D&D 5E Project MK Ultra in Eberron: Adventure Brainstorming


5e Freelancer
I'm currently writing an adventure for Eberron heavily inspired by Project MK Ultra, more specifically the Montreal Experiments that were funded by the CIA. The goal of the adventure will be to discover the unethical experiments, go to the psychiatric hospital where the project is centered, and shut down the program. I already have quite a bit of the concept worked out, but I haven't yet decided on a location for the experiments. I would like to incorporate the idea that the experiments are being funded by a neighboring country's government, like the Montreal Experiments were, but I haven't yet decided on the governments and nations that will be involved. My main idea for the location will be in northern Thrane around Thaliost, with the experiments being funded by Aundair's government, but I haven't completely decided yet. I would like some feedback from people familiar with Eberron to see if there are any better locations or governments that could be involved in this adventure.

And just to give some more information upfront, here are some other concepts that I have for the adventure:
  • The main experiments of the psychiatric hospital will be directly based on real-world experiments and methods of trying to brainwash patients, mainly depatterning (which was where the doctors would put their "patients" in comas, subject them to extreme amounts of electroshock therapy, the injection of tons of LSD and other drugs, play repeating recorded messages 24/7 in attempt to de/reprogram their minds). Low-level enchantment spells would be used, such as Suggestion, Friends, Command, and Calm Emotions, but because Eberron is a low and wide magic world, higher mind-controlling spells like Geas and Dominate Person will not be available. So the main magics used for the experiment will be magical hallucinogenic drugs/potions, magical electroshock, and the Sleep and Alarm/Magic Mouth spells for Psychic Driving.
  • Just as Project MKUltra started because the CIA was worried about communist countries brainwashing American citizens, this project would be inspired by stories of the industrialization of psionics in Riedra and the Inspired. The goal of the experiments would be similar to the goal in real life, of breaking the mind and reforming it in a way that benefits the government.
  • The main villain will be based on Donald Ewen Cameron, the main psychiatrist involved in the Montreal Experiments, who created the concepts of depatterning and psychic driving. He's either going to be a doctor-themed Wizard or an (al) chemistry-themed Artificer. He'll be getting funding from a foreign government, but not aware that they're the ones funding his research. And since in real life he was from Scotland, I might end up making him be a foreigner to both nations involved in the experiment (maybe Breland, Zilargo, or the Mror Holds).

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5e Freelancer
Okay, after doing more research on which organizations would fit MK Ultra for Eberron, I think I've finally settled on the psychiatric hospital being located in northern Thrane (formerly Aundairian territory), with the organization funding the experiments being the Royal Eyes of Aundair. I was waffling back and forth between the Royal Eyes, the Trust, and The King's Dark Lanterns and didn't want to decide on the location until I knew which government was funding the project, but I think that the Royal Eyes fits best. They have the most magical training and have taken covert actions against Aundair's rival nations before (mainly the Eldeen Reaches), so they would have reasons to meddle in lands that Aundair used to own, such as parts of northern Thrane around Thaliost.

I've also decided that the main villain of the hospital, who is based off of Donald Ewen Cameron, will be a Zil alchemist that was trained by The Trust in potions and poisons.

I have now finished most of the brainstorming for the adventure, and have moved on to writing the first draft.


5e Freelancer
Pretty dark/heavy stuff. I was working on something similar, but as a Ravenloft adventure.

Got too grim for me and I scrapped it.
Ooh, Ravenloft is a cool idea for MK Ultra, too.

Yeah, it's pretty heavy. But I went down the rabbit hole of documentaries and articles about Project MK Ultra, and figured that I might as well make use of all the stuff I've learned about it. About 6 months ago I already had an idea for an adventure based around using industrialized evocation magic to create magical equivalents of the electric chair and electroshock therapy machines, so I just merged that idea with the stuff I'd learned about MK Ultra.

All of my players have said they're looking forward to playing this adventure, so even if I didn't want to complete it, I kind of have to.
Will you post it once you have completed it?
Absolutely. I'll publish it on DMs Guild, as that's the only way I can write and publish an adventure for Eberron. But it will be "Pay What You Want", and I'll post the link here once I'm done.

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