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Blowing Up Midgard, part 4, The Dread Walkers in the West awaken

Blowing Up Midgard, part 4, The Dread Walkers in the West awaken

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!

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 contains an outline of major events that blows up a setting-wide powderkeg that’s been sputtering for years.

Midgard Background

Following the fall of Ankeshel (described in part 2 of this series), the humans of Midgard fell to barbarism. Only after centuries of elven mentorship did humanity flourish again.

The ancient kingdom of Calemarath especially blossomed, although it wasn’t just through elven arcane knowledge. Caelmarathi mages supplemented their knowledge with devilish lore whispered by servants of Mammon, the Lord of Greed and Master of Wealth.

As more tiefling mages arose from the ranks of Caelmarath, the elven archmages imparted less knowledge to their human charges. Eight hundred years ago, Caelmarath stopped asking and began demanding the knowledge the elves withheld. During the Black Sorceress’s Revolt, Caelmarath mages engaged in ever-increasing brinksmanship by summoning fiendish allies, corrupting ley lines, and bringing the first Dread Walkers to Midgard.

Despite cutting the fiendish, beating heart out of the foes’ capital, the elves discovered that Caelmarath had merely splintered into nine new magocracies, all hungry for greater knowledge. Instead of combatting further madness, the elves chose to abandon Midgard in the Great Retreat (described in article 1 of this series).

After that, the magocracies turned on each other. Each new nation ripped holes in reality to summon Dread Walkers. This arms race ultimately led to the destruction of eight magocracies—only Allain survives as a shell of its former might.

The Dread Walkers, unstoppable and unable to be banished, could only be slowed by chronomancy. The great nation of Caelmarath is now a tomb, with dust goblins, ghost giants, and warped cultists as the Wasted West’s only inhabitants.

Numerous cults operate in the Wasted West, worshiping the Dread Walkers. Certain cults seek to unlock the time magic holding the Dread Walkers in place, especially given the power they could wield if they could negotiate with such a being. So, what happens when an archmage cultist dispels protecting Midgard from the Dread Walkers?

Remember that Wastes of Chaos is a great tool for building out the regions of Midgard that will be wasted in this arc. Additionally, Campaign Builder: Castles & Crowns (now available for preorder) will have good tools for running kingdoms, especially as new nations shatter and splinter.

Part 1. Doppelpopolis (Levels 1–3)

Working from their base in the Green Duchy of Verrayne, the PCs are tasked by Salusso Valis, Lord of the Nine Towers, with investigating cult activity around Nath’Nakar the Old. The PCs must find friends in the ramshackle village of doppelgangers in the shadow of the bipedal wildebeest to identify the cultists trying to free the Dread Walker from its chains.

Part 2. Braegezz Takes to the Sky (Levels 4–5)

Valis sends the PCs north to the Petrified Forest to aid his agents working around Ornis Ammos, a Dread Flyer who crash landed when placed into slumber. A tribe of dust goblin cultists had labored to return Ornis Ammos to the skies, they abandoned their century-long task to follow Braagezz, Beloved Leader of All Goblins.

Braagezz has won every battle against dust goblins. She has begun looking beyond the Goblin Wastes for the next conquest. Learning about a titan that could soar above her foes, Braagezz has dedicated significant resources into breaking the binds that tie the Dread Flyer to the earth.

Arriving at the titan, crab-shaped parasites assault the PCs, who learn that the dust goblins use the parasites for common tasks (and to capture trespassers). The PCs must escape these parasites before sneaking around to learn more about the dust goblins’ operation. They may even find some vril weaponry fastened to the Dread Flyer for its eventual flight.

The PCs learn that Braagezz captured the Green Duke’s agents. They also learn that migocultists from the Chosen of the Demon Bat (see Demon Cults & Secret Societies) are operating in the area. They believe that they can transform the birdlike Dread Flyer into a bat.

Both sides believe that they can use the five hundred humanoids that they hold prisoner to break its bindings—something that the PCs learn unfortunately late as they learn of Braagezz’s arrival and stumble across the ritual’s completion.

As chronomancy slowing time around the titan ends, the many wounds of Ornis Ammos knit and the great bird takes flight once again. The only way to stop Braagezz from destroying the Nine Towers protecting Verrayne from the dust goblin horde is to pit the dust goblins against the migo, who seek to use the bat-like Dread Flyer to return to the Void high above Midgard.

Part 3. The First Titans Walk (Levels 6–8)

The nations of Midgard quickly learn that the dust goblins have freed a Dread Walker. All these rational actors concerned with the general welfare surely would band together, right?

No! Each nation concludes they must be the next group to control their own Dread Walker. The lessons of the Great Mage Wars are either forgotten or ignored, and Midgard devolves into another great war.

  • Some nations, especially those around the Wasted West itself, try freeing Dread Walkers of their own. Allain is successful. Dornig and Verrayne face tragedy when they free Dread Walkers that they can’t control.
  • Other countries call upon solutions from other planes. The Oracle from the Theocracy of Kammae Straboli summons numerous angelic warriors to their aid, while the gnomes of Niemheim summon devils.
  • In the Blood Principalities, the Red Sisters of Marena craft massive blood zombies, knit with the flesh of thousands of sacrifices to the Blood Goddess (see Demon Cults & Secret Societies).

Each of these new titans wreak havoc wherever they go, carving a path of chaos and despair across Midgard. At the instruction of their creators or controllers, they attack nearby nations or long-term foes. The PCs can try to stop one or more of these grim outcomes, but probably not all of them.

Part 4. Greater Conventional Behemoths (Levels 9–11)

Other nations struggle to catch up with more conventional behemoths.

  • Zobeck builds massive clockwork warriors crewed by humanoids. Most of these mechanized warriors walk, and a few fly, but all are crewed by humanoids. The clockwork warriors emit catastrophic levels of pollution, destroying entire ecosystems wherever they decamp.
  • In the Northlands, the dwarven reavers, trollkin, and bearfolk band together to create massive artifices of metal and ice. Believed by many to be blessings from Loki, the artifices are powered by draining heat from the surrounding area and emitting moisture as waste, leaving glaciers in their wakes.
  • Long threatened at their borders, the Mharoti have already been breeding bigger and bigger dragons. While many dragons are intended to serve as massive personnel carriers, others are intended for attack and defense. Such dragons are larger than anything ever seen on Midgard, creating craters when they land normally and earthquakes when they crash land.

The PCs can choose to help different nations, or they can help the survivors of the many massacres.

Part 5. An End or Another Beginning (Level 12–15)

Until now, most clashes have been between titans and outmatched forces. With each nation gaining their own titan, the clashes eventually come to a head. With the destruction of multiple titans in a single battle, an entire nation is ruined.

Recognizing the mutually assured destruction among the nations, the PCs must assemble heroes from across Midgard to halt the many titans and conclude this new great war.

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

6 thoughts on “Blowing Up Midgard, part 4, The Dread Walkers in the West awaken”

    1. Author here: if there’s one lens I would recommend viewing this article through, it’s “Oops All Mechs”. Just massive things that PCs could pilot and fight massive battles that destroy the face of Midgard.

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