Thorn Campaign

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A second edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign based around a chess set.

Rule set: Dungeons & Dragons, Second Edition
Started: September 1994
Last Session: April 1996
Next Session:  none
Gamemaster: Jeff

From September 1994 to April 1996, Seth Narins, Don Parsley, Rob Sama, Adam Shostack, Eva Swoboda and I played in a Second Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign run by Jeff Herrold. One of the cooler role-playing experiences I've ever had, the campaign world and plot were extremely rich I took to building hypertext pages to keep track of it all. These pages, such as they are, are presented here.

The campaign occurred on a world created by Jeff. Fans of the Belgariad will recognize a number of borrowed names, characters and ideas within these pages, in addition to both Greek and Egyptian mythology, historical ideas (particularly regarding alchemy), and huge amount of sweat and creativity from Jeff.

In a departure from standard D&D rules, the non-human races were absent from the game world. (Well, mostly. Part of the plot involved the return of elves to the world.) As a backdrop to the campaign, a large army was being gathered in the north. Known as the Red Army (due to both the color of their uniforms as well as their gold), this massive force was extremely well funded, able to literally buy towns in its path without any fighting and swelling its numbers further by giving foot soldiers very high wages.

As the characters were drawn into the campaign, it became clear that the characters, members of the Red Army and a number of other NPCs were all represented metaphorically on an ancient artifact: a chess board known as the Carmarthen Service. The broad arc of the campaign involved the location of the scattered pieces of this artifact, the discovery of which people represented various pieces of the service, and deciphering the secret held by the service itself. Much of the conflict revolved around keeping these same discoveries from the other people looking for them. The player characters represented white pieces (pawns at first, stronger pieces later), while most of their foes represented red pieces.

Along the way, of course, were a number of smaller plots and twists, and whole lot of really entertaining arguments between the players.


Name Player Summary
Bron MacLyn Seth Narins A young fighter type with the ability to tattoo magical powers into himself.
Fenris Jeff An NPC controlled by the GM, Fenris usually acted as the GM's voice. A great tracker, Fenris was either a fighter or ranger. As the campaign hit its stride, Fenris went native in a village.
Iadra Eva Swoboda A priestess of Tyche (Greek goddess of luck) with a serious shoe fetish. Iadra joined the campaign later than the others (and was also Eva's first ever character).
Kheizget Don Parsley A fighter/thief, K was a half-elf in a world without elves. Basically a visitor from another realm, K brought with him a foreign religious pantheon and a very heavy accent. Don moved away mid-game, so Kheizget ended up falling overboard from a ship during a really heavy storm, never to be seen again.
Walter McBride Rob Sama An ex-pirate turned philosophy student, McBride was dedicated to democracy and tried to foster it anywhere he went.
Tanador Verstand Wordman A bard who managed to get thrown out of nearly every major city in the land.
Zem Adam A surly monk who fell into tutoring aristocrats. A non-standard monk, Zem used mechanics adapted from Ars Magica to generate magical effects.
Many Things Specific Jeff A sentient sword, used by McBride. The sword had a very sensitive ego that continually needed massaging. The sword's unusual name came from an interrogation, after being asked, "So what do people call you, specifically?"

There was also this obnoxious goat that seemed to follow us around everywhere. Anyway, as a party, we generally were effective enough to slightly inconvenience those much more powerful than us, but never so much so that they felt the need to smite us. Someone referred to us collectively as a "thorn in the side of the Red Army", and the name Thorn stuck with the group. Some quotes from the campaign may illustrate this somewhat.

History & Background






Full map





  • Castle of Earl Grey


Mountain Ranges

Arborial Regions

Bodies of Water


  • Glendven River
  • Kendall River
  • N'Getot River
  • River Al'dnes
  • River Arend
  • River Bastara
  • River Issus
  • Simbury River