Like most illithids and their creations, brainstealer dragons have four lengthy tentacles in place of their heads. Above and behind these, they possess two white bloated and lidless orbs in place of eyes. Their draconic bodies are covered in small pale purple scales and their wings are reduced to fleshy flaps of skin.
Brainstealers possess the conniving personalities and manipulative minds of their mind flayer creators. Most see life as a game, and one they plan to win. To advance their schemes, they will use and influence the minds of underworld denizens. A few great wyrm brainstealers even have whole illithid communities under their control. They are more skilled in deception, intelligence gathering, and survival than their normal dragon counterparts.
The brainstealer's powerful draconic build is aided by its diverse array of mental abilities. Like their illithid kin, they can use a mind blast to mentally debilitate their prey. This replaces a dragon's breath weapon, and gets longer and stronger as the brainstealer ages, and they are immune to such powers used against them. They retain a dragon's aura of fear.
Depending on their stage of development, brainstealers above the age of wyrmling have all conventional illithid psionics, being capable of making suggestions, levitation, charming their enemies, detecting thoughts, projecting their minds into the Astral Plane, and shifting between planes (in either magical or psionic forms). Moreover, they are capable of telepathic communication to any language-using creature up to 100 feet (30 meters) away. Like dragons, they can learn to cast spells as sorcerers, or manifest psionic powers as telepaths.
Their skin is immune to acid, and grows in resistance to non-magical means of attack as they grow older. The downside to their transformation is that their "wings" are far less powerful, and so their flight is clumsy and more difficult.
At the start of a fight, brainstealer dragons typically use their mind blasts to stun their prey for ease of consumption. They then grab them with their tentacles and commence brain extraction, a process that takes about 30 seconds, and usually kills their victims.
Unlike regular dragons, brainstealers cannot bite or use their wings as weapons, but they can still use their dragon's claws with which to fight. While their tentacles are comparatively weak, they're long and capable of grabbing victims.
Their origin is unknown, but obvious: scholars of the underworld believe brainstealers to be the product of an illithid breeding program, and likely one that not even their elder brains could control.[note 1]
A young brainstealer dragon has developed a perverted interest in the Draconic Prophecy and come up from Khyber to seek Vvaraak's Cave. In its search, it has attacked communities in the Shadow Marches, and people there fear this bizarre-looking dragon is Khyber, the Dragon Below, itself.
- As illithids are parasitic creatures that take over their hosts, in the process of ceremorphosis, this may be the result of an illithid tadpole being implanted into a dragon.
- Kevin Baase, Eric Jansing, Oliver Frank, and Bill Halliar (November 2005). “Monsters of the Mind – Minions of the Mindflayers”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #337 (Paizo Publishing), pp. 25–27, 35.