After too long of a hiatus, my wife and I continued her adventures in the Vale Campaign. She had just reached a wonderful pinnacle in D&D play - third level. She had just earned the attention (and possible gratitude) of a local lord and she once again sacrificed treasure to help take care of a wounded (and infected by lycanthropy) henchmen.
Last night was a great deal of RP'ing, and the only rolls I performed were to see if an extremely forgetful innkeeper would remember something (1 in 20, 5% chance... failed both times) as she was questioning him.
There are times in some stories where it seems like a flood of information is revealed. I'm sure there's a literary term for it, but I'm not learned enough to know that term. That is what happened last night. My wife's character learned a great deal about the campaign world that she's in, about the possibilities of the situation she finds herself in and some more about her family's history - a history that includes participation in a rebellion and an ancient mage ancestor. She's suddenly gotten the impression that there is a little bit more to the world and that she is starting to see her backstory is indeed involved, even though she's been going through dungeons and tunnels that have nothing to do with finding her family's murderer and gaining revenge.
I like moments like that though - where you get a peek through the curtain and it gives you something to motivate yourself. I think I'm just as excited that she's hit this point as she is.
A couple of other interesting tidbits. I was prepared to have the Lord name her as a "Champion of Westport", but after discussing her situation, they agreed it would probably draw too much attention to her. However, she's been given a lease to an apartment and has been offered to have his continued support if she will indeed act as his champion, albiet a bit more quietly. I hooked this award on the things she's done for the city. I think she liked it.
My NPC mage just lost *all* of his magical loot/items as well, which takes him back to the beginning. It was a harsh development, because those items could have indirectly helped my wife. Although this is a "sandbox", the events my wife set into motion with her backstory will continue to develop around her. I find that is different from the West Marches sandbox I'm running. Here, my wife can do as she likes, she has many different things she can get involved in, but there are events in motion that she can/will affect, or she won't, and they'll continue. In Dark Ages, the players are the story. So it's a bit different. Neither is a railroad, but both are geared towards specific things.
I think the approach I've taken with my wife's game is a good one for solo type games. Since she is the complete story, events are rather central and events will happen without her direct input. Is it a metaplot? I don't know... I know it's not a railroad, but this is a living, breathing world and things will happen around her. I've used more of her backstory to initiate events, versus what I'm doing in Dark Ages, which keeps the game focused on her more. She is, however, free to ignore them or do as she pleases, which sustains a sandbox approach.
(This part coming up is a spoiler... and if you're reading, PrincessWife, you should skip this part.)
She's learning that this wonderful sword of hers has some really odd effects. It's a very fancy sword, it seems to have served her well, but she's finding that at various times, she has to exert her will to do things with it. At odd times, she'll find herself obsessively sharpening it and cleaning it. Last night, while attemping to dig through some still burning embers in burnt Inn rooms, she had to make a charisma roll to use it as a temporary shovel.
Magic items have strange effects. The magic in my world is a quirky thing. Not all cursed items have a negative to damage/hit rolls - and not all good magic items are as beneficial as just plusses and abilities. She hasn't said much about it, or done much in character about this sword, but that's OK, I'm patient and this will all add up after awhile. (Or the next game after she reads this! LOL...) I don't want to give too much more away, but I should note that this item has a 3x5 card in my Campaign folder.