Playing in the Sand

Gaming is great.

One of the best things I know.

But it demands a time commitment not always compatible with adulting. Sure, drawing mega-maps, meticulously crafting dozens of encounters, bringing new and bizarre creatures into being, and populating towns with detailed NPCs can be fun. But that was all a lot easier when life’s demands were fewer.

Working full time, helping kids with homework, cooking dinner, mowing the yard—these things take time. Leisure time is at a premium, these days. At least it is for me. And I’d usually rather spend that time playing, as DM or PC, than prepping.

But at the same time, I’ve never been a fan of boxed text. Published modules are fine, I guess, but I’ve always preferred the flexibility of gaming in a custom world, with huge blank areas just waiting to be populated and explored, offering just the right amount of challenge to the PCs at specifically that moment in their story.

Finding the right balance between these two poles is the inspiration for this collection.

We’ve begun to gather up all the best ideas from decades of gaming and assemble them into a collection of modular bits. Things that make playing easier. Bolt-on additions that can be used in a geography and setting of that best suits a particular group. A town ready to be placed, with a handful of named NPCs and a bit of background. A map of a ruin with ideas for traps and creatures within ready to be adapted to experienced heroes or fledgling adventurers. A ready-made pantheon. Myths and legends from ancient times.

If it’s useful, throw it in. If it doesn’t fit your style or setting, leave it out. Use it as-is or change it up. The intent is to make gaming sessions easy to prepare and fun to play.

So here are some things to throw into a sandbox of your own. Go play.


I've been gaming since before I could convince my parents it was okay to buy polyhedral dice, and have been all wrapped up in my own fantasy worlds ever since. I'm older now, and busier with life, but still make time to tell great stories with friends whenever I can.

One thought on “Playing in the Sand

  1. I can totally relate. In essence I’ve been a gamer/roleplayer since my childhood. From making cardboard forts to slaying imaginary giants, I’ve always enjoyed the pleasure of exploring the imagination and running wild with it.

    As a teen, I started playing D&D with my older brother, then in high school branching out as a GM/DM/Storyteller with various titles of White Wolf and Palladium Games. But then, with the rise of MMORPGs, my main crew fell out to the less mentally straining and more visually appealing PC games.

    As you know, I joined the crowd for a while – even getting excited about the latest and greatest MMOs that brought more challenge and sandbox to the genre. But I was always left wanting. You would eventually explore all the content, or be caught in a never ending “grind” only to wait for another expansion or timesink. MMO’s never really filled the imagination void – so a few years back (at the tail end of grad school) I started DMing again.

    I looked for a game or a system that would easy to prep for, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for – so I decided to try designing my own. In the end I’ve shelved my project, but I hope one of these days when things settle down I can pick it back up again. In the meantime If you need some ideas or want to bounce some off – I would love to work on something together.

    Game on.

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