Utangard Edge – A DnD Experiment

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One of the challenges of role-playing games is the commitment of making it to the game once a week, or every other week. In high school and college most of the games I played were more like, "who can play today" type of games.

That realization and reading about a style of creating a campaign called West Marches cultivated to the following idea:

What if there was a campaign where the world was open to be explored and whoever wanted to play a specific day could play?

Why would you want to play?

  •  No scheduled game time. Games are scheduled when players (and the DM, me) are available
  • No regular parties. Each party can have different players from a larger player pool
  • Player driven. You can choose what you want to do (there will be rumors, bounties, etc, but players decide on what actions to take)

So for example, let's say on the way to a cavern rumored to have cultists you see an abandoned monastery, and Bob wants to explore it one day. A game can be setup something like this:

Bob: Hey, I want to explore the abandoned monastery we saw the other day. I am available and Saturday anyone interested?
Me: I can run it on Saturday at 7:30
Bob: I can make it
Steve / Sandra / Jen: I want to play to

Done, we now have a game. Maybe next Thursday Jen wants to go explore the lower dungeon part of the monastery that was behind a locked door. She can see who is available and go explore that part with some players that are available…and you have another game set for that day with a different party

The Good and Bad

  • Touch and go groups, so you can play once a month or every other month and still be fine
  • Sandbox, total player freedom, no railroading. There will be quests etc but think MMO quest givers, there are quest givers if you want to talk to them or not is up to you, which means no over-arching long term plots in the traditional sense
  • A world that will react to player actions, exterminate an Orc citadel, six months later bandits have taken it over. Injured a bunch of young goblins, a goblin war party is seeking out the players to avenge them
  • This game will feature heavy exploration and discovery. There will be a lot of history to uncover and put together, but like I mentioned there won't be a big bad guy you have to deal with
  • DnD 5e
  • Custom exploration rules for extra realism without the suck (hopefully)
  • The map and world is static for you to explore. Again think MMOs or open ended RPGs, you can go wherever you want, but at the same time if you go to a high level area you will get your ass kicked (I will be giving a general sense of how dangerous areas are, so there might a be a level 1-3 area, but maybe a level 5 monster is in a cave :)

Things I am not sure about

  • This is an experiment, in theory this could work really well, but it could totally suck. It will be a new experience for me as a GM and it might backfire
  • Local players vs remote. My instinct is to say local only or remote only games for a session, not sure if I want to limit people like that, and it will add scheduling complexity. Depending on what people want and who is interested it will probably resolve itself
  • In order for this to work there will be a need of players sharing a common map and updating it so players that are not present can still have places to go or investigate. Will players be up for it?
  • Also there is a need for players to write up their adventures from an in game perspective. I see it kind of like boasting at the tavern, or telling a small crowd about their recent discoveries. This will make the game richer and as a side benefit allow player expression. Will people be interested in that? I don't know
  • Tools to use, Roll20, Obsidian Portal, my own hosted website primarily driven by a Wiki
  • Can players have multiple characters? My first instinct is to allow it, I wonder if I shouldn't or if I should at least limit it.

Further Reading

Here is a video from Matt Colville talking about it http://www.youtube.com/embed/oGAC-gBoX9k?rel=0

Or if you like reading you can read the original post about West Marches: http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.php/78/grand-experiments-west-marches/