Link Man’s Further Adventures

link hogthrob 2I’m still hard at work on my next book, and liable to be pedal to the metal for a while. You see, ’round about the 2/3 to 3/4 mark of the rough draft I started to feel like the ground I was standing on wasn’t very firm, so I decided to go back and revise what I’d written. I discovered that the opening chapters weren’t very entertaining, so I threw them out, started from scratch, and am now nearly up to the good parts. Anyway, it’s time consuming but fun to be getting it right.

But I promised interesting links.

First, here’s a site an old school gamer like me should have known about before, Grubb Street. Throughout April famed game designer Jeff Grubb was writing about famous game worlds. I think the one that interested me the most was Stormfront, because darned if I didn’t think up nearly the very same idea many years ago and just never implemented it. I still believe it’s wicked cool. Turns out it was very, very close to being turned into a TSR campaign setting.

d30sandboxSecond, a few days back I was talking about gaming stuff and mentioned Richard J. LeBlanc Jr.’s d30 Sandbox Companion. I decided to go ahead and snap it up and wow, was I pleased with the product. Now if I could only get him to join forces with Kevin Crawford. Between the two of them they could create the ultimate sandbox generation booklet (I know I’ve mentioned Red Tide and An Echo Resounding before). Anyone who has an interest in designing a fantasy world for play NEEDS these books/pdfs. I just can’t recommend them highly enough. I wish I’d had these on hand when I started trying to build my own fantasy gaming worlds 30 years ago. I think they’d be useful for writers as well as game masters.

Sandbox gaming means you put the pieces in place on your hex map and you simply let your players wander across them and discover their own story arcs. Using the information in the above products, you can create locations and landmarks with hooks and subplots and other interesting aspects just waiting for discovery by your players.

LeBlanc maintains a web site of his own where you can see samples of his fine sandbox work. You have only to look at last April to find a whole bunch of fascinating, creative tables that randomly generate useful things for the harried game master.

Lastly, want to know more about sandbox construction and how useful some of the preceding tools can be while doing it? Look no further than the site of Keith Davies.

Link Man, away!

3 Comments on “Link Man’s Further Adventures

  1. Thanks for the link, Link Man!

    I’d suggest also Matt Finch’s Tome of Adventure Design. It’s a fair bit heavier than the D30 Sandbox Companion but it is full of useful stuff. I often describe it as my ‘weapon of mass construction’.

    Also, in this year’s A-Z Challenge I had a bunch of posts regarding sandbox construction, starting from a random hex map and building up through node-based campaign and adventure planning… as much as ‘planning’ applies to sandbox campaigns. Of course, in my mind sandbox play works best when the DM at least knows of the options. it’s so much easier to provide the information players need to make their decisions.

    Fourteen of the A-Z articles posted in April were related to the new sandbox, adventures identified in the sandbox (The Keys of Heraka-at in particular, part of the Donnerkonig Heirs campaign), and some philosophical ponderances regarding why my knowing of potential options covering about twelve levels of play doesn’t contradict ‘sandbox ideology’.


    • Thanks, Keith. I was planning to further explore your sandbox articles this morning, but I’m working away still on my next Pathfinder novel. It’s going to be front burner for the next few weeks.

      I did want to add my big thumbs up to the big Tome of Adventure Design that you mention above. The vast majority of the book is given over to designing dungeons, which I almost never bother with myself, so I don’t use that part as often. However, I find great utility in part 1, which is, simply, brilliant. Villain motives, adventure generation ideas, etc. in fine, fine detail. Even if I NEVER use the rest of the book, that opening section is so useful to me it made the purchase totally worthwhile.

      • Indeed, the front part is where I get most of my benefit from it. Even so, the other parts can be useful when I want to jog myself out of a rut elsewhere. When I run into a point where I know I want something different, but have no particular inclination, I check Tome of Adventure Design first to see if there’s anything useful.

        And now I have to get back to my own project, the Echelon Reference Series. I decided some time ago to move Echelon to a Pathfinder-based rules set, but Pathfinder’s gotten so big I can’t hold enough of it in my head at once. Reference books, ho!

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