I’ve been running a semi-vaguely West Marches style campaign for coming up on two years now. Set in a post-apocalyptic Oerth, it focuses on a single settlement called the Refuge. Characters set out to explore their surroundings, secure resources for expansion, and uncover the mysteries of how the world came to be this way. It’s been a lot of fun and the setup is just about perfect for a pick-up game: the Refuge is enchanted to teleport all its denizens back within its borders seven days after they leave. There’s also a Town Portal ritual they can perform over the course of a Long Rest, allowing them to return home at the end of a session. Since each session is a separate expedition, it doesn’t matter who does or doesn’t show up–we simply get together, decide where they’re going to head, and run it.
I’ll be covering the Refuge campaign more in the future–it’s a take on West Marches that fits well for adults with busy schedules and outside commitments. But the storytelling/RPer itch is hard to ditch, so four months ago I got together a party of friends to start a new campaign. Based on my players’ tastes, I envisioned a dark fairy tale world, full of curses, haunted woods, capricious fairies, wicked advisers, all the tasty tasty tropes of the genre. We spent a month or two developing backstories, letting the players’ imaginations run wild and stealing every possible plot hook from their ideas to put together a villainous plot.
I’m going to be writing articles about both campaigns as a new feature on the blog. The Refuge has been running so long (and I’ve already referenced it vaguely in previous entries) that I’m not going to bother doing a recap–instead, I’ll focus on aspects of gameplay like dungeon and world design, balancing for heroes of different levels, interactions between new players and old, and tales of hilariously bad choices/epic victories. For Gloriana, I’m going to do plot recaps and dramatizations along with articles about character choice, background, plot-weaving, roleplaying with new heroes, adventure props, and more.
Both games are playing this weekend. I’ll probably be able to do a quick writeup every time we play Refuge, but Gloriana will take some more time, as I’d like to go back to the beginning and retrace our steps. Stay tuned!