Posts Tagged by Sandbox


Lately I’ve been on an RPG reading tear, and I’ve been fortunate to find, stumble upon, and have recommended to me four excellent GMing books that I’d like to recommend to you in turn. Apart from all being good books, they share a slant towards fantasy and setting creation, but also another important trait: It’s easy to use them for other genres, too. Red Tide If I could only have one book about building a sandbox fantasy campaign, it would be Red Tide. The first […]


This is the second article in my rather widely-separated series on three Lamentations of the Flame Princess products for GMs. The first was about Carcosa, a sci-fi/fantasy sandbox setting that would work equally well for D&D (and related games) or Call of Cthulhu; the third will be about Zak Smith’s Vornheim (which Phil reviewed last year). As with Carcosa, I received a free copy of Isle directly from LotFP. Like my take on Carcosa, this isn’t a review — it’s a spotlight on Isle of […]

Today’s guest article was written by Tom Puketza, and it’s about a topic that has always seemed to be of special interest to Gnome Stew readers: sandbox-style gaming. Tom’s approach is an excellent one, and I think you’ll like it. Thanks, Tom! Previous articles have offered great advice on building campaigns using the five Ws. This approach offers a different but equally rewarding method for building a campaign. I used this method to build the D&D 3.5e campaign I currently run, and the results have […]


Ever since Troy’s article about running red box D&D for his kids at the end of January, I’ve been immersing myself in the OSR (Old School Renaissance). It’s been a ton of fun, and one aspect in particular has been some of the most fun I’ve had as a GM in years. Even though I started gaming with the Mentzer red box, I never fully experienced old school play in the most classical sense (a group of treasure hunters/tomb robbers go on dungeon crawls to […]

Today’s guest article comes from reader BryanB, who tackles one approach to running non-linear adventures in a comprehensive, usability-focused way. Thanks, Bryan! I used to use a fairly linear approach to adventure design, much like the writers of a typical module utilize. I’d often do a painstaking amount of detailed game prep. As many of my players tended to go off path during an adventure, I grew tired of seeing more than half of my preparation effort never see any use at the table. A […]


Pixedragon asked (in the suggestion pot) about several things that often tangle together into a big knot: mysteries, clues, and the GM’s spotlight versus the player’s flashlights.

One thing that a good railroaded adventure (or module) has going for it is coherence. Because the players don’t have many options, the GM can spend a lot of effort working on the scenes that they know will happen. Even in a less structured game, the GM is still (usually) the arbiter of scene setting. There are at least two paths a GM can take when the game starts grinding gears.


I hear people brag about their sandbox games. About how the players can have their PCs interact with the world in an unrestricted manner. How the gameworld is not bogged down with a plot that railroads the players, but instead the PCs encounter unique self-contained events that the PCs may investigate further or walk away from at any time. Every time I have played in a campaign advertised as a sandbox game the game itself was as boring as plain oatmeal. Yeah the PCs could […]