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On the last page of Volo's Guide to Monsters (p. 224), there is a picture of Orcus, several Mind Flayers, and an Elder Brain standing (although that might not be the best term for the Elder Brain) around what looks to be a large cauldron.

Is there any explanation for what they are doing?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well... \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 15:44

1 Answer 1

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This depicts Orcus raising Cyrog from Out of the Abyss

Warning: this answer is full of spoilers

During the Out of the Abyss adventure, the party travels to a location called Gravenhollow, a library that, among other things, allows the party to experience visions of events of the past, present and future.

The relevant section from Out of the Abyss is "Cyrog Lives! Hail Orcus!" (pg. 158), which details one such vision of Orcus turning up next to the recently deceased Elder Brain "Cyrog" and bringing it back from death, then Cyrog tells the colony that "Orcus has saved Cyrog" and commands them to "follow it [Cyrog] into undeath".

This doesn't actually play much of a part in the adventure, save for providing a plot seed for the DM to run with, but that's what that image at the back of Volo's Guide to Monsters is showing.

enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ May also be worth noting that the event in question may have been the origin of a number of mind flayer liches (illithiliches), which Volo's Guide to Monsters contains the rules for (hence the relevance of the event to the context of the book). \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 13:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron Though that may be why such a picture appears at the back of Volo's (I had wondered why myself, to be fair), I'm hesitant to include that because a) the question asks for what, not why, and b) that would only be speculation that I can't back up. Good theory, though... \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 13:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS I had youngling once describe this as "A bull-man doing brain-soup for the squid-people". I'm not able to look at this image and not think of it as some sort of cooking class for mind flayers, anymore. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 15:33

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