A comet appears in the sky. Various cranks speak of impending doom.
An ongoing romance between the party Warlock (3.5 version) and Liamae culminates in the midnight birth of the world’s first tiefling.
At that exact instant, all the PCs experience a flash of light, blinding pain, and a vision of the Fangs of Zotzilaha (twin volcanoes on the Isle of Dread) erupting in a titanic explosion.
The stars shift, and some fall.
Magic stops working.
Even MATH starts acting funny (diagonal of square, when measured, is somehow same distance as side of square).
Everything certain is changed.
There’s momentary panic as the lights go out in Sasserine and the heavens go crazy, but the immediate impact on the populace is low.
Rulers, priests, and mages, however, all start to panic. They’re cut off from civilization, the gods aren’t answering prayers, and the smarter sages realize that without druidic magic, there won’t be nearly enough food come harvest time.
Not to mention that without magical defenses and potent magic items in the hands of PCs and NPCs, the city is wide open to monstrous attack.
Over the next few weeks, as refugees begin to stream into the city with tales of fallen nations and rampaging monsters, the nobility starts to quietly flee Sasserine—and the citizenry gradually becomes aware of this fact. Also, they can’t help but notice that all the churches are closed, or if open, are no longer curing the sick and injured.
The party is witness to this scene of rising panic, and they quietly made their own covert arrangements to flee on the Sea Wyvern. Unfortunately, at that moment a derelict ship is brought in by the coast guard, bearing exotic foodstuffs and island trade goods—as well as a hidden, ghoulish cargo. Undead quickly spread throughout the pre-dawn city, followed by rampaging fires. Sasserine’s nightmare ends with the party fleeing ghouls and the burning city itself, culminating in the party having to cut their way through the panicked mob choking the waterfront. They eventually made it to the Wyvern and cast off, and watched from the deck as Sasserine was engulfed in undeath and flames.
So, that’s where we are. The party is afloat on a provisioned and crewed ship, and accreting boats filled with other survivors (who all recognize the famous Heroes of Farshore). It’s “Battlestar Galactica” meets “Dies the Fire.” It’s… the Savage Tide!