Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Silver Marches Sandbox 1 - An Introduction

Silver Marches (aka Luruar) by Mike Schley
I still live in the (vain?) hope that I will be able to run a campaign here in this part of the Philippines, largely because I think a culture that has so enthusiastically embraced the WoW clone DotA (Dawn of the Ancients? - I don't even know what it is really called) and where so many people just lie around all day doing nothing should be ripe for cultivating a crop of pen-and-paper RPGers. Of course, breaking through the fundamental cultural passivity remains the greatest challenge to getting a game going but the hope is still there.

When I look at Mike Schley's wonderful map of the Silver Marches shown above, I see a giant sandbox. Normally when I start looking at maps or art (and Mike Schley's maps are a form of art, IMO) in a D&D context, I normally start trying to puzzle out a plot and/or metaplot that will allow me to structure a campaign or mini-campaign. However, this map seems to inspire a sandbox rather than a campaign and I think that actually work better as an introduction to pen-and-paper based RPGs.

(I've typed RPGs twice so far rather than D&D simply because I am undecided whether to go with D&D4E or 13th Age, the latter because it is, in many ways, so much simpler than D&D4E.)

Silverymoon seems an ideal place to start a sandbox game in this region. There's a fair bit of material for it (principally 3E's Silver Marches - one of my favourite FR products of all time) including a decent city map and it's a place of civilisation and safety in an otherwise rather dangerous part of the Realms. And all the following locations are within 100 miles: Everlund, The Evermoors, The Glimmerwood (fka/aka The Moonwood), Hawk's Nest, Herald's Holdfast, High Hold, Hilltop, Khelb, Lady's Hand Monastery, Ladypeak, Lhuvenhead, Methegrist, The Mouth of Song, Nether Mountains, Olostin's Hold, One Stone, Quaervarr, Rauvinwatch Keep, River Rauvin, The Silver Wood, Silverymoon Pass, Startop, Striding Giant Rapids, Tombs of Deckon Thar, Turlang's Wood, and Winter Edge. (Each location is linked to its entry in the Forgotten Realms Wikia, except for the three locations not found there.)

All of these locations are eminently game-able: even a DM as crappy as I am would have no trouble coming up with three hooks for each location. Aside from the location-specific hooks, adventure is easy to find because this whole area constantly threatened by bandits on any and all of the trade routes, drow from Menzoberranzan, giants from The Lands Against the Wall or any of other mountainous areas, goblins (including hobgoblins and bugbears) from the Nether Mountains and Rauvin Mountains, orcs from everywhere (but particularly the Spine of the World... and renegades from Dark Arrow Keep), trolls from The Evermoors, undead from The Tombs of Deckon Thar, Uthgardt from Black Raven Camp and the One Stone and Stone Stand ancestor mounds, werewolves from The Glimmerwood, and even Zhentarim from Newfort. And who knows what might crawl up from out of the buried ruins of Hellgate Keep or from The Dungeon of the Ruins and then there are other places of mystery like The Castle of Illusion, Citadel of the Mists, The Lonely Tower, The Nameless Dungeon, Telkoun's Tower and Tulrun's Tent. Besides these named locations, this entire region is the graveyard of several elven and dwarven empires which provides a fairly logical explanation for any dungeon or ruin that a DM might want to include.

Of course, all of this is a long way of saying that this is a great place to run a sandbox campaign starting in Silverymoon, looking at locations on the map, and then simply setting off to explore.


  1. I agree completely. Did you ever start your campaign...I wonder?

    1. I ran a long-term campaign in the Silver Marches from level 1-20 in 3.5E but I haven't run this one - yet. As you may have gathered by absence from posting on this blog for many years, D&D has passed me by of late. Who knows? When I return to the country of my family after this COVID mess I suspect I will be starting again - and that may inspire some posting as well.