For the past two months I've ran a dedicated west marches game using Dungeon Crawl Classics as well as the OSR supplement: Fever Swamp. It has now officially ended and I can say it was one of the most satisfying RPG campaign accomplishments I've ever done.
I want to break a lot of what I did down, share my thoughts, express my opinions, so you, dear reader, can pick at the bones of this campaign for tender ideas and methods for your next campaign.
You need two things that will require a lot of work so be prepared! You'll need your sandbox and you'll need a bunch of players. I will spend a lot of time (this sister post to be honest) talking about the former, so I'll start with the later:
Making it easy for players
Here's the pitch I threw together to aid recruiting (which I did on my own discord community and others I'm a part of) and what a recruiting post on discord looked like. I took a lot of time to make it look presentable.
I figured a new D&D adjacent West Marches game is a big ask from folks. If I showed up dressed nice with a brochure I might get more eyeballs than a low effort.
To assist with FAQ/Onboarding, I have created a guide for players to clear up confusion.
Additionally, I setup my discord to have dedicated west marches channels. By the end of my campaign, having an announcements/global channel for the DM, a general channel, a channel for leveling up/rules, and a channel for posting write-ups were important.
I was very clear up front how things were going to work. I would share a weekly availability calendar with my available times to run games and then let players self-organize. Early on in the program, we hit on a really good system-- treat every Friday IRL as a "patch/content" day. (shout out to Sythmaster for this idea!)
If there was a new system I wanted to implement (change to navigation rolls for instance), I needed to update the general store, or share out of character the calendar for next week's games, it was done on Friday. This was an extremely fun and useful tool for my game.
I took the liberty to paste the whole Swamp Tales into a google doc for posterity.
Getting started in Roll20 for players
There's a lot of mis en place when it came to playing this so I appreciate your patience. Truly getting things setup to streamline the actual play of this game was a key to how I was able to run this so frequently and easily.
Since we were using Roll20, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for players to join and create characters. DCC has this amazing process called the 0-level character funnel. You'll play multiple 0-level characters and go on an adventure. The survivors are your level 1 characters! If you were to play DCC at a convention or a store, you'd be greeted with smiles, weird dice, and a sheet with like 4 level 0 PCs on it with everything good to go. I wanted to replicate that experience as best I could for Fever Swamp. I'll try and save the magic of DCC and why it was my system for west marches for a later breakdown. Anyways-- back to talking about roll20 character creation.
My steps were as follows (also outlined in the players guide linked above):
Coming up in my next post, I'll get into all of the tables, generators, and play mechanisms I used for this campaign.
The return to meatspace gaming!
This past Thursday I went to Narrative Games Northwest and played Fall of Magic. Now I haven't been back to my story games meetups in almost a year, but it was great to see so many familiar faces.
Our Fall of Magic game begun with a Microscope palette to set a tone. Rather than the Tolkeinesque fantasy, we ended up with a numenera/apocalpytic star wars style technology bump with tastes of studio ghibli. I played Vago, the Golem of Ravenhall, who was an android who forgotten who they were or their purpose. Kind, inquisitive, but forgetful!
What made this game very special was how much everyone cared about eachother's characters. We did a very healthy amount of scenes with each other around formative questions about one another's character.
Sometimes you can get into a habit of doing a lot of solo-dictated scenes in Fall of Magic. (This isn't a BAD WRONG FUN thing...) It's been a while since I've played and I was glad to see how I was able to avoid taking the game that way.
I often would find my self taking a backseat to a lot of the action, preferring to let newer players speak up and take the initiative for scenes.
My favorite scene was on Swine Hill (a junkyard scrapheap) where Vago found other bodies of androids.... spent in a war and had some flashbacks! He turned into a defensive mode until he was talked down by a fellow player on Oak Island.
We wrapped up after being freed from the Stormqueen's judgement.... good game!
I hide in a cubicle all day until the night time where I play RPGs and other games and stuff.