I recently read a series of really fascinating articles from Ars Ludi called Grand Experiments: West Marches (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4). With all the excitement surrounding the release of 4th edition, I’ve been reading alot of DMing articles and such to find inspiraition and to hone my skill set as a DM. The article I mentioned talks about a different sort of campaign we’re used to. Instead of a set plot line with a defined villain and goals, it’s very much a sandbox-style of campaign.
I find this to be really fascinating as it’s almost like exploring a more living, breathing world. Sometimes, from where I’m sitting at least, things can seem to be a bit linear. I sometimes feel that you guys are almost fearful of straying from the main plot just in case you might derail it indefinitely. I agree with that sentiment to some degree. With campaigns like the Shackled City (Cauldron), it had a very defined path and pacing to it that were fragile when faced with the possibility of players straying from the path. Furthermore, and honestly, unless I’ve made everything up on the fly, my ability to improvise is not always on call.
I want to fix that. I want to have a campaign like the West Marches. Start small with a town that has some ruins nearby and let the group decide their own fate. The idea, of course, being that stories and characterization are emergent. The characters would grow and change with the setting and NPCs would become alot more familiar.
At this point, it’s all just an idea. There’s not alot of play going on right now so I’m not certain it’s wise to start another campaign, and I’d really like to focus on the ones I’ve already got at this point, but I just thought I’d mention the idea and the articles as I’ve been thinking about it all a fair bit just lately.