The Savage Lands
If you are reading this, that means you are interested in playing in my “West Marches” Dungeons & Dragons campaign! Everyone is welcome at my table, whether you haven’t seen a 20 sided dice before, or you have 4 characters written up waiting for a game to be played. This campaign is a bit different from most campaigns because you (the player) are the one who decides how often to play! This is not a weekly, monthly, or even weekend commitment. If you are just curious about Dungeons & Dragons and only wish to play a single game, you can! If you are looking for a group of players to play with, you can do that too!
So what is “West Marches”? It is a style of play where 10-15 players talk amongst themselves and plan adventures. A player will state that they are forming a group to take on a rumored dungeon (or other rumors) and will recruit players. Once the players coordinate amongst themselves (and with me), they strike out on an adventure. Once the session is done, they will return to town and then another player can get a group together. This style of play lends itself to large groups of players playing in a shared world, and also fixes the problem of scheduling conflicts common in a regular game. There are a few other rules that are stated later in this document
If you are interested in being a DM for a session, or become a regular DM, talk to me. This setting makes it super simple to DM for one, or many sessions. If you don’t know how, I would be more than happy to help you prepare or even run a session! The more DM’s we have, the more sessions we can play!
The story thus far:
A new continent has been discovered across the sea. At the tip of a long, narrow gulf, a small colony, called Stillshore, was established on the site of a large lighthouse-esque structure dubbed the “Tower of Flame”. The light from this tower is magical in nature and seems to make the immediate area safe. A call for adventurers has reached your ears in the Civilized Lands and you have responded. You travel to Stillshore from your homeland to find a small but bustling town. The town has a single tavern called the Wandering Prince. It is large as far as taverns go, but a far cry from the comforts of the Civilized Lands.
Inside are several adventurers like yourself huddled around a large oaken table. You approach to find a crude map that has been carved into the table by several people over time. Some markings show ruins a day to the northwest, others a sunken city in the swamp with the word danger carved next to it. The adventurers are arguing over where to go next. Where will you go?
Character Creation and Progression
Character creation is to be done before the game since we only have so much time to play each session. Backgrounds for your character can be as fleshed out or as paper thin as you wish. I have personally found that my character takes on personality as the game goes. If anybody needs help with making a character, or wants a pre-generated character, I would be more than happy to help!
We will be playing the 5th edition of D&D. If you do not have a Player’s Handbook, that is ok, one can be provided. If you are planning on playing a lot, consider buying your own.
Please arrive to the session with a created character. In order to move things along, please have a character ready. If you want help making one, please arrive early enough for us to make one.
Characters start at level 1. All content in the Player’s Handbook, Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, and the Unearthed Arcana (classes/archetypes must have progression to level 20) are fair game. Unearthed Arcana will be subject to immediate balancing by me at any time. Talk to me if you would like help creating a character! Please create characters before the session.
Characters can be any alignment but evil. Lawful good does not mean “lawful nice” and chaotic neutral does not mean insane. Alignment should not dictate actions, but show trends, and should shift over time.
We will be using 15 Point Buy to calculate stats. This is fairly standard and there are calculators on the internet to help with this. There are technically 27 points if all stats are 8. It is still called 15 point buy.
If you wish, you can use the Standard Array for stats. To make character creation easy, you can use the Standard Array for stats: 15 14 13 12 10 8. Any number can go into any stat. This is before racial stat bonuses are applied
We will be using the standard Faerun pantheon. For simplicity, we will use the gods listed in the Forgotten Realms.
Players make a new character upon death unless they have the ability to resurrect them. Equipment is then distributed to the current adventuring party. Your next character will not receive any magic items from your deceased. Killing a player or letting them die for their items will cause you to be expelled from the game.
A last will and testament can be written. A will can be provided if a character dies, but items cannot go to the players next character. But they can go to a shared pool of items or “to the next player who can use it”. Sometimes, the recovery of a body is impossible and another group can find it.
Characters who died create a new one and start with half of their experience points and no magic items. The way it works out, you go down a single level. Magic items are rare in this world, the only ones found are rare and powerful.
Experience is split evenly between all present and alive players in town. Players who die
Leveling occurs between sessions and in town. Leveling up cannot happen out in the wild. Since most adventures are contained to a single session, leveling outside of town would slow the game down.
Planning a Session
Planning a session will be a bit chaotic, but I will try my hardest to make sure that the most number of people who want to play, are able. My schedule is busy just like everyone else’s, so I cannot run every single game that you guys wish. If anyone wants to try their hand at being a DM, that would allow more players to play, and even some DM’s to play!
We will be playing in person most of the time, but an online game can be run. Some people can decide to run a online session through Roll20.net. This means you need to have a microphone enabled computer.
Scheduling and player coordination will take place on Facebook. Unless we want to make a different site our coordinating site, Facebook will have to do. If you want to play, you will have to say so on Facebook.
Groups will be 4-5 people. Large groups sound fun on paper, but they get bogged down very fast. There may be exceptions to this rule, but I will not be running large groups.
There is no level limit on who can join what group. The way 5th edition works out, a level 1 wizard is still useful in and out of fights with a level 4 group. The experience points will also level them up very fast.
Players cannot group with the same people 3 times in a row. This is to avoid cliques to form and allow all players to go on adventures. An exception will be made for those who live or rely on rides or other extenuating circumstances.
Players cannot play 3 sessions in a row. This is to allow other players to play. It may work out that someone just happens to be available to join a too small group, but otherwise let others play.
Adventure does not happen in town. The main town where everybody will strike out from is safe. There are no monsters, and there is no crime in this town. This stops me from telling someone “your character died last session while you weren’t playing”
Sessions will last anywhere from 5-6 hours on average. It is possible to run a session longer if the story needs it, or if people plan ahead. I do not think there will be many times we will need/want to play longer.
Sessions need a destination or activity to do in mind, and planned with enough time for a DM to prepare. “We just want to explore” is not quite descriptive enough for a DM to prepare. “We want to explore the forest to the north” is enough to prepare. Exploring is a big part of the game, but without a direction or region to explore, a lot of stress is given to the DM.
Players will return to town after each session. If an adventure goes long and needs to end, the party will need to abandon their mission and head back to town. They can strike out again to where they were going another time. Another group can also try to complete their adventure. Under special circumstances, that group can stay there, but they cannot go on another adventure until they get back together and finish.
Encounters will not be scaled. All dice rolls will not be fudged. Death is a reality. The wilderness is a dangerous place! It may be wise to have a few spare characters ready in case the worst happens.
The further out you travel, the more dangerous the monsters. Areas near town are low level, and the further away you get, the more dangerous and rewarding places get.
Some encounters will be impossible. The wilds are a dangerous place. Some locations will be significantly harder than their surroundings. Where the difficulty is great, so is the reward.
All areas can be adventured in again. Adventure is had everywhere. New monsters can populate a previously cleared dungeon. Some locations are locked until you find a key elsewhere.
There will be no returning to the Civilized Lands. All adventuring will happen on the new continent. Backgrounds can reference the Civilized Lands, but there is no turning back. That is not to say that Civilization will not slowly arrive in the new continent.
Random Encounters and Points of Interest are more easily found at slower paces. If the party knows where a dungeon or feature is, they can choose to high tail it to that spot, reducing random encounters. They can also slow down to maximize area explored to increase the odds of finding cool features in the world.
Rules of Engagement
Here are a few rules that don’t fit in the above category but need to be said. Additional rule clarification that occurs will be placed here.
DO NOT WORK AGAINST THE PARTY. Fighting another player, stealing from them, or otherwise orchestrating harm/death will result in expulsion from the game. It is not fun to anybody and ruins games. “But my character would do it” is not an excuse. Make a character that would not do it.
Keep it PG-13. Combat can be a messy affair, but lets keep it to that.
Come to me with any issues you have with other players, or you haven’t been able to play in a while and want to. I will do my best to make sure all players are comfortable playing together and have a chance to play even if they do not know many people.
Town has armor, weapon, wizardry and clerical services. While no adventure can be had in town, you can buy, repair, identify, heal, and sell in town. All mundane items in the PHB can be bought in town, but at a significant markup.
Awards will be given to all (alive) players who write a summary of a session. The reward may be an extra use of a class feature, or inspiration. If all players die in a session, they are not to discuss what happened on the adventure. All the adventurers in town know is where the party went, and that they never returned.
There is no official map of the area. Players will have a shared map that they will need to update. I will not correct them on where things are. If the players mark somewhere wrong on the map, that location is lost until they find it again.
Players can put up notices or rumors on the notice board. This is a great location to place information about a monster you couldn’t kill or a point of interest to explore later.