So You (Still) Want to Play in Midgard? Part Two

So You (Still) Want to Play in Midgard? Part Two

And we’re back! Last time, we started a campaign arc that saw our PCs starting out in the village of Levoća in the Eastern Margreve, traveling to Zobeck, and then to the Ironcrags. They’ve attended a Midsummer Feast in the City of Gears and a boozy dwarven rite in the canton of Gunnacks. They heard rumors of treasure for daring adventurers of more skill than they possess, and they’ve spoken with a mysterious crystalline entity. And when we left them, our intrepid adventurers were heading toward Melana in search of a rare magic book but not sure where in Melana it resides.

Now, it’s not lost on me that we’re nearing the location of The Scarlet Citadel, and if that Kickstarter had already delivered, I’m sure I’d detour there for a bit. But it hasn’t yet, so I can’t. But you might. However, sticking with what we can get our hands on now, there’s a lot of 5th-level appropriate adventures and encounters we can string together. Right off, take a look at “Loyalty Beyond Death,” a series of encounters written by James J. Haeck, which are very fun and have the advantage of being free (!) as they were published on the Kobold Press blog as part of the “Out of the Frying Pan” series. As the characters quit the Ironcrags, heading toward Melana, they meet the comedically unfortunate Sir Revilar, a ghost knight (see Tome of Beasts) with no sense of direction, trying without success to return to his fellows in the Order of the Undying Sun in the city of Wagenstein in the Magdar Kingdom. Sir Revilar’s encounters are supposed to be split up, so technically you could have introduced him earlier, between “Tragedy at Thyrdun Outpost” and “Caverns of the Crystalline Monolith,” and then have him show up again here. But definitely use him. And when the players do have him meet up with his order, be sure to check out the magic items in “Rays of the Undying Sun” in Warlock Grimoire and maybe give the characters a dawn shard as a reward for helping the poor ghost knight. But once Sir Revilar is reunited with his fellows, we’re on to Melana and Mike Welham’s Warlock Lairs adventure, “The Sunken Library of Qezzit Quire.” At this point, the PCs reputation may have preceded them, so they are met by Sabine Felderol, the no-nonsense Marsh Warden of Tolmezo. Sabine wants them to secure the contents of the library in question, which was built by an elf scholar who sank it into the marshes rather than let an angry mob burn it down. We’ll tie this into the book the PCs are after and the hint they got from the crystalline monolith, so now they’ve got a second reason to take the marsh warden up on her offer besides the 1,500 gp for the job. And of course, this is a library! Throw in as much from Deep Magic as you want. In fact, at this point, I’d create a magic tome containing every spell in Sarah Madsen’s brilliant “Guide to Liminal Magic” (see Warlock) because I LOVE LIMINAL MAGIC and want to dump it all over my campaign. I’m calling the tome Impalpable Acuities by Pinetti the Intangible, and I’m putting every dang liminal spell in it.

Now let’s go to Triolo. We’re near enough. It’s a major city. If we need a reason, let’s guard a supply wagon or courier a message. On the way, if you like, you can run “Muttering Madness” by GM Lent. It’s another free website encounter in the Out of the Frying Pan series. The encounter involves a lovelorn mage attempting to resurrect his dead lover by feeding the PCs to gibbering mouthers (sure, that could work). The misguided mage Talan Csalo is a good source for dropping some more Deep Magic in. Since we’re dealing with gibbering horrors and weird rituals, let’s place a Mythos magic spellbook among his things. “Muttering Madness” is also a good segue into nameless horrors and horrors from beyond space. Right in time as we arrive in Triolo where ship’s captain Jenny Harken enlists our heroes into “The Pirate’s Cove” by Brian Engard from Book of Lairs. This adventure also introduces Shar-Ngolyeth, That Which Lurks Beneath the Tide, who we will come back to.

But finally, finally, our patient players can advance to 6th level right in time for “Swept Away,” a Shawn Merwin-penned adventure from Creature Codex Lairs. “Swept Away” can be placed anywhere with a road through a grassy field, so let’s set it between Triolo and Salba, why not? The treasure from the adventure includes “a map to another landmark in the area where people often congregate, but it is not clear why the devil had this map.” We can take that and maybe use it later. Or we can change it to another map, perhaps one hinting at the location of a certain Firefalls (you’ll see.)

But we reach Salba, and that’s where we’ll place “The Room with Five Corners”, a 6th- to 7th-level adventure by Jon Sawatsky from Prepared! It features a street gang under the influence of an interdimensional aberration named Xlrieh’oc, so we can squeeze in some more Mythos magic if we like. Now, if the PCs are dumb enough to walk through the interdimensional gateway (which, you know, is a near certainty when I think about it), we can jump straight to the “Ruins of Grimspire” below as they tumble between realities and wash ashore in a floating tower. Otherwise, ship’s captain Jenny Harken catches up with our players in Salba (she has a ship after all), and she needs their help again because Shar-Ngolyeth, That Which Lurks Beneath the Tide, is back at its old tricks, and we’ve got to enter the “Temple of the Deep Ones,” from Brian Engard (see Book of Lairs).

Now, somewhere in here, I want to toss in some more Midgard magic items. Warlock Grimoire 2 has a chapter, “11 Magic Staves of Midgard” by Marc Radle, that features a staff of scrying, which we are told first appeared throughout the Grand Duchy and the Seven Cities, especially Friula, Triolo, and Capleon. So dropping one of those into a treasure horde is a no-brainer.

And now if we haven’t done so already, we can run the 7th-level adventure “Ruins of Grimspire,” set anywhere in the Seven Cities, from Jeff Lee and out of 12 Peculiar Towers. But we want to run the 8th-level “House of Reeds and Whispers” by Jon Sawatsky (see Book of Lairs) next, which takes place in the hamlet of Farris, near the ancient city of Talitheos, shrunken stronghold of red hags. That’s not pinpointed in the Worldbook, but two older Pathfinder RPG materials, Beyond the Ghostlight Reef and the “Blood Mother Margase” section of Midgard Legends, inform us that Talitheos is beyond the Ghostlight Reef in question, which puts us in Friula. So maybe set “Ruins of Grimspire” somewhere in Trombei around the Broken Reeds and that will get us halfway there. Then stick a staff of scrying in the house in question.

Either way, we’ll be back in Triolo for Shawn Merwin’s 8th-level adventure, “King of Ill Fortune” (see Creature Codex Lairs), which is set near the Mharoti Border, so Triolo works well: somewhere between Raguza and the Weeping Shrine. It has a kobold king in it, which is just too much fun.

Now is our biggest jump. Wherever in the Seven Cities our just-turned 9th-level characters are, they are sought out by a representative of the high priestess of the Temple of Loving Mercy in Nuria Natal. The high priestess has recently discovered who stole the Charms of Lada so many years ago—it was Goss that we heard about at the Gunnacks Rites of Ninkash! And the high priestess has learned of his fortress in the Dragoncoil Mountains, though she doesn’t know the exact location—no surprise, it’s the aforementioned Firefalls that we just might have a map to. The representative can provide transportation, or maybe the favors that ship’s captain Jenny Harken have been racking up come due. But either way, we’re off to the Dragoncoils where we’ll run, you guessed it, “Firefalls of Ghoss,” a Warlock Lairs adventure by Jon Sawatsky that is meant to be paired with “Phosus, Dread Wyrm of the Falls” from Warlock 4, now reprinted in Warlock Grimoire. The Firefalls in question are a gateway to the Eleven Hells, so it makes sense our devil from “Swept Away” might have it on a map. But the heart of the adventure is an encounter with a pretty powerful flame dragon, which is a nice callback to the flame dragon wyrmling we encountered so long ago. The adventure will end, should it not end in a TPK, with our PCs getting five unique magic items, only one of which they need to hand over for their 10,000 gp reward. So in other words, this is a big, big milestone and could even be the end of our campaign.

But if the PCs have found they have a taste for stealing dragon treasure, then Troy E. Taylor’s Kobold website freebie adventure, “Sunken Treasure of Hammra Cistern” is a nice follow up. The cistern in question is beneath the ruins of Hammra in the highlands north of Prezhan, adjacent to and about halfway along the trade road to Efisis. In other words, nearby. It’s a treasure vault full of goodies that were hidden away from the Dragon Lord when he took the area. Ships were sent out to sea and dumped ballast overboard, a decoy to make the dragon think the treasure was “sunken” in the waters off the coast, but in reality, they were submerged inside a cistern made for that purpose. We can drop hints about this from the crystalline monolith and elsewhere, so there’s a payoff here. Of course, if the PCs succeed, they’ll face the ire of Dragon Lord Ibbalan the Illustrious—eldest and greediest of wind dragons, the gold-cloaked Khan of Mezar. But who knows? Maybe they were working on his behalf.

By now, we’re 10th level, so we could pick up Jeff Lee’s “The Guildmaster’s Retreat” (see 12 Peculiar Towers). It just requires a city with a harbor, so Prezhan works, or any port town back in the Seven Cities. But we need to get the Charms of Lada back to the Temple of Loving Mercy, and we aren’t taking any chances, so the PCs are enlisted to guard it en route. We’re going to cross into the Sarklan Desert just for a bit where we plan to pick up a titanic ley line and walk it to Nuria Natal, but before we get there, the recent disappearance of travelers near Titan’s Height has us in the adventure, “Fane of Serpents” by Steve Winter (see Book of Lairs). Here, we’ll fight a giant snake and lizardmen.

Eventually, we make it to Nuria Natal, and by now, our fame is great enough that we are approached by the priests of Aten, who need help reclaiming the “Spire of the Sun God” by Jeff Lee (see 12 Peculiar Towers). We’ll set this east of Per-Xor. It ends with a battle against a CR 12 gilded apostate and the (hopefully) cleansing of the spire in question. And that’s a good place to stop.

Of course, any campaign can wander off in an unexpected direction. And if your players go north instead of south or west instead of east, that’s fine. If they tumble down into the Scarlet Citadel and never come out, that’s fine too. You can plot out another course that’s just as, or more, exciting than this one. This is just an example of one campaign arc in Midgard, one way to stitch together a 1st–10th-level adventure that maximizes the setting, takes advantage of the fantastic online map, and makes full use of all the other amazing sourcebooks and resources that the Kobolds have given us. I shudder to contemplate how many variations we could have come up with. But that’s the point! And it’s been quite a ride, hasn’t it? We’ve come a long way: from the Margreve Forest in the Crossroads, though the Ironcrags, the Magdar Kingdom, the Seven Cities, into the Mharoti Empire. And now we find ourselves at 11th level, where our meandering perambulations have taken us to the heart of the Southlands. But if we want more, whatever shall we do here? Who can give us a hint? I mean, it’s not like there’s a Southlands Kickstarter running right now, is there? Is there? Oh dear…

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Lou Anders is the author of the novel Once Upon a Unicorn, as well as the Thrones & Bones trilogy of fantasy adventure novels (Frostborn, Nightborn, and Skyborn), and the novel Star Wars: Pirate’s Price. He has also done role playing game design for Kobold Press, River Horse, and 3D Printed Tabletop. In 2016, he was named a Thurber House Writer-in-Residence and spent a month in Columbus, Ohio teaching, writing, and living in a haunted house. When not writing, he enjoys playing role playing games, 3D printing, and watching movies. He lives with his wife, children, and two golden doodles in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at louanders.com, on Facebook, Instagram, and on Twitter at @Louanders.

1 thought on “So You (Still) Want to Play in Midgard? Part Two”

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    Love this, it’s how I DM though I don’t plan it out up front. I sandbox and let the players go where they want as I pull sites and adventures out that fit.

    Gotta toss some love out for the Room With Five Corners here, I’ve run it for two groups as it is so easy to place (things with a warehouse are all you need) and it has a very cool unique bit of flavor in the treasure in the form of a sextant/navigation tool that only works in spaces with more than four cardinal directions. I think it is a stand in for money in the treasure parcel, but both groups fell in love with it. They knew “this is just like a porcelain vase but way cooler”. So, of course I found places for them where it can work.

    One thing I did with it was had them use it in a dream to island hop between little impossible islands that each had a site from Prepared 2, which only works because they were dreaming. Then they ended up in one of the ghoul cities from Empire of the Ghouls, but they’re in their physical bodies in the real world, wondering where they are and what happened to their sleeping bodies.

    But it’s a great little plot device for anything related to mythos magic, or interdimentional creeps. Like Shar-Ngolyeth in your story arc. I should have thought of that one, since they were on the water. It’s just a little bit of story fluff, but it captures the imagination. And so that’s my favorite adventure you guys have published.

    And I’m totally stealing Pinetti’s tome for my game. ;D

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