Our story begins not with a party, but with a number of lone adventurers come to Waterdeep in hopes of joining an established band or forming one of their own. Quite soon, each one of these worthies discovered the value of knowing people – or, rather, the frustration of knowing no-one who could advance their cause. The taverns proved heavy with tale-tellers and hometown heroes but light on the sort of person that could be trusted to watch one’s back. Successful groups were cliquish and wary of newcomers. In the end it was the house of worship, not of ale, that provided.
On the door of Heironeous’ exquisite waterfront temple was posted a simple notice: “Mercenaries wanted for detached work. Talented, resourceful individuals only. Field experience not necessary.” After careful vetting by temple paladins, the characters assemble before Father Zacharias, who offers them 100 gold apiece plus transit and lodging to show the church flag in an investigation of sacrilege at offshore Driftcrag Island. Payment is conditioned on behavior becoming of church representatives and on a thorough investigation of the incident.
The good father is saving the church a considerable amount of money by recruiting unseasoned adventurers. He seems to have less regard for the mission itself than for the appearance that he has put “boots on the ground” in a strong response to a public outrage. Although he will not negotiate his rates, any character may hold out for more money. To do so, take a manila folder, mark it “dead end tavern,” place your character sheet inside, and roll up a new one. Waterdeep has no shortage of eager fortune-seekers.
Although the temple of Heironeous on Driftcrag Island has always been small and is currently almost non-existent, the locals feel a particular pride as the burial place of Saint Aelephus the Peacegiver, one of Heironeous’ storied heroes in Faerun. The saint’s tomb, lying in the modest cemetery of Windbreak Town, was recently entered and defiled in a manner that was not clear from reports. Locals have been unable to identify the culprit and wrote to the Church for help. Characters are to uncover and deal with the perpetrators or, failing that, conduct an investigation sufficiently thorough to satisfy local indignation.
Characters may choose to stay in Windbreak Town‘s public inn, with reasonable expenses paid by the church’s local caretaker. They may seek lodging with The Temple of Serene Contemplation of the Perfect Sunrise, which considers devotees of Heironeous friends and allies. With the proper approach they may be able to gain hospitality at Tillwood Estate, long friends of the church. Sir Marsden Tillwood and a group from Windbreak Town have both been through the tomb after the incident but with no result.
On board ship to the island several drunken crewmen tell a story about a cave full of gems. They are notably particular and consistent in placing the cave’s location, describing it as near a lightning-struck oak in the forest near the salt fens. When sober they apologize for telling the story and beg the characters to just forget it. They say it is a fable they only share with poorly-liked new crewmen because people who go in search of it tend not to return.