Sandbox roleplaying is a type of game that has been around since the earliest days of the happy. In briefly, the action of the game is directed by the players as they explore the campaign world. The contrast to this would be an adventure path based game. In this type of game, the scenario for the adventures is laid out from the start. The players are expected to follow this path. This type of game is also called a railroad, meaning that the players are just along for a ride that has already been pre-planned.
I think both types of games have their place and can be fun. The most important element that I have found is the people that sit around the table. If everyone comes to with the basic notion that everyone is there to have fun, then fun will be had. Adventure paths are good for DM’s that don’t have a lot of time to prepare. They can just read the part of the adventure that is expected to be covered, and then they are good to go for the session.
On the other hand, a sandbox can be a lot of work up front. But when that work is done, the actual preparation for a session could be minimal. I’ll talk about this in more detail in the future, but the basic idea is that a local region is created with many adventuring opportunities and an ecosystem that works on it’s own. The players are then set loose, do what they want, and then the world reacts to them. It can be a lot of fun if properly executed, and that’s what I hope to accomplish!