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Showing posts from March, 2010

Play Report from Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

Below after my comments is a session report written by one of the players in our Castle Zagyg sandbox campaign. I placed the Matt Finch's Pod Caverns in the Little Hillwood, a side trek away from the Castle, and I've talked about how I've adapted it before in the changing sandbox world. It's acquired quite the reputation for toughness from the players. The session report and my comments contain spoilers.

They've really explored very little of the caverns, which has been personally disappointing. There's some old school goodness there that they've missed. In their first expedition they blithely found themselves on the 2nd level in the prison chamber/mulching room. After wards they took that same path - and further right to the Shroom's complex of rooms... skipping floating heads, glowing fungus and other such oddities. They may yet go back since they realize they've missed treasure.

The other entrance to the pod caverns, which they've not yet…

A family friendly hobby

In honor of the controversy and the locked threads and the moralizing, I would like to quote from the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide, page 192:

Harlot encounters can be with brazen strumpets or haughty courtesans,thus making it difficult for the party to distinguish each encounter for what it is. (In fact, the encounter could be with a dancer only prostituting herself as it pleases her, an elderly madam, or even a pimp.) In addition to the offering of the usual fare, the harlot is 30% likely to know valuable information, 15% likely to make something up in order to gain a reward, and 20% likely to be, or work with, a thief. You may find it useful to use the sub-table below to see which sort of harlot encounter takes place:


01-10 Slovenly trull
11-25 Brazen strumpet
26-35 Cheap trollop
36-50 Typical streetwalker
51-65 Saucy tart
66-75 Wanton wench
76-85 Expensive doxy
86-90 Haughty courtesan
91-92 Aged madam
93-94 Wealthy procuress
95-98 Sly pimp
99-00 Rich pand…

Sandbox in Action

An Example of the Sandbox in Action

It is frequently said that there are no plots in sandbox campaigns. This is a misconception. There are no DM-imposed plots. That is true. But instead of one uber plot, there are many plots. Each and every actor/NPC/organization has their agenda; that's what makes the world feel real.

How does that square with the other sandbox rule: player freedom? The ethos of the sandbox is that the game is about the players' plots. The various NPC plots aren't going to force the players to make one choice or the other.

Simply put: many of other plots counter act each other

But that doesn't mean that the world doesn't change if the players don't act.

An example:

The characters have of late been confronting the Sinister Shroom from Matt Finch's The Pod Caverns. In our Yggsburgh/Castle of the Mad Archmage campaign, the Pod Caverns are in the Little Hillwood. After getting his Shroomy nose bloodied in raiding traffic on the Menhir Hills road (by…

Story and Drama in the Sandbox

Some of us see 'emergent story' and we look for it even while we're running sandboxes and dungeons like Castle Zagyg.

Take one of our players, C. C played a human fighter named Hengist. In true old school fashion, the low level fighter died at the hands of some orc slavers. Hengist's role in the story was now over - but wait.

The orcs were using slaves to mine. As we're playing an old school game, C is able to roll his six attributes, pick a race and class at the table. Thus Ethelred is introduced, a human ranger, joining the adventurers that freed him from a short life of slavery.

What is to become of Ethelred?

Months later, the party finds a trail of a different band of orc slavers. Instead of other options like the plant creatures that the party had set out to kill, Ethelred insists that they track the orcs back to their lair in the Menhir hills.
The random encounter of the orcs becomes a plot element that's more important to Ethelred than the original ob…