Getting to record a live game for The Rolistes Podcast was a delight. It was so fun to enter a proper professional setup with microphones for each of us and be sat around a quiet table with friends. We were gathering to highlight the London RPG Community and all the amazing work that everyone organising it does on a daily basis to make it a vibrant, welcoming and fun space to be a part of. However, for me it was special because we were also showcasing The Kantas Expanse, the shared campaign I have been running games in for about two years now along with a host of other incredibly talented DMs.
By a ‘shared campaign’, I mean that the world is shared amongst a number of DMs and a wide player base – the intention to be to create an evolving campaign world where each week the groups gathering around the table may be different, as new and old players interact with different DMs every session. This allows players to drop in and out as their schedules demand and is perfect for our needs – a busy London club where fixed campaigns are difficult to commit to. We run a half-dozen games a week with anywhere from 20-40 players a week!
Almost every session is a one-shot therefore, so action is fast and something dramatic always happens. However, there is usually an overarching storyline or metaplot building in the background so that every 6 months we have a Season Finale. This has seen huge games from defending the home city from an orcish invasion to a giant mech fight in the Feywild. We are currently drawing to the end of Season 5!
The Setting – A Land of Opportunity
The starting premise for the setting, drawing on this campaign format’s origins in the ‘West Marches’ format most famously created by Ben Robbins, is that this is a land in need of exploration. So, to allow for new players to have a grounding for who their characters are by having them be from Faerûn, it only made sense for this to be a recently discovered continent on the world of Toril. That is the land of Kantas – a continent full of civilisations and ruins and dungeons and (of course) dragons – but previously completely unknown to the people of Faerûn.
Our adventures start in one of two towns – Daring Heights, the original entry point (via portal) to Kantas from Faerûn, a bustling town full of merchants and artisans, and Port Ffirst, a more recent settlement developing due to the discovery of the sea route from Faerûn to Kantas.
This game started in The Three Headed Ettin – a Fairy Tail -esque tavern designed specifically to cater for adventurers and to provide them with steady work helping the burgeoning town of Daring Heights to thrive. It was built – both narratively and in the lore – as a place that the players could call home. Though other taverns and towns have sprung up, especially in Port Ffirst, this is the starting point for most games.
From this starting point, the world is vast – huge forests have housed entire seasons of adventure, the mountains to the west are home to the Galavir we see in this episode as well as much more, and adventurers have encountered kobold metropolises, minotaur republics and lost dwarven citadels.
A World Built by Players
One of the best parts of running games in this setting for so long has been seeing how deeply engaged players have gotten with this world. Our WorldAnvil wiki is already large and is expanding constantly as we try to maintain a library of lore for people to digest and to help keep them oriented with the busy, complex world.
Players share the stories of their adventures with each other via Writeups, posted on our forum in exchange for Inspiration – done in every format from bragging at the tavern, letters home, poems, or just more narrative posts. It’s an incredible creative outpouring and it’s a joy to see it every week so everyone has a sense of what happened at all the other tables (as we run 4-5 games per week!).
Having a town to call home for a long time allows for plenty of Downtime activities, and while it was only recently concretized with the formal rule system that D&D provides, what player do between sessions has always been just as interesting as what they do in session.
Everything from casinos to temples to libraries to gardens have been developed and added to the world by players, and all of it serves to make the world richer (and provide opportunities for more stories!). So much of the world has been shaped by players now, a tour around Daring Heights and Port Ffirst will see just as much player-created content as DM-created, and I love it.
The Best Game Literally Ever of D&D?
Probably not. But helping develop this world and writing stories for it for several years now, it has really taken on a life of its own – a world full of adventures, but more importantly stories and characters. We have seen a warlock lose themselves down the ruthless path to power, escapees from other planes coming here to escape but dragging their problems inevitably behind them, people becoming leaders when they never expected to step forward at all.
Well, you’re listening to this series, so you’re already hearing it – when you can spend half an hour just chatting in the bar before the quest, you have a game people care about, and I couldn’t be prouder of Kantas, of the DMs or of the players.
The Kantas Expanse will return to The Rolistes Podcast in December 2019 with “On the Shores of Kantas with London RPG Community – Part Two”.