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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. Here, we’ll set out tables to create a covert operation run by one of these operatives.
Plots, Marks, and Informants
Last time, we presented tables to create interesting operatives. Now, we need a place and reasons for them to gather intelligence, plan an operation, and have a plan for what to do if things go badly. As with any table, feel free to roll and let chance strike you with inspiration, or choose options that best fit the experience you’d like to provide.
Many of these results can create prolonged, cinematic experiences. You can flesh out these options with some crunchy mechanics, using our series on skill challenges.
|3||Incomplete||Public Place (Active)||Combat (NPC)|
|4||Influential||Public Place (Passive)||Combat (Minion)|
The draconic agent has gained information from casing a location, asking informants, or divination. In any case, the story around the information leads to complications that affect the PCs once they intersect with the operative’s plot.
Analytical. The information is complete and detailed. The operative gains advantage on one roll when interacting with the PCs.
Costly. The information doesn’t come cheap. Fortunately, PCs can access the same information for a substantial markup.
Incomplete. Something has been left out of the operative’s intel. The information is missing key details such as numbers of guards, rotation schedules, alarms, traps, or strange creatures.
Influential. The informant can affect the environment to make the job easier for the operative. Guards have been diverted, doors left unlocked, and traps conveniently malfunction when the informant is in on it.
Spiteful. The PCs get as much information as the operative does. Perhaps a spurned lover spills the secrets, deities bestow visions upon clerics after the operative uses divination, or an informant whose family is threatened by the operative approaches the PCs for help.
Unreliable. While the information is complete, it comes from an unreliable source. The PCs gain advantage on one roll or otherwise get an unexpected drop on the operative thanks to the dubious nature of the information.
The operative plans to perform their mission. Sometimes they choose where it happens, but more often, the location is chosen for them by circumstance.
Hidden. The location is a secret. It might be deep within the Margreve forest, hidden somewhere on the Shadow Road, or otherwise concealed from where others might stumble on it.
Mobile. The exact location changes frequently. Is the information/target/item located on a Neimheim caravan? A series of Krakovan resistance safehouses? Perhaps it’s located on a Reaver ship during the raiding season. In any case, finding the mark is the hardest part for the operative.
Public Place (Active). The location is filled with people actively taking interest in one another. The operative must blend in or create a distraction to perform their mission. This could be a crowded party at a noble’s estate, a druid’s grove filled with awakened animals, or even an ancestral Northern barrow willed with active protective draugr.
Public Place (Passive). The location is public, but people aren’t paying attention to the target of the operation. It could be a bridge crossing the Derry in Zobeck, the backroom in the temple of Sif in Johzt, or the Sphinx in Triolo.
Private Collection. The location is private and fairly well known. Guards, smaller monsters, alarms, and traps all have a place in this facility to prevent the operative and the PCs from achieving their goals.
Underground Facility. This is a stone building constructed underground to house guards, monsters, traps, and treasure, like the famed Scarlet Citadel.
This is the operative’s plan when cornered. Will they talk? Fight? Run? These plans might change when actually confronted by the authorities or the PCs, but this is Plan A when things start to go sideways.
Bargaining. The operative tries to strike a deal with the PCs. Maybe the operative offers to cut them in on the spoils for their aid. Maybe they offer substantial money from their own pocket to look the other way. The operative is well connected . . . perhaps a favor in exchange for escape?
Chase. The operative runs for it. Rooftop foot races, horse-drawn carriage races through crowded streets, and even an aerial chase on griffon-back through city spires are all exciting methods of escape.
Combat (NPC). The operative tries to escape—once the PCs are dead. The operative has a plan to directly combat the PCs with appropriate help from minions, converted guards, or summoned monsters.
Combat (Minion). A malfunctioning bag of tricks spews summoned animals and mind-controlled or paid-off guards tie up the PCs so the operative can get away.
Distraction. The operative triggers a large distraction that attracts guards and the PCs away from the target. This could be an explosion, an NPC with a medical emergency, or an intruding theatrical troupe. Illusions are a great way to distract PCs without a lot of advance legwork.
Framing. The operative worked ahead to set up the PCs as the perpetrators of this crime. Guards are aware the PCs are involved and arrive to detain and question them at a pivotal moment in the operative’s plan.
The great red wyrm, Vissandred the Horse-Eater, obliterated the fleets and docks of Stannasgard a few years ago. Once news reached the Empire, it was deemed critical that such a creature was recruited for the war effort. But contact with the creature has been impossible. Mehmet al’Bahadir has been the newly promoted spymaster of Stannasgard and has been tasked with contacting the Horse-Eater.
He’s heard of an adventurer whose party met a tragic fate at the breath of the dragon. The adventurer is being questioned while dwarven clerics tend to his wounds. Mehmet plans his operation to find and get information out of this survivor, and we roll a 5 on Information, 1 on Location, and 4 on Confrontation. After a bit of light torture, Mehmet’s informant reveals that the adventurer is held in the ancestral crypt below the Temple to Wotan as a safe place to rest and heal. Mehmet plans to bringing a pair of keg golems (see Creature Codex) he stole from dwarves in the city to take care of any resistance and provide a distraction for escape. Mehmet didn’t treat his informant well though, and they go spill the story to PCs, providing a convenient in-road for PC meddling.
Get into Midgard with the Midgard Worldbook! This acclaimed campaign setting is rich and deep, with over a decade of support from Kobold Press.
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