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Blowing Up Midgard, part 2. Aboleths Rising

Blowing Up Midgard, part 2. Aboleths Rising

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.

Ancient Rulers of Early Midgard

Nearly 4,000 years ago, the first humans mastered the twin arts of alchemy and arcana. Known as the Ankeshel, these humans fashioned prominent cities from their island nation in the Western Ocean, erecting breathtaking temples and magnificent libraries like nothing seen on the face of Midgard since.

The Ankeshel also crafted flying carriages and vril weaponry that they used to make war on aboleths. The aboleths’ schemes filled the power vacuum caused by the war between the elves and dwarves called the Reaving. These vril weapons pierced the thick, leathery aboleth flesh like knives through hot butter.

This golden age could not last, and Ankesh sank beneath the unforgiving waves of the Western Ocean. Few records survive of this lost kingdom, and scholars speculate as to who orchestrated the downfall. Some believe that it was sea spawn—sahuagin or krakespawn. Still others believe it was giants—Caelmareath devils or the sea god Nethus’s titans. Still others believe Ankesh was the first casualty of the Isonade, who sank most of Bemmea in more modern times.

In reality, all of this is true—as the few remaining aboleths leveraged their assets on Midgard to eviscerate Ankesh. This led to a dark age across all of Midgard, save for Nuria Natal, from which it took almost a millennia to recover.

Most of the victorious aboleths began traversing the Void, becoming nihiliths (see Tome of Beasts 1). Those who remained hid throughout the waters of Midgard, skulking and scheming alone in aquatic caverns.

While they have spent thirty centuries licking their wounds, the aboleths have not grown despondent. With the return of nihiliths from the Void, they are making their move in the Northlands.

Part 1. Rising Tide, Zombie Waves (Level 1–3)

The PCs’ adventure begins in Stannasgard, the cosmopolitan Northland port city best known for forges and shipbuilding. Blaðnir the Silver Leaf, a paladin of the forge god Volund, has learned of warbands from Trollheim who are threatening her allies in Huldramose. Departing from the city, the PCs notice the water lines growing dangerously close to the shoreline—might Stannasgard flood this year? 

Dark Irpa and Thorgerd, the elfmarked queens of Huldramose, normally alternate their rule—one rules their marshland domain while the other adventures. The PCs arrive during the period where both queens are in Huldramose, and they begged their old adventuring companion, Blaðnir, for assistance with cultist activity on the outskirts of their territory.

While the Queens brief the PCs, Huldramose is besieged by hordes of undead, including nihilith zombies (see Tome of Beasts 1) and undead zombie swarms.

After helping defend Huldramose, the PCs can trace the zombies’ trail north to the ruins of Aurvang.

Part 2. Black Plumes (Levels 4–6)

Based upon reputation, the PCs expect to find Aurvang a frigid ruin, overrun by living icebergs summoned by Boreas, the vengeful North Wind. Upon arrival, the PCs instead find a moist wonderland. Boreas has seemingly forsaken his eternal vengeance upon the land.

Massive clouds of smoke billow from firepits a half mile wide. In Aurvang, cultists drive trollkin thralls and Wolfheim prisoners all day, thereby melting the accumulated ice. This water flows to the Tearstain River and ultimately into the mighty oceans of Midgard, accounting for the rising tides back in Skogarholm. The industrious endeavor has already melted the ice in a 20 mile radius.

Cultists and cult fanatics patrol the area with hell hounds, which the cult uses to stoke the fires melting the ice. Permafrost elementals (see Tome of Beasts 3) are also being released from the ancient ice, attacking anyone who crosses their path.

After defeating the cult, the PCs free the thralls and prisoners, earning them important allies later on in the adventure.

Traveling to Wolfheim, the PCs find longships ready to sail south. One of Thorgerd’s adventuring companions, Bandit-Smith Eitri, warns the PCs that Wolfheim’s ruler, Thulsamir Wolfbrother, has been acting unusually, eschewing his honored longhall for the hot baths beneath the hold.

Through investigation and delicate dealings with the reaver dwarves, the PCs find that Thulsamir and his honor guard have been dominated by an aboleth. By revealing the scheme and breaking the spell upon the reaver dwarves, the PCs earn another valuable ally in the coming storm.

While celebrating with Wolfheim, the PCs learn that Vidim plans to march its armies on Tanserhall. Thulsamir asks the PCs to visit his son Skuti the Whelp, ruler of the Wolfmark, as the recent seizure of Krakovar territory has the region teetering on the edge of war.

Part 3. Schemes from the Continent (Levels 7-10)

Arriving in Skogarholm, the PCs learn from Skuti that his reavers protecting the Free City of Jozht recently occupied the Siarka Swamp. Now that the delicate detente between the reavers and the Krakovar’s vampiric conquerors has been shattered, Grand Marshall Princess Hristina is marching her Krakovar allotment of Ghost Knights to the swamplands. More are certain to follow from Morgau and Doresh if the initial campaign is successful.

Reaching the reavers, the PCs discover the Wolfmark jarl similarly vexed as Thulsamir. The PCs race against time to search the fens and mires to locate the bog aboleth before the Ghost Knights arrive in force. Breaking the aboleth’s hold on the reaver leadership, the PCs lead the reavers back to the plausible deniability of the Wolfmark.

Having identified a recurring threat, the PCs begin investigating the three locations most likely to bear fruit about the aboleths—Allain, Cassadega, and Barsella.

The PCs first visit Bemmea, whose towering libraries contain most of Midgard’s knowledge, and its stacks hold lost information about aboleths. Certain hard to find books provide lore about ancient Ankelesh and their vril weaponry. Aboleth allies trapped the more obvious tomes are with maze spells; PCs who manage to escape before the spell ends avoid encountering the allies and may even find hidden lore on befriending the Isonade.

In pursuit of vril weaponry, the PCs head to nearby Cassadega, where many vril weapons have been recovered from archeological sites. The PCs don’t encounter aboleth plots but old fashioned bureaucracy. Not only do the PCs need to convince Cassadega authorities of their need, they must also sell Feywardens from Tintager and elves from Arbonesse of their good intentions. Only then can the PCs risk the sahuagin-infested archeological sites to locate Cassadega coil rifles, lightning batons and vril batteries to take the fight to the aboleths.

The PCs next trace aboleth agents to Barsella, the City at the Edge of the World. Discovering the aboleth glyph upon which Barsella’s builders traced its often winding roads, the PCs overlay the same rune over a map of Midgard and ascertain the location where the aboleth triad has fled. Luckily, there’s no lack of ships willing to sail west for the promise of great riches, and the PCs may even call in favors from the Northlands, Wolfmark or Allain.

Before leaving Barsella, the PCs learn that goblins war drums in the Western Wastes martial at the Verryane border. The Green Duchy has called upon its allies in the Seven Cities to support them in repelling the dust goblin invaders.

Part 4. Hyperborean Strings (Levels 11-12)

Sailing through the Western Ocean, the PCs’ ship deposits them on the shores of the island to where the aboleth triad has retreated. After encountering cultists of Nethus who have allied with the aboleth in hopes of protecting the hidden memory of Mnemosyne (see Journeys to the West, which remains a critical source of lore), the PCs slay the aboleth triad operating from their island fortress. The aboleths summon the Isonade from the depths, and the PCs must drive off or befriend the leviathan.

While exploring the island in search of lost riches, they learn of a greater plot in the Hidden Kingdom of Hyperborea. Braving the frigid tundra, the PCs locate five undead nihiliths. Having traveled the Void for millenia, the nihiliths have returned to Midgard and now seek to reconquer their ancient holdings. They have a small army of nihilith zombies stolen from throughout Midgard, and they are using ley lines to enslave, entice and manipulate the rulers of Midgard in preparing for war.

The PCs and their allies assault the nihilith complex in Hyperborea, defeat the nihiliths and save all Midgard.

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

5 thoughts on “Blowing Up Midgard, part 2. Aboleths Rising”

  1. I love this idea. I could see incorporating this into the D&D 3.5 version of Empire of the Ghouls, with its aboleth sub-plot. Nicely done!

  2. This is incredible! We can greatly profit from your fantastic and informative post! We truly appreciate you taking the time to share with us. Have a nice time with redactle game free.

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