October has been wonderful. We have pioneered our first online Meetup, which was a huge success (I loved the costumes!!), we hosted a record-breaking 16 sessions in one month, and we have worked hard behind the scenes on recruiting new DMs, setting up a new website, and rethinking some of the rules and practices in our group. Thank you all for being awesome and actively contributing to our group.
We are very happy with how our first pirate-infested season is going. It is inspiring games left and right and it creates conversations between players about world events. As the New Year is creeping up on us, we are preparing to create the first season for next year. (Jan-march). If you are a player or a DM, have 8 hours to spare, can keep a secret and want to help us create the new season, please let me know. We could definitely use the help!!
Now, back to the topic of pirates. You may have noticed prices are rising in the East Marches, a result of the unrelenting pirate attacks on vessels bound for ports on the coast of the East Marches. We are very excited to announce that on December 20th, we are setting up an end-of-season event where you - our brave adventurers - will try to make the pirates go away and restore the flow of goods into and out of Brighthaven once again.
So how will we set this up?
- We will play several sessions concurrently and the results at the tables will influence what happens at other tables.
- We do not know yet what you will face in your sessions - this also very much depends on what happens in the sessions that play out the next 6 weeks.
- We will set up an event on Meetup that does not have a limit to the number of participants. After two weeks we will see how many, players we have, how many DMs we have, how many tables we need to set up. If we have more players than seats at the (virtual) table, we will conduct a lottery to determine who can play.
- After two weeks we shall limit the attendance. Players are of course still very welcome to join the waiting list.
This is a new event for the East Marches, and we are very excited to set this up and try it out! We hope to see you all there!
Today we also would like to talk about character development in the East Marches and mini-campaigns. In our survey (will post the results in a PDF here in this channel) there were a number of questions and ideas that made me sit back and think about giving players the opportunity to create their own character development story arcs in the East Marches.
First, let’s get back to the original idea of a West Marches style campaign. From Ars Ludi, the inventor of the West Marches style campaign:
”There was no regular plot: The players decided where to go and what to do. It was a sandbox game in the sense that’s now used to describe video games like Grand Theft Auto, minus the missions. There was no mysterious old man sending them on quests. No overarching plot, just an overarching environment. My motivation in setting things up this way was to overcome player apathy and mindless “plot following” by putting the players in charge of both scheduling and what they did in-game.”
This idea is also implemented in the East Marches: DMs throw out adventure hooks in their games and players are free to attempt to pursue any adventure hooks in a new game, if they want too, using the adventure suggestion mechanic on Discord. In addition to that, players are also free to create an adventure suggestion out of the blue: you are free to pick a dot on the map and attempt to visit it, or create some other task they want to pursue. In its core we believe this is a powerful mechanic that drives character development and creates a high level of player engagement.
So that sounds pretty cool right? You can just create an adventure hook yourself, carve out your own future and make some friends along the way? Yes! That's exactly how it works. Check the #adventure-suggestions channel for suggestions.
Now, of course a DM has to pick up your adventure suggestion. Some best practices:
- If you are aiming for a specific DM to pick up an adventure suggestion, be sure to message them and ask if they are interested and see if they have any suggestions - its way more productive to work together with the DM.
- If you are creating a generic adventure suggestion, the golden formula is that it should be short, provoking but still easy to pick up. The suggestion should focus on what the character wants to achieve and why. The more specifics it contains about the world (specific location, specific NPCs) the harder it becomes to pick up for a random DM. Also, please do not invent items, locations, or NPCs. Only DMs can invent those :wink:
Players that consistently follow through on adventure hooks in subsequent adventures create a mini-campaign for themselves. In itself we believe that this is fine - it drives player and DM engagement. Now there has been some discussion on this.
- Since there are no rules that govern who gets to play the ‘next adventure’, this subject is often contentious and vulnerable to social engineering. If more than two players in the group want to follow up an adventure, we suggest resolving it with a dice roll. This is the most honest and straight forward way to resolve this.
- Although mini-campaigns are great, DMs should keep in mind one-shots should be just as interesting for players that have not played any of the previous one-shots. For this purpose alone we recommend keeping your mini-campaigns short and to encourage players to share information via adventure reports so players can be easily onboarded.
By the way: I wholeheartedly encourage DMs to pick up adventure suggestions from players. I have personally found it very inspiring to take a simple task and try to create something that fits the description and matches the players’ expectations, but also surprises and raises new interesting questions. I have found that sometimes two or more adventure suggestions can be grouped together into one adventure with some creative thinking.
TLDR; You are awesome. We are looking for people that want to help create seasons. We will battle the pirates in a big event. Write adventure suggestions to create your own story arc. Don't let the arc become too long. Pick them up if you are a DM.