D&D Campaign

By Shamus Posted Thursday Sep 1, 2005

Filed under: D&D Campaign 22 comments

This is a running narrative of our Dungeons & Dragons campaign. This is a custom campaign written by me, using the 3.5 edition rules. Our group meets at my house Sunday evenings and usually plays for about 5 hours. I run the session while my wife transcribes events as they unfold. After the session I go over our notes (both her live notes and my pre-game notes) and turn them into the story you read here.

This means that what you read is a collaboration between myself and six other people. I design the plot and enforce the rules, but the five players decide how the heroes deal with (or avoid) the challenges they encounter. Finally, the chaos is turned into what is hopefully an interesting narrative.

This is our third campaign together. The other two campaigns are not on-line, although if there is some demand I may post them. All of the characters are currently level 5 at the start of this campaign. The current active players are Skeeve the Wizard, Eomer the Rogue, Thordek the Fighter, Thu’fir the Blade Lord, and Enoch the Cleric.

In most entries, the main text is the “story” that Heather recorded, and boxed off text like this is notes from me about out-of-game info. For example, if Bob the Barbarian stays at the Inn while everyone else explores the tomb, I might drop in a comment to explain that the guy who plays Bob was sick that week. I might also use this space to explain moments when we diverge from the rules in some big way, or to fill in some backstory.

The campaigns I run are usually a bit more low-key and realistic than your average D&D story. So, likely as not you’ll see Orcs, Goblins, and Zombies, but I doubt we’ll have stuff like gelatenous cubes, mimics, or dimensional grabbers. Towns are filled with commoners, not extraplaner travelers. You won’t see any talking swords in my world, and dragons are very, very rare. True magic users are about as rare as celebreties or pro atheletes in our world. Commoners are aware of magic and deal with it from time to time, but they don’t see it every day. This is just a style thing. I find the world easier to visualize if it looks a bit more like our world. I have a hard time imagining how warfare and commerce would work if a good portion of the populace could teleport or fly around on pet hippographs. This rule change is the sort of thing I’m talking about.

I’m writing this campaign because I’d like to see other people doing this sort of thing. Perhaps it will catch on? I’d love to read the campaigns other people come up with. If you blog a campaign like this, please email me and let me know. I’d love to read what you have, and I’d be glad to add you to the links.


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22 thoughts on “D&D Campaign

  1. Jeff says:

    We run a pretty detailed historical world ourselves. Sounds very similiar to how you run yours, if not just abit more magic involved.

    We’re based on Faerun, Keep a calendar year (we are someplace are two years ahead of current Wizards publications) which also marks when and how long adventures/campaigns the characters are on takes place.

    The group has been running since 1988 (boasting abit, yes) and has usually kept a player count of 9 to 10 at the table (including DM). We take turns at the DM helm, which has good points (no one really suffers burn out) and bad points (Player/DM secrets are hard to keep)

    Additionally, we publish a monthly newsletter which all the players take turns writing. (Wow, your wife does the majority of the note taking? Does she play in the games?) It includes pictures of NPCs/Monsters (When available) and maps, etc etc etc. Right now, it’s done in MS publisher and printed, but recently we’ve been discussing moving to website and going digital format. I’ve got about the last 12 years (Real life) adventures recorded for posterity.



  2. Curufin of the bow says:

    We use the material component rule to keep powerful magic in check. Players will hesitate to throw a spell if it costs 1000 gp each time it is cast. It works well…at least in my experience.

    1. Andy says:

      Cleric spells tend not to have a material component IIRC, but incurring one’s God’s disfavour by repeatedly asking him/er/it fo food that you could be buying or finding or farming should stop abuse of such spells.

  3. Chris says:

    I’m getting ready to run my first major campaign with my group. We’ve switched DM’ing around the 5 of us for the past several years and it’s been fun. The only thing is – we haven’t done anything major. Our most involved campaign got us to level 14 and the DM allowed so much to happen that my elven monk become half celestial. I’m sure anyone can see how hard it gets to control a group of 3 level 14’s you have a half celestial/elven monk, and half dragon/orc fighter, and a shade/human rouge/shadow dancer.

    This will be our first attempt at a REAL long lived campaign and I want to do it right. Anything ideas that anyone can think of to help me would be greatly appricieated. Before I stumbled on this site I had already decided to make magic users use materials for the spells so I think I’ll have alot of questing to gather them.

    I already have a website designed for our campaigns and once we get a few sessions going I plan on posting it to the web. I’ll be sure to give you that link.

  4. Greg B says:

    I think I’m going to follow your example, Shamus, and archive my campaign online.

    It’s a 2nd Edition deal sans the typical magic system and many of the Tolkienian elements. Instead of arcane magic, I’ve extrapolated on rune magic (which was described in TSR’s Viking Sourcebook). This means that magic is less flexible. Mages aren’t casting spells willy-nilly, but inscribing runes (and rune-scripts) to invest various types of objects with various properties. It’s more of a hands-on kind of thing. A mage has knowledge of a limited number of runes, and depending on how he combines these into scripts, he can accomplish different things. Overall, this is a pretty low-magic affair. There’s no equivalents to Magic Missiles or Fireballs and such. Also, rune lore is by no means common, and wizards are scarce. Dealing with real-world problems without the aid of some uber-convenient magic spell or item tends to open up a lot of creative possibilities.

  5. Greg B says:


    It’s still an infant but the omens are good.

  6. jlmdragon says:

    i’ve run 3 campaine so far since i really got into the RPG games which was a t the begging of the last educational year, cos i join the RPG society and uni, the first one had dragons, and i mean lots of them, the campaign took place in 2 nabouring countrys, one is ruled by the metalic dragons, the other is ruled by the chromatic dragons, the main dungion is huge with a unlimited number of levels, it was origanly used as a place where heros would be challenged to make it through to win prizes, its like a dungion survial thing, now it is used as a vault, being right on the border half of it belongs to one country and the other half belongs to the other, with adventurers being hired to sneak in and steal from it for one of the countries.

  7. Kiri Xaperion says:

    I’m in two campaigns:

    1. my brother and his wife’s Bruxy campaign, where my character is a pseudodragon sorcerer; and

    2. my friend Jeremy’s campaign, where I have a gnome cleric, a gnome druid, and a human monk.

    Jeremy Weitzhandler’s campaign is called Shadowscythe.

  8. Ryan says:

    I’m new to D&D (first started playing when 3.5 was first released) and my friends who all convinced me to try D&D in the first place (and are much more experienced in D&D) talked me into being a DM my own campaign (They think I’d be a good DM, go figure). Not sure why they would want the most inexperienced player to host a campaign, but I decided to give it a shot.

    I run an Oriental Adventures campaign but I don’t restrict the campaign to just that setting. All players are free to choose whichever class they please from any 3.0 or 3.5 book. And any race they wish to choose. Since most of the players in this campaign are more experienced than I am, they’re good at restricting themselves to fit into my world.

    My world is comprised of two countries (north and south), populated by 95% humans. The technology is similar to that of 1000AD China (which means there is gun powder, but no guns). The northern country is similar to China/Edo period Japan, whereas the southern country is a middle-eastern type country.

    As for magic, the north country has a University where it performs hundreds of experiments, but Spell components are difficult to come by, thus anything that is crafted or any spells requiring components cost double the normal cost. The University is the only place where spell casters gather and learn off of one another. Spell casters who don’t need to study magic (ie: Warlocks/Sorcerers) are very rare and are sought after by the University for study.

    Since spell components are double the normal cost, magic items such as wondrous items cost double as well, except for magic armor and weapons. To add a little twist, in my world, magic enchantments on armor and weapons are actual recipes, owned by certain families and/or blacksmiths, handed down generation to generation. It involves a certain method of tempering the right mixture of materials a certain way in order to give the metals magical properties.

    At this point in time, the two countries have been at peace for over 1000 years and because of that, families of Samurai’s and brave warrior families have been out of work, thusly, it’s not hard to find a few ronins wondering the streets, this has stemmed the flow of currency around the world and both countries are in a depression.

    At the start of the campaign, the party actually doesn’t start on this world, they start on a small island far far away. For their entire lives, the players believe that the small island they live on is the only land in this world.

    This island is very low tech, and has a low population, but everyone is extremely skilled with the sword or a family weapon of some sort.

    During an annual celebration, the island has a few “visitors” who are actually from another land and have come to claim this land for their own. These evil beings are from the Shadowlands (for those who are unfamiliar with Oriental Adventures) and spread evil and corruption known as “taint” to everyone and everything they touch. A large battle ensues but the residence of the island are grossly outnumbered and a select few (the players of course)are sent away on a small boat to escape the clutches of these shadow people in hopes that their clan will live on. The players drift for months, and just as all hope seems lost they wash up on this larger piece of land (which is the north and south countries). When they talk to locals, they find that their clan from their native land was actually wiped out over 1000 years ago….

    From this point on, the shadowlands make their way to this land as well and the world falls into a long, costly war. One party member (preferably a samurai) is “chosen” by the gods to wield a magical (and intelligent) sword that can defeat the lord of the shadowlands.

    This setting so far is loaded with action and works for either evil or good parties. So far everyone’s been having a blast and I find that being an inexperienced player helps being a DM. Most of the players are at the level now where they can choose fairly obscure prestige classes. I don’t bother researching what abilities the players have (I trust them not to cheat) and with my limited knowledge, most of the abilities they show I see for the first time, and in game, the players are one of a kind so this helps.

    I could go into more detail, but I’m not sure how large to make this post, this gives you my campaign setting in a nutshell, hope this sparks some ideas for you more experienced DMs out there.


  9. Catlin says:

    My friends and I switch off on being DM. I really like it but I cant really draw any maps so I usually end up just having them draw a map as I make things up off the top of my head(which Im suprisingly good at) but I really wish I had something concrete to start with. Any suggestions would be welcome and entheused(I think thats spelled rite). I also have problems with figuring how much xp to give out for certain things, like opening a lock in a room thats filling up with water for example. I was also hoping someone could give me some advise on this front as well… …Thanks

  10. jakob says:

    i am a 14yr old dungeon master i have some of my friends come over but im having trouble comming up with a campaign so if you could throw me a idea i would be very thankful

  11. Brendan says:

    Wow. This is what started Twenty Sided. The very first post.

  12. Doyle says:

    Reminds me of Hyboria. Before that MMO came out at least.

  13. Casey says:

    check out Obsidian Portal. it’ for DMs to make web pages about their campaigns.

    I’m not affiliated or anything, I’m running my first campaign in a few months…still building it and all, and Obsidian Portal is a site I found to help with the planning and the fleshing out of things.

    The only problem is that you can’t set more than 1 person to DM, so if you and a friend or two are designing a campaign together, only one of you can see DM only infomation.

  14. Paul Spooner says:

    I just wanted you to know that people are still reading these. I’m writing my own campaign and came back for a second time through to get inspiration. It would be really great to see the earlier campaigns posted as well, but I know you’ve got as much slack time as a stockbroker.

  15. n00b says:

    I found this hilarious DND campaign blog the other day called “The Smell of n00bs” too funny!

    The players are all pretty new, and make all kinds of mistakes – plus, the DM is pretty witty.

  16. My previous campaigns are at http://z10.invisionfree.com/adndology
    I run 3.5 house rules every monday night, starting next monday.
    Lawrenceville, GA, USA

  17. Lionday says:

    Sorry I know I’m reviving an old topic. In my group we had a adventure going but the year ended (We played at school) and it didn’t last much longer. We did go back to playing D&D after summer but not with the same characters (Sadly my Elf Ranger will never be seen again) but my DM tends to dump all his plans onto me. After hearing most of it i decided I’d write my own story on what happened after we ended. I’m not done yet and its in a rough stage right now but if your interested its here. There all titled Lost Years.

  18. Stefano Marone says:

    greetings from Italy, mr. Young. I love your blog and site. I have a question. How do you manage to keep playing d&d every week and being a father of three? :-) since I got father of two I had to quit playing after 20 years… now that I am father of three I don’t think I’ll be able to start again nonetheless

  19. Lycanthromancer says:

    I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them or not, but the
    SilverClawShift Campaign Journals are absolutely astonishingly good.

    Seriously. They’re incredible. The characters aren’t exactly
    optimized, but the stories are rather jaw-dropping at times, and they
    could easily be turned into full-length novels.

    I SO want to be a part of their gaming group. I’m jealous.

    I tried emailing you at “dm(at)shamusyoung(dot)com” but it sent it back to me saying the email address doesn’t exist. :(

  20. Elzair says:

    Sometimes it is fun to come back & see where things began. RIP Shamus Young.

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