Our four single-classed heroes (Fin, Jayse, Ushari, and Straehan) 'awaken' underwater, in the ocean, in the midst of a raging storm. They manage to swim to the surface and clutch on to several chunks of driftwood from a destroyed ship. They cling to the wreckage until the storm passes. In the process of lashing together a makeshift raft from the wreckage, they realise that they are all suffering from amnesia. Aside from knowing their names and some of their skills, their histories are almost a complete blank. Each one has just a tiny fragment of memory, a single scene, that they recall. They have no idea where they are or how they arrived here. With no other option, they band together to try to find land and solve the mysteries of who they are and how they got here.
After several days at sea battling fierce sharks and escaping from beneath the gaze of a bloodthirsty pirate crew, our heroes are caught in another storm and tossed up on a forsaken beach on an unknown island. They discover a wooden fragment of, what they assume, is their ship's hull with the last part of the vessel's name - doria.
At length, they befriend a local eel-hunter, battle some goblins, and travel to the village of Forestal. There they learn that they are in a massive archpelago, some 3000 miles across, called the Great Southern Isles (GSI). More specifically, they are on the Isle of Amador - the furthest island. The GSI is a multi-racial conglomeration of people who, generations ago, led a sailing exodus from the 'Mainland' thousands of leagues to their North. The Mainland, 'Miir' as it's called there, is a vast, single, super-continent fraught with racial and political strife.
While this is news to our heroes, the knowledge does jog certain shards of memories for some... but full understanding is elusive. The Forestal residents inform the quartet that there is a reclusive seer in the forest who might be able to shed some light on their identities and their pasts. Unfortunately, between the seer's home and the village is a forest filled with roving bands of increasingly aggressive goblins. The heroes, deciding to repay the locals' kindnesses opt to recon the forest and goblin situation on their way to visit the seer.
In the forest, they fall under the impossible shadow of some ancient, timeless tower and are quickly beset by hordes of goblins. They lead the goblins in a running battle towards the seer's glade which, by all accounts, the goblins fear. As they fight at the foot of the seer's mystic hedge, Ushari and Straehan are knocked unconscious. Jayse and Fin manage to wrest their friends from the grip of the goblins and flee through a hole in the hedge as every plant on the hillside animates and attacks the remaining goblins. It seems the goblins' fears are justified as the plants and the hill itself start to dine on the tiny warriors. The unconscious Ushari, still beneath the unnatural shadow of the tower, has a dream of some dreadful creature trying to penetrate this reality through a smoking, black gate. Worse, the creature seems to see her and tells her it will dine upon her soul.
Jayse and Fin carry their unconscious friends into the glade claimed by the seer, which is seemingly peaceful. They meet the gruff seer/hag/wise woman - Isolde. She treats the wounded comrades and then sets all four to work on menial tasks around her crude mud and wattle hut. They spend a little more than a day with her. In that time, they learn much about who they are and some inkling of where they have come from... but it only adds to the mystery. Jayse is from an island on the far side of the world (Bolline), known for producing the most feared assassins anywhere. Ushari is from the capital city (Crux) of the Mainland. Fin is from an entirely different world - spinning around a small star in the night's sky. And Straehan is from a mirror world to this Miir, one that is nearly identical.
Isolde also conveys a bit of world history to the heroes explaining that the Tower on the hill was created by a long vanished race called the Shaudran who managed to wipe themselves off the face of the world in a single night. Their knowledge and magical skills were vast and, subsequently, their ruins have attracted many seeking fast ways to riches and power.
Armed with potions, an on-going assistance agreement with Isolde, a few answers, and far more questions, our heroes journey to the Goblins' cave to assess the threat they pose to Forestal. They raid the cave and find yet another mystery - a large cavern system that is only lightly populated with goblins but has bedding that could hold many, many, many more. Despite that, the fighting between the groups is ferocious. In the end, the heroes prevail and drive the few remaining goblins back into the warren-like interior where the small creatures prepare to make their final stand to protect their spiritual leader.
Between the strange construction of the rearmost caves, decidedly non-goblin, and the restraint shown by the remaining goblins (not attacking the characters even though they have ample opportunity), a small window for negotiation opens. Our heroes risk meeting with the goblin shaman, a female who hides behind the massive statue of her pagan god. The truth is stranger than any fiction. The goblins, in their mining, have uncovered some older construction that clearly relates to the unnatural tower in the mountains above them. They unearthed some creature that they call 'The Laughing One'. He somehow managed to usurp the will of the vast majority of the gobins and set them on a course to harass Forestal. The small group of 'free' goblins resisted the creature's power and have been trying to snap their brethren out of the creature's spell. In an unlikely move, the goblin shaman - Rashgari - begs the heroes to help her people stop this 'Laughing One'. The quartet, along with the remaining 'free' goblins visit and then battle the Laughing One - an undead creature in service to 'The Dweller in Darkness'. Much to Ushari's consternation, it seems the soul-devouring creature she dreamed of is the Dweller and he plans to be 'born' into this world and then destroy it. Through the Laughing One, he offers the heroes a chance to leave the world and not oppose him. They decline and destroy the Laughing One's undead servants as well the creature itself. Unfortunately, they realise too late that he's already set in motion a plan to wipe out Forestal. His goblin army even now marches towards the village. It is an attack the village is woefully unprepared to repel.
Against all good sense, the heroes, along with their few goblin allies, race to intercept the goblin army and hopefully save the village. As they exit the goblin tunnels, they run into a massive, misty, vaguely feminine form. 'She' blasts the heroes with eldritch lightning in a frozen moment of time. Our heroes experience intense pain, along with power, and knowledge. They become gestalt, second level characters. With renewed confidence they race to protect the town.
The battle for Forestal is grim - wave attacks of goblins swarm the ramparts that defend the village. Many goblins die but, with the assistance of the heroes and their free goblin allies, few locals fall. Only as the battle ends, does another threat emerge. The Dweller has summoned an undead hill giant and sent it to destroy the heroes. The united forces of the Forestalians, the heroes, and the 'free' goblins manage to destroy the giant. The Dweller, not wasting an opportunity, carves a message into the skin of the giant with an invisible extra-planar claw... to make it clear that this is only the beginning.
In an act of peace, Ushari heals the dying goblins who, upon recovery, are free of the Dweller's influence. The heroes broker a long-term peace and trade arrangement between Rashgari's goblins and the Forestalians. The peace is sealed with a joint celebration and the heroes receive ample rewards for their great help.
The heroes commission the building of a small boat. While they wait for it to be finished, they visit the goblin caves again to view a mysterious object the goblins have discovered while sealing up the Laughing One's chamber. It is a permanent portal to the Plane of Shadow. Sobered by the discovery, they return to Forestal and give some thought to what they have learned and what it tells them about themselves and their enemies. Finally, the heroes' small dhoni is finished. Christened the Mako, our heroes set sail for the capital city of Amador Isle - Orfallen. Their goal is to track down the sunken ship they were presumably on as well as seeing more of the island in the hope that new sights will trigger more memories. They sail North along the coast stopping here and there while exploring their emergent memories. They battle and narrowly escape a Keening Spirit and its Golem/Elemental bodyguard. Straehan pieces together a code hidden within his own journal... only to realise that the 'past' version of himself was a serial killer who would seduce and murder people for access to their private libraries. The revelation of his evil past concerns his compatriots because they sense a sinister undercurrent in their own forgotten professions and hinted at in their fragmented memories.
They stop by a small camp to repair the Mako and recover from the life-draining wounds of the Keening Spirit. As fortune would have it, they cross a well-equipped wandering merchant named Bitiborium who is able to heal them and provide enough information (coupled with a strange dream Ushari has while wrapped in an unnatural fog) for her to piece together her dark past. She was an infamous thief named Despair's Daughter and more. Stung by a personal betrayal, Despair's Daughter's mind snapped. She killed her boyfriend and then replayed the relationship and murder with other men and women across Crux. She also, allegedly, died by falling from a skyscraper. Her body was never recovered. It seems to indicate that at least a few of the heroes arrived on the ship or in the ocean through magical means.
With two of their number having equally sinister pasts, our heroes begin to wonder if all of their lives are similarly tainted. Jayse wants to know the answer - bad or good. Fin, already wishing to return to her own home world, frets over what horrors she may uncover. After the Mako is repaired, they sail North again.
Before they reach Orfallen, our heroes happen upon a pirate ship wrecked on a sandbar close to a small village. They investigate and stumble into a trap laid by the marooned pirates that have taken over the village. Fighting a pitched battle throughout the village, Fin, Jayse and Ushari are forced to flee and regroup leaving the nearly dead Straehan in the hands of the pirates. As the three companions fight to recover their friend, Straehan fights for his life... a task made easier when a strange mist creeps into his prison and rejuvenates the dying sorcerer. In the end, the pirates are defeated, pinched between a group of freed miners and the heroes.
Unfortunately, several pirates left days before with most of the village's women and girls - intent on selling them at some slaver's market inland. Pushed by Ushari, the heroes set out to recover the lost women. The pirates, women, and heroes all fall into the same trap. They get sucked into a landslide that dumps them in a massive underground necropolis. Working through the numerous traps and tomb guards, our heroes rescue the locals and finish off the remaining pirates. They also find a new ally - Jofram - left on an underground beach. He also suffers from amnesia although he remembers crucial details the others do not. He recalls they were all captured by Aboleth who were working at the behest of someone they referred to as the 'Debtkeeper'. They were instructed to steal the heroes memories. Why Jofram was released later is unknown. They also find the first part of the name of the vessel he was likely on - Nala. Given the similarities in their stories, they combine the ship names together into Naladoria. Once uttered, the name summons their mysterious misty patron who made them gestalt warriors. After a far too brief Q&A session, they learn that Naladoria is an exiled Goddess from a long ago defeated pantheon. She has brought the characters here to, principally, help release her from Exile and, secondarily, to give them each a chance to redeem their wicked lives. For the moment, she asks nothing of the heroes save they consider helping her in exchange for her continued support. It is unclear to her who sent the Aboleth to kidnap her heroes. She doubts it is anyone from the current pantheon of Gods (who might object to her return) because it is widely known that the Aboleth serve no Gods.
At length, our heroes escape the tomb with the assistance of Bitiborium, the merchant with ridiculously good timing. They return the women to their village. They have to say goodbye to more than the villagers, however. Homesick, Fin makes a deal with the plane-hopping merchant to get her home. So, when our heroes bid the village farewell, it is Jayse, Jofram, Ushari, and Straehan piloting the swift Mako steadily Northward
Sailing on, our heroes nearly destroy their boat entering a hidden cove less than two days from Orfallen. It is their welcome to the tiny 'free city' of Shiv - a haven for smugglers and other shady folks. They spend a couple of days in Shiv, resting and recuperating. It is a relatively quiet time until the city is assaulted by tenebrous worms (most likely sent by the Dweller). They manage to defeat the vicious acid-spitting beasts but the price is high. Several locals die. Despite that, the heroes are adopted by the townsfolk for their valor.
Our heroes eventually press on towards Orfallen, driven to find out more about their pasts and repay a debt they have incurred with Bitiborium. In Orfallen, many questions are answered and yet more crop up. But before too many mysteries abound, Bitiborium shows up and offers our heroes a chance to square their debt by investigating why a lumber shipment he is expecting from a small lumber camp up-river has been delayed. Bitiborium lends them a magic sail to make it a speedy journey. The journey is speedy but the lumber issue is far from a simple delay. Some evil stalks the village of Bartleby's Cross, stealing several of their children and driving the adults to distraction. Our heroes pursue the clues and rumors diligently. Is this the work of a disgruntled forest spirit? A were-wolf? A madman?
In a series of twists and turns, the evil behind the plot plays two sides against each other and tricks our heroes into a pointless battle against a camp full of gnolls and their hyena guards. The heroes wipe out the village leaving only a few gnolls alive for questioning. It turns out that the evil 'human' behind the scenes has been stealing weaker gnolls and gnoll children for longer than he has been preying on the townsfolk. For what purpose - none can say. But our heroes forge an alliance of vengeance with the remaining Gnoll lieutenant named Shaggar. He accompanies the heroes and, under the skilled tracking of Jofram, they follow the path of the evil-doer's servants. Over two days, they manage to follow the tracks to a decaying and unknown hill fortress. Further, they encounter several of the servants of the evil-doer - all undead. It becomes clear they are dealing with a Necromancer of no small skill. What he needs the children for, they cannot say... but it doesn't look good. Without delay they penetrate the Necromancer's underground base, wading through an impressive array of undead servants that nearly take the measure of each hero.
While searching for the children, they find the Necromancer's bedroom. Skimming his notes and correspondence, they figure out that he plans to sacrifice the souls of the children as part of a summons to bring a servant of the Shaudran to answer his questions and allow him to tap their power... his goal is domination.
Hearing drums, they realise the ritual must be underway in the massive temple indicated in the scrawled building plans they find. It is the only room in the complex they haven't entered yet. Without delay, they charge the room and enter the fray...
Oh, but they are poorly prepared for the fight. Before the massive doors open fully, they are blasted by powerful magics. When the doors open, the situation isn't any better. They face a wall of cobbled together undead, made from the fusing of many gnolls together. Worse, Ushari recognizes the room from her dream beneath the Shadow of the Tower... in his ignorance the Necromancer isn't summoning a Shaudran servant, he is opening a portal to bring the Dweller in Darkness across. The battle is furious, desperate, and grueling. Jayse dies, falling into a poison-laden pit and crushed by a massive undead construct. Shaggar and Straehan die beneath axes and claws, their blood spraying across the walls. Ushari is blasted to nothing by the foul energy channeled by an undead shaman. Jofram presses on, invisible, trying to stop the Dweller's arrival... which will spell the death of the town at the very least. Jofram falls unconscious, victim of a unlucky blow to the skull.
Jayse, Ushari, Straehan, and Shaggar have their souls' journey to the land of the dead curtailed by the intervention of Naladoria. She speaks with them briefly in a 'waiting room' of sorts, explaining that this is the one and only time she can prevent their deaths. But, by doing so, she is announcing herself to the current pantheon and they will stop her from any further interference. She explains that they will need to recover an ancient artifact of hers from a Shaudran stronghold if she is to have any chance of coming back to the world or helping them again. Wishing them luck, she sends them back into the fray fully restored.
Even with a divine reprieve, the battle is hard fought to a bitter end. Three of the children are left soulless, dead, husks. The Necromancer is killed but very nearly finishes off Jayse and Straehan for a second time. While the full might of the Dweller is prevented from entering the world... it manages to transfer a bit of its soul before the gate is shut. The 'shadow' of itself is forced to flee to prevent its destruction at the hands of Jofram and Ushari.
Having defeated the Dweller and killed the Necromancer, our heroes take the children home before sailing back to Orfallen. The Necromancer's records contain several interesting clues for further adventures but, for the moment, the quartet takes a well-earned break. They meet up with Bitiborium to settle their debt and he decides to give them the magical sail as a thank you for their extraordinary efforts.
Even Orfallen contains unexpected adventures as Straehan crosses a member of the thieves' guild and our heroes are compelled to battle a fierce group of were-rats at a local brothel. These events are soon forgotten as the quartet has a date with the mysterious merchant Bitiborium who has promised to take them some place truly unique as evening falls...
Bitiborium doesn't disappoint as he leads our heroes to his home-away-from-home, the plane jumping tavern called Crossroads. There they meet up with another friend of Bitiborium's - the Witch-Warrior Orin Vanderwhal. An evening of drinking, chat, and music commences punctuated by two events. Deep in his cups, Straehan challenges a Malebranche to an arm-wrestling competition and loses horribly. Also, a freak bi-location anomaly spirits their exit door away from Orfallen and deposits it hundreds of miles away. Effectively marooned, the stalwart group decides to step through the door/gate for a brief expeditionary foray. They emerge on a steeply sloping mountainside and are almost immediately attacked by a Cyclops. In the ensuing struggle, the door to Crossroads is buried by a rock-slide. Our heroes emerge victorious and spare the Cyclop's life. A fortuitous choice since its powerful digging abilities are needed to reclaim the door before it transitions to another world entirely. With moments to spare, our heroes re-enter the tavern. There, they spend a week carousing while waiting for a portal to Orfallen to become available. Time passes slowly but eventually they return home accompanied by their new ally the Witch-Warrior.
But all is not well on their return to Orfallen... Over drinks, they learn of the mysterious death of the farming town of Flyn where the Necromancer's accomplice, known only by the initials L.C., was supposedly conducting a 'project'. Before they can investigate this lead, news arrives from Isolde - the Gods have gone silent. Checking the timing, it seems tied to Naladoria's resurrection of our heroes. Too late to save Flyn and having no contact with their elusive exiled patron deity, the companions leave the shores of Amador for Aamari Isle where a possible pirate treasure awaits...
Fate has something else in mind for them, however. During the ocean crossing, Ushari receives a dream vision from Naladoria - telling the cleric that the Gods are closing down her access to the plane. She needs the heroes to repay their long-standing debt. They must retrieve the Corborundrum Shell - an artifact of hers before the days of Exile - from an active Shaudran fortress. With the Shell in hand, she can be brought back to the world and become 'a power' once again. Our heroes adjust their plans and, at length, navigate their way to the in-land salt water lake upon whose waters rests the 60' night-black cube - a Shaudran Ruin. Our five heroes steel themselves and venture into the Ruin towards an uncertain destiny...