4 comments on “Digression on Sandbox Settings

  1. I am much the same way. I can run modules and so forth, but I have to put so much time into getting the feel for them, that it is easier to use ideas and incorporate into my own setting.

    • To be honest, I’ve never run a module even though I buy them from time to time just to see what’s happening in the wider RPG world and what can be appropriated for my own material. Leaving aside modules, the only time I attempted to run a predefined campaign setting was right after Forgotten Realms was first published. I ended up keeping the map and ignoring just about everything in the setting books. For a while after that I would check in on the “official” FR material that overlapped the areas I used (Cormyr and the Inner Sea region, I think) just to see how far my creation was from the canonical version.

      Back to the original point, though, using someone else’s setting feels like writing fan-fiction — so much energy is expended on emulating the imagination of the original creator that everything else suffers. I imagine that this is a personal failing, though, and that others are perfectly capable of using these materials successfully.

    • I’m not sure what you mean — like I mentioned in my reply to Larry, the only published setting I’ve used was Forgotten Realms when it was new (although I completely ignored the official lore and only kept the maps). The first module I bought was Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh, but I’ve never run it or made use of its material.

      If you’re asking what the first campaign setting I created was, I have only a spotty memory of it — it was a huge world with a cursed desert kingdom that the party ended up freeing by leading an army of dwarves under the mountains to surprise their enemy. The desert kingdom and its transformed heir (snake-headed with a articulated and piston-powered iron jaw) I remember as being a completely random and spur-of-the-moment invention who attacked and stole some minor treasure from the group that turned out (to my surprise) to be some key artifact for his people — the group was convinced that their epic quest to free that kingdom initiated by that event was some detailed plot created ahead of time but really it was me just riffing on their choices and fleshing out the setting’s history week-to-week with the occasional random determination as they moved across the map.

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