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Blowing Up Midgard, part 1. End your campaign with a big bang

Blowing Up Midgard, part 1. End your campaign with a big bang

It’s Midgard Monday! Each week, we visit a corner of the wide world of Midgard. Look for standalone content you can drop into your campaign—whether it’s in Midgard or your own homebrew. Find new inspiration each Midgard Monday!

In 2024, we are trying out some new things for Midgard Mondays! Over the next few months, we’re focusing on articles about running MIDGARD CAMPAIGNS. After that, we’ll change topics every few months. Let us know in the comments and on social media what you think of the new ideas!

The Midgard Worldbook is packed to the brim with lore and legends of the Midgard campaign setting. Its nine interconnected meta-regions offer decades of gaming material, even without the hundreds of adventures available for play. Empire of the Ghouls is one example of a massive campaign spanning the length and breadth of Midgard.

So why don’t we blow up the Worldbook and redraw the face of Midgard?

In this (non-canonical) series, we’ll create outlines for mega-campaigns set in Midgard. Each tier will contain an outline of major events, ending by blowing up a setting-wide powderkeg that’s been sputtering for years.

The Great Return

Consider the elves who left Midgard for the Summerlands nearly 500 years ago in what’s known as the Great Retreat.

What would happen if they came back?

The elves were one of the first peoples on Midgard. They warred with giants and dwarves and witnessed the rise and fall of Ankel. They nurtured the young kingdoms of Morgau, Illyria, and Krakovar and the city states of Zobeck and Achillon. The secret societies of Vael Turog and Caelmarath benefited from elven knowledge.

When the elves sought to restrict arcane secrets, the human mages rose up during the Black Sorceress’s Revolt. The elves brutally suppressed those involved, but they couldn’t stop the magocracies from dabbling in demonic magic.

Instead, the elves quit Midgard entirely. Within a week, almost every elf on Midgard returned to the Summerlands of the Faerie. Most courts abandoned their holdings, including the outposts of Thorn and the Tomierran Forest. Aside from the rare adventurer, no elves have returned to Midgard in nearly five centuries.

The Imperatrix Wakes

One elf who refused the Great Retreat was the ruler of the Grand Duchy of Dornig, the Beloved Imperatrix Regia Moonthorn Kalthania-Reln vann Dornig. The Imperatrix remained to help defend her descendants throughout the Mage Wars and against the vampires who invaded Krakovar.

Four years ago, the aged Imperatrix fell into a slumber. No magic has been able to rouse her. Dornig now mirrors the limbo of its comatose ruler. The arrival of Kalvora Moonsong, the Imperatrix’s elven granddaughter from the Summerlands, has further complicated matters.

Part 1. Waking the Imperatrix and Ending the Great Retreat (Levels 1–4)

The PCs meet and aid the elf who may prove the downfall of Midgard.

The PCs arrive in the Dornig capital of Reywald, where the Imperatrix slumbers in Castle Grauburg. Her court grows fractious as noble houses jockey for position. Kalvora Moonsong approaches the PCs for assistance, as outsiders.

She explains that she has been studying in the Reywald libraries and has learned the secret to waking her grandmother. Arcane herbs and alchemical components near Donnermark, Hirschberg, and Salzbach can be combined to make a reviving draught. (Moonsong would pursue these components herself, but she is closely watched by the Duchy’s chamberlain, Thadia.)

Deadly monsters and agents of the other claimants to the throne oppose the PCs in their hunt. However, when they return, Moonsong uses the ingredients to make a draught that revives her grandmother!

Now awake, the ancient Imperatrix tells the court that her slumber blocked the end of the Great Retreat. Now that she has an elven heir who understands her legacy in Dornig, she can truly rest.

In the evening, the Archon’s Horn sounds as the Imperatrix passes. Soon after, elves begin returning from the Summerlands to serve Grand Duchess Moonsong.

Part 2. Fortifying Dornig (Levels 5–7)

Moonsong makes her first moves. The PCs have a front-row seat as her trusted allies.

Moonsong restores the Movable Feast, cozying up with the great noble houses and the minor baronies. Legendary elven warriors take command of the armies while elven archmages go to teach and learn at the arcane colleges in Bemmea and Zobeck.

Seeing the blight at her border, Moonsong beseeches Saintmistress Rowanmantle, who has title to the Tomierran forest, to marshal her allies and purify it of unnatural inhabitants.

The PCs accompany the combined elven, druidic, and priestly forces into the haunted woods, combatting unnatural and malevolent creatures therein. In the climactic, Pyrrhic battle, the PCs destroy the rotting parts of the World Tree at the forest’s heart, cleansing much of the Tomierran. (Seemingly indebted for their service, Moonsong offers a newly-won barony to the PCs.)

The Tommierran tamed, Moonsong recovers elven relics while her druidic allies restore the forest. Her western border settled, Moonsong moves to connect Dornig’s western holdings to its duchy in the east—Courlandia.

The vampiric forces in Krakova stand between them, but are no match for Dornitian forces armed with elven artifacts. The elves rout the vampires and establish Krakova as another Dornitian duchy.

Upon reaching Courlandia, Moonsong relieves the red dragon, Zennalastra, of duty as ruler. Zennalastra sees which way the wind is blowing. She might leave a cryptic warning to the PCs before she departs.

Part 3. Expansionist Goals (Levels 8–10)

The PCs witness what Moonsong will do to consolidate and conquer.

Moonsong moves her attention further east and begins logging the Wormwood Forest. The stated purpose is to deny the vampires help from allies to the east. But rumors refuse to die that Grandmother Baba Yaga has begun visiting the Great Procession in Bad Solitz. The PCs, now dukes and duchesses of Dornig, help eliminate the wretched redcaps.

Believing the Grand Duchess distracted to the east, the Dwarves of the Ironcrags launch a surprise attack on Salzbach, Dornig’s southernmost city.

Moonsong’s retaliation is merciless. Impossibly ancient elves who remember the Vanir War, destroy seven cantons. The remainders bend the knee to Dornig.

Now controlling lands to the north and west, Moonsong’s armies march into Morgau and Doresh. The priesthood of Khors lassoes the sun in place for two weeks, depriving the vampire of their generals, their politicians, and their nighttime advantage.

King Lucan and his coterie escape to the Underworld, but the centuries-long vampiric stranglehold on Central Midgard is broken. The elves control roughly a third of central Midgard.

Part 4: Heel Turn (Levels 11–14)

Moonsong takes unequivocal, immoral action to restore Thorn, the ancient elven empire.

Thus far, Moonsong has largely improved the state of Midgard. Now the PCs learn that the Grand Duchess is restoring the Empire of Thorn. Will they support her conquest or stand against her with the remnant of Midgard?

With her archmages in charge of Bemmean arcane colleges, Dornig and Allain agree to restore the lands of Vael Turog. Their combined armies destroy most of the cult activity along the Arbonesse border.

However, the elven archmages break the spells binding the Dread Walkers in time and space. The elves directs the Dread Walkers south and west, destroying the dust goblins and other wasteland forces.

Meanwhile, Moonsong instructs Skuti the Whelp to abandon the Wolfmark and sail north across the Nieder Straits. When he and his reavers decline, elven cavalry drive them into the sea.

From the far end of the world, Barsella refuses to trade vril artifacts with Dornig. Instead of using conventional means, the Grand Duchess summons the Isonade—the behemoth below the waters who consumed an entire forest 400 years ago— to sink defiant Barsella for their temerity.

Steering around the Margreve Forest, the elves march south. Zobeck signs a peace treaty, allowing them an open door to the Magdar Kingdom. Meanwhile, the elven archmages move the Dread Walkers to the border of Verrayne. The Oaken Council refuses to acknowledge their elven superiors, so Moonsong orders the destruction of the Green Duchy and the methodical conquest of the Septime Cities—only Triolo successfully resists.

Part 5: Resisting Thorn (Levels 15+)

Having conquered most of western Midgard and expanded borders ruthlessly, Moonsong announces the Great Return of Thorn and crowns herself Empress. All not of elven heritage are declared second-class citizens, serfs at best and slaves at worst.

As Moonsong eyes her next conquest, the PCs might conclude that she is a threat worse than anything that Midgard has seen in centuries. Who do they back in a stand against the Empress who has it all—archmages, armies, and Dread Walkers?

Get into Midgard with the Midgard Worldbook! This acclaimed campaign setting is rich and deep, with a decade of support from Kobold Press.

Want a more focused start? Try the Zobeck Clockwork City Collector’s Edition! This detailed sourcebook
gives players plenty of room to run, and includes adventures within the Clockwork City itself!

About Benjamin Eastman

Benjamin L. Eastman was introduced to D&D by his four closest friends—who immediately betrayed his trust by sacrificing his first character to a demonic artifact. Undeterred, he’s played all manner of RPGs in the intervening years. In addition to writing Warlock Lairs and monsters for Kobold Press, he’s contributed to the Stargate RPG and Americana, and co-authored DMs Guild adventures including Baby Tarrasque. He is perhaps proudest of the bar brawl—his first published monster in the Creature Codex

13 thoughts on “Blowing Up Midgard, part 1. End your campaign with a big bang”

    1. This is absolutely amazing. I’m loving this idea of the Return, really useful for my campaign right now. Very interested to see more Midgard Lore content! Thank you

  1. So what would happen to non-elven PCs in this scenario after all non elves are declared second class citizens? Would they retain their titles and lands granted to them by Moonsong, or would they be stripped of them?

    1. Your humble author’s thoughts here:

      If a GM asked me this question, I would say that non-elves would lose their title within Dornig itself. Elsewhere in Midgard, there may be a second tier of rulers who aren’t elves but have power—after all, someone has to rule the rabble locally.

  2. This is so good! Looking forward to the next few articles, but if anyone ever decided to turn this outline into a full hardback, I’d have to have it. Keep up Midgard Mondays!

  3. Love this, I’m three sessions into Tales of the Old Margreve and considering blowing up the world by unleashing the Margreve. They would have the option to pursue fully “awakening” the Margreve to release it from influence of the Shadow Fey, and gathering the shards of the Eastern Heart to fully form it. Who knows, maybe they will have the chance to help it jump the cloudwalls to the North and begin forming a Northern heart.

  4. Infinite Craft also offers thrilling survival and adventure gameplay. Players must gather resources, craft tools and weapons, and fend off hostile mobs to survive the harsh wilderness.

  5. Moonsong recognizes a blight at her border and seeks aid from Saintmistress Rowanmantle to cleanse the Tomierran forest. This showcases her diplomatic skills and willingness to collaborate with allies for the greater good.

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