How Ragnarök Begins — Triggering Destruction

How does Ragnarök start? Does it commence as a natural catastrophe? As some inevitable shifting of the universe toward destruction? No. Instead its arrival is heralded by pride, greed, and that deepest of all sins — an unquenchable lust for power.

Ragnarök’s first trigger is the desire of Surtur, King of the Fire Giants, who dreams of conquest in the flaming land of Muspell. It starts as his protégé — the Duergar liege Doomshallow — digs ever deeper for ores and treasure to fund Surtur’s never-ending wars. It commences in the fiery mountain fortress of Soria, that sits on a deep, dark, poison-filled mine.

Soria Castle by Theodor Kittelsen — Image source here.

There Doomshallow’s enslaved miners delve into Svartalfheim’s bowels. They unearth a dark, oily liquid as their picks and tools cleave the rock. They’ve tunneled down, down to pierce the very black Lake of the Dead in Niflheim. Its waters, which hold the dead’s spirits, leak into Soria’s mines. Infused with the power of death, their toxic flood transforms Soria’s slave miners into hordes of zombies, skeletons, shadows. Doomshallow at first battles these undead. But soon he learns to enthrall them, to bind them into a horde of diggers that never grow weary. He uses this slave force to construct serpentine pumps that snake down into Soria’s pits. The pumps themselves are powered by the deathly energy running through the liquids they suck up. He stores the oily fluids of Lake Niflheim in great vats. He uses the liquids to swell the ranks of his miners, his armies. To power his machine pumps. He sells the fluids to the Fire Giants of Surtur who learn to forge mighty weapons out of their deathly secretions.

Hel, Queen of the Dead, in her palace on the shores of Lake Niflheim, hears rumor of Doomshallow’s mines, of Surtur’s lust for conquest. Seeing the great wealth flowing into Soria from Muspell, she grows jealous. She has always desired the Fire Giants’ gleaming red gems. It is unfair, she thinks, that Doomshallow should gain them all. She sends out her spies. They tell her Surtur seeks weapons of war. Now that she knows what the Fire Giants want, she can devise a way to snatch up their gems. She sends a message to Surtur. She tells him that the great chain of Fenris lays embedded in the deeper rocks of Soria. That its metals can be forged into a mighty weapon for his conquering armies. It only need be mined. This chain is strong, she says. It has held Fenris for ages and ages, she assures. Just a few of its metals will not weaken it enough to break, she cajoles. She proposes to work with Doomshallow to forge the weapon. She has cunning plans for its design. Pointing at the serpentine pumps in Doomshallow’s mines — she says “That is the shape it shall take.”

Walkthrough of The Chambers of Grief, the fourth module in the Deep Dark of Svartalfheim adventure series.

Surtur’s eyes glitter at Hel’s words. Doomshallow hears them and only thinks of further profit. A pact between the three is formed. Fenris’s chain shall be mined. A great weapon shall be forged from the metals of its links.

So Doomshallow mines, Surtur forges weapons, Hel plots. They all grow rich. The liquids flowing from Lake Niflheim swell from a trickle into a flood. Their fluids are used for slaves, for weapons, for serpentine pumps. The chain of Fenris is tapped. Its powerful metals removed. Hel, Surtur, and Doomshallow begin to forge a great serpent war machine.

Deep in Yggdrasil’s longest root as it winds down toward the land of Hel there lives the great dragon Nidhogg. Here he lairs on the shores of Lake Niflheim. Within the lake’s oily liquids the dead are dissolved. Nidhogg drinks of this lake. He thus devours the dead. In this way his raging hungers are satisfied. Now with Doomshallow’s pumps and with Surtur’s hungry forges the lake’s levels are running low. Nidhogg grows ravenous. He says to himself “The waters of the dead are not longer so thick and satisfying. I will also eat this root of Yggdrasil to slake my hunger.”

So Nidhogg turns his maw to devour great Yggdrasil. The root reacts by spawning a swarm of smaller roots that burst forth. They plunge into Lake Niflheim. They swarm up through the void of Ginnungagap. They carry with them the dark fluids of the lake. The undead ride their courses. They grow up to entangle Svartalfheim and Midgard. Ripping through their lands and carrying the dead with them. As they grow they take more fluid from Lake Niflheim. So Nidhogg‘s hunger swells. His devouring of Yggdrasil quickens.

Joseph Wright — Vesuvius from Portici. A likeness to Muspelheim

At last Surtur’s weapon is nearly constructed. It is made of an alloy forged from Fenris’s chain. The metals that Doomshallow’s zombie slaves mined now form its great spine. It is a monster machine fed by the liquids of Lake Niflheim — burned in the fires of its strangely beating heart. The spirits of the dead scream as they burn — animating it with unnatural life. A massive draconic serpent spewing poisons. Surtur names it after the first land he intends to conquer — Midgard.

As the last plate in the Midgard Serpent is forged, the chain binding Fenris Wolf shatters. The great wolf is freed at last. He arises, swells through Ginnungagap, begins to stretch his jaws across the skies. His long captivity ignites great hunger. He gapes to devour sun, moon, and stars. A fore-sign of Fimbul Winter. As Fenris slavers for his celestial dinner, Yggdrasil roots grow up into Midgard. They rip a hole at the base of Lake Mimisbrunnr. Odin’s Eye, long dormant in the lake, falls through the hole and out into Ginnugagap. Thus freed from the waters it awakens and opens. It shines upward toward Surtur’s empire of Muspell. It reveals the jaws of Fenris closing on the sky.

All in Midgard see it. Unknowing, they behold the beginning of Ragnarök.


The above description provides the Game Master with background events for The Deep Dark of Svartalfheim series of D&D modules in the Battlestorm Ragnarök campaign setting. Specifically, this background is a supplement to Troubles Rise from Yggdrasil’s Roots Part 1 and Part 2.

BSO Ragnarok 1.30: Troubles Rise From Yggdrasil’s Roots Part 1 — Goblin Town, The Hollow of Horrors, and Shadow Maw

Welcome to Part 3 of the Deep Dark of Svartalfheim — an unofficial, unaffiliated OGL Dungeons and Dragons adventure designed to take characters from level 1 all the way to level 5-7! This is the third module provided for the larger BSO Ragnarök campaign. Here, the PCs continue their journey as unlikely heroes in the BSO Ragnarök setting. It is also part 1 of the adventure — Troubles Rise from Yggdrasil’s Roots.

Toubles Rise — provides players with a choice of two paths. They can decide to enter Goblin Town — a new gathering of monsters led by Shadow Maw in the hills near Yggdrasil. Or they can decide to investigate the Ramshackle House — which is occupied by PKers in service to Svartalfheim’s lord King Doomshallow. Each opens to a dungeon that characters can explore — providing monsters and/or PKers to defeat, mysteries to uncover, and treasure to be won. These adventures are designed for a party of 4-6 level 2 adventurers and will take the players to level 3-4 when completed. Which path the characters choose will determine the events of the next chapter in the Deep Dark of Svartalfheim series — Safe Zones Lost, Midgard Invaded.

Updated Midgard Campaign Map Including Recent Key Locations. Original map made by Ted Burgess.

To make Troubles Rise… less cumbersome as a blog post, it has been broken into two parts. Part 1 — describing Goblin Town, The Hollow of Horrors, and Shadow Maw is provided below. Part 2 will publish about a week or two after Part 1.

I am running Battlestorm Ragnarök as a live campaign. Play is live-streamed on Twitch Saturday Nights about once every three weeks at Ted Burgess’s Twitch page. Afterward, videos of these live games along with character profiles are provided here in the Battlestorm Ragnarök Campaign Archive. In addition, I’m providing walk-throughs of these published modules about once every two weeks every Sunday or Monday Night on my Twitch page.

Below is the Goblin Town, Hollow of Horrors and Shadow Maw section of the Dungeons and Dragons adventure module Troubles Rise From Yddgrasil’s Roots. Enjoy it here for free.

Because we love WOTC and want to promote their original gaming products — the books and electronic guides we use to play our games — I’m listing some links here. Please check them out if you haven’t already: The Monster Manual, The Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.

(Warning: if you are a player in the Battlestorm Online Ragnarok campaign setting STOP READING NOW.)

Walkthrough of Trouble’s Rise — Goblin Town, The Hollow of Horrors and Shadow Maw


The players have now begun to learn quite a lot about the new troubles besetting Midgard. Following the rescue of Raven and the bittersweet reunion with her daughter Thalia, our heroes went on to uncover up to two new threats facing Midgard. The first is a town of monsters forming in the hills to the East of Yggdrasil. The second is a PKer guild that preys on adventurers in the weakening safe zones of Mio Elysse while hiding out in a Ramshackle House that has been cast into darkness by Yggdrasil’s roots. Depending on the course of your campaign, the players may have completed one or both of these quests before reaching level 2. If they have completed both, give them the Quest Alert below and the Quest Alert from Troubles Rise Part 2.

If the players decide to Slay Shadow Maw, read the following recap and introduction below. If the players decide to Investigate the Ramshackle House and Apprehend the Leaders of Kills4LULZ, skip this section and go on to Troubles Rise Part 2 (Publishing on this blog site in about 1-2 weeks).

Venturing into Midgard beneath the new star’s blue light — a star Astrid’s prophecy reveled to you is the very Eye of Odin come to gaze upon the void — you discovered dark shadows and odd happenings among Yggdrasil’s Roots. At Hobgoblin Hill, you found monsters spawning among an old tower’s ruins wandering away from their lair. These hobgoblins had been freed by Yggdrasil’s roots — which unbound them from their typical range near the Hill’s ruins and allowed them to wander through Midgard. You also learned that these roots brought with them the cold, deep shadows of Ginnungagap. Appearing to devour lands in darkness, these pools of void spawned living shades who emerged to strike you with ghostly hands. Each ethereal touch brought with it a weakening chill — pulling you down into the void to fill ranks of shadows. Luckily, you survived your encounter with these undead.

You learned that the hobgoblins weren’t simply wandering about aimlessly. The hobgoblins instead traveled directly to a hidden destination. About a half mile away from Hobgoblin Hill was a hollow mouth in a valley wall spewing out the swirling waters of a subterranean stream. This cave mouth was guarded by two watch towers and a wooden gate. Within the cave, lights from oily fires gleamed and wicked laughter could be heard.

As you approached the cave, a new feature appeared on your player map — labeling the opening as an entrance to Goblin Town. You were unable to venture too close to Goblin Town, though, as you were spotted by goblin scouts hiding within a wooded area leading up to the cave mouth’s opening. These scouts attacked you even as they raised the alarm at Goblin Town’s gates. As Goblins and Hobgoblins swarmed out, you were forced to flee.

You returned to your home town with crucial new information. Yggdrasil’s roots dredged up shadows of void. These shadows somehow freed monsters to roam about in Midgard. Even worse, the monsters freed in this way were gathering together — filling up a macabre new town in Midgard’s hills. The goblins and hobgoblins in this town now pose a major threat to every adventurer in Midgard. For from its gates issue war bands. One day it may belch forth an army of monsters!

Disturbed by this knowledge, your rest is troubled. You realize your Inn is just an ephemeral haven within a safe zone beset by myriad troubles. Yggdrasil’s Roots are dredging up the void’s very substance. Their darkness brings undead, creates bridges between Midgard and entire dungeon realms like Svartalfheim, and perhaps worst of all, allows monsters to wander freely in Midgard, to gather, and to even form armies. Following your unsettled rest, you receive a notification from RubyNight — NEW QUEST AVAILABLE!! SLAY SHADOW MAW OF GOBLIN TOWN!! URGENT NEED TO COMPLETE!! MEET WITH QUEST-GIVER RUBYNIGHT TO RECIEVE!! After all you’ve been through over the past couple of days, you understand Ruby’s fears all-too-well.

Helpful Hints from RubyNight — Goblins Fleeing Shadow Maw’s Devouring Jaws

Ruby, as usual, is available to meet at the Guild Hall during the day or at Thunderale Tavern during night-time (see Ominous Signs Part 1). At their meeting, Ruby expresses her relief that the players returned safely after nearly having to face a horde of monsters issuing from the gates of Goblin Town. Ruby seems sheepish about asking them return to danger so soon. But she believes she may be able to provide them with helpful hints on how to approach Goblin Town. While the players were away, another adventuring group scouted the lands surrounding Goblin Town on a Quest for RubyNight. They discovered some of the goblins within the Town were trying to escape into the surrounding lands. When approached, the goblins at first cowered in fear — begging for their lives. They gladly gave information in return. The reason why they fled was to escape to devouring jaws of Shadow Maw — a fiendish hound-like creature that can turn into a goblin but is also said to eat them. The adventurers found that Shadow Maw is the organizing force behind Goblin Town. RubyNight believes that letting such a powerful and dangerous leader of monsters — able to organize forces on such a massive scale — could result in terror reigning across Midgard. So, even though she knows the risks are high, she asks the players to sneak into Goblin Town and take down Shadow Maw.

New Quest From RubyNight — Slay Shadow Maw the Boss of Goblin Town

A new darkness has emerged in Midgard. It is a fiendish hound of King Doomshallow who is now swelling the might of this dark lord by building him armies both in Midgard and in Svartalfheim. If the players undertake this quest, they will directly confront the horrific creature that is Shadow Maw — Queen of Goblin Town and huntress in the Hollows of Horror that open behind it. What follows is the story of how Shadow Maw came to rule Goblin Town. It is essential reading for the Dungeon Master as the players will either confront Shadow Maw now or later. If the players instead decide to investigate the Ramshackle House, they’ll be faced with Shadow Maw in the next chapter of this adventure series — Safe Zones Lost, Midgard Invaded.

Quest Background: Shadow Maw, the Terrible Barghest Queen of Goblin Town

Shadow Maw is indeed the organizing terror behind Goblin Town. A Barghest with some modifications, Shadow Maw is a fiendish ‘hound’ of King Doomshallow of Svartalfheim. Given free reign to hunt, one day Shadow Maw discovered a root of Yggdrasil emerging from a tunnel floor within Svartalfheim. Shadow Maw found that the shadows around the root created a pathway to a cave within Midgard. Confined to the shadows and unable to venture further into this tantalizing new realm, Shadow Maw was about to stalk back to her home when she saw the flickering of torchlight. A lone adventurer had found the cave and was searching it for monsters. Shadow Maw slunk back into the darkness, transformed into her goblin form, and made a stumbling noise to attract the adventurer. Upon seeing the goblin, the adventurer charged only to find himself facing against a horrific fiendish predator. Shadow Maw made short work of the adventurer who died — leaving a fragment of Deep Shard as remains. Shadow Maw then devoured the Deep Shard. Finding its darkly rich taste to her liking, Shadow Maw decided to lair in the cave.

After killing two more adventurers and devouring their remnant Deep Shards as well, Shadow Maw discovered she could now roam freely about Midgard. Venturing out, she found a wandering group of goblins. After killing their leader, she brought the goblins back to the cave as her servants and protectors. By talking with her new servants, she learned of other goblins and hobgoblins wandering the lands after Yggdrasil’s roots had freed them. She sent out her dark power to these goblinkin — drawing them to her. Soon after, Goblin Town was founded.

Shadow Maw continued to devour goblins, adventurers, and deep shard remnants as her tastes dictated. But she found her hunger increased even as a darkness began to spill from her mouth. She thought little of her cravings. After a time, two emissaries of King Doomshallow — one Duergar and one Drow — arrived. They brought with them a message which read — “Your gifts of servants have made you the greatest of my hounds. We shall use them in our coming war against Midgard. Continue. Gather your forces and send me more of these servants. I find them both wonderous and dark.”

Each time Shadow Maw devoured a goblin or a hobgoblin, they were transformed into a Skeleton, Zombie, or a Shadow and sent to serve King Doomshallow. Each time she destroyed an adventurer, another Deep Shard added to the might of the darkness gathering within her. Now she rules Goblin Town from her dark throne at the end of her Hollow of Horrors — her tunneled hunting grounds where she takes goblins, hobgoblins, and adventurers alike for sport and to swell the ranks of King Doomshallow’s armies. Goblins and Hobgoblins in Goblin Town have fractured under Shadow Maw into three rough groups. The first are fanatical devotees who believe that serving Shadow Maw will grant them preferential treatment (sometimes she does, but Shadow Maw is fickle). The second are those whose AIs haven’t yet developed a sense of self preservation. They follow Shadow Maw automatically and in an uncaring fashion, although they sometimes display confusion over their present circumstances. The third group are those who’ve realized Shadow Maw presents a terrible danger to them. Some of this group fled and asked for help from adventurers. The rest live in a constant state of terror in Goblin Town and may give adventurers subtle aid as they move to confront the Barghest.

Quest Alert: Infiltrate Goblin Town and Slay Shadow Maw

Make a copy of the following green highlighted text to give to the players when they receive this Quest from RubyNight:

Situation: Monsters are gathering in Goblin Town in large numbers. They represent a threat to all who travel across the central lands of Midgard. They are mostly Goblins and Hobgoblins organized and led by Shadow Maw — a creature that can take either the form of fiendish hound or a goblin. Shadow Maw rules over goblin town through terror. She hunts and devours her own subjects. She has also killed a number of adventurers.

Objective: Infiltrate Goblin Town and slay Shadow Maw.

Objective: Disrupt and disperse the monsters gathered in Goblin Town.

Objective: Some goblins live in fear of being devoured by Shadow Maw. If possible, find these goblins and seek their aid in your attack on Shadow Maw.

Objective: Learn more about Shadow Maw, its origins, and the gathering of monsters in Goblin Town.

Reward: 750 gold (250 gold awarded by each of the major guilds).

Hobgoblin Raiders and Sneaking into Goblin Town

After the players accept this quest, they must then journey to Goblin Town and plan their entry into its dungeon environment. Goblin Town is to the east of Yggdrasil in a hilly region of land that spills down into plains. Nestled in a valley, the town features only one entrance which is guarded by a wooden wall, a simple gate, and two wooden watch towers. Use the Midgard campaign map (updated above) for the players’ overland journey. You may wish to include a random encounter appropriate for level 2 characters along the way. The lands away from towns and safe zones should begin to feel more dangerous. You can add to this tensions by making the monsters seem more bold and aggressive. For example, an ambush by a roving Giant Spider or a group of two Giant Frogs might help to set the tone.

Hobgoblin Raiders

Once the players reach Goblin Town’s environs, they may begin to notice some changes. So long as at least one party member has a passive Perception of 10, read the following description.

The woods ahead are now a familiar outlier which you know screens Goblin Town’s ugly entrance. Lurking within is a group of four heavily armed hobgoblins. They move outward swiftly, finger weapons, and seem ready for a fight.

Regardless, when the players arrive in the vicinity of Goblin Town, they encounter a band of four Hobgoblin (Monster Manual, 186) raiders who immediately attack once they see the party. They are one of four groups sent out by Shadow Maw to raid travelers passing near Goblin Town and should be positioned in the woods leading up to the gate. If the party is stealthy, they may avoid the raiders who have a passive perception of 10.

Map of Goblin Town’s Entrance and its surrounding lands. Battle map is sized for 37×40 5 foot grid squares.

Treasure: The hobgoblin raiders drop 4 gold, 12 silver, and 10 copper. They each wear chainmail and a shield, carry a longsword and a longbow and have quivers with ten arrows (40 total). Their gear can be sold for half value in a Home Town. In addition, their clothes and equipment can be donned by players attempting to disguise themselves to enter Goblin Town (see below).

Entering Goblin Town

Loud shrieks, wicked lights, and oily smoke spills from the cave entrance to Goblin Town. A river of polluted water flows out between two rickety towers and through an opening in a wooden palisade wall. Two hobgoblins guard a gate in the wall. You see four pairs of goblin eyes peering out from fighting platforms on the towers.

After dealing with the hobgoblin raiders, the party must then devise a way to enter Goblin Town. The gate is presently guarded by two Hobgoblins. In addition, four Goblins man the towers — with two in each tower. If the party engaged with the hobgoblin raiders in the woods, those manning the gates and the towers are on heightened alert. Players attempting to sneak into Goblin Tower make stealth checks at disadvantage as a result.

Treasure: These goblins and hobgoblins drop 6 gold, 15 silver, 8 copper and one topaz worth 5 gold. The only gear that’s retrievable after the fight is 20 arrows, one suit of chainmail (half value), and one longsword (half value).

A Tough Fight

Fighting the guards is a rather bad idea as it will result in eight goblins and four hobgoblins arriving two rounds after combat begins (from area 1 in Goblin Town below) so long as one of the goblins in the towers rings one of the alarm bells hanging inside the towers. If these bells are rung, residents of Goblin Town are also on put on high alert (see below). If both groups of guards are defeated at the gate, the PCs may continue into Goblin Town, but are likely to face further combat against large groups of monsters.

Sneaking Into Goblin Town

For those attempting to sneak in, there is little cover or concealment on land. Hiding in the hills behind the gate is possible for those making successful athletics checks to climb into the hills (DC 10), Stealth checks to avoid being seen by the guards while climbing the hills (DC 10), and final Stealth checks to drop down behind the gate and into the cave entrance from above without being noticed (DC 15). Jumping down from the hills into the cave also requires a DC 13 Athletics check to avoid taking 1d6 damage from the fall.

The river provides another means of possible stealth entrance for the players. Those making successful Athletics checks (DC 13) may swim against the current. They must stay beneath the water, holding their breath, and make successful DC 10 Stealth checks to avoid detection. They must then scale the waterfall from beneath the flow of water — requiring a DC 15 Athletics check. Once scaling the waterfall, they must again swim underwater for another twenty feet into the cave to avoid detection (DC 10 Stealth and DC 13 Athletics).

Bluffing Your Way into Goblin Town

Bluffing the hobgoblin guards is also possible so long as the players have secured hobgoblin gear from the raiders or have devised some other way to come up with a reasonable disguise. Though without a Disguise Kit or some kind of illusion magic, the hobgoblin guards will almost surely discover them. In addition, if the deceiving player cannot speak goblin, any Deception checks are made at disadvantage as they attempt to use non-verbal signals to bluff their way in. Just wearing the hobgoblin gear and bringing along any extra players as prisoners requires a successful DC 23 Deception check. A successful Disguise Kit check of 13 and a following Deception check of 13 would also allow entry. If illusion is used on at least 1-2 players, the above Deception checks are made with advantage. If illusion is used on all players wearing hobgoblin gear, the difficulty of all deception checks is also reduced by 5. Last of all, if there are more PCs than hobgoblin gear, the players may try to persuade the guards that these players are captives by succeeding on a DC 13 Persuasion skill check.

Facilitating Challenges For Creative Players

Of course, players may use other creative magics (charms, animal friends, animal forms etc) to attempt to gain entry. Be open to players thinking outside the box and allow them to attempt to execute various creative, non-combat means of entry if they’re so inclined. Use your discretion to adjudicate these unforeseen challenges.

A Dungeon Town of Goblins and Hobgoblins

To navigate Goblin Town’s dangers, players will likely need to balance cunning, diplomacy and use of force. Three factions of goblins and hobgoblins inhabit the town (see The Three Monster Factions below). Each goblin faction has different motivations, perceptions, and levels of alertness. Astute players can leverage the factions’ differences to gain advantage, allies, and even temporary safety.

General Features

Goblin Town occupies a large central cavern with various chambers that off-shoot from the main area. A river that is eight feet deep at its center runs through the town. The central cavern’s ceiling is 15 feet high near the walls and increases to 30 feet high at the cavern’s center. Lighting is bright within twenty feet of light sources indicated on the map. Otherwise, lighting in the central cavern and area 6 is dim. Area 7 is dimly lit by glowing crystals. Area 8 is dark. Staircases leading down into The Hollow of Horrors are cut out of living rock. The bridge in area 3 was constructed by dwarves long ago. The cavern’s one ogre — Smash Face — demands tribute from any who cross the bridge. His loud, bellowed demands can be heard throughout Goblin Town. These bellows mix with the wicked laughter and chanting of the goblin fanatics in areas 2 and 6.

Dungeon Maps

Below are two larger dungeon maps covering all of Goblin Town, The Hollow of Horrors and Shadow Maw’s Throne (Area 25). One is gridded to provide the proper scale. Another is un-gridded if you need a non gridded option. Areas 23, 24 and 25 along with 15 and 16 also provide high resolution versions of Shadow Maw’s Throne (gridded and non gridded) and Ghoul Spider Ambush for use as battle maps.

Gridded version of Goblin Town and the Hollow of Horrors

This large gridded dungeon map for Troubles Rise Part 1 is made for virtual tabletop use at moderate resolution and 1.8 MB.

Clean version of Goblin Town and the Hollow of Horrors. Both maps are originally made by me using Inkarnate.

A non-gridded map of Goblin Town and the Hollow of Horrors is also provided for your ease of use on virtual table tops. Also at 1.8 MB resolution.

The Three Monster Factions

One group are fanatical devotees of Shadow Maw. These goblins and hobgoblins control areas 2 and 6 of Goblin Town. They are also the ruling force within the town. This group believes that if they give Shadow Maw what she wants, she will devour them last, or not at all. There is some truth to this assumption — as Shadow Maw favors devouring her least effective or most rebellious servants. However, Shadow Maw is both fickle and hungry. So even fanatical devotion is no guarantee. The PCs, though, will be unable to negotiate with this set of goblins and hobgoblins. In fact, if this group notices the adventurers, they’ll try to mount a large force to capture them and present them as prizes to Shadow Maw.

The second group involves typical goblin and hobgoblin AIs. They occupy area of 4 of Goblin Town. The guards to the Hollow of Horrors at areas 10 are also typical goblins and hobgoblins. These goblins and hobgoblins are set up to fight adventurers and do so without thinking even as they act like typical monsters. They do not relish attacking adventurers as Shadow Maw’s devotees do, however. And, recently, some among this group have begun to question their existence as well as the wisdom of serving a vicious monster like Shadow Maw who will ultimately devour them in the end. If a rare opportunity arises for a PC to converse with one of these goblins or hobgoblins outside of combat, they can persuade these monsters to behave non-aggressively with a successful DC 20 Persuasion check. The monsters will not, however, directly help the players. But they may help tilt odds in the players’ favor. Such typical goblins and hobgoblins may be asked to look the other way as PCs pass, for example.

Group three are composed of goblins and hobgoblins who’ve fully realized that Shadow Maw will ultimately kill them. These monsters occupy area 5. In addition, a hobgoblin alchemist hermit with similar views lives in a hovel concocting various potions in area 9. Members of this group feel compelled to obey Shadow Maw and her servants only under terror of death. They will fight the PCs if pressed by the fanatics. However, if given an opportunity, they will provide subtle aid to the players in exchange for assurances from the players that they will try to save them. Fear prevents them from fighting at the players’ side except in self-defense. But they can be persuaded to hide players in their huts (DC 12 Persuasion), allowing players to rest and gain the benefits of an Inn (Long Rest) after staying there for one hour. This may trigger a coordinated battle if goblins and hobgoblins from group three are found to be hiding the players by group one’s fanatics. In this case, the goblins, hobgoblins and shamans in areas 2 and 6 gather to assault and kill the goblins in area 5 — triggering an exciting battle for the control of Goblin Town.

1. The Entrance to Goblin Town

Smoke, flickering firelight, loud bellows and wicked laughter issue from the wide cave entrance in front of you. The polluted river flows through it. On its oily waters floats various wastes and refuse. Beyond, the cave opens up into a much larger chamber.

Four hobgoblins and eight goblins also occupy this area ready to reinforce the gate should the alarm bell ring. If the players are disguised, this group lets them pass. However, adventurers who snuck in will then be confronted by these guards unless they can also sneak past them — most likely be continuing to hide in the foul water (Stealth 10), swimming up stream (Athletics 13), and climbing up out of the river in the dim light before they reach the bridge (Stealth 15).

Treasure: If defeated, these monsters drop 22 gold, 25 silver, and 45 copper. 44 arrows, one longsword, and one longbow are retrievable (half value).

2. Goblin Fanatics Camp

This cluster of five tents to the northwest of Goblin Town is painted with a symbol of open black jaws. Figures wearing similar signs dance around an open fire. At their lead is a fat goblin waving a banner painted with a black mountain whose cave entrance opens like a red mouth.

These tents are occupied by twelve Goblins, four Hobgoblins, and one Goblin Boss. The Goblin Boss, Snarloc Crutke, is a fantastical devotee of Doomshallow’s hound Shadow Maw. He has seen the (to him) wonderfully dark land of Svartalfheim and glimpsed Doomshallow’s mountain kingdom of Soria. His banner is painted as a symbol of Soria. Those trained in History can recognize the symbol as related to the world of Svartalfheim on a successful check (DC 20). The black painted maws are obvious symbols of the Barghest Shadow Maw.

If approached, the fanatics immediately recognize the players as intruders and attack. They shout to raise an alarm. This brings the other fanatics from area 6 with the two wolf riders arriving by round 2 and the rest from area 6 arriving by round 3. By round 5, the regular goblins from area 4 arrive. The bridge ogre in area 3 is too self-interested to be bothered unless directly ordered by one of the goblin fanatics to engage. If things are going badly after the first round of combat, Snarloc Crutke orders two goblins to run off and roust the ogre. If these goblins reach the ogre, they return with it on round 4. In combat, Snarloc wields a major Deep Shard Scimitar (See Ominous Signs Before the Breach)– granting him an additional +1 to hit, +1 to damage and +1 necrotic damage on a critical hit. He commands his goblins to incapacitate the PCs if possible — he intends to bring them to Shadow Maw for execution and collection of their death remains as Deep Shard Crystals.

The fearful goblins in area 5 stay put if the fanatics are attacked, hoping that this new event can somehow aid in their escape. The gate guards in areas 10 and 1 stay at their posts. Though if things go badly for Snarloc, one of the gate guards in area 10 to the south will alert a wolf rider in area 11 to send a message to Shadow Maw that her goblins are under attack. This rider, however, never makes it to Shadow Maw and is instead trapped and eaten by the Undead Giant Spiders in areas 15 and 16.

Treasure: If the fanatical goblins and hobgoblins are defeated, players searching the bodies and the tents find Snarloc’s major Deep Shard Scimitar, 57 gold, 10 electrum, 107 silver, 43 copper, and a black opal worth 50 gold along with 72 arrows, two longswords, three scimitars, and one suit of serviceable chain mail (all normal items re-sellable for half value).

3. Ogre’s Bridge

Polluted water flows under a finely constructed bridge lit by two oily torches. A fat ogre holding a gigantic spiked club leers at you as you approach. He thrusts a hand the size of a dinner plate out toward you, the wicked light of greed glinting in his eyes. In garbled common, he says “Want cross? Pay Smash. No pay? Then swim in nasty water.” He gives a wicked chuckle, seeming to relish the thought of you struggling through filthy water.

Smash Face is a greedy Ogre who’s planted himself beside this bridge to demand tribute for anyone crossing. Smash Face isn’t discerning. He’ll accept food, coppers, even pieces of gear or clothing (he uses any clothes gifted as a napkin to wipe his filthy face). If the party gives him gold, he’ll offer to carry the person giving him the gold across the bridge on his shoulders.

Smash Face doesn’t much care for the fate of the goblins. He’s got his bridge and that’s what makes him happy. Though he’s obliged to fight at the command of the goblin boss Snarloc, he does so reluctantly. If he loses more than 50 percent of his hit points in any fight, he’ll return to his bridge, roll himself into a ball, and hide under it while crying big ogre tears over the cruelness of the world. If attacked at his bridge, Smash Face will fight to the death to defend his precious home and source of income.

Treasure: Snarloc hides his loot in a sack underneath his bridge. His sack contains — one half eaten goat, one cooked chicken, one pot of potato stew, 531 copper pieces, 223 silver pieces, 15 gold, a golden ring worth 25 gold, and a platinum brooch worth 100 gold. The potato stew will provide three rations — each granting a short rest. The goat and the chicken are too old and rotten to provide proper sustenance for the players. If they attempt to eat either, describe their rotted state. If they persist, any player consuming either must succeed in a DC 12 Constitution save or be poisoned for one hour.

4. Regular Goblin and Hobgoblin Camp

Goblins and hobgoblins gather around the fire, eat food, and sharpen weapons. They peer out into the darkness, clutch at their swords or bows, and otherwise seem ready for a fight.

Twelve goblins and four hobgoblins occupy this cluster of tents. If approached, they send a hobgoblin and two goblins to intercept the party. If party members are in disguise as hobgoblins, they ask the party “what you want?” If they recognize the party members as adventurers, they attack.

Noise from any combat will draw the attention of the two guards in area 10 on round 2. By round 3, the alerted fanatics from area 2 arrive to join the fray. Once engaged in combat, all monsters involved will fight to the death.

Treasure: 20 gold, 15 silver, 32 copper, two suits of chainmail, two shields, one longsword, one longbow, four scimitars (all re-sellable at half value).

5. Mila Gloomflower and the Fearful Goblins

A cluster of seven tents occupies the southern section of Goblin Town. Their residents appear to hide, cowering in the shadows, or peaking through tent openings as you approach. A lone goblin, her spikey blue hair glinting in the firelight cautiously draws near to you as she clutches a ragged doll to her chest with one hand, apparently for comfort. A short sword of Deep Shard glints darkly in the other. She appears to be the only goblin brave enough to confront you. Though she holds a weapon, she does not appear to threaten.

Mila Gloomflower is a goblin AI who was swallowed by Shadow Maw when she was sent into the Hollow of Horrors to serve as hunt fodder by Snarloc. Mila used her Major Deep Shard Short Sword (stolen from a goblin fanatic before she was cast into the Hollow) to stab the inside of Shadow Maw’s throat as she tumbled down into the darkness of Shadow Maw’s gullet. Shadow Maw spat her out into a crevice of void beneath a tangle of Yggdrasil’s roots. Mila was swirled off by a cold current into Ginnungagap only to be sloshed about in an eddy of darkness and then emerge among another tangle of Yggdrasil roots nearby. At last free, she was able to make her way back to her goblin family in area 5.

After surviving this ordeal, Mila discovered the emergence of strange powers. She is now a level 1 Shadow Magic Sorcerer / level 1 Arcane Cleric (See Appendix below). Though young, she’s now a driving force among the fearful goblins. Her words have already inspired some to take the risk to escape. She’s sticking around to see if the other goblins in her little community are willing to also give it a try. But if they delay too long, she’ll soon strike out on her own.

Mila speaks both Common and Goblin. She’s curious about the adventurers and is willing to talk. She first asks if the adventurers are here to defeat Shadow Maw. She appears hopeful. If they tell Mila about their quest she reveals the following.

  1. The goblins in area 5 are fearful and want to escape Shadow Maw.
  2. Rayvol the goblin alchemist in area has healing potions that he may be willing to sell or give the adventurers if they tell him they’re here to deal with Shadow Maw.
  3. The goblin tents here can be used for hiding and rest. The player will just have to convince the community elder Wimbler Crobix to take them in.
  4. Mila is willing to cast Healing Word on one player who is wounded.
  5. If the players ask Mila to accompany them, she agrees if they succeed on a DC 14 Persuasion check. She is otherwise willing to help them if they return to area 5.
  6. If asked about Shadow Maw, Mila says: “She hungers to consume all who live here. Even I was swallowed by her. But I was lucky and escaped. She says she eats us to send us to serve her Lord. A dwarf called Doomshallow. Though she eats her followers, she lusts for adventurers even more. She came from a darkness in some roots behind her throne in the Hollow. The fanatics say she came from a place called Soria in Svartalfheim. Two from Soria — a dark elf and a dwarf are always near her.”

Twelve goblins and three hobgoblins reside in the seven tents scattered throughout area 5. Their numbers were reduced after one hobgoblin and seven goblins took an opportunity to flee about a day ago. Wimbler Crobix, an old hobgoblin is their present leader. He at first seems suspicious of the adventurers. But if they succeed in a DC 15 Persuasion Check after telling him about their mission to defeat Shadow Maw, Wimbler will offer the players rest in one of the goblin tents.

Other than Mila, the fearful goblins cannot be convinced to fight Shadow Maw, the fanatics, or the other goblins. However, the fight may come to them. The first time the players use a tent to spend an hour to receive a long rest, nothing happens. However, the second time the players rest in area 5, fanatics from area 2 spying on the fearful goblin camp discover them and organize an assault. They gather all the goblins in area 2, 6, and 4 along with two guards from area 10 and the two wolf riders from area 11 to attack. The players find their rest interrupted as battle commences. However, their new goblin allies immediately cast off restraint and join the fight. If the fanatics have already been defeated, then the players may rest undisturbed. But if the players rest a third time, Shadow Maw spits out a force of 10 skeletons, 8 zombies, and 6 shadows from Svartalfheim, led by a hobgoblin to march to Goblin Town. If they discover the fanatics have been defeated, they surmise the cause and attack the goblins and the PCs in area 5.

Treasure: 25 gold, 22 silver, 11 copper, Mila’s Deep Shard Shortsword, and one garnet pendant worth 50 gold.

6. Shrine to Shadow Maw

Each entrance to this cave is guarded by a goblin riding a wolf. Flickering fire light spills out from a cave bordered by dark, crystalline pillars. Beyond, you can see three goblins and a hobgoblin chanting and prostrating themselves before an idol atop an alter. The idol is made of carved granite and worked with silver. It depicts a fiendish hound that holds an orb of obsidian in its mouth. The entire wicked assemblage is presided over by a goblin wearing a robe with the sign of black open jaws blazoned on its front. This goblin carries a staff which it waves about as it preaches its unholy screed.

This room is guarded by two goblins — each riding a darkling wolf (A darkling wolf is a wolf bred by goblins for cave fighting. Darkling wolf stats are the same as those of a regular wolf from the Monster Manual, page 341, except that these wolves possess darkvision of 60 feet.). Inside is the goblin shaman (see appendix below) Nard Ulpa. He babbles wild prayers to Shadow Maw, singing her praises and spewing garbled nonsense words as he is overtaken by fanatical fervor. Three goblins and one hobgoblin join in with this mad idolatry prostrating themselves before the carved image of Shadow Maw.

In this room, goblin fantatics indoctrinate and brain-wash their followers. If approached by the players, the goblins immediately recognize them as invaders and attack. If the PCs haven’t yet confronted the fanatics in area 2, Nard sends one wolf and rider off to alert Snarloc. If this alert is raised, Snarloc arrives on round 3 followed by the goblin regulars from area 4 by round 5. If things get desperate, Snarloc then sends two goblins for the ogre at the bridge who arrives by round 6.

Treasure: The idol of Shadow Maw is worth 250 gold. Nard carries a fat purse filled with 40 gold pieces, 3 platinum pieces, and 72 silver pieces. The goblins have 14 gold, 12 silver, and 22 copper between them. They also have one sellable scimitar and one sellable suit of chainmail (half value).

7. Pristine Middens

A natural stone stair leads down to this softly luminous chamber. Large blue crystals provide cool lighting. The area is surprisingly clean and free of debris. The only refuse is a goblin skeleton that appears to hang from the wall to your right as you descend.

The hanging goblin remains to the right is actually suspended in a gelatinous cube (Monster Manual, 242). A DC 15 Perception check from the PCs reveals the cube for what it is. If the players descend the stairs without recognizing the cube, it lunges toward them as it attacks. It is otherwise content to stay in this room and allow goblins to dump their trash which it eats, along with the occasional goblin.

This room is one of the goblin’s garbage dumps. It is empty, however, because the cube eats everything the goblins cast here. The other garbage dump is the river — which is nonsensical as the goblins have an easy means of getting rid of trash in the form of the cube. Instead, they use carrying trash to the cube room as a punishment that may result in the trash carriers being eaten. The goblins and hobgoblins are also too lazy to devise a safe way for their fellows to drop trash into the cube’s lair. Often, goblins sent on trash duty just sneakily dump trash into the river instead. So the goblins are forced to subsist on nasty, polluted water.

8. Waterfall and Ooze

The lights fade as you approach a waterfall at the far end of Goblin Town. Deposits of metal paint the walls in veins of red and copper. Water from the fall swirls into a polluted pool — dark and foreboding.

This dark end is where the goblins mine their metal for weapon forging. Veins of iron and copper are plainly visible in the walls. However, a gray ooze lurks in the pool. This monster occasionally devours a goblin even as it nibbles on the tailings from the goblins’ mining. The predator ooze spits out any gold, however, which it cannot devour. This gold has accumulated in the bottom of its pool. Any adventurer carrying a torch will see it glistening beneath the polluted waters.

The pool is 10 feet deep. So adventurers trying to retrieve gold from the pool’s bottom will have to dive in. Swimming will alert the ooze who lurks under an out-cropping in the waterfall above the pool. It need only fall down on adventurers removing coins from. It is very well hidden and can only be discerned with a successful DC 20 Perception check.

Treasure: The pool contains 134 gold pieces. It takes about twenty minutes of diving to retrieve these scattered coins from the pool’s bottom.

9. Rayvol the Goblin Alchemist

An elderly goblin wearing goggles, a heavy leather apron, and work gloves fiddles with various potions and materials in a ragged lean-to against the cavern wall. A weak fire smolders in front of his humble home which is lit from the inside by various jars of glowing liquid.

This goblin is the alchemist Rayvol. He developed his skill at alchemy weeks before and has been practicing here ever since. When Shadow Maw and her goblin fanatics moved in, he couldn’t be bothered. However, her threats have now interfered with Rayvol’s work. Unlike the fearful goblins, Rayvol doesn’t want to leave. He just wants to be left alone to conduct his research. Because he sees Shadow Maw as a threat to his efforts, he is willing to help PCs who are polite to him.

  1. Rayvol will give the PCs up to three healing potions so long as they pledge to ‘deal with Shadow Maw and those damned fanatics.’
  2. Rayvol has four more healing potions which he will sell to the PCs for cost (half price).
  3. Rayvol has the following items for sale — 3 +1 arrows (30 gold), a Potion of Enlarge (150 gold), and a Potion of Darkvision (50 gold).

Rayvol also possesses a Teleportation Crystal which he crafted after examining a player’s crystal in exchange for alchemical aid. If Rayvol is attacked, he uses his reaction to activate his crystal and teleport to a local safe zone in Nidavellir where he works a small shop front as an NPC. He cultivated this persona through an system exploit and has been living a double life ever since. Though he is loathe to abandon the cave and its numerous alchemical resources, he will not risk his life by remaining here. If Rayvol is forced to teleport away by aggressive PCs, he uses his exploits to bring his valuables along with him. The PCs who drove him off are then left with various bits of junk.

10. Hollow of Horrors Guard Posts

Two hobgoblins guard an opening that plunges down into darkness. Even the monsters appear uneasy in their positions, often glancing behind them as if expecting something terrible to creep up from the depths.

There are two entrances to the Hollow of Horrors. Both are guarded by two hobgoblin regulars. They are instructed to keep those living in the cavern out of the Hollow. However, at times, various residents of Goblin Town are seized and forced into the Hollow as fodder for Shadow Maw or for various other predatory denizens. If approached by players, the guards ready to fight when they recognize them as adventurers. They do not start combat against the players, though they will defend themselves. If the players communicate that they wish to enter the Hollow, the guards laugh, ask for one gold piece for each player, and allow them to pass. The guards believe they are sending the PCs to their death — allowing the monsters of the Hollow to do their dirty work for them. They will, however, not allow the players to return to Goblin Town without a fight.

Treasure: Each set of guards has 10 gold and drops one suit of useable chainmail (resellable for half value) if defeated by the players.

The Hollow of Horrors

This deadly warren of caverns serves as Shadow Maw’s main hunting ground. Deep caves collect pools of unlight. Yggdrasil’s roots pierce sections of floor and wall, spilling out the pitch darkness of Ginnungagap and causing light sources to dim. It is these roots that provided Shadow Maw’s first pathways to Midgard from Svartalfheim. The shadows of Ginnungagap, like the mouth of Shadow Maw, have a life-sapping influence on the creatures inhabiting the Hollow. Over time, those venturing there take on undead qualities. Mad goblins, crazed hobgoblins, their darkling wolves, various undead, and hunted prey all inhabit these dark and twisted caverns.


There are no sources of light in the Hollow. In addition, pools of darkness around Yggdrasil’s roots reduce any light source provided by the players by one level. For example, a light spell would only produce dim light in a 20 foot radius while within an area of shadow near Yggdrasil’s roots.


Unless otherwise noted, ceilings are 10 feet high in passages, 15 feet high in open areas.

No Teleportation Crystals

Teleportation Crystals are deactivated within the Hollow of Horrors. Players wishing to teleport out must first at least return to Goblin Town which may require fighting the hobgoblins in area 10 in order to escape.

Reaching Level 3

It is possible that the players gain enough experience points to reach level 3 while in the Hollow. Unless they can return to Goblin Town and rest in area 5 or use their Teleportation Crystals to return to a Safe Zone and rest in an Inn, the players will be unable to gain their next level. Players who gain their level by resting in Goblin Town still need to visit a Home Town to receive training before the next long rest. Otherwise, they lose the benefits of their level up as their skill become perishable. If players rest at an Inn, they return to find that Shadow Maw has reinforced Goblin Town with 10 skeletons, 8 zombies, 6 shadows and 1 hobgoblin.

11. Cavorting Wolf Riders

Loud yips, howls and cries issue from this dark cavern as two vicious goblins riding their dark cave wolf mounts circle this chamber in search of prey.

Two goblins riding two darkling wolves roam about this area hunting for prey. They’ve inhabited the Hollow long enough to be afflicted by its madness. So they are neither quiet nor cunning. Instead they howl in wicked and vicious delight as animalistic urges consume them. They are also ravenous, attacking any creatures that enter this area without hesitation.

These creatures have not yet succumbed to the undeath brough about by Ginnungagap spilling out from the roots in this chamber’s western portion. However, they can now communicate with the undead in areas 12 and 13. Upon seeing any intruders and initiating combat, they give loud, barking cries which bring the goblin skeletons from area 12 on round 2 and the zombie ogre from area 13 on round 3.

Treasure: Each goblin wields a serviceable shortbow and scimitar which can be resold for half price.

12. Goblin Skeletons

This chamber is scattered with bones and coins. The bones appear gnawed on, splintered, but not consumed.

Four goblin skeletons inhabit this dark chamber. Though they no longer need to eat, they still hunger and often crouch here gnawing the bones cast aside by the goblins and wolves in area 11. These skeletons are aggressive and will attack any creature they encounter other than the goblins in area 11, hobgoblin patrols, or other undead. They may also be summoned by the goblins in area 11.

Treasure: 13 gold, 22 silver and 5 coppers are scattered throughout this room.

13. Ogre Zombie

This foul chamber is smeared with gore and grime. The stench wafting out from it is unbearable. Various roots pierce its walls, dredging up the darkness of Ginnungagap.

Smash Face’s brother Mij Norjda, known as an incoherent babbler of obscenities, was sent to the Hollow to serve as monster fodder. His continuous mad ravings have infected the minds of the two goblins occupying area 11.

Mij Norjda is an ogre zombie. He has formed a rudimentary pact with the goblins in area 11 and will respond to their summons.

Treasure: Mij Norjda’s single treasure is a piece of sapphire jewelry cut in the shape of a blue cornflower set in gold. He keeps it in a red and black box in a cleaner corner of his filth-infested room. This piece of jewelry is worth 150 gold.

14. Roper Bait

The passageway widens into a chamber ahead. Shadows of Ginnungagap spill from its northwest wall through a break produced by a tangle of Yggdrasil roots.

Two goblin skeletons occupy this larger chamber. They position themselves to ambush any travelers in the Hollow. One hides behind the pillar, the other in the hallway to the southeast. Once they see anyone other than undead, goblins, or hobgoblins traveling in this passage, they pop out from around the corner to each shoot an arrow. They then flee toward area 17 — hoping to bait victims into the waiting tentacles of the Roper there.

15. & 16. Ghoul and Ghast Giant Spiders

The area up ahead exudes an air of heavy menace. Foulness and stench waft toward you even as the darker shadows there seem to twitch.

Area 16 is occupied by three Ghoul Giant Spiders, Area 15 is occupied by a Ghast Giant Spider. These predators predated both Shadow Maw and the invasion of Yggdrasil’s roots. They were a cluster of monsters never cleared away by earlier forays of adventurers — effectively slaying many such travelers through use of their lethal ambush tactics.

Each ghoul giant spider uses the Giant Spider stat block with the following exceptions. Each spider’s bite does 2d6+3 piercing damage and a bitten creature must make a DC 11 Constitution save or be paralyzed for one minute. The target can repeat this saving throw at the end of each of its turns.

Undead Spiders battle map

The ghast giant spider also uses the Giant Spider stat block. However, its hit points are increased to 36. It gains resistance to necrotic damage. It exudes a stench such that creatures within 5 feet of it must make a DC 10 Constitution save or be poisoned until the start of their next turn. On a successful save creatures are immune to this stench for 24 hours. The ghast giant spider’s bite does 2d8+3 damage. Creatures bitten by the ghast giant spider must also make a DC 10 Constitution save or be paralyzed for one minute, repeating the save at the end of each of its turns.

The ghoul giant spiders are CR 1 Undead. The ghast giant spider is a CR 2 undead with turn resistance.

Across each entrance, and before the visible webbing, the spiders have laid alert lines. These lines are low and well hidden — requiring a DC 17 Perception check to notice. If the PCs do not notice them, all spiders are simultaneously alerted to the player’s presence. Once alert, the spiders pop out to fling webs at their foes, then withdraw back into shadow. This tactics are meant to break up the movement and momentum of anyone entering the spiders’ lair. If the characters move in, the spiders then surround players while trying to bite them — trying to set up situations where two spiders can focus on one adventurer until down or paralyzed. Then, the spiders circle back to dispatch any foes still stuck in their webs.

If players avoid the trip lines, they still much succeed in a party Stealth Check (DC 15) to approach without alerting the spiders. However, if the players enter the visible webs on the map, the spiders are alerted. Visible webs are difficult terrain. They may be burned away at the rate of 5 feet per round as an action by players holding a source of fire. In any case, the spiders have blindsight 10 and will see anything within range of their darkvision 60. The spiders stick to their own Yggdrasil root (one for each root in area 16 and for the one root in area 15).

If the players defeat the spiders, read the following.

This foul chamber’s walls are covered in spider webs enmeshing the long-dead remains of victims. The entire place is filled with the shadow and chill of Ginnungagap, it reeks of death.

Searching the chamber reveals various treasures that must be cut from the layers of webbing and decayed flesh from the spiders’ past victims.

Treasure: 1 Suit of Splint Mail sized for a human (or like), a bag containing 200 gold pieces, a Helm rimmed in platinum and set with zircon (200 gold), and a Wand of Magic Missiles.

17. Roper

This chamber is filled with rock formations that give the impression of a giant maw filled with teeth.

A Roper (Monster Manual, 261) inhabits this chamber. It has formed a macabre pact with the goblin skeletons in area 14. In exchange for luring prey into its reach, it allows the goblin skeletons to gnaw the bones of its victims. As with other skeletal goblins, these undead gain no sustenance from the bones. Although they find seem to find the gnawing action somehow satisfying.

The terrain in this chamber is broken by numerous rock formation and is considered difficult. The Roper occupies the southwestern wall near a cluster of Yggdrasil roots and Ginnungagap shadows. By keeping to these shadows, it is difficult to see for those without darkvision. It keeps alert to the sounds of the goblin skeletons’ arrows — which are notched so that they make a shrieking sound when they fly. If the Roper hears this sound, add it to the initiative count with a readied action to use a tendril on the first creature that passes in front of its lair entrance. It has advantage on this first attack unless the player has some unexpected means of sensing the Roper.

Once the goblin skeletons have lured prey to the Roper, they turn to harass the party with arrow fire.

Treasure: Near the roper in a pile of regurgitated remains are 3 gems. One is a garnet with 75 gold. One an emerald worth 100 gold. One a ruby worth 250 gold.

18. Captain Chumrod & Zombie Hobgoblins

This barracks once contained an organized force of hobgoblins under the command of Captain Chumrod. It is now a shambles filled with milling undead barely contained by the will of their Captain whom they still hold a vestige of loyalty to.

The hobgoblins have now all been transformed into zombies and skeletons by the dark nature of the Hollow. That said, these undead hobgoblins both still listen to their commander even as they tend to move with an otherworldly celerity. Captain Chumrod is a Hobgoblin Captain. He rides a Worg. He command four zombies and four skeletons. Both of these undead use typical stat blocks with the exception that their speed has been increased by 5 feet, their armor class is increased by 1, and the skeletons use longbows (1d8+2 damage). Captain Chumrod can also use his commanding presence feature to increase the likelihood that zombies will succeed on their fortitude saves to remain standing.

Treasure: Captain Chumrod wears chaimail, a longsword, and a longbow. All are in good repair and can be sold at half price in the marketplace. In addition, his purse contains 50 gold.

19. Giant Ghoulish Rats

Within the shadowy confines of this side-chamber dwell eight undead Giant Rats. They live in the tangle of Yggdrasil roots and shadows at the northern end of this chamber. These rats use the same stat block as regular giant rats with the exception that their bites cause paralysis to those who fail a DC 8 Constitution save. This paralysis lasts for one minute unless the creature succeeds on this save at the end of each of their turns. It otherwise acts as ghoul paralysis.

The giant ghoulish rats are both hungry and aggressive. They will attack anyone entering the chamber or any non-undead, non-goblin passing outside the chamber.

20. Cowering Victim

To the left, the shadows deepen even as the passage widens into a larger room. You can hear a soft whimpering coming from a dark area overtaken by Yggdrasil’s roots.

A level 2 High Elf Circle of the Moon Druid OPC named WhiteCat69 (see Appendix) huddles in this empty room alone and afraid. She was captured by hobgoblins and thrown into the Hollow as fodder for one of Shadow Maw’s hunts. Not allowed food and deprived of a means to rest, she is out of leveled spells, has only half her hit points remaining and only has one use of wild shape left. She still has her equipment, though, and is relieved to the point of near-hysteria if the PCs offer to let her join their party. If asked about her name, she says — “Oh that. Yeah, my brother dared me to use the number 69 in my name. For some reason, he finds this hilarious.” An Insight 12 Check by the players reveals that WhiteCat69 doesn’t get the joke.

21. & 22. Captain Shraevok and the Shadows

A deathly quiet hangs about these open caverns.

Four shadows cluster near the Yggdrasil roots in area 21. They immediately move to attack any living thing that enters this chamber, making loud shrieks to alert Captain Shraevok in area 22. Shraevok is a hobgoblin turned wight who has made a bed of sorts out of a cluster of Yggdrasil roots. He wields a Major Deep Shard Longsword (granting him +1 to hit and damage while dealing 1 additional necrotic damage on a critical strike) and is accompanied by two zombies who lurch about near the corners of his chamber — the result of him slaying two adventurers with his life drain ability during recent hunts.

Treasure: Major Deep Shard Longsword, a small chest containing 30 platinum, 100 gold, and a Tiger Eye worth 50 gold.

Doomshallow’s Hound — The Barghest Shadow Maw

Shadow Maw’s throne chamber is divided into three sections — the entry (area 23), the throne room (area 24), and the shadow gate (area 25). The ceiling of the entry and throne room are 20 feet high. Near the shadow gate, the ceiling dips down to 15 feet. Lighting in the entry is dark. Lighting in the throne room is dim, dark within 10 feet of the Yggdrasil root, and bright within 10 feet of a braziers.

Shadow Maw’s Throne

23. 24. & 25. Throne Entry

Before you is an area covered in shadow. Your eyes catch lurching movement, ears pick up the clink of readied weapons. Beyond the darkness is an open chamber. Its center is dominated by a sprout of Yggdrasil roots which spill a flood of shadow. Orange light erupts from braziers — illuminating a dwarf-crafted throne on a dais of obsidian. Behind the throne — a yawning portal. A gate in a massive swirl of Yggdrasil roots. In the room, goblin skeletons ready weapons. A drow and a duergar stand coiled on the dais. The shadows in front of you seem to swarm. On the throne sits a female goblin holding a flail of Deep Shard. From her mouth spills tendrils of shadow like smoke. When she opens her mouth, you gaze into nothing. “Welcome, prey,” she says to you, “How polite of you to present yourselves to me.”

Within area 23 are six zombie hobgoblins they use the same stat block as zombies except they move at a rate of 30. They are commanded by the hobgoblin captain Nit Thayn — who immediately activates his leadership trait to keep his cohort in the fight by assisting their zombie fortitude saves. Captain Nit rides a worg.

The throne room (area 24) is guarded by six hobgoblin and goblin skeletons. Two shadows lurk in the darkness surrounding the Yggdrasil root. Upon the dais is a drow named Thes Ornga and a squat old Duergar emissary from Doomshallow named Clasher Hocke wearing a necklace of glittering jewels.

Shadow Maw is presently in her goblin boss form. In this form, Shadow Maw possesses the following additional traits and items:

  1. Maximum hit points (36).
  2. 16 strength.
  3. A Major Deep Shard Flail (which has a reach of 10, does 1d8+6 damage, adds +1 to hit and damage, and adds 1 necrotic damage on a crit).
  4. She can use her redirect attack reaction on any ally in area 23, 24, or 25.

When her goblin form reaches zero hit points, Shadow Maw transforms into a Barghest. In this form she appears as a large fiendish hound with elongated black fangs and a mouth dripping darkness.

  1. The horrid bites from Shadow Maw in her Barghest form do an additional 1d6 points of necrotic damage.
  2. If Shadow Maw ends her turn in a pool of darkness near a Yggdrasil root, she regains 10 hit points.
  3. PCs slain by Shadow Maw’s bites instantly have their remnants transformed into Deep Shard regardless of whether they are standing in the areas affected by the Ginnungagap’s shadows.
  4. Shadow Maw can spend an action to devour a Deep Shard remnant to regain 15 hit points.
  5. Shadow Maw can spend an action to belch forth an undead ally from Svartalfheim. Roll a d3. On a roll of 1 the ally is a skeleton, 2 a zombie, and 3 a shadow. This ability recharges on a 5 or 6 on a D6.

Flanking the throne are two braziers. In addition to emitting light, a creature stepping or forced into a brazier’s space takes 1d6 fire damage.

Behind the throne is an open gateway to Svartalfheim. This is the root path Shadow Maw originally took to enter these chambers. The players cannot yet enter Svartalfheim unless they have possessed a Deep Shard item for 10 days or are standing within five feet of a such a player while touching them. Within this chamber is a shadow. If combat begins in the throne room, the shadow phases through the dais to stand beside Shadowmaw.

Treasure: Shadow Maw possesses a Major Deep Shard Flail. A locked chest behind her throne contains 1,000 gold, 300 silver, and 250 copper.

Within the chest is a message to Shadow Maw bearing the seal of King Doomshallow (A black mountain with a gaping red entrance opening like a mouth.)

“Your gifts of servants have made you the greatest of my hounds. We shall use them in our coming war against Midgard. Continue. Gather your forces and send me more of these servants. I find them both wonderous and dark.”

Shadow Maw’s crown is made of obsidian and is worth 150 gold.

Clasher Hocke’s necklace is made of gold which encrusts three bloodstones. This piece of jewelry is worth 250 gold.

Hidden in a secret compartment (DC 15 Perception) under the obsidian dais is Phoenix Tear (see Appendix).


This module includes one new magic item in the form of Phoenix Tear. In addition, the stats for a key O(PCs) — Mila Gloomflower and WhiteCat69 — are included below.

Magic Items

Phoenix Tear (Legendary, Weapon, Dormant)

This item appears to be a glove made of a crystalline mesh in the shapes of hundreds of tiny teardrops. While wearing the glove, you may use a bonus action to summon a blade of pure radiance into your hand. So long as the blade exists, it acts as a magical longsword with the finesse and versatile properties. If you are proficient with shortswords or longswords, you are proficient with Phoenix Tear. You may use a bonus action to dismiss any blade summoned in this way. If the blade leaves your hand, it disappears after one round.

In its present, dormant state, Phoenix Tear can be used to summon a +1 weapon that does radiant damage. It may be awakened and its powers thus increased by certain events throughout this adventure series.

Phoenix Tear is the sister glove to Star Rain — which may be found elsewhere in the world of Battlestorm Online.

OPC and Monster Stats

Stats for Mila Gloomflower, Goblin Shamans, and WhiteCat69 are found below.

Mila Gloomflower — 5e stats

Small Goblin, neutral

Armor Class 12 (15) (mage armor)
Hit Points 15
Speed 30 ft.

8 (-1)14 (+2)14 (+2)11 (0)16 (+3)13 (+1)

Saving Throws Con +4, Cha +3
Skills Insight +5, Arcana +2, Perception +5, Religion +2, Stealth +4
Senses passive Perception 15, darkvision 120
Languages Common, Goblin

Magic Weapon. Mila Gloomflower has a Major Deep Shard Short Sword (attack stats adjusted).

Arcane Initiate. Mila Gloomflower has training in the Arcana Skill. In addition, she gains two cantrips from the wizard spell list. These are cleric spells for her.

Eyes of the Dark. Mila Gloomflower has darkvision of 120 feet.

Strength of the Grave. Mila Gloomflower exists in a twilight state between life and death that makes her difficult to defeat. When damage reduces her to 0 hit points, she can make a Charisma saving throw (DC 5 + the damage taken). On a success, she instead drops to 1 hit point. She can’t use this feature if she is reduced to 0 hit points by radiant damage or by a critical hit.

After the saving throw succeeds, she can’t use this feature again until she finishes a long rest.

Spellcasting. Mila Gloomflower is a 2nd-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Wisdom and Charisma (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks, and spell save DC 11, +3 to hit with spell attacks). She has the following spells prepared:


  • Firebolt. Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 120 feet, one target. Hit: 6 (1d10) fire damage.
  • Greenflame Blade. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 5 feet, one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+3) fire damage. Second target within 5 takes 3 fire damage. Critical: +1 necrotic damage.
  • Magic Missile. Ranged Spell Attack: Auto hit. Range 120 feet. 3d4+3 force damage.
  • Inflict Wounds. Melee Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 5 feet, one target. Hit: 3d10 (18) necrotic damage.
  • Guiding Bolt. Ranged Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 120 feet, one target. Hit: 4d6 (16) radiant damage and target grants advantage to next attack roll against it.


MiIa Gloomflower is a Goblin with cold gray skin and blue hair. She clutches an old raggedy doll in one hand and wields a deep shard short sword in the other.


Goblin Shaman

Small humanoid (goblinoid), neutral evil

  • Armor Class 15 (Leather Armor, Shield)
  • Hit Points 17 (5d6)
  • Speed 30 ft.
  • STR 10 (+0), DEX 14 (+2), CON 10 (+0), INT 10 (+0), WIS 14 (+2), CHA 10 (+0)
  • Skills Perception +4, Stealth +6, Medicine +4
  • Senses Darkvision 60 Ft., passive Perception 14
  • Languages Common, Goblin
  • Challenge 1 (200 XP)
  • Nimble Escape. The goblin can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of its turns.
  • Staff. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6) bludgeoning damage.
  • Spellcasting. The goblin is a 3rd-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 12, +4 to hit with spell attacks). It has the following Druid spells prepared:
  • Cantrips (at will): Druidcraft, Poison Spray, Thorn Whip
  • 1st Level (4 slots): Entangle, Cure Wounds, Thunderwave
  • 2nd Level (2 slots): Heat Metal, Spike Growth


WhiteCat69 — 5e stats

Medium Elf, neutral good

Armor Class 13 (leather armor
Hit Points 17 (presently 9)
Speed 30 ft.

8 (-1)14 (+2)14 (+2)12 (+1)16 (+3)12 (+1)

Saving Throws Wis +5, Cha +3
Skills Insight +5, Nature +2, Perception +5, Animal Handling +5
Senses passive Perception 15, darkvision 60
Languages Common, Elfish

Circle Forms. WhiteCat69 has the ability to transform into more dangerous animal forms. She can use her Wild Shape to transform into a beast with a challenge rating as high as 1. She uses this ability to shape change into a white lion during combat.

Combat Wild Shape. WhiteCat69 can use Wild Shape on her turn as a bonus action, rather than as an action. Additionally, while she is transformed by Wild Shape, she may use a bonus action to expend one spell slot to regain 1d8 hit points per level of the spell slot expended (when found in area 20, WhiteCat69 no longer has any spell slots remaining).

Spellcasting. WhiteCat69is a 2nd-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks). She has the following spells prepared:


  • Create Bonfire. Spell: One five foot cube of fire on the ground within 60 feet. DC 13 Dexterity save or take 5 (1d8) fire damage. Repeat save if creature enters fire or ends turn there.
  • Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 5 feet, one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+2) slashing damage.


WhiteCat69 is a female elf with white hair and cat-like tabby paint marking on her face and neck. She is battered from her capture and numerous scrapes with monsters in the Hollow.

BSO Ragnarök 1.25 — Ominous Signs Before the Breach Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Deep Dark of Svartalfheim adventure — Ominous Signs Before the Breach! This is the second module provided for the larger BSO Ragnarök campaign. Here, the PCs continue their journey as unlikely heroes in the BSO Ragnarök setting.

To make Ominous Signs… less cumbersome as a blog post, it has been broken into two parts. Part 1 is available here. It deals with major events as the campaign opens. Part 2, below, provides optional quests the players may wish or need to undertake.

I am running Battlestorm Ragnarök as a live campaign. Play is live-streamed on Twitch Saturday Nights about once every three weeks at Ted Burgess’s Twitch page. Afterward, videos of these live games along with character profiles are provided here in the Battlestorm Ragnarök Campaign Archive. In addition, I’m providing walk-throughs of these published modules about once every two weeks every Sunday Night on my Twitch page.

Below is the continuation of our unofficial, unaffiliated Open Gaming License Dungeons and Dragons adventure module Ominous Signs Before the Breach. Enjoy it here for free.

(Warning: if you are a player in the Battlestorm Online Ragnarok campaign setting STOP READING NOW.)


After meeting with the new PC Quest Giver, RubyNight, the players have been alerted to the fact that safe zones in Mio Elysse are shrinking (see The Shrinking Safe Zone Quest below). They may undertake Shrinking Safe Zones before going on to Event 3 (detailed in Part 1). However, if the PCs do not decide to then help Thalia Winterclaw or fail to complete the adventure in Event 3, they cannot unlock future quests. Once the PCs clear Event 3, read the following to them after they complete their first long rest:

Troubled by strange events of recent days — a new star blooming in the sky, rumors of missing persons, and shrinking safe zones — you decided to undertake your first quest. You realized, too clearly, that real people just like you were in danger. Thalia Winterclaw had lost her mother Raven Blackhorn — who mysteriously disappeared. You decided to step up to help. Your newfound heroism vaulted you into an investigation that ended in a dungeon filled with deadly monsters. Thankfully, you survived. Raven is rescued. Thalia is safe, reunited with her beloved mother.

In your adventure, you uncovered terrifying knowledge of new dangers facing all trapped in Battlestorm Online. You’ve learned about the previously hidden dungeon realm of Svartalfheim. A level ruled by despotic Duergar and plotting Dark Elves. You’ve discovered that Yggdrasil’s roots have somehow bridged the shadowed gap between Midgard, where the players reside, and the dark dungeons of Svartalfheim. In the process, this bridge has formed at least one node — an in-between space. The murderous Duergar Flinderflick, his Drow compatriot Benderfleck, and their enslaved goblins used this node as a base for raids into Mio Elysse’s Dim Alley. Last of all, you discovered Deep Shard crystals — a material remnant left when players die near Yggdrasil’s roots. This cursed material can be forged into weapons that enable players from Midgard to venture into Svartalfheim, that allow monsters from Svartalfheim to invade Midgard. Worst of all, a player who possesses Deep Shard for too long can no longer access the life-saving shelter of a safe zone.

Despite your elation at your achievements, you’re left reeling with new questions and an emergent dread. You shuffle off to the Driftglobe for a well-earned rest. Your virtual feet — oddly fatigued. You awake from your fugue at the Driftglobe refreshed, your in-game powers recharged. As your party gathers at the Inn’s tavern, perhaps enjoying one of the game’s many magical and colorful beverages, you receive a new alert from your game menu. It reads: NEW QUESTS AVAILABLE!! MEET WITH QUEST-GIVER RUBYNIGHT TO RECIEVE!! Apparently there is little rest to be had in this virtual death trap.

If the players use their Game Menu to find the location of RubyNight or send her a direct message (DM), they discover they can meet her in the Guild Hall during the day or at Thunder Ale Tavern (see Part 1) during the night. In either case, Ruby is happy to meet them. She conveys her relief that adventurers are finally taking the threats she uncovered seriously. She also expresses deep gratitude for them undertaking the dangerous quest to help Thalia and to free Raven from Duergar bondage. That said, she is mortified when she learns about Deep Shard, Svartalfheim, and the action of Yggrasil’s Roots. In return, RubyNight now has two new Quests to give the players — The Missing Monsters and The Strange Star Quests in addition to the already available Shrinking Safe Zone Quest.

Quest — The Shrinking Safe Zone

The PKer Guild Kill4LULZ has discovered a number of areas in and around Mio Elysse where Safe Zones fail at certain times of day. They are witnessing the effects of Yggrasil’s roots burrowing up through the dark void of the Ginnungagap between Svartalfheim and Midgard, then running just below Mio Elysse’s streets and buildings. Though they don’t know why these pockets of safe zone failures are forming, the Pkers and PvPers are happy to take advantage of safe zone failures to stage ambushes and raids.

Quest Alert

Make a copy of the following green highlighted text to give to the players when they receive this Quest from RubyNight:

Situation: The safe zone in Mio Elysse has developed holes. Each hole is surrounded by a faint, wavering red border. Holes appear at random, last for minutes-to-hours, then disappear. A group of low level PvPers and PKers have started to take advantage of these holes. Lately, they’ve been ambushing newbies sheltering in the safe zone for loot and lulz. Some of these encounters have gotten seriously ugly and resulted in player deaths.

Objective: Stop the PvPers and PKers in Mio Elysse. Capture and confinement in jail is preferred. But lethal force is authorized to prevent player death by pvp.

Objective: If possible, find out what is causing the safe zone to develop these holes.

Reward: 150 gold (50 gold awarded by each of the major guilds).

Initial Investigation — SuperCreep01 attacked by Kills4LULZ in a Failed Safe Zone

RubyNight has received the above information from newbies who’ve approached her to complain about looting and murder by fellow players in Mio Elysse. Her main contact is with SuperCreep01. She is happy to share SuperCreep’s present location with the adventurers. He’s presently hiding out at the Hot Perks Coffee House (see more about Hot Perks in Part 1) after his recent traumatic experiences.

If the players got to Hot Perks and approach SuperCreep01, they find he’s initially shy. A success on a Persuasion skill check (DC 15), will assure him that he PCs mean him no harm. If they mention RubyNight as part of their Persuasion check, they receive advantage on the roll. If they attempt to Intimidate SuperCreep01 into talking, he flees by activating his Teleportation Crystal and going to the Guild Hall. He’ll return to Hot Perks after an hour. But any subsequent attempts at persuasion are at disadvantage no matter what the PCs say. If the players succeed in persuading SuperCreep01 to talk, read the following:

So I’m kinda new at D&D. My friends and I played Fortnight mostly before BSO. But we were really excited when we scored a copy of the Beta. Then it turned into a death trap. We’re all mostly noobs. So we were real cautious venturing out at first. Recently, we started to have successes. We scored some loot from a kobold camp north of here and were coming back to trade it at Roc Talon Traders. There’s this NPC Bishop Jessen who owns the place. He likes to help noobs with good deals. Anyway, while walking in the streets, my team comes up on this red line on the ground. It surrounds some kind of blob of shadow. We think it’s a glitch, but we’re caught in it. Suddenly, we’re all getting warnings that the safe zone’s been shut down. That’s when we’re attacked. From out of the darkness, some players from this guild Kills4LULZ, attacks us. Immediately they drop two in my party to 0 HP and threaten to coupe de grass them unless we give up the loot we just earned. In a panic, we give them the loot. Now, they keep messaging us with various threats if we don’t give them more.

SuperCreep01 is a level 1 Forest Gnome Hunter Ranger who’s still getting his legs as an adventurer and has only undertaken a couple of quests. After scoring some modest loot from a kobold camp in Midgard’s heartlands, SuperCreep01 and his party returned to Mio Elysse for a long rest. They were about to go trade their new loot with the NPC proprietor of Roc Talon Traders — Bishop Jessen — when they accidentally stumbled through a flashing red border. Within the border, the safe zone was shut down and SuperCreep01’s party was ambushed by members of Kills4LULZ. If the players question SuperCreep01 further, they can learn that:

  1. The attack happened at 6 PM (Investigation 15 or direct question about the time the event occurred).
  2. The names of the attackers from Kills4LULZ were 1wikEDrayGER, 0Gold0Healz, and THaSHoCKER.
  3. These Kills4LULZ members have weird weapons made of dark crystal (Deep Shard).
  4. Bishop Jesson says other players have been victimized by Kills4LULZ and recommended SuperCreep01 contact RubyNight.

After uncovering clues by meeting with SuperCreep01, the players learn about the Safe Zone failure near Roc Talon Traders. Here they can question Bishop Jesson to find more clues. They can also investigate the streets near Roc Talon to try to find the failing Safe Zone and possibly

Bishop Jessen and Roc Talon Traders

Bishop Jessen is a middle aged Tiefling Warpriest NPC who famously lost an eye in a battle with a Roc. He retired from adventuring as an AI Beta Tester in Battlestorm to help players by trading gear for reasonable prices. Establishing Roc Talon Traders, he now lives a relatively comfortable AI life in Mio Elysse. He seems extraordinarily sympathetic to the fears of players trapped in the harsh world of Battlestorm Online (Insight 12). He works particularly hard to help noobs. If approached by the players, Bishop immediately expresses his concern:

Indeed, I’ve witnessed horrible player-on-player violence just outside in the streets in front of that cursed old Ramshackle Building. If you’ve just spoken with SuperCreep01, he’s one of the lucky ones. Those red players have killed out there. They’re mining some kind of crystal from the player deaths. But they’re also bullying players into paying them in game loot for not attacking them. A kind of perverse protection racket. It doesn’t help that the size of the safe zone failures are somewhat variable. And it’s not just here. There are other places in Mio Elysse where shadows spring up and safe zones go down. The red players take advantage of it all.

An Insight 15 skill check reveals that Bishop Jessen seems to be genuinely afraid for players venturing out into the streets of Mio Elysse. If asked about his fear, he seems reticent to elaborate. A Persuasion 15 check made by a comforting PC assures Bishop enough to continue:

I was once a Beta tester adventurer. As an NPC, death is not supposed to be a possibility. But for those of us who were testers, well, we modeled players. Including death. After my brush with the Roc, I lost my eye and my will to continue to risk everything. I hid here from the moderators. Now I help those I can. The Pkers… what is wrong with them? Why do they do such terrible things?

After Bishop reveals his previous status as an AI Beta Tester, have the PCs make a party Insight check. If more PCs roll above a 15 than below a 15, tell them that Bishop has developed a phobia. He is desperately afraid of dying. His fear is clearly sympathetic and he’s motivated to do all he can outside of combat to save players and other AIs from actual death. However, the PCs now know that he will flee from combat.

Roc Talon Traders Interior Map. Image source: Inkarnate.

Bishop knows the safe zone fails at around 6 PM each day. At that time, the Ramshackle Building (see below) seems to pulse with darkness. This darkness spreads out into the streets. When this happens, Bishop hides behind his counter, peaking out fearfully to observe any tragedy. He is happy to tell the players when the ambushes occur and to point them toward the Ramshackle Building and its general area of safe zone failure. He does not, however, venture out of his shop for any reason.

In Front of The Ramshackle Building

Venturing out into the street outside Roc Talon Traders, the PCs can now clearly see an old, ugly Ramshackle Building. For some reason, they didn’t notice it before. But after Bishop Jessen mentions it, what was only a blurry and plain street front before now resolves into a dark and horrific façade.

Dark water-stained wood, rotting planks, and peeling gilding cover an old Ramshackle Building facing the streets of Mio Elysse. An opening blocked only by a swinging door gapes like a mouth onto a covered front porch. Shadows spill from windows. Inside, an inky darkness devours all light. Tendrils of this darkness seem to reach out toward unwitting passersby. Suddenly noticing its startling appearance, you’re surprised you walked by this building before — oblivious to its horrific appearance.

The Ramshackle Building is an in-game quest object that can only be noticed if the players unlock it by speaking with Bishop Jessen. Once they do, they are free to investigate it and the nearby street. They may uncover the following clues:

  1. The cobble stones of the street in front of the Ramshackle Building are slightly deformed. An Investigation or Perception check (15) discovers this deformity. An Investigation or Perception check (18) discovers that a Yggdrasil root is just beneath the street.
  2. PCs cannot yet enter the Ramshackle Building. If they attempt to do so, the following alert message appears in their displays: YOU MUST BE LEVEL 2 TO UNLOCK RAMSHACKLE BUILDING. They can, however, venture onto the porch or climb up onto the rooftop balcony.
  3. A pocket of shadow occupies the space beneath the porch. Inside is a Deep Shard where a PC was killed by an AOE after going there to hide. Kill4LULZ never found this player death remnant. A player searching the underside of the porch and rolling a 15 on a Perception or Investigation can discovered the Deep Shard object.

Ambushing the Ambushers — Confronting Kill4LULZ

Regardless of what other actions the players take, nothing else can be discovered until 6:00 PM game time. At that point, a shroud of darkness envelops the porch, the balcony and the nearby street.

Ramshackle Building Battle Map. Made with Inkarnate.

This shroud extends for approximately 60 feet in front of the Ramshackle Building and is indicated on the map provided below. The darkness reduces light by one level in its zone. Because it is evening, all areas except for those within 10 feet of a light source are considered to be dark. Darkvision can pierce this magical darkness. A light spell’s area of bright light is instead considered to be dim light. Anyone in this area or entering it on a turn receives the following alert in their head’s up display: WARNING LEAVING SAFE ZONE!!

At the same time, 1wikEDrayGER, 0Gold0Healz, and THaSHoCKER emerge from the Ramshackle Building (see Appendix for game statistics).

1wikEDrayGER, a level 2 Half Orc Barbarian, walks out of the front gate. He is carrying a serrated greatsword made of Deep Shard that he’s named Death Blade (a minor Deep Shard weapon). He is plainly visible to anyone with darkvision. He immediately activates his rage and attacks any PC he can see with abandon. He shouts phrases like “hahaha! You’re goin’ down noob!” or “face stabbed by the Death Blade!”

As 1wikEDrayGER advances to attack PCs, 0Gold0Healz, a level 2 Dwarf Order Domain Cleric, jumps out of the window and down onto the porch to provide support. He immediately activates Order’s Demand to attempt to get any PCs within 30 feet to drop their weapons. He uses Healing Word to keep 1wikEDrayGER on his feet and to give him extra attacks. 0Gold0Healz wields a Deep Shard Morning Star (a minor Deep Shard weapon) which he uses to attack in melee to back up 1wikEDrayGER.

THaSHoCKER exits onto The Ramshackle Building’s porch to lob destruction down onto the street below. A level 2 Half Elf Storm Sorcerer, THaSHoCKER uses Thunderwave to blast nearby clusters of foes. If the PCs are far away, he lobs magic missiles at them instead. He tries to stay on his balcony and well away from combat. If faced with melee, he uses Shocking Grasp or his Storm Sorcerer Tempestuous Magic ability to fleet.

If the PCs go down easy, these three members of Kill4LULZ will try to extort them of loot. If they put up a decent fight, they’ll try to kill them instead. 1wikEDrayGER will fight to the death. 0Gold0Healz and THaSHoCKER try to flee back into The Ramshackle Building if the fight goes against them.

Treasure: Players cannot loot other players. However, Bishop is so relieved that he gives them a magic item as a gift from his shop. The players can choose one of the following — a Stone of Good Luck, Boots of Elvenkind, a quiver with 20 +1 arrows.

Special hidden end quest award: In addition, Bishop grants the players a 10 percent discount off of one item available in the Player’s Handbook from Roc Talon Traders if they’ve defeated 1wikEDrayGER, 0Gold0Healz, and THaSHoCKER. If they’ve apprehended any of these ambushers from Kill4LULZ, this discount increases to 15 percent.

Follow-on Events: If the players capture any members of Kills4LULZ, RubyNight works with Abigail Barnwallow to establish a make-shift jail in the basement of Thunder Ale Tavern. Abigail uses one of three empty store rooms to confine members of the Pker Guild. Initially, these Pkers are unwilling to talk and the players can’t glean any more information. That said, if 1wikEDrayGER has been captured, he gives the following threat repeatedly while laughing maniacally — “You’re all finished! There’s no game win! Just killers and dead! You’ll see!”

Unlocked level 2 Quest: Those completing this Quest unlock a new quest once they reach level 2. This Quest is — The Ramshackle Building. When the players complete this Quest, they receive an alert: QUEST GOAL ACHIEVED! NEW QUEST TO UNLOCK AT LEVEL 2!!

Quest — The Missing Monsters

Essential reading for Game Masters: In this Quest, players uncover clues hinting at the nature of the new trouble that plagues them, Midgard, and all those trapped in BSO. The Quest text also provides the Game Master with essential background for the larger arc of Battlestorm Ragnarok’s campaign. Regardless of whether the players undertake this quest, this background material is necessary to understand key story elements of this campaign.

Yggdrasil’s Roots Grow — Bridges to Disaster

Yggdrasil’s trunk springs up through the layers of Valhalla. Adventurers who cleared the dungeon at its base, defeating the mighty boss Drakefang, have opened a new realm in Valhalla — Alfheim. If they clear Alfheim, its boss and the bosses in the three layers above it, they will win the game.

Unbeknownst to these front-line adventurers, when they defeated Drakefang, they also triggered a game event. A disaster that threatens all residing in the virtual world of Battlestorm Online. Hidden below Yggdrasil, great roots plunge into the void beneath. This void is the Ginnungagap — the dark substance from which the world was created. Drifting within Ginnungagap are the detached worlds of Svartalfheim, Hel, Jotunheim, and Muspell. When Drakefang was defeated, Yggdrasil’s roots, which are always growing outward through Ginnungagap, began to entangle Svartalfheim. These roots created a bridge between this dark, dungeon realm and Midgard. The bridge is yet weak. But its strength grows.

Live play of Shrinking Safe Zones and Missing Monsters

As Yggdrasil’s roots touched Svartalfheim, they also expanded through the earth of Midgard. They rippled out to touch the surface within 1,000 feet of Yggdrasil. They reached through all of Midgard. They grew up beneath the Home Towns — seeking these zones of safety as a normal tree root might seek water. Yggdrasil’s roots brought with them the dark influence of the void realm — Ginnungagap. Where the roots appeared, shadows formed and deepened. Any players who died in the shadow were transformed into Deep Shard — a substance of void formed by player death.

Shadow now shrouds the lands close to Yggdrasil. Players who die there leave their Deep Shard remains. A game material that weakens safe zones even as it opens Midgard to invasion by monsters from Svartalfheim. Last of all, the roots and the shadows they spread have unmoored various monsters from their spawn points. The spawn points are now empty. Their monsters are missing. Missing, but not gone. These monsters now rove freely across Midgard. Some of them are gathering in great numbers in Midgard’s wilds. A new threat those living in Midgard aren’t yet aware of. Players undertaking this quest may uncover this new threat.

Quest Alert

Make a copy of the following green highlighted text to give to the players when they receive this Quest from RubyNight:

Situation: Monsters have been observed migrating away from spawn-sites near Yggdrasil. The major guilds — Stella Requiem, FatSharkYes, and Momento Mori — want to know why.

Objective: Track monsters leaving respawn-site.

Objective: Find out where the monsters are going and, if possible, why they are leaving the respawn-site.

Reward: Pick of 1 uncommon item from the three guilds’ spare inventory lists.

Reward: 300 gold (50 from each requesting guild, 150 provided as a Quest Reward by the game).

Snooping in the Shadows of Hobgoblin Hill

When the players undertake this quest, the receive a new alert from RubyNight. The alert reads:

Here is a map showing the empty spawn point. The major guilds are asking you to provide reconnaissance, to learn what has happened to the monsters, and to follow any clues where they may lead. Please take care! The environment around Yggdrasil has grown dangerous. Shadows spread and large bands of monsters have been sighted. I have provided you with a map of the empty spawn location. Use it as a navigation aid and reference point.

Hand the players the Player Quest Map provided below. A Game Master Map is also provided for your reference.

Yggdrasil Player Map. Made with Inkarnate.

The players’ journey to the empty monster spawn sight occurs without incident. As they approach Yggdrasil, shadows lengthen, mists gather in the lowlands, a chill seems to hang in the air. Lighting is reduced by one level. Daylight is merely bright light. Night is impenetrable darkness that shrinks light spells and torches to pools of dim light. Darkvision can pierce this darkness. Read the following:

Shadows lay thick and deep over the area surrounding this empty monster spawn site. Lands rise to a bald hill encircled by trees. At its crown is a ruined fort. Within the ruins, hobgoblins are known to spawn. In the past, these hobgoblins became a war-band numbering about 10-16 and attacked any adventurers approaching their hill. This spawn site was well-known among adventurers as an excellent training location with decent, low level, treasure and item drops. Called Hobgoblin Hill, the place is now eerily empty.

Players searching Hobgoblin Hill may uncover the following clues:

  1. A Survival Skill Check (DC 12) reveals numerous tracks at the hilltop.
  2. These tracks were made by Hobgoblins (Survival 15).
  3. The tracks seem to mill about on the hill and around the ruins, then head off toward the south and east (Survival DC 17).
  4. A Perception Skill Check (DC 12) reveals a large mass of Yggdrasil roots within the ruins.
  5. A Perception Skill Check (DC 20) reveals a Deep Shard hidden in the trees surrounding the hill.
  6. Ravens roost in the ruins. Their mocking chatter follows any adventurers who enter the ruins. When the adventurers leave the ruins, the ravens follow them at a distance.
  7. A Survival Skill Check (DC 18) made at the location of the ruins reveals that Hobgoblins are still spawning here. They seem to linger for a few hours before moving off.
  8. If Yggdrasil’s roots are discovered, an Arcana Skill Check (DC 17) reveals that the influence of these roots has disrupted the spawn site anchor which would typically keep monsters from moving too far away from their spawn site.
  9. If the shadows around the spawn site are examined, a Religion Skill Check (DC 17) reveals that they are made of the substance of the void surrounding Valhalla which is the Ginnungagap.
Hobgoblin Hill Battle Map. Made with Inkarnate.

A group of 3 Shadows lurks in the trees surrounding the Hill. They hide in the darkness provided by Yggdrasil’s roots, waiting for an opportunity to attack the party. So long as they stay on the ground and within a square covered in shadow, they are protected from the debilitating effects of sunlight by this darkness.

If the players find the Hobgoblin’s tracks, they may follow them. Once they discover the tracks, it requires a Survival Check (DC 15) to stay on their trail.

If the players linger at the spawn site for two hours, a group of 4 Hobgoblins spawns. If more than half the party succeeds in a DC 10 Stealth Check, they may hide from the Hobgoblins in the trees. If left unmolested, the Hobgoblins stick to the ruins for about an hour, then venture off to the southwest. They take the same path that other Hobgoblins previously followed.

Yggdrasil Game Master Map with Hobgoblin tracks to Goblin Town. Made with

The Hobgoblins are journeying to Goblin Town — a gathering place for various monsters who’ve been unmoored from their spawn locations by the influence of Yggdrasil’s roots. These monsters are now commanded by a Drow Warlord named Grimbark.

Treasure: If slain, each group of four Hobgoblins drops 1 gold, 5 silver, and 8 copper. Their equipment can be sold at half price.

Tricky Respawn: If the first group of Hobgoblins is killed near Hobgoblin Hill, another group spawns within two hours. This group is twice the size of the first group — numbering 8 Hobgoblins. In addition, 3 more Shadows emerge from the darkness of Yggdrasil’s roots. The Shadows wait for an opportunity to ambush the party, possibly while they are engaged with the Hobgoblins. The Hobgoblins will wait at a high state of alertness on the hill for 2 more hours. When another four Hobgoblins emerge, they are at last confident enough to begin the journey to Goblin town.

Finding Goblin Town

Players who follow the Hobgoblin tracks (DC 15 Survival) find them winding down into a valley to the east of Yggdrasil. The valley forms a canyon in which a small river emerges from a cliff face. The river spills out of a cave mouth. Two towers made of chopped wood from felled trees guard the cave. Before the players reach the cave, they are confronted by a goblin patrol. In the patrol are six Goblins. The players may avoid the goblin patrol if more than half the party succeeds on a DC 9 Stealth Check. If the players defeat the goblin patrol or evade detection, they may approach Goblin Town and observe it from a distance.

Treasure from Goblin Encounter: If the players slay the six Goblins, they gain 8 silver, 12 copper and the Goblin’s gear as loot. The Goblin gear is ill-sized and in bad repair. Players can, however, sell this gear for 25 percent of its normal value at a market in a Home Town.

Goblin Town Battle Map. Made with Inkarnate.

The Hobgoblins’ tracks continue along the river bank. Up ahead, is a clearing. In it, you can see the river spilling out of an open cave mouth. The cave is guarded by two tooth-shaped towers. Each is filled with goblins. A palisade guards the mouth. Hobgoblins and goblins enter a gate leading through this wall and into the cave. Firelight, shouts and howls echo up out of the cave. From the sound there are scores, perhaps hundreds of monsters inside. You’ve found where the monsters from the empty spawn site are going. They’ve gathered in this cave. Even worse, they seem to have met with other groups of monsters. Left unchecked, you know this Goblin Town will become a threat to all who venture near Yggdrasil.

As the players observe Goblin Town, it becomes clear that it would be extraordinarily dangerous for them to assault this place unprepared. To approach undetected requires a party Stealth check with a DC 22. The Hobgoblins have hacked down all the nearby brush and posted watches on the towers, the walls, and on the cliff. Regardless, if the players begin to approach Goblin Town, the Ravens from the ruins let out a loud ruckus, revealing their location. At which point, a force of 20 Goblins and 10 Hobgoblins led by 1 Goblin Boss issues from Goblin Town to hunt the players down. If the players flee, they may evade the Goblins and Hobgoblins by making a party Stealth Check (DC 12). The ravens do not bother them again unless they approach Goblin Town.

When the players discover Goblin Town, they receive the following alert: MISSING MONSTERS QUEST GOAL ACHIEVED! NEW QUEST TO UNLOCK AT LEVEL 2!!

Magic Item Quest Reward: When the players return and report their findings to RubyNight, they receive the following quest reward so long as they’ve discovered Goblin Town. If they’ve learned that Yggdrasil’s roots passing through the Ginnungagap are the cause of monsters being able to wander freely across Midgard, players may instead choose two magic items rather than one. Available Items: Wand of the War Mage +1 (requires the verbal component “Sizzlesplat!” to use as an arcane focus), Gem of Brightness (A player possessing this gem glows. They are at disadvantage on stealth checks, but areas within five feet are covered in dim light), Wand of Entangle, Amulet of the Devout +1 (Makes the sound of a loud tolling bell when used as a divine focus to cast a spell), Ring of Water Walking, Longsword of Warning (Shouts “Danger! Danger!” if enemies try to surprise the players), Medallion of Thoughts, Slippers of Spider Climbing (leaves a trail of cobwebs when used to walk on walls or ceilings), +1 Chain Mail (Special, allows wearer to cast Detect Magic x1 per day).

Quest — Prophecy of the Strange Star

The ancient hag Astrid has wandered the frozen lands south and east of Nidavellir spouting a prose Edda prophecy of events surrounding the Strange Star’s arrival for the past two weeks. Before the star arrived, players considered her only to be an odd element of the Battlestorm Online environment. However, since the star’s arrival, Astrid’s prophecies have risen to the attention of the player/quest giver RubyNight. Ruby thinks Astrid’s prophecy may be related to recent events. She asks the players to travel to Lake Rune Mirror and to find Astrid wandering there. She wants them to do what they can to decipher Astrid’s prophecy and to glean if there is any truth to it.

Quest Alert

Make a copy of the following green highlighted text to give to the players when they receive this Quest from RubyNight:

Situation: A strange star has come to light the Midgard night sky. The star looks like an open blue eye. This star rises in the middle afternoon and is visible even in daylight. It shines as brightly as a small moon or comet at night, casting shadows in the darker areas until it sets hours before dawn.

Objective: An old hag has appeared in the frozen lands near Nidavellir. Each day when the star rises, the hag spouts garbled prophecy about the strange star. Seek out the hag and decipher her riddles.

Objective: Find out the nature of the strange star and discover its meaning.

Reward: 200 XP

Seeking Astrid

When the players undertake this quest, they receive a new alert from RubyNight. The alert reads:

Thank goodness! Someone is finally heading off to speak with Astrid! You can find her on the shores of Lake Rune Mirror to the east of Nidavellir. Be careful! A pair of dangerous Winter Wolves — Skoll and Hati — prowl the path to its shores. But you can find safety in Astrid’s Hut. The Hut’s location is now marked on your player map. I’ve heard that Astrid can be a bit… eccentric. Do your best to humor her if you think it’ll help you learn more about the star and the new dangers confronting us. Good luck!

The players can use their Teleportation Crystals to teleport to Nidavellir. From there, it is only a short journey to Lake Rune Mirror. Snow covers the mountainous lands surrounding the dwarven stronghold. But a well-worn mountain pass has long-since been cleared of monsters by diligent adventurers. The players may journey down this pass, then enter the Winter Wood to the west of Lake Rune Mirror. Players do not encounter difficulty until they come to the Winter Wood. At this point, they must avoid being hunted down by Skoll and Hati.

Wolves Haunting the Winter Wood

Two Winter Wolves Skoll and Hati terrorize travelers through the Winter Wood. Though they are sometimes slain by adventurers, they always respawn — Skoll with the rising sun and Hati with the rising moon. Unlike other monsters, they’ve managed to learn much through each death and battle. They each now have maximum hit points (120), an Armor Class of 15, and their Breath Weapons recharge on a 4-6 rather than a 5-6. They have also learned how to use magic items by devouring them. Presently, Skoll has devoured a Ring of Fire Resistance. Hati has devoured Boots of Striding and Springing, giving her the ability to make extraordinary leaps.

Nidavellir, Winter Wood, Lake Rune Mirror and Astrid’s Hut. Made with Inkarnate.

Skoll and Hati are dreadful foes for first level adventurers. It is highly unlikely that your players can defeat them. If Skoll and Hati are defeated by the party, they gain fame in Nidavellir. In addition, the wolves drop their magic items as treasure when they perish. To impress upon your players how dangerous Skoll and Hati are, read the following:

As you leave the road, the Winter Wood spreads out before you. It is a place made infamous by the two Winter Wolves — Skoll and Hati — who prowl these woods. They’ve slain many adventurers here and are said to revel in terrorizing prey. Even worse, as the game continued, the wolves have grown in both skill and power, learning from each victory and defeat. For they are immortal monsters that respawn the next day after being slain by adventurers. Ruby has advised that you avoid the deadly Wolves and seek safety with Astrid who seems to have a calming influence on them.

Most parties will choose to engage in a skill challenge to avoid the Winter Wolves while making their way to Astrid’s Hut (see map above).

Hunted by Skoll and Hati

If the players attempt to avoid Skoll and Hati, a dangerous skill challenge ensues. Both Winter Wolves know the land well and seem to have a supernatural awareness of their surroundings. It takes more than three hours for the players to cross the Winter Wood. When starting this challenge, set the counter at hour 1. Then, after each skill roll, move the hour counter ahead by 1. When the counter reaches hour 4, the players come to Astrid’s Hut if they’ve succeeded in at least one skill challenge. If not, they are faced with Skoll and Hati (see tricking the wolves below). For each hour, to avoid detection, the players must succeed in a DC 20 party Stealth Check.

If more than half the players fail a stealth check, they are hunted as Skoll and Hati are alerted to their presence. Read the following:

The Winter Wood erupts in howls. The eerie noise echoes off hillsides and nearby mountains. Its sound is enough to freeze your blood. Skoll and Hati are now on your trail!

While they’re hunted the players may try to make a DC 20 party Survival or a DC 20 Deception check. If the party succeeds, they have shaken Skoll and Hati off their trail and return to making Stealth Checks. Move the hour counter ahead by 1.

If more than half the players fail their Survival or Deception checks to shake off Skoll and Hati, they are now in a foot race with wolves hot on their tracks. To beat Skoll and Hati in the foot race for one hour, each party member must succeed in a DC 13 Constitution Ability Check. If a player fails, they start to fall behind. Another player can assist the player who failed by making another Constitution Check at a 16 DC. If the assisting player succeeds, they both catch up. If the assisting player fails, they both fall behind. A player can receive assistance only once. An assisting player cannot receive assistance from another player in this way.

Cornered by Wolves!

If one or more players fails to outrun the wolves, then they are caught. Read the following:

At last, you are cornered. Two large Winter Wolves approach. One is jet black, the other is bright as the winter sun. Their slavering jaws unhinge. Then, one turns to the other and says. “Skoll, what think you? Perhaps we are not so hungry. I think if this food can tell us a good tale, then we will let it go?” The light colored wolf turns to the dark colored one. “Hati, you read my thoughts as well as ever. Yes. Perhaps a good tale will suffice. But if the tale is not good, I may want my food anyway.” Hati, the dark colored wolf, grins. “Then we shall have them lay across our jaws. If the tale is good, we shall let them escape. If not, then we shall have dinner!”

Live Play of Astrid’s Prophecy

The wolves, of course, are toying with their prey (Insight 13 determines that the wolves are lying and still intend to eat their prey). If the players agree, then they will get a good story with their meal. If not, then they will have to kill them in a fight. However, the wolves are not as clever as they think (Insight 15 — active or passive — reveals that there may still be a way out if the players delay long enough by agreeing to tell the wolves a story). Both wolves are tired after the long hunt. If the players agree to lay within their jaws and tell the wolves a decent story, there is still a way to escape. If one player succeeds on a DC 13 Performance Check they may tell a story entertaining enough to catch the wolves attention. If one player fails, another player may try to pick up the story’s thread to improve it with a DC 15 Performance Check. If both of these checks fail, the wolves decide to eat the players immediately. If the wolves are entertained and the story continues, any player with a passive Insight of 10 or higher will notice that the wolves are starting to grow drowsy. The story-telling player then need only succeed in a DC 10 Deception Check to lull the wolves to sleep with their tale. If this check fails, the player needs to again entertain the wolves by making a DC 13 Performance check. If that check fails, the wolves decide to eat the players. If it succeeds, the wolves again grow drowsy and the story telling player may try to lull them to sleep again. Failing a second time results in the wolves eating the players as their bellies grumble from hunger. If the wolves are asleep, the players may then sneak off after making a DC 10 Athletics or Acrobatics check to wriggle out of the wolves’ jaws. Failure of this check by 5 or more results in waking the wolves up and the wolves deciding to eat the party members. A regular failure means the player is still caught, but may try again to wriggle free.

If the players manage to pull off this last ditch escape, they come at last to Astrid’s Hut.

Astrid’s Hut

When the players arrive at Astrid’s Hut they are greeted by a wizened and yet hansom elderly woman. Astrid is a Valkyrie (Planetar statistics) who takes the form of an old woman. The Bullywug near her Hut have fallen under her influence and their alignment has shifted to Nuetral Good. Read the following description:

A small hut appears before you, its lights winking in the darkness like little beacons. Your hurried feet crunch up to its porch as howls from Skoll and Hati echo nearby. Covered in snow, the hut nestles on the shores of a flat, frozen lake. The ice on the lake forms a pane like that of a mirror, perfectly reflecting the sky above. Sun has long since set. The stars above light the sky with their ethereal sparks and glimmers. Hanging in the eastern sky, the strange star glows bluely, its eye-shape back-lighting odd clouds floating in the stellar void surrounding Midgard. As you approach, the front door slams open and out bursts an elderly lady. She springs with surprising spryness toward you. Under one arm is a large, steaming side of beef. She places this beef on a stone slab just outside the Hut, then turns toward you. “That’s for Skoll and Hati. They won’t bother you any more. They always grow tired after a good meal. As for you, I have stew! Come in! Warm yourselves at my fire!”

Astrid welcomes the players, tries to feed them, hands them woven blankets to wrap themselves up in, and allows them to rest. Spending one hour in Astrid’s Hut while wrapped in one of her blankets grants a long rest in game. Eating any of Astrid’s stew grants the benefits of a Short Rest and removes one Diseased, Blinded, Poisoned or Ability Damage related condition. Astrid is friendly to the players while they rest, but won’t speak about the Prophecy until each player has at least tried some of her stew. Once she’s satisfied that the players are cared for, she will speak to them.

Indeed, as Odin saw the Runes reflected while hanging upside down from Yggdrasil, so too have I pierced the Strange Star’s mystery. I can tell you the tale now. But to fully know it, your mind must be opened. And to do that, you’ll need the help of the Blue Bullywugs. They live on the shores of this lake — frolicking and cavorting through the summer. But as the chill winds begin to blow from out of Nidavellir and the Winter Wood, they begin to tire. So, they return to their muddy rest in the shallows. You can find them slumbering there even now, not far from my hut. If you go and lick their skin — just the blue ones — it will prepare your mind for the Prophecy. Go! Do this! Return fast enough and I will tell you the tale of Ragnarok and of the Eye in the Void!”

Venturing outside into the chill night once more, the players find that the beef has already been quietly taken from the slab. Though that is the only sign the players see of Skoll and Hati. The night is still and silent. If the players venture to the lake shore, they find a small dock from which they can easily look into the shallows.

Bullywug Licking and Ritual Combat

At the lake shore and on the docks, the players find scores of bullywugs huddled in their muddy beds, sleeping peacefully beneath the brilliant night sky. The frozen lake surface looks like a mirror from a distance. Closer, it is more like a pane of glass. Bullywugs are either green, yellow, red or blue. Each player can easily find a blue Bullywug by looking through the frozen lake surface.

Once each player has found a blue Bullywug, they must break the ice, lift the Bullywug out of the water, then lick it. Doing so requires characters to succeed in a DC 15 Athletics check. Failure means the player may try again. Failure by 5 or more means a Bullywug has woken up and the player must either succeed on an opposed grapple check with the Bullywug to pull it out of the water or move on to another Blue Bullywug. Regardless, once a Bullywug is licked, it gives a delighted “ribbit!” and wakes up.

These Bullywug are well acquainted with the licking ceremony and do their best to ensure those licking them are worthy of their gift of special sight. Once awakened, each Bullywug spends one round waking up another Bullywug. On the subsequent round, the newly awoken Bullywug wakes another of its fellows. This continues until there are at least 6 awake Bullywugs. At which point the Bullywugs begin to try to beat the players into unconsciousness as they break out in a raucous frog song. Picking up two clubs, they each toss one to a player, then begin to whale on the players with their own clubs.

Licking Bullywugs Battlemap. Made With Inkarnate.

Players with a passive Insight of 10 or more immediately realize the Bullywugs think this is all some strange game and don’t intend to do them lethal harm. If the players pick up the clubs, they may use either Strength or Dexterity while attacking with them. The players are considered proficient with the clubs which are specially magicked to only do 1d4 + ability mod non-lethal damage. The Bullywugs are quite nimble with their clubs and can make two attacks each round. If the players draw actual weapons or employ lethal force of any kind, the Bullwugs flee and their magic fails. Astrid then asks the players to leave. At which point, they may then again be hunted by Skoll and Hati as their Teleportation Crystals shut down for another four hours. If the players accept the clubs and only use magic to incapacitate rather than harm the Bullywugs, then the ritual battle is joined.

If the players render 6 Bullywugs incapacitated, the Bullywugs cheer. They each lay a crown made of dried lake grasses on the players’ heads and give a loud chorus of ribbits as they escort them to Astrid’s Hut. If the Bullywugs defeat the players, they shuffle back to the lake, giving an occasional disconcerted ribbit. If the players fail the first mock battle, they can try again the next night. If they fail a second time, they cannot try again until they reach level 2.

The Prophecy

As the players return to Astrid’s Hut, the wizened old lady beams at them. If they have failed in their test by the Bullywugs, she consoles them and offers to host them for another try tomorrow night. If they’ve passed the Bullywugs’ test, she guides them to sit down by the fire. Then, she begins to sing softly.

Something in the Bullywugs’ skin causes your senses to swoon. You know it’s just a part of the game. But why does it feel so real? The Hut’s walls bend and heave. Then, the individual beams seem to leap up, flying into the sky. All around you is the night sky. Clouds in the void swirl, seeming to open like a great pair of jaws. Within the jaws, the blue eye stares down. Astrid’s song, incomprehensible before, rises loud in your ears.

She then chants her prophecy. It is Odin’s Revelation of Ragnarok:

Whither is Odin’s Eye Hidden?

Sacrificed to take divine wisdom?

In bowels of night,

To plumb the void,

In Ginnungagap,


Surtur’s realm of fire and destruction.


Ever Yggdrasil’s roots do grow,

Crossing void,

Reaching out to four worlds,

The roots are deadly bridges.

Each world they reach a doom.

The poisons of Svartalfheim boil.

Dead clamor to rise from Hel.

Jutenhiem brings the Fimbul Winter,

When brother will turn against brother.

Muspell is the last tolling of the bell,

Surtur’s giants march,

Under a meteor-fall in fire.

When shall the jaws of Fenrir close?

Around the Eye of Odin?

Devouring all the sky?

Moon and stars in utter darkness?

Just before the serpent rises,

Devours Svartalfheim to belch forth its poisons,

One thousandfold.

Will all in Valhalla perish?

Choking, burning, freezing?

Only fodder to fill the ranks of Hel?

Is all Valhalla empty?

Are her heroes perished?

Is even Thor defeated?

Whither was Odin’s Eye hidden?

Sacrificed to gain divine wisdom.

It opens to night,

At first doom’s coming.

Piecing Ginnungagap,

Beholding Muspell,

Even as Fenrir’s jaws slaver.

Odin gave his eye,

Cast it into Lake Mímisbrunnr,

Through waters it opened upon the void,

Granting divine revelation,

So others might see Ragnarok’s coming.

Give the above poetic Edda to your characters and allow them to puzzle over its meaning. After chanting the song to them, Astrid falls silent. Her Hut reforms before their vision. The coals are dark. It is morning. Astrid is departed. Her hut is empty. Cold. Her food and blankets are gone.

If the players have witnessed Odin’s Revelation of Ragnarök, they receive the following message: PROPHECY OF THE STRANGE STAR QUEST COMPLETED!!

Quest Experience Reward: This quest contains numerous skill challenges and one mock combat. If the players evade Skoll and Hati, they gain 300 experience points. If they defeat the six Bullywugs in ritual combat, they gain another 300 experience points. In addition, they receive the quest reward of 200 experience points.

Astrid’s Boon: If the players heard Astrid chant her prophecy, they each gain a Charm of Heroism.

Next Steps: Astrid’s Prophecy provides contextual clues about the disasters that are now starting to befall the realms of Battlestorm Online. However, the players are left to their own perceptions, imaginings, and analytical skills to determine what the prophecy might mean. Unlike other game events, NPCs and OPCs are befuddled and offer little help. Likewise, Arcana, Religion, and History checks provide limited information. Arcana (DC 15) reveals that Muspell, Jutenheim, Hel and Svartalfheim are all worlds of BSO that are detached from Yggdrasil. History (DC 15) reveals that Yggdrasil is always growing and is cared for by the three Norns — Memory, Sorrow, and Fate. Religion (DC 15) reveals that the Ginnungagap is the black void surrounding the worlds of BSO.


1wikEDrayGER — 5e stats

Medium Half-Orc, chaotic evil (red player

Armor Class 16 (scale mail)
Hit Points 23
Speed 30 ft.

17 (+3)14 (+2)14 (+2)10 (0)10 (0)10 (0)

Saving Throws Con +4, Str +5
Skills  Athletics +5, Survival +2, Intimidation +2, Stealth +4
Damage Resistances Bludgeoning, Piercing and Slashing while raging
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages Common, Orcish

Magic Weapon. 1wikEDrayGER has a Minor Deep Shard Greatsword (attack stats adjusted).

Rage. 1wikEDrayGER may enter a Barbarian’s rage as a bonus action.

Danger Sense. At 2nd level, you gain an uncanny sense of when things nearby aren’t as they should be, giving you an edge when you dodge away from danger. You have advantage on Dexterity saving throws against effects that you can see, such as traps and spells. To gain this benefit, you can’t be blinded, deafened, or incapacitated.


  • Deep Shard Greatsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: 12 (2d6+5) magical slashing damage. Critical: +1 necrotic damage.
  • Javelin. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 30/120, one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+5) piercing damage.


1wikEDrayGER is a Half Orc clad in black scale mail and carrying a wicked serrated greatsword. His hair is died red and his tusks have three nicks in them. Each nick represents a PK.


0Gold0Healz — 5e stats

Medium Dwarf, neutral evil

Armor Class 18 (scale mail, shield)
Hit Points 19
Speed 30 ft.

14 (+2)10 (0)16 (+3)10 (0)16 (+3)10 (0)

Saving Throws Charisma +2, Wisdom +5
Skills Perception +5, Religion +2, Insight +5, Persuasion +2
Damage Resistances poison
Senses passive Perception 15
Languages Common, Dwarven

Magic Weapon. 0Gold0Healz has a Minor Deep Shard Morningstar (attack stats adjusted).

Order’s Wrath. Whenever 0Gold0Healz heals an ally, they may use their reaction to make a weapon attack.

Spellcasting. 0Gold0Healz is a 2nd-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following Cleric spells prepared:


  • Toll of the Dead Spell: +5 to hit, one creature in 60 feet, DC 13 Wisdom Save. 5 (1d8) or 7 (1d12) necrotic damage.
  • Deep Shard Morning Star. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8+3) magical piercing damage. Critical: +1 necrotic damage.
  • Order’s Demand. Channel Divinity: creatures of your choice within 30 foot radius. DC 13 Wis save. Creatures are charmed and drop their weapons. Once per short of long rest.


0Gold0Healz is a dwarf clad in chainmail wearing a shield and carrying a wicked morningstar made of Deep Shard. His hands are bedecked with fine rings that he’s extorted from those he’s healed while on the verge of death.


THaSHoCKER — 5e stats

Medium Half Elf, neutral evil

Armor Class 13 (16) (mage armor)
Hit Points 14
Speed 30 ft.

8 (-1)16 (+3)14 (+2)10 (0)10 (0)16 (+3)

Saving Throws Con +4, Cha +5
Skills Persuasion +5, Arcana +2, Insight +2, Religion +2
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages Common, Elven, Primordial

Magic Weapon. THaSHoCKER has a Minor Deep Shard Dagger (attack stats adjusted).

Font of Magic. THaSHoCKER has 2 sorcery points (See Sorcerer Class).

Spellcasting. THaSHoCKER is a 2nd-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following Sorcerer spells prepared:


  • Firebolt. Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 120 feet, one target. Hit: 6 (1d10) fire damage.
  • Shocking Grasp. Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 5 feet, one target. Hit: 5 (1d8) lightning damage and target cannot take reactions.
  • Deep Shard Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4+2) magical piercing damage. Critical: +1 necrotic damage.
  • Thunderwave. Spell: creatures in a 15 foot cube. DC 13 Con save. 9 (2d8) thunder damage and knocked prone. Save for half, no prone.
  • Tempestuous Magic. Sorcerer Ability: you can use a bonus action on your turn to cause whirling gusts of elemental air to briefly surround you, immediately before or after you cast a spell of 1st level or higher. Doing so allows you to fly up to 10 feet without provoking opportunity attacks.


THaSHoCKER is a Half Elf with silver hair who wears flowing blue robes. His eyes flash with sparks when he is angry — which is often.

BSO Ragnarök 1.1: The Deep Dark of Svartalfheim Introduction and Adventure Summary

Battlestorm Online Ragnarok is an unofficial, unaffiliated Open Gaming License (OGL) Dungeons and Dragons adventure designed for four-to-six characters. These player-characters are the heroes of our story. The material provided in this module series describes the villains, monsters, and dangerous situations the characters will encounter as they explore the Battlestorm Online environment.

This content is written for game masters who wish to run the Battlestorm Online Ragnarok campaign as an adventure. Original OGL monsters, magic items, and spells are published in this module series. When rules, monsters, magic items and spells from Wizards of the Coast IP are referenced, they are hyper-linked to Roll20 whenever possible. For example: Hobgoblin Warlord and Hobgoblin. Since Hobgoblin Warlord does not appear in the Roll20 Compendium, it is not hyperlinked.

The Deep Dark of Svartalfheim is the first of four modules in the larger Battlestorm Online Ragnarok adventure campaign — designed to carry the player characters from level 1 all the way to level 20. This block includes the larger campaign introduction as well as an opener to The Deep Dark of Svartleheim — which will advance the player characters from level 1 through level 5.

If you are a Battlestorm Online player — STOP READING NOW.


The characters log into Battlestorm Online (BSO) only to find that they are trapped in a virtual reality death game based on the world’s most widely-played RPG — Dungeons and Dragons. If they voluntarily log out, if someone tampers with their Ghost Gear virtual reality equipment in the real world, or if their avatar fails three death saves after their hit point bar drops to zero in-game, their Ghost Gear emits a strobe that triggers a lethal brain aneurism. The game’s creator — Gemu Masuta — makes a stunning announcement on the game’s first day that the characters must clear all the game’s dungeons and defeat the boss of each dungeon level in order to win the game and be freed from the deadly Ghost Gear.

The players’ lives are now spent in the virtual world layer of Midgard — the vibrant fantasy setting of BSO. Here they gain access to the safety of Home Towns, Safe Zones, Inns, Shops, Trainers, and Quest givers. They also find themselves surrounded by a hostile environment filled with deadly monsters and other hazards.

Midgard Level of the Battlestorm Campaign World. Map created by Ted Burgess.

A first wave of brave adventurers begin the quest to clear BSO by venturing out into Midgard to tackle hordes of monsters and deadly dungeons. These front line adventurers form parties, organize guilds, accumulate treasure, gain levels. They serve as protectors for less experienced or more afraid gamers who hang back — clustering in the safety of Home Towns or venturing out only when they are more certain of success. Many front liners die at the hands of monsters during the game’s first weeks — perishing to the lethal strobe emitted by the Ghost Gear after the game’s deadly monsters and traps render their avatars down to a confetti of flying pixels. Others gain power and renown.

But unbeknownst to these death game heroes, BSO is a two-part adventure series. The first part is static if stunningly dangerous and formidable — an intricate obstacle course of quests and dungeons designed to daunt even the world’s most experienced gamers. The second part is an invasion of monsters swarming up from dungeon bases that if left unchecked will ruin all player safe zones — threatening the lives of everyone in BSO.

BSO Ragnarök tells the story of those heroes who confront this second danger. For whatever reason, they held back from the initial wave of adventures. Then, after only a few weeks, they are called to action as they start to notice various strange signs. Safe zones are shrinking, monsters are beginning to wander away from respawn sites, and a bizarre star has ignited in the majestic night sky above Midgard.

Yggdrasil’s Roots and the Dark Mines of Svartleheim

At the center of Midgard sits the great tree Yggdrasil. Its trunk and branches stretch upward — supporting new levels of the Battlestorm Online campaign worlds. Within the trunk are dungeons that must be cleared in order for players to advance upward to unlock new quests, to open new levels and towns, and to reach new dungeons. Unseen below, Yggdrasil’s roots quest ever downward — extending toward four dark dungeon realms. These are Svartleheim — the mines of dark dwarves and elves, Hel — realm of the walking dead, Jotenheim — the land of the frost demons, and Muspel — a realm of terrible fire surrounded by darkness.

At the opening of this module, Yggdrasil’s first root is about to core into the dark mines of Svartleheim. This hollow root will soon pierce the mine entrance. When this happens, chaos will ensue within Midgard triggering these effects:

  • First, safe zones will no longer prevent damage in Midgard.
  • Second, safe zones will no longer keep monsters out.
  • Third, monsters will no longer be confined to spawn sites and dungeons but will instead be able to roam freely after spawning.
  • Fourth, the duergar and dark elves of Svartleheim will begin their invasion of Midgard.

This event has not yet happened. But the player characters are beginning to uncover various clues of this eminent catastrophe.

(Here ends the BSO campaign introduction and adventure summary. Up next… Ominous Signs Before the Breech Part 1 and Part 2 in which our heroes begin to experience various troubles as Yggdrasil’s roots begin to breech Svartalfheim. Find more BSO content in the Gaming Studio.)

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