For every encounter I make, I try to have a strange and fun gameplay hook that your players will find interesting – something to draw them into the moment. Usually it’s something simple like climbing on giants, gaining a special movement or terrain power, or controlling a giant golem, but I have a few stranger ones lurking around that should really wow your players. This is one of those ideas; I won’t ruin it here, but I promise it’s worth the download.
If you only read through one of my little adventures, make it this one! At least check out the Special Features part of it and read about the Mind Warp ability – it’s something I thought of a long time ago but had been waiting to fit into an encounter. I guarantee it will be something your players will find exciting and memorable, so try it out if you’re looking for something new!
Matter Undermined is a standalone encounter designed for five 19th to 21st-level adventurers. An ancient temple has been unearthed, releasing the power and influence of Ythilus, the elder brain from a destroyed illithid empire, which has corrupted the minds of nearby humanoids in an attempt to regain power. The players must descend into the temple and fight off the mindless thralls and kill the elder brain, all while maintaining their sanity.
It has long been said that the mines of Letharas are cursed. Started for the search and excavation of mineral and gold deposits, the diggers soon unearthed the remains of an enormous temple buried within the hills. After a considerable effort to open one of its doors, the temple revealed strange but pristine architecture in excellent shape; shimmering halls of purple stone and crystal, preserved against elements and creatures. A search for life found nothing but crystal-laden, ornate artifacts, untouched, as if the temple—and everything inside—were abandoned and sealed long before its decent.
Those who stayed in the temple for an extended period of time began to develop splitting headaches and left; others, unwilling to leave in the face of exploration and treasure, stayed, and were driven mad—wandering into the deep black of the lower floors, disappearing into the darkness forever. Sensing a dark presence, the excavators agreed upon sealing the temple once more. Although most of the adventurers and explorers decided to leave the artifacts and treasures behind, some of the greediest excavators filled their satchels and arms with the strange crystal artifacts, carrying them to the surface as the doors were closed behind them.
Within days, the artifacts corrupted the minds of their owners, filling their thoughts with whispers and beckoning them back to the temple. One by one, the former explorers left their homes and lives behind, carrying the artifacts to the temple, which had been broken open once again. Inside, deep within its darkest corridors, an ancient elder brain waits, the sole-survivor of an ancient illithid empire. Now, waiting in the depths of the temple, it uses its expansive psionic power to call and command those within its reach, using its newly-created thralls and slaves to dig into the temple’s underbelly in search of artifacts powerful enough to create a portal between this world and the far realm. If successful, the elder brain will be able to summon in powerful illithid to defend it, growing in power until the empire’s former glory is restored.