Gaming Stories: A Contract with Mind Flayers

Over the course of several years, I ran Night Below: An Underdark Campaign in a multi-year game that spanned the gap between Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition and Pathfinder 1st edition. As we entered the endgame, the PCs learned that a group of aboleths had been kidnapping spellcasters in a bid to power a mighty structure that will extend their natural psychic domination abilities across the globe, effectively taking over the world.

The Enemy of my Enemy

To defeat the aboleths, the PCs had to ally with all sorts of nasties. They formed an alliance with (more) insane (than usual) derro, and the group’s paladin won the respect of a group of fire giants by besting the chieftain’s son in single combat.

Eventually, their allies even included a group of renegade mind flayers. There was a lot of hand-wringing involved in that one, since mind flayers had captured two of the party members. One of them spent about a year hiding in an Underdark tunnel after escaping, and the other got sold to a derro clan that repeatedly cut out her eyes and regenerated them as part of their mad experiments. Because of the distrust, and because mind flayers are extremely lawful in their evil, the group forced them to write up a contract.

The mind flayers wound up exploiting a loophole in the contract, and I’ll touch upon the details of that in the future. For now…can you spot the mistake that allowed the monsters to betray the PCs?

The Contract:

  1. Following the battle [the invasion of the aboleth city Great Shaboath], surfacers will go to the surface in peace. Aggressions will cease until one realm infringes on the other.
  2. The human known as Grayson [one of the paladins in the group] will serve as commander. Ipshixeen [head mind flayer] will command illithid and answer to Grayson.
  3. Surfacers will answer to Grayson. Illithid will answer to Ipshixeen. Minions will answer to Grayson first and Ipshixeen second.
  4. None shall be sacrificed. Surfacers will not be sacrificed. [A clause to prevent the illithid from arbitrarily killing any slaves found in the aboleth city.]
  5. Spoils shall be negotiated after the battle.
  6. Should Grayson die, command shall go, in order, to Rockseer [one of the NPC allies, and the bloke in the group with the highest Charisma], Amastacia [a PC sorcerer], or Tarling [the NPC ally with the next highest Charisma].
  7. Illithid will fight to the death unless ordered to retreat. Surfacers are expected to do the same.
  8. Illithid will fight on and follow all terms of this contract should Ipshixeen die.
  9. Nonaggression will continue until all surfacers are returned.
  10. Contract is effective immediately.
  11. The Red One will not be allied with.

Images: Wizards of the Coast

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