There’s stuff I’m doing in-game for Southern Reaches that does not appear in the adventure logs. Some of it is does not appear as it is “sekret stufs” and not all the players know it (yet). Some is because I’m not certain how to present it. This post covers that latter category.
For example: the adventurers have been approached by a representative of the Baron, asking what their intentions are for Drop-off Tower. This conversation was partially in-character, but mostly out-of-character after one of the game sessions. The adventurers are becoming “people of note” in the Keep. They regularly go out into the wilderness and usually come back with loot of one sort or another. They have cleared a path through the Edgewood Forest to places unknown. They have several times headed out on that path with reinforced doors and once a masterwork ballista. They were clearly fortifying a location without hiding that fact, so eventually the Baron was bound to find out. Clearly he would send a minion of some sort to find out what the adventurers were up to.
What I didn’t know was how the players (not the characters) would react to the local authority enforcing his rights of dominion. I didn’t want it to be a big deal, as the point of a West Marches campaign is that adventure happens “out there”, never at town. So we kind of talked through it a bit after a game session. I made the point that, while this is a wilderness, there are some strictures about what happens if the PCs start challenging the local authority. I also got across that recognizing the authority that the Baron would not be a big deal in game. However, since it only quasi-happened in-game, I did not mention it in the adventure log for that session.
The players and I also discussed what it would take to make Drop-off Tower a place where the adventurers could end a session safely. This mostly required upgrading the tower so that staying there was not the functional equivalent to camping. This led to the hiring of contractors to do repairs and upgrades to the tower (as related in my last post). In addition to the upgrades to the tower, the PCs also received a document of title to the tower from the Baron. This basically says that the PCs have ownership of the tower but also recognize the Baron as their local sovereign. Again, something handled mostly off-stage, so I did not chronicle it in the adventure log.
Granting of the title is important for things happening behind the scenes and waaaay off stage. The players have expressed an interest in finding/contacting other settlements, mostly to find a way around the 40% mark-up the Baron places on all goods and services in the Iron Keep (it is a company town after all). In the coming months, a new colony will be established on the coast, introducing a potential new rest area and people for the PCs to interact with, allowing use of their barely touched diplomacy skills, plus making it easier to explore areas off the current map. The Baron knows this is coming and needs vassals on paper to maintain control over as much territory as he can get his hands on. This is what he gets for granting the adventurers title to the tower. The Woodcutter’s Camp and the adventurers of Drop-off Tower will allow the Baron to claim control over the entire Edgewood (or so he hopes) in addition to his solid claim to the Iron Hills. The Baron may also be able to claim control over Three Peaks Hills, but that might be a stretch. With another settlement in the known lands, one he does not have immediate control over, the Baron needs to start putting down stakes, even if it means granting a little more autonomy than he'd like.
Now none of this should directly involve the PCs. This should be more like emptied adventure locales being restocked as new creatures show up and take residence. Things will change in the background and may change some party behaviors (like where they go to sell loot or buy supplies), but there should be no adventure tied to these changes, otherwise the campaign type has changed to a more standard one and I (and the players) don't want that for this campaign.
That’s it for now – later!