Illithid (5e Race)

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Nightmarish, alien invaders from another time and place, illithid typically live in societies of their own kind, hidden away from the light of the sun. They feed on the brain matter of living creatures, preferably the grey cells of other sapient beings, to sustain themselves and fuel their strange and unnatural powers. Notorious as the "mind flayers" on dozens of worlds, the illithid are possessed of a desire to dominate and master all things around themselves, and they famously use their advanced mental powers to force other beings into thralldom.

Still, members of illithid-kind can and do take up the adventuring life, from time to time, though almost always under rare and extraordinary circumstances. Leaving the collective networked intelligence of their own kind diminishes any illithids that brave the outside world, severely reducing the potency of most of their natural psychic powers. Most illithids encountered outside their citadels and outposts are either spies, renegades unwelcome in their communities, or have been banished for crimes even their alien moralities find unspeakable.

Physical Description[edit]

An illithid resembles a human in basic body structure, but taller and much more slender. Its skin is some cool color, such as pale green, mauve, or sky blue, and when it is well-fed, its body is coated in a thin film of mucus. Its skin is smooth and completely hairless, with a tall, sloping cranium, two roughly-humanoid eyes, and four long, coiling tendrils concealing an alien mouth evolved to open the skulls of other creatures and feed on their contents.


Illithid history is long and frightening, but most of it is of little relevance to any beings besides the illithids themselves. What is relevant is that, if their records are to be believed, the illithids are the descendants of temporal refugees, fleeing a mass slave revolt started by a race that would later be known as the gith, in a time and place that have yet to exist. The most powerful communities of their kind ceaselessly plot ways to claim back their long lost empire from their most hated “slave races”.


Illithids live in vast, subterranean cities known as communities that are full of thralls which often outnumber ten-to-one or more by their mental slaves. Their culture reveres the Elder Brains, ancient, ageless beings they believe represent the collective personalities and identities of their kind. Illithids offer themselves up to its mass when they near the end of their lifespans, hoping to be absorbed into the titanic intellect of the Elder Brain. It is a closely guarded secret that the Elder Brains only consume the knowledge of their wards, with everything else being simply discarded and lost with the death of the body.

Young illithids derive their personalities and emotional capacities from contact with strange crystals, containing the thought-impressions of previous illithids. This is the reason for the infamously cold and pitiless illithid temperament and personality: illithids normally do not feel any sort of positive emotion more powerful than a kind of sadistic, spiteful pleasure at the pain and submission of another creature. Thus, because the devices that teach young illithids cannot imprint on them the full spectrum of emotionality, they grow up to build another set of such flawed devices for the next generation. Illithids who have spent long periods of time among other races of beings, devoid of the company of other illithids, are often mind-wiped or otherwise mentally scanned when they return to the networked intelligence of their community, to purge the outside influences that may have colored their thoughts and made them more like the surface creatures.

Illithids' alien nature makes them particularly resistant to magical forces and effects, and they regard the use of magic as aberrant and disdainful. All of their kind found studying arcane powers are shunned by their peers, and many are exiled from the community. Illithids consume the brain matter of living (or at least recently-living) creatures to sustain themselves with enzymes, hormones, and psychic energy. The brain of a large, intelligent predator like a wolf or bear provides enough sustenance for a full day, but the brain of a sapient humanoid is far tastier and can bolster an illithid's metabolism for at least a week, depending on the quality of the brain in question. Some rogue illithids cultivate a special kind of moss that becomes sapient in large quantities, and which provides similar sustenance when eaten.

Illithid Names[edit]

Ilillithids are hermaphrodic and reproduce via a process known as ceremorposis, which consists of producing "tadpoles" via parthenogenesis, then allowing them to consume the brains of other creatures, eventually mutating them into new illithids. They also use unique psychic impressions rather than names among themselves, but they do have transliterated Common equivalents to allow non-psionic creatures to address them.

Names: Altharid, Ilsenparint, Malinbossk, Qorik, Ullipsine, Xalliordell, Clarota

Illithid Traits[edit]

Alien, frightening beings of great mental prowess and forceful personalities.
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 2, and either your Wisdom or Charisma score increases by 1.
Age. Illithids fully complete ceremorphosis by the age of 9, and have become fully mature and complete in their education by age 15. Illithids live longer than humans, but they do eventually die at around the 120-year mark.
Alignment. Illithids normally have a natural tendency towards hierarchy, discipline, and cruelty, and have an alignment of lawful evil. Some individuals find themselves developing more-individualistic personalities than their fellows early after ceremorphosis and have an alignment of neutral evil. A minority lack the characteristic sadism of their brethren while retaining their preoccupation with the organization, and have an alignment of lawful neutral. Any illithid of any other alignment, usually the product of unusual circumstances such as mutation, magical alteration, extensive contact with unshackled non-illithid minds while cut off from the networked communal intelligence of their colonies, or intervention by otherworldly forces, is likely regarded by others of its kind as either a disgusting social deviant and pariah, or, at worst, as pollution to be purged. Many such illithid are either mentally wiped blank and re-educated or simply thrown out of their home communities if their natures are too open and offensive to their fellows' sensibilities.
Size. Most illithids are at least as tall as tall humans, standing at least a few inches shy of six feet, but their bodies very slender and emaciated, weighing much less than an average being of their stature. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Aberrant Mind. Your creature type is both humanoid and aberration. Even those illithids who have undergone alignment shifts via magical means or mutations struggle to understand the feelings of less-alien beings. You have disadvantage on all Charisma ability checks in which you are not proficient in.
Superior Darkvision. Your darkvision has a radius of 120 feet.
Devour Brain. When you reduce a living creature within 5 feet of you to 0 hit points, you can, as a reaction, devour their brain completely gaining temporary hit points equal to your level + your proficiency bonus. In addition, you may receive the answer to one question that the consumed brain knew the answer to. This creature must have a size of Medium or smaller. Alternatively, you may consume the brain of a creature that has died within the last minute and gain the same benefits. You regain use of this trait once you complete a long rest.
Mind Blast. You can use your action to emit a psionic blast in a 15-foot radius around you dealing 2d6 psychic damage. When you use your mind blast, each creature in the area of the blast must make a Intelligence saving throw. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Intelligence modifier + your proficiency bonus. A creature takes 2d6 damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. The damage increases to 3d6 at 6th level, 4d6 at 11th level, and 5d6 at 16th level. After you use your mind blast, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.
Telepathy. You can communicate mentally with another creature that knows at least one language within a 60-foot radius. This creature doesn't need to share a language with you but unless they have telepathy themselves they can only receive and respond but can't initiate or terminate a telepathic conversation. You must be conscious to use this trait and cannot telepathically communicate with multiple creatures at once.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Undercommon, and Deep Speech. Undercommon is a language of commerce among the subterranean races in the same way Common is among the surface dwellers.


When creating an illithid character, you can use the following table of bonds to help flesh out your character. Use this table in addition to or in place of your background's characteristics.

d6 Bond
1 I am not welcome among my own kind because I bear the hallmarks of mutation. I have a deformity of the body, an odd number of tentacles upon my face, and of the mind, in the ability to feel alien emotions like empathy.
2 I willingly left the safety of the collective intelligence after contact with a divine or otherworldly force fundamentally altered my personality to make it more like that of ordinary humanoids. I welcome the change, though I often feel quite lonely as a result of it.
3 I am a scientist and spy, sent to examine the surface world for future raids and incursions, but I am concerned constant contact with the unfettered minds of other sapients is beginning to make me more like them. What's worse, I find I am beginning to find the sensation... not unpleasant.
4 I have been forced to flee from the illithid community after experiments I had undertaken to sate my curiosity with the arcane arts were discovered. I now crave revenge and work alongside the beings above as a means of acquiring it.
5 I was exiled for committing terrible crimes even the alien moralities of my people find abhorrent, and I collaborate with these surface primitives in order to sate my darker desires.
6 I am the remnant of a war-devastated city, and I make my living as a mercenary among the surface dwellers. They are strange, and therefore inferior, but they are at least capable of understanding self-interest.

Racial Feats[edit]

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