My local IRL gaming group, Chicago Midgard Adventures, embarked on an adventure path in the Southlands, a vast continent in the Midgard Campaign Setting published by Kobold Press.
This adventure path will take our heroes from level 1 through 20. Every other week, we’ll publish a story based on these sessions, beginning with the character introductions. This article is Part 1 in the series.
|Image by BubbleWolf (DevianArt)|
The sky at night? You’ve never seen so many stars in your life, as if every time to see this sight, it's like it is the first time you’ve been in the desert at night.
Digging in the sand of the Mushmesh Hills in the high heat of the day is a Nkosi named Nidalee. Nkosi are common in the jungles and savannahs of the central region of the Southlands continent. But the great-cat race in the desert sands is rather unusual in the northern part of the continent.
Nidalee is a scavenger, desert guide, hunter, and protector of the lost. Farmers near the River Nuria trade her food and supplies to track and kill desert beasts that pray on their livestock. Oftentimes, she just chases them far away from the main herds. “There’s no need to kill these predators. They have to eat too,” Nidalee often thinks to herself.
Digging in one of the former battlefields where the armies of Nuria Natal and the dragonkin empire of Mharoti Empire came together in the Mushmesh Hills, Nidalee is searching for items of value. Selling or trading scavenged weapons, armor, magic items, or even dragon bones for food and supplies is her primary occupation, particularly when the hunting is sparse.
Nidalee likes to be alone. Maybe this is a result of her being abandoned at an orphanage by her parents when she was an infant. Maybe she’s just an introvert. As a child, she had hopes that her parents would return to her and take her home. But that never happened.
Despite her years of self imposed isolation, Nidalee is kind, caring, optimistic, yet stubborn and headstrong. Her years of scavenging have shaped her to become highly adaptive and resourceful, able to find her way out of situations using unorthodox methods. She has a sense of justice, honor, and good morals, always maintaining a fierce loyalty to her friends and companions.
Nidalee entertains an occasional audience of large beetles or scorpions passing by as digs. She continuously repeats the words taught to her by a wise, but odd caravan owner named Kevin. It was he who rescued her and her friends, who were wandering the desert years ago as children after they left the orphanage.
I must not fear. For fear is the path to oblivion. Fear is the death of a thousand cuts that brings total obliteration. Master your fear before it masters you.
A great battle took place where Nidalee is digging 125 years ago. Blue dragons aligned with the Mharoti Empire burned the coastal city of Avaris. The fifth god-king Aten-Akman, after being awakened from his tomb to defend Avaris, defeated most of the dragons and the dragonkin armies in a day-long battle. The battle culminated in single combat between Aten-Akman and Zulati the Thunderer, the last of four attacking blue dragons.
Overwhelmed after such an extended fight, Aten-Akman invoked his death curse. The resurrected god-king summoned a five-mile tall pillar of molten rock, enveloping the nearest enemy troops while flinging shards of obsidian to shred his foes and cripple the Mharoti fleet. The spire still stands today far in the distance from Nidalee as a monument and warning to the Mharoti of the power of the god-kings.
Nurians know that the price of throwing back the dragonkin incursions is steep. Sooner or later, the Mharoti will invade again; the next time, victory may fall to the dragons. But today, there are just simmering tensions between the two nations. Warily, though, trade continues while both sides await a sign of weakness in the other. Someday, perhaps, the Nurians may decide that the best route to peace is to burn down a dragon city and reclaim some of their lost territory.
Nidalee continues to dig in the sand while scanning the area for threats, always on guard. The desert always lies in ambush, Kevin’s words remind her. Everything around her is quiet in the hot, shimmering desert. The desert is her home despite her Nkosi heritage and the 105 degree desert temperature.
She digs and digs, then finally strikes something metallic. Switching from a shovel to a brush, she carefully cleans the dirt away from the object. Blowing away the last of the sand, a metal plate is uncovered, indigo in color, but not that big. Perhaps it was part of some Mharoti armor plate.
As she lifts the plate into the sun to examine it further, she notices some writing in on it and in the Southern Tongue. As she reads, her eyes grow large, and her hand goes over her mouth to stifle a gasp as she just saw what was written on the other side of the plate.
Dropping the piece of metal in the sand, Nidalee scoots backwards about 10 feet in a fast crab-walk then stops, staring at that plate that has been in the sand for who knows how long. After a several minutes staring at it, she crawls slowly back toward the metal plate repeating Kevin’s words to give her strength.
I will face my fear. I will force it to pass over me like the wind. And when the fear is gone, only I will remain. But I will be stronger because I have defeated fear once more.
Nidalee cautiously picks up the plate and reads it again. After thinking for a moment, she places it into her backpack. Searching in another part of her pack, she pulls out what gold she has. “Do I have enough?” Continuing the conversation with herself, "I can get work on a ship heading South to pay for my passage. Horem-Gatra is not far from here. I hate that place.”
Picking up and stowing her tools, Nidalee heads southwest back to the Kingdom of Nuria Natal, repeating Kevin’s words over and over. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
"Is obliteration in my future or is it something else?" she says, yelling at the sky.
The lore in this story can be found in the Southlands Campaign Setting (Pathfinder) and Midgard Worldbook (5e). Both books are published by Kobold Press and used in this blog under their Community Use Policy.
Chicago Midgard Adventures is part of the Chums of Chance D&D 5e & Adventure Group, based in the western suburbs of Chicago and found on MeetUp. We are also affiliated with Midgard Adventures, an online group of fans of the Midgard Campaign Setting.