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36

Make the players invested in the history of the world. This depends on the system you're using. However, generally, you want the players to come up with a backstory, yes? Well, nudge them to tie their character's backstory in with the rest of the world. That way, when something happens in the world, they'll be emotionally invested in its outcome. Hence, ...


13

Either they simply don't like sandboxes, or they have trained themselves to wait for GM Plot to railroad them. Consequently, you either give up on playing sandboxes with this group, or (in the case they do like sandboxes) you help them by training them out of their inertia. Giving up is easy, but sad-making. Training is harder, but provides the hope it'll ...


13

Sandbox - to - Railroad is a spectrum, not either or. Games are not either sandbox or railroaded, rather they exist on a spectrum between heavily railroaded where players mostly handle tactics and the GM handles the story over to wide open sandboxes where players drive most of the story and (especially in narrativists games) perhaps even create large ...


6

Make Building Motivation Part of Campaign Setup The easiest way to make sure the PCs have things to do in the setting is to create the characters and the setting together. That way you know there'll be relevant stuff for the PCs to do, since you are creating both elements together with the express purpose of making them interlock. A great time to do this ...


4

You don't need to give the players direction. You need to take the direction they provide and give them the chance to run with it. I do this in two ways. The first is with backstory. I've long ago given up on requiring backstory, but I do strongly encourage it. When the players give me their character's history I read over it with a highlighter and ...


4

First of all, know your players. Know what excites them in the game. Some players love the thrill of combat, others enjoy exploring, others like tinkering with rules and min/maxing equipment to making their character more powerful. Others prefer interactive roleplaying, some like problem solving, and still others could be characterized as builders. Many ...


4

Even a sandbox needs railroads. I've just answered a related question here; basically, I feel that you need to apply 'the railroad' when the players are stuck or not self-motivated. It's much easier for humans to improvise when there are some constraints. What do you want to do now? is really hard to answer for the players when they are stuck, or ...


3

An underused approach is applying character expertise. When I GM, I give different information based on who's doing the asking and what they can see/observe. The fighters can make better judgments of how strong something is, and how well organized a group is in combat. The wizards can estimate levels of magic being thrown and whether something probably ...


2

First, as many other folks have mentioned, it's probably a good idea to have a good conversation with the group about what kind of game you run and what you're looking for. "I like to have an open world with a lot of stuff going on, but it's up to you pick your goals and directions within it." If that's not what the players want, there's nothing to do ...


2

It sounds to me like your PCs (and therefore your players) are basically suffering from ennui: en·nui /änˈwē/ noun a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement. Essentially, you've given your players a world where they can do anything they want, but where they have no particular reason ...


2

While I understand you are not looking for a conflict system, usually political manuevers take place on top of some conflict - resource grab, prestige and so on. There are few games I would like to suggest which you can take a look at. Houses of the Blooded has an abstract domain system, in which you control regions, and each region you would have to ...


2

Some games makes it really easy to get your hands on someone without him suspecting anything and the advantage is always on the offense. I've been playing D&D 3.x for quite some time now and apart from the infamous "teleport in, silence, coup-de-grace, teleport out" techinque, even in plain duels the one that decides to kill a target that's willing to ...


1

I did a game several years back where the PC's were the targets; after they reached the general level of 10, they were considered heroic, legends, etc. Sure, Lord so-and-so, impressed with their rep, sends out a courier for a dirty laundry run (please kill the cave filled with bandits)... but don't you think the bad guys want them gone? Did a huge campaign ...


1

First, set up a Conflict Web. Start by setting up your factions that are involved, and why they are competing/conflicting. This is more to give you a set of motivations for any given group, leaders, etc. and allow you to simply improvise based on the group's needs/ambitions. The Conflict Web is not static, it's a starting point. So you may easily see ...


1

Dresden Files RPG The Dresden Files RPG has structures for creating a city with competing factions on several axes. Once your city is constructed, it has systems for using aspects of characters and the city to create scenarios. Whether it is a political game is in large part determined by whether you create a politically charged city or not. But if you ...



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