God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

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ShirtlessOBrien
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Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby ShirtlessOBrien » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:47 pm

TorgHacker wrote:Any good examples of published adventures like this? I'm not being facetious. Having a non-linear adventure that is actually published publicly that's intended for a large audience is...not straightforward. (ha!)

Additionally, sandbox games I don't think are in Torg's wheelhouse. I'd be glad to be proved wrong and love to see someone try to do one well, but I think its like fitting a square peg into a round hole.


I think it's fair to compare it to the original Relics of Power, that had lots of open-ended scenes that could be resolved in multiple ways, that affected future scenes, and which led to future scenes in a logical way without overt railroading.

For example in RoP there's a scene where there is a thing you want in a police station. The station is set out for you but there's no single prescribed way to get the thing, and different groups might approach this problem totally differently. There's a scene where you meet a hostile stormer from the Cyberpapacy and you might kill them, or you might not and they might show up again later as an enemy or even temporary ally. There's a scene where you fight ninjas led by a stormer and again you might or might not kill them and they might show up again. There's a scene where you explore a big industrial park with traps and ninjas and locks and computers and robots and how you get in and what you do there is up to you, and again different groups will approach it very differently.

Each scene had multiple possible paths to the outcome, multiple possible outcomes, and those outcomes matter later. It made a story.

The God Box was mostly disconnected, meaningless, unavoidable fights strung together with railroad tracks. If the railroad car at the end of Act One took you straight to the beginning of Act Five you wouldn't miss anything that mattered except some experience points, and arguably the module would be improved.

I think Torg probably isn't at its best as a sandbox game, but it can be more than a guided tour through a bunch of fight scenes.

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Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby ZorValachan » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:15 am

I don't think it's as bad as people are making it out to be.
Act 1 allows the group to try to convince the apartment people to get out as they want. They can just take the few or try to persuade more. My group played dino attack and used that to show how ineffective the barricades were to intimidate pretty much the entire complex.

In Act 2, my group was dead set in going down the river. They repaired the raft found in the cave and avoided a lot. Chakan's cries got them off the river for that part and then they happily did the river part on their own.

Half of Act 3 is pretty sandboxy. There's a lot of RP potential with Spencer at the beginning with the Leopard warriors to dig into merritika culture. And going through the Pyrian area is left completely up to the group. Spencer will give 3 suggestions if the group can't decide.

That's were we've been so far. And I have to change act 4 and 5 to fit my setting, so it won't be strictly by the book.
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hawaiianbrian
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Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby hawaiianbrian » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:29 pm

I posted a response to Fuzzy's request for ways of using Fires of Ra in other ways in this thread.

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Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby hawaiianbrian » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:47 pm

I'm a bit late to this discussion, but my favorite sandbox adventure so far has been Curse of Strahd for 5th Edition D&D. It gives you a singular goal (kill Strahd!), and other stuff to do along the way, but aside from tracking down the four clues you receive during a Tarokka reading, none of it is crucial (well, except of course the need to gain more levels before you can confront the titular bad guy).

There have been others, all of them for D&D: the original Ravenloft for AD&D, The Red Hand of Doom for D&D 3e, and Isle of Dread and Night's Dark Terror for Basic D&D.

However, those were all for a game that was designed in a totally different way. I don't see Torg Eternity as a "sandbox" type game, simply because the Act/Scene structure is so fundamental to its structure and very concept. Torg doesn't overtly advertise itself as such, but it's really a game about movies: We're encouraged to embrace tropes (either as-is or with twists, but still there), to think in terms of stars (Storm Knights) vs. extras (Ords), to emphasize rising action, and to pace everything in acts and scenes that break the story up into distinct beats.

That said, some adventures (or scenes within adventures) could be built in a more sandboxy way –– a set goal, some details about the area, and then leaving it to the player characters to figure out how to attain the goal. I don't think a mega-adventure could be built that way, but a one-shot certainly could. Or even an act in a larger adventure. The scenes could be reframed more as triggered events that happen when other conditions are met. For instance, the heroes are exploring a rocky valley in the Wasteland of Tharkold; the adventure describes several locations of interest, and as soon as the heroes have explored three of them, some villains arrive in the valley in a caravan of rumbling vehicles. Wherever the heroes are, that confrontation marks the beginning of scene 2. And so on.

I also feel like Aysle is the reality that could most support some lite sandbox design. This thread has definitely given me some ideas for revisions on what I've already written.

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ShirtlessOBrien
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Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby ShirtlessOBrien » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:02 pm

I'm spitballing here, but a "quest hub" structure where there are two or three Acts that PCs could set out on but they can do them in any order could work.

Or a sandbox map could have individual encounter locations that are Scenes and every three Scenes or so the main plot could come riding in Team Rocket style to provide a boss fight and some plot advancement, with the final encounter of the sandbox being an Act to itself.

There's a certain amount of structural wiggle room inherent in the game already because players can pad an act out with additional Scenes from cosm cards, so it wouldn't be the end of the world if the GM did similar things.

But I think for a globetrotting adventure Relics of Power had the right idea, string the scenes together with railroad tracks but make them make sense, and try to have the specific resolution of every scene have some kind of direct, visible consequences in future scenes.

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Matthew Surridge
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Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby Matthew Surridge » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:00 am

I haven't run it yet, but "The Dumas Gambit" from the first Delphi Missions book seems like something that belongs in this discussion. I really liked the approach: here's your location, here are your NPCs, here's what the NPCs each want, add player characters and off you go. Let the story develop at the table.

(Speaking of non-linear modules I never got to run, the old Assassin's Knot adventure for 1st edition AD&D might also be worth thinking about.)
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My Torg Eternity review, part one and part two

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Gargoyle
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Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby Gargoyle » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:05 am

While the adventures I run are fairly linear, I give my players a choice of two to four missions every month. Definitely not a sandbox, but it does help with the player agency.
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fougerec
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Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby fougerec » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:11 am

Gargoyle wrote:While the adventures I run are fairly linear, I give my players a choice of two to four missions every month. Definitely not a sandbox, but it does help with the player agency.


I did that with Shadowrun, unfortunately I found that with my group if I give them X missions they'll take X+1 hours to decide what to do :(

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TorgHacker
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Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby TorgHacker » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:48 am

fougerec wrote:
Gargoyle wrote:While the adventures I run are fairly linear, I give my players a choice of two to four missions every month. Definitely not a sandbox, but it does help with the player agency.


I did that with Shadowrun, unfortunately I found that with my group if I give them X missions they'll take X+1 hours to decide what to do :(


Analysis paralysis is certainly a thing.
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fuldry
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Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby fuldry » Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:19 pm

TorgHacker wrote:Any good examples of published adventures like this? I'm not being facetious. Having a non-linear adventure that is actually published publicly that's intended for a large audience is...not straightforward. (ha!)

Additionally, sandbox games I don't think are in Torg's wheelhouse. I'd be glad to be proved wrong and love to see someone try to do one well, but I think its like fitting a square peg into a round hole.


Some shadowrun adventures come to mind. Scenes are brought upon by investigation or specific events.

Of course, you do have a specific beginning and an ending. That's the point of a published adventure. (Bottled Demon comes to mind Dark Angel too; Eyewitness is another fun one I never got a chance to run)

All of that with a caveat : investigative adventures are better suited to non-linear flows. Action-themed can have a more closed structure, if the events that are proposed make sense.

That is one of my major issues with games built upon a war theme. It cannot be that open as fighting a war is usually organized by someone else than the heroes.

Well written open adventures are rare and few are successful. It is a complicated subject. It requires a theme that fits and a writer that has a weird mindframe : the writer has to propose key events and then ways for those to happen whenever that is. Some missed events can have consequences, or missed opportunities (reinforcements, supplies, allies, information, etc). Events can also change over time, depending when the characters get to that part. Shadowrun was mostly successful in that regard.

D&D has mostly closed adventures, dungeons are closed areas with a logical flow to their exploration. IMO, all in all uninsteresting, but easier to write :). The introductory set for DD5 has a wierd dungeon you could explore in reverse due an exit route that could be found by the players, mine did and thus explored the dungeon from the end to the start, that was fun :)

So, adventures CAN be written to be non linear, while still having a structure, that has been done before. It is complicated, but possible. It requires just another mindset and leaving the D&D usual flow that we are all used to.

For example : a dungeon can be set as a map, but can also be proposed as a series of encounters. The dragonlance Classics 15th anniversary in the Saga rulesystem tried it. I don't know if it worked well, never had a chance to run it. But basically, a dungeon became a series of encounters, which could be run in any order. In TORG gamespeak, a series of scenes for an act. I quite liked the idea when I browsed the book, but real life is a bitch…

My current lack of inspiration is the reason I haven't tried to write something along those lines. I am still quite sure that non-linear action-adventures CAN be written, I just don't have any ideas right now :)

TorgHacker wrote:But additionally, I need to point out that you can either have a non-linear adventure, or you experience all the content, but you really don't get to have both. Almost certainly that's the case for published adventures...home brew adventures are (well, they should at least) tailored for a single group, so it's much easier to have an idea of what the group will do. That way an adventure can appear to be non-linear when it really wasn't.

Unless all you're asking for is to be able to go through A-B-D-C-E rather than A-B-C-D-E...but I'm not sure I'd call that a non-linear adventure.


The point is to be able to complete the adventure going ABCDE, ABE, ADCE etc. That's the idea behind a non-linear adventure. Of course, A and E are mandatory, otherwise it's a series of random encounters. If A is the start and E the end, of course.

Missed content can have consequences, as missed opportunities are missed. (DOH :P)

TorgHacker wrote:5 cosm books
5 single-cosm super adventures
1 cosm-hopping super adventure
7 single act adventure compilations
most of the Core Earth cosm book

That's pretty incredible for a company whose name isn't Wizards of the Coast or Paizo, and it's as much as Wizards has published for D&D in 4 years.

Again, I'm certainly not saying your feelings and opinions are wrong. You like what you like. I'm just saying there's a reality (sorry) that drives many of the decisions.


It is incredible, and Kickstarter is mostly why it can happen. You are doing it right, so most is written before the projects actually start, which is a godsend. So, yes, I am saying that it could be done better and more to my tastes of adventures but what you are doing is absolutely great and don't stop !

I love what you are doing, and even if some of it won't be used cause it does not fit my tastes, I'll still buy it and read it.

François


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