(I'll link to a few of the pictures in the Google Picasa album set up for the photos taken at the Sandbox Sessions but there are more there to see) -
I had hoped over the holiday break to get three or four evenings of DMing in with my regular Wednesday evening gaming group but schedules and whatnot conspired to reduce that to two. Nevertheless, the plan to develop the time available as Sandbox Sessions worked out fairly well and will be able to be continued at an upcoming gameday in an interesting form, but more on that later. The link above includes pictures from the two Wednesday evenings of the 13th and 20th of January, 2010, the first week with four players joining me and the second with but three available. The fourth PC was run by the remaining players and myself as needed at the second session. We were using the 3.5E ruleset for this mini-campaign with the characters at 9th-level, the sweetest part of the sweetspot, IMO. There was an Elf Wizard named Feylan run by Jason, a Halfling Rogue named Evad run by Dave, a Human Fighter named Kertus run by David, and a Dwarven Cleric named Torlon Goldeye run by Jim. The setting was freeform with the encounters being dictating primarily as we went along. I had some random tables based on the terrain, which was also randomized, using a system we developed specifically for this experiement. We gathered at the excellent Games Plus in Mount Prospect, IL, ordered some pizza from the delicious Tortorice's (audio warning), but got down to gaming quickly after feasting.
My four players include Jason (Trevalon Moonleirion), Dave (Opimus), David (Fenril Knight), and Jim (James J. Skach).
The RPG Room at Games Plus has a great conference table and whiteboard to use. That's me down the end. Note the box for Diceland . . .
To set up a workable system for these Sandbox Sessions I relied on some found items and took some cues from boardgames. In particular, I lucked into some pieces from the Diceland game, utilized some sheets of Carcassonne urban center tiles came with the Winter 2006 Games Quarterly, and a pile of building tiles that were promotional freebies for use with Battue: The Walls of Tarsos. It seems a handful of damaged Diceland game boxes were available to me from which the dice had been stripped but each included tile pieces of terrain, three per box from seven boxes, and a bunch of dice tokens and Kidult "K" tokens.
The way in which we used the various pieces was fairly straight forward. We put labels on the underside of the building tiles, several were standard buildings that would be avilable in any urban center while others would be randomized. The various Carcassonne tiles were designated as anything from a full fledged city, to a town, or even a manor, cabin, or farmstead. The blank hexagonal tiles were designated as where a random Carcassonne tile would appear and the grey hexagonal tiles were repurposed from being urban tiles to being mountain tiles, the forest, plains, water, and hills tiles remaining designated as they were. The "K" tokens would be used to mark hexes that had been explored and the dice tokens we used as a sort of action die whereby each player took three at random, thus knowing the outcome of the action die, and could use them to affect any die roll at any time during play (a very liberal action die variable, IMO, but we were trying to be quite forgiving during this experiment). Essentially, the players would draw a tile, and the tiles to go around it, thus knowing the local landscape and having a free choice to go and explore as they desired. I used random tables geared toward various terrain types to determine encounters, random tables for reactions of NPCs, random weather, and even kept the name generators handy along with personality trait tables so that in winging encounters I would not fall into any sort of biased rut.
I know that some people would find it confusing to use a hex grid battlemat with a combat system that strictly uses square-based grid map references but our group has the ability to adapt, so to achieve a feeling that the whole wide world was theirs to explore I covered the full conference table with a Mondomat, hex side up. We secured the world-scale outdoor hexes to thin masonite boards with loops of electrical tape so they could be preserved between sessions. For this experiment I disallowed player laptops at the table. They aren't normally problematic but I wanted to shake things up a bit and force a more general focus on the tabletop and the other players. Also to this end, the edition/system we were to use remained unknown to most players until the first session so they had but one set of books between them to share (though the character sheets were very complete and covered most everything except spell details and some of the more obscure rules issues).
Is this "Games Plus" open to all?
Originally Posted by CoreyHaim8myDog
Is this "Games Plus" open to all?
Yes. Yes, it is.