But other, more coherent critics have complained about the adventure-first, sandbox approach to playing RPGs, focusing on the sometimes random, disjointed feel of sandbox encounters: the way they crouch in the dungeon, waiting to be experienced, and the fact that many times, they seem to exist for no reason. There's also a concern about players not knowing what they are supposed to do; there's no pre-planned plot, and sometimes no strong story hooks to pull PCs into the action. The counter to this has usually been a rejection of railroading; strong, pre-defined plots mean prepared encounters and "cut-scenes" that GMs don't want to waste.
So the entire argument is about player-driven, off-the-cuff plotting versus GM-driven, pre-written plotting. That's taking three different polarities and condensing them all into one axis:
- player-created vs. GM-created;
- strict control vs. unpredictable;
- pre-planned vs. improvised.
I'll be looking at a few tricks in future posts.