The Slightly Overwhelming Players Guide

Writing Middle Ages

It’s been a bit more than a month since I last blogged about this campaign. The silence hasn’t been about lethargy or second thoughts on writing a DM’s blog; it’s been about trying to ready this campaign in a very busy month.

August means Gen Con and Gen Con means one extra long weekend of games followed by an equally long period of recovery from the convention crud. This tends to put a person behind on everything else in their life. So some of August was focused on getting life back in order after a great gaming vacation.

In that time I also brought my Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Lost Mine of Phandelver campaigns to rest. Hoard closed with a TPK, the first I’ve seen in ages. Phandelver closed out with an incredibly efficient final encounter. The contrast was interesting to experience, and felt good – even with the TPK. The campaigns wrapped in clear terms and allowed me to focus on the Detroit Marches.

As I worked with the other two DM’s on the prep for the campaign it became clear that we needed to touch on a great number of things in order to be ready:

  • Our base setting and shared Marches had to be detailed at a high level that was specific enough to speak to the world we are creating, but simple enough not to be a 96 page splatbook of setting info.
  • We had to explain the entire West Marches concept to players who may be unfamiliar with it.
  • We needed to go through an entire character creation process, deciding what was available, what was not, and how to get things you can’t have at the start.
  • We agreed that a Code of Conduct would be a really good idea in a game where players might be gaming with new friends (strangers) on a regular basis.
  • …and soo much more.

The end result is the Detroit Marches Character Creation Guide. That link goes to a Google Doc that you can view, etc. but not edit. If you really want, you can read all 30+ pages of text covering our current iteration of the setting intro. It’s a work in progress, but enough to get us started. I’m hosting a Session Zero tomorrow, to get as many people familiar with the campaign and creating characters as possible. From there the games begin for me.

The other DM’s are finding their own path in, and other Session Zero events will happen as they kick off to wider audiences. It’s going to be a lot of fun, but is admittedly intimidating. New. Different. I look forward to trying to make this last for years. I really see that opportunity.

As for how this will impact a Hydra in the Marches… I’m going to go through the guide and delve deeper into the different sections. I’ll detail how we got to the info we shared, and how it’s been modified as it came into contact with real players who have valid ideas, concerns, and viewpoints on what defines fun for everyone involved.

It’s going to be an interesting ride. Candidly, I want a record I can look back on later. Just to see what I was thinking as things evolved, and hopefully to better detail lessons learned that can improve my games in the future.

In about 24 hours I’ll go from lunchtime blogger to one of the heads of the Hydra DM in the Detroit Marches. I’m excited and hope that the resulting blog posts are informative and insightful to you if you choose to read them. Thanks for your time!

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