This is the third in a series of blog posts offering ideas on how a DM running Empire of the Ghouls (or another Midgard campaign) can steal things from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft to enhance their game by adding an extra touch of horror.
In Part 2 of this series, I offered some new Midgard Darklords and their domains for DMs wanting to add a Ravenloft side trek to the characters’ trips along the shadow roads in Chapters 2 & 4 of Empire of the Ghouls. But instead of creating new domains, you can adapt some of the Domains of Ravenloft presented in Chapter 3 of Van Richten’s Guide to Midgard. Here are a couple of suggestions.
The magic-ravaged domain of Hazlan has much in common with Midgard’s Wasted West, the twisted lands battled over by nine ancient magocracies around five hundred years ago. These nations stopped at nothing to win victory in the Great Mage Wars and gain control of the ley lines, even going as far as opening portals to the void to summon huge alien monstrosities, the Dread Walkers, to destroy their rivals.
We can change the origins of Hazlik, Hazlan’s Darklord, from Red Wizard of Thay to Midgard, by making him an archmage from Bemmea in the Magocracy of Allain. As the Great Mage Wars drew to an end, only Allain survived more or less intact. Exarch Vermes II took control of the Ninemage Council and laid the ground for the magocracy’s recovery from the wars. Hazlik and his rival Indreficus fought in the Great Mage Wars, and were involved both in summoning one of the Dread Walkers and also taking part in the ritual to slow time and put the monstrosities into the Great Slumber.
Hazlik believed Exarch Vermes was on the verge of appointing Indreifcus to the empty seat on the council held for Allain’s fallen ally Vael Torog. This triggered Hazlik’s capture of Indreficus and the horrific transformation of his rival into a living portal, as described in the Darklord’s backstory in Van Richten’s Guide. The Ninemage Council’s subsequent condemnation of Hazlik and his arrival through the Mists to Ravenloft followed soon after.
Hazlik’s exposure to the warped ley lines of the Wasted West has changed him and corrupted his new domain, afflicting it with magical disasters similar to those that ravaged the magocracies. Rather than eyelike golden tattoos, his body is instead covered with dozens of real eyes, some staring, some blinking, which he conceals under his voluminous gold robes.
If you’re running a campaign set in western Midgard and don’t want to send your players to Ravenloft, you can easily add the towns and disaster sites of Hazlan, such as the Brew and the Fleshless Forest, to the Wasted West, and use many of the adventure ideas on p. 116 in Midgard. The Hazlan Wild Magic table can also be used to supplement the effects of cursed ley lines and arcane weather described on p. 238 of the Midgard Worldbook.
The Egyptian-themed dark fantasy domain of Har’Akir is a great fit for Chapter 4 of Empire of the Ghouls, Catacombs of the Ghul King, and with the upcoming Southlands Worldbook. Perhaps the Labyrinth of Har’Akir runs beneath all the tombs and pyramids of Nuria and the northern deserts of the Southlands? An ancient doorway in the catacombs beneath the Necropolis of Siwal – or a hidden passage in the Tomb of Tiberesh outside Per-Bastet – could lead to the trap-laden corridors of the Labyrinth, bringing the characters to Ravenloft without their knowledge. Or characters caught in a sandstorm on the shadow roads en route to Siwal find themselves trapped in Har’Akir?
Ankhtepot fits readily into Nuria’s storied past as the high priest to one of the kingdom’s many pharaohs, murdering his God-King in an attempt to take his place. Or you could swap Ankhtepot for Khensu, vizier to Kemkhet II, God-King of the Ninth Dynasty, who made a pact with a trio of devils in a bid to usurp the throne and become a god in a ritual of blood sacrifice. Venturing too close to the haunted Pyramid of Khensu in the Crescent Desert might bring adventurers to Har’Akir….
I hope you are enjoying reading this series as much as I am writing it. There’s more to come soon. Comments and suggestions appreciated!
Main image by Craig J Spearing