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Blowing Up Midgard, part 6, The bindings of Demon Mountain break!

Blowing Up Midgard, part 6, The bindings of Demon Mountain break!

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

The Master of Demon Mountain is among the most enigmatic power figures in Midgard. The Master’s true name is either hidden, unknown, or lost to history, as is his heritage. He claims to be an archmage and the last scion of Vael Turog, the first lost human magocracy of the West.

While his peers were tearing their nation apart (ultimately culminating in the Black Sorceress’s Revolt), this archmage traveled the Rothenian Plain. After discovering the confluence of ley lines at Demon Mountain 610 years ago, this archmage spent sixteen decades wrangling the raw power under the mountain. 450 years ago, this archmage became the Master of Demon Mountain.

With his triumph over Demon Mountain, the Master gained ultimate skill in demon binding and even longer life. This came at the cost of his freedom, as the Master has bound himself to Demon Mountain. This only permits the most fleeting visits to his few allies, such as Veltrin, the Glittering King of the Ruby Despotate, for whom he has crafted a fleet of golden ships.

Despite his presumed age, the Master is renowned for his fecundity. Each year, at least one tiefling youth departs the Mountain bound for adventure or court intrigue. While all are silent as to their parentage, the Master claims each as their children.

In addition to his many children, the Master has raised up allies among the tribes of the Rothenian Plain. As his closest allies (at least geographically), the Master has trained their most skilled magic users in diabolism and granted their riders with Valesian manes. Most visitors to Demon Mountain are escorted or dragged by these loyal riders.

The Master’s bindings to Demon Mountain ensure his long life, delaying the decay of aging. Should these bindings to Demon Mountain be severed, the Master would age four and a half centuries in moments. The Master recognizes that this is his greatest weakness—even greater than his geographic tethering—and endeavors to achieve immortality so he may leave his powerful prison.

A decade ago, the Exarch Vermes II bet the Master of Demon Mountain that he could not collect five gifts from Midgard, even with the aid of a potion that delays death for a year and a day. The Master has accepted the bet, gambling that he can present Vermes II with five gifts before he expires. If the Master is successful, Vermes II will bind himself to Demon Mountain, and the Master will ascend to the head of the Ninemage Council. If he fails, the Master promises to return to his prison at Demon Mountain as a dutiful vassal to Allain.

Part 3. Shopping for Gifts (Levels 7-9)

The Master offers the PCs a role in his new army. If they accept, they help prosecute his scheme. This article presumes that they reject the offer, instead resisting the Master’s encroachment upon Midgard.

Perunalia. As the Ruby Despotate’s closest neighbor, Perunalia has long been targeted by slavers, and the strong women of the Duchy view the Master’s move with cautious hope. Meanwhile, the realm is planning the wedding of their sovereign, the demigoddess Vasilka Soulay whom many feared would not marry, to a Dornitian adventurer named Stanymyr.

Before the wedding, Stanymyr asked to invite his father, and the Duchess was ecstatic that her betrothed’s father could attend the wedding. However, Stanymyr failed to disclose that his father was the Master of Demon Mountain.

The White Lions might hire the PCs for additional protection at the wedding, or the PCs can accompany a merchant caravan bearing wedding provisions. Regardless, the Master’s arrival should spell trouble for even trusting PCs. After gaining an audience with Vasilka, they are unable to convince her to expel the Master but may convince the demigoddess to demand oaths about the Master’s conduct while in the Duchy.

Instead of giving away his son at the altar, the Master rips out Stanymyr’s still beating heart in front of Vasilka. Before teleporting away, the Master collects the tears of a demigoddess (the second of five gifts). While the Master’s forces march through Perunalia, they abide by whatever oath was sworn by their liege.

Magdar Kingdom. After fleeing the onrushing Army of Demon Mountain, the PCs reach the borders of the Magdar Kingdom. These soft rolling hills are rarely protected by stout castles, but instead supported by massive black war wagons that roll between conflicts.

In the last decade, tieflings have been initiated in the officer corps of the Magdar military. Children and grandchildren of the Master command the first two wagons sent to confront the Master’s forces crossing over the River Palesh. These two wagons instead escort their father into the soft provincial underbelly of the kingdom.

At the direction of the Order of the Undying Sun, the PCs coordinate the loyal units of the Magdar army into an effective resistance. This can include positioning regular army units to force foes through unforgiving terrain, supporting flanking actions with knightly cavalry, and rear action missions that disrupt the Master’s supply lines.

After the Master’s army unexpectedly turns north, the PCs must scramble to coordinate the defense of Runkelstad. As the armies reach the outskirts of the City of Wands and the paladine battlefield leadership settles in for a prolonged siege, everyone is surprised to hear that the Master sues for the cessation of hostilities.

At the peace talks, the Master confesses that he is no dragon—the conquest of Magdar is not his goal. He places the deaths in battle at the feet of the Order of the Undying Sun, rightly noting that his forces never attacked unless they were first confronted on the battlefield. As his conflict is with Vermes II, his army marches for Bemmea.

He will forgive the Widow Queen Dorytta and depart Runkelstad if she provides him with four of her baby teeth(the third of five gifts). While a peculiar request, the Widow Queen prefers this to a lengthy siege of her northern border, especially considering that the Mharoti still threaten her southern border.

Part 4. Splitting the Difference (Levels 10–12)

After making peace with Magdar, the Master’s armies bypass Zobeck and march over the Ironcrags. Zobeck’s merchants profit from the army’s hunger, while the dwarves aren’t concerned about the boots marching above, safe in their cantons.

The Master’s armies bifurcate in the Ironcrags, with half his forces heading northwest into Dornig and the other half heading northeast into the Blood Kingdoms.

Morgau. The forces that head into the Blood Kingdom meet with a splinter group of Blood Sisters of Marena. Thora, an adopted daughter of Lileshka of the Chalice, read forbidden texts provided by a tiefling lover that suggested that demon blood would create a more resilient vampire that could resist the burning sun. She has spent the last three years feeding “enriched” blood to the vampire lords of Morgau.

While demon blood does allow vampires to walk in the sun for up to an hour, it also poisons them. In large doses (which Thora has been feeding her vampiric customers), this turns the vampires into mobile summoning stations for demons.

War often makes strange bedfellows, and the PCs probably never expected to fight alongside the fanged oppressors of Morgau, Doresh and Krakovar. They are assuredly surprised when their new allies burst into crimson mists from which demonic foes erupt.

If they stick it out alongside their imploding vampiric allies, the Master’s army ceases its invasion once they have extracted the fangs of King Lucan(the fourth of five gifts). This army marches next toward Dornig, where their counterparts are slow moving.

Dornig. The Vann Rottsten clan has long been in decline due to the death of their patriarch during a “magical incident.” However, the house’s fortunes are boosted when the patriarch, Jodario vann Rottsten, managed to escape the Eleven Hells. Despite the the Master’s army march toward Dornig’s borders, Jodario is ferried from Bad Solitz to Reywald to visit the slumbering Imperatrix.

At court in the hopes of raising the Dornitian militia, the PCs recognize the returned Vann Rottsten patriarch as sharing mannerism with the Master of Demon Mountain. Caught in the act, the Master teleports around the castle while the PCs try to keep him from accessing the Imperatrix. While the PCs are successful, the teenage Dimitor vann Rottsten cuts the Imperatrix’s fingernails(the fifth and final gift).

Possessing all five gifts, the Master’s armies sidestep most of Dornig on proceed to Allain.

Part 5. The Crone Intervenes (Levels 13)

With all hope seemingly lost, the PCs are visited by an even more troubling figure—Baba Yaga. She bears a gift of knowledge about the plans of her nemesis, the Master of Demon Mountain.

All five gifts are protected by different units in his armies, and stealing even one of the gifts meant for Vermes II to turn the wager against the Master. The crone even gives substitute gifts meant to trick her foe.

Can the PCs grasp victory from the jaws of defeat, sending the Master fleeing back to Demon Mountain?

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

3 thoughts on “Blowing Up Midgard, part 6, The bindings of Demon Mountain break!”

    1. Makes it harder for him to eat without help, but it doesn’t keep him from consuming blood prepared in other ways.

  1. I’ve really liked this series. If I were to run with this idea using 13th Age, I’d tie the items that the Master needs to the icons of the setting.

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