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  #31  
Old Oct 12th, 2011, 11:27 PM
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I remember seeing the app for that game and thinking, "Damn, another awesome game I don't have time to play in..."
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  #32  
Old Oct 19th, 2011, 01:16 PM
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Next question, which isn't strictly a sandbox question but is still important for me: how do you guys keep track of combat? Right now, I have built a custom Excel spreadsheet with dice randomizer and map built in (my maps are crappy by design, I don't have the time to do them justice), and that's made things go faster. But it's still not as smooth of a process as I'd like. Just curious to know if anyone's got a good solution to recommend.

This is important right now but I'm toying with the idea of starting a second group in the same campaign and if I do so, time management will become even more important for me. And combat is the only place where I end up spending serious time working on posts.
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  #33  
Old Oct 19th, 2011, 01:37 PM
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I'd recommend google docs for the sandbox game maps. They aren't the prettiest, but they are quick to make and everyone can update them (i.e. players have update their locations and the damage done to the enemies, their statuses, etc.). I prefer fancier maps for my other games but it is very convenient to use these in a pinch.
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  #34  
Old Oct 19th, 2011, 04:13 PM
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I just put distances in the fieldset tags; though some of it is gabarge (really? 6 people all exactly 40 feet away, despite being in the same area?). I tend to the quick + dirty + easy mindset for PBP combat.
  #35  
Old Oct 19th, 2011, 04:28 PM
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Well me and Sull are running 4E games which means maps are a virtual necessity. Honestly updating the google docs takes very little time and effort, and even the initial setting up is quite easy so long as you don't try to pretty it up too much.
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  #36  
Old Oct 24th, 2011, 08:41 AM
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Here's an idea I was going to implement but have yet got the chance to:

Most GMs populate their world with NPCs/factions/story arcs/etc, right? This is all good and flavorful and gives PCs great outlets for immersion and creativity. However, aside from static motives, these GM creations often stay in the background until they are needed. Some of them unfortunately fade into the background or are forgotten about by players and GMs alike.

What I was going to try was continual and active plot rendering. In my own GM space, I would treat all my creations as sort of active PCs doing their own thing while the party does theirs. Most GMs already somewhat do this, and interject this at least somewhat into their game, but I think it would be more effective (for me, at least) if I kept motivation/action threads for each NPC and posted in them on a regular basis. Not in depth, cause that would be exhausting, but on a one and one ratio per party maneuver. As in every time the party accomplishes something, or a few days pass, I record the actions of all my NPCs during that time according to their motive.

EX:

Party breaks into secret chamber of a lost tower and reclaims powerful artifact.

NPC 1: Heron, the wizard who is also searching for said artifact, casts his scrying net and sees the item being taken. Possible encounter/plotbit: Perhaps he proceeds to send a tracking spell through his scry. Or stop/injure them.

NPC 2: Kerneth, the mayor's arch enemy of the city of said tower's residence, discovers the break in and uses the breach in the current mayor's city guard (assuming tower was protected) to exploit the mayor's weaknesses and campaign against him. Possible encounters/plotsicles: Perhaps some political groups become violent?

NPC 3: Kerneth's daughter, Jenasa, a headstrong and stubborn beauty who secretly opposes her father's policies, decides to run away during the mayem and elope with the love of her life, a man her father doesn't approve of. Possible plotsicle: Kerneth posts a reward that entices the party, or the happy couple finds themselves inadequately supplied and try to steal from the party on the road.

My point is, of course, that in actively sustaining the actions.motives of your NPCs/etc, you can basically assure that even in sandbox form, there is always something more to put on the game table. Ideas and PC plot immersion should also come easier, as you won't be distancing yourself from your creations as the game goes along but keeping them alive in the background. Or not so background, as it may be.
  #37  
Old Oct 24th, 2011, 08:49 AM
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Thats a great idea Cleo. I've been telling the players that the world would be fluid, with NPCs plotting/planning just as much as they are. But I wasn't sure how to keep track of it all as time went by. I've just had general notes and I planned to update their progress as the PCs came upon it, but continuing to update every so often will make it much easier to keep track of things. It will also allow me to remember where I wanted to go with something while also leaving trails for the players to possibly follow for plot hooks as you said.
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  #38  
Old Oct 24th, 2011, 09:15 AM
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If you use it, I want to know how it goes. I still plan to utilize the idea in the future but I'm currently only kinda sorta gaming and don't when I'll be able to get back to it. I'm dying to know if it's effective.

Thanks for liking it ^_^
  #39  
Old Oct 24th, 2011, 03:01 PM
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Keeping track of that is a nightmare, I'll agree.

I do have 5-10 major NPC's that are doing things and care about the adventurers (one party has met one); but their actions are relative to when they are encountered; IE "Encounter 1: Reveal this." "Encounter 2: Ask for this". "Encounter 3: Do this."

They're all placed as special locations or on the random encounter table, so...yeah.
  #40  
Old Oct 24th, 2011, 10:57 PM
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I'm not saying that Cleo's idea is a bad one but I agree with CE2 that the tracking gets to be a chore in and of itself.

What I'm doing in my sandbox is creating a story arc for each major NPC, with the basics sketched out. Nothing detailed, just major happenings. This is what's going to happen behind the scenes regardless of what the PCs do.

Then, when the PCs happen to cross the path of any of the NPCs, I look to see where they are intersecting the NPC timeline and I freestyle it from there.

Really rough example:
The Orcs of Orctown are plotting to regain their lost glory by finding the Standard of Gruumsh, which was lost in the last Great War.
(1)They send war bands out across the land to search for clues about the Standard.
(2)They find it in a small village, owned by the unsuspecting son of a war veteran.
(3)The orcs attack the village, burn it to the ground, and take the Standard.
(4)Then the Orctown clan leader gathers all the orc tribes and invades the kingdom.

If the PCs happen to enter the small village around (3) on the Orc's timeline, then the village is buzzing with rumors about orcs skulking around the outskirts of town. Maybe the party is woken up that night by the orcs attacking!
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Last edited by Sulldawga; Oct 24th, 2011 at 10:59 PM.
  #41  
Old Oct 24th, 2011, 11:19 PM
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Its likely due to having more time than most (I spend most of my time in College Algebra twice a week jotting notes for my game) but mine is more of a fluid village with various goings on happening all the time. I've already mapped out how certain quests will only be available for certain windows, various NPCs will only be in town for so long, etc. I've already got an extensive list of NPCs written up with more general ideas on more as well with all of them having their own motivations.
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  #42  
Old Oct 25th, 2011, 04:00 AM
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So, here is a random encounter table I did today for an area of Akiton, the pseudo-Mars of the Pathfinder setting. The map is ~60,000 square kilometers/~37,000 sq. miles, the size of Ireland or Michigan minus the UP. Instead of using a random encounter distance, I'm just starting at 400 feet and subtracting for lack of alertness, hiding opponent, sandstorms, etc - I like that a lot better than rolling 6d6*20 every time there is an encounter. Players will be strong ECL 7, CRs vary from 4 to 15.

About 75% of the encounters are monsters. 10% of encounters are higher than CR 9, which I would consider to be "run for it!" difficulty. To make sure things seemed alien, I stuck mainly to Vermin, Aberrations, and a couple Outsiders. I added a couple of Aquatic monsters which will lose that for our purposes, just to seem weird, like 'Desert Anemone'. The trick, I think, to making monsters seem alien is to not name them - only describe them. I am not going to say "You're attacked by a Giant Preying Mantis!"... The first time it'll be "Its long reed-thin carapace is reddish-brown with a green stripe down its front wings. Its giant eyes, clear aqueous bubbles devoid of a pupil, swivel towards you, and its legs tense as it prepares to jump at you with its barbed arms held before it like a fighting monk of Tian Xia."... hopefully the players will nickname it, and if not I'll just call it "the giant insect with the green-striped wings" and maybe link to the post I introduced it in.

 


I apologize that the table isn't logically organized. I kind of threw in the entries as I went along. Any thoughts/opinions?

Here's my map. Each grid-square is 5 km on an edge, or 25 sq. km. Its Valles Marineris on Mars (so, much bigger than the actual scale I'm using). I'm going to be adding some features to it, but I just got done adding the grid.
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Last edited by FFFFFF; Oct 25th, 2011 at 04:11 AM.
  #43  
Old Oct 25th, 2011, 02:06 PM
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That's good. Will probably borrow that for an area. Though the encounter range is pretty wide. An unlucky Emperor of Snakes with Fly 60 Good, at Will Teleport, and Blindness/Deafness, plus the confusion and swallow hole...you could drop an accidental TPK there due to random luck.
  #44  
Old Oct 25th, 2011, 03:09 PM
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It is a real concern, and basically why I posted it in this thread - you were talking about something similar here.

Emperor of Scales is almost impossible to hurt... SR, immune to mind-affecting, brutal DR. In the description, it suggests that the priests of a Lizardfolk cult use it as their enforcer, that it is in torpor when it isn't on a mission, and that snakes are psionically attracted to it... I'm planning on going with something similar. So, if the players stumbled on it, it'd be trailed by a swarm of vipers, and be going somewhere. I imagine it playing out as a sort of "you're minding your own business, Godzilla walks by, you cower, he passes, you change your pants" scene.

There are other encounters that are problems too, like the Black Scorpion or the Shaitan. I think I can manage to keep things under control though. If the Scorpion sees them, it goes for their horses/camels first, as they're a bigger meal. The Shaitan is intelligent enough that it can capture the PCs and force them to do its bidding.

I think I just need to make clear to the players before-hand that there will be encounters which they aren't meant to fight, and are there for thematic reasons.
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