21 June 2023

d30 Things Above a Mindflayer World

We have a couple of examples of mindflayer dominated worlds starting with the 'obvious' Glyth in Realmspace but with other examples of Falx, Ssirik Akuar the Sunset World, and Penumbra of Truespace. Given mindflayers are, by various lore, actually from the far future, the distant past and/or the far realm and given that they have the majestic nautiloid as a well known tool, one would imagine they would be well aware of their skyward flank once they achieve dominance on a world. This is balanced against their hatred of sunlight and preference to live deep underground.

I rolled up a giant world that turned out to be teeming with illithids for a recent campaign, hence the question arising of what does one encounter on the approaches to an illithid world? It seems to me that they would be aware of their near-space approaches, particularly since in the current incarnation of the game that direction lies the astral and the hated githyanki.

So with those in mind, here are d30 things you might run into as you near a mindflayer world
1. Orbiting watch monoliths - greatly upscaled resonance stones that emanate psychic dread. Unclear whether these are scarecrows or they just like the ambience
2. Sun-shades - where plans to snuff out the sun are not yet far advanced, some worlds will float great spindly parasols above the world to block out the hateful glare of the baleful day-star. These may be large for whole realms or small for single locations
3. Watchers above - semi-undead flying thralls; alive enough to be psychically contactible, not so alive that they need much sustenance. Watch-creatures.
4. Remnant of previous sun-killer project; great broken incomprehensible thing
5. Floating illithid mage tower - a Cuttlefish command where some irritating illithid was exiled by their Elderbrain. (3-in-6 the illithid mage is still in residence)
6. Nautiloid ship nursery - junior nautiloids being adapted to null gravity, being shaped to have decks and crew quarters. Not intrinsically hostile but being 'played with' by a flotilla of half-sized nautiloids might be as bad as a deliberate attack
7. Stellar ley-line tap (1-in-6 being tuned/maintained by a nautiloid and its crew) - a magical accumulator, perhaps discharging towards something else in orbit, or some planetary receiving spire. May cause spelljammer-shock if approached while near-discharge
8. Fallback asteroid base, mothballed. An asteroid all carved out to be a space lair but currently unfurnished. May have some random stellar monster in residence.
9. Psurlon base - guarding to the approaches to the world due to their higher tolerance of sunlight. Very enthusiastic about their duties as they get to eat what they catch
10. Mooncarver yard - scaffold with undead servitors for making asteroid bases, obelisks and other great illithid orbital works. A necromancer or other powerful arcanist could probably get them to do any needed ship repairs. Failing to take a firm hand with the crew will lead to them attempting to do something with the raw materials you represent if you come within their reach
11. Patrolling Nautiloid - actual illithids sailing the void; mindflayers with some psurlons, quaggoths, intellect devourers and a neh-thallagu. May be willing to parlay if approached with deference, will be supremely confident given the proximity of reinforcements
12. Avenue of Skulls - broken hulls of enemy vessels, arranged around a monument to the puissance of the local illithids. A useful way to date a colony by checking how old the inner ships are. The knowledgeable can read the tides of inter-system wars in the clusters of ships
13. Deep Time monument - a vast slab carved with qualith, likely on the planet-facing side of a moon or asteroid. It is a message to the deep future
14. Shadowveil - orbiting tear into the shadowfell streaming great banners of shadow out into wildspace, shrouding the world below from the sun
15. Artefact vault - keep where things too dangerous to leave on-planet or throw away are kept. Often a sign of a fractious society below with multiple elder-brains or other challengers for power. Will have significant, watchful forces present, some construct and undead but also some mindflayers on punishment duty
16. Trophy monument - a pointless, self aggrandising lump commemorating some illithid of yore
17. Cerebral-reflectors - crystalline web-works that serve as psionic-enhancers, extending an elder-brains ability to sense the presence of intelligences into orbit
18. Orbital mind-control spire - a psionic enhancer to allow users (an elder brain, other mighty psionicist) to wield their powers between the planets. Likely to have a crew crawling over it adjusting crystals and polishing facets. May have a gallery of em-poddened sacrifices waiting to be consumed when next the thing is wielded.
19. Defunct colony ship - original elder-brain carrier from long, long ago, partially cannibalised, forgotten in its orbit
20. Transitive planar dampers - strange looking obelisks that render it difficult to approach in the astral or ethereal. Found only around worlds under high threat from Githyanki or rival mind-flayer factions. Blocks nautiloids ability to planeshift
21. Anti-magic rocks - creates a sargasso zone to strand intruder spelljammers
22. Honey-trap wrecks - enticing looking wrecks or abandoned looking bases filled with undead, constructs and traps to lure in and slay intruders
23. Moon colony - mostly underground for comfort but with the blank rock surfaces frequently carved out in huge baroque patterns in qualith declaring the values and lore of this particular place.
24. Mindwitness observation tower - for very busy colonies, provides telepathic command and control for illithid ships moving through the local space. A very bad sign if you were attempting to avoid them.
25. Starshrine - devotional idol to Illsensine, Manzecorian or some other stranger illithid divinity
26. Far realm gate - typically on an asteroid, with a huge portal etched on and opened to the far realm. Depending on the tastes of the world below it may rotate or be static, bathing the world below in the soothing cacophony of the far realm whenever they choose to look up
27. Fall-back vault - will look like a non-descript asteroid or piece of the moon but will have held in stasis within it tadpoles and stock for ceromorphosis, watched over by constructs and maybe the undead.
28. Thrall ship - likely a damselfly, turtleship or other fully-enclosed hull type crewed by multi-generational indoctrinated thralls of the mindflayers. Fanatics for the most part - they may retreat to seek reinforcements but they will not betray their masters.
29. Prisoner colony - where for some reason the mindflayers wanted to keep some prisoners but without having them on their planet, this is a squat prison tower high above
30. Nautiloids Graveyard - dozens-to-hundreds of old nautilod shells. Mark of pride of a very old world, so powerful and unchallenged that their ships die of old age

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