Monday, June 27, 2016
Micro-Sandbox Design: Revisited
I wanted to revisit my Micro-Sandbox Design, not because I really care if anyone reads this set of posts, but rather so I could say this is how I have always Dmed, officially. I've already explained How my system works in the section on Sandbox Design. The point is, with the current group, I've been very reflective/retrospective of my gaming world named Isolde-Delta. Hell every time I walk into my kitchen, I'm reminded in glorious detail of it and truthfully, its the single confluent moment in my gaming life. I met Gary on multiple occasions, gamed with N. Robin Crosby and Bob Bledsaw (Harn and Judges Guild creators, respectively), although I wish I'd have met Dave Arneson. All of them, and countless other designer's/gamers have certainly influenced me in some small way.
Perhaps if I spent my life saying "Okay Google: Tell me about Sandbox Design for Role Playing Games specifically tagged as AD&D, OSR, 1E" I'd be satisfied with the results. The truth is I'm a regular viewer at Dragonsfoot (linked in my Legendary Sites section) but I rarely post. Why?, I'd much prefer to play the game than spend every waking second dissecting the damn game, so basically what I have to say about Sandbox Design doesn't come from someone else, but rather from my own fractured cerebral cortex.
In that set of articles I said, in part "I create things from a micro scale outward. That is, all I start with is a rough outline of one county (hundred) on my continent, and a single point of interest – in this case the Bloated Blowfish Tavern. Because I'm working from the micro scale outward, I'm essentially discovering the world with my players as they adventure. It's a bit more back end work for me, but it also allows me to shape the fringes of the world, while giving the player more control over the world in which they live."
The PC's in the current campaign had taken on the task of guarding a caravan on it's long journey from the port town of Chew to Jo's Run, in the dead of winter. They've past through Yggsburgh, Coppice, Grande Lynn and recently arrived at Corvis, the City of the Dead. Luckily, or unluckily for them, they arrived the day before a major event. In my world I have a twin set of moons, Bast and Nephthys which have their own rotational period (thank god for Weathermaster by Milieu software). All I did was plug in their monthly cycles, and bingo I have full lunar settings for the entire year, including when certain events happen. In this instance, a double dark of the moon happens on Peonu 21. The day before, of, and after this event awakens the dead and they own the night. In any case, the group wisely made haste to a center island in Corvis, hiding in a set of ruins and waited out the carnage.
Once the danger had passed, they made their way by boat across the river to the Northern side of Corvis, looking for a place to stay and finishing up some odds & ends. The bard in the group had almost died on the island, the unfortunate victim of a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (yeah it's a strange brute, but fit the area perfectly). So once they landed the thief decided to help the local guard get rid of the hundreds of now dead bodies again, along the way pilfering anything he could find. A few hours later, he felt "sick" and collapsed on his way to the local temple. When he awoke, he discovered he had contracted Fire Skin, a contagion said to make the limbs and fingers/toes fall off during the month long cycle leading to death. So now the party is on a quest to save their friend, and 11 other victims of this horrible disease....
The players may well decide to go into a mega-dungeon/larger module eventually, and yes, there are plenty of choices like:
Castle Zagyg/Castle of the Mad Archmage
Stonehell I & II
Barrowmaze I and Complete
The point to all of this is, I've run this campaign without using any premade purchased modules or maps, rather using my large book of tables to fill in items like: character background, languages, encounter tables for each area (as the party enters them), and having complete tables for dungeon, room and full menus for any tavern/inn based on the type i.e., poor, common, good, exclusive etc. Throughout it all, I've kept notes of what the party is discovering, be it new ruins, towns and the like and will add those to the history of my campaign.
In the end, I've not been more pleased with how the party is working together to explore and most importantly they seem to love what I'm doing. In the end, that is all I can hope for.