What are the best Sandbox RPG products and why?

Spending lots of time in the last few months researching RPG products, blogs, forums and what gamers like I’ve determined that I’m an OSR-Sandbox kind of gamer. What has become interesting is the games that I’ve purchased all reflect this, to various degrees, without me even realising until I started writing this post.

MERP – although it is solidly in another’s very famous world it is presented as a massive Sandbox ready for gaming glory.

Battlelords of the 23rd Century – a multi-galactic setting waiting for you to populate it with all the seeds of information and flavour from just the core book.

Rolemaster – doesn’t even come with a world!

Warhammer FRP 1st Ed. – a massive grim world of perilous adventure! There’s lots of gaps with guidelines for ways to fill them between cities and wild lands empty for your artistic GM brush.

SLA Industries – a planetary urban sprawl with Cannibal Sectors, ruins, and mega-dungeons and not a single map.

SLA Industries

All this brings me to ask of you: what are the best Sandbox RPG products and why are they best? What makes a product capture your attention? How do you decide if you’ll purchase an RPG Sandbox product?

For me it’s something that oozes “potential”. It has a clear world that operates along familiar daily patterns. And it has events & ongoing actions that are exciting, even if more than a little dangerous.

What are the best Sandbox RPG products and why?

3 thoughts on “What are the best Sandbox RPG products and why?

  1. Really a lot of the stuff is pretty open ended now adays. Even 4E which I like to jump on dosen’t have much world material in the Players and DM guide, looking back at 3 and 2e it was similiar as well. Palladium products are pretty open ended until you get into their series of buying books which destroys the system through mudflation.
    So I guess the question is are you looking for OSR projects or any and all?

  2. I was trying to frame it with the examples I listed. Those products I see as providing, or encouraging, a sandbox to game within. So I’m asking what products, that are sandbox in nature, have you found the best, and why? If you want to frame it within OSR, that will probably make it easier to answer. 🙂

  3. Yeah, sadly D&D is the main OSR game I’ve worked with. HERO also looks very interesting, but damned if I don’t need a computer on me to make characters.

    Interesting that most of my old games have something of a setting to them if not a complete one. RIFTs, Various D&D settings, Heavy gear, 7th Sea, Battletech/Mechwarrior.

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