Step 6: RumorsThis is probably the most important aspect of a good sandbox campaign, because a sandbox only really works when players can make informed decisions about what they want their characters to do. Thus, I tend to disagree with the way rumor tables are traditionally done — with both true and false rumors. I don’t mind partially true entries, but false rumors have no real pay-off in terms of player choice and the consequences of those choices. Whereas a partially true rumor can be discovered to be inaccurate, a false rumor usually just gets forgotten.
Blackoak Castle, therefore, serves as an excellent home base for an adventuring party. Not only is it in close proximity to Fedor’s Pass, but it is also a font of information as rangers come in from all over Blackmarsh with stories (mostly accurate) of new threats to peace. In addition, the PCs can become members of the Blackoak Rangers which will avail them of even more accurate information. Thus, players will never be short of choice when it comes to what their characters do next.
To begin the campaign, the characters will know rumors about three locals:
- Fedor’s Pass
- The Wizard’s Tower
- The Ruins of Daur Anthar
Note: I am not adverse to using published adventures for locals outside of the Centerpiece Dungeon. Thus, if your library has good stand-ins for Daur Anthar and a wizard’s tower, I’d happily use them with one caveat: drop clues about the Old One in these published adventures. It can be as simple as a treasure map or a book of ancient history. This will keep feeding the players information about the Centerpiece Dungeon (Fedor’s Pass), helping them make informed decisions about how to react to the things the campaign world is doing in context of the Centerpiece Dungeon.