So since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown our D&D club (Cork D&D Meetup) has become a disparate thing. Most games, I believe, have gone online. This is great, it is certainly much better than not playing, just not as good as playing in person and rolling real dice. But the good thing about the club is not just that we play a game in person but that we have contact with players at other tables too. We are and we feel part of a greater endeavour, around us are five or six other tables. The players at this table are being chased by owlbears, those at the next are negotiating with goblins, cheering at crits and moaning at the DM when a second dragon turns up. The last one is a true story!
Anyway I have been trying to find a way to keep the club feeling going. But also to include others from outside the club, a meetup session but online of course. I have been trying to figure it out. The problem in a nutshell (software engineers like to put problems in nutshells), is that we need to play games that matter to each other. We need to care that the group at the next “table” defeat those bandits or drive off that chimera. We need to have interaction between the groups and have players swap between groups for different adventures. Then I realised that I was describing something that I had heard of before. I was describing the premise behind a West Marches campaign.
I heard about West Marches on Matt Colville’s youTube channel. Simply put, you have a big group of players who all “meet in a tavern”. They discuss various rumours and then some of them decide to go explore the abandoned dwarven silver mine, another bunch head off to the haunted tower and a third group go to the enchanted forest. Then in one session they all complete an adventure and return to the tavern. They swap tales, maybe they saw something on the way there or on the way back, a strange glow coming from a lake or whatever. Then some go to the glowing lake, others follow those strange tracks up near the screaming cliffs.
So the idea is that we make a set of adventures in a shared setting. We have a chat room where people gather and exchange rumours; a virtual tavern. They form groups make a date with the appropriate DM and off they go. Three hours later, they come back laden with gold and buy better armour and weapons and then find more people to head into the forbidden forest.
So, if you like the idea, let me know. If you want to DM, excellent! If you want to help create the starting setting even better. You know where to find me.