I wanted to run my new Land of Azurth campaign as more of a sandbox than my Weird Adventurs campaign (which tended to be more "mission style" as it was mystery oriented). I still intend for their to be mysteries in the current campaign, but they be more of an "easter egg" variety, by which I mean something cool if the players figure it out, but probably never essential to an adventure.
To this end, I borrowed a technique from Chris Kutalik over at the Hill Cantons, who runs the best sandbox campaign I've had the pleasure to play in: use of rumors, both as an adventure menu for players and to provide a window into ongoing background events in the setting. (Chris has a lot of other useful and stealable ideas of running this sort of campaign. Just check out this recent post.)
Anyway, here's the first set of rumors I gave the players at the end of the first session. This establishes the existence of the Publick Observator, which can serve both an in-game and metagame purpose:
In games where I have the time, I like to have the characters meet. It gives them a chance to get warmed up for roleplaying (and shows me how much they want to roleplay--which has implications for how I handle later sessions) and it gives them a chance to make up some background material that may be good grist for future adventures. I had asked each player prior to the first session to come up with a reason (or what they would give to others as the reason) they might be coming to Rivertown to seek an audience with Clockwork Princess Viola. One of the players suggest her ranger was coming to discuss a poaching problem--dovetailing nicely with one of the rumors I had thought of but not yet told the PCs about, of course!
This gave the them a good reason to select what they wanted to do next session. Of course, the other goings-on they chose not to investigate may not just go away. Some will have longterm consequences or will show up again, maybe with more dire connotations, next week. Over time, of course, these pre-session rumors will compete with goals and plans completely generated by the players.
3 hours ago