Warlock’s Apprentice: Intrigues of the Mharoti

Warlock’s Apprentice: Intrigues of the Mharoti

Perpetual war, the interminable policy of the Dragon Empire. Conquest in the name of the Dread Sultan.

The endless machinations of the dragons of the Dragon Empire are counted not only in physical and military might but also through the dragons’ innate cunning and narcissism. A great general knows that an army is not always beaten by force but also by weakness of heart and spirit. A cowed enemy is no longer an enemy—it is a servant.

Countless agents of the Dragon Empire are scattered across Midgard to spread poison and seek conquest through subtler means—the seeding of alliances, the venom of terror, the breaking of friendships, and the greedy gathering of ancient and powerful magic. These plots stir constantly and can be encountered anywhere across Midgard, making marvelous potential intrigues that can be woven into your adventures or perhaps subtly—or overtly—as the focus of entire adventure paths. This article gives you some further adventure outlines to expand upon the adventure ideas in the Midgard Worldbook, and it also provides you with a few ready-made villains to use, hint at, or incorporate into your campaign backstory.

The agents of the dragons—and the dragons themselves—make for fascinating foes who often hide behind honeyed words, forked tongues, and untrustworthy faces. Here is detailed a trio of such dragons, their agents, desires, and motivations. Use them to drift rumors into your campaign or as inspiration for your adventures, perhaps allowing your PCs’ paths to cross some of these dragons and their minions and be drawn in, perhaps becoming unwitting tools of some darker plot. We have deliberately designed these foes and where they are encountered to be flexible, to lurk behind your own adventures and machinations and to drive evil and the need to conquer. They can thus be used in any area of your campaign in vast, beautiful Midgard.

The reach of the Dragon Empire is strong…

Bastoria the Beleaguering

Agent of Rüzgar, Lord of Fog and Hungers, Ruler of Zaldiri. Bastoria the Beleaguering, the Scourge, the Hammer—adult black dragon.

Motivations. Conquest, wage a covert war against followers of Glauvistus the Scourge to destabilize Rumela, reputation, sadistic joy in violence.

Techniques. Endless war, extreme violence, kidnap, torture, threats.

Rumors. Only true dragon blood is of any worth and consequence, and only those with such blood can form the ranks of the forces of Bastoria. The warriors of the black dragon are found souring lands, small lightning-fast groups that orchestrate campaigns of destruction and terror. There is no subtlety with these agents of fear, who revel in the title of the Firestorms.

Usually, Bastoria and his demented dragonkin followers are found burning and destroying just behind the edges of the Dragon Empire, and in particular raids and actions against the Magdar Kingdom and Perunalia. Sometimes, however, their talents are employed in greater battles or actions farther afield. Rüzgar’s favored prize is, of course, Rumela, but open conflict between the morza is unacceptable, so a covert war is fought by proxy and destruction.

Bastoria regards even the fine flesh of dragonkin expendable, even the deadly dracotaur that sometimes sour his forces, and has personally slaughtered dozens of often fiercely loyal followers to show his ruthlessness and revel in his paranoia. He fears challenge and as such cannot allow anyone’s reputation to grow too far. Only his semi-legendary follower, the alchemistCrone (dragonborn wizard 8) escapes his wrath. Strangely, the dragon treats this adviser with kindness, perhaps respecting the tale that the withered staff she leans upon is actually a fingerbone of Baal-Hotep, which she tricked him of during a game of rhymes. Or perhaps the kindness masks fear?

Crone is a sadist and genius, who fashions the cruelest weapons of war based upon the wickedest acids. The names of her machines of warfare have passed into the annals of conflict and are whispered of with fear and awe: names like the Breath of Dissolution, a great iron head able to breath storms of acid, and the Anger of the Lord of Fog, a semi-arcane weapon of war that births corrosive, semi-aware, mists. In battle, the insane followers of Bastoria use her weapons and acids liberally to further engender terror and reputation. That the ruler of Zaldiri has shared laughter in destruction with the Dread Emperor and mentioned her name merely adds to her aura. Some say Bastoria both dotes on and fears her in equal measure. The two are considered sides of a coin, never far apart.

Adventures

Candles Across the Kingdom. This potentially longer campaign pits the PCs against the lightning forces of Bastoria as they seek to end the vile acts of wanton destruction plaguing a kingdom. Here, the Firestorms have scattered across the twisting edges of some difficult terrain—perhaps a forest or series of narrow valleys—and from their lairs launch strike after strike. The raids seem coordinated in some sophisticated way and are armed with insider knowledge of the kingdoms strengths as well as dreadful new corrosive weapons.

The information is coming from a troupe of performers, among whom are many kobolds loyal to the Lord of Fog and Hungers. The kobolds have been quietly spying for months now and steadily heading back to their master to bring further news. Are the PCs distracted by the endless raids and seek simply to violently halt them, or do they dig for subtler clues? If they capture the valuable agents of Rüzgar, do they learn even greater information about the strengths and motives and aims of Bastoria and his master…?

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Read more of this and other great articles in Warlock, only on Patreon!

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