Swede Rolls 14 – Power Dynamics in a Sandbox World

Download the episode here


Alright, so let’s say your players aren’t down for your usual linear dungeon crawl. It happens to all of us. At one point or another, people just get tired of bashing in progressively bigger monsters’ heads and want to try something else. Maybe they never want to leave Neverwinter, or perhaps they think that the Lunar Habitat of Clever Hands is the only place for them?

Well, if that’s the case, you’ve got a very different campaign on your hands. A sandbox kind of game is, well, if you’ve played GTA you should be familiar with the concept. A (relatively) open world, constrained only by geographical borders, in which there are a multitude of options to pursue. Perhaps you’ll be an investment banker, or maybe a train robber? Whatever you choose to do, the game needs to present you with a reasonable amount of challenge and, hopefully, some kind of in-universe logic to it. At least that’s how we’d explain it.

A Sandbox RPG isn’t much different. It merely means that you, the GM, need to sit down and think: “Okay, how do I make this world living?” You’ve already been doing that with the monsters populating your dungeons, or the people in a town. There’s a few key NPCs or Monsters who influence the rest of the NPCs/Monsters and whom the PCs have reason to interact with. Now you just need to think bigger.

Martin explains his way of creating a world like this in today’s episode, which covers everything from organized crime to merchant houses, workers’ unions and much, much more. You’ll find, after listening to this, that even bureaucracy and libraries can be used to your advantage in order to make a rich, inspiring setting for the players to romp around in.

Why not have them play Tax collectors in a High-fantasy city? Or perhaps Plumbers and Sewer Workers in a labyrinthian system built and designed thousands of years ago? A system that only works because of these brave women and men’s tireless sacrifice and effort to keep the Sewer Gators in check.

Keep rolling!

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Come shoot the shit! Have fun! Do some memes!

And as usual, thanks to the Scouts of Sweden for letting us use their offices for our recordings!

For more on Martin’s Varangia setting:


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