Double posted from the oringal thread over at the Tavern.
I used to be all over this style of play in my teen years. Mainly when I was playing Basic/Expert D&D and AD&D 1st ed. Heck I even wrote a three levels of megadungeon, which is imho the ultimate sandbox. Happy hours playing through Isle of Dread. Here’s a piece of hexpaper and off you go.
Problem was that I always felt the players missed all the good stuff. I started getting peevish about it. Ok so you are going to miss the Ancient Red Dragon in the Volcano which I’ve put in plan sight, I’ll put five in your way on my latest hex crawl Playing Griffin Island during the generic pre-Glorantha Games Workshop RuneQuest years was probably my last hurrah for Old School Sandbox play.
So eventually I tired of that and suddenly its the late 80s and we’ve gone all Railroady story telling. Rapidly got disillusioned with that and struggled through a Narrative wilderness (HeroQuest etc) in the early 2000s. Now blissfully back running more open ended adventures, with lots of potiential plot hooks and big cast list of interesting npcs. Are they Sandboxes? Not in the classic Old School sense (Hexcrawls/Megadungeons) and in comparison they are smaller and more tightly controlled in the sense I don’t put boring stuff in. Its all made of win because these days with my limited gaming time its time to GO LARGE OR GO HOME every session
My current game FAE Cowboys & Dinosaurs is a Sandbox, that takes in the whole Hollow Earth, but the players are unaware of it. They are just hitting the trail and having fun times Also I’ve got unfinished business with the Spires, the setting of which I revealled but a small corner of it the Blood of the Dragon for Crypts & Things (watch this space).