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Rise of the Drow Alternate Prologue: The Stoneholme Trilogy

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As noted on page 85 of Rise of the Drow: Collector’s Edition (RotDCE), the Stoneholme trilogy of adventures could serve as an alternate means of embarking on the campaign to thwart the drow in the Underworld. Follow us on Discord and Twitter to stay up to date on promotions and discounts that you can use to pick up the Stoneholme trilogy, or any of our products for your campaign!

Herein is a brief outline of the Stoneholme trilogy, as well as a few key inclusions the GM can make to tie into the plot of Rise of the Drow. The Rise of the Drow: Campaign Primer also serves to introduce players to the Underworld, providing them context for playing in the ancient dwarven city.  Read no further if you want to avoid spoilers.

The Stoneholme Trilogy

The adventure starts in Stoneholme. Exactly why the party is there is a matter best left for your session 0 campaign setup. Stoneholme is, after all, a xenophobic place, and outsiders are barely tolerated. A campaign starting without at least one Stoneholme native might strain credulity, though that is a fine role for an NPC to fill.

Stoneholme, long a bastion of safety in the Underworld, has been plagued with “attacks” of magical darkness of late. The adventurers face creatures of shadow in the streets and thereby come to the attention of a prominent dwarf with some information on the origins of these attacks. After cleansing a local glassworks of a demonic presence, the party is sent to the nearby Sandstone Warrens to unearth evidence of villains operating close to Stoneholme. The adventure proceeds largely unchanged, though a few slight changes can tie the story to the larger drow plot to conquer the region.

Shtawn Deppenkhut is the Dispater worshiper responsible for setting the dark days in motion. The cult of Dispater is one that dates to the earliest history of dwarf-kind, but these brazen deeds within Stoneholme were brought about by Mathorn Gullion, who secretly introduced Deppenkhut to the Felltooth goblins, as well as planted the notion that the Flintblades can be turned into scapegoats for the turmoil.

The heroes may never uncover Mathorn’s involvement directly; she never revealed herself to Deppenhkut, merely posed as a demonic messenger. But evidence of House Gullion’s machinations can be dispersed subtly along with other bits of evidence about Stoneholme’s troubles, enough that when combined clearly point to the burgeoning threat that is Holoth.

  • The beads of concentrated darkness (Dark Days in Stoneholme, page 22) and dark-heart rubies (page 11) share similar methods of creation. Kinchmunch’s scrawlings on the walls of his workroom reveal their origin in shadow magic of the type the drow are known to practice.
  • The list of arcane ingredients (Dark Days in Stoneholme, page 24) has a mark next to several of the items; this is the symbol of House Gullion and serves as evidence that these ingredients are supplied by a drow source.
  • Certain treasures throughout the adventure, such as the scrolls of deeper darkness (Dark Days in Stoneholme, page 24) are written on drow kllellek paper, a sure sign that they were penned by a drow hand.
  • The treasure discovered in the master bedroom of the Flintblade clanholme (A Murder in Stoneholme, page 31) also includes speculation that the clan’s benefactor—whoever it might be—is receiving support from Holoth.
  • While interacting with the NPCs of Stoneholme, any of them might mention the trouble their sister city Embla is having of late: caravans raided, citizens missing, and the road to Holoth is now off limits, except to those with a sponsor within the city—though Stoneholme’s dwarves see this as progress rather than a sign of trouble.
  • One of the bits of information the paladin Ameldria (Death Comes to Stoneholme, page 15) provides the party is that she was surprised her trail led her to the dwarven city. When the head of her order was murdered, it was drow poison that allowed the assailant to land the killing blow. 
  • One or more of the rumours the party encounters at various points in the adventure might implicate the drow manipulating events in the region. These rumours are true.

Eventually, events escalate and a dwarven noble named Starkherk is seemingly murdered and Deppenkhut is to blame. The party soon discovers that Starkherk is a worshipper of Dispater. After dealing with the imminent threat of Starkherk, much of the gathered evidence implicates that Deppenhkut may not have been responsible for Starkherk’s murder, and that Deppenkhut is also a devilbound dwarf in the cult of Dispater. Physical proof of this can be found in Starkherk’s diary.

Miah at Embla GatesBridging the Gap: Miah of Embla

Aside from depicting drow machinations in the Underworld, you may wish to include Miah as an NPC the heroes encounter to help bridge the gap between the Stoneholme trilogy and Rise of the Drow. An ideal place for the party to first meet Miah is at the dinner party in A Murder in Stoneholme (page 15), where he is speaking to all who will listen of Embla’s plight. 

Quorron’s smithy, too, could easily be transplanted into Stoneholme, both to give Miah a home within the dwarf city as well as serve to reinforce any ties to Embla the party may have. Though he is a Stoneholme dwarf, his beliefs are those of an Emblan citizen and so is more accepting of outsiders than his neighbors might be.

Once the troubles within Stoneholme have been rooted out, it is only natural for the dwarves of Stoneholme to thank the heroes for their service before politely asking them to move on. Recent events have only served to reinforce the notion that isolation is a dwarf’s best defense. Of course Miah is there as the party prepares to leave, pleading his case to known heroes.

Leave us a comment or join the Discord server and let us know what alternate prologue you’ve used to introduce your players to the Rise of the Drow!

Dark Days in Stoneholme (1 of 3)

Murder in Stoneholme (2 of 3)

Death Comes to Stoneholme (3 of 3)

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