This is a new D&D campaign in the West Marches sandbox style.

West Marches?

Don’t feel like reading the articles? Okay, here’s a summary of what it means to me:

  • It’s a giant “sandbox” game. That means that I create the world ahead of time, and you explore it. You say where you’re going. If you go where there’s stuff, you can explore that stuff. I won’t move stuff around so you can find it.
  • There’s a lot of focus on survival and exploration, not just fighting. Expect to worry about movement and camping and finding food.
  • I don’t worry about balancing encounters. I do sometimes give you hints about really powerful monsters so you can avoid them. If you miss the hints, too bad: you face a big bad monster. Maybe you die.
  • There are “wandering” encounters. I’ll have charts for each area.
  • The adventure is outside the Keep. Kura Keep, the PCs’ “home base,” is not that interesting. The NPCs don’t really want to help you. They definitely don’t want to accompany you. They aren’t generally full of useful information.
  • I’ll keep track of time. PCs need to get back to Kura Keep at the end of a session, or else that group is stuck together out there until all of those players can reassemble to finish the mission. If you know a certain player is unreliable, make sure you get home before bedtime!
  • You can have more than one character though. If one PC is out exploring, you can use another PC. I won’t ever let your PCs end up in the same place though, and I will not let you use the knowledge gained by another PC.

If I had infinite time, I’d definitely go with the traditional West Marches idea of making the players schedule games, and me running many different groups of players. Realistically, though, we’ll play every other Tuesday night, 7:30-10:30 PM, at my house. We’re starting out with old 1980’s Basic D&D, and I can probably handle as many players at a time as you want to throw at me. Let’s cap it at… how’s ten sound?

Ready to play? Check out the Campaign Rules.

Hex Maps

I’ve already begun creating the wilderness environment using HexMapper, which lets me drill into hexes and give them more detail in a “fractal” manner (each hex breaks down to 49 smaller hexes). There are about 3.7 million square miles of terrain to explore. Right now, most of that is defined at the large scale (each hex is 111 miles across). 9 of those hexes are further broken down to 405 15-mile-wide hexes (each representing about 1-3 days’ travel and about 200 square miles). 27 of those are further broken down to 1323 2.25-mile-wide hexes (each a little less than 5 square miles). As the group explores, I can break down larger hexes into smaller hexes, as necessary.

For each hex, I’ve marked elevation, so there’s somewhat realistic (or at least interesting) terrain: mountains and glaciers, hills and plains, rivers and lakes and streams. There are cliffs and gullies, plateaus and bluffs. They’re covered with grasslands, woods, forests, swamps, rocky cliffs, and ice.

The Adventuring Area

The newly rediscovered continent of Jalden is largely unexplored. There are two cities and a town in the colony to the southeast. The colony is about 10 years old, populated mainly by enterprising merchant companies given a royal charter by Queen Esmera. The settlement sends farm goods, lumber, and some ore back to the kingdom. The new capital, Petysis, sits on the coast.

The core adventuring area surrounds a large lake near Kura Keep, an outpost about 550 miles upriver of the capital and 250 miles from the nearest town. In the past few years, ruins of an ancient civilization were discovered near the lake, and the Keep sprung up as a base for explorers. There are numerous groups of archaeologists who dig around the safe part of the lake. However, excursions further into the wilderness have proven too dangerous.

Hinterlands keep

The Hinterlands

Hinterlands splash