The Vicious Isles
Playing the Campaign
The Vicious Isles is a West March campaign, a way of running a game that was detailed by Ben Robbins on his blog:
- There was no regular time: every session was scheduled by the players on the fly.
- There was no regular party: each game had different players drawn from a pool of around 10-14 people.
- 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.
This campaign is in the hands of the players, you decide what's going to happen. You will come across easy and impossible opponents. Explore islands filled with magic, treasure, and evil. You choose what to fight, avoid, or run away from.
I highly recommend reading all four of Ben's "West Marches" posts (the rest are linked at the bottom of the first one). You can also watch Matthew Colville's video on West Marches. Either of these will prepare you for what is going to happen in the campaign.
How to Find Adventure
Every player gets a rumor to start out with that's at least useful and most often adventurous. Due to the number of players starting at first level as we begin, not everyone has a first level adventure. If that was the case, everyone would out-level the bulk of the rumors in the first few adventures. I tried to hint at the difficulty by mentioning monsters but in a pinch, you can estimate the difficulty by the distance from Redmark. NOTE: this is not a 100% rule! A few harder encounters have been inserted into all areas. This is meant as a challenge or as a place to return to later for greater rewards. In all of these cases, the difficulty will be heavily foreshadowed, indicated by how difficult it is to reach, indicated by the type of monster(s) visible, or outright told to you.
Once everyone starts exploring the map they'll find things that aren't on the treasure map or part of anyone's rumors. I will try to drop hints at how difficult something is as sometimes higher difficulty situations will be sprinkled in with lower difficulty areas. If it's a challenge, it'll be harder to get to and/or well known as a dangerous place.
Once you're cleared a camp of Kobolds or delved a dungeon you're not guaranteed safety at that location. The Isles is nature at its strongest and doesn't just abhor a vacuum, it'll fill one with monsters.
Don't be afraid to take risks, that's half of the fun. If you're about to take on something that significantly outclasses you, I'll tell you. I won't stop you, but dying instantly at the hands of a monster significantly tougher than you isn't fun so it isn't something I'll let you do without warning.
In short, to find adventure:
- Head towards a landmark.
- The harder/longer it takes to get somewhere the more difficult it'll probably be.
- Revisiting old sites may find new challenges.
- If you're unsure, just ask.