Carving a sandbox

It has been quite a while since I ran a proper campaign. Most projects seems to fall by the wayside, be it due to loss of interest, problems with timetables, problems with players, or one of my biggest faults in planning campaigns: Overplanning. I work campaign material to death. By the time I actually manage to start running the campaign, I’ve already grown weary of it. Either that, or I’ve raised the bar so high, that I simply can’t make the game as cool and interesting as I had envisioned.

This time around I’m going for something a bit different: An initially very vaguely described world, where content is created on the basis of need and as inspiration strikes me. A lot of the content will be left intentionally sketchy, to provide ample space for, well, basically anything that strikes my fancy at the time.

This is what I have so far.

It is going to be fantasy with a twist of weird. For a rules system, LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing should fit the bill perfectly. LotFP is also super-light, which is a definite plus.

Adventures are going to be open-ended, exploration-oriented, and completely without a larger meta-plot. The players should be free to do anything they want. If longer-running plots arise from play, so be it, but I won’t try to force any kind of plot-lines on the players.

It should be a weekly game, with a pool of players large enough, that at least 3-4 are able to attend every session. The campaign should, however, definitely have continuity. There needs to be cause and effect. It needs to have recurring characters and villains, and actions should have reactions in the game world.

The era should be very late medieval, just before the light of the renaissance, the advent of gunpowder, and the age of exploration. Think Warhammer World’s Empire, but without firearms and cannons, or Solomon Kane sans pistols. There needs to be a tangible darkness to the world that rises from the fear of the unknown.

The prime locations should be set in a Northern European climate, as it is the one I’m most familiar with. The winters need to be long, dark, and cold enough to freeze a man in place, and the summers need to be short, but sweet. There needs to be mountains, hills, deep, dark forests, lakes and rivers. There should be a long craggy coastline with deep fjords.

There needn’t be more than one or two larger cities, but the land could be haphazardly dotted with smaller settlements. Also, (obviously) there needs to be a lot of caves and ruins, which are perhaps the remnants of a past empire or centuries of warfare.

There are monsters in these lands. Man-eating trolls with bones of stone and carrion breath. Giants whose strides shake the earth like distant thunder. Great, icy wyrms, thinking slow, malicious thoughts in crystal caves. Restless dead things, forever freezing, and desperately craving the warmth of the living… No need for the normal staples of fantasy, however, such as a multitude of humanoid species, all intent on savagery and conquest. Maybe only one species, and they should be more akin to a force of nature than an actual threat to the dominance of man.

This is pretty much all I have at the moment. Next up, the scribbling of maps and names. “Here be dragons.”

One response to “Carving a sandbox

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