View Full Version : How to play mind flayers

Desmond Tiny
2010-03-24, 05:23 PM
I am running a mind flayer themed campaign with some new players. They are not very opimised at all. I want the mind flayers to fight intelligently but not wipe them out. How shoud I play the mind flayers?

2010-03-24, 05:28 PM
They should progressively build the emerald legion.:smalltongue:

Seriously mindflayers don't seem like the type to be melee fighters, have them have minions for that and I think the alienist PrC could work with this. But thats just my opinion.

2010-03-24, 05:38 PM
Give them a flaw! :D

Once a character is bleeding the Mind Flayer must make a check to not go brain-sucking-hungry. If they fail the check they go into a rage type trance and only try to suck out brains by charging and grappling. If they pass the check 1d4 rounds later they must try again (3 passes in a row takes this flaw away for a day?). The failed save makes them brain-rage for 1d4 rounds then they turn back to normal.

This could be fun.. I might add these in a campy someday...

2010-03-24, 05:38 PM
Mind flayers don't bother with direct confrontation. Too much use of their very valuable time. They lurk in the background manipulating events from afar. If they need to get rid of someone they either send minions or manipulate someone not under their direct control. Because they are that sneaky. They only get involved directly if they absolutely must (low on resources, nothing else will work, you've taken the fight to them).

Desmond Tiny
2010-03-24, 05:44 PM
I don't mean the mind flayers go into direct confrontation. I'm just wondering why, if a mind flayer's plan works out I have to prevent a TPK. Is there any way I can make their plans less devastating.

2010-03-24, 05:48 PM
I don't mean the mind flayers go into direct confrontation. I'm just wondering why, if a mind flayer's plan works out I have to prevent a TPK. Is there any way I can make their plans less devastating.

Make it very clear to the players that the mindflayers will be planning very well. If the players don't plan very well, then let a TPK occur.

2010-03-24, 06:05 PM
I don't mean the mind flayers go into direct confrontation. I'm just wondering why, if a mind flayer's plan works out I have to prevent a TPK. Is there any way I can make their plans less devastating.

The mind flayers are actualy manipulating the PCs to do their bidding. Each ecounter may be defeated, but discretly pushes the party to do what the mind flayers want done.

That or they are using the PCs to test new tactics?

2010-03-24, 06:05 PM
I have done what you have done. Here is what I learned:

For a player, it is very boring to get stunned by a mind blast in round 1 and then sit on your butt for 45 minutes while your friends play D&D. You should decide from the outset: is mind supposed to be a serious mechanical threat to players, or just mind flayer color? If you want it to be a threat, I recommend that you nerf it slightly and allow a save every round at the end of a player's turn to break it, just like hold person. If you merely want it to be color, provide some NPCs who will warn the players of the exact nature of the threat and tell them which spells and magical items to use to become immune to it. As written, mind blast just doesn't work - it forces D&D players to stop playing D&D.

Edit: If you have them available, I also strongly recommend the mind flayer resources in MMV and LoM. Good stuff. Lots of adventure ideas, lots of alien flavor and culture, lots of stat blocks.

2010-03-24, 06:07 PM

Start with encounters of dumb slaves like Umber Hulks, that behave in somewhat smart manner. Make the PC recognize this.

Then they will carefully look for the masters of puppets.

2010-03-24, 06:16 PM
There are fates worse than death when you're fighting mind flayers.

If you don't want to kill your players, have any fight involving illithids revolve around the mind flayers trying to capture the players alive. This should actually make them more afraid; for some reason, the threat of death is almost boring, but once they start dealing nonlethal damage and taking captives, players seem to squirm.

And with illithids, they rightly should.

Life as an illithid thrall is a horrible waking nightmare of untold terror. Perhaps you can give the party the chance to escape while they are being taken to a mind flayer outpost or city, but it should still be a harrowing affair.

Keep in mind that most adventurers have delicious, independent, spice-filled minds that illithids find irresistible. It is unlikely for PCs to wind up long-term slaves; they will probably eaten, perhaps even by a talented performance eater who can broadcast the flavor to a gathered audience of illithids.

Then there's the mind flayter breeding cycle... let's not even go there.

2010-03-26, 11:01 AM
Mind Flayers don't necessarily eat where they live. They have plane shift and can use that to pick off prey while inhabiting another spot.

So imagine this scenario: The town of Cephos is a medium sized settlement bordered by mountains to the north and ocean to the east. It sustains itself by way of trade and fishing. Among it's neighbors are several other human settlements, each a day or so's travel away and in a cave network below the mountains, a synod of mind flayers.

The PCs pursue the mind flayers, but are stopped by the people of Cephos. Why? Because the mind flayers are tolerable neighbors who become exceedingly dangerous if threatened. The players aren't battling the mind flayers directly, but are dealing with relative innocents who are genuinely fearful. If provoked, the villagers are willing to attack the PCs and risk a handful of lives to ensure the well being of their entire town. There's a half dozen routes this kind of situation can go (such as one where the mind flayers do end up retaliating, or where they've got dominated slaves as spies within the settlement), but it creates a story & diplomacy driven campaign. When the players do dig through the layers of intrigue and contingency plans that the mind flayers have set in place, the illithid are so surprised that their plans didn't work that they are caught off guard. Cue the hard but not impossible finale.

2010-03-26, 11:10 AM
Here's a quick summery of the two times I've had my PCs encounter a mindflayer.

1st time - 3.5: Mind flayer mindblasts everyone, they all fail. Mindflayer walks around and eats each person in turn. TPK.

2nd time - 4E: Party fights mindflayer minions, mindflayer goes up against only a couple of PCs. Bores into the brain of 2 of the PCs, and turns them into his thralls. One thrall eventually goes unconscious, and the Mindflayer escapes with the other one, so that PC is effectively dead.

Note that both of these encounters were tough, but level appropriate. Mind Flayers are awesome, and vicious. Be very careful.

2010-03-26, 11:19 AM
About the only way to kill mind flayers is if they make a mistake. They are full casters, very paranoid, and have plenty of minions to do their bidding. If you use mind flayers in you campaign, the players shouldn't have any idea they're fighting mind flayers whatsoever. The only way they should figure it out is if one of them attempts to dominate a monster they're fighting and find themselves having to make a charisma check vs someone else controlling the monster. That sort of weirdness should make them try to dig deeper.

Lord Vukodlak
2010-03-26, 11:23 AM
Well one question I have is if your using the EXPH or not.

In the EXPH mind flayers don't have spell-like abilities but instead count as psions of there HD+2.

The last Mind Flayer I sent the party against was an Ulitharid, the nasty guy had captured a Werewolf Lord. He kept him bound in a series of Adamantine chains which looped around his limbs in an overly complex fashion as to keep him tied up in any form he took, on top of which he kept him in a comma through Ego Whip.
*The high HD and class levels of the werewolf lord made domination difficult, he did not want something getting lose that could rip him to shreds.*

The illithid then used him infect a tribe of Orcs he already dominated and controlled, though the orcs only became regular werewolves. Now this was the fun part, he had his lycanthrope minions capture a bunch of travelers, he then infected those people with lycathropy just like he had the orcs

Now I had decided that an afflicted lycanthrope has two minds, the man and the beast, until eventually the man's alignment changes to match the lycanthropes in which case the beast takes over forever. The Mind Flayer dominated the beast side, leaving the human side untouched, except for erasing there memory of seeing the werewolf lord.

The heroes come along, rescue the townsfolk and bring them back to the city. Mayhem insures.

That is the kind of things they do.

But one thing to remember is they are cowards, they won't stick around for a fight they aren't certain they'll win.

Now a stunned creature can take no actions so they can't escape a grapple, but technically they can resist a grapple attempt.