View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Putting together Illithid relatives for 5e, want to run some samples by for critique.

2016-06-15, 11:20 PM
Hi everybody. So I've been tinkering around with 5e monster building and want to run some of the creations by other people. I've been a big fan of Illithids ever since I started playing D&D, so my big aim right now is to update a large number of old Illithid-related creatures from AD&D and 3.5 to 5e. And I figured I'd start with one favorite, originally published in Dragon #337: The Brainstealer Dragon.

I'm just going to run the Adult stage by you, but it's more or less the same as the other stages (the Young and Wyrmling stages lacking the legendary actions), so it should be a good gauge overall.

The wings of this beast are thin, membranous folds. The scales glisten with a slimy sheen. At the end of the neck are four tentacles instead of a head, and two cloudy white orbs at the base of the tentacles are all that indicate the creature ever had eyes.

Illithids are known for experimenting with ceremorphosis, and what happens when an Illithid tadpole is put into a nonhumanoid brain can be absolutely terrifying. Few things are as terrifying as what happens should a dragon be captured and successfully ceremorphosed.

I give you the Adult Brainstealer Dragon:


Thoughts and suggestions appreciated. Your feedback will make me better at making 5e monsters.

One thing I want to know - should I tweak the legendary Dominate and make it more explicit that it can affect non-humanoids?

2016-06-16, 02:41 AM
Tentacle has too low of a bonus, that dex stat is too low, as a dragon we need a set of optional lair actions, add immunity to charm and maybe enchantments in general, and change type to monstrosity (aberration, dragon), but the last one is really trivial.

Markoff Chainey
2016-06-16, 03:19 AM
Mindsight makes this one almost unbeatable by cheap tricks and stealth.

The high DC 18 Intelligence checks guarantee that anybody but a wizard, eldritch knight or a monk will fail in this edition and even those mentioned will have a very hard time.

The rest of the abilities make sure that a foe, once incapacitated, will die quickly.

It is IMO a dragon with a relatively weak chassis that has basically all his abilities tied to incapacitate foes and to kill incapacitated foes... The chassis does not count anymore, at that point. Even as a DM, I could not come up with an even relatively safe way for a party to kill one of those, because it is all about the saves and that is why I would not like to use one of those in a campaign (because I do not fancy TPK that arise from one or two failed saves).

The bare minimum I would change, so that it becomes a bit more useable, is to switch Mind Blast to a legendary action with a cost of 2 actions and reduce the DC to 15, so that a TPK on round 1 is less likely.

The tentacle +1 attack is a joke.. I would put it somewhere between 8 and 11 and reduce the DC to resist the stun and also allow a new resist every turn - otherwise this becomes a death trap and simply takes on PC out of the fight.

I would also rethink the legendary actions... dominate is king. With that one, the dragon can attack one PC from the distance and command him to split from the group... the other 2 are dragon related, but a sane DM would not use them. With that in mind, I would (as already stated) add Mind Blast for some real legendary offense and maybe something for trickery... like disguise or alter self or hide or teleport... to emphasize on the trickery and intelligent nature of this combatant.

If a DM plays this little fellow with a little bit of thought by applying hit and run techniques, in a big enough place like a huge cavern in the underdarks, even a very high level party could meet its maker easily.

2016-06-16, 04:00 AM
Some feedback which may or may not be useful, from looking at the statblock.

In the Multiattack action, it mentions using Extract Brain on a grappled incapacitated humanoid instead of its bite. Firstly, I don't think it has a bite action to forego. Also, why would a dragon only extract brains from a humanoid - surely at the very least it would attempt to extract from another intelligent dragon, too?

The Tentacle attack also does piercing damage, as well as grappling. Focusing just on what the damage type implies here, to help imagine what it looks like in a fight. Rather than wrapping round a foe, is the limb instead punching through them like a spear, and the impale effect is what grapples? Otherwise, maybe it should be bludgeoning damage instead, to represent slamming and constricting. Also, why does a tentacle do additional psychic damage? My question here is based on the fluff, primarily. Does its physical contact act as the gateway to a mental onslaught? If that's the case, then maybe its Claw attack should also do psychic damage? Or perhaps the tentacles themselves are coated in strange aperture-like organs that transmit the psychic wavelengths upon contact?

With the Tail attack, does it do slashing damage because it terminates in a large blade? If it is bristling with spikes perhaps it should be piercing damage? Or, if it's just a large heavy tail whipping from side to side, perhaps that should be bludgeoning damage, too?

With the Mind Blast attack, is it a magical effect or a psychic effect? Are magic and psychic different things? I guess this is again based purely on fluff.

2016-06-16, 09:11 PM
Looks like there were some typos in the coding to build the statblock. The tentacle should have a +11, not a +1 to hit. Likewise some copy paste errors in the Multiattack section. Also noticing some other typos elsewhere to fix - Charisma should be lower, for one thing.

On lair actions - had forgotten about those as relating to dragons. Will have to give them a think.

Mind Blast already allows for a new saving throw at the end of every turn, so that issue wasn't an issue. Reducing the saves makes sense. Your legendary action suggestions are good. I wanted to keep Mind Blast a semi-at-will like for the Mind Flayer, but this could work.

As for Mindsight. Yeah. You're going to stealth it either by getting yourself some mental protection to avoid telepathic contact, or you're not stealthing it (or you get creative in using undead, which it has more trouble finding). Given it's a dragon (of sorts), PCs shouldn't just be running into something like this blind on a random encounter, but it should be something they are somewhat aware of and clear on the major dangers and preparing for before engaging (NPC: "My grandpappy escaped it by the skin of his teeth. Said it were like the thing knew essactly where he was no matter what, but the skellyton he brought with him, it didn't know where that was at all."). I could probably drop it back to being able to use its passive perception to know where all living creatures are within range of its telepathy. Thoughts on that tweak?

Not sure why you say Dex is too low (12 is rather on the high end for dragons). Not sure I want to push to further immunities beyond the ones I've already listed. Will have to look into the use of types and subtypes - if I go with anything aside from dragon, it would be Aberration (Dragon).

Multiattack forgot to get its language upgraded from the language used in the Mind Flayer entry. "Humanoid" should say "living creature" instead.

The tentacle wraps around the head and then the tip tries to bore into the skull. Hence the piercing - damage types here reflect the language used for Mind Flayer tentacles. Ditto the tail attack and tail attacks in other dragon entries.

Psionics doesn't really exist yet for 5th edition, so it's a magical effect that is psychic in nature and does psychic damage. Likewise, like Mind Flayer tentacles, the tentacle does psychic damage as well. Probably something about the tentacles being intrinsically linked to their psionic abilities, but that's up to individual DMs to determine. Your suggestion of the apertures is a good one.

Thoughts on those adjustments?