Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sandbox Thinking 1

As I work on preparing my sandbox I find that the tools I use impose their own logic and workflow. If I just jot notes in a notebook, I end up with a lot of ideas, but basically just a brainstorm. If I try to work in a text editor, I keep trying to write whole stories, but end up writing a lot of text that is (at least to my style of role-play Refereeing) quite useless.

An interesting tool I've found while working on a "codification" (if you could call it that) of the character generation process in our D&D game is the humble spreadsheet. With a spreadsheet you're automatically in the world of semi-random generated tables and ideas that can be slotted together modularly. However, the spreadsheet still imposes the need to be brief with your descriptions since there's just no room for whole stories. Also, the spreadsheet naturally gives itself over to a focus on the key elements say of an encounter, a monster, a piece of treasure or whatever it is you are using in your adventure. Finally, it imposes non-linearity, since each piece of a spreadsheet is interchangeable and available as an independent data point, while text is linear and imposes an authorial logic.

Anyway, after wasting two evenings writing text, I've decided to just stick to a spread sheet for now - not least because my laptop has recently started to become more and more important as a refereeing (DM) aid in my games over the last year.

Longwinter Introduction

I am preparing a sandbox adventure cycle, which I will possibly eventually package into a module. I will post much of the background to it here (possibly omitting those details that would not be player knowledge).

Without further ado:


The fall of the Empire drove smallfolk around the northern fringes of the settled lands deeper into the hills and mountains of the Worldspine to avoid the centaur khans and the humanoid bandits that prowled the wastelands. Beyond the Hungry Ghosts the settlements were especially exposed and the southern fringes of the Great Steppe were almost completely depopulated. Further east the survivors pushed, some prospered, most perished.

One group under Goodlord Verdek settled a high, wide valley that nestled among the peaks of the Tibur, with narrow defensible approaches to the northeast and steap pass leading west. There they fought off the centaurs of Khan Enkurtz and eventually established a little barony in the valley and called it Sant Nomme. Iron and mercury ores were found, farming communities were established, trade began to come to the barony and things seemed to be settling down, despite the fall of the old order.
Then the long winter came.

The Purpose

What is the purpose of this blog? I regularly play D&D, well, a heavily house-ruled D&D derivative, and I needed someplace to post some of my ideas, some of the stuff I make. Blogger seemed a simple and familiar solution.

Welcome, therefore, to the realms of my pens, paper and imagination. Don't forget your umbrella, because the rains can be hard and froggy.

Unrelated to the post itself, the Purple Worm stands proud and petrified.