Last weekend I DM-ed a run through “A Great Upheaval,” the introductory adventure from last year’s Storm King’s Thunder campaign for fifth edition D&D, at the excellent Killer Rabbit Comics in Williston, VT. Below is a write-up of what turned out to be a fun (and at times humorous) adventure. I included notes in [brackets] to indicate the gameplay mechanics behind a few of the more notable events. This is part 1; I’ll conclude the adventure next week.
At the table were (character names): Adrian, a half-elf warlock; Jon, a human cleric of Lathander; Bark, a forest Gnome druid; and Rogar, a Dragonborn Ranger.
The party formed in Waterdeep and heard that Morak Ur’gray, the proprietor of the Nightstone Inn, was renowned for his excellent beer and his tips for novice adventures to find promising dungeons to explore. They set out for Nightstone to begin their adventuring career.
The group arrives late morning to find something is amiss. There was no one around—no one coming out of the town, no one passing by on the road. But a bell is ringing incessantly from inside the town and the drawbridge across the moat is down. The group grows especially concerned, though, when they notice the bridge to the keep—built on an artificial island in the river—had been smashed.
The party decides to forge head. Walking across the drawbridge they discover the source of the ringing bell, a temple to Lathander and Mielikki. But they decide to venture further into the town to find any of its inhabitants. They grow even more concerned as they notice giant boulders embedded in the ground throughout the town, as if they had been dropped from a great height.
The group walks into the town square and aresurprised to come on two worgs. The worgs attack, severely injuring Adrian before the others manage to kill both of them. Bark revives and heals Adrian, and they realize something very bad had happened to Nightstone.
Looking to the north, they see a sign for the Nightstone Inn. As this was their initial destination, they decide to try and find Morak and head inside. It was devastated. A boulder had plunged through the roof, smashing tables and chairs in the common room. Curiously, a goblin lay dead with a crossbow bolt in its chest; an investigation by Bark indicates it had died recently. Jon then hears a sound in the kitchen at the back of the common room. They investigate.
Inside they find a goblin rummaging through the pantry and loading up a sack. It had not noticed them sneak up behind it, so Rogar—who hates goblins with a passion—kills it with his dragonbreath. The group notices a flight of stairs so they head up to find out if anyone had survived.
They explore two empty guest rooms and Morak’s bedroom. Bark tries unsuccessfully to break open Morak’s locked chest, but the others convince him that would be a bit rude. Jon enters the last bedroom, which had been partially destroyed by another boulder. He looks around and is followed by Adrian who—being more perceptive than Jon—notices a human woman hiding behind the door [Jon failed his perception check]. She tells them she is a travelling monk who was staying here when the attack started, and was knocked unconscious. All she knows is boulders came out of the sky, and wants to hide until it’s safe. They tell her they will secure the town, and head out.
They head outside and decide to investigate the ringing coming from the temple. The sanctuary is deserted but a door is half-open behind the pulpit. Looking in, the group sees two goblins swinging from the rope bell. Rogar rushes in and challenges them. The goblins leap down, draw their scimitars and try to intimidate the party into leaving. This fails horribly. A fight ensues and the two goblins quickly fall. Rogar takes the corpses outside so they don’t foul the temple, Jon prayers over the site of the combat, and they leave.
The party now decides to investigate the keep, stopping by any buildings they pass on the way. Rogar and Bark poke their heads inside the Lionshield Coster trading post and find a goblin inside gathering supplies. The goblin, startled, puts his hands up and offers them a fancy padlock it found in exchange for its safety. They press it for information, and the goblin mentions being sent here by “Boss Hark,” but won’t tell anymore. To Rogar’s annoyance, Bark agrees to let the goblin go. The rest of the group waiting outside is surprised to see a smiling goblin trot out, wave, and head out of the village.
Jon heads south, shouting to see if anyone is still alive. Two goblins looting a farm hear him, and ambush the group from behind some fence posts. Once the group recovers from their surprise, they kill one goblin and convince the other to surrender. The goblin tells them that he is from a tribe based in caves a few miles to the north. A group of humans arrived the day before and were captured; the goblins, being goblins, decided to start eating them. Their leader, Boss Hark, sent several to the town to gather any loot that was there. The group deliberates over what to do with the goblin, and decides to let him go if he promises to not return to the caves.
As they arrive at the bridge they see that a boulder smashed into it, leaving a 10 foot gap. Rogar suggests throwing Bark over with a rope, while Bark suggests casting jump on himself. Due to a communication mishap, both occurr; Rogar tosses Bark just as he casts the spell, so Bark flies through the air, landing against the wall of the keep. Bark and Jon then tie the rope to bridge posts with exceptional skill [the results of two natural 20s on the ability check] and the group crosses over. All went well except for Rogar, who slips and nearly falls into the river [a failed athletics check] but catches one of the beams of the bridge and pulls himself back up.
The group enters the keep and finds the four remaining guards of Nightstone inside, standing watch over the recently fallen leader of Nightstone, Lady Nandar. They tell the group a floating castle flew overhead, dropping boulders onto the town. The villagers couldn’t make it to the keep so they likely fled to the Dripping Caves, a fallback point a few miles to the north. Giants then descended and stole the Nighstone, a mysterious relic that was the village’s namesake…
Come back next week for the second half of this great adventure.
[UPDATED: changed formatting, and corrected the name of the campaign]