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West Marches: Finding the Dungeons

There was a question in the comments about whether a West Marches GM should tell the players where the dungeons are or make them go out and search. Players having the free will to make decisions–and get themselves into trouble doing “a little light exploring”–is at the very heart of the West Marches charter. But […]

Ben Robbins | April 24th, 2024 | , | 2 comments

2021: A Year of Legacy

Despite the pandemic — or more likely because of it — I played more role-playing games in 2021 than any other year since I started logging my games back in high school. It’s a fact. Playing online via video chat used to seem like a pale imitation of face-to-face gaming, but for logistics it can’t […]

Ben Robbins | January 16th, 2022 | , , , , , ,

West Marches: A Survivor’s Story

Lo and behold, after twenty years one of the original West Marches players popped back up and shared some memories in the comments, and frankly they are too good not to give a post of their own. Tommy, aka Lucky, aka Briarweed, sez: I stumbled onto some discussions of “West Marches” DM style, and followed […]

Ben Robbins | September 1st, 2021 | | 4 comments

West Marches: Layers of History

“Run the simulation in your head: who moved here, what did they build, what happened to them, and then what came next?” Logic is the cornerstone of a sandbox. If things make sense — if there’s an internal consistency to what’s there and where things are — then players can make good decisions. Paying attention […]

Ben Robbins | June 29th, 2018 | | 8 comments

“You know why I got the funny voices? Years of GMing”

Back with the fine folks at HyperRPG, talking about Microscope. And a bit about Follow. And West Marches. And Braunstein. And Pokemon Go. We cover some territory, we do. The bad news is, I have no idea why there is jazz playing the whole time. We couldn’t hear it in the studio. Yeah, it’s kind […]

Ben Robbins | July 25th, 2016 | , , ,

West Marches: Secrets & Answers (part 1)

Writing about world-building in the expansion to Microscope got me thinking about West Marches again (more on that in part 2), so I’m taking a break from my kickstarter to answer some questions that have piled up. Some of these ideas I’ve mentioned before but never elaborated on. Other bits are things I’ve never talked […]

Ben Robbins | July 27th, 2015 | | 34 comments

Dear West Marches

I came to Wizard’s Creek, but there was no wizard I went to Pike Hollow, but I didn’t see any pikes I looked in the Golden Hills, but I didn’t find any gold So why the hell did you expect me to know there was a centaur in Centaur Grove? –pre-emptive euology of Revor, barbarian […]

Ben Robbins | July 23rd, 2015 | | 1 comment

Fleeing From Goblins, West Marches-style

In Ben’s original West Marches campaign, he arranged the adventure-filled regions of his wilderness in order of challenge, more or less. The further you were from town, the more likely you were to be in an extremely dangerous place… Ben tells an anecdote about his players fleeing from goblins for days, ultimately having to run […]

Ben Robbins | October 20th, 2014 | ,

West Marches at Emerald City Comic Con

Emerald City Comic Con has added a gaming track. I wanted to do this for PAX last year but it didn’t come together. Now the stars have aligned. Sandbox RPGs: Running A “West Marches” Style Campaign Sandbox RPGs put the players in the driver’s seat. Go where you want. Do what you want. Learn dark […]

Ben Robbins | March 19th, 2012 | , , , | 9 comments

“You’d know because your flesh would start to melt from your bones!”

Seriously, that’s how they explained D&D to me. Listen to the interview, it’ll make sense. Ben Robbins Interview with Bad Wrong Fun This interview brought to you courtesy of Alex Guzman, mastermind of Bad Wrong Fun. They’re running an insane campaign combining Microscope and West Marches. I warned them there were Things Man Was Not […]

Ben Robbins | February 16th, 2012 | , , ,

Mighty Morphin’ Microscope

Oh sure, you could use Microscope to make an epic history, defying chronological order and jumping back and forth to explore the moments in the history that interest you. Or you could hold up your glossy black book and yell “too easy!” and use it to do something else entirely… City Building with Microscope — […]

Ben Robbins | December 14th, 2011 | , | 3 comments

GMless Role-playing Games (PAX 2011, part 6)

The big finale! You thought we’d never make it. We’re continuing from part 5, but if you’re just arriving (because you’re seeing the last post first) you probably want to jump straight to part 1 and start there. Indie 306 So… we’re just about done, unless people have questions? One thing I want to point […]

Ben Robbins | September 27th, 2011 | , , , | 2 comments

Crisscrossing Players and Plots and Not Losing Your Mind

After West Marches I ran a long-term superhero game, New Century City. Unlike West Marches it followed the more traditional “the GM creates a situation and the players have fun with it” model, which was fitting because superhero games are one of the most reactive genres you can play: villains hatch schemes, heroes react to […]

Ben Robbins | March 22nd, 2010 | , , | 19 comments

Anthology of Game Blogs

I got my copy of Open Game Table, The Anthology of Roleplaying Game Blogs. Is there some ars ludi in there, you ask? On yeah. The Braunstein: Roots of Roleplaying article is reprinted, along with all five West Marches articles and Making the Party: Wedge Issues. My only regret is that because of concerns over […]

Ben Robbins | April 29th, 2009 | ,