Pirates are playing in the sandbox

This saturday, we concluded our first Pirates of the Spanish Main adventure. I used the adventure that was printed in the back of the book, added some things and made some minor changes to the characters. I also built up the Baron Pettigrew to become a recurring villain.
And instead of going to plan another adventure I will now prepare for a sandbox campaign, where the players fully decide what they want to do. I will of course always have some single-sheet adventures ready, but for the most time I will try to avoid “rail-roading” the players.
In my opinion the Spanish Main is perfectly suited for that kind of campaign. But hey, what do I mean when I talk about a sandbox campaign? I am talking about a open-ended campaign where the player’s decide the course of action not a pre-planned adventure. If the player’s want to go plundering, it’s fine with me, if the want to do trading, it’s their call.
As a GM I will set the background and once in a while drop in some hints on some things I’ve planned in the past. Just like the “sub-quests” in some computer games. But there’s no epic “rescue the world from utter destruction” plot that forces me to railroad the players to some climatic fight at the end. If they want to bring down the evil Baron Pettigrew, it’s their decision not mine. But I have some ideas on how the world will change around them even without them doing anything. After all, even the Spanish Main in the 17th century was not a static place.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…

We are still there! LHC has not killed us (yet), so we still have some time left to play post-apocalyptic roleplaying games! There are probably dozens of interesting roleplaying games featuring the end of the world, but now I want to write about some of my favourites:

  • d20 Apocalypse (Wizards of the Coast)
    D20 Apocalypse is THE toolbox for GMs planning a post-apocalyptic campaign. It’s a sourcebook to Wizards of the Coast’s d20 Modern. In the 96 page softcover book you find rules for playing at the end of the world, several campaign ideas including advanced classes and monsters. The included campaign models are Atomic Sunrise, Earth Inherited and Plague World. If you look for a complete campaign setting with all details fleshed out, d20 Apocalypse is probably not the right book for you. But if you plan to use d20 Modern and you want to run a fully-fledged post-apocalyptic campaign of your own creation, the book is worth a look.
  • RIFTS (Palladium Books)
    If you are a fan of roleplaying games you’ve probably heard from RIFTS. RIFTS is a unique mix of post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk, fantasy and horror elements. Rifts Earth is still one of my favourite campaign settings, but I think that the rules used by the game are nothing short of a catastrophe itself. If you can get over the unbalanced and confusing Palladium system used in the game, you get one of the most unique post-apocalyptic campaigns ever published. In 2005 a revised “Ultimate Edition” was released that made some minor updates to rules and setting, but I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t comment on the changes. If you want to play a cyborged elf wielding magic and piloting a giant robot fighting against ancient demons and a nation of faschists, check out RIFTS!
  • Twilight 2000 (GDW)
    Twilight 2000 is clearly a product of the 80s. NATO and Warsaw Pact have gone to war and dropped a few of those thermo-nuclear devices the military is so fond of.  The campaign is set into a destroyed Europe where the remnants of former armies try to fight against warlords who came to power after everything went down. I made first contact with Twilight 2000 in form of the computer game based on the tabletop RPG. I was at once drawn into the setting and was blown away by the great character creation. The games’ rules are old-school but not as bad as Palladiums’ and the campaign is based on what everyone feared in the 80s. I recommend playing Twilight 2000 with people who still remember the early 80s or check out the upcoming version that features a completely rewritten timeline.
What are your favourite post-apocalyptic roleplaying games? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Post/page ratings and iPhone support

This morning I installed two plugins that will make reading this blog even more enjoyable!

  • WP-PostRatings
    You’ve probably already noticed the small star icons below the post titles. You can now rate posts from zero to five stars. I hope I will be able to implement a “highest rated post” widget soon. Stay tuned and please rate my posts.
  • WPtouch
    WPtouch is a plugin that applies a special theme to the blog, when viewed by an iPhone or iPod touch. This greatly decreases load times when accessing the blog. You can still comment on articles and view all the content but WPtouch is not compatible with the ratings plugin, so you can’t rate posts from your iPhone. But there’s a link that allows you to switch to the “Normal View” showing the standard theme again.
If you encounter any problems with these plugins, please contact me via the contact form on the “About” page or use the comments below.
UPDATE: The “Highest Rated” widget is now working, showing the 5 highest rated posts.

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