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I know the game has been slow-pace in the beginning but when it comes to combat we should make sure that we get everyone to post once a day when combat starts... will that be an issue for anyone? If so we can do the "Include a note on basic combat tactics."
I am going to try to pick up the pace so we can make it through the first module "The Whispering Cairn" as quickly as possible otherwise we will be hard-pressed to ever finish the entire 12 adventure AP.
The Cast (Final):
Jeremiah the Barbarian (played by my six year old) - Human Barbarian
Artyam - Human Fighter
Max - Human Assassin
Stonefist Rockhammer - Dwarf Vaultguard
Knibar of the Blue Arc - Human Mage
Evander Everfield - Human Paladin
Lactor Friggen - Human Cleric
The Living Saint Sarah - Human Priest
The party was ambushed by Succubus that they thought were Knights, though they begrudgingly had accepted their excuses for awhile as the Paladin and Barbarian went to investigate the sealed door. It wasn't until the Cleric grew overly suspicious that a Detect Evil was finally used to reveal their nature.
The Succubus attacked the moment the cleric screamed out his warnings. Trapping the Paladin and Barbarian behind enemy lines (or performed a pincer attack... considering the Succubus bite the dust I'd swing for the pincer attack). They found Sir Holton in the following room... they was an exchange where they berated Sir Holton for being an idiot but forgiving him. They gave him a chance at redemption and brought him along for the rest of the ride.
They finally managed to reach the outer sanctum of the Demonscope as it was being assaulted by 6 dretches manning a battering ram. A lesser Nabasu and 2 Demonic Knights stood guard over them... The party rushed the Knights as the Nabasu launched himself over the group in order to harass the Paladin. Much to the surprise of the party... one of the demonic knights was none other than Evander's father returned from Hell. As the two battled it out... the Demonic Knight Adamant encased the Nabasu in Wall of Ice after it continued to interfere in the fight between Evander and him. They finally managed to defeat the two Demonic Knights and scattered the remaining dretches.
Finally they made it into the Chamber of the Demonscope where they found the last Holy Sentinel. He had been driven insane by Goliath, the Balor in the Demonscope. The party barely managed to restore his sanity to get the correct bone shards together as Goliath had pulled his way out of the Demonscope. Throwing the bone shards in their place as the Demonscope tried to claim the escaped Balor as it was pulled back under he dragged Evander into the Demonscope with his whip... The Demonscope exploded... the party heard trumpets as the world went white.
After the ringing cleared out and the world returned they discovered they had been protected by a Solar who shielded them from the explosion of the Demonscope which left Saint Clywell Keep in ruin. Though the Solar pulled Evander from the remains of the Demonscope it offered him only a sad expression.
"I raised you from perdition, but the things you have endured within the Demonscope. Even a minute in hell is an eternity that can't be unseen for that I am sorry. While the Demonscope has been destroyed not all is lost."
Quote from Evander's Player: "Evander wasn't corrupted by his very brief moment in Hell. Not at all..."
The Solar also offered them advice on maintaining the remaining Wardstones with the lost of the Demonscope though holy vigils much as the Order of the Holy Sentinel had done with the Demonscope.
Thus ended the prologue to Tales of the Crusade wherein the party managed to save Kenebres, but at the cost of the Demonscope. (Though unknown to them the Wardstone in Kenabres (being the closest) was damaged by the destruction of the Demonscope).
We will complete this combat using the original system after which we will likely switch to the following alternative.
From SRD wrote:
I wanted to make sure everyone was familiar with the way that S&W is broken down. I might have to look at the Alternate Combat systems now that I think about it to see if one of them are better suited for pbp. Otherwise the system is suppose to go...
1. Check for Surprise
The cobweb seem to go up easily enough as soon as the fire touches it. Erwin has to swing the lantern back quickly the flames leap to life so fast. A light smoke begins to drift overhead as the webbing burns quickly... it as the unintended consequence of drawing three hungry and mangy looking wolves from their den in the collapsed tunnel. Two of them look downright pitiful and hungry while a third larger one looks like he leaves very little for the other two wolves. A straight line of scar tissue bisects its face from forehead to muzzle. The sounds, fire, and smells already having the party on edge manages to allow them to avoid the surprise.
Party Initiative: 1d6 ⇒ 1
How is everyone's familiarity with the S&W combat system?
Target: 1d5 ⇒ 31d5 ⇒ 31d5 ⇒ 1 1 = Thantor, 2 = Koross, 3 = Artemis, 4 = Erwin, 5 = Gnobby
It doesn't stop the wolves from bounding into the midst of the party as they move upon their newly desired prey. The mangy ones seem to be drawn towards Artemis as the larger one pads towards Thantor with hungry eyes and a snarl. (Movement; No Ranged Attacks)
Seems like there was quite a bit of interest in an AD&D 2E game. Before this thread took off I had another thread that went Sword & Wizardry Age of Worms.
I'd be willing to play in an AD&D game too. Possibly even run one, but I need to make sure I keep my other game rolling before I invest anymore energy into pbp. However... my tabletop group is currently pulling out old AD&D books for character creation next week so I will soon be re-acquainted with the game if nothing comes along before then.
Fifteen feet down the east passage a huge pile of collapsed rubble blocks the alcove from top to bottom. It looks like it would take weeks to tunnel through the densely packed debris.
The central hallway opens into a large chamber with wings leading to the east and west. Across the chamber to the north yawns a twenty-foot-wide open arch draped from top to bottom in translucent cobwebs. An eerie green light flickers from beyond the webs, casting strange shadows about this room. The place smells of animal spoor and wet fur.
To the west, three short stairs lead to a wide marble dais, but the far end of the wing is obscured by darkness.
Huge slabs of cracked masonry and irregular piles of scattered debris choke the eastern wing, giving the appearance of complete collapse.
The sibilant, almost human whispers present in the passage become a chorus in this massive chamber, eerily echoing off the walls.
The Kingdom of Halstein, ruled for centuries by the powerful (but cursed) Evershield family, perhaps arguably one of the most powerful Kingdoms on the continent rivaling even the ancient draconic empire of Arkhosia in the north. Though most of its military might is arrayed along the northwestern border that neighbors the nefarious Chaos Scar.
It was upon this border in the walled town of Kenabres that sat two miles from the ancient fortress of Saint Clydwell, the focal point of Halstein's defense against the Chaos Scar, that a celebration and ceremony to rise another Paladin to the status of Holy Sentinel. The Order of Holy Sentinel were responsible for the vigil that kept the ancient artifact that powered the Wardstones active.
Something went horribly wrong...
Evander Evershield, King of Halstein, Human Paladin 8
Saint Sarah, the Living Saint, Human Priestess 8
Stonefist Rockhammer, Dwarven Vaultguard 7
Lacetor, Human Cleric 7
???, Human Wizard 7
The Barbarian, Human Barbarian 7
Max, Human Assassin 7
Human Fighter 7
The ceremony was crashed by a group of dretches, a pair of Vrocks, and a glabrezu disguised as the future Sentinel. This event was the start of a demon assault upon Saint Clydwell Keep... the heroes rushed to the aid of the keep using the ancient tunnels that ran beneath Saint Clydwell's Grand Cathedral. They fought their way through many demons until they managed to rescue a sizable force of Paladins from the dungeons along with one of the Holy Sentinels. The Sentinel lead the paladins to one of the holy crypts to regroup, heal from the statue, and re-equip while the heroes continued their push towards the Chamber of the Demonscope for the entire defense of the Chaos Scar came crumbling around them leaving the Paladins to cover their flank and deal with any remaining demons or reinforcements.
Between Sword & Wizardry and Adventure Conqueror King I have been able to cobble together enough material on the various demons in The Demon Within module to run the game. We are 3 sessions in... and they cut a bee-line to the Keep Proper as soon as they were out in the open. While the module is designed for level 11 characters in 3.5 D&D... ACK only has 14 levels of experience so I figured that was about 7-8th level. It has been a bit of a struggle, but nothing they have been unable to overcome via strategy (and the struggle may be from their horrible dice rolls which I have no power to control!). They are just rooms away from the end of the module having rescued the Paladins from the dungeon.
Evander & Sarah are 8th level because they are returning characters from a previous campaign (Red Hand of Doom) played by returning players from that campaign too!
The Demon Within module is being ran as the prologue to Wrath.
All in all it was a fun experiment but we decided to side-grade to AD&D 2E for Wrath.
If anyone is interested... the Evershield family is plagued with tragedy. While they have ruled with strength and honor... for every King that has made it to the age of fifty they have started to slip into insanity becoming possessed by the fear of death. The reason remains unknown, but Evander's father led a Crusade into the Chaos Scar in a fit of insanity 30 years ago that resulted in him becoming a Death Knight. Evander rushed back to Helstein to defeat him after the events of Red Hand of Doom. Evander is rapidly approaching that age (and will be the stand-in for Queen Galfrey in the upcoming Wrath Campaign).
This is the campaign that I am running with my tabletop group that the following thread was created to facilitate: Preparation-for-WOTR-Campaign
There will be SPOILERS! You have now been warned in the title and in the body of the first message.
Let me precursor this journal with the following statement: I love Paizo products and APs (they have some of the best stories available! I've followed them ever since Age of Worms in Dungeon and James Jacobs work with the Red Hand of Doom), but I have some issues with the Pathfinder system which are the same issues I had with the original 3era system, but that is neither here or there. I won't respond to any messages about that.
This campaign is an experiment in that it uses the Paizo modules to run a storyline in an OSR game. We are currently playing through The Demon Within using ACK (Adventurer Conqueror King) but have decided to move to something with a more solid foundation. We will be picking up our old 2nd Edition books for Wrath of the Righteous.
This game does not take place in Golarion, it is an amalgamation of several worlds and several campaigns. It is using the same world I have used off-and-on for over 10 years. Just so happens that during the Red Hand of Doom campaign that I ran in this world (2006) one of the players created a kingdom for the background of his Paladin with a similar area to the Worldwound. I have now borrowed the material from the Worldwound guide and the name from Wizards (The Chaos Scar) to fill out this area for the campaign. It formally used the old Greyhawk gods (or the stock 3.5 gods you could say) and an attempt at a custom pantheon, but has since "borrowed" the gods from Faerun.
Now let us begin the Tales of the Crusade...
Possible additions to Book 2.
Not finding a lot of stuff to add around Sword of Valor (Book 2)... interestingly enough. Perhaps the module stands strongly on its own?
Seen some feedback about not using the massive combat rules here and there.
The original design was meant to have 4 armies (one for each PC). The idea has merit... must read the module again with this in mind.
The western hall extends perhaps forty feet, ending at a small marble platform raised about six inches off the floor. A strange shattered arcane apparatus rest upon this platform, its curved ovular frame giving the appearance of a noble's dressing mirror. Only a third of this frame remains. An unusual arcane glyph about the size of a man's head has been delicately carved into the baseplate of the support platform.
Up ahead in the distant darkness you see a faint flickering green light.
It took a few hours to travel to the Whispering Cairn... a difficult search reveals the opening of the ancient cairn.
Natural light dimly illuminates a long hallway extending north into darkness. A faint breeze brings with it sibilant whispers that sound almost like sighing breath. It must be a trick of the wind, but the effect is almost lifelike.
The walls bear horizontal bands of deceptively simple geometric patterns at waist level. In places the bands reveal startling detail, but in others the walls look as though they have been hacked apart with weapons or eroded by the rigors of time. Flakes of ancient paint, brilliant purple and a dull mustard hue, still cling to the walls in places, hinting at what must once have been a riot of color. A thin coat of dust coats the floor.
Just inside the darkened tomb, the hallway branches into shallow alcoves to the east and west. Here the walls bear the most significant damage. Dozens of clumsy etchings mar the beautiful ancient masonry like graffiti on a city wall. A clump of soiled cloth about the size of a halfling rests in the rounded terminus of the western alcove.
Outside, the wind picks up, and a chorus of almost human sounds rises from the darkened hall.
Time begins to tick by and it becomes apparent that no one else is coming. Could this entire thing have just been rumors started by someone that never expected a follow through. Something to make them look impressive infront of their thinking buddies and it the rumor grew as it passed from lip to lip.
There is a part of you disappointed by this realization but maybe one of this group or all of them shared a thought...
You are only a few hours from the Whispering Cairn... one of those local legends. The teens use to use it to dare their friends to stay the night near the opening of the cairn where a siren song would constantly play from lending to its legend and spookiness. That was until a couple years ago when a girl went missing...
Everyone avoided it after that fearing the danger... the local soldiers patrolled for awhile to deter those few brave souls that still risked the cairn... and now it has been forgotten again to be rediscovered in the future to compound its legend.
Life in Diamond Lake continues as it always has. This month was just like any of the other ones, however this week's featured treasure hunters happen to be a trio of adventurers from the Free City, who have been speaking openly of their intent to raid the empty Stirgenest Cairn for at least a week, their plan has had time to spread through all corners of Diamond Lake. Another word on the street however, is someone has gotten it in their heads to raid another cairn, each of you has heard it from a friend or an acquaintance that a meeting is set up in an abandoned overseer's office just an hour outside of town for those with reason to want to finally get out of Diamond Lake.
And your reasons have brought you out here this early in the morning, dawn is still an hour away.
The modest dwelling squats upon the crown of a small hill. While the rough stone walls of the first floor look mostly intact the second floor has completely collapsed. A half height wall rings the house but it too is in a state of severe disrepair. Rubble and dense weeds choke the yard except for single path leading up to the office which is made of smooth stone blocks, though it stands in shambles. Thick vines creep up the side and most of the windows are broke. The front door hangs open, barely on its hinges, under a sagging and partially collapsed porch.
Small mounds of debris litter the floor of the building's interior. Loose stones, dead weeds, and grime cover virtually every surface. Paintings must have once adorned the place as indicated by the particular stain patterns marring the walls. The only light comes from a single lantern upon a table in the front room, which illuminates clouds of dust dancing through the stale air.
This is intended for the opening scene, which will serve to bring the characters together and introduce them to each other. Each of you should have your own reason for wanting to leave Diamond Lake, if you hadn't included it into your background be thinking about the reason your character would come this morning.
If you guys want to fill in some extra background to make the characters connect more that is fine with me.
I'll have to get back to Gnobby because Sheriff Cobbin isn't exactly a straight arrow. He likely wouldn't even be jailed if there was bribery or a higher up involved. I'll connect Gnobby with Neff.
The biggest problem with S&W variants / house rules that I ran into was making sure it was for the Complete version as opposed to the basic White Box version. I need to check the above links but I likely already seen them. As I said I have been obsessed with retroclones in the recent past and have scoured the internet for resources for them. I currently just started a tabletop game using Adventurer Conqueror King to run "Wrath of the Righteous" beginning with the old Paizo 3.5 module "The Demon Within" we did our first session last night. Was pretty interesting... half of the demons I had to convert from S&WE anyways!
I have a question for anyone that maybe to answer? Does anyone know what is up with the Demonscope during Wrath? Did this artifact get dropped from the meta? I am about to kick of The Demon Within... and knowing what will come in Wrath and what happens in The Demon Within. I feel like they would move this item! And since the focus is on Drezen and not retaking Clydwell it seems like a good assumption it got moved.
This spoiler has already been copied to the Campaign Info section too.
Diamond Lake Map
Diamond Lake Locations:
2. Lazare’s House – Cozy gaming parlor focusing on Dragonchess. Upper class.
3. The Feral Dog – Very busy, sleazy tavern
4. Church of St. Cuthbert
6. Sheriff’s Office
7. General Store
8. The Hungry Gar
9. Jalek’s Flophouse
10. Smenk Residence
11. Deepspike Mine
13. Lakeside Stables
14. The Midnight Salute
15. The Spinning Giant
16. The Captain’s Blade
18. Allustan’s Residence
19. Tilgast Residence
20. Old Piers
21. Able Carter Coaching Inn
22. Parrin Residence
23. Stonehammer Covenant
24. Gansworth Residence
25. The Rusty Bucket
26. Moonmeadow Residence
27. Osgood Smithy
28. Smelting House
29. Diamond Lake Boneyard
30. Neff Manor
31. Dourstone Mine
32. Abandoned Mine
34. Old Observatory
35. Dourstone Residence
Good point. That seems like a significant oversight. Perhaps the Player's Companion?
I'll have to look into that... maybe it is something for another version of Sword & Wizardry like the White Box version.
Hmm. Not the information I expected but I can make use of it for future possibilities by putting it into the campaign info. I have a more in-depth write up of the Diamond Lake area. I was trying to only info dump the relevant information but since you dropped the Diamond Lake one I will post my version after work tonight. Did you have the NPC information? I know I have a write up from the AOW Overview.
Koross, The Twilight Monastery:
About two hours north of Diamond Lake, a towering crag called the Dragon’s Roost casts a dark shadow over the muddy road to Elmshire. From a perch hundreds of feet above looms the cat-infested Twilight Monastery, a three-towered monument to an obscure philosophy of the Distant West. Two score monks dwell within the monastery, dedicating themselves to a litany of exercises meant to perfect the body and spirit. The secretive monks hold dusk as the holiest of hours, and sonorous chants emit from the Twilight Monastery’s central courtyard when the night sky appears in the heavens.
Foremost among the monks is Izenfen the Occluded, a peerless masked combatant thought to be one of the wisest figures in the hills. Travelers frequently seek her council, but most leave Diamond Lake without ever having gained access to the Twilight Monastery, for Izenfen deigns to speak with only a handful of pilgrims foretold to her via the agency of the night sky and an immense mirrored lens called the Censer of Symmetry. The Censer, which dominates the monastery’s central courtyard, can used to scry the future during a clear night. Junior monks polish its smooth surface throughout the day, and the whole of the order is prepared to defend it with their lives.
When word of the Censer’s predictive prowess spread to the miners of Diamond Lake 20 years ago, a desperate contingent petitioned Izenfen to predict the location of the richest unclaimed local ore deposits, appealing to her compassion with tales of starving children and dangerously unpaid debts. The masked mistress of the Twilight Monastery rebuffed their pleas, triggering the miners’ contingency plan—an ill-fated invasion of the monks’ compound that left seven miners dead. Only a single member of the order perished—Imonoth, Izenfen’s beloved daughter.
Immediately thereafter, Izenfen gathered a cadre of stealth assassins from the ranks of her best warriors, and silently set them upon the surviving invaders who still milked wounds in the petty shacks along Diamond Lake’s waterfront. At an annual celebration called Darkstar’s Kiss, the monks of the Twilight Monastery recite from memory the names of all fifteen miners murdered on that night, reminding themselves to always remain vigilant to the encroachment of outsiders. Rumors suggest that Izenfen’s masked silent killers remain active to this day, citing the disappearance or mysterious deaths of nearly a dozen political enemies within the town.
Although the monks of the Twilight Monastery keep mostly to themselves and desire only to lead lives of undisturbed con-templation, they frequently appear on the streets of Diamond Lake to reprovision or to engage in the trade of kalamanthis, a rare psychotropic plant grown regionally only on the slopes of the Dragon’s Roost. Proceeds from this trade account for all of the monastery’s activities, but initiates of the order are forbidden from taking it in all but the most controlled ritual circumstances. Kalamanthis is popular among all classes of Diamond Lake, but the real business is centered in the nearby City-State. Potential buyers frequently meet with elder monks in a secluded corner of Lazare’s House along the Vein’s central square to arrange payment and distribution to the neighboring metropolis. Both the wagons loaded with kalamanthis and the returning coaches loaded with city coin go unmolested in Diamond Lake, for all fear Izenfen’s relentless invisible killers.
Druid, Ranger, and Woodcutter:
Few rangers dwell within Diamond Lake, but the druidic community at the Bronzewood Lodge includes several who might have reason to regularly visit Diamond Lake. Other rangers might come from the wild tribes of the Cairn Hills or the Mistmarsh.
Druids fit perfectly into the Bronzewood Lodge community, and might be representatives of Nogwier, the cleric of Obad-Hai who leads that community and who sends them into the hills chasing stories of unkillable undead and unnatural green worms.
The ring of crumbling menhirs on the bluff overlooking Diamond Lake is a remnant of an ancient human druidic culture that once inhabited the region. They too came to the hills for the acient cairns, seeing them as monuments to great ancestors of the invisible past. Although modern humans displaced the native druids during great migraions over a thousand years ago, pockets of indigenous architecture and culture remain. Foremost among these near-forgotten practices is veneration of Obad-Hai, the Shalim, the brooding patron of wilderness and natural order.
Druids and rangers who honor the Shalm and a host of minor nature deities and fey spirits (the so-called Old Faith) routinely congregate in great moots three hours northest of Diamond Lake, at an ancient megalithic structure called the Bronzewood Lodge. Devotees of Ehloona or the elven pantheon are welcome at these meetings, if a bit gruffly, but all other attendees must be invited personally by someone already within the circle of trust. At these great moots, the woodsfolk observe rituals from long ago, celebrate with great contests of strength and wit, and debate policy regarding the natural affairs of the region.
A small permanent community inhabits the Lodge itself and the wooded copse surrounding it. Perhaps 30 assorted druids, rangers, and scouts protect the sacred site and keep watch on the nearby roads and valleys. Occasionally, they step in to rescue a traveler from some natural menace, but just as often they warn explorers to stay on the roads and let the wilderness take care of itself. Their leader is Nogwier, an aged proponent fo the Old Faith who strives to keep the focus of his community on preservation of a near-extinct way of life and away from the anger at the Free City and its operatives in Diamond Lake, who avariciousness continually rapes the land. Nogwier urges cautious cooperation with Lanod Neff via a former Bronzewood man named Merris Sandovar, who now works as the garrison's chief scout, but he wishes that the Free City would have given him a more reasonable governor-mayor than Neff, and knows he won't outlive him.
The Lodge itself is a twelve-chambered structure composed of piled megaliths covered by earth. The cairn's central gallery contains a huge uprooted petrified bronzewood tree planted upside down so that its roots are exposed. Nogwier and his three servitors use the tree as a massive altar. Other chambers contain the sorted, commingled bones of generations of druids as well as priceless natural treasures accumulated over the course of centuries.
Not being particular familiar with The Demon Within... I realized upon reading it that it serves an extremely important purpose as the prologue set years before the start of the campaign...
The game starts in Kenabres and it helps make the players themselves care about Kenabres / Clydwell Keep environs because they just saved it from destruction. Even if they are playing new characters in Wrath... they are going to remember as players they were responsible for saving this town/area from the demons just years prior in game time!
This shortens the amount of introduction that will be needed to make the destruction of Kenabres felt by them.
Assuming they move their Illusionist/Thief back down to 1/1
Gnobby the Gnome by Chainmail
That will be our party of six. You are invited to come to the discussion boards now.
Re-posted from the Recruitment thread.
@Gnobby the Gnome
I think that covers most of the additions to Book 1. I am surprised that more alternate resources aren't available. Does anyone happen to have a list of PFS Scenarios / Modules that deal with Mendev and the Worldwound.
The Demon Within
Have been named thus far.
Now we move to Book 2.
I will look into Scars of the Third Crusade and Diamond Seige, thanks! I personally want to run some introductory things... including the The Demon Within which I plan on running in the past using pre-generated characters (two of which are old PCs that their players will be returning to play for that module). Some of these pre-generated characters may return in WotR in place of other important NPCs.
An Aside Note on Terendelev's Scales is that some group have seemed to buff them into more potent items or removed them completely because they did not feel they were worthwhile.
Also I need to go over the scene with the Wardstone again because there was a really cool scene written in one of the journals.
James Jacobs, Extraordinaire, suggests:
Starting the adventure with some time for the PCs to explore Kenabres and come to like the city is certainly a strong idea... but it has a hidden peril.
As a general rule, things like simply telling the players "Your characters are knocked out and fall into a hole and wake up in the dark!" is bad GMing. It's bad to assume player decisions, and to take the element of chance and free will out of the players' hands and force their characters to do something. It's the WORST kind of railroading.
The only time I feel that this kind of railroading is legit is BEFORE or AT THE VERY START of a campaign, when it's used to set up a dynamic and notable start to a campaign. That's why "Souls for Smuggler's Shiv" starts with the shipwrecked PCs already being shipwrecked and waking up on the beach.
Furthermore, by starting the adventure with what is essentially read-aloud text that throws the PCs into a hole, we can set up a cool, mythic start to the adventure while at the same time NOT killing the fragile 1st level PCs. If the PCs do anything other than just stand there and gawk at the initial events... they will die. If not from being too close to a collapsing building or being attacked by a demon or simply being too close to a CR 26+ fight... then SURELY from the fall that starts the adventure. The dragon has to cast feather fall on the PCs, and if you give them a chance to roleplay that scene rather than just narrate it... there's a REALLY good chance that a player will do something that prevents his character from being close enough to the others to gain the benefits of that feather fall. Or maybe even worse... prevents him from falling into the hole with his companions in the first place, leaving him above ground at ground zero where the average encounter is CR 17 or higher for a few hours.
The players assume that you, the GM, are putting them into challenges that they at least have a chance to handle, regardless of what that encounter is described as. If you turn control over to the PCs by starting the campaign too early, and the player characters are under the assumption that they can start making choices that will impact events before they fall into the caverns below... there's a good chance they'll either get killed or be disappointed that you fudged things.
One good way (if a bit experimental) to handle this, perhaps, is to play out the beginning of the adventure as presented, then as the PCs fall, have them black out for a bit. During that blackout... do a 1 or 2 hour "flashback" where the PCs get to explore Kenabres a bit and introduce each other. You can even use this time to introduce them to some of the NPCs, or to allow them to gather equipment. Then, as the PCs catch up in their flashback to the start of the adventure, they wake up in the dark.
Using the black out after the fall to run some introductory things to give the devastation of Kenabres some feeling. But you may run into the problem with the players "metagaming" the knowledge of the future destruction and trying to find away around it.