DMing a West Marches campaign
Table of contents
- What is a West Marches campaign
- Influence Points
- City building
- Story building
Rumours – How do they work?
Rumours are an initial factor for every session. It shows everything that the player needs to know like amount of experience, recommended level, possible loot and how much IP (influence points) the player is expected to get.
We have made all ours through the website https://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/
With a template that is easily copy pastable, it only takes me about 2 minutes to make a really nice looking rumour that gives off a roleplaying feel.
You can get the rumour template for free here from the assets page (will open in a new window)
Let me go through what we currently have on our rumours and how you can create them yourself by just copy pasting and changing a couple of things.
First let’s look at what the rumour needs to contain (All numbers are referenced on the image below)
A rumour consists of:
- Name of rumour / session
- A picture for inspiration. (For a guide to find transparent pictures look below this list)
- Short text about the job that needs to get done (This is where your “offline” role-playing skills can shine)
- How to get there (look for more information under “exploration”)
- This is where all the metadata goes from 6 down to 10 – Metadata is the raw data without fluff text.
- Loot: This is where you put in whatever loot is expected. This will make certain classes chase after certain rumours so beware – I also mention this below in “loot”
- Value of the session. Usually we got 4 tiers of value: High loot/low gold, High gold/low loot, Mid gold/mid loot, and high IP/low loot/low gold. I explain what IP is later in this guide
- Recommended level. This is not to lock anything in, but to normalize it for the players. Make sure you stick to this level as it gives them a rush to try to complete something that’s harder but with higher rewards than they usually get. Be careful around the lower levels as within level 1 and 2, difficulty is very volatile.
- Recommended amount of players – this is done to avoid 8 player sessions with 10+ players attached to the campaign.
- Name of the dungeon master – aka the guy that prepared the rumour and is in charge of running the rumour. Note we run both personalized and generic rumours. Personalized rumours is if a DM wants to run something that they think is super interesting. Generic rumours is for everyone to pick up.
It’s a fantastic way to introduce new people into the game, as the lower level rumours often is
“We heard there were some skeletons over there guarding a sword. That sword must be special”
and that leads to 3 hours of regular dungeon delving.
Whereas the higher level rumours contain both knowledge from the general area, some plot points and maybe not even loot and would look something like:
“The archmage of Ilthida have been heard cursing from the top of the cliff where selûnes temple is located. Is the temple under siege and therefore the moonstone in danger? Consider bringing weapons and spells that counter undeads well, because one thing the archmage loves, is his army of undead”
In the beginning of the campaign have some NPC from the city report back from the wilderness with some information that relates to lower level rumours so you have DM’s in place and then the players can interact with the surroundings already from level 1