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Intellect devourers are psionic aberrations that resemble small brains on legs. They are servants of the mind flayers and are one of the most dreaded threats of Khyber, with their power to consume intelligence and possess host bodies. They are bred by mind flayers[1][2][3] but may be creations of the daelkyr Dyrrn the Corruptor.[8]

Description[]

They look like little more than disembodied brains that can walk on a set of four bestial legs with clawed feet.[1][3] They are about as big as dogs and despite their appearance, they can and attack with shocking speed.[1] Their brain matter is protected under a crusty coating[3] or a glistening, clear membrane.[1]

Abilities[]

They are capable of magically consuming a humanoid creature's mind and memories from a distance of up to 10 feet (3 meters), provided that creature has a brain and succumbs to its psychic assault. If so, the victim's mentality is deteriorated. In the worst case, the victim's intellectual capacity is completely erased, leaving them dazed or stunned and ultimately incapacitated.[2][3] Psionic intellect devourers instead consume the victim's confidence, as with the ego whip power.[1]

If the intellect devourer approaches a vulnerable victim (whether incapacitated or already devoured) within 5 feet (1.5 meters), it can then battle the brain's remaining defenses; a protection from evil spell prevents this.[1][3] If successful, it magically or psionically consumes the physical brain, then teleportes inside the empty skull to replace the brain, whereupon it can use the body as a host.[1][3] Naturally, this kills the victim. A fresh corpse can also be used as a host, but not undead and other kinds of creatures not especially hampered by the loss of a brain. Any difference in size is taken care of by their compression power.[1]

Once in control of its host, an intellect devourer has full control of the body, which is more or less as strong and capable as it was normally, while the devourer retains its own mental abilities.[1][2][3] Moreover, the intellect devourer possesses partial or complete knowledge of everything the victim had known, including all languages[1][3] surface knowledge of identity and personality but no specific memories or information,[1][3] or even all their knowledge and even their spells.[3] However, it will likely lose this knowledge once it vacates the host body.[1]

Safely ensconced inside the host body, it cannot be easily attacked or targeted itself. It can only be removed by a protection from evil and good. However, this process kills the host body unless the original brain is somehow restored within a few seconds. Alternatively, a wish spell can restore the host's brain, forcing the intellect devourer out. If the host body is killed or the intellect devourer is forced to leave by some means, then it teleports to a place 5 feet (1.5 meters) away.[3] An intellect devourer can also leave willingly, by exploding out of the skull. Otherwise, it can control the body for up to seven days.[1]

To aid in hunting, an intellect devourer can detect the minds of sentient creatures up to a distance of 300 feet (91 meters), determining both presence and position. Walls and other barriers make no difference, but a mind blank spell renders the mind effectively invisible.[3] Some can also detect psionics.[1] Otherwise, having no eyes, an intellect devourer cannot be blinded nor assailed by magical gazes, yet can, by nonvisual senses, effectively "see" with blindsight up to 60 feet (18 meters) and pinpoint all creatures in range.[1][2][3]

They can communicate via telepathy to 60 feet (18 meters).[3] Otherwise, they cannot speak, though they can understand a language, such as the Deep Speech used by mind flayers[3] or even Common. If in a host, however, they can use the body to speak.[1]

Some intellect devourers are capable of various other psionic powers, namely cloud mind to creep about unnoticed, compression to shrink and conceal themselves, empty mind to fortify their own mental defenses and intellect fortress to shield their bodies, id insinuation to confuse a few opponents, body adjustment to heal themselves, and painful strike to enhance their claws. They are highly shielded against psionics themselves.[1][note 1]

Despite their exposed brains, an intellect devourer is protected by a crusty covering[3] or clear membrane[1] and is resistant to physical harm.[3] They sometimes require an adamantine weapon to effectively harm and are immune to fire and highly resistant to electricity.[1]

They are naturally skilled in stealth, deception, and hearing.[1]

They fight using their clawed feet.[1][2][3]

Tactics[]

Intellect devourers LoM

In a way, the cleric Jozan felt flattered that they thought he's the smart one.

Intellect devourers wander the tunnels and caves of Khyber on the hunt for sentient prey.[2] When they sense prey, they hide, using their powers to aid them, then wait for their chosen victim to be alone. They will then attack with all their psychic powers,[1] before charging in to finish the target off with their claws.[1][2][3]

Afterward, the intellect devourer may seize the victim as a host and thereby infiltrate areas that offer it even more sentient minds to prey upon.[1]

Ecology[]

The intellect devourer, as the name suggests, consumes the intelligence of sentient creatures.[3] They will feed until the victim is no more than a mindless husk.[2]

Illithids breed intellect devourers by subjecting the brain of one of their thralls to a ritual in which the brain sprouts legs and becomes an independent, intelligent predator.[3] They create intellect devourers from the brains they elect not to eat themselves.[9]

However, it is also reported that intellect devourers arise from the remaining brains of creatures slain by other intellect devourers. In this version, they seem to be psychic parasites spawned by the insanity of the Far Realm and they still bear its taint.[2]

Ustilagor-3e

Giving a whole new meaning to suffering from baby brain.

Either way, the newly created aberration begins its existence in a larval form called an ustilagor.[7][2] These live like rats and other vermin, only scavenging off the mental energies of bigger creatures[2] and are farmed as a delicacy by illithids unless raised to maturity.[7][note 2]

A mature intellect devourer, also called an intellect predator to distinguish it from the other stages of life, operates similarly to a wolf. They hunt in packs[2] known as 'pods' of up to four specimens, but they can also hunt alone.[1]

Rarely, an intellect predator that lives a long time and grows massive on consumed intelligence undergoes a second metamorphosis, becoming what is known as an intellect glutton or brain collector. Too big to take a host body, these are powerful creatures in their own right.[2][note 3]

Habitats[]

These predators are found prowling the underground and in Khyber, independently and in service to the illithids.[1][2][3] They are usually found near other aberrant beings, particularly the mind flayers.[2]

Intellect devourers are mainly found in Khyber, but are known to make their way to the surface, such as in Sarlona.[4] There, intellect devourers may be encountered around the quori monoliths in Riedra[5] and in the mountains of Adar.[6]

They are sometimes used by illithids and Cults of the Dragon Below that follow Dyrrn to take control of people and organizations. For example, a mind flayer might dominate a local magistrate and infiltrate the city watch with intellect devourers.[10]

Usage[]

Illithids use their intellect devourers for hunting. Normally, they have them possess and puppeteer the bodies of their victims and then use them to lure other creatures into the illithids' hunting grounds, so the mind flayers can consume their brains themselves or dominate them as new thralls.[3] Otherwise, they keep them as guard beasts and even as pets, while an intellect glutton might be ridden as a mount.[2]

More generally, other intelligent creatures who dare to use intellect devourers will set them to work as guardians[2] or as predators for some purpose. By taking a host body and posting as their last victim, they make for excellent spies.[1]

Dyrrn the Corrupter can vomit up an intellect devourer, which will be under its control.[8]

Appendix[]

Notes[]

  1. Some psionic powers assigned to intellect devourers in 3rd edition seem intended to replicate abilities that would be handled with specific mechanics in prior and later editions. These have been linked to these abilities in the above paragraphs, while remaining powers are summarized here. It should be noted the psionics-using intellect devourer in Expanded Psionics Handbook is not intended as a variant like other psionic versions of creatures in that book are.
  2. The ustilagor is not known to exist in Eberron, but is included here for completeness.
  3. Unique to 4th edition, the intellect glutton is not known to exist in in Eberron, but is included here for completeness.

External Links[]

Appearances[]

Novels[]

The Shard Axe

Gallery[]

References[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 Bruce R. Cordell (April 2004). Expanded Psionics Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 202–203. ISBN 0-7869-3301-1.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 Mike Mearls (2010). Monster Manual 3. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 118. ISBN 0-7869-5490-6.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014). Monster Manual (5th Edition). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 191. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Keith Baker, Scott Fitzgerald Gray, Glenn McDonald, and Chris Sims (2007). Secrets of Sarlona. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7869-4037-0.
  5. 5.0 5.1 David Noonan, Rich Burlew, & Frank Brunner (2005). Explorer's Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 135. ISBN 0-7869-3691-6.
  6. 6.0 6.1 David Noonan, Rich Burlew, & Frank Brunner (2005). Explorer's Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 140. ISBN 0-7869-3691-6.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 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. 34–35.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 288. ISBN 0786966890.
  9. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014). Monster Manual (5th Edition). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 221. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  10. Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 189. ISBN 0786966890.
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