#Marches23 Week 2 – Smolder Scrub

Across the Bay of Lost Souls from my week 1 region of The Bastweald is an area called Smolder Scrub. This 26mile x 18mile region was blasted by a large eruption from the nearby volcano, Grandpa Snurre, around 20 years ago. Thick ash fell across the region, killing nearly all the trees and plant life. The ground remains overly soft and difficult to travel upon, but plant life has returned. Dense scrub of variegated colors has sprouted up everywhere and proper trails are all but lost. Between volcanic smoke, moisture from the bay, and dirt kicked up by passing creatures, a persistent gray haze plagues the Smolder Scrub, lightly obscuring the terrain and reducing visibility to just 1 mile.

It’s a rough land but hides multiple secrets. An old military outpost was lost after being buried by the explosion and was said to be a storehouse for multiple magical armaments. Also a young halfling has a dark secret in the village of the Scrubfellows.

Last Chance to Register for TTRPG Faith Retreat!

It is less than one month away from the start of the Holy Rollers Retreat, and there are only TWO SPOTS LEFT before we hit our absolute maximum capacity! Single or double room available. Today is your last chance to register with our deep New Year’s discount – 23% off for 2023!

Sign up by midnight tonight (January 6th) and use the code HAPPY2023 for a 23% discount.

The 2023 Holy Rollers Retreat will be held Jan 31 – Feb 3rd at the ARC Retreat Community, about an hour north of the Twin Cities. In a homelike atmosphere, ARC offers 90 acres of pristine wetlands and woodlands within a majestic white pine forest. Trails are available for walking, skiing, and snowshoeing, as is a labyrinth for walking meditation.

This retreat will provide attendees with a wonderful mix of gaming, learning, and rest.


Each day will afford hours of Dungeons & Dragons play, with daily game sessions run by four seasoned DMs. The whole experience will be that of a collective West Marches campaign, and will lean heavily into exploration, discovery, and emergent storytelling.


Within each day, opportunities will be offered to explore the history of the ups and the downs between the gaming community and the church, as well as exploring emergent ways that people of faith are forming themselves for the work of God today. A highlight will be a screening of the GenCon-award-winning documentary The Satanic Panic and the Religious Battle for the Imagination and follow up conversation with the featured Pastor Derek White, aka The Geek Preacher.


The ARC Retreat Community offers a quiet place to slow down the pace of life, restore balance, and grow on your spiritual journey. Enjoy healthy and delicious meals prepared and served from the ARC kitchen. Cozy up by the fireplace or strap on snowshoes and explore the 90 acres of pristine wetlands and woodlands within a majestic white pine forest, located in Stanchfield, MN, about an hour north of the MSP Airport.

Space is limited and only 2 spots remain (single or double room)! Register by midnight today – January 6th!

Sign up by January 6th and use the code HAPPY2023 for a deep 23% discount.

An Updated Time Tracker

For years I’ve been using a simple, yet key, tool in my GM campaign binder, a time tracker developed by olddungeonmaster.com:

DM Tool for Tracking Time Download your free copy here. I have tried several different ways to keep track of time in a dungeon. Years ago I even wrote a “Time Tender” software program. I was thinking of getting a toy clock, or a broken clock that I could turn the hands on. Thinking of […]D&D 5E – TIME TRACKING TOOL

It’s well designed and simple enough to do what I need without getting in the way. It’s quick and efficient and I love being able to shade in the little boxes. There’s tons of space for adding notes about anything else I deem to be relevant.

Keeping track of time improved my game in all sorts of ways, but as I’ve gotten more into West Marches style play I’ve found myself wanting a few small updates to this tracking tool.

First, I wanted an easier way to visually mark the 4hr divisions of the day’s watches, a sort of exploration turn used for overland travel, foraging, hunting, surveying, and other non-combat adventuring tasks. I changed the numeration around the outside of the tracker to better call out these 4hr chunks of time.

Second, I wanted a reminder to track the weather. Weather in ttrpgs is often either forgotten about entirely or used primarily as a plot device. In exploration heavy play the weather can become a key challenge for the party to overcome. Many GMs will randomly generate the weather either in the moment or ahead of time, and this puts that note on the weather in an easy to reference spot – right in the middle.

I enjoy using it so much I wanted to share this tool with others. Download the PDF and never not know what time it is again!

#Marches23 – A West Marches #Dungeon23 Challenge

In 2023 I’m diving into the #dungeon23 design challenge, a challenge to do just a bit of game design each day of the year and have a huge body of work at the end of the year. Since I’m exploring West Marches-style design lately, I’m going to take this challenge in a West Marches direction and I’m calling it #marches23.

Each week of the year I’ll focus on designing 1 region. Regions are complex areas with a lot of design bits, kind of like a group of thematically connected rooms in a dungeon. Each day I’ll work on designing a small part of the region I’m working on. I’ll start a new region every Sunday and will post the finished region here on my blog each Saturday. Daily updates will be posted on Mastodon (https://dice.camp/@TheDMPastor)

Design Days (in no particular order)

  1. Basic map, environment
  2. Entrance, defining features, landmarks, and/or modifier – first thing(s) you notice on entering
  3. Hazard or dungeon
  4. Primary inhabitants
  5. Legendary “boss” monster and their lair
  6. Secret loot or lore
  7. Random encounter chart

The Marches of Rodinia

Here’s the overall map that I will be filling in with 52 regions over the course of 2023.

We’ll set out from the town of Bastion to see what we can see.