Introducing the West Marches style…

I’ll let Ben Robbin’s four-part description speak for itself. But, I decided to describe it to my players (via forum), who have never really been involved in a sandbox style game, in addition to referencing the original description, like this:

Port Havenholde is my attempt at a West Marches style campaign. The premise is this:

  • A pool of players (and their characters) share one world. So, there isn’t just one adventuring party – there are numerous made up of whomever decides they want to go adventuring during a particular game session. Anyone can play as often or rarely as they want.
  • The world begins as a “blank slate” so to speak, and as each party of adventurers explore, the gaps get filled in.
  • So… there is no plot. This campaign is not story-driven. It’s player driven. Meaning, YOU decide what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you want to adventure. This also means you tell ME when you want to game. If you wanna round up a bunch of spell-slingers and battleaxers and go find the Lost Temple of Manatu – just round them up, find out when and clear it with me and we’re off.
  • The world is persistent. Meaning, what one group of adventurers does might impact the world and when you go adventuring, you’ll see that impact. If one group of assholes decide to burn down a forest, chances are when you go there afterward, you’ll see a huge patch of crispy, ashed up trees. Aye?
  • You get one character. That’s it (…at first anyways). If your character dies, you can make a new one. Your character may very well die because this world is harsh and unforgiving. Why’s that?
  • Well, because as a DM I’m simply creating the world. I’m going to make encounters, but they are designed for an area – not a party. Meaning, you aren’t always going to encounter bad guys that are the same level as you. You might be four level-1 dudes and stumble into a forest littered with level 6 trolls… That’s not my problem. Run.
  • This also means sometimes you might die and your buddy lives. That might suck because you guys were holding hands up till level 3 and now you gotta start over at level 1 and he’s still level 3. That’s too bad. Death is pretty permanent in Port Havenholde. This is a Herioc tier campaign. Meaning, if your level 5 Fighter dies at the hands of a hungry Owlbear, that sucks. Make a new level 1 character. No raise dead rituals for you (at least not at first).
  • But, this shit is fun. It’s gonna be addictive – competitive – engaging – and simply damned good times. Ask anyone that’s ever played a persistent server in Neverwinter Nights (i.e. Ryan). Your level is going to mean something. It’s gonna mean you played it smart and survived. You’re gonna have a chance to show off your level 4 Wizard’s badass shit to some level 1 noobs. That’s awesome.
  • So – hopefully by now you’ve read the blogs over at West Marches and you’ve read this spiel and you’re amped up to try out your idea for a new Dragonborn Artificer or Halfling Barbarian or whatever. Sweet. All you gotta do now is check out the Rules and Shit thread and then sign up at the Casting Call thread.

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