Cauldron: The Shackled City
The PCs learned of kidnappings throughout their home city of Cauldron. Their investigations lead them to an abandoned gnome enclave below the city. Here they discovered the kidnappers, and an elevator down to their master’s domain. They find that many of the kidnap victims had been sold into slavery into the Underdark. One boy is rescued by a beholder before the PCs can intervene. The party then rescued the remaining townsfolk and return them to their homes.
The PCs were asked to go rescue Sarcem Delasharn, Cauldron’s High Priest of Helm, who was ambushed while returning to the city. He was carrying wands that were needed to prevent the lower portions of Cauldron from flooding during the upcoming rainy season. The party tracked down the ones responsible (a cleric of Bane, an undead priest of Bhaal, and an arcane follower of Myrkul) and retrieved the wands in time to save the city.
After the PCs saved the lives of dozens of people when an umberhulk attacks, they were invited to the swanky Cusp of Sunrise to hear a business proposal. This job lead them into the Underdark to track down a dwarf named Zenith Splintershield, who hadn’t been seen in ten years. Arriving at the kuo-toa outpost where it was divined the dwarf would be, the party faced many dangers. After surviving attacks by lightning-wielding frogmen, a beautiful-yet-terrible devil, a young dragon intent on creating as many varieties of half-dragons as possible, and Zenith himself (now deranged and unstable), the PCs returned to Cauldron with Zenith’s body and received their compensation as promised.
Things are getting bad in Cauldron; taxes are being increased almost monthly, half-orc mercenaries roam the streets, and the public is getting restless. On top of all this, Alek Tercival issued a challenge to the captain of the guard, and a merchant named Maavu called a rally that turned into a riot. As Cauldron prepares to lay siege to the neighboring town of Redgorge, the PCs attempt to track down Alek Tercival to convince him to repeal his challenge. Their search takes them into the heart of the Demonskar where they fight their way through an assortment of enemies until they reach a strange mirror. Using information they’ve gathered along the way, they use the mirror to transport themselves to small underground room in an unknown desert. Here they find a mentally unstable Alek, who helps them fight the demon that appears to prevent their escape. After the battle, he falls to the ground, utters an admonition in an otherworldly voice to “trust the sign of the smoking eye”, the dies.
Almost immediately following Alek’s words, a man named Kaurophon arrives, send by the power of the smoking eye to take them to Occipitus. They arrive in the Abyss and set out to pass the three tests that will grant them dominion over this layer. The Test of Judgement presents them with the choice of slaying a demon or an angel. They defeat the demon and are directed to the next test. In the Test of Resolve, they are sent through a maze of strange cocoons, inside of which are the bodies of long-dead warriors, slowly being devoured by Occipitus. They are faced with distractions along the way which result in them needing to restart the test many times. Eventually they are successful and permitted to proceed to the third test, the Test of Sacrifice. Here Kaurophon shows his true colors and tries to sacrifice one of the PCs. When he is defeated, Jerim sacrifices himself in order to save his friends, and hopefully Cauldron. Instead of dying however, he unintentionally completes the test, losing his left eye in the process.