A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oriental Adventures and L5R: Can you make a sandbox campaign?

Over at Jeff Rient's blog he started up a discussion of the old Oriental Adventures sourcebook and the thoughts of what kinds of games it could be used to run.

Sure its not 100% accurate and honest to historical or mythological Asia, but as someone who has seen a fair bit of anime (before it turned into mostly a creepy thing for deviants) and manga, I know they mangle their own myths and everyone else's too.

I'd like to say its to make better stories, but not always.

I mentioned what my favorite fantasy Asia campaign world is, The Legend of the Five Rings' Rokugan, a land of Samurai clans and a few other minor demihuman races who argue and war with each other as much as the demon and undead infested Shadowlands.

A poster made the comment that this setting is totally unsuited to any sort of old school sandbox campaign, if not gaming period! (Especially so given the types of intraparty friction the various Clans have with each other.)

Here was my response. I was inspired enough by it that I repost it here in case I want to swipe it for a campaign of my own some day! Some edits are made for purposes of readability here, and just because I always have more ideas and stuff.

First off it can work, and the biggest thing is not letting PCs act like WW characters.

(I am in a Changeling LARP. WW style angsty self absorbed douchebag characters are a serious reason I might possibly quit. I know that's Vampire, but Changeling has NO reason to be the same way.)

The different factions SHOULD provide some friction, but not AH HATES YOU AND WILL KILLS YOU FOR THINKING DIFFERENT THAN ME. It should be more akin to a heroic thing where peoples from different walks of life and points of view come together to stop a greater evil.

The vaguely Cthulhoid threat of the Shadowlands.
Evil Daimyo out to overthrow the Empire.
Shoguns out to betray their own people for money.
The PCs being an example of how to get past their differences to make a better world.

Hell, the last would make a good sandbox game that is very old school.

The PCs get sick of all the political nonsense and head out to the frontier to build a settlement where everyone can be treated as equals where your worth as a person matters more than Clan, Caste, or species.

Dungeons need to be cleared out of monsters. People need to be organized. A town and its defenses need to be built.

Missions to keep the Clans from dismantling the settlement could happen too, sending covert characters back to the mainland. Trade agreements to be formed. Caravans to supply the settlement need to be protected. Maybe a few Clans would be happy to send their problem children there as to not cause trouble.

Getting an army built to stave off the Shadowlands or Western armies needs to happen too. Maybe the henchmen and hirelings who proved themselves instrumental in clearing out a cave complex full of vicious Oni will become officers in the army.

Maybe new replacement PCs come in from these strange Western lands forming the world's first truly cosmopolitan city. (Once the ideals of open mindedness take hold who knows how far it could go? It could become the city where Samurai share the streets with Centaur, Elves, and the odd Drow, everyone looking for a better way of life, or at least a couple platinum pieces!)

If that isn't sandboxy and interesting I just don't know what is!

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