“Harbard Stonehand was a Goliath known in his home mountains as a fierce fighter. He fought ferociously in single combat, but could also be a kind and gentle soul. Losing his wife in childbirth, he took care of his two still unnamed children, waiting for their name day. A shadow from Harbard’s past, however, took what remained. An Ice Giant named Lothrok, whom Harbard had defeated in battle years ago, sent his pet bear to kill Harbard’s children. Nothing left to lose, Harbard slew the bear and began preparations to hunt down the ice giant, whose whereabouts Harbard would have to track.”

I was still a new Dungeon Master, currently DMing a run of Princes of the Apocalypse, when my roommate Shawn asked me to write a campaign just for him. His words were along the lines of “You can practice your DMing, plus you always wanted to write your own campaign right?” Though I had been itching to write a campaign and make my own encounters and unique monsters, I think I was most excited that I was going to be sharing the experience of Dungeons and Dragons with one of my closest friends, who I had never thought would be interested. He had been mentioning it casually for a few weeks, before he finally outright asked. I was ecstatic, I was going to share, what I thought was the most fun and exciting game I had ever played in my life with one of my closest friends. I might be exaggerating, but I felt like I was bringing some universal truth to the eyes of a skeptic who had finally seen the light.


The best part of Dungeons and Dragons to me is that it’s an exercise in creation. He started writing his own story thinking up his own names and history. I started writing my world. He and I sat down together and I went over the basic rules of the game as we made the rules of his character. He chose a Barbarian Goliath. He just wanted to be big, strong, and he thought it would let him be a confident/arrogant character in this world. It took a while, teaching him the different dice looked like, d6’s, d10’s, and of course the famous d20’s.


I had set out a couple goals set for the campaign always keeping them in mind when I could:

Shawn and I both had to have fun. That’s the only real reason to play

Create a large expansive world with characters who were alive. I wanted to better my storytelling skills and I thought this would be a great practice

Pick up some new skills. Painting minis and making maps could be fun to learn right?

So with nothing but vague ideas of a world at the time, I set out to create a tutorial learning session, creating a small area which Harbard would start, that he could explore and learn about it.


Harbard set about to preparing for his journey. He grasped the paw of Lothrok’s pet which he had taken as a trophy. He thought of his lost wife, Lagertha, his murdered children, and, finally, Lothrok. His grip tightened. His soul raged.


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