You’ve picked up the Tome of Beasts or maybe the Creature Codex. Maybe you have the Midgard Heroes Handbook. You were thinking about just dropping these monsters into your homebrew or adding those subclasses. But you keep hearing about this Midgard place, this amazing campaign setting that everyone’s talking about. So you take the next step. You get the Midgard Worldbook.
So You Want to Play in Midgard?
And wow. You had no idea. What a richly detailed world! An amazingly rich setting with powder kegs baked into nearly every region. Wars and rumors of wars, political intrigue, an empire of ghouls, and another of dragons. A sentient forest. A shadow realm with entire cities in its depths where bearfolk guide you, but sinister, horned elves might trick you into bargaining away the memory of your first love. You’ve never been anywhere so weird, so strange. Your players are going to love this! Your players aren’t gonna know what hit them. You can’t wait to start them off. To delight and terrorize them.
So… where do you begin?
For starters, I’m going to point you to two resources you might not know about.
The first is the Midgard Map. Featuring the cartography of Anna B. Meyer and the digital wizardry of John Arcadian, this is a most amazing tool for RPG gaming. Not only are there 14 city maps embedded inside, but you can toggle on and off the political boundaries and a hex grid. You can filter markers by fourteen locations—capitals, castles, cities, imperial capitals, monoliths, mountains, oases, old battlefields, other, ruins, sites, titans, towns, and world trees. But probably the greatest feature of the Midgard Map, aside from its sheer exhaustive detail, is the pathfinder tool. This tool lets you draw a line between locations, and it will instantly calculate the distance in miles, so you can plot your party’s journeys anywhere in the world they want to go.*
The other resource I’m going to call your attention to is meant to be used in conjunction with the map. It’s Midgard Adventures by Level and Location. This is an Excel spreadsheet, created and maintained by Yours Truly, that currently lists 170 5th Edition adventures** set in the world of Midgard. This is found on the Kobold Press & Midgard Facebook group, an unofficial page but a fantastic resource in its own right, frequented by quite a few Kobold Press designers and well worth checking out. But what does the spreadsheet do? And how can you use it for playing in Midgard? There are, after all, other online resources for looking up adventures, so what makes this one relevant?
Well, it being an Excel spreadsheet, you can sort the columns any way you like: by level, specific location, country, region, related adventure(s), publication source, or author. And it’s this ability to search level and location that makes it particularly useful to GMs. Choosing the Crossroads region, for example, I see 38 separate adventures with another 9 whose locations are unspecified, but which could be placed there, levels ranging 1–12. Looking just at the Southlands city of Per-Bastet, I see 6 adventures, levels ranging 1–5, but plenty more in the general region of Nuria Natal, which players could easily travel to. You like the Dragon Empire? Well, there’re 10 adventures awaiting you there right now. The Northlands? There’re 15 adventures to be had there, my friend. Need a good place to start a campaign? Search by level and—voila—there are 15 adventures for 1st-level characters beckoning you in. You see how to use this now?
But where to begin your campaign? Let’s look at some of the popular starting points. By far and away, the best “introductory adventures” to Midgard are the brilliant Cat and Mouse, set in Per Bastet and written by Richard Pett, “Everyone Lies” by Ben McFarland (found in Streets of Zobeck and set in that city), “Hollow” by Richard Pett (set in the Margeve Forest and found in Tales of the Old Margreve), and the Three Little Pigs triptych from Warlock Lair 30, 31, and 32, written by Richard Pett and also set in Per-Bastet. “The Impregnable Fortress of Dib” by Jon Sawatsky from Prepared! is another great jumping-in point (probably set somewhere near Savoyne, judging by its sequel in Prepared 2). Also popular is the Northlands adventure The Raven’s Call by Head Kobold Wolfgang Baur himself (though in translating this older adventure from Pathfinder to 5E it jumped up from 1st to 3rd level).
(But You Don’t Know Where to Start)
So now let’s chart out a possible campaign arc, shall we? Here’s one that I’m playing through. It starts off in Zobeck, but it makes treks into the Margreve Forest and will eventually see the players heading northward and making excursions into the Shadow Realm where the denizens there will emerge as a major threat for the players.
Crossroads Campaign Arc
- “Everyone Lies” (Levels 1–3)
- “Hollow” (1)
- “The Honey Queen” (2–3)
- Wrath of the Bramble King (2)
- “Vengeful Heart” (3)
- “Murder on the Crossroads” (3)
- “The Midnight Tree” (3)
- “Doom Croaker’s Branches” (4)
- “Rust” (4–5)
- “The Griffon Hatchling Heist” (5)
- “Hell Comes A’Glittering” (5–6)
- Blood Vaults of Sister Alkava (5–6)
- Wrath of the River King (5–7)
- Pride of the Mushroom Queen (6)
- “Raiders of the Chambers of Tomorrows” (6)
- A Night at the Seven Steeds (6–7)
- Ill-Met by Moonlight (6–7)
- “Dark Night at the Odeum” (7–8)
- “The First Lab” (7)
- Courts of the Shadow Fey (7–10)
- Red Lenny’s Famous Meat Pies (8)
- “Ruins of the Umbral Tower” (8)
- Shadows of the Dusk Queen (8)
- “Grandmother’s Fire” (8–9)
- Firefalls of Ghoss (9)
- “Rebuilding a Good Man” (9)
- “Ripper” (10)
- The Shadow’s Envy (10)
- “Flesh Fails” (11)
- “A Shroud for Aganatha” (11)
- “Bloodstone Tower” (13)
- “The Obsidian Pass” (14)
- “Court of the Lunar Knight” (15)
- “A Triangle in Shadows” (15)
Look at that. A full 1st–15th-level campaign arc. Obviously, as my individual campaign bends and twists and grows, we may skip some of these adventures or reorder some. We didn’t play “Hollow” because it wasn’t available when we started. We’re up to “Murder on the Crossroads” now. I’m already thinking I may drop Wrath of the River King and save it for later. Likewise, Shadows of the Dusk Queen. And I’ll probably add more in from Tales of the Old Margreve. But that’s just my campaign. Yours might decide to head out into the Iron Crags and go from there into the Goblin Wastes, the Western Wilderness, and eventually up into the Magocracy of Allain. Heck, my players might decide to do the same thing! Or south and east into the Mharoti Empire. Either way, between the map and the spreadsheet, I can quickly figure out what to drop into their path.
Here’s a Southlands story arc that could take players from 1st–10th level.
Southlands Campaign Arc
- The Scorpion’s Shadow (1)
- Cat and Mouse (1)
- Tomb of Tiberesh (2)
- Three Little Pigs Part One: Nulah’s Tale (3)
- Three Little Pigs Part Two: Armina’s Peril (3)
- Three Little Pigs Part Three: Madgit’s Story (3)
- Grimalkin (3–5)
- “Castle of Sand” (4)
- “The Claret Wellspring” (4–5)
- “Assault of the Steel Horde” (4–5)
- Mad Maze of the Moon Kingdom (4–5)
- Enigma Lost in a Maze (5)
- “Under the Devil’s Thumb” (5)
- “The Mhalmet Heist” (5)
- “Neither by Sail, Nor by Oar” (5–6)
- “Raganni’s Redoubt” (6)
- Last Gasp (6)
- Black Sarcophagus (6)
- The Infernal Salt Pits (6–7)
- “Monument of the Thunderer” (7)
- “Palace of the Wind Lords” (7)
- Lammasu’s Secrets (7)
- “Tomb of the Scorpion Prince” (8)
- “The Tangled Temple” (8–9)
- “Fane of Serpents” (10)
This campaign would kick off in Per-Bastet but then branch out. It would see a few reoccurring villains—the cults of Tiberesh and of Selket in particular—and alternate between urban adventurers and tomb raiding. And of course, GM and players are free to stray northward after a while if they get bored of desert sands. But you see how it works?
There are literally years of rich stories and deep campaign possibilities here. And thanks to the Midgard Map, working it all out has never been easier on a GM. Pick a level or pick a location, and you’re off. All you have to do is chart your course and go. So what are you waiting for?
* I should point out that the wonderful Southlands map, found in the Pathfinder-compatible Southlands setting book, hasn’t been added to the online map as yet. Hopefully, this will happen before too long.
** At present, this spreadsheet is only for 5th Edition. There’s not a resource for Pathfinder or other edition adventures. I began this undertaking for my own campaign, which is 5E, and realized quickly that I should share it. Someone else is certainly welcome to do the same for Pathfinder!
Lou Anders is the author of Frostborn, Nightborn, and Skyborn, the three books of the Thrones & Bones series of middle grade fantasy adventures, as well as the novel Star Wars: Pirate’s Price. You can find out more about him and his works at www.louanders.com and visit him on Facebook and on Twitter @LouAnders.