Alignment : evil
Ethos : lawful, neutral, chaotic
Max Stat : STR: 17 INT: 25 WIS: 23 DEX: 18 CON: 17
Classes : Necromancer
Size : Medium
Vuln : Light
Resist : Lightning & Mental
Immune : None
There are as many theories regarding the origin of the ancient species known as the illithid as there are historians. One theory claims that the illithid developed from the primordial coils of entropy itself as Aabahran was formed, twisted and blended monstrosities made from the nightmares of Chaos. Another theory argues that illithids were the byproduct of a monstrous magical merging of humans and octopi by a long-dead civilization. Others argue that it is more likely that the illithid race is a natural race which developed totally separate from all other races. Still others argue that the illithid were originally from an entirely different plane and are not native to Aabahran at all. But when all is said and done, no one knows the true history of the illithid, shrouded in the deepest of mystery, save for the Elder Brains, and they are silent, telling the story to none, not even the illithid themselves. Only in death, when they join the Elder Brains, do the illithid themselves find out.
That can take a long time, as the illithid do not die easily. Even individual illithid can live for longer than ten thousand years, and as a race, their memory literally stretches back for epochs. Much of that history is known only to the illithid. What is known is that the vast bulk of the illithid civilization lies deep within the bowels of the world, in what is known as the ‘Elder Earth’. The first contact which any of the modern races had with these fearful creatures came about during the ill-fated Clan Ranidon expedition to tunnel into the Elder Earth (see the scrolls regarding the history of the duergar for more details). The histories say that it was this first contact which led the illithid to become aware of the surface races, and thus it is the fault of the duergar that the monstrosities known as the illithid have been introduced to the world.
The actual history, as known only to the illithid and shared with no others, is somewhat different. Although the duergar intrusion into the Elder Earth and the subsequent massacre of a Hive did play a role, the role was overstated. The duergar did briefly bring the minds of the illithid to the surface, but that which truly caught their notice was the appearance of the strange undead creatures after the ascendance of the deity known as Virigoth during the Bloodletting of the First Age. The illithid quickly discovered that these undead creatures shared a ‘Continuum’ which was akin in some ways to their own neural networks. What was even more intriguing to them was that this undead Continuum seemed to provide some degree of protection from the powerful psionic abilities of the illithid.
Determined to take the full measure of this new potential threat, all of the Elder Brains convened and agreed to send an expedition of illithid out of the Elder Earth to found a new Hive, with the sole mission of accumulating as much information on undeath as possible. After much time spent surveying the and, it was decided that the best place to situate this new Hive would be underneath the sewers of the city of Miruvhor. First, the location was dark and hidden away from the sun; illithids loathe light. Second, there were plenty of beggars and other dregs of society in Miruvhor whom no one would care about if they went missing and were harvested. And third, Miruvhor was a hotbed of evil magic and necromancy and it was the illithid interest in undeath, after all, which drew them to the surface.
It was decided that this Hive would be similar to the traditional Hives in many respects, but with a few important differences. First and foremost, traditional illithid restrictions against the practice of magic would be lifted, but only for the learning and practicing of the surface arts of necromancy. The existence of knowledge which was not possessed by the Elder Brains was judged unacceptable, and it was hoped that by allowing the practice of necromancy, the illithid would divine the secrets of unlife and learn its weaknesses. Second, there would be no Elder Brain to rule over this outpost; the risk was judged too great. This has led to an unprecedented degree of autonomy by the individual illithids of this Hive. By illithid standards, they are practically rogues, but by the standards of other races, even these illithids are often still Hive-minded to a frightening degree.
Thus far, the illithid have made relatively little progress understanding the secrets of the Kindred. The animation of corpses came easily enough to them, but the hidden mysteries of the Continuum have proven to be exceptionally elusive. But the illithid are nothing if not patient in their longevity, certain in their superiority, and confident in their ability to understand and counter all that which might even slightly threaten the Hives.
Taller than the average human, but shorter than minotaurs or giants. Much thinner than either.
The Hive outpost, beneath the sewers of Miruvhor
The illithid were old when the world itself was young. They remember the rise of long-forgotten gods who by far predated even the Cataclysm of Damnil, and remember the falls of those gods as well. This is why, as a society, the illithid worship no gods at all, although they obey the Elder Brain of each Hive as though they were gods.
True to their name, Elder Brains appear as gigantic brains which lie unmoving in gigantic tanks filled with a type of amniotic fluid. They are formed from the remnants of extremely ancient illithids who died, but were so psionically powerful that their minds reanimated their brains. Elder Brains are held in extremely high reverence by the illithid, and when an illithid dies, their brains are extracted and merged within the Elder Brain, with all of their experiences, knowledge, psionic power, and personalities transferred over. Consequently, Elder Brains are unbelievably intelligent and knowledgeable creatures, and it is said that the eldest of the Elder Brains have enough power to deserve the status of godhood which the illithid all but confer upon them.
Some of the individual illithid who hail from the Hive outpost established beneath the sewers of Miruvhor have been allowed to experiment with following various religions, but they are by no means representative of the species as a whole, and even amongst many of them, their interest in a particular religion lies more with their own motivations and goals, as opposed to holding any actual faith in or worship towards a particular god.
Illithids are tall, thin, genderless and asexual humanoid creatures with bald, slick, octopus-like heads. Due to living in the near-total darkness of
the Elder Earth, illithid are exceptionally sensitive to light; their eyes appear as nothing more than flat, shining white spheres that allows them to see almost perfectly in the dark. Each illithid has a lamprey-like mouth, surrounded by four tentacles up to two or three feet long in length which serve as secondary appendages and can be used to grip or grasp. Some exceptionally powerful or old illithids may go so far as to grow two additional tentacles, giving them a total of six tentacles.
All illithids have two more long tentacles which serve as arms; each of these long tentacles end in thin, claw-like hands. These hands can be used to grip and hold items, but are too weak and spindly to be used to wield weapons. These tentacles can also be used as a last-resort melee weapon, as they can emit shocking electrical blasts from their tips. Illithids are also known to parry physical attacks with them. The rest of the illithid body is relatively humanoid, although their flesh has a translucent, watery quality to it, due to a form of ichor flowing through their body as opposed to blood.
Illithids have many unique and powerful traits. Their bizarre physiological structure allows them to shrug off lightning-based attacks like few other races, as their ichor-like blood absorbs electrical fields. Due to their exceptional mental prowess, illithid are highly resistant to mental spells and attacks. In addition, each day they are able to project a powerful cone of mental force that damages and stuns enemies in the same room with them. In dire emergencies, they can even instinctually redirect all of their mental powers into healing their bodies, allowing them to withstand wounds which would be fatal to any other creature. This does, however, dramatically tax their physical and mental resources for some time, causing them to recuperate at greatly slowed rates.
But even the illithids have at least one weakness; they are highly vulnerable to light-based attacks. The long ages which they spent deep within the earth has rendered their skin fragile and easily seared by powerful, concentrated bursts of light.
Unlike many other evil creatures, the illithid as a society have little interest in ‘taking over the world’; in their arrogance, they actually believe doing so to be beneath them. Illithids congregate almost exclusively in small, hidden communities of a few dozen to a few hundred, which are known as ‘Hives’. Hives are not the mere inanimate dwellings which all other creatures live in, but living and semi-sentient entities in their own right, with organ- like walls and fleshy floors. Each Hive is ruled over by an Elder Brain which resides deep within the Cerebral Cortex of each Hive. There, hidden within its fleshy folds, the Elder Brain wields its power over everything in the Hive. Each Elder Brain is mentally interconnected with each illithid, with the connection being especially powerful within the boundaries of the Hive itself. There, the Elder Brain can pick up thoughts and implant them as easily as other creatures might speak. In turn, each Elder Brain is part of a giant, interconnected mental web which it shares with every other Elder Brain, and so each illithid is quite literally connected in a mental web with every other illithid, to varying degrees.
One step below the Elder Brain in the illithid hierarchy is the master illithid known as a ‘Mind Flayer’; commonfolk describe the entire illithid race as ‘mindflayers’, but amongst the illithid themselves, ‘Mind Flayer’ is a title in and of itself. Each Mind Flayer’s possesses unsurpassingly puissant mental abilities, and it serves as the caretaker and guardian of both the Elder Brain and the Cerebral Cortex itself. Their orders are considered to be almost as absolute and sacrosanct as that of an Elder Brain’s, but they rarely issue orders save in cases where the Cortex or the Elder Brain is threatened.
Aside from the Elder Brain and the Mind Flayer, illithid hierarchy is very casual and almost non-existent; there is something of a ranking based upon each illithid’s respective mental prowess (which other illithids can immediately gauge), but by and large, illithids are far too arrogant to accept the control of others. As a rule, they are only interested in developing and furthering their own mental powers, to the extent that they actively shun the pursuit of other forms of magic. Illithids who delve too deep into the studies of magic and neglect their development of their mental abilities run the risk of becoming an outcast from illithid society, being expelled from the Hive and having their connection with the Elder Brain severed. To an illithid, [Hit Return to continue]this is a fate worse than death. In turn, the illithid guard the secrets of their mental power jealously; thus far, the only mental powers they have revealed are those which psionicists of other races have already developed, as they do not wish to run the risk of their treasured powers being learned and possibly duplicated. Nonetheless, it is all but a given that the illithid of the Elder Earth possess many hidden secrets indeed.
Illithid undergo a horrific growth and development process which points at an unnatural, otherworldly origin. They are born from the fleshy walls of the Hive itself, taking the form of a pale, squid-like larval creature nestled within a huge, tube-like protective shell. Specially assigned caretakers watch over them, feeding them until the day comes where the larva are removed from their shells, then re-implanted within a living humanoid body; specifically, within the victim’s skull. There, the larva feast on and supplant the functions of the victim’s brain, taking over the body and gradually metamorphing it into the familiar, terrifying illithid body, at which point the illithid is considered ‘fully grown’. It is perhaps because of this growing process that illithids have a well-known fondness for eating the brains of their victims, even though they can sustain themselves on other sources of food. The illithid consider brains to be a delicacy, and the more intelligent the race the unfortunate owner of the brain belonged to, the more delicious the brain. This only adds to the fearsome aura and reputation which the illithid possess.
Illithids primarily communicate through telepathy. Drawing and implanting thoughts within the minds of others is as easy as breathing to them, and they can understand each and every language. This is because illithids, when conversing, do not listen to the words, but to thoughts and mind patterns which form these words. In turn, their own telepathic words are thought patterns which they implant into the target’s brain, which translates them into an intelligible tongue. The one exception to this is the secret languages of the undead and the vampires; the Continuum shields their minds, preventing the illithid from simply plucking the thoughts out of their skulls.
The illithid do possess a spoken language of their own, although it is rarely if ever used outside of the confines of the Hive. The language is extremely archaic and formal, primarily used only for certain ceremonies with the Elder Brain. It is speculated that this language was developed in the most distant of ages, before the illithid gained their current telepathic powers. Due to the unique illithid oral physiology, it is nearly impossible for a person of any other species to reproduce this language.
There is nothing more arrogant than the illithid. Not the elves, who view all other races as inferior. Not the drow, who view the elves as foolish and other races as natural inferiors. Not even the dhampiri, who view elf, drow, and other living things alike as nothing more than food. The illithid have witnessed the rise and falls of countless gods and civilizations, and thus view all other races as no more than specks of dust in the wind; ephemeral, all too easily destroyed, and all too easily replaced. The only true use they have for members of other races is slavery. The members of each and every other race, in turn, fear and loathe the illithid as abominations and aberrations. The duergar, in particular, harbor an unabiding grudge against them.
This is not to say that the illithid cannot work with other races; they often make alliances of convenience, especially with the drow, who are one of the few races that can stomach dealing with them. But an illithid knows, with every fiber of his existence and a racial memory that stretches back multiple Cataclysms, that their race is superior to all other races, and perhaps to the gods themselves. They know themselves to be the pinnacle of evolution and intelligence. It is this unshakeable certainty of their utter superiority that makes the illithid such an ‘evil’ race and which makes them feel no remorse for the misery of others whatsoever. As far as the illithid are concerned, they have evolved beyond petty ideas regarding morality, and operate solely on the basis of the logic of self interest and that is very much a cold, hard, cruel, and utterly unforgiving logic.
The only ‘race’ which even slightly disturbs the illithid is that of the undead. The high degree of resistance to illithid psionic powers which the Continuum affords the undead is a matter of some concern to the illithid. In addition, the Continuum bears some startling parallels to the web of Hive- minds which the illithid themselves are linked in, and is a source of intense curiosity and speculation amongst the illithid. This curiosity can take the form of either antagonism or cooperation.