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Tower Lord

Life in the Sand Box

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Sandbox play is a setting that allows open adventure and exploration and the players are not bound to a specific goal or Meta plot to resolve. This does not mean that they will not have goals set in game during said adventuring and exploration, but these goals would rise from the setting and would be open for resolution or not.
An example of sandbox play is the game Oblivion:
Which has both an overarching plot, a land worthy to explore and interesting places to locate. I find this style of game more enjoyable as I find the explore aspect the most fun.
One point I will make is that with a pen and paper game, the easier the game is to play, the easier it is to create a sandbox setting as itís easier to create on the fly as needed an encounter or monster etc. Complex systems require more prep work before using. Players can also detect this difference in the quality of game play if they happen to wonder off the path. As the game play is more open the level of risk is increased as itís possible to discover a location with a risk greater than the partiesí resources to handle.
Running away should always be an option in game play.
Sandbox play was something for us old school gamers as well, allowing the building of castles and towers and creating villages and trade. Sandbox play allowed the characters to live in the world, dealing with problems, exploring and adventuring. Locations dotted the landscape; the dungeons were dangerous places to explore, having creatures of legend as guardians of treasures unimaginable. The quests were drawn from these locations, a monster is attacking the local villages, an ancient curse turned the local waters to blood and so on, these created the back bone of adventures as the characters worked to resolve the situation.
So players had much to do, the DM worked to deepen the world setting with more locations, more dungeons, more places to spill some blood or to be a voice of reason.
JG wilderness works for me as a sandbox setting, with treasure maps, dungeons, cities and other locations detailed in there published material. I like to run sandbox play as it lets me be more open in my ideas and to share the world with the players, the fun of the sandbox is to see what they will come up with.

I love surprises to.


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  1. deathboy's Avatar
    Sandbox play has always entertained me. As the world should be a flowing changing world. Players should be able to do a lot to said world, as they are the stars of the game.

    If you have a chance to check out my blog about my sandbox campaign and the ideas and such I've come up with you might be amused.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.