024 Railroading and Sandboxes in Role-playing Games

Railroading and Sandboxes in role-playing games, Brett and Sean broach the often-discussed topic. Many commentary rpg podcasts typically talk about this, here is our take.

Episode 24 Show Agenda

Random Encounter

A couple of recent emails and posts.

Shane writes in response to episode 22 RPG Wikis and Dissemination of Info:

Thanks again for the talk on Wikis and Digital campaign design.  Ultimately I decided to go with something I know and like and that would let me create the pages as I wanted the to look.  

I have for sometime tried to keep ahead of my players by creating twisted campaign settings that are expandable enough to accommodate anything my players want to do and are system neutral enough that we can hybridize anything we like from game or edition to fuse into our OSRIC like gaming madness.  

This time I am creating something that will surprise me as much as the players.  I created a world in which creation itself is constantly in flux.  In which noble acts literally give rise to the land while dark corruption shocks create chasms into the landscape.  I created a short series of random tables that describes the basics of life: plant, animal, insectoid, aberrant.  Then I created separate tables for society politics and physical hierarchy. (is the location deep in a corruptive chasm or high in a lofty spire)

Once the basics of location and beings were established I went to pinterest and search through images for the players to relate to.  The realm is set up as an every changing and every expanding domain in which we can trade DM’s or entire systems.

Chris Hussey writes in response to episode 023 – What Have RPGs Done For You?:

I actually do make mention of RPGs on my resume/LinkedIn profile (I think it’s still there). I do this because it is an excellent conversation piece in an interview (though granted, I haven’t had many – hmmmm), and it is a chance to talk about the strengths RPGs give you in the real world

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Topics of Discussion (30-40 min) – Girth of the show, links, blurb, references, etc.

  1. Railroads – Are they ok if the view is good?
    1. What’s a railroad adventure?
    2. Can they be fun?
    3. Faster play time, getting “into it” quicker?
    4. Favorite railroad adventure?
  2. Sandbox – Where’s the plastic dinosaur?
    1. What’s a sandbox really? (Kobold Guide to Game Design has some interesting info on sandbox design – http://www.koboldpress.com/kqstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=157)
    2. Slower play time, taking longer to “get somewhere?”
    3. A favorite Sandbox adventure?
  3. Which option is best or does it depend on what the group is into?
    1. regular group vs every-so-often group
    2. con games

Die Roll – 2-5 misc points we want to bring up at end of cast. Should be short and sweet, could be a plug, something to check out, etc. Limited time to spout off.


  1. Red Hand of Doom Ale! – http://buy.rogue.com/rogue-hellboy-right-hand-of-doom-red-ale/
  2. D&D stuff still on sale at DriveThruRPG – http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/featured.php?promotion_id=DnDC2YearAnni
  3. Open Call for Adventure Designers in the D&D Adventurers League has 8 days left – http://dndadventurersleague.org/2015/02/open-call-for-adventure-designers-2/


  1. Whacky style 5e sheet found on reddit http://www.reddit.com/user/hphammacher / https://imgur.com/NDbYLlA
  2. Roll, a mobile rpg app http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/139836-Role-App-Delivers-Simplified-RPG-to-iOSs-App-Store
  3. Props for Esoterrorist RPG http://gothridgemanor.blogspot.com/2015/02/esoterrorist-game-props.html


About the Author
The 'S' of Gaming and BS podcast. Besides producing and hosting the show, Sean enjoys long walks on the beach, running rpg's, and killing player...characters.