How To Run A Sandbox

ThinkDM

It’s impossible to plan for every white rabbit your party might chase. Faced with this daunting task, some DMs can fall into the trap of “railroading” their party through a series of encounters that hit certain narrative beats. This is not necessarily bad, but it can detract from player agency.

I think a big problem is that the game materials don’t really teach you how to sandbox. Most modules are presented in a linear fashion that naturally trains DMs to drag players through a story line. Sure, you’ve got tools to help sandboxing: random encounter tables, random loot tables, random weather tables. But these don’t create a cohesive picture unless you paint it on the fly.

How do you run a sandbox without being completely overwhelmed by the expansiveness? Let’s tackle this by dividing it into two sections: planning the sandbox and running the sandbox.

Planning for the Sandbox

Planning…

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