Daydreaming About West Marches 

I’ve been having a craving for some good old-fashioned dungeon crawling lately, and that feeling that I could maybe squeeze just one more game in. Still I am not sure I want to have another regularly scheduled time that I have to dedicate solely to a game, and something more flexible I think would be more up my alley. And, like many gamers, I’ve read the classic blog posts about the West Marches style of play a few times before. While I’ve always kind of liked the idea behind it, my current gaming cravings are actually making me seriously consider starting up a West Marches game for the first time.

For those of you not familiar with the West Marches style game (and don’t want to read the link above), my key takeaways from it are as follows:

  • Exploration/Dungeon Crawl Focused: Classic old-school play, go out into the wilderness, and try to make your fortune braving ancient traps and terrible beasts. Not much of a ‘plot’ so much as getting rich and discovering the secrets of the region.
  • Dynamic Group/Scheduling: Unlike a normal game, there isn’t a set time or group, a session happens whenever the GM and enough players can get together to play one. This allows you to have a large group of people involved in the game while still keeping player count for actual sessions reasonable. It also means that sessions are not held up because someone is “missing” you just play with who is there.
  • Player Driven: Players are in charge of scheduling the sessions, and coming up with their goals for the session. The GM will come up with content, as well as rumors and clues to help give the players ideas, but the actual focus of the game is on what the players want to do.

That’s hitting all my buttons of what I want from my gaming right now, and so I figure it might be fun to give it a shot.

Thus far I am still in the high concept stage and haven’t started getting a group together or anything, but I’ve kinda been daydreaming and brainstorming for a little bit. In no particular order:

  • I’m thinking either D&D Basic (likely Moldvay), or, Torchbearer. Torchbearer is probably what I’d go with if I have my druthers, but it requires a little bit of hacking for a West Marches style game, and old D&D probably has a slightly lower buy-in threshold. Probably don’t want to do a modern D&D, as much as I love 4e, and do enjoy 5e, but the conventions have shifted away from a survivalist, resource management, style of play.
  • For the region, I am thinking of a place called “The Gulf of False Hope”. Across the sea from civilization, the Gulf has seen numerous settlement attempts in ages past, but all have fallen as the once great civilizations crumbled. The game takes place a few generations into a new settlement attempt, with some semblance of civilized society and established towns near the coast, while the interior is still mostly wilderness, with ruins of the previous attempts dotting the landscape.
  • Basically, just enough civilization to give the PCs a safe haven when they need it, but most of the region still being ripe for exploration.
  • I definitely want to include a mix of content:
    • Sources drawing from classic D&D modules, cool stuff I found online, some cleaned up random generator stuff, and of course plenty of my own content and creations.
    • I want to have plenty of stuff that new players could handle, but also stuff that might be out of the league of starting characters.
    • I think also a mix of vary serious fantasy stuff, and also some of the more goofy crap found in old D&D as well.
  • Actual ideas for content include:
    • A powerful green dragon makes its home in the area. Very dangerous, but its laid likely contains vast riches…
    • Beyond the mountains lies a desert, including a great trap filled pyramid.
    • Speaking of the mountains, I’d like to hide this classic module somewhere in there.
    • Some god old fashioned ruins, tombs of long lost knights, abandoned dwarven halls, an ancient coliseum, and crumbling castles
    • The Gulf itself is full of ancient wrecks and potential plunder,
      but also protected by creatures of the deep that have made their home there.
  • Definitely would like to meet new people and expand my IRL playgroup though this, perhaps encouraging established players to bring friends?

Still really in the daydreaming phase at this point, will let you all know if this goes anywhere!

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One thought on “Daydreaming About West Marches 

  1. Pingback: Building the Gulf of False Hope (Part 1) | You All Meet in a Tavern

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