I wouldn’t say that the campaign up until this point has been a railroad job, but there was definitely a track of some sort involved. I guess they could have chosen not to save the world from the douche emperor. So with the end of the campaign arc last session I have decided to mix things up a bit and do more of a sandboxy type deal. There is one slight catch; I haven’t really done something like this before which leaves me fumbling a bit with how to go about things
At first blush it does seem a little more labor intensive than running a module or having a specific plotline that the players are following, and you know how I feel about “labor” given my lazy bastard default setting. Plus I find that the more ambiguous things are the less focused I get which results in less activity and a little avoidance as I struggle with conceptualizing things in my head.
What I have begun to do is create more NPC’s/organizations for the characters to interact with and then tying certain adventure/plot options to them. The players are then free to pick up on the adventure seed or not or pursue something of their own. My one concern is that they are a bit conditioned and I am worried they will just automatically follow the first adventure seed they come upon, and assume this is what I have planned for them. I have been openly stating for a while there will be multiple options as well as a need for them to drive what they want to do, so well see how it shakes loose.
I have a sense of where some for the players might want to take things and have been planning accordingly. For example, I am pretty sure that the Paladin is going to want to hunt down his former man-at-arms who shanked him in the back and left him for dead, funny how something like that will stick with a guy. So I have been thinking a lot about where good ole Sultan Griss might be and the shenanigans he and the splinter faction “the blazing suns” are up too. I think I am going to have him spotted in Neverwinter so I can make use of the cool setting book put out by WOTC. This is one of the things I struggle with as the campaign setting is not supper defined and a bit of a mish mash of generic fantasy. I am not so much a world builder as I am a world pilferer.
Another possible plotline involves the cleric’s desire to build a church, so I have been struggling a bit in conceptualizing what might be involved in that and what complications or challenges to have him overcome. I am thinking some kind of corruption/hoop jumping and religious conflict. I think there is some definite potential for adventure from having parishioners.
So we shall see how it goes. I plan on milking the last bit of the heroic tier for a while. If I get in to trouble and are unprepared for the direction they set of in, well then hey this is 4th edition and you can always eat a lot of time in a surprise combat