Or mind flayers
In the past, distant beyond comprehension, the illithids held sway over a titanic planar empire, which reached from the Astral to the Ethereal, and included countless Prime worlds. The mind flayers were vastly powerful, and caused even the great armies of the Outer Planes to give pause. The slaves held by these illithids were used for physical labor, livestock for feeding, and cruel experiements. Over these hapless prisoners, the mind flayers ruled supreme.
Slave revolts came and went, but none could truly challenge the authority of the mind flayers, whose awesome mental powers were far beyond the capabilities of their malnourished prey. Eventually, though, one woman named Gith came forward. She had been trained in warfare and knew the ways of the illithids. She was strong in body, will, and mind, and led a great slave rebellion. Her armies overtook the mind flayers and brought down their empire.
The illithids may have been exterminated at this point, if not for the protests of one of Gith's followers, a man of growing influence among "the People," as they were now called. Zerthimon, as the man was named, told the People that Gith was an evil leader and would lead them down the same road as the illithids had. A great civil war ensued, which left Zerthimon dead and Gith with not enough warriors to complete her bloody mission of vengeance. The two factions split and became the githzerai and the githyanki.
Meanwhile, however, the illithids escaped. They now plot in secret, no longer possessing a grand empire, but maintaining their vile cunning, their insidious greed, and their sadistic contempt for all "lesser" races. An illithid uses its massive psionic power to shred its enemies' minds at range before devouring its brain with revolting satisfaction. Its form is equally hideous: a roughly humanoid body with wicked claws, rubbery skin, and an alien head featuring deep empty eyes and four tentacles around a beaklike mouth. They work in hiding among the most remote reaches of the multiverse to bring down their enemies, and to secure more power for their self-serving and cruel agendas.
The illithid lifecycle:
The illithid lifecycle is horrendous.
Life begins for a larvae in warm, shallow saline pools. Illithid larvae are eel-like, 3 to 5 inches long, and curiously hungry. Should a larva enter the body of a living humanoid creature, it will burrow into that poor creature's head. Once there, it consumes the brain of the victim slowly as it asserts its control over the host's body. After the first week of infestation, nothing of the original creature remains. The new Illithid goes into a topor, wherein the body undergoes a transformation into the amphibious purple horror of an adult illithid.
The head of an illithid are their most distinctive feature. They are bald, with large, white eyes lacking pupils. They have no noses or ears, and have a number of tentacles where a human's mouth should be. An illithid's tentacles are between 12 and 18 inches long, and end in peculiar, bony rasps. Under the nest of tentacles, the creature has a bony beak.
Illithid are amphibious and native to a water environment. Although they can exist out of water for some number of hours, their slimy skins will dry out if they do not return to their pools.
These creatures are blinded by normal light, and even their infravision isn't all that great. They have developed their mental powers to the exclusion of their physical abilities.
Illithid are mute and have no spoken language. They can understand speech, but look upon those that speak as being inferior.
An illithid is raised with the central belief that their race is the superior species on all Realms.
These creatures rarely allow others to lead. They are in control and like to stay that way. When several illithid congregate, they form a strange hive or tribe. Among themselves, they have a comfortable society which encourages those of the blood to work together. They keep lots and lots of slaves to liberate the 'real people' for higher pursuits.
They are only motivated by their desires and needs.
Should a lone illithid face a threat powerful enough to destroy it, the individual will immediately attempt to escape. Never forget that the illithid are highly intelligent!!
It is difficult for illithid to appreciate religion. They do not recognize that any entity, divine or otherwise, could be their superior. So, illithids typically do not worship them.
One tenet of their civilization which individuals take quite seriously is that of personal mastery. If an illithid begins the career of ThrallBreaker, it works to be the best ThrallBreaker possible. When the illithid takes up any new interest or path, it will work to accumulate the main body of work describing the pursuit, then begin experimenting and pushing the bounds of knowledge in that field.
Illithid congregate in Hives.
Hives are self-organizing, in that individuals in constant telepathic contact understand their responsibilities to the Hive.
When too many illithids are required to perform manual labor, a slave collecting party is organized. When the Hive is threatened, individuals organize and lead troops against insurgent forces. When illithid populations grow too large for their current resources, exploratory forces move out to new realities while groups of mind flayers prepare to colonize fresh realms.
This level of contact is alien to humans and other thralls who are exposed to it. This actually helps the illithid to maintain control over them.
There are rumors of a loose caste system withing illithid society, but this is unconfirmed...
The mind flayers do not use magic. However, their use and mastery of the psychic arts is unparalleled. Instead of magic items, they have created a craft where artisans embed psionic circuitry in common items.
These psychically powered devices reproduce many of the effects of magic items. POW storage, use of Talents, and other strange effects are all within their range.
An Illithid Sorceror/Psimancer
Images Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast
Images Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast
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