The campaign begins with the initiation of new mercenaries, hired to protect the town of North Harbor (on the floating island of Solace) from Orcish raids. The adventurers are a motley crew: a confused, amnesiac human sorcerer called John Freeman; a wealthy, fast-talking halfling named Tyriron; an ambitious half-orc bard with violent tendencies named Pussbucket Mugsy (Buck, for short); Ere’sat, a gruff human healer fresh from hermitage; Akito, an elven warrior haunted by his past; and an animal-loving elven ranger named Deilwyn (with her feline companion, Chewy).
The group passed the tests given by the honorable Captain Walgen Davis (called Walgreens by the party) and were immediately deployed.
The party dispatched an orcish raiding party and saved the inhabitants of the village of Bently, which impressed Walgen and the mayor of North Harbor, Sir Gordon Sellick. They were then sent to find a new water source for the town, since a recent influx of refugees (due to a war between two nearly kingdoms) has made water more scarce than normal.
Following rumors, the party finds an uninhabited cave with a curious, clean pool of water. The orcs have erected a small shrine there, and runes on the wall seem to indicate that the pool will never run dry. The party notices a tunnel below the water, so Ere’sat dives in to investigate. At the other end of the tunnel is a room containing a strange, broken machine as well as a small collection of weapons and artifacts.
Upon returning to North Harbor, the party discovers that it has been occupied by an army from a nearby kingdom, led by General Lawrence Ambleside. After failing to get something called a hot water party together, the group left to visit the king, carrying a letter from the mayor of North Harbor asking to end the occupation. They were given mounts for the journey, including a riding dog named Gently.
Along the road to the kingdom of Gardas, the party was attacked by a group of elves disguised as soldiers from the kingdom of Poria. After some questioning, the party learned that the elves had been playing the two human kingdoms against each other in order to keep them weak, so that the elves could conquer them easily once their own civil war was over. The party delivered that information and their elven prisoner to a Gardas fortress on their way to the capitol.
The party met with Frank, king of Gardas, who did not seem to have much interest in freeing North Harbor. However, it turned out that the king has a problem, and he needs some mercenary help to do it. The king offers the party 2,000 gold per person and the use of an airship in exchange for taking on an assassination job. The king also adds the freedom of North Harbor into the deal.
The party takes the prince, pretending to be rescuing him from danger, and ride dragons away from the castle toward the island where their airship is hidden. The party is attacked in the air by harpies, but they defend Mal and land safely near a village.
It turns out that the party is being followed by Miles, Mal’s chamberlain. He knows that the party was hired to kill Mal, but wants to be with his young master until the end.
The airship is hidden in a habr tree forest, which the party must navigate carefully. During another harpy attack, Mal and Miles run ahead. Afterward, it looks as though the branch of a habr tree had fallen on Mal, but he seems unharmed. Miles says that the branch must have missed Mal somehow, though there is evidence to the contrary. The party suspects that Mal’s amulet protected him.
The party finds the airship and rests, while Mal and Miles leave to find berries for a pie.
While in the air, the party decides not to kill Mal, and instead to take the airship and explore on their own. However, it turns out that Mal’s pie is poisoned. Deilwyn, who was piloting the ship, passed out from the poison, as did Tyriron. The ship begins to crash while Mal attempts to take over, using magic. Miles looks terribly surprised about all of this.
The party manages to knock out Mal and regain control of the ship, but not before being boarded by elves in another pair of sinking airships, apparently losing Tyriron completely to the poison, and falling into the maelstrom that forever spins beneath the floating islands of the world.
Upon crash landing on an unknown island within the maelstrom, the party has very little time to come to terms with where they are, how Tyriron is still alive, and what to do with the unconscious Mal before a group of dwarves approach the ship out of the rain asking if they are gods.
It doesn’t take long before the party admits to the leader that they are not gods. The shrewd High Froman Craig accepts this quickly and asks the party to play along anyway. Apparently his regime is based around the worship of the Managers, people from above, who watch over the dwarves while they maintain a towering monstrosity of a machine called the Gearbox. Unfortunately for him, another “Manager” has appeared, claiming that they are not, in fact, gods.
High Froman Craig needs to use the party as “true gods” in order to rally people back to his cause.
The party goes along with it and are shown quarters in which to rest. Mal awakens the next day and tries to convince the party that he was acting in self defense (since the party was, in fact, hired to kill him), and agrees to come clean about everything in the hopes of getting free.
Mal explains that his father is the leader of the mysteriarchs, powerful human wizards who left the Mid-Realm a couple of decades ago in order to find the Ma’ari on their islands in the High-Realm. However, sensing that the humans would be no match for the elves once their civil war is over, his father hatched a plan to take over the human kingdoms. The King Frank of Gardas and Queen Dorothy of Poria has married in order to bring their countries together. They had a child: a prince who would some day rule both countries. Mal’s father replaced that prince with Mal and gave him the amulet, which would protect Mal by charming everyone around him as well as giving him a direct, telepathic link to his true father. The plan was that, once Mal came of age, his true father would return to help him rule.
The party still distrusted Mal, and left him tied up. They were more interested in these restricted “sacred grounds” where the dwarves feared to tread. However, just as they were about to leave, a dwarf enters their room: High Clark Rufard. He says that the heretic Sheldon and his not-a-god are having a rally here in Gearbox City. Apparently, dwarves are leaving their shifts to go and see it—an unprecedented occurrence!
The party follows High Clark Rufard to the rally and watch from a hiding spot. After the not-a-god Kirtan makes a speech about rising up against their masters, the heretic Sheldon runs off screaming “I didn’t mean for any of this!” and the rally ends. The dwarves seems ready for a riot, but their deeply-ingrained servile nature leaves them unable to find an outlet.
The party decides to take some time to explore the Restricted Area for a while. The hallways of the place are maze-like, oddly clean and quiet. After finding a couple of empty offices containing mechanical humanoids named B0B (who request an access code or else will chase the party), they get bored exploring the winding passageways and leave.
Instead, they decide to find Sheldon and Kirtan. High Clark Rufard leads them to Sheldon’s headquarters, where they meet with Kirtan. He explains that he comes from another land, below even this one, and that he’s an explorer. Buck asks him to help them explore the Restricted Area, and Kirtan agrees.
On the way there, the party gets chased by coppers, the dwarven police force. They run into the Restricted area, and the dwarves stop following.
After some time, Kirtan activates the runes that run along the walls. The runes lead the party through the maze to a room filed with treasures, mechanical spiders, and another B0B. After a long fight, the party destroys the mechanical guardians and begin to investigate the treasures.
The cases, all of which were locked and many of which were trapped, eventually granted their bounty to the party.
The runes eventually led the party out of the maze to cave somewhere outside of Gearbox City. Tyriron, Buck, and John returned to Gearbox City to find Sheldon, hoping to hatch a plan to get the dwarves to rebel against their leaders. Along the way, Buck and John were approached by dwarven police and asked to accompany them to see the High Froman. Tyriron, disguised as a dwarf, slipped away and continued to Sheldon’s headquarters.
It turned out that Sheldon’s HQ had been ransacked, and his people were nowhere to be found.
Buck and John convinced the High Froman that they had killed Kirtan and learned that Sheldon had been taken prisoner. The elves would be coming the next day for their water, so together Buck, John, and the High Froman worked out a plan in which the elves would come down and take the party and Sheldon our of the Lower Realm.
Buck and John returned to the others, and together they came up with a plan to somehow hijack the elven ship and instigate a revolution.
Unfortunately, the plan went awry when Mal (with Tyriron standing on his shoulders, disguised as an elf) tripped in front of the elves, spilling Tyriron onto the deck.
In the ensuing battle, the party slew the elven captain and the dwarves began to riot. Eventually the ship’s second-in-command, an elf named Arianus, came to the deck to negotiate.
Mal revealed himself as the son of a mysteriarch and offered the elf and his crew riches if they transport himself and the party to the High-Realm. The elf agreed, but only if the party agree to be held in captivity (with their weapons) for the duration of the trip. Mal agreed, but the party did not. After being threatened, the elf returned below decks, with Mal hurrying along beside him.
The party attempted to break into the ship, but the ship began to take off. It began to roll, attempting to shake the party off of the deck, but some quick thinking by Akito, using his new Immovable Rod, stopped the roll.
Even so, when the two other elver ships came down, each lined with archers at the ready, the party decided to give up. Mal’s pleading spared their lives, but they were forced to give up their weapons before entering the holding cell.
And so the North Harbor Mercenaries, Prince Mal, the servant Miles, the dwarven revolutionary Sheldon, the mysterious Kirtan, and a couple of dogs were flown to the Mid-Realm, where Captain Arianus allowed the party the choice of leaving the ship if they preferred. They all decided to continue to the High-Realm, but they left the ship for a while anyway, only to return in a hurry when they realized that they were all wanted for the kidnapping of Mal.
The journey to the island of the mysteriarchs was long and cold. Even the fire they kept in their cell wouldn’t keep them warm. Eventually, however, they discovered a huge field of floating chunks of ice and they could go no further. And then a long, serpentine dragon flew out of the ice field, carrying a man in black robes.
This was Mal’s father, Vinad, the most powerful of the mysteriarchs. He invited the ship to follow his dragon through the ice.
They eventually arrived at a beautiful island, where a magic field kept the air warm. The fields were green with grass, and there was a lovely city in the center. Vinad showed the party around the city, though eventually the party began to notice that there were, in fact, very few people around, despite great effort being taken to make the place seem well-populated. They also realized that the building themselves were at least partially illusion, causing them to wonder how much of what they were seeing was real.
Vinad brought the party to his castle, up a mountain away from the city. They met Mal’s real mother, Lady Simone, who tried to warn the party to leave.
Buck attempted to escape the castle and managed to evade Vinad’s dragon, which was circling the castle ominously and restlessly. The rest of the party had dinner with Vinad, in which he asked the party to perform various tasks to help him “bring peace to the realm.” Buck, meanwhile, tried to work out an escape plan with Captain Arianus, then returned to the castle.
In the end, the party refused Vinad’s request, so he summoned some monsters to kill the party while he returned to his work. During the battle, Mal ran through the room and into his father’s office. As the difficult battle came to a close, the party victorious over Vinad’s creatures, Vinad returned to the room, bloody and weak. Apparently he was attacked by Mal and Lady Simone. He had dealt with them, and was caught off guard when he found the party still alive. He fought, but the party ganged up on him.
When Vinad fell, the castle began to shake. Kirtan appeared, telling the party that the dragon’s enchantment had been lifted, sending it into a rampage. His dog grabbed Mal, and he hurried the party out of the castle, hoping that the dragon would be so occupied trying to get revenge on Vinad that it wouldn’t bother with them.
At the ship, Kirtan incapacitated the mysteriarch guards and took command of the vessel.
On the way out of the High-Realm Kirtan explained that he was going to return to his home, bringing Mal with him. Miles had been left behind since, it turned out, he was a Ma’ari, a demi-god, one of his arch enemies.
He offered the party a choice. They could stay here, in their realm, and be welcome as heroes, since they had twarted a plot of world conquest by an insanely powerful wizard…
…Or they could go with him to explore other realms, where nobody in their realm had gone before.
In the end, the party chose to follow Kirtan.
Captain Arianus and his crew and slaves were dropped off with Sheldon in the Low-Realm. From there they decided to help the dwarves fight the elven empire. Before the party left the realm completely, it sounded like the human kingdoms, the rebel elves, and the dwarves were getting ready to team up and go to war with the elven empire.
They left their realm in chaos.