Inspiration from One Square Equals Five Feet

Saturday, the latest issue of One Square Equals Five Feet arrived.  In Christian's zine, he talks about restarting this Changeling campaign.  His ideal game, notes Christian, takes lots of prep and proactive players.  It really struck a chord with me in thinking about my nascent BECMI game, almost to the point of head-slapping and "why didn't I think of this before!?" levels.

My players are really proactive.  They are smart, funny people who enjoy the chance to be creative in a way not required by their day jobs and, in the process, kill some monsters.  The thing is, they are often not proactive in ways that are easy to anticipate, or even in ways that are "D&D-y".  As an example, consider last weeks game and the case of the chickens.  They gleefully stocked the cart with chickens, then spent some time talking about the potential magical properties of chickens and how to best care for them.  For all the vaunted OSR charts and random tables, I have yet to see an "XP for caring for livestock" chart, so that line of activity yielded little in the way of rewards.  Lest you all think these folks are all together nuts, there was also plenty of talk of hunting bandits.  It was my own fault for not stoking that fire a little more.

OSE5F really helped me see the proactive nature of my own players and gave me some ideas about how to channel that in a positive direction while maintaining some of the looseness of the game.  Consider the following my "to-do list":

1.  Make a map and stock it.  This will give some visual reference for the game and give my players plenty of adventures to choose from.  The players can see what's out there, gather rumors, and just decide where to go.  I'd like to stock it with set-pieces/adventures from OSR bloggers, similar to how I used Tim's Knowledge Illuminates as a kick-start adventure for the game.  If you have any recommendations  about modules I should check out, post them below.  When the party decides to tackle it, I'll post an actual play write up like I did with KI.  (I'm thinking Death Frost Doom will be set in the foothills of the nearby mountains, as I really want to run that adventure).

2.  Along with the map, briefly sketch out any NPC's and/or groups in the region that the player's are likely to encounter or deal with.  This will be an ongoing project, one that isn't terribly important at first, but will give me ways to set the stage and improve as the need arises.

3.  Come up with a new xp/reward system.  This seems almost anathema to me, but I want something that will capture the free-spiritedness of the group in an in-game sort of way.  Right now I am thinking about seeing if Old School Hack's awesome point mechanic will just port right into BECM D&D, per Risus Monkey's suggestion.  I'd consider just switching to OSH, but a fair number of these players are just now getting the hang of D&D and I don't want to make them start all over with a new system.  I've been guilty of that too many times.

I know.  1 & 2, at least, are no-brainer sorts of things that anyone should do before starting a sandbox game.  I just didn't realize how much they'd matter to this group of players and, hopefully, how much they'll work for the sort of game I hope to run.


  1. I'm so glad you liked the issue and found something to inspire you. Your group sounds like so much fun. I bet the use of a map will help direct their limitless creativity!

  2. I agree with you about proactive players. Even when they challenge you, it makes the game for enjoyable.

  3. One thing I recently did and proved very interesting was to send my players a list of ten questions (I will hopefully post their answers to my blog soon). Their answers were interesting, funny as heck, and provided an introspective glance at their character's...character. It also proved to be filled with tidbits of adventure seeds.
    I stole many of these from a Risus Yahoo group, but it worked well:
    1) Who are you?
    2)here are you from?
    3) Why are you traveling with your current companions?
    4) Where would you rather be?
    5) Tell me three things that you do not have but wish you did.
    6) What do you do best in life?
    7) Worst?
    8) If someone was asked about you, what would be the first thing they would tell?
    9) What do you want most from life?
    10) Where do you see yourself in ten years?


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