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Old 01-07-2022, 01:10 PM   #4
thrash's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: traveller
Default Re: Depicting the SF sandbox

Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
In practice the limit on the size of a sandbox is the amount of stuff the GM is willing to prep, so if you have 20-40 systems those systems will get about as much detail as the 20-40 towns on your fantasy sandbox map.
That's true, as far as it goes. In both cases, there will likely be varying levels of detail among the offerings. Like the towns, some of those systems will have maps and backstories; others will just be names. If the players don't take the bait that leads to the more developed portions, the GM will have to improvise.

It seems to me much harder, though, to signal to the SF players that there is a derelict starship to explore in the Eastcote system than it is to put a ruined castle symbol near the town of Batch on the fantasy map. Certainly, the GM can lay a trail of breadcrumbs (rumors, patrons, etc.) leading to either one. But when the time comes to decide which trail to follow, the fantasy players generally have an easier time keeping track of their options, visualizing scope of obstacles they might face along the way, and making the call.

Traveller's UPP system is in a class by itself for this, in that (a) it summarize the "terrain" in readily digestible form, and (b) it lends itself to procedural generation on the fly, if the players truly wander away from the GM's prepared material.

It doesn't remove the need for special pleading that (for example) a pyramid complex is visible to the players' ship in orbit, but has somehow been missed by every other survey of the planet to that point. Yet that is what's required to get the SF party to the dungeon.

Last edited by thrash; 01-07-2022 at 01:15 PM.
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