A recent conversation over on Candlekeep
prompted me to post some suggestions for running a sandbox game. Definitionally speaking, this is a campaign in which the players—not the DM—determine the course of the campaign, through their decisions. The DM’s role becomes mostly reactionary or anticipatory: adjusting the game to suit player’s needs and sometimes unexpected decisions.
Some of us already do this to some extent in our games—basing things on PC decisions, motivations, and goals. In a full-on sandbox game, you take things to the next level: let the PCs rule, and just run with it.
Here are some thoughts to keep in mind