Tabletop RPG Review: D30 Sandbox Companion

Richard J. LeBlanc, Jr. has produced a darned handy book for running “sandbox” style games.  I’m not a big fan of rolling on random charts during a session, unless you’ve already got potential encounters figured out.  I don’t want my players sitting around, waiting for me to finish rolling things up and putting together stats or whatever.  Instead, I like using books like this in my session preparation.  This book is going to be a great aid for that.

One of my favorite things in this book, which is almost worth the price of admission, is the Hex Crawl Worksheet.  This gives you a large hex with small hexes nested inside, which you can use to make a map of an area.  Also on the page are sections for key locations, making your own wandering monster charts, etc.  And it lets you scale things up.  So, your hex might be at the “atlas” scale, which might cover travel distances measured in weeks, or you can get noodly, with just the area around a village.  That helpful bit is going to see a lot of use in the Dungeon Crawl Classics game I’m prepping at time of writing.

The main body of the book is made up of charts that make use of 30 sided dice.  These golf-ball looking beasts used to be something of a goof, but have actually come to be quite useful.  And they’re not as much of a challenge to acquire as they used to be.  Charts include things like an adventure generator table.  Here’s an example of what you might do: roll for a trigger (escape), major goal (solve mystery-theft), an obstacle (destroy item), a location (hamlet), a location feature (fountain), a phenomena (mania), a villain goal (experimentation), an artifact (necklace), a theme (rebirth), and a key NPC (noble).  From those rolls, I’m already getting an idea for a scenario.  Perhaps the PCs’ have escaped a cell in a mysterious tower and find themselves in an enshadowed hamlet.  An evil wizard has stolen a magical necklace from a local lord and is using it to power his mad experiments.  He is putting a substance into the hamlet’s water source via a fountain in the town square.  Whatever he’s doing is driving the population out of their minds, causing them to become paranoid and obsessed, which will eventually lead to shocking violence.  If the PCs can destroy the magical necklace, they can stop the effect.  Perhaps in doing so, they can create something new in the hamlet, some “rebirth” of the people.  That’s just  a sketchy idea I threw together with a few rolls.  It needs work.  Maybe there are better ways to handle the prompts that aren’t quite so literal.  But it’s a start.

Other charts include things like weather based on the general climate of a place, foraging and hunting by terrain types, a ruin generator, a cult generator, and a tavern name generator.  Lots of useful stuff for building up cities and towns, encounters of various sorts, and general world building.

I got this as a print on demand from Lulu, but you can also get the PDF on DriveThru.  It’s a resource that’s going right into my stack of adventure prep material, and I see myself getting a lot of use out of it in the coming months and years.

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