D&D Campaign: End of the Tale

 By Shamus Jan 11, 2007 27 comments

I want to say that I’m very happy to see the D&D campaign record completed. Recording the campaign was the original purpose of this blog. If you look at the URL you’ll see this site was originally called Twenty-Sided Tale. Before DM of the Rings, before the stuff on videogames, before all the stuff about geek culture, the intent of this site from the start was to record the events of the campaign as it unfolded.

Mar Tesaro
Click for full view. (342k) Here you can see the path they followed from the start of the campaign. Arrows are colored according to session number.

That campaign was begun in September of 2005, and ran for fifteen weekly sessions. (With the occasional week off for holidays and such.) The whole thing lasted about five months. So, the game ended about a year ago. I haven’t rolled the dice since, which is kind of sad.

I’ll probably do one more post where I detail the various alternate solutions to some of the puzzles and challenges the players faced, and talk about some of the stuff they missed. If you have any other questions, please drop them in the comments below and I’ll cover them in the wrap-up post.

Thanks again for reading.

20727 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.


  1. Deoxy says:

    I feel your pain – my group died (for various reasons) about 4 years ago now (has it REALLY been that long?? Yeah, I guess it has).

    Thanks for taking the time to share it all with us, and I look forward to a look “behind the curtain”.

  2. Robert says:

    I’m going to be rolling my first die tomorrow in over two years, but this time as a DM. It happens to be my try go at DMing so I’m going over everthing I have to night again and again and is it suppose to be nerve racking?

  3. SteveDJ says:

    Perhaps one question I have — did any of the players (er, characters) gain level(s) during or at the end of the campaign?

    Oh, and just one little tidbit of house-cleaning: Session 7, Part 2 is supposed to have a link to the Orb of Mordan page, but it doesn’t work.

  4. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    Yes we got XP. That is what we as players really loved getting. that and magical stuff. but that was extremely rare and it usually turned out to be evil magic stuff. Money was not so important to us, (especially Endo the Brawny) with Eomer in the group he had helped us e mass a rather large and unnatural amount of wealth. He was a good wheeler and dealer.

  5. Congrats on the campaign. I know nothing of D&D–I’m sure I don’t get half of the jokes in DM of the Rings–but well on you, sir. Well on you.

  6. Errol says:

    Thanks for posting this series, it has been interesting, especially with the comments from the GM PoV.
    The inter-related RPing groups I play with have a Scribe in each party, who records things from the players PoV (with varying degrees of enthusiasm and effectiveness). This relieves the GM of some record-keeping, provides an in-game resource, and often provides good info for later parties in the same area.
    The Scribe Notes used to be written (the meta-campaign started 20+ years ago), evolved to being generally on e-mail, and are now often done on a wiki (which tends to make them more accurate and complete).

  7. Sithson says:

    This by far has been the best read of any campaign I have ever read. Period. Shamus, it was a pleasure reading and getting into your story, plus all the different angles! That was the best part was the layers under layers approach of GMing that I have rarely seen.

    Id like Shamus to keep going, perhaps to lay out some GMing tips, like where he got his idea for this story, or how to get one and work in the sub plots, and what not that he did. I am always striving to get my games to the level that shamus has here, and need help in that department, however.

  8. Julia says:

    I shuddered a bit at Deoxy’s statement that his group died — the last campaign my husband was in ended after the death of one of the players. I hope Deoxy didn’t go through that particular grief.

  9. Lorgin the Harper says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for your dedication in putting this log together. I kept a log for the campaign I played in at university, and I had difficulty just typing up a sheet of A4 in the week when it was fresh in my mind – trying to post these at the same time as plotting the story, coming up with characters, traps and monsters… I’m not surprised you fell behind. And then to come back to it after such a big gap to finish it off. It’s quite an achievement!

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this, and I think you did a fine job – it all hangs together well – a lot better than many games I’ve played in (and several that I’ve GMed) And next time I run a game, I’m certainly going to use a few of your techniques.

    Can I ask how you produced your maps? Are they hand drawn, or do you use a mapping program like Campaign Cartographer? They’re much better than anything I’ve had in a home-brewed campaign.

    Thanks again, Shamus, and I’ll be visiting this site again a lot in the future. Please get your group back together – we all want another Twenty-Sided Tale.

    PS I only found this site yesterday – I got to read the whole story without having to wait ages between posts. You all hate me now, don’t you?

  10. Deoxy says:

    “the death of one of the players”

    No, thankfully, though one of them did spend 6 months with a tracheotomy (sp). That (and only having one functional lung now, and SEVERE asthma) put a bit of a damper on him playing…

    Mostly it was just different reasons for each person all hitting within a couple of months of each other.

    And yes, Lorgin, we DO all hate you now! :-p

  11. Fortinbras says:

    A nice and captivating campaign – I am impressed.

    However, one detail is unclear to me. Why did the agent that ordered them to take the orb from the tomb not take the orb from them? And why did he even warn them to flee? If he was on Morgan’s side, that would have made much more sense for him. Or am I missing something?

  12. Shamus says:

    Noreeno didn’t know to ask for the orb. This is sort of explained later. He didn’t know his master needed it.

    He let them go because he had to. Under Zone of Truth, he promised that they would be free to go. He wouldn’t have been able to make that promise if he didn’t seriously intend on keeping it.

  13. Alric says:

    Ca I ask how did you make your maps? Was it with a program or were they drawn and you scanned them? Thanks keeping this log it gave me many ways to improve my campaign and make it funner for the players.

  14. Shamus says:

    The maps were hand drawn, and then scanned. Icons and labels were added in Paint Shop Pro.

  15. Micah says:

    If you’re looking for a good way to post campaign notes or keep a campaign blog, check out my website: http://www.obsidianportal.com

    We provide a free shared space for campaigns that includes a blog, wiki, and some tools specifically for tabletop RPGs, like an NPC tracker.

    I’m using it to run my current D&D game, as well as a Champions game that another member of the group is running.

    Kensing D&D campaign:
    http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/kensing

    Arkanopolis Champions campaign:
    http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/arkanopolis

  16. Stormbow says:

    I think it’s awesome, all the work you did on this ‘Tale’. I wish I had the group to do the same!

  17. Yes, I think this is very well written out. I hope my http://www.realmweaver.com ends up as nice as this project.

  18. Raleigh says:

    Wow. Only just discovered your site. You’ve done a fantastic job here. Thanks for sharing it. Its been a few years since I rolled a die and it is nice to get my “gaming geek” on again while reading this.
    :)

    Any chance for another campaign write-up? :)

  19. Paul says:

    Reading this campaign (and to a lesser extent the webcomic) has made the ol’ d&d itch come back. It’s been over half a lifetime ago but the memories and parallels drawn from the campaign and webcomic have made me smile more than I thought I would.

    Any plans on making a 2nd campaign available to read online? Despite all the work that it involves?

    Think I’ll see if I can find any local d&d groups nearby when I return home. Would be nice to play again :) Think I may even take a page out of your book Shamus and upload a campaign to a blog!

  20. Tosscobble says:

    10,000 cheers to ya Shamus Young (!!!) for telling such a fine tale…. I tip my hat to you AND your players!

    OMG… another 20!! XD

    BTW, my group and I still get together every (almost) Saturday…. High roll gets it!

  21. Thaddeus says:

    Thanks Shamus. That was a great read. Stayed up until 2 AM to get through it all in one sitting. I couldn’t stop. You created a fantastic campaign. I’m very impressed with all of your detailing. You did a fantastic job as a DM.

    A buddy and I are splitting DM responsiblities and boy are the guys gonna get some surprises. I can’t decide if I should let the PC’s see this or not as I want to steals on many ideas. Although I’d hate to deprive them of the pleasure. My buddy DM will definitely be getting this though!!!

    Have you done any more gaming since? I’d be surprised of your PC’s hadn’t cajoled you into creating another world to explore. :-)

  22. Ghandi says:

    Shamus,

    Great stuff!

    Thanks.

  23. Grunthor says:

    Loved the series, funny as hell even if some parts I didn’t fully understand.

    Also I’m curious, are there DnD games on the internet? Not mmo stuff but like simulated DnD tabletop games. If not how do I find DnD groups in my area.

  24. Maldeus says:

    Shamus, I seem to recall there was a post somewhere in the archives about other D&D campaigns posted on the internet, and that they usually stopped after just one update and thus you weren’t keen on linking to them. I can’t seem to locate this post now, but I’m wondering if you’re still interested in linking to such kinds of blog, or if your new-found internet fame with the Escapist means you have left such petty bloggers well behind?

    • Shamus says:

      Maldeus: I certainly don’t make a policy of NOT linking them. Er…

      I’m not playing these days, so I’m not reading about tabletop games as much, so I end up not linking that stuff. The only one I’m following these days is Rutskarn’s (I don’t know if you’d classify him as “petty” or not, I don’t know how to calibrate that scale) but if you’ve got a good one then by all means send the link.

  25. Harvey says:

    I first found DM of the Rings in ’09. I went back and reread it all last month and I still got lots or out-loud laughs from it.

    I decided to explore the rest of your site and on just the second icon at the top of your page, I stumble into this campaign. I have spent every free moment tearing through this story.

    You said it was hard to do, so thank you for your effort. It was a great read.

    Now I’m off to the next part of your site! I can’t wait!

  26. Ian says:

    Thank you for sharing all this. I know nothing about D&D at all, but I still found this very entertaining. Thank you to all involved.

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