Arcana2 2

A Gathering Darkness (1998)

A Gathering Darkness (1998) kicks of the mind flayer Monstrous Arcana trilogy, which involves the delightfully pulpy scheme by the illithids to extinguish the sun in order to take over the surface world. That’s where we’re going, though — the substance of this adventure is on a much smaller scale, focusing on rooting out a cell of mind flayers who secretly control a city.

Blessedly, while the adventure is still event-y, it is not an event-crawl like so many other ‘90s modules. Rather, it presents four separate investigations (each tied to a specific locale — tower, sewers, a warehouse and the city guardhouse. Completing these (in any order and with a variety of potential solutions) leas the players to the illithid caverns and the final confrontation with Shuluth, the mind flayer leader. Shuluth is an interesting cat, in that he has a larger legacy despite dying here — he was resurrected as an example of a legendary villain in 3E and immortalized with a pretty cool miniature that involves a sort of mechanical eye patch.

Which reminds me: it is worth noting that this interpretation of mind flayers is extremely science fictiony. They have goggles and wet suits that they can use to withstand the sun on the surface and some, like Shuluth, employ psionic-powered exoskeletons to make themselves tougher (despite their ability to eat brains, most flayers are pretty squishy if you get the drop on them). This might not align with more mystical or Lovecraftian preconceptions of the monsters, so YMMV. I like it though.

Oh, and, that monster on the cover isn’t in the adventure at all, unless I missed it somehow.

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