Just a note to say that Nemo Krad over at RandomChaos has put up a 5 part tutorial series covering 2d & 3d particle effects! It was actually a request of mine and he covered 3d first, then 2d. Source is included as well. It looks like he covers all the basics that will allow you to expand on that to fit your needs! Thanks Nemo!
If you find this useful, sign up at the site, rate his tutorials and/or leave him a comment! Looks like he has a lot of interesting projects going on in the realm of 3d.. Enjoy!