An Extra Helping of Desert

The political division in gaming is sandbox or railroads. Just like leftwing and rightwing pundits, both styles have their ardent supporters and the uninitiated might mistakenly believe they must choose between the two extremes. Really, most campaigns fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, with elements of free choice in an open world and a narrative direction guiding events.

The divide between sandbox and rails is a fallacious false dichotomy and drifting too far to one side or another can be potentially detrimental to your game. A game that drifts too far to the sandbox might make the PCs feel the world doesn’t exist when they’re not interacting with it, as little of note occurs without their direct involvement; while they can choose to do anything or go anywhere there’s little motivation to do that anything or go that anywhere. A game that sticks too close to the rails becomes akin to watching a movie, with little control over the outcome of events, with even the dice being little more that props for the story.