Back in early 2001 I began my first D&D 3E campaign. It began with two friends who were long-time players in my games (one since 1993, the other since 1996), a friend of one of those friends who he knew from an excellent Amber Diceless Role-Playing they’d played in together, and two folks I recruited through the Gamer-Seeking-Gamer board at the Compleat Strategist game store. Later we’d be joined by a sixth player (a co-worker who also played in that ADRP game), and in time there’d be other replacement players as folks moved away for work or school. Ultimately, the game would reach its conclusion in early 2006, just under five years later.
Named “Out of the Frying Pan,” the campaign is set in Aquerra, my long-time homebrew setting and began with a simple premise, characters would be starting in the city of Verdun, the capital of the Kingdom of Herman Land, a nation embroiled in a civil war with one of its protectorates, but would all be looking for a way to avoid conscription in that war. This motive would drive them away from the so-called “heart of Aquerra” and north to Derome-Delem, a mountainous wilderness known as the Isle of Dwarves. Perhaps, it is no surprise that my working title for the game was “the Canada Campaign.”
At that time, the story hour forum over on ENWorld was just starting to get going, being born of Kevin Kulp‘s re-telling of his own campaign’s stories and later joined by dozens of others, including Dorian Hart’s “Sagiro’s Story Hour,” which would become the basis for his self-published fantasy series, The Heroes of Spira. Since I used to write recaps of campaign events for my defunct zine – Thoth’s Libram – I figured I could do the same on the forums and ended up maintaining my own “Story Hour” for over five years (since at one point I fell nearly a year behind in my writing).
In the end, I’d write nearly 800,000 words re-telling the events of the campaign, spread out over four “books” with each book (save the first) being divided into two parts. That makes for seven total PDFs compiling it all.
It probably bears mentioning that while collected in a serialized novelistic form (with actual game information in footnotes as to not clutter the narrative), I am not a professional fantasy writer and this has not been written as one would a novel. In other words, the meandering plots, red herrings, and unresolved elements all emerge from actual play, and consciously avoiding shaping the narrative just to emulate the typical and expected story beats. Characters can and do die in random ways and not everything has an explanation. Furthermore, I think the writing in the re-telling of the first couple of sessions, despite tightening up after the fact, can be a little rough in spots. That said, I think it gets better and better as it goes along, hitting a stride by session #4 or #5 and really taking off when we hit Book Two: Catching the Spark.
Story Hour Downloads
- “Out of the Frying Pan” Book I: Gathering Wood (Sessions #1 through #11) [PDF]
- “Out of the Frying Pan” Book II: Catching the Spark (Parts 1 & 2 – Sessions #12 through #39) [ZIP/PDF]
- “Out of the Frying Pan” Book III: Fanning the Embers (Parts 1 & 2 – Sessions #40 through #68)† [ZIP/PDF]
- “Out of the Frying Pan” Book IV: Into the Fire (Parts 1 & 2 – Sessions #69 through #104) [ZIP/PDF]
- “Out of the Frying Pan” – Complete ZIP of all PDFs + bonus folder full of supplemental material from the game.
† This book was originally entitled “The Fearless Manticore Killers & the Necropolis of Doom!!!” before being changed to fit into the four book format.