How to Start

I wanted to take the advice laid out in the West Marches series to heart. I knew Ben had gamed over 100 sessions using the style and had a pool of players anywhere from ten to fourteen at any one time. His advice surely would help me in the beginnings, and I began with a simple concept to enable the campaign.

To start, I needed a starting location for the PCs.

Ben used a “frontier” city on the edge of a world. I decided to stick to that simple premise, but I wanted not only the region to be fresh and new, but I wanted a new world entirely. With that in mind, I decided my town would be a coastal town that had been recently settled (I chose ten years ago to be exact) on a newly discovered land mass. A harbor town that was far removed from wherever the PCs came from enabled me to give them the sense of this being a true frontier – unexplored and dangerous. It also let me open up any and all character options available in D&D. The idea being, this “Old World” the PCs came from was vast and civilized. Many races, classes, and options could come from there. The settlers that came here were mostly human (and some halflings). If anyone is strange looking in the town, it’s obvious they are adventurers.

I wanted to follow the example that the city was safe and the wilderness was dangerous. So, It’d been ten years since people arrived, but the original settlers learned quickly that going much farther inland than their original settlement was deadly. Ten years gave me plenty of time to explain how tall city walls had been built around the city. In addition, I decided that this town was built atop old ruins from some long forgotten and decimated civilization – a first hint at what’s out there beyond the walls. The town stays afloat by harvesting an abundant supply of oceanic minerals, wildlife, and gems that it constantly trades with incoming vessels. This gave me a good reason to explain why people stayed living on such a dangerous new land and how vessels might want to come here (for the PCs to catch a ride on).

So, after coming up with the premise, the name was the hardest part. I always have trouble coming up with names. I finally settled on Port Havenholde (thanks to my lovely wife) – port because it’s a coastal town, haven to put emphasis on the safety inside the city, and holde because of the walls.

Next… I’ll talk about starting design on the world and getting the word out about the campaign.



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