So let’s talk sandbox games.. What is a sandbox game? Well, basically its a game that a DM/GM designs for players to travel around in and do whatever they want. Problem is, most DMs do not know how to handle this type of environment. Why? because its to “on the fly” for them. I know DMs who have been running games for 30 years who can’t handle this. Can I handle this? Yes I can. My proof? Listen to the Book of Sorrows campaign podcast I host. 95% of that is on the fly DM’ing.. I gave the players the hook, they followed, and they got a general direction and I made up things as it happened. The only things I designed before game was various homemade creatures, such as the Pumpkin people or the ZapFox (once the game is over, I will post the stats). So what tips can I give for DMs who want to DM this style?
1) never railroad your players
2) give a hook for the players to follow and keep them following it.
3) be ready to name an NPC ( a list of names help)
4) be ready to describe details of something the players are encountering.
5) let the group talk amongst themselves and roleplay if you get stuck and need to think a minute.
6) taverns or inns are the perfect place to play in, as you can always make up something from a fight, to someone stealing something or as simple as there is a ton of rats in the basement.
7) for dungeons and describing rooms… think of various places you’ve gone or think of scary movies, and the places people run into that killer.
8) steal ideas from other DMs. There is a buttload of actual play podcasts out there, listen to a few (if you can tolerate the bad audio), jott down a few things and twist it with your warped thinking.