In a word, they’re… ambitious.
In more words… well, I’ll let the team from Sly Flourish explain it:
A west marches campaign is a particular style of RPG campaign, easily transported to D&D, that has some of the following criteria:
- There’s no regular scheduled time.
- There’s no fixed group of players; players can drop in and out each session.
- The players determine the direction of the game.
- The DM sets out potential challenges and the players choose which ones to follow.
- There’s no overarching storyline; the game is about exploration, discovery, and treasure.
These kinds of campaigns are suitable for anywhere from 10-50 players, and it’s a persistent-world game. That means the actions of one group affect the world for everyone. Party #1 kicks in a door? When Party #2 explores that part of the dungeon later, that door may still be bashed it, or it may have been badly repaired by the new monster that’s taken up residence in the room.
A West Marches campaign is also a community event; there are no standard adventuring parties, just a pool of adventurers from which any number of combinations can emerge to delve into the dungeon. Between adventures, they share their experiences at a tavern table (in this case on a Discord channel). They create a communal map of the area. They discuss what they’ve learned and use that information to plan further explorations. This is a kind of game I’d love to run.
Now, originally, I’d envisioned coming up with my own campaign world – a sprawling 200 x 200 hex map full of unique location, mystery, and adventure. And as I began preparing that world, I had a couple of realizations:
- I don’t realistically have time to do 200+ hours of worldbuilding right now
- I prefer dungeon crawls to hex crawls
- I want to start playing now, not six months from now
So, I decided to do the next best thing: I’m taking a pre-written megadungeon and running it West Marches-style.
And I have just the location: The Barrowmaze, designed by Greg Gillespie.
Local villagers whisper of a mysterious place deep in the marsh – a place shrouded in mist and dotted with barrow mounds, ruined columns, and standing stones. The tomb-robbers who explore beneath the mounds – or rather the few who return – tell tales of labyrinthine passages, magnificent grave goods, and terrifying creatures waiting in the dark. Are you brave (or foolish) enough to enter Barrowmaze?
Want to play?
The game is now live on MastermindAdventures.com! The Discord will open at the same time. Players will be provided a map of the region and can book me for two- or three-hour sessions to begin their exploration. Players can keep track of the campaign using the official Campaign Wiki on Scabard.
Players with Mastermind Adventure memberships will be able to use their weekly allotment of hours to play, and non-subscription members can book me for a custom session. I will keep my availability calendar on Acuity up-to-date. All I need is 24 hours’ notice to prepare each session and it’ll be GAME ON.
So, you want in? Let me know in the comments below!