The Birland Campaign

The Birland campaign used a very simplified version of 3.5 edition D&D that incorporated some elements from 5th edition D&D (most notably advantage and disadvantage, short rests, and at-will cantrips). It started out as a one-off adventure to introduce my children and one of their friends to roleplaying games, and they liked it so much we ended up playing once a month for a year. The campaign stopped after 11 sessions when my older child and her friend started high school, partially on the assumption that they would be busy and need time to adjust, and partly because they were interested in actually learning the D&D system and designing their own characters.

The children's characters started at 2nd level, while my wife's character (the family servant assigned to keep an eye on the Baron and Baroness' teenage daughter and her trouble-seeking friends) started at 4th level. The other characters slowly caught up to him, gaining 2 levels for each 1 he gained, and they had almost reached him (being 6th level while he was 7th level) when the campaign finished. I mostly adapted Dragon Warriors adventures, along with some D&D adventures. Like the Brenna's Adventurers campaign, each session was a stand-alone adventure, spread across three years of game time. In order, the adventures were:

  1. Gwenhyfar's Barrow - where our heroes almost fall down a hole while rambling across the countryside and discover the barrow of an ancient elven queen, who gives Violet a magic sword and a great destiny
  2. A Weak Pleasure - where our heroes save a young boy from a strange traveller seeking vengance on his absent father
  3. A Yuletide Quarrel - where winter snows trap our heroes in an isolated valley threatened by an ancient witch
  4. The Wyrm Turns- where our heroes help May flee from an ancient evil while her cousin Ash turns into a stag
  5. The Fall of Erincasta - where our heroes find an ancient relic of the True Faith and lay the unquiet dead to rest
  6. Death at Fay Bridge - where our heroes attend a tournament, meet Godwin the young king of Birland, and are invited by Sir Roderick of Pellard to go questing with him
  7. Long Night at the Black Swan - where our heroes decide instead to explore an ancient temple under an inn in the free city of Clyster
  8. Loren's Chasm - where our heroes explore the catacombs beneath an isolated monastery in Holluin, and Baldrick discovers the strength of his faith in the True God
  9. Rawhead and Bloody Bones - where our heroes triumph against an ancient monster, and Korvaan acquires his beloved steed, Chicken
  10. The Light of Despair - where our heroes stop a group of smugglers, help the soul of a drowned girl find peace, and Devlin gains his wings
  11. Twilight of the Dead - where our heroes visit Korvaan's homeland of Duneld and save a town from the restless dead and hostile raiders

Running a campaign for children who had never played roleplaying games before was very rewarding in several ways. They were very keen to keep playing after the first session, and found it vividly exciting - "It was like I was there!" It was also very interesting to see how familiar and comfortable they were with a lot of gaming concepts from computer games and tv shows, in a way I don't remember being when I was their age.

Our heroes, the player characters:

Baldrick Bloodaxe - Baldrick was an adventurer in his youth, and settled down in Birland when one of his human adventuring companion was rewarded with the Barony of Gorburn 80 years ago. Since then, he has been a loyal servant and family friend to the Gorburn family for generations. He currently watches over his adventuring companions great-grandchild, Violet Gorburn, and her friends.

Violet Gorburn - Violet is the only child of Baron and Baroness Gorburn, and is being trained to become a knight in preparation for when she inherits the Barony from her mother. Violet seems unenthused about her parents' expectations for her, and also about the elf-queen Gwenhyfar's prophecy that she is destined to be a great ruler, but enjoys wielding her magic sword, which she named Intelligence.

Korvaan the Hunter - Korvaan is from the nearby kingdom of Duneld, but was fostered with Baron and Baroness Gorburn from a very young age. Korvaan was raised at their court alongside their daughter Violet, and knows relatively little about his homeland. Korvaan rides the giant chicken that was owned by the ogre Rawhead, which he has imaginatively named Chicken.

Devlin of the Jewelspider Woods - One of Delvin's parents was an elf, and he has innate magical abilities as a result. Delvin was taught how to use that magic by Ulric the Sorcerer at his tower in the Jewelspider Woods, and when he was 12, Ulric sent him to live at the court of Baron and Baroness Gorburn. As he matured and his sorcerous powers improved, Delvin grew white feathered wings on his back that allow him to fly.

Their friends, family and other recurring characters:

Baroness Gorburn Baroness Gorburn, Violet's mother, and ruler of the Barony of Gorburn, which stretches from the Bleaks to the Oster Hills and covers the lands between Fenring Forest and Hern Forest
Baron Gorburn Baron Gorburn, Violet's father
Chicken Chicken, Korvaan's unusual steed, formerly owned by the ogre Rawhead
May May, rescued from her family's cursed farm in the Jewelspider Woods and now a servant at the Gorburn court
Godwin the Young King Godwin the Young King, who recently inherited the throne of Birland from his father
Sir Roderick of Pellard Sir Roderick of Pellard, a questing knight from a distant land travelling south to distant Mercania
Aslaug Aslaug, a bandit leader in the western edges of the barony who has twice escaped our heroes and avoided justice for her crimes

When looking at these resources, please note that pictures of real persons are used on this site to depict fictional characters. No offence is intended, and any similarity between these fictional characters and any person living or deceased is purely coincidental.

maintained by Gary Johnson (gwzjohnson at
last updated 15 May 2021