Sandbox campaigns are so... boring.
We played in that concept back in the mid-70s after wandering around
pointlessly in a dungeon crawl exploring and looting- all to no real end
except imaginary fame and imaginary fortune.
A bit before Judge's Guild started producing their products, we wandered
out of the dungeon into a huge map, and basically treated it like
another dungeon bounded by hex lines instead of the interior D&D
grid. We wandered and explored, and looted. I suppose the imaginary fame
and fortune was greater.
I liken the experience to most of Arthur C. Clark's books. We went
interesting places, met interesting people, and (unlike Clark's books)
may or may not have killed them and took their stuff- but really nothing
special happened. With ultimate freedom comes ultimate meaninglessness.
And certainly nothing happened that matched the epic fantasy works that
had captured our imagination and caused us to play these silly games in
the first place. The hopes of recreating them died with every roll of a
We wanted Lord of the Rings, and what we got was Conan (in Platemail
because you needed the AC in those days)- who's age of 'adventure' is in
the source materials rightly forgotten, for in the end he didn't
Sandboxes are without exception amoral, for to enforce morality is to
raidroad the sandbox. They are without exception small minded, for to
add an epic overarching story to is to destroy the sandbox. They are
without exception meaningless, for no man can define true meaning on his
As the decade closed, we burned all the old material, never to return.
The past was wasted and it was time to move on to better things.
We traded large random hexmaps for for larger worlds with many stories
on different but yet interrelated levels. Like an extensive web, they
will ensnare those who pass by and they will deal or not according to
their talents. We traded useless freedoms for purpose searched for and
found. We put pointed questions to the adventurers, and didn't meekly
respond to their base passions.
You couldn't pay me to play in a sandbox. The mere talk of them, and the
old school play example threads that I encounter on the web confirm our
decisions to toss it all into the fire. If that was the whole of gaming,
I'd stay home to watch NCIS repeats.
These days I don't think people can outgrow D&D and sandboxes on
their own. The hobby doesn't have the experimental air that resulted in
other options back in the 70s and 80s, and the internet wars have
hardened people to cling thoughtlessly to what they used to do as if
that's was all there is. The OSR buried themselves in the trenches they
dug defending against change, be it from the Forge or WotC, or well-
Look at the hobby, its corpse is fossilizing.
9 hours ago