City in the Shield - A West Marches Pitch

Found this abandoned plan for a West Marches-style game that I never got off the ground. I think that the pitch has some merit, especially now in this age of quarantine.

The Pitch

Deep in the heart of Victory Downs lies the steadfast city of Hope. For a thousand years, the Shield has kept Hope isolated from the rest of the world. Through plagues, disasters, the rise and fall of nations, the births of new Gods and the courses of magics, Hope stayed safe and secure beneath the Shield.

This year, though, the Shield comes down.

For better or worse, the magical engines that kept the Shield running have finally failed, and Hope is going to change. For the first time, adventurers of all sorts are free to seek fame and fortune across the lands of Victory Downs and beyond. Treasure, magic, glory, and adventure have always been out of reach - until today.

You will play these brave adventurers, a new generation of a career lost to memory, exploring a land that nobody has seen for eons. What treasures await? What incredible sights might you find? What dangers might guard those treasures? There’s only one way to find out.

Victory Downs is a game of exploration and adventure. It’s about venturing into the unknown to test your mettle. It’s about forging a path that nobody you’ve ever met has ever tried before. It’s about finding and fighting mysterious monsters, uncovering ancient secrets, and bragging about it in the local tavern.

What I Like

  • The motivation to find stuff is baked in to the setting. There are a myriad of reasons that someone might want to become an adventurer when the only other option is living in a city that literally everyone has been trapped in since forever.
  • Layers and layers of ruins that aren’t just ignored, but are literally untouched can be everywhere, and need no further justification. Adventuring isn’t just one good way to find out about the world, it’s the only way.
  • Truly alien cultures can exist just a few miles away, and you get to break the ice with them. How do they feel about the Shield coming down? What kinds of myths and legends have they built up about this isolated city-in-a-bubble, and how will you meet or break their expectations?
  • Trouble can immediately befall the city of Hope, from any number of directions. Maybe a war was going on around the city, and now there is a fresh battleground. Or a source of new recruits. Maybe there has been an apocalypse, and now raiders are looking at a source of new resources that will give them a massive edge. Maybe a mining company of Hope citizens is desperate for new materials, angering the local residents of the mountain they are now pillaging.
  • Hope doesn’t have to be a frontier town on the edge of the wilderness. It has been self-sufficient for generations. There are a ton of political games going on already. Will the town fall to infighting? Will some portions of the town seek alliances outside of Hope, for the very first time? Or will the town band together in the face of new threats, and rally behind some brave heroes willing to lead the charge?

I don’t know if I’ll ever play a setting like this, but I think that it could be a lot of wild fun.


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