West Marches

How it works

The West Marches is a style of sandbox roleplaying campaign invented by Ben Robbins. The basic idea is that the players are a group of adventurers who collectively explore a dangerous and mysterious world, gradually uncovering and piecing together the secrets of that world to ‘solve’ the larger story.


  • The setting is classic swords-and-sorcery fantasy.
  • There’s one GM and a number of players between about 5 and 10.
  • There is a big world map which everyone shares, and which starts off pretty empty because nobody has explored it yet.
  • Each game session represents a single journey into the wild, where the adventurers explore one specific destination, then return home with new knowledge and shiny treasure — if they return at all!
  • Each game session is a self-contained episode, like a one-shot. It is not a continuous narrative which runs from session to session.
  • But because all the episodes take place in the same world, they are tied together in a bigger story.
  • After each episode, players can annotate the map, share with each other what they discovered, and make plans about where to explore next.


  • There’s no regular group and no regular game night. All scheduling is organised ad-hoc by the players themselves.
  • Each episode features a different combination of players, depending on who’s free and who’s interested. If you want to explore a particular part of the map, it’s up to you to find a couple of other players who are also interested, then figure out a night when everyone (including the GM) can make it.
  • I guess we’ll make a WhatsApp group to organise ourselves.


We’ll use Dungeon World (well, specifically a lightweight hack of it by Jeremy Strandberg). No experience with the system is needed and no prep is necessary.

Each player chooses one playbook from the list below. Duplicates aren’t allowed, so that means a maximum of ten players. First come, first served!

By the way, the playbooks are designed to be printed and folded as an A5 booklet. So the first sheet is pages 4 and 1, and the second sheet is pages 2 and 3.