Dungeons & Dragons' 2023 Adventure Will Pay Off a Decade-Long Mystery

The next Dungeons & Dragons adventure will pay off a story hook teased in multiple campaigns over the course of the past decade. Today, Wizards of the Coast announced the full title to the next campaign adventure, which will be released in "Q3 2023." The new adventure is titled Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk and will feature the black obelisks that have appeared in multiple Forgotten Realms-based adventures dating back to Out of the Abyss. In a D&D Direct video released today, D&D principal story designer Chris Perkins said that the adventure would "further explore the mystery of the obelisks that have cropped up in so many of our adventures." Perkins noted that the adventure would return Phandelin, where an obelisk begins to unleash monsters on the small town. 

The black obelisks first appeared in Out of the Abyss and appeared in four adventures released between 2015 and 2020. The 2020 adventure Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden revealed that the obelisks could alter time and reality and were tied to a mysterious group known as the Weavers. The secret to making the obelisks were later stolen by the classic D&D villain Vecna and then were used by the Netheril Empire as a contingency plan in case something ever befell their empire. One of the potential endings for Rime of the Frostmaiden involves the players actually getting caught in the obelisk's magic and traveling back in time, which seemed like an intriguing plot point but was never followed up on. 

After the release of Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, the D&D design team moved away from the Forgotten Realms for subsequent campaigns, leaving many to believe that the obelisks' mysteries were wrapped up in 2020, which is a shame because their origins seemed to open up even more story hooks that teased Vecna and a secret group of mages. Given that Vecna will be returning as the main villain in the 2024 adventure (which was also announced in the D&D Direct), it's possible that the obelisks will be a great lead-in to sending players on a collision course with one of D&D's most iconic villains. 

Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk will be released later this year.