Brilliant post on true freedom in a D&D "sandbox"

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This is a great post put up by Alexis over on Tao of D&D.

The gist of it is that it is a little blurb for a DM to give to players to prepare them for truly open world gaming where they are able to play as they wish. It does a great job capturing the spirit of what I allow my players to do and how I run my games. Hopefully it inspires some folks or just clarifies some things for them!

As always, PG-13 or so language so...uh...look out if you're sensitive I guess!

The Opening Module

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

While I will admit that the statements made are excellent (and they do give me ideas), there is still the possibility that the group will come out of their discussion and say, "Um, we don't know."

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
While I will admit that the statements made are excellent (and they do give me ideas), there is still the possibility that the group will come out of their discussion and say, "Um, we don't know."




I would say they need to think about their characters more then. The point of the game is, after all, to play a role...not knowing what even a rudimentary goal for your character might be does not instill me with a lot of faith in a persons desire to play that character. On the other hand, Alexis in the comments for that post points out that this is also commonly caused by players that have had their imaginations and faith surgically removed by years of player far less player-driven D&D.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I am not sure I really like that concept much. I agree insofar as all players need to agree on what they want to play, the player that has the role of DM needs to present interesting and challenging scenes for everybody according to this agreement at the table and the players resolve each scene in a free and (hopefully) meaningful way for their PCs. I also agree that players, not the DM alone should drive "the story".

At the same time, that also means that the DM needs to play a more active role than just being the manager of the sandbox. In my game, the story revolves around the PCs and every scene is colored by their former actions, their backgrounds and their interests. In my experience, a classical sandbox offers prewritten events that do not change. You go to the cave, there is a bear with these stats. You go to the city there is a thief guild with these stats. You travel to town A, there are bandits with these stats. Etc. For a meaningful story to evolve, that does not seem enough for me. If the bear does not provide meaning to the PC's story, why should it even exist?
I am not sure I really like that concept much. I agree insofar as all players need to agree on what they want to play, the player that has the role of DM needs to present interesting and challenging scenes for everybody according to this agreement at the table and the players resolve each scene in a free and (hopefully) meaningful way for their PCs. I also agree that players, not the DM alone should drive "the story".

At the same time, that also means that the DM needs to play a more active role than just being the manager of the sandbox. In my game, the story revolves around the PCs and every scene is colored by their former actions, their backgrounds and their interests. In my experience, a classical sandbox offers prewritten events that do not change. You go to the cave, there is a bear with these stats. You go to the city there is a thief guild with these stats. You travel to town A, there are bandits with these stats. Etc. For a meaningful story to evolve, that does not seem enough for me. If the bear does not provide meaning to the PC's story, why should it even exist?



Your assumption is that you are putting forth all the props for the stories and, in doing so, you are making them meaningful. This necessarily means you are writing the story for the player because you are attaching meaning to things.

This concept means that the players attach meaning to what they do. Perhaps when running into the bear they decide to skin it and that is the start of a fur trade for them. Or perhaps they subdue the bear and decide to train it. Or perhaps they ignore it but now know there are bears in the woods. These are all possible outcomes (among countless others an inventive, invested PC might come up with) for a "meaningless" bear.

The problem is that "your experience" is probably in a pretty crappy sandbox. Actually it MUST be a pretty crappy sandbox if there are events that "do not change". Your issue seems to be that you want "meaningful" story but are also the one deciding what is or is not meaningful as a DM. This is selfish and presumes that you are there to present a story. This style, instead, assumes story will emerge when players that genuinely want to play characters interact with a world that is legitimately being presented for them to thrive in and challenge.

For instance, thus far my players in game 1 have investigated an orc incursion, decided to get a group of sellswords kicked out of a town, cleared out a crooked hotel and then took it over for their own profit, started a mine also for their own profit, and are now assisting in the restoration of a city that was devastated by a magical blast that released a metric butt-ton of evil & monsters. In helping restore the city they have directed people to their inn and have started creating contracts that draw on their mining operation and the farm lands of one of the PCs family. ... oh also that magic blast? Indirectly caused by one of the PCs making a Wish with the help of a Devil...which gave him leadership of the Thieves guild which he is trying to manage (while legitimizing his claim).

You know how much of that "story" I created for them to be "meaningful"? None. The orc thing was simply the reason in session 1 that they were all in one town and they happened to want to follow-up on it. They then went in their own direction and have been doing so ever since. They have been carving their own meaning out of their existence instead of relying on me to validate them constantly. The DM does not validate what is or is not "meaningful" to the players...they can do a perfect job of that themselves when the DM gets the hell out of their way and stops assuming they know how best to craft the story for their players enjoyment. Nothing is more enjoyable than taking on challenges and overcoming them on ones own terms...nothing is more enjoyable than forging one's own path of adventure.

Of course, there's nothing scarier than that to a DM stuck in their ways either. It gives up pretty much ALL control at the table and requires the DM to shut up and prep NPCs with actual motivations and personalities instead of writing events. It forces the DM to stop trying to be a tin-pot novelist presenting the latest in a long series of hack, cliche, tired, regurgitated fantasy plots. And the best part? When you put in NPCs or objects or what have you, even if they ARE cliche the players will find ways to interact with them that are meaningful to them because THEY will decide how to act or not. They will know there is no pressure on them to "buy in" to what the DM wants them to do.

DM's are not at the table to "want" things. That is what the players should be hungry for...they should want want want. When, as DM, you sit back and watch things unfold it even becomes far more enjoyable because you aren't watching a story you already know...you are watching people go on adventures and do the unexpected! Again, though, this requires bravery on the part of the DM to relinquish the stranglehold they have on the game. After all, even if you present 3 hooks for 3 stories, all that means it that the railroad has 3 seperate tracks. Until the players get DM buy-in instead of vice versa, the game will always be on rails in one way or another.

Give buy-in to your players and stop asking for it.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I am not sure how I feel. I already have a well designed world, which isn't a sandbox. Different types of music for different players, I guess.

However, I will say that the methodology of Sandbox seems to offer more good than bad from a utilitarian perspective. I talked to a player about it, and directed her to a few posts, and she told me that I seem to have a "theme park world" with "sandbox gameplay". She and that the main story and gears of the world are "on rails" however the "story of the players" occurs through the discourse and players can go anywhere in the wold and make their own "story within a story". She also said she doesn't feel that I have a stranglehold on the game.

There are many "rails" moving in my world, and players can jump on or off any set of tracks, and even make their own.

My final conclusion, is that it inspires corroborative gameplay, and any campaign at all can benefit from some degree of a sandbox. Any non-sandbox game can benefit from having sandboxes in it, and I will try to build more sandboxes in my world for sure now that I am more aware of them. Most of my world is defined, however some areas aren't, and this will let me experiment. Currently, my world is going through "changing times" as players are making new characters in regions their other characters haven't been yet, so that gives me an opportunity to sandbox that region as much as possible without disturbing the continuity of anything else. Fortunately, this region is isolated and this region knows very little of the outside world, which likewise only knows of it in mythology. I hope for positive results.

Edit: I told my players about the details of this region as prehistoric, and gave them the overall regional map and world theory. They designed characters and I set up a game one "in response" to the characters they made.

One of my players is a raptor taming druid, another is an ostard riding ranger, another is a halfling barbarian tarzan type, raised by King Kongra and the last is a Shaman, focused on elemental spells, such as fire and rain. The rain has stopped falling, and there are no more clouds in the sky. The grasslands are drying up, and the "session 1", is that the dominant tribe has called all tribes to the ancient circle of skystones to discuss the matter, and resolve it. I will attempt run this as much of a sandbox as possible. If players don't like it, no harm or foul, i can stop and do it the way I normally do. Either way, I feel like I can still learn a trick or two.

Thank you.

Within; Without.

 On the other hand, Alexis in the comments for that post points out that this is also commonly caused by players that have had their imaginations and faith surgically removed by years of player far less player-driven D&D.



Thats an inacurate and unfair portait of the 'evil' DM.




For instance, thus far my players in game 1 have investigated an orc incursion, decided to get a group of sellswords kicked out of a town, cleared out a crooked hotel and then took it over for their own profit, started a mine also for their own profit, and are now assisting in the restoration of a city that was devastated by a magical blast that released a metric butt-ton of evil & monsters. In helping restore the city they have directed people to their inn and have started creating contracts that draw on their mining operation and the farm lands of one of the PCs family. ... oh also that magic blast? Indirectly caused by one of the PCs making a Wish with the help of a Devil...which gave him leadership of the Thieves guild which he is trying to manage (while legitimizing his claim).



Of course, there's nothing scarier than that to a DM stuck in their ways either. It gives up pretty much ALL control at the table and requires the DM to shut up and prep NPCs with actual motivations and personalities instead of writing events. It forces the DM to stop trying to be a tin-pot novelist presenting the latest in a long series of hack, cliche, tired, regurgitated fantasy plots. 



While your players are clearly happy in the management, owning, and contract operations of businesses, its not fair to call all the other plots hack, chiche and tired.
I would have to say the majority of players would not be interested in such business related gaming, opting for 'save the princess', instead of 'save the profit margin'

Its also a false presumption that DM's are not creating interesting NPCs with motives and personalities. Or that a DM is somehow a bad writer because he is preping ideas, but the collaboration DM is someone a good writer, able to craft interesting NPCs.


While your players are clearly happy in the management, owning, and contract operations of businesses, its not fair to call all the other plots hack, chiche and tired.
I would have to say the majority of players would not be interested in such business related gaming, opting for 'save the princess', instead of 'save the profit margin'

Its also a false presumption that DM's are not creating interesting NPCs with motives and personalities. Or that a DM is somehow a bad writer because he is preping ideas, but the collaboration DM is someone a good writer, able to craft interesting NPCs.




You're far off base.

You see, I've already stated that cliche stuff is not to be omitted BECAUSE it becomes meaningful by the very nature of foisting no expectations onto the players of a DM's story or vision.

There is nothing startlingly original about players getting a mine...or helping rebuild a city...or routing orcs...all things I said took place in my game. There's nothing too original about any of that...because I am not expecting to present anything startlingly original to my players simply because I'm not "presenting" to them at all. They are simply going about doing what they wish. You see, the difference is, I do not have a plot...therefore it cannot be cliche or tired. If you DO have a plot, I guarantee with about 99% accuracy that it has very little original about it. And you know why? Because it would be no different for me if I were to write a plot. Cliches abound.

You also speak of collaboration and this is when I know you haven't been reading what I've posted because WHEN THE F did I ever speak about collaboration? I do not collaborate with my players at the table. They go and do their thing and I'm their Nintendo running the game. We have no need to collaborate because when they want something IN GAME they work for it IN GAME. No collaboration required.

You've also made assumptions that I am having them manage businesses...nope, no doing that. They were smart enough to put NPCs they trust in charge of their business matters because they're off *GASP* killing monsters and crap.

So, basically, I stand by everything I said which has little to do with what you seem to be replying to.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I am not sure how I feel. I already have a well designed world, which isn't a sandbox. Different types of music for different players, I guess.

However, I will say that the methodology of Sandbox seems to offer more good than bad from a utilitarian perspective. I talked to a player about it, and directed her to a few posts, and she told me that I seem to have a "theme park world" with "sandbox gameplay". She and that the main story and gears of the world are "on rails" however the "story of the players" occurs through the discourse and players can go anywhere in the wold and make their own "story within a story". She also said she doesn't feel that I have a stranglehold on the game.

There are many "rails" moving in my world, and players can jump on or off any set of tracks, and even make their own.

My final conclusion, is that it inspires corroborative gameplay, and any campaign at all can benefit from some degree of a sandbox. Any non-sandbox game can benefit from having sandboxes in it, and I will try to build more sandboxes in my world for sure now that I am more aware of them. Most of my world is defined, however some areas aren't, and this will let me experiment. Currently, my world is going through "changing times" as players are making new characters in regions their other characters haven't been yet, so that gives me an opportunity to sandbox that region as much as possible without disturbing the continuity of anything else. Fortunately, this region is isolated and this region knows very little of the outside world, which likewise only knows of it in mythology. I hope for positive results.

Edit: I told my players about the details of this region as prehistoric, and gave them the overall regional map and world theory. They designed characters and I set up a game one "in response" to the characters they made.

One of my players is a raptor taming druid, another is an ostard riding ranger, another is a halfling barbarian tarzan type, raised by King Kongra and the last is a Shaman, focused on elemental spells, such as fire and rain. The rain has stopped falling, and there are no more clouds in the sky. The grasslands are drying up, and the "session 1", is that the dominant tribe has called all tribes to the ancient circle of skystones to discuss the matter, and resolve it. I will attempt run this as much of a sandbox as possible. If players don't like it, no harm or foul, i can stop and do it the way I normally do. Either way, I feel like I can still learn a trick or two.

Thank you.



If you need any assistance hit up a thread and I'll make sure to take part in it! Also the bolded part is exactly the attitude every DM should have!

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.


You see, I've already stated that cliche stuff is not to be omitted BECAUSE it becomes meaningful by the very nature of foisting no expectations onto the players of a DM's story or vision.

There is nothing startlingly original about players getting a mine...or helping rebuild a city...or routing orcs...all things I said took place in my game. There's nothing too original about any of that...because I am not expecting to present anything startlingly original to my players simply because I'm not "presenting" to them at all. They are simply going about doing what they wish. You see, the difference is, I do not have a plot...therefore it cannot be cliche or tired. If you DO have a plot, I guarantee with about 99% accuracy that it has very little original about it. And you know why? Because it would be no different for me if I were to write a plot. Cliches abound.

You also speak of collaboration and this is when I know you haven't been reading what I've posted because WHEN THE F did I ever speak about collaboration? I do not collaborate with my players at the table. They go and do their thing and I'm their Nintendo running the game. We have no need to collaborate because when they want something IN GAME they work for it IN GAME. No collaboration required.

You've also made assumptions that I am having them manage businesses...nope, no doing that. They were smart enough to put NPCs they trust in charge of their business matters because they're off *GASP* killing monsters and crap.

So, basically, I stand by everything I said which has little to do with what you seem to be replying to.



One can easily say that the basis of the entire game is cliche. Saying something is chiche doesn't make true, or predict it contains unoriginal content. 
"taking over a thieves guild" Been Done! Chiche!
"Fighting monsters because they threaten something" Been Done! Chiche!
See? 
Anyway... Your arguement implies that if I generate content as a DM, it is almost completely likely it is chiche. However, if I come to you as a player and  generate the exact same content, its somehow original? And the implication is that my DM created content would be bad because it is chiche, however the players same content is wonderful. Hmm, not sure how that equation works.

Sorry if I misunderstood your game content story, but you didn't imply the players were out killing monsters. You implied they were working on contracts and business management.

And again, you insult my story writing and creative ability. (99% chance my content is chiche? I disagree)

And Oh MY GOD! I said collaboration! So what. Pick a different word to desribe a group of players getting together, and deciding together, what kind of content their game will have.  Like co-operate, participation, partnership? They do work together to create game content right? You do participate in making the world work right? Seems like collaboration...oops, co-operation to me.

"I'm prepared to run any sort of game you wish.  Fight among yourselves.  Though you won't ask any questions, I shall do my best to answer the rare few you do have.  I know for a fact you will take your time deciding and will whine about who is more powerful.  Come to an agreement if that is possible, preferably during this session.  I will be here at the table growing old waiting for you to decide, knowing full well any decision you make will lead to PvP."

The Tao my last group.

Note:  I have a new group and have no such issues.
Building the story around the players actions and reactions, and letting them do what they please is attractive. This is actually the norm in my game, and sometimes things get a bit messy when players have multiple characters to juggle.

I am good at managing players in different regions, or even in areas where they aren't in contact with each others characters. Our group often makes characters from different areas to "taste everything" and play what they like the best.

The one thing I am still working to learn (and my players say is my "single flaw") that I think implementing as much sandbox as possible will help me with, is keeping stability between a session where 3-4 players each have 3-5 characters. Each turn, each player will pick a character and play its actions. the other characters are "assumed" in the background. Every so often, I will ask what their other characters were doing and have them make several "quick rolls" to catch them up to pace.

I hope that using sandbox elements will allow me to better direct traffic. My players are fine with having conflicts, battles, and even death occur between different characters they have. Often, they will go to different parts of the world and come back together on their own anyway. I just have the "world stories" evolve responsively to their actions. Because I haven't already "fully detailed" this part of the world, it will be "shaped" mostly by the players.

I like your mention of being "The nintendo" rather than "a master of the world".

Within; Without.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />One can easily say that the basis of the entire game is cliche. Saying something is chiche doesn't make true, or predict it contains unoriginal content. 
"taking over a thieves guild" Been Done! Chiche!
"Fighting monsters because they threaten something" Been Done! Chiche!
See?



The point you are trying to make here hinges on me disagreeing with what you are saying...since I don't, all it does is point out how you aren't "getting" what is being said. Yes, the basis of the entire game is cliche. Move on.

Anyway... Your arguement implies that if I generate content as a DM, it is almost completely likely it is chiche. However, if I come to you as a player and  generate the exact same content, its somehow original? And the implication is that my DM created content would be bad because it is chiche, however the players same content is wonderful. Hmm, not sure how that equation works.



Your life is cliche.

Literally, that is the basis of a good portion of my argument.

People lead cliche lives. Those lives are relevant to those people though because they are their lives. This is the difference. If a player wishes to do something cliche with their character, more power to them because THEY will be doing it. Something someone does of their own accord is infinitely more meaningful and relevant to them than something you have comed up with to expect of them. So yes, my argument is that if you generate content as a DM it is going to be cliche...but I said nothing about player content being original. The argument is merely that it IS player material and, therefore, infinitely more relevant than anything you could make as a DM expecting it to be "somehow" meaningful to that story.

Sorry if I misunderstood your game content story, but you didn't imply the players were out killing monsters. You implied they were working on contracts and business management.



Don't apologize because it helps illustrate how you are mistaking the journey for the destination. I didn't imply it because, to someone with half a wit, it should be elementary to assume that in Dungeons & Dragons there will be monsters for players to kill. See, though, those monsters are not an end in and of themselves despite how much many DMs would wish them to be. Monsters are, by design, an obstacle to something on the other side that the person desires. They are not points of interest in and of themselves in, pretty much, every single instance. My players have slain orcs, wyverns, hydras, demons (no devils yet), a roc and men by the score. These things (monsters), however, were merely obstacles to be slain/destroyed/removed in the course of their adventuring and thriving as their characters. They did not kill the Grave Knight to get his XP and treasure...they did it in the course of investigating the actions of a hag they crossed paths with and to assist a town that had extended hospitality to them. That they got XP & treasure is, to repeat the phrase, merely elementary to the nature of Dungeons & Dragons. It is the most base assumption possible...

My players kill monsters by the truckload...they also pursue many other goals. I find it funny that you assume an either/or

And again, you insult my story writing and creative ability. (99% chance my content is chiche? I disagree)



And yet you've offered up nothing but umbrage to prove me wrong about your masterful story content. Your stories are cliche and copies of cliches...the sooner you recognize this as a DM the sooner you'll be to being free. I do find it funny that you earlier state in your reply that the entire game could be said to be cliche...then go on to take insult with your content being called cliche. You are capable of disagreeing with me all you like but you have yet to produce something to prove your point.

And Oh MY GOD! I said collaboration! So what. Pick a different word to desribe a group of players getting together, and deciding together, what kind of content their game will have.  Like co-operate, participation, partnership? They do work together to create game content right? You do participate in making the world work right? Seems like collaboration...oops, co-operation to me.



No, they don't decide on the content the game will have. Beyond the creation of their characters histories, I do not collaborate at all with my players on the meta-structure of the world. Their existence & influence as it applies to the game begins & ends with what they can do via their in-game avatars. Will this mean they can use their characters to pursue what they wish to pursue? Yes...but they have no direct control over making it so beyond pursuing it as their character. They have no meta-control like that.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Building the story around the players actions and reactions, and letting them do what they please is attractive. This is actually the norm in my game, and sometimes things get a bit messy when players have multiple characters to juggle.

I am good at managing players in different regions, or even in areas where they aren't in contact with each others characters. Our group often makes characters from different areas to "taste everything" and play what they like the best.

The one thing I am still working to learn (and my players say is my "single flaw") that I think implementing as much sandbox as possible will help me with, is keeping stability between a session where 3-4 players each have 3-5 characters. Each turn, each player will pick a character and play its actions. the other characters are "assumed" in the background. Every so often, I will ask what their other characters were doing and have them make several "quick rolls" to catch them up to pace.

I hope that using sandbox elements will allow me to better direct traffic. My players are fine with having conflicts, battles, and even death occur between different characters they have. Often, they will go to different parts of the world and come back together on their own anyway. I just have the "world stories" evolve responsively to their actions. Because I haven't already "fully detailed" this part of the world, it will be "shaped" mostly by the players.

I like your mention of being "The nintendo" rather than "a master of the world".



Yes, the weave of things going on in a game like that can DEFINITELY get tangled! I have to take copious notes...and then foot-notes for those notes...and then reference documents for all those notes! Or at least I feel like I have to some times!

Also very glad you like the nintendo comparison. It is the most apt one I have come up with so far.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

My biggest problem with the idea of an open-ended sandbox game like you describe is this: I typically cannot DM a single campaign for more than 6-10 months. So, how do you satisfactorily "end" a campaign like this? Do you just decide to stop one day and that's it? Personally, I think that I and the people I generally play with would find that to be kind of a let down. What is anybody else's experience?

I run all my campaigns out of one world (mostly), so I normally end campaigns by "The heroes complete their journey, the players actualize their goals or die epic deaths and the world turns, the players learn the "final" consequences of their heroes in the world, and the world then turns and awaits new heroes and villains.

This gives players a sense that the world is like a story, and the players are a story within it, the campaign a series of chapters. If the players want to rule a town, empire, organization, whatever. You can also "forward time 100 years" or even one thousand, and tell the players how people 100 years in the future still tell their tales and their lineages and dynasties stand strong.

This gets you a pre-buy in to your next game, that the dynasties of the old characters are stirring again...

Within; Without.

That sounds cool. However, we tend to not only jump worlds with every new campaign, but even change up what game we're playing, so I don't know if this would hold the same appeal to us. Might try running a more sandbox-y game in the future, though.

Your assumption is that you are putting forth all the props for the stories and, in doing so, you are making them meaningful. This necessarily means you are writing the story for the player because you are attaching meaning to things.


You presume too much. You don't know me and I never said this. First of all, I did not DM the sandbox setting I played. And most certainly, in the games that I DM, I do not write the story for the other players. The players do with their PCs and I do with the NPCs. The players lead their PCs to whatever they find interesting in the game in which I play the DM.


This concept means that the players attach meaning to what they do. Perhaps when running into the bear they decide to skin it and that is the start of a fur trade for them. Or perhaps they subdue the bear and decide to train it. Or perhaps they ignore it but now know there are bears in the woods. These are all possible outcomes (among countless others an inventive, invested PC might come up with) for a "meaningless" bear.


Yes, I know that. But instead of calling something like this "sandbox" and decide on where the story-interests are at the table by presenting many pre-set in-game-world-options on where the PCs can go, as the DM I'd rather ask the players on a meta-level what they are interested in. Right now, they want to fight undead, and that's what they are doing.
I don't understand how I as a DM should not be able to or even refrain from giving story-input. I am a player, too, for goodness sake! That doesn't mean I dictate "the story" or the players only play what I presume is meaningful to them. But playing NPCs forms the story of the game just as much as playing PCs does, wouldn't you agree?


The problem is that "your experience" is probably in a pretty crappy sandbox. Actually it MUST be a pretty crappy sandbox if there are events that "do not change". Your issue seems to be that you want "meaningful" story but are also the one deciding what is or is not meaningful as a DM. This is selfish and presumes that you are there to present a story. This style, instead, assumes story will emerge when players that genuinely want to play characters interact with a world that is legitimately being presented for them to thrive in and challenge.


Again, you presume too much. I am not selfish and I am not presenting a story anymore than the other players do.


Of course, there's nothing scarier than that to a DM stuck in their ways either. It gives up pretty much ALL control at the table and requires the DM to shut up and prep NPCs with actual motivations and personalities instead of writing events. It forces the DM to stop trying to be a tin-pot novelist presenting the latest in a long series of hack, cliche, tired, regurgitated fantasy plots. And the best part? When you put in NPCs or objects or what have you, even if they ARE cliche the players will find ways to interact with them that are meaningful to them because THEY will decide how to act or not. They will know there is no pressure on them to "buy in" to what the DM wants them to do.


You seem to be in a sort of preaching mode that I am uncertain I can interrupt here.
I have met many cliche NPCs in my lifetime. I think the hardest part of DMing is to present NPCs in an interesting and fun way. I try my best not to create lame NPCs for the game. Fortunately, I have recieved feedback that tells me that most - not all - of "my" NPCs are fun and interesting to play with. I don't think I succeed all the time, but at least I try.


DM's are not at the table to "want" things. That is what the players should be hungry for...they should want want want.


I think DMs have as much right to "want" things from the game as the other players. The game is supposed to be fun for everybody at the table.


When, as DM, you sit back and watch things unfold it even becomes far more enjoyable because you aren't watching a story you already know...you are watching people go on adventures and do the unexpected! Again, though, this requires bravery on the part of the DM to relinquish the stranglehold they have on the game. After all, even if you present 3 hooks for 3 stories, all that means it that the railroad has 3 seperate tracks. Until the players get DM buy-in instead of vice versa, the game will always be on rails in one way or another.


Where is this "stranglehold"-stuff coming from? You must have had some really bad experience with rotten DMs. I feel for you. I assure you: the sandbox is not the only way to play a game in which players have full control over the story and the DM is not a craphead.


My biggest problem with the idea of an open-ended sandbox game like you describe is this: I typically cannot DM a single campaign for more than 6-10 months. So, how do you satisfactorily "end" a campaign like this? Do you just decide to stop one day and that's it? Personally, I think that I and the people I generally play with would find that to be kind of a let down. What is anybody else's experience?




I had this issue before, not being able to stick with games. By giving up all reins on the story it has made me FAR more interested in the ongoing game because I do not know where things are going from moment to moment. It means I am discovering along with the players. It has kept the game very fresh for me. Also, by not worrying about having story arcs or an overall narrative that I've crafted, it means momentum is maintained by the players and their actions and not by a meta-game construct...therefore there is not really a logical "end" to things so I do not ever feel as if the game has come to a close. They have so much on their table that to stop after the resolution of something they're pursuing would still leave many things "unfinished".

Additionally, I use a henchman system where PCs gain loyal henchman at intervals...these henchman start at level 1 and the players can use them at any time. So this means occasionally players cycle in different characters or even, as a group, use entirely different groups of PCs to pursue very different things (usually to help their primary characters). This creates the sense of a "different" game for all involved and keeps things very fresh in that way too. I highly recommend it!

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

In this sort of open, sandbox based games, are there events that are not the result of PC action? Do you have NPCs with their own motivations, resources etc. who are, so to speak, also playing in the same sandbox, possibly having their sandcastles kicked down by the PCs (or vice versa)?

On another note, does it get complex to keep track of the influences PCs might have, and events spinning off from them? It might just be something that a DM running this style of game has to accept, but it strikes me that it might take a lot of time to follow things through and consider consequences. Do you prepare outcomes for things that you thing it's likely that the PCs might attempt to do?

Finally, do you assume some level of party unity? Given the speech in the post you linked, it seems likely that the PCs might each want to do something wildly different. Do you rely of the players to want to help each others' character out, or come up with reasons for co-operation, or do you just allow them to pursue whatever goals they wish, even if it means effectively running 5 similtaneous solo campaigns? 

You presume too much. You don't know me and I never said this. First of all, I did not DM the sandbox setting I played. And most certainly, in the games that I DM, I do not write the story for the other players. The players do with their PCs and I do with the NPCs. The players lead their PCs to whatever they find interesting in the game in which I play the DM.



But you specifically spoke of the DM having to put in things that have particular meaning to the PCs. That necessarily presumes that the DM will be most aware of what is meaningful to the player. That is a silly, even arrogant, presumption because it presumes the DM must do this for the benefit of the PC who, apparently, will not seek out their own meaning in the game.

Also in one breath you have stated you do not write the stories for the other players yet you DO write the story with the NPCs. Are your NPCs aware of a larger story going on? My NPCs certainly are not. They act simply as the NPCs would act, with this often being determined simply by their disposition and a die. This means they cannot be relied on to further any story that is being told. Any assumption of story is what I am saying is bad on the part of the DM. Have events and people...like the world...not stories. Story will be formed by the players and what they do or wish to do because they are aware they are engaging in adventures. The NPCs cannot be aware of this...they're just living. It is a meta-concept but it's very important and has to be embraced by the DM so it doesn't color their sandbox.

Yes, I know that. But instead of calling something like this "sandbox" and decide on where the story-interests are at the table by presenting many pre-set in-game-world-options on where the PCs can go, as the DM I'd rather ask the players on a meta-level what they are interested in. Right now, they want to fight undead, and that's what they are doing.



Of course as a DM you would rather them do this. It is easier. It also requires less thought and action by the players. It is much easier to control. "Hey what do you guys want?" "Uh undead" "Okay let me make a bunch of undead encounters". This is no-brain-required DM work.

Also, you are wrongfully assuming that there are "many pre-set in-game-world-options"...what the heck would give you that idea considering I've spoken against that multiple times? See, that is not a true sandbox. That is just a railroad with multiple rails. I do not run a game with many pre-set options...I run a world in which there are INFINITE OPTIONS, all of which are created by the fact that the world is a world and the players can do EXACTLY as they please.

See, that, I think, is the biggest issue many people struggle with in a sandbox. They think it is like a sandbox video game where there's simply no narrative required to be followed and there are MANY options to pursue...like Skyrim or something. Tell me, in Skyrim, if one wishes, can one denounce the faith fo a small village and seek to supplant it with one's own faith to try and gain political favor in the town? No, no you can't. However, players could do that in my game and it's something I just thought of off the top of my head. As a DM, I have not planned for this...I have not pre-set options for this. It is one of infinite ideas the players could have come up with and they could attempt. It simply requires me to know the world, adjudicate the rules and occasionally improvise as needed to keep the gears of the world turning. You are imagining only in the format you have been saddled with in the past...or in the format you can imagine running. You have to see beyond that and see real infinite choice and real agency in a game.

I don't understand how I as a DM should not be able to or even refrain from giving story-input. I am a player, too, for goodness sake! That doesn't mean I dictate "the story" or the players only play what I presume is meaningful to them. But playing NPCs forms the story of the game just as much as playing PCs does, wouldn't you agree?



It's funny because you tell me I presume too much at the beginning when I stated you watn story control...and then right here you ask me why you SHOULDN'T have story control. Oh and believe me, "input" for a DM is necessarily a form of control. Keep in mind that control is a spectrum. Also, notice your umbrage in the statement "I am a player, too, for goodness sake!". News flash! No you're not. You are the Dungeon Master. The other people at the table are the players. The story & adventures are theres. Not yours. You must accept this as a DM. My Playstation console is not a player in the game with me. It is merely the medium by which the game is delivered. At best, I need it to be an invisible, reliable interface. A DM is no different. The less visible you are as a "presence" at the table, the better. This means to shut up about the story because no one cares about your input...nor should they. You already have such a level of influence and authority that it is unfair for you to demand input in the one thing where the players have their influence reside.

And no I would absolutely disagree that playing NPCs forms the story as much as the PCs. The NPCs need to be portrayed with no meta-awareness of the "game nature" of their existence...where-as the players and their characters have the benefit of being aware of the game on a meta-level. This necessarily makes the players and their characters bigger, more important, more relevant drivers of any "story". The notion of your NPCs as a DM being as relevant to the formation of the players story as the players themselves is folly. Realize right now that the players could have just as relevant a story without ever ONCE speaking to one of your NPCs.

Again, you presume too much. I am not selfish and I am not presenting a story anymore than the other players do.



Again, you are proving my presumption while stating I overstep my ability to read into others. So, you are not selfish, but in the same breath  you state you are presenting a story as much as "the other players do". Once more, you are not a player. You are the console system. You ALREADY have infinite power and authority in the game world construction and the adjudication of rules. Why do you need equal story presentation ability to the players? Why do you also need that? Considering everything you already have as a DM, is it not selfish to also want an equal share of the story alongside the actual players? It certainly seems so to me. Wanting things when one already has so much (and in fact more than the others) is pretty much a clear sign of selfishness, isn't it?

Of course, I realize you do not want to feel as if you are selfish...but confronting the reality of your situation is necessary. As a DM you have so much power and so much authority in the game...you have final say on literally everything game related if you so wish. Why do you also need story input at an equal level to the players? There can be no good answer to this other than that you want it. You certainly don't need it...

You seem to be in a sort of preaching mode that I am uncertain I can interrupt here.
I have met many cliche NPCs in my lifetime. I think the hardest part of DMing is to present NPCs in an interesting and fun way. I try my best not to create lame NPCs for the game. Fortunately, I have recieved feedback that tells me that most - not all - of "my" NPCs are fun and interesting to play with. I don't think I succeed all the time, but at least I try.



Oh you can interrupt me...you just have to do so by giving me something that derails what I am preaching rather than reinforcing it.

The point is that so long as you have NPCs that are part of a "story" you will always be limiting them...because they will be story constructs and not individuals. As long as they are saddled with being part of a narrative structure the DM is pursuing they are not free to simply be. I do not worry about my NPCs acting contrary to a story or against my wishes...because I do not have those things. I am unburdened by that...so the NPCs can act as they would...they can act as the dice determine...they can act in ways that surprise even me even though I am the one portraying them. NPCs can best avoid cliche by avoiding the whims of the DM.

I think DMs have as much right to "want" things from the game as the other players. The game is supposed to be fun for everybody at the table.



Assuming that you must be able to "want" things in the game as much as the players to have fun is so dangerous for the health of the game it isn't even funny. So, as DM, you cannot have fun without having as much story input as the players? Why? Again, your role at the table is to adjudicate rules and portray the world. Why do you also NEED other things? I do not "want" things from the game...I merely desire my players to play. That gives me plenty of work to do and fun to have as I answer their questions, referee the game, portray the world and, most importantly, get to watch them go on adventures and play. If you are not happy watching players play, why would you want to be a DM? To have story input? Write a story then and publish it for others to read/experience.

Where is this "stranglehold"-stuff coming from? You must have had some really bad experience with rotten DMs. I feel for you. I assure you: the sandbox is not the only way to play a game in which players have full control over the story and the DM is not a craphead.




The stranglehold, as already described in this post, is that the DM already has infinite authority on the game itself and infinite potential control on the contents of the world. This is IMMENSE power and authority at the table. Why do you need more? That attitude is the stranglehold because it imposes on the players to have the DM be equal to them in the ONE regard that the players could be superior. This is immensely unfair.

Also, do not feel bad for me...feel bad for the DMs that lack the ability/desire/vision to DM for me for that has been the real problem I've always seen. It is startling how many DMs simply short-circuit and crash as soon as a player starts genuinely practicing agency...when they direct their character beyond the invisible walls the DM has constructed into their game because of their inability to deal with doing otherwise. Few DMs can actually deal with their players doing whatever they could imagine in-game...and they make no effort to be develop this ability because they continue following a tired paradigm and continue their aforementioned stranglehold. They run games that are like video games...but video games do that sort of stuff better because they have more polished presentation, etc...so they are relegating themselves to a role that they cannot surpass digital media for. They are unnecessarily restricting themselves...a self-imposed prison. It's almost hilariously doomed to failure or mediocrity.

Ask yourself if you are GENUINELY ready for the players to do anything they could do as human (or otherwise) beings in the world you are running as a DM. Would you be prepared for that IN GAME...or would you require them to tell you this out of game to give you time to prep?

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

In this sort of open, sandbox based games, are there events that are not the result of PC action? Do you have NPCs with their own motivations, resources etc. who are, so to speak, also playing in the same sandbox, possibly having their sandcastles kicked down by the PCs (or vice versa)?



Yes there are many events that are not only outside their actions but that are not even visible to them. I roll for stuff happening entire cities or continents away simply because how they resolve might have a ripple effect I have to be aware of. This does indeed involve NPCs and organizations pursuing goals that may or may not succeed (i use a die mechanic for resolution, I do not decide their success or failure...or even WHEN it happens). This is really important to maintain a world where the PC actions matter. It seems counter-intuitive though because it means there are things that the players actions aren't impacting...so to many that seems like it is invalidating their importance. In reality it reinforces it. Choices made are only meaningful if they impact a world that, otherwise, still goes on without the PCs. A thing can only be valuable if there are things of lesser value that exist as well.

So yes, sandcastles can AND have been kicked down and that is part of what makes the world alive for players!

On another note, does it get complex to keep track of the influences PCs might have, and events spinning off from them? It might just be something that a DM running this style of game has to accept, but it strikes me that it might take a lot of time to follow things through and consider consequences. Do you prepare outcomes for things that you thing it's likely that the PCs might attempt to do?



It can get complex yes. I maintain a series of calendars where I record events and have reminders set up. The calendars are "in game" time so when days pass in game the calendars remind me of things that have to be resolved. It is very helpful. Since these things are determined by simple die roll, however, they don't take long to resolve. I just go down the lists, roll and record. The big help in keeping track of this stuff is also, not surprisingly, the PCs. Since they become heavily invested in their characters goals & motivations they keep track of these things as well. This often reduces my work load because I have 3 - 5 people keeping track of their own (and often each others) interests.

Finally, do you assume some level of party unity? Given the speech in the post you linked, it seems likely that the PCs might each want to do something wildly different. Do you rely of the players to want to help each others' character out, or come up with reasons for co-operation, or do you just allow them to pursue whatever goals they wish, even if it means effectively running 5 similtaneous solo campaigns? 



They have high levels of unity but with varying goals, if that makes sense. By having the world be a world where accomplishing things can be VERY difficult it means they have plenty of reason to work with each other because cooperation gives them better chance of success. So, the rogue in one game has been working with the party to help further himself in the Guild and, in having such staunch allies, has progressed much further and faster (he's the current head of the Guild...which is less awesome than one might imagine haha) than he would have otherwise. He recognizes the value of allies. simultaneously, the other players recognize the value of assisting him because he repays their assistance by helping them in their endeavors. His position in the guild has also been advantageous to the party as a whole and it's individual members because it comes with benefits. Similarly, the Paladin has used his authority in his church and his family's resources in a similar manner.

Often it simply boils down to them deciding on a greater goal as a team that helps reinforce all their own personal goals. It often means cooperating and pursuing individual goals AS A TEAM to benefit one another. So when the Barbarian agrees to help the Paladin vanquish an evil in an ancient crypt for his church (or whatever) he does so for several reasons: he knows it is important to the Paladin & is friends with the Paladin so he wants to help him, he knows it will benefit himself through combat and probably the acquisition of treasure, he knows that if he does this the Paladin will be far more likely to help him in the future in his own endeavors, and he knows that what benefits the Paladin ultimately benefits himself by virtue of being allies with him. What benefits one benefits all.

This does not mean players do not pursue their own agendas however. The rogue-turned-assassin in my Saturday game is currently pursuing an agenda seperate (though not at odds) with the party to advance in his religion...and he has only recently revealed that to the other players in-character. They have taken a bit of issue with it because they are not aware of how it benefits anyone let alone them...and the rogue is a bit reluctant to reveal details. Naturally, this has created a bit of friction but it is entirely in-character and they are STILL undertaking the massive endeavor of taking back control of a deserted town from a horde of orcs and their hag boss. So it's healthy drama.

I actually just finished a series of PMs with a poster that goes into a greater amount of detail about what I do and just general answers to questions about this playstyle. I'm going to parse it down to just the advice and post it up soon...maybe after work today. Hopefully it will be really helpful for people just as I hope this post is helpful to you.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Thank you for the explanations. You have helped me understand how these types of games work.

I still don't know if I'd be able to run a sandbox game, or necessarily enjoy playing in one, but I now feel like I have a better grasp on the way things work, so would be more prepared to try it. 
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Additionally, I use a henchman system where PCs gain loyal henchman at intervals...these henchman start at level 1 and the players can use them at any time. So this means occasionally players cycle in different characters or even, as a group, use entirely different groups of PCs to pursue very different things (usually to help their primary characters). This creates the sense of a "different" game for all involved and keeps things very fresh in that way too. I highly recommend it!




This here is also a great trapdoor for death, to keep the game going, cycling players into a different character. It also helps build ideas on the fly from what the players want to do. As you said last time, being the nintendo that runs their game. Sometimes, a player will "like" an NPC, and I will say "Here, have a few rounds".  Most of my NPC's are player created characters who were abandoned for one reason or another, and PC created NPC's already have the player buy-in most of the time.

Not just a sandbox, but ANY game should have "rotating characters". It also helps remove emotional attatchments to "my character" and makes the game session more about "the game".

Within; Without.

Honestly before I came to these forums I didn't even know there was any other style of DMing other than sandbox.  For every campaign I've ever done the characters have had free reign. 

On a side note, it's funny how 3/4 of the threads are just bitching sessions where dudes think it makes them seem like they know more if they have long posts.

But you specifically spoke of the DM having to put in things that have particular meaning to the PCs. That necessarily presumes that the DM will be most aware of what is meaningful to the player. That is a silly, even arrogant, presumption because it presumes the DM must do this for the benefit of the PC who, apparently, will not seek out their own meaning in the game.


It would be much easier for me to take anything you say seriously if you would lose the condescending attitude. You want people to listen to you, don't you? Just shift down a gear, please.

Obviously, you think that a DM should not have any story control at all, zero. Well, I disagree. I think that through the NPCs I play I have story control as well. And I would not say that this is selfish or arrogant. I would also claim that you do the same thing because everything your NPCs do will influence how the PCs will react and what decisions they will make. If that is too much story control for a DM, I really cannot help you.
Now, do the NPCs have a wider knowledge of "the story"? I cannot say how any scene will play out. All I can say is that the NPCs have knowledge appropriate to their character in that situation. Sometimes they will know more about events than the PCs do, sometimes they will not. Some NPCs might even be able to think ahead and plan what the PCs might do and try to stop them. If that is too much story control for you, so be it. I feel that this is appropriate, however.

Also, before you go into that barbarian rage of "I know how the game is played best and all others are doing it wrong!" again, tell me how you decide what scene of play follows after the previous scene is resolved: is the next scene just a logical follow up? Or do the backgrounds, likes, dislikes and wishes of the PCs influence the next scene? I would like know the practical side of this. If the players decide to find out more about a cult of necromancers, have looked for information, have found the cult's headquarters and have decided to sneak in: who decides how the next scene begins and what it contains? And is that scene influenced by what the DM knows about what challenges the players have mentioned they would like to overcome beforehand? In the game I DM, I present the players with the next scene (I describe it) and it's content is influenced by what I know the players want out of the game, because they have told me so. The players then decide on how to resolve the scene with their PCs while I play the NPCs.
If your game is any different, please enlighten me.


Also, you are wrongfully assuming that there are "many pre-set in-game-world-options"...what the heck would give you that idea considering I've spoken against that multiple times? See, that is not a true sandbox. That is just a railroad with multiple rails. I do not run a game with many pre-set options...I run a world in which there are INFINITE OPTIONS, all of which are created by the fact that the world is a world and the players can do EXACTLY as they please.


I understand that in your sandbox scenario the PCs have infinite options. But what I am telling you is that "sandbox" can also mean that the PCs are able to go wherever they want, but then encounter things that were planned ahead of time by the DM, at places predetermined by the DM. I have experienced this, whether you call that "true" sandbox or not. I am also telling you that I do not like that kind of game. In my experience, "sandbox" can mean different things. But all start with the prologue you linked in your first post. So in my experience, a sandbox-scenario can offer the illusion of freedom just as any other form of play.


See, that, I think, is the biggest issue many people struggle with in a sandbox. They think it is like a sandbox video game where there's simply no narrative required to be followed and there are MANY options to pursue...like Skyrim or something. Tell me, in Skyrim, if one wishes, can one denounce the faith fo a small village and seek to supplant it with one's own faith to try and gain political favor in the town? No, no you can't. However, players could do that in my game and it's something I just thought of off the top of my head. As a DM, I have not planned for this...I have not pre-set options for this. It is one of infinite ideas the players could have come up with and they could attempt. It simply requires me to know the world, adjudicate the rules and occasionally improvise as needed to keep the gears of the world turning. You are imagining only in the format you have been saddled with in the past...or in the format you can imagine running. You have to see beyond that and see real infinite choice and real agency in a game.


I don't know that Skyrim game that you are talking about. To be honest, I am not up-to-date with modern video games, so I cannot relate to examples build on that. My oldest son plays Minecraft, which is a game I really like, but that is not a RPG.
What I see in your reply is the religious fervor with which you try to convince me that I and the people I play with are having badwrongfun. And that is laughable. Please grow up. Who do you think you are? There are so many ways to play this game and no form of play is better or worse than the other. Most of the times, it is a matter of taste. So one should never claim to have found the one true way without adding "for me" or "IMO". I find this is more accurate and less offensive.

I would like you to understand this (because you seem to be reading stuff into what I am writing that is not there in the game I play): I am not using NPCs to drive a prefabricated DM story of mine forward. But by playing NPCs the way they are as characters they influence the decisions the PCs make and therefore "the story". And this is what I want to get out of the experience as a DM concerning NPCs. Nothing more, but nothing less.
Also, you assume the way you play the role of DM should be everybody elses. The DM is a referee and portrays the world - that is all she does. In the game I DM, however, sometimes - concerning minor world details a lot of times actually - I do not have to portray the world: players come up with how the world is, too. Why should I not let a player come up with an entire district in a city and let the players build on that? Why should I not let a player decide what certain traditions of a certain race in the game world contain? They surprise me with it and I have to react to that on the fly. The players have fun with that and I do, too.

And again: "sandbox" means a lot of things to a lot of people. I have experienced it to be just as railroady as the worst adventure path. I can say: I do not like that. Unlike you, however, I find myself unable to say: this is the wrong way to play. The success of Paizo's adventure paths and the Dragonlance AP back in the 80s shows that this clearly is something that tons of people really enjoy and pay good money for.



Sorry if I misunderstood your game content story, but you didn't imply the players were out killing monsters. You implied they were working on contracts and business management.



Don't apologize because it helps illustrate how you are mistaking the journey for the destination. I didn't imply it because, to someone with half a wit, it should be elementary to assume that in Dungeons & Dragons there will be monsters for players to kill.



Again with the condescending and insulting attitude.

 You never mentioned monsters except a bit about goblins. You didn't say "plus they were killing lots of monsters" at the end of your game description.
Its not elementary that your players are fighting monsters.
Why would I presume that? You keep talking about the players doing what they want, and the description of the game indicated mostly business related ventures. 

 



And again, you insult my story writing and creative ability. (99% chance my content is chiche? I disagree)



And yet you've offered up nothing but umbrage to prove me wrong about your masterful story content. Your stories are cliche and copies of cliches...the sooner you recognize this as a DM the sooner you'll be to being free.  You are capable of disagreeing with me all you like but you have yet to produce something to prove your point.


Again, you are unable to discuss without being condescending and insulting.

What sort of story content could I possibly provide that would impress you? 
What would the use be in even trying, since you have already, in the same paragraph, decided I have failed.

I could use the numberous unsolicited compliments I have recieved from the players relating to the fun of the campaign, and interesting plot and world that they are adventuring in....
While that is not evidence of masterful story content, it is evidence they are having fun. I have heard no mention of cliches.





What I see in your reply is the religious fervor with which you try to convince me that I and the people I play with are having badwrongfun. And that is laughable. Please grow up. Who do you think you are? There are so many ways to play this game and no form of play is better or worse than the other. Most of the times, it is a matter of taste. So one should never claim to have found the one true way without adding "for me" or "IMO". I find this is more accurate and less offensive.



Oh, but clearly he has found the one true way. Its just us foolish DMs who cruelly destroy players and ruin games who are the fools!
He knows, KNOWS!!, that the players we have don't actually enjoy the games they play in, and they are too ignorant to understand what is happening to them!

>end sarcasm<
That was my original point in commenting on this thread. Sure, you and your players are happy. No problem, enjoy.
But it is just insulting to presume that any other DMing style is poisoning the game and that players are victims of these evil DMs, who only want to inflate their own egos. 

FamousErik, the only response I can really muster for you is that your deeply emotional, vitriolic response devoid of substance seems to be the sort that most have when they are suffering from an inferiority complex and fear that what they may be railing against is true but do not want to accept it.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.


It would be much easier for me to take anything you say seriously if you would lose the condescending attitude. You want people to listen to you, don't you? Just shift down a gear, please.



It would be easier for the both of us if you simply respond to the content and stop trying to read tone so that you can feel insulted. I know righteous indignation is an attractive emotion, but it does not benefit the conversation. I will write as I write and you will write as you write and we will discuss the actual content of one's posts...if that means me attacking something you do or believe, try not and take it personal. I am cutting down your ideas. That's all.

Obviously, you think that a DM should not have any story control at all, zero. Well, I disagree. I think that through the NPCs I play I have story control as well. And I would not say that this is selfish or arrogant. I would also claim that you do the same thing because everything your NPCs do will influence how the PCs will react and what decisions they will make. If that is too much story control for a DM, I really cannot help you.



You have no need to help me, as I am not suffering for my situation. I do not have a story, therefore my NPCs can not influence one. I do not plan ahead in my games because to do so creates the impossible-to-resist human desire to see one's plans/desires manifest. I have had to break myself of this habit and, occasionally, have to remind myself to avoid it.

Now, do the NPCs have a wider knowledge of "the story"? I cannot say how any scene will play out. All I can say is that the NPCs have knowledge appropriate to their character in that situation. Sometimes they will know more about events than the PCs do, sometimes they will not. Some NPCs might even be able to think ahead and plan what the PCs might do and try to stop them. If that is too much story control for you, so be it. I feel that this is appropriate, however.



You have missed the point. Granted, it is not an entirely simple one, but that is not relevant to the matter. When one has a story they are presenting, they will nearly unfailingly allow the desire to see those narrative events play out via their NPC interactions. It will color what they do. It is unavoidable by a human being. This is one of the great dangers of "story".

Also, before you go into that barbarian rage of "I know how the game is played best and all others are doing it wrong!" again, tell me how you decide what scene of play follows after the previous scene is resolved: is the next scene just a logical follow up? Or do the backgrounds, likes, dislikes and wishes of the PCs influence the next scene? I would like know the practical side of this. If the players decide to find out more about a cult of necromancers, have looked for information, have found the cult's headquarters and have decided to sneak in: who decides how the next scene begins and what it contains? And is that scene influenced by what the DM knows about what challenges the players have mentioned they would like to overcome beforehand? In the game I DM, I present the players with the next scene (I describe it) and it's content is influenced by what I know the players want out of the game, because they have told me so. The players then decide on how to resolve the scene with their PCs while I play the NPCs.
If your game is any different, please enlighten me.



Barbarian rage? Not I. I'm a high level Wizard. Surly, capable of great things, smartest guy in the room and manipulator of men. I hit Barbs with will saves and they die.

See what you're doing is assuming a "Right/Wrong" dichotomy when I am not engaging in this discussion. This is a discussion of "better/worse". As for your questions (in order)...

1. Decide what scene of play follows? I do not play by scenes. I play by the players doing things. If they walk into a tavern, they enter the tavern...and they do tavern things. If they walk down the road they are on a road. Scenes have a place in stories...not in a game.

2. The backgrounds/likes/dislikes/wishes of the PCs color everything they do because the players are the ones doing things via their characters.

3. As for the necromancers...the headquarters will be the headquarters as the headquarters was when it was created and plopped down into the game. It does not "render" in reaction to the players going to see it. The players do not "mention" to me what challenges they would like to overcome. My players want a game out of the game and they want me to get the hell out of the way so they can do as they wish in an amazing fantasy world. They want to do anything they wish...which is exactly what the game promises.

I understand that in your sandbox scenario the PCs have infinite options. But what I am telling you is that "sandbox" can also mean that the PCs are able to go wherever they want, but then encounter things that were planned ahead of time by the DM, at places predetermined by the DM. I have experienced this, whether you call that "true" sandbox or not. I am also telling you that I do not like that kind of game. In my experience, "sandbox" can mean different things. But all start with the prologue you linked in your first post. So in my experience, a sandbox-scenario can offer the illusion of freedom just as any other form of play.



So you do not like the "sandbox" game where it is not really a sandbox by virtue of not everything being possible because the DM has just turned a sandbox into a train-station game. Gotcha. I have no idea how that is relevant to this thread about a game with ACTUAL infinite choice...but I gotcha. Is your argument that a crappy DM will create a crappy sandbox that is, in actuality, nothing but an illusion of choice? Uh yeah okay I agree. Some DMs LOVE illusion of choice because it lets them lie to their players, feed a feeling of superiority and simultaneously save themselves a lot of work. This discussion started with a CLEAR definition of how "sandbox" was being used...that you come into the thread and present a completely seperate definition of sandbox and speak against it has 0.0% relevance to the actual topic at hand. You don't like a sandbox that is not actually a sandbox which is what you are familiar with. Well I'm sorry for your unfortunate circumstances...if you lived near RI I'd invite you to play in a real sandbox.


I don't know that Skyrim game that you are talking about. To be honest, I am not up-to-date with modern video games, so I cannot relate to examples build on that. My oldest son plays Minecraft, which is a game I really like, but that is not a RPG.
What I see in your reply is the religious fervor with which you try to convince me that I and the people I play with are having badwrongfun. And that is laughable. Please grow up. Who do you think you are? There are so many ways to play this game and no form of play is better or worse than the other. Most of the times, it is a matter of taste. So one should never claim to have found the one true way without adding "for me" or "IMO". I find this is more accurate and less offensive.



If no form of play is better or worse than leave this board. Honestly. Just leave. What could you possibly offer to it or get from it? If there is no better or worse than there is no point to trying to resolve issues or offer advice. Everything is equally valid. So we should all leave. None of us should seek to improve as DMs either because doing so is impossible since there can be nothing better than what we are doing...though there is simultaneously nothing worse. Sorry I can't believe that.

as for things being "less offensive"...HAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAAHAHA. Seriously though let me say HAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAA. Ahh there we go. So when I post something I should always add that what I am stating is, in fact, my opinion. Okie dokie. Do you happen to know a lot of people that go around posting things that aren't their opinion? How about we just all suck it up and agree to realize that everyone else is probably posting things they believe and they believe it because it is their opinion? Yes? I mean it's what I already do....but it might help for us all to agree to it anyway.

Villify me all you want with your accusations of "badwrongfun"...but I am simply stating something that is BETTER, not that you are wrong. Like a high school sports performance versus an Olympic sports performance, it is a matter of degree. In fact, most games have such a spectrum...and those that deny it and wish to equalize ALL forms of the game are usually those least interested in improving...and the first to scream that ALL styles of the game are equally valid. It spares them their ego.

The funny thing is you will NEVER see me say that...and you know why? Because I also recognize games that are run and done BETTER than mine...and I seek to improve to those levels. Can you say the same? And, if so, how does that jive with nothing being better or worse since those notions would be directly contradictory?

I would like you to understand this (because you seem to be reading stuff into what I am writing that is not there in the game I play): I am not using NPCs to drive a prefabricated DM story of mine forward. But by playing NPCs the way they are as characters they influence the decisions the PCs make and therefore "the story". And this is what I want to get out of the experience as a DM concerning NPCs. Nothing more, but nothing less.



If, as a DM and a human being, you have a pre-conceived narrative in your head for the events of the game it is literally impossible that that will not color your decision making in the game and, in doing so, threaten to (or outright) remove the meaning of your players in-game choices.

Also, you assume the way you play the role of DM should be everybody elses. The DM is a referee and portrays the world - that is all she does. In the game I DM, however, sometimes - concerning minor world details a lot of times actually - I do not have to portray the world: players come up with how the world is, too. Why should I not let a player come up with an entire district in a city and let the players build on that? Why should I not let a player decide what certain traditions of a certain race in the game world contain? They surprise me with it and I have to react to that on the fly. The players have fun with that and I do, too.



The difference between what we both do is that in my game the players are able to focus entirely on playing rather than taking on a creationary role.

And again: "sandbox" means a lot of things to a lot of people. I have experienced it to be just as railroady as the worst adventure path. I can say: I do not like that. Unlike you, however, I find myself unable to say: this is the wrong way to play. The success of Paizo's adventure paths and the Dragonlance AP back in the 80s shows that this clearly is something that tons of people really enjoy and pay good money for.



So people paying for something indicates quality? If we compare past times then, does that not mean that D&D, as a past time, is infinitely inferior to just about every common past-time for young people that outsells D&D? If we use what people pay for as a measure of success, D&D is an absolute failure when compared to comparable past-times. So, basically, relying on that as an argument doesn't really hold water. "tons of people" is virtually no one in this case when one looks at the bigger picture.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

There are so many ways to play this game and no form of play is better or worse than the other. Most of the times, it is a matter of taste. So one should never claim to have found the one true way without adding "for me" or "IMO". I find this is more accurate and less offensive.



None of us should seek to improve as DMs either because doing so is impossible since there can be nothing better than what we are doing...though there is simultaneously nothing worse. Sorry I can't believe that.



Consider this viewpoint, as I think it is what Snot-Elemental means: Every DM has room to improve within his particular style or approach to DMing, but there are many different styles and approaches to DMing that are equally valid if it is what your particular group enjoys. I think TRPGs are great in that every group can make what they want of the game.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Consider this viewpoint, as I think it is what Snot-Elemental means: Every DM has room to improve within his particular style or approach to DMing, but there are many different styles and approaches to DMing that are equally valid if it is what your particular group enjoys. I think TRPGs are great in that every group can make what they want of the game.



I like you, DC. You need to post more often.

The problem with this logic is that it still presumes validity based on a binary "enjoyment" quality. I do not believe that is an adequate measure for a game. Enjoyment is easy when spending time with one's friends. I have seen absolutely awful games of Dungeons & Dragons where the players might "enjoy" it but that enjoyment has little to do with the game. In this same way, I have seen people "enjoy" D&D and then play in different D&D games and enjoy it far more.

I ask myself constantly "Is how I am playing right now creating the MAXIMUM enjoyment for my players?"..."Is this playstyle the BEST way for people to enjoy themselves at the table". Simply shooting for "yeah they enjoyed that" is a low benchmark and being happy with it is simply back-patting ones self. It is why I have adopted and adapted various styles throughout my years gaming. It is a process of evolving and that means looking HARD at what has been done and, occasionally, throwing it out. When the requirement is merely "enjoyment" that means the benchmark is quite low for trying something new (and potentially better).

The entire attitude of "all styles are equally valid" also encourages DMs not to critically compare different styles for those components that may very well be better conceptually from one style to another. It stagnates the entire hobby. The games that take the world by storm are those that innovate...those that look at people "enjoying" a game and say "That is not good enough"...

That is what I do. That is what we should all do, especially if we want to be able to give advice to other DMs.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Consider this viewpoint, as I think it is what Snot-Elemental means: Every DM has room to improve within his particular style or approach to DMing, but there are many different styles and approaches to DMing that are equally valid if it is what your particular group enjoys. I think TRPGs are great in that every group can make what they want of the game.



I like you, DC. You need to post more often.

The problem with this logic is that it still presumes validity based on a binary "enjoyment" quality. I do not believe that is an adequate measure for a game. Enjoyment is easy when spending time with one's friends. I have seen absolutely awful games of Dungeons & Dragons where the players might "enjoy" it but that enjoyment has little to do with the game. In this same way, I have seen people "enjoy" D&D and then play in different D&D games and enjoy it far more.

I ask myself constantly "Is how I am playing right now creating the MAXIMUM enjoyment for my players?"..."Is this playstyle the BEST way for people to enjoy themselves at the table". Simply shooting for "yeah they enjoyed that" is a low benchmark and being happy with it is simply back-patting ones self. It is why I have adopted and adapted various styles throughout my years gaming. It is a process of evolving and that means looking HARD at what has been done and, occasionally, throwing it out. When the requirement is merely "enjoyment" that means the benchmark is quite low for trying something new (and potentially better).

The entire attitude of "all styles are equally valid" also encourages DMs not to critically compare different styles for those components that may very well be better conceptually from one style to another. It stagnates the entire hobby. The games that take the world by storm are those that innovate...those that look at people "enjoying" a game and say "That is not good enough"...

That is what I do. That is what we should all do, especially if we want to be able to give advice to other DMs.

Abosulutely.

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

I think that it is great to experiment with different games and styles of play. That is why my campaigns rarely last more than a year, tops. While I and my group always seem to enjoy our campaigns, we also want to experience other options, and we do find that we enjoy some settings/systems/play styles more than others. But even after GMing for over a decade (Not trying to sound grandiose; I understand that's a relatively short time compared to many of the forum regulars here.) I can't say that I've settled on one game or play style that is absolutely superior to everything else I've tried. And, enjoyment is a very subjective thing. Some of my players have enjoyed one campaign more than another, while others had the contrary experience, and even if we all agree that one particular play style is more fun for us than another, I don't think any of us would presume to say that would prove true for all groups or individuals.

Acknowledging this doesn't make it impossible for us to offer advice to other DMs. We can still offer our own experiences for others to make of what they will. We may also identify that a forum poster is running their game in a similar style to our own, and then we can tell them what has worked and what hasn't for us within that particular style. We can also try to promote our own play style, but we should do so respectfully.

Think of it this way: If I have played every sport I could and I've decided that soccer is by far my favorite sport, does that mean that soccer is absolutely the best sport in the world, and the only one worth playing? I doubt it. There are many people who love playing other sports way more. Does that mean I can't give advice to fellow sports enthusiasts? No. I'll find other people who play soccer and teach them what I've learned. I'll offer advice that is applicable across multiple sports (strategy, exercise routines, etc.). I'll invite other people to play soccer, and explain why I think it is such a fun game. But I won't tell them that baseball or basketball suck. That isn't constructive, it can't be proven outright because it is a matter of preference, and it doesn't help my cause if in promoting soccer I come across as a jerk.

I apologize for the lengthy sports analogy. Hopefully my point isn't too muddled in there.


I do not have a story, therefore my NPCs can not influence one. I do not plan ahead in my games because to do so creates the impossible-to-resist human desire to see one's plans/desires manifest. I have had to break myself of this habit and, occasionally, have to remind myself to avoid it.


This is an example of why it is so frustrating discussing things with you. How many times do I have to tell you that there is no prefabricated DM-story in the games I DM? But of course "the story" is always influenced by what PCs do and how NPCs react. If a certain argument does not convince a NPC then the PCs will have to come up with a different strategy. And that becomes a different story than the PCs convincing the NPCs with a clever argument.
If you do not agree, I cannot explain it any further.
 
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />You have missed the point. Granted, it is not an entirely simple one, but that is not relevant to the matter. When one has a story they are presenting, they will nearly unfailingly allow the desire to see those narrative events play out via their NPC interactions. It will color what they do. It is unavoidable by a human being. This is one of the great dangers of "story".


No, you, masterful wizard, fail to see the point, because you are trying to preach. Let me point it out to you again: there is no prefabricated DM-story in the games I DM. The NPCs act in character.


Barbarian rage? Not I. I'm a high level Wizard. Surly, capable of great things, smartest guy in the room and manipulator of men. I hit Barbs with will saves and they die.


Are you talking about linear fighters and quadratic wizards? Save-and-suck, huh? Thank goodness I do not have to play these kinds of games anymore. I did not like them in the end at all. They became a nightmare to improvise with for me, especially in high-level-play. But that is a different matter.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />1. Decide what scene of play follows? I do not play by scenes. I play by the players doing things. If they walk into a tavern, they enter the tavern...and they do tavern things. If they walk down the road they are on a road. Scenes have a place in stories...not in a game.


Finally we are getting somewhere. When the players enter a tavern in the game I DM, that would be "the tavern scene". The players go to the tavern - or any other place, really - with a purpose. Maybe they are looking for information, maybe they want to play out getting drunk. But if the tavern itself is of no interest for them, whithout a purpose for the game they want to play, why waste the time and go there?
And that is the difference between "tavern things" and "tavern scene". The latter has meaning to the players, the former does not.


2. The backgrounds/likes/dislikes/wishes of the PCs color everything they do because the players are the ones doing things via their characters.


So we are in agreement. See, that wasn't so hard, was it?


3. As for the necromancers...the headquarters will be the headquarters as the headquarters was when it was created and plopped down into the game. It does not "render" in reaction to the players going to see it. The players do not "mention" to me what challenges they would like to overcome. My players want a game out of the game and they want me to get the hell out of the way so they can do as they wish in an amazing fantasy world. They want to do anything they wish...which is exactly what the game promises.


Did you plan out the necromancer's headquarter ahead of the session, and how far ahead? In the game I DM, for example, I plan ahead one session. And how much of the headquarter changes during play in your game? In the game I DM, combat encounters can change during the session, for example. If the players prepare for an attack of, say, a tentacle-monster bred in a machine, then I might have the thing attack even though I have not planned ahead that the monster will attack, if that makes clear what I am trying to say.
That's one of the reasons why I need a game system that makes it easy for me to change encounter setups. Especially in high level campaigns, I have found the CR-system of 3rd edition to be too cumbersome for that. The stat-blocks became too much for me, too. The xp-budget-system of 4E I find much more usable, the stat-blocks more readable.
I also need a system that is easy to prep for in other areas as well and that gives the other players a lot of narrative control.


So you do not like the "sandbox" game where it is not really a sandbox by virtue of not everything being possible because the DM has just turned a sandbox into a train-station game. Gotcha. I have no idea how that is relevant to this thread about a game with ACTUAL infinite choice...but I gotcha. Is your argument that a crappy DM will create a crappy sandbox that is, in actuality, nothing but an illusion of choice? Uh yeah okay I agree. Some DMs LOVE illusion of choice because it lets them lie to their players, feed a feeling of superiority and simultaneously save themselves a lot of work. This discussion started with a CLEAR definition of how "sandbox" was being used...that you come into the thread and present a completely seperate definition of sandbox and speak against it has 0.0% relevance to the actual topic at hand. You don't like a sandbox that is not actually a sandbox which is what you are familiar with. Well I'm sorry for your unfortunate circumstances...if you lived near RI I'd invite you to play in a real sandbox.


Actually, this is not only what I was trying to say. What I said is that a sandbox-setting can be just as railroady as some APs. A sandbox-setting can also be totally uninfluenced by PCs background or actions. In a lot of sandbox-settings, encounters are "just dropped in" with no regard for the PCs level, ability or the players interest.
The link you posted in your starting post did not spell out "unlimited possibilities" for me as a player, because I had heard that stuff before and got railroaded. So it was all talk and no freedom. So yes, you can really feel sorry for my unfortunate circumstances, because it really was a sucky game that I left very quickly.

And I also disagree with that linked blog in one fundamental aspect:
As a DM, I want to have a say in what the story will be about. Other than being part of the story as a NPC, what I mean by this is that I do not want to participate in a game in which the PCs play rapists, arsonists, child-molesters and murderers, any evil-PC-story really. Now, if you yourself can lean back and enjoy a story like this, good for you. The blogger you linked to obviously has no problem with it. But I do. And I have the right to not participate in that kind of story. And I will not go to the kitchen and get a cup of coffee while the other players come up with crap like that. So my game is not unlimited in that sense and I do not want it to be.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />If no form of play is better or worse than leave this board. Honestly. Just leave. What could you possibly offer to it or get from it? If there is no better or worse than there is no point to trying to resolve issues or offer advice. Everything is equally valid. So we should all leave. None of us should seek to improve as DMs either because doing so is impossible since there can be nothing better than what we are doing...though there is simultaneously nothing worse. Sorry I can't believe that.

...snip...

Villify me all you want with your accusations of "badwrongfun"...but I am simply stating something that is BETTER, not that you are wrong. Like a high school sports performance versus an Olympic sports performance, it is a matter of degree. In fact, most games have such a spectrum...and those that deny it and wish to equalize ALL forms of the game are usually those least interested in improving...and the first to scream that ALL styles of the game are equally valid. It spares them their ego.


The tone makes the music, my friend. It is all about communication skills. And to be honest, I think yours suck. You come across to me as a jerk. But judging from your posts, you want to convince people that your style of play is better, right? I am telling you that the tone of your posts will work to the contrary. A lot of people will read this and say: WTF? Is this guy/girl on some sort of rage drug? You do not come across as the powerful wizard you claim to be, but rather as a frothing barbarian. You're spitting while you talk. You sound like the mad guy at Speaker's Corner. That convinces nobody. Seriously, it serves your argument better to just shift down a gear. And read a book on how to talk to people to actually make them do things you would like them to do. Drop words like "arrogant", "selfish", "your PCs are cliche", "inferiority complex" etc. Appear less..., sorry I have no other word: immature. It'll do your argument good.


The difference between what we both do is that in my game the players are able to focus entirely on playing rather than taking on a creationary role.


So, players should not have a creationary role in the game in your opinion? Are you saying that the game is better if players have no such role? If I told my players that, they would not like it one bit. Neither would I, to be honest.


So people paying for something indicates quality? If we compare past times then, does that not mean that D&D, as a past time, is infinitely inferior to just about every common past-time for young people that outsells D&D? If we use what people pay for as a measure of success, D&D is an absolute failure when compared to comparable past-times. So, basically, relying on that as an argument doesn't really hold water. "tons of people" is virtually no one in this case when one looks at the bigger picture.


Now, now, you can do better than this. Do not compare apples with cardboard.
Compared to other past-times, D&D is only a minor blib on the screen. Football is much bigger, as is american football in the US. Movies make much more money. So, yes, more people like movies and Football better than D&D. That does not make D&D an "inferior" past-time. Just a less successful one. And here is the point: it doesn't make it a less FUN past-time.
Compared within the overall RPG market, Paizo's APs (and the Dungeon magazine equivalents) do very well. Lots of people like them. In my experience, APs can be very railroady and do not offer "unlimited" player choices because there is a set story that one is supposed to play. So no, obviously not a lot of people play like you and I. Which neither invalidates their style of play or mine.

Look at the bright side, my friend: improve your communications skills and persuade them that the open sandbox is the best way to play the game and that everybody can have even more fun when they adopt the methods of that kind of play. I think this will serve the preacher-side in your personality. It will give you something to do.
What does that blog has to do with sandbox gaming? I mean, regardless of what type of game you run, talking with your players beforehand on what they want and adjucating your game to their wishes is solid advice. Mind you, when me and my players decide beforehand to run an all-dwarf campaign with all PCs being the heirs of a lost dwarf clan they want to restore to power, and I as the DM tend to have some ideas on plots beforehand (ready to be modified by players' actions), am I running a sandbox game or a story oriented one? After all, the players limited their own freedom, but they still had complete freedom at the start of the campaign.

In this regards, my own bad experiences with 'sand-box' games are likely more about me applying that word to a subgroup of games that I really dislike instead of using the more broad use of the word. After all, the game that was as boring as hell because the DM thought it was fun to have the PCs wander around through an empty forest looking for the bandits and litterally spend 3 hours describing how nothing happened because we never entered the correct spot on the map, or that was boring because the players went in all directions forgetting they were part of a group with DM spending 1 hour per player, have nothing to do with game style and all on how the DM and players approached the game. The same could easily happen in a very plot driven campaign.

What does that blog has to do with sandbox gaming? I mean, regardless of what type of game you run, talking with your players beforehand on what they want and adjucating your game to their wishes is solid advice. Mind you, when me and my players decide beforehand to run an all-dwarf campaign with all PCs being the heirs of a lost dwarf clan they want to restore to power, and I as the DM tend to have some ideas on plots beforehand (ready to be modified by players' actions), am I running a sandbox game or a story oriented one? After all, the players limited their own freedom, but they still had complete freedom at the start of the campaign.

In this regards, my own bad experiences with 'sand-box' games are likely more about me applying that word to a subgroup of games that I really dislike instead of using the more broad use of the word. After all, the game that was as boring as hell because the DM thought it was fun to have the PCs wander around through an empty forest looking for the bandits and litterally spend 3 hours describing how nothing happened because we never entered the correct spot on the map, or that was boring because the players went in all directions forgetting they were part of a group with DM spending 1 hour per player, have nothing to do with game style and all on how the DM and players approached the game. The same could easily happen in a very plot driven campaign.



Thank you for this remark. I think you are 100% correct.

The OP has started another thread on how he/she plays: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

It shines some lights on where his playing style probably disagrees with others. I most certainly do not prepare like him/her in a lot of aspects. The best thing about the new thread, though, is that is less insulting to those who do not play like him/her.
FamousErik, the only response I can really muster for you is that your deeply emotional, vitriolic response devoid of substance seems to be the sort that most have when they are suffering from an inferiority complex and fear that what they may be railing against is true but do not want to accept it.



You are going to have to work on your insults.

For starters, the dismissal is over the top. It will be sharper if you lose some of the overly emotional language. It also takes away the credibility. I am aware of the level of emotional content I put into my posts. Trying to convince me I am extremely emotional simply tells me you are misreading things and lessens the impact you are trying to have. 

No! No! No! don't drop a clinical diagnosis in there. It comes across as very dry and also suffers from a lack of believability. I can't suspend my disbeilef and believe that you are a trained mental health proffessional. Try insulting my manlyness instead.

The end statement closes the insult well, but pushs too hard for the win. It fails for lacking any evidence, instead relying on itself being proof of itself.

And maybe mix things up and find an insult based on my name or spelling and grammar errors. 

But all in all a good try. Go back and do this one again, or feel free to start fresh.



The OP has started another thread on how he/she plays: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

It shines some lights on where his playing style probably disagrees with others. I most certainly do not prepare like him/her in a lot of aspects. The best thing about the new thread, though, is that is less insulting to those who do not play like him/her.



Yes, he seems to be acting like a real grown up human person.
I guess he just doesn't handle conflict well.

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