Our campaign began on August 9, 2008 with an adventure entitled “The End Is the Beginning,” serialized in podcast episodes 1–3. Seven heroes from the city of Stormhaven, which sits in the middle of the Moonshale Sea, supported by four huge pillars, found themselves swept up in a wave of events that threatens to engulf the whole world. On the last day of the year 677, as Havenites reckon the years, several of the PCs were busy aboard an antique ship called the Broken Promise, the very ship in which Palanas Rockhammer had found the city of Stormhaven hundreds of years earlier. Now serving as a civic museum for Stormhaven, the Broken Promise traditionally sailed only once per year, as part of an aquatic New Year’s Day parade. Half-elven warlord Tyria Silverspray was then employed as the assistant to Erthic Rockhammer, descendant of Palanas Rockhammer, curator of the shipboard museum, and nominal captain of the Broken Promise during its annual voyage. Tradition dictated that a descendant of Palanas’s first mate, Illias Seawillow, be randomly chosen to serve as the honorary first mate on the Broken Promise’s ceremonial sail; this year, the lot fell to Lithian Seawillow, an elf ranger. Sturm Brightblade, a human blacksmith and fighter, had the honor of supplying the Promise with some necessary metalwork, which also brought him to the ship. The rest of the so-called “Honor Crew,” sailors chosen by lottery to serve on the Broken Promise during the parade, were NPCs.
Elsewhere in Stormhaven, human rogue Alanso Heslock had been hired by the leader of a minority religious group to scuttle the Broken Promise during the parade. In order to accomplish this, Alanso stole the lottery ticket from one of the NPCs chosen for the honor crew, and impersonated him to try to get on the ship. An eladrin wizard named Berrian, who suspected that his parents’ death had been engineered by the dwarf who contracted with Alanso, tailed Alanso to the Broken Promise. While all of this was happening in the Driftdowns, human paladin Jacques de Villaret was heading for the cathedral to pray, having just begun a leave of absence from his paying job as a sea agent for a Stormhaven financial concern.
At sundown, everything changed. Strange humanoids resembling fish or frogs began climbing out of the sea and swarming across the lower layer of Stormhaven. Think zombie apocalypse, but with kuo-toa. High above, on the upper layer of Stormhaven, strange flying fungi attacked the city’s defenders. In a cavern that couldn’t possibly exist—since upside sits on a disk of solid stone—a coven of cultists chanted strange rituals. And something—something from beneath the sea, embraced one of Stormhaven’s four pillars with unbelievably large tentacles and pulled—pulled hard enough to make all of Stormhaven lurch to one side.
Through a series of events, our seven heroes found themselves drawn to the Broken Promise, if they weren’t there already. The paladin, Jacques, was teleported to the Broken Promise by Gretchen Van Fleet, Stormhaven’s most powerful wizard. Then Gretchen, reading a powerful spell from a scroll, teleported the entire Broken Promise, with all hands aboard, somewhere far away from home.
The Broken Promise reappeared on the open sea, in the middle of a thunderstorm. Unfortunately, some of the frog-fish humanoids and flying fungi were caught in the spell’s area of effect, and were teleported along with the Broken Promise. The creatures apparently perceived Gretchen as the greatest threat, and two of the flying fungi immediately seized her and plunged her beneath the raging waves. Before she disappeared beneath the sea, Gretchen told the PCs to keep the promise and save the city by going to a place whose name starts with /k/ to find something called The Book of Life, said to contain a ritual by which the PCs could “drown it back to sleep.”
The PCs successfully defeated the remaining creatures, but now faced an unfamiliar ocean with unfamiliar comrades and a mission given by the mysterious Gretchen—a mission that could well determine Stormhaven’s ultimate fate.