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Midgard Monday: Favor of the Dragon Empire

Midgard Monday: Favor of the Dragon Empire

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 Mharoti Empire has a reputation as the most intimidating military presence on the land. Even kingdoms outside of the Empire’s front lines have heard of the power and majesty of the Armies of the Dragon.

Fewer know to look out for Mharoti’s extensive spy network though, particular in internal affairs. Previous articles discussed making an operator for your campaign, creating plots and schemes for them, and tools at their disposal. This article discusses how these clandestine operators fare within the Empire.

Status and the Mharoti Empire Underground

It’s no secret that the criminal underworld has its own codes, ethics, and values. Further, each organization in each nation and territory has variations on what behavior is acceptable, unacceptable, lauded, and discouraged. Status can be a useful tool for your Midgard games to keep track of this. (For more on Status, see Midgard Worldbook.) When operatives (and PCs) use Status, you have a measure of how much the world at large knows about their existence—or at least their legend.

If you use Status in your game, and you run a game set in or involving the Mharoti Empire, consider adjusting the PC’s Status based on the tables in this article. Note that Status adjustments aren’t just made by lineage, but by caste and background. The deeds listed in the Mharoti Deeds table are values that members of the Empire hold for themselves. If non-Mharoti PCs commit any of the deeds listed, the Mharoti NPCs’ already-low opinion of outsiders will not change based on those actions.

Conversely, if the PCs wish to make a name for themselves among the Mharoti, as either allies or adversaries, they can still track Mharoti Status as players, even if their characters aren’t aware of the impact of their own deeds.

This can result in different Status scores for different regions or societies that the PCs visit in their travels. It’s perfectly fitting for your rogue or criminal PC to have different Status scores for their private and public faces. If the DM finds it useful, some of the entries on the Mharoti Deeds and Mharoti Caste tables can allow for a quick adjustment to an NPC’s Status, in case the PCs might have heard of them.

Ethics and Morals of the Empire

Outsiders view Mharoti as being governed by “might makes right.” This is superficially true, but “rightness” is more accurately tied to a citizen’s political identity.

The Empire’s rigid caste system encourages each member of society to work together for the common good (of the Empire). Outsiders note that dragonkin and the few lucky chosen humans occupy the upper echelons of the caste system, with the kobolds are below them, and non-draconic people below that.

Each caste respects the value of the others. Timarli understand that the jambuka caste, while not scaled, provide vital roles to the success of the Mharoti. Draconic species are, traditionally, more in tune with the will of their draconic masters. Humans and gnolls in particular are unburdened with trying to decipher and carry out the will of the dragons.

No one from the sekben, edjet, or akinji living in the Empire thinks (or is brave enough to speak out loud), that they are inherently superior because of their station. Species-ism still exists in the Empire, particularly among the scaled races. But as a society, all lineages recognize that kobolds, and even moreso dragonkin, are one step closer to the power and majesty.

The Darker Professions

While clandestine operations, black markets, and criminal enterprises are viewed with disdain by “civilized” folk, what passes for “civilized” changes depending on your politics. In Mharoti, the draconic philosophy of divine rule and power projection extends even to these “unsavory” occupations.

Clandestine operations form an integral part of Mharoti society. Naturally, they aren’t discussed in polite conversation. However, these behaviors and those who engage in them are known, respected, and (in some cases) revered. Much as the court jester shines the light of satire on a noble courts, assassins keep political appointees “honest.”

For example, a noble’s farr, or draconic right to rule, is given only as long as one survives. If an abusive or cruel noble were to die mysteriously, clearly their farr was revoked by the gods and dragons themselves. Similarly, honest merchants, moneylenders, and tradesmen understand that the criminal element treats their livelihoods accordingly. If they consistently mistreat their thralls, raise prices exorbitantly, or otherwise behave outside the bounds of Mharoti society, a rough justice can fall and none look askance at the event.

These ethics apply only to Empire citizens. Outlanders who don’t subscribe to the great vision of all peoples united under the loving, safe rule of draconic masters can expect the treatment that the sterotypes spread, with no reprisal from Mharoti criminal organizations.

Mharoti Deeds

DeedStatus Change
Fail to take down a person of authority−4
Perform a mission against a dragon−3
Sabotage Mharoti military operations−3
Break your vow of hospitality towards your guests−2
Inform outlanders about the Empire’s operations−2
Fail in a mission−1
Perform a mission for personal gain−1
Treat members of other castes unfairly−1
Welcome others with hospitality0
Complete a mission without being noticed+1
Do not break under interrogation+1
Complete a mission for the Empire at great personal cost+1
Keep your word to another member of the Empire+1
Follow the orders of your superior that go against your morals+2
Successfully resist an assassination attempt+2

Mharoti Caste

Castes of the Dragon Empire (Lineage)Status Change
Akijani (Dragonkin)+4
Edjet (Dragonkin)+3
Sekben (Dragonkin)+2
Koboldi (Kobold)+1
Jambuka (non-scaled)−1

Get into Midgard with the Midgard Worldbook! This acclaimed campaign setting is rich and deep, with over a decade of support from Kobold Press.
Does a new setting feel like a big lift? Check out our intro article, Unpacking the Midgard Worldbook!

about Matt Dunn

Matt Dunn lives near Fredericksburg, Virginia with his wife and son, who he has written an adventure with. He works as a teacher, program manager, and part-time writer. Many of his outings have been with Eastman Dunn Press, writing for DMsGuild, Kobold Press, and Onyx Path Publishing.

2 thoughts on “Midgard Monday: Favor of the Dragon Empire”

  1. Absolutely loving this Mharoti series, it’s really helpful for my dragonborn player to connect to the lore.
    Always a fan of more Midgard Lore and can’t wait for more!

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