question for you: Why is it that giving a jab about bad railroading doesn't elicit any sort of response, but yet someone does the same thing to improvisation styles and OMGNOONESARGUINGTHATSERIOUSLY!?
    This answer is quite easy. Railroading, as opposed to linear adventures, is a matter of the GM disrespecting the players. Bad improvisation is a matter of poor skill. I am perfectly fine with making jabs at people who disrespect others, there's really not much "good" there. However, improvisation is a skill that people can be more or less well trained in, they can practice it and get better. Painting improvisation in general as bad is therefore quite uncalled for, whereas painting an activity that is the result of disrespect is not.


    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Right Everyone is saying ''Sandboxes are where the Players can choose Anything!" and then they cover their ears and say ''lalalala" loudly.

    But when you finally get them to stop, they will admit that they don't really mean ''anything''. They agree that the players don't have game reality control and can't just wish things to happen.
    Because it's only in your world "anything" is interpreted literally. How about "Sandboxes are where the Players can choose More Things than in a Linear Adventure"?


    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    So, that ''anything'', becomes a ''normal game''.
    A "normal game" depends on what you have experienced most of, or possibly if you want to talk objectively you need to measure a statistically significant number of worldwide games to make claims as to which is the most prevalent, i.e. "normal".

    The only really meaningless phrase in this (and all other discussions you take part in), is the phrase "Normal Game".

    To someone who has only played PF Adventure Paths, a sandbox is definitely NOT a normal game.


    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Sandbox-A game run by a bad, lazy or casual DM, that on purpose does noting to plan any sort of path ahead and mostly just sits there and reacts to the PCs by doing the Quantum Ogre thing right in the players path.
    I run a linear adventure with my girlfriend and her little brother. It takes me about 10-20 minutes average to prepare a session, as I mostly have to prepare a bunch of encounters (with the help of the MM).

    I also run a sandbox campaign with a friend of mine (Vampire: the Requiem 2.0). Before the game had even started, I had prepared 59 named Vampires in the city, involving both the "important ones" and the ones "currently on the 'tilt'" (so that I had some gossip the PC could hear). I had also prepared various locations and hang-arounds for Vampires in the city. I knew the approximate goals of all these 59 vampires, and had made a mind-map of the most important political plots that were going on. As much as possible, I tried to find names for the vampires that were common around in the era in history when they became immortal. I also printed a map of the city the game took place in, read up on the history, studied the various neighborhoods and wrote down where each Covenant had their hunting grounds.

    I can't really say how much time I spent on this, but an estimate is 30+ hours. And that was before the first session even began. After this I've had to increase the list of vampires, expand the locations etc.

    So believe me when I say that running a sandbox game is by no means something I would do if I want to be "lazy" or "casual". If that's my goal I would run a linear type adventure, which, if I want to be REALLY lazy, I can simply improvise on the spot without any significant drop in quality.

    Basically, preparing a linear adventure is easier than preparing a sandbox. Improvising a linear adventure is ALSO easier than improvising a sandbox.
    Last edited by Lorsa; 2018-02-15 at 04:20 AM.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Right Everyone is saying ''Sandboxes are where the Players can choose Anything!" and then they cover their ears and say ''lalalala" loudly.

    But when you finally get them to stop, they will admit that they don't really mean ''anything''. They agree that the players don't have game reality control and can't just wish things to happen.
    The rest of my post, which you carefully omitted to make my post seem less complete or reasonable than it is, resolves this problem you are pretending it has.

    I said, "anything within reason" and that different groups have different ideas of reasonableness, creating a spectrum of "normal" game styles some of which being more sandbox and others more linear.

    Your blatant selective misrepresentation of my post makes it clear you have no intention (either unwillingness or inability) of honest discussion or debate.

    Have a good day.
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