Monday, January 4, 2016

Sandbox 5th Edition Games

It's a new year and I'm excited to jump into new stuff. Today I'd like to talk about sandbox games and 5th Edition D&D.

For clarity, when I say "sandbox" I do mean it in its typical sense; a playground in which the player characters can romp about and build their own little part of the world, going on adventures that suit their fancy in order to fund their escapades. Many games are designed with a certain degree of this in mind (AD&D's Birthright, A Song of Ice and Fire RPG, Pathfinder's Ultimate Campaign rules, and Adventurer Conqueror King System aka ACKS jump to mind since I've played all of those extensively), but I feel that some find themselves shackled to a setting in which there isn't much room to build your own stuff without rubbing the elbows of existing territories that quite simply dwarf your own.

As of yet, I don't know of any official (or third party) rules that do this for my current beau, 5E D&D. I'm sure there are plenty of kitbashed conglomerations put together somewhere, but I'd like to take my own stab at it given a setting I became enraptured with over the holiday break.

That setting is Primeval Thule.

It's been around a little while under various other system incarnations (Pathfinder, 4E D&D, and 13th Age), but only recently was I made aware there is a version for 5E D&D. So I scooped it up on DriveThruRPG and devoured it over the course of a few days, relishing the flavor of sword and sorcery with fantasy races mixed on.

It fully admits the resources that inspired it, and it definitely has a Hyborian feel to it with the serial numbers filed down. I certainly don't mean that in a damning way; it's fantastic and I love the setting. It gives you a rich world with plenty of room to romp around in, a whole bunch of nasty antagonists to set the players up against, and a peppering of common fantasy races to help augment the tofu people humans that make up most of the setting.

Okay, that's not entirely fair. The humans are culturally very diverse, just not mechanically different. I don't feel quite as strongly about it as some of my colleagues and contemporaries do, but it may bear some house ruling if that's not your cup o' tea. However, the near-human Atlanteans have their own statistics and are very much considered a separate race.

Anyway, I bring up Thule because it is fertile ground for the development of more in-depth sandbox gameplay systems for 5th Edition. My immediate reaction is to kitbash a bit of what ACKS does into the game, since ACKS is an old-school-revival system and has a lot of things in common with its D&D roots, but I don't want to just wholesale bolt on things and create a Frankenstein's monster.

And so, over the course of the next few entries, I'll be delving into some ancillary systems to support what I think are fun things to have as character goals in a sandbox game run in Primeval Thule, particularly how they relate to 5E. If you have any suggestions, resources, or pitfalls that you'd like to talk about, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email and I'll take them into account. I imagine this particular project will take me a bit longer than Council of Wyrms did, so I feel like I will have time to react to any feedback.


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