Advanced Ultimate Sandbox
I wanted to give you an idea of how this game might play out, and how to get the most out of a sandbox game.
First, do what you want. Take the initiative, and forge your own path. We are not on rails here, there is a big world to explore, and you’ll quickly learn that you can’t do it all. Just do what seems fun at the time. Follow leads, make friends and enemies, explore ruins and make a name for yourselves.
That said, I’ve provided the means for your characters to become leaders and build settlements, through the use of the kingdom building rules. If that’s what appeals to you, here’s how it works.
The world is made of hexes. Some already belong to other people, like the lands and settlements of lord Lochar. Some are just wild places full of dangerous ruins, evil cultists, etc. These are up for grabs. If you spend time exploring and clearing the dangers from these hexes, they are then available to be ‘claimed’ for your lord.
So you go around clearing hexes, finding resources that might help out a fledgling colony (abandoned mines, valuable wood, livestock, etc), and when you feel ready, you go back to Taldor by ship and report to lord Highspur. He grants you the resources needed to start the colony, and you sail back with engineers, farmers, settlers, etc. How much you get from lord Highspur may depend on your report and reputation…
Then you spend a little time each month governing the building efforts, while still spending the majority of your time adventuring if you like. You can try to absorb existing free settlements, war with your neighbors, or do whatever you want with your new vassal state.
Or you could go a different way. Say you just want to adventure. That’s fine, it’s your world, do what you want with it. You could become entrepreneurs, building a tavern or forming a guild, using the downtime rules. If you just want to sit around crafting items, you can have a character that does that.
The fact that we potentially have several tables running, with multiple parties running around in the world opens up interesting opportunities. You can swap out party members if they are in the same place at the same time. Establish a guild where all of your PCs have a home base, where they can trade gear, etc.
I know, it’s sounding a little MMO, but handled with care it could achieve what MMOs always fail to deliver: verisimilitude, cohesion, organic growth.
Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention the danger. Because this is a true sandbox game, it’s entirely possible to walk your first level characters into the den of a CR 15 dragon. That’s the nature of the game. First, try to learn to read the signs. Use knowledge skill and survival skill checks to identify threats before you walk into them. Second, run like hell if you have to. Those two gnolls that shake you down on the road might be one click away from a tribe of 75 friends. Always have an extra character handy.
The other side is that the same first level party might defeat a challenge several levels higher than their APL, and be rewarded accordingly with treasure normally beyond their means. And eventually walking into a camp of 75 gnolls might be a cakewalk, and you get to feel all bad-assy when you simply intimidate them into submission or wipe them out wholesale.
The story is yours to write, it’s in your hands. I’ve hinted at some plot elements and background, but this is not a linear narrative. You have to drive the story forward, and I will respond to your momentum.
That’s all I have to say about that!