Saturday, 6 November 2010

Bringing the Sandbox to Life: Campaign Events

One small problem with sandbox campaigns is that dungeon masters must make a conscious effort to make them seem dynamic. Many sandbox campaigns stay entirely the same, with nothing new ever happening to change the sandbox except those events triggered by the players. One way to avoid this feeling of stagnation is to incorporate campaign events into your sandbox game.

In general, I incorporate three types of campaign events into my sandbox:
  • Timed Events (events that happen in the various sandbox locations at a given time, whether the characters are there to witness them or not. Of course, these events won't happen if the PC's are in the right place at the right time to prevent them).
  • Planned Events (Events which will only happen when the party is present in a given location and which do not need to happen at a given time or in a particular order -such as job offers and the like).
  • Random Events (Generated by a table rolled on every time the party arrives at a given location, in order to determine whats happened while the characters have been away. This could be anything from a natural disaster of some kind, the arrival of new denizens, births, deaths or even marriages. Generally speaking, these )
In the remainder of this article, I'll provide a few examples for each. These have all been prepared for the OSRIC-Harn campaign I'll be running shortly. So to all you players in my game: no peeking. Even so, just to be on the safe side I've been deliberately vague. Even the timed events are not neccessarily listed in the order they will happen. Note how some of the Timed Events and the Planned Events play off one another. It's very easy to have one lead on from another, making the world seem even more diverse and alive.

Timed Events:

* The Arrival of the first caravan from the West. This event will trigger the beginning of the adventure from the Trobridge Inn supplement, leading to one of the Planned Events below.
* Gargun armed with unusual numbers of human-made weapons -all stamped by the same smith- begin raiding the caravans.
*The Chelni tribes begin arriving at Trobridge Inn for their annual gather.
* The arrival of delegates from both the Thardic Republic and Kaldor, each looking to negotiate with the Brigand Lord with the aim of annexing Trobridge into their respective domains.

Planned Events:
* A young woman arrives at the inn, alone save for a serving girl. She begs the characters to help her find her lover, one of the Sindarin, and escort her to him. It would appear she is fleeing to join her lover.
* One faction of delegates (depending on where the parties sympathies lie, if any) asks the party to spy on another group.
* The kidnap of a certain elf named Lysa.
*A merchant approaches the party, asking them to investigate where the Gargun are getting their new weapons.
* Crusaders arrive, passing through town on their way to the east.
* A message arrives for one of the Sindarin PCs (perhaps via Lysa) their family needs there help (leading into the Rahesia adventure)

Random Events:
* I have a random caravan table created to determine how many caravans (and their composition) turn up at Trobridge Inn in any given week.
* I have several random dungeon events tables. Some tailored to specific dungeons, some usable for any dungeon.
* I also have a table for random settlement events. Some of the entries are copied below. If there is enough interest, I'll publish the whole table when I have it polished. Everytime a given entry is rolled, it should be removed from the table and replaced with another. Normally, I would have one of these for each settlement in the Sandbox. At the moment, since Trobridge is likely to be just about the only settlement visited regularly, it's the only one I plan on making a full percentage table for. The rest can make do with 2D6 tables.

Trobridge Random Events Table:
00- Natural Disaster: A randomly determined house is destroyed by fire or flood. Was this an accident, or is something more sinister going on.
01- Wildlife attack: A random villager (pick a named, young mother NPC is there is one at this time) lost her baby when a fox crept in through the window and killed it.
02- Wildlife attack: One of the farmers (random or pick) has lost several livestock to wolf attacks.
03- New arrivals. A new family has moved into town and begun building a new house. Add a house to the map. The family consists of 1d4 adults and 1d4-1 children.
04- New arrival. 1d4 mercenaries or 1st level adventurers have arrived at the Inn. 75% just passing through. 25% looking for paid work.
05- Dead Guilder - A random guilder has died. Choose or roll randomly. Unless the Guilder had a journeyman working for him, that shops services are no longer available for 1d4 months until a replacement master arrives.

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