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Rezby
2010-03-05, 07:19 PM
Are Mind Flayers necessarily evil? They, like vampires, must kill in order to eat and survive. Does that make them evil? If so, would not that make all non-vegetarians evil, as they too kill for food to survive?

And in terms of reproduction, they place a brain slug in someone's ear, where it burrows into their nervous system and eats it and replaces it, and they become a mind flayer. Is this necessarily an evil act? Is it not darwinistic for species to try to survive and carry out their genes and are mind flayers thus but merely Darwinistic parasites?

Can there be a colony of good-aligned Mind Flayers? Or are they evil simply by existing?

subject42
2010-03-05, 07:22 PM
And in terms of reproduction, they place a brain slug in someone's ear, where it burrows into their nervous system and eats it and replaces it, and they become a mind flayer. Is this necessarily an evil act? Is it not darwinistic for species to try to survive and carry out their genes and are mind flayers thus but merely Darwinistic parasites?

I think that the biggest thing here is that their very method of perpetuating their species obliterates the free will of sentient beings. If they just killed the host that would be a different story.

kakiseirei
2010-03-05, 07:27 PM
Are Mind Flayers necessarily evil? They, like vampires, must kill in order to eat and survive. Does that make them evil? If so, would not that make all non-vegetarians evil, as they too kill for food to survive?

And in terms of reproduction, they place a brain slug in someone's ear, where it burrows into their nervous system and eats it and replaces it, and they become a mind flayer. Is this necessarily an evil act? Is it not darwinistic for species to try to survive and carry out their genes and are mind flayers thus but merely Darwinistic parasites?

Can there be a colony of good-aligned Mind Flayers? Or are they evil simply by existing?
The fact that Mind Flayers kill to eat and reproduce does not make them evil per se. But good intelligent creatures would do it *only* out of extreme necessity, and on the least sentient creature possible.

Mind flayers could be good, but it would be difficult to define them as mind flayers, as they would be unwilling to use their psionic attacks, or indeed any of the features that make them mind flayers.

Saph
2010-03-05, 07:33 PM
You have to look at their culture and the way they think, not just their biology.

As I see it, mind flayers are one of the more alien types of D&D evil; they don't have any particular desire to be cruel or inflict pain, they're just entirely amoral, at least by human standards. They divide the world up into other mind flayers, and sheep. Sheep (aka non-mind-flayers) exist solely for the purposes of food, slave labour, or incubation systems for more mind flayers.

Based on their actions, they're in the Lawful Evil - Neutral Evil bracket by D&D standards, but it would be just as accurate to say they don't fit in human moral standards altogether. They're just a pure enemy, like the Xenomorphs from the Alien films. You can't even really communicate with them because most of the time they've got no reason to talk to you - if they want something from you they'll either kill you and eat your brain, or enslave you. The only way you can talk to a mind flayer is if you're powerful enough to pose an actual threat to it, and since the Elder Brains in the long run intend to dominate every other living creature, the relationship isn't likely to last.

Khatoblepas
2010-03-05, 07:35 PM
An individual mind flayer isn't necessarily evil, but by and large mind flayer society is.

Mind Flayers come from the future where they have escaped eradication at the end of a debauched and terrible empire spanning the multiverse. They are lead by giant psionic brains who hunger for power and world domination, and they love nothing better than to subvert the will of lesser beings. They live in a society where reading minds is as natural as breathing (Read thoughts at will) and so any creature who doesn't fit in is eradicated by the Elder Brain. Natural, human thoughts and desires are shunned, replaced only with cold calculation. A truly chilling place to exist.

Pretty much all mind flayers have vestigial humanity, but the high ranking ones can supress it almost totally. They are not yet a true hivemind, but wish to be one with a great consciousness. That consciousness just so happens to be evil.

It's possible that a good human turned into a mind flayer might keep their morality, and would be an outcast or a rebel from their society.

ApatheticDespot
2010-03-05, 07:39 PM
I don't see why a good Illithid would refuse to use his mental powers, good aligned enchanters and telepaths don't have that restriction. I would also question whether it's more evil to kill someone via brain extraction than with a sword or fireball. I think it's often forgotten just how often an average good aligned PC brutally kills a sentient creature. D&D morals are wonky to say the least.

That having been said, your average Illithid can easily afford a ring of sustenance and it's likely possible to perform ceremorphosis on an inanimate body created via a clone spell. They don't do that not because they can't but because they don't care enough to do it, so I don't have much trouble calling them evil.

Geiger Counter
2010-03-05, 07:39 PM
If a mindflayer exclusively fed on and infected evil creatures (and by evil I mean truly evil and not just a price gouging merchant) than it might be possible to be a good mindflayer.

Edit: I heard before something about drows sending their criminals to mindflayers.

ScionoftheVoid
2010-03-05, 07:47 PM
If a mindflayer exclusively fed on and infected evil creatures (and by evil I mean truly evil and not just a price gouging merchant) than it might be possible to be a good mindflayer.

Edit: I heard before something about drows sending their criminals to mindflayers.

Alignment of a sufferer has no bearing on what the action is. You can burn down an orphanage of children brought up to serve Hieroneus and who all qualify for exalted status, it's exactly as evil as burning down a prison full of the most vile creatures in existence (and not because the ones from the prison may survive to escape).

That is my understanding, in any case.

Geiger Counter
2010-03-05, 07:51 PM
Alignment of a sufferer has no bearing on what the action is. You can burn down an orphanage of children brought up to serve Hieroneus and who all qualify for exalted status, it's exactly as evil as burning down a prison full of the most vile creatures in existence (and not because the ones from the prison may survive to escape).

That is my understanding, in any case.

Wow that's a really out there interpretation of alignment, it would be impossible to play a good character in your campaigns.

kakiseirei
2010-03-05, 07:56 PM
Wow that's a really out there interpretation of alignment, it would be impossible to play a good character in your campaigns.

Not really, just don't kill helpless people. As long as think "What would fox network disapprove of?" It becomes a lot simpler :smallbiggrin:

Zeta Kai
2010-03-05, 08:03 PM
Well, the Lords of Madness splat states that illithids must implant their larvae into a Humanoid creature, or the resultant spawn would not be a true mindflayer. So, in order to perpetuate their species, they don't really have much of a choice. It's somewhat like the xenomorph queen from Aliens; she knows that the facehuggers she lays will only create more xenomorphs by implanting into other creatures. And she may have a pretty good idea about how pleasant that is for the hapless hosts. But that doesn't stop her from obeying her biological imperative to reproduce. Does that make her Evil?

According to D&D, the answer is likely Yes. Because the nature of Evil in D&D includes an unspoken clause, something to the effect of "inimical to harmonious life, specifically the harmonious life of likely PC races." This also traps orcs, goblinoids, & similar creatures, who otherwise act like people but are persona non grata in most humanoid circles. But it affects illithids, undead, & the like the most. D&D's alignment "system" is wonky as all hell, but it's pretty well established that a creature's alignment CAN be (as in, not always, not MUST be) beyond its control.

Of course, some people won't believe that Belkar is Chaotic Evil, even when both he & his author admit it freely. So there will be those who will ascribe any alignment that they imagine to the Flayers of the Minds.


Not really, just don't kill helpless people.

So, in your games, a coup de grace is invariably Evil? :smallconfused:

Amphetryon
2010-03-05, 08:04 PM
Not really, just don't kill helpless sentient people beings, even in self-defense. FTFY. :smallsmile: Even then, probably not enough. It's almost certainly evil, by reasonable extrapolation of the orphan/villain example, to kill a non-sentient creature that is attacking you in defense of a lair you have no idea you've invaded. It's even more likely to be evil to invade a sentient, sapient creature's lair for the express purpose of killing it and stealing its stuff.

Hooray! Let's play Farmer, the RPG!

elonin
2010-03-05, 08:09 PM
The way they reproduce isn't a good act but isn't necessarily evil. The way they play with their food is.

ScionoftheVoid
2010-03-05, 08:10 PM
Wow that's a really out there interpretation of alignment, it would be impossible to play a good character in your campaigns.

How so? It is, IIRC, an extreme example of something supported by the books on the alignments. I could be wrong but it's supposed to be the largest contrast imaginable in that example, the basic idea is not nearly so extreme. Besides which there are very strict readings of alignment which would say the people used there barely slipped into their respective alignments. Personally I'm fine with a PC saying they are whatever alignment they like, regardless of what strict readings of fluff text say. Just don't expect people to like you just for being Good if you are also a violent hobo adventurer. I prefer Evil alignments and have limited moral judgement myself, so if the player thinks their character deserves to be Good I probably will not have objections. Unless they consistently act like they've entered the deep end of the alignment pool, of course (e.g. kicking babies, raping puppies, torture or total lack of respect for life, less serious offenses will also cause shifts if done for long enough. All of those are Evil by D&D standards).

Edit: To clarify: the example is of burning down a building with people inside. Regardless of who the people are, if they have not done anything to you personally, burning down the building is just as evil. That was a very extreme example to attempt to keep the point clear, apparently that failed. Basically Evil is Evil, torturing someone who is Evil is just as bad as doing the same to your best friend regardless of their alignment. This is, AFAIK, a section of how alignment works. Unless someone can produce quotes to say one way or the other, or until Hamishspence shows up, (hold on what do I mean "or"? That's the same thing) we do not know for sure either way.

I do not play using alignment strictly as-written, because it then becomes a straightjacket, which it is specifiaclly not meant to be.

Starscream
2010-03-05, 08:12 PM
Hmmm. Slaad also assimilate/destroy others in order to reproduce, but they are considered chaotic neutral.

Of course, they are outsiders whose alignment is (to a degree anyway) built into their very being. A non-chaotic Slaad is incredibly rare, much like a non-lawful Inevitable. They have "Always" in their alignment, which means that at least 99% of their race is CN, and of the few who aren't, most are probably just one step away.

Mind Flayers however are "Usually" lawful evil. They have no alignment subtype, are not from a place with an inherent alignment, and thus are free to make their own decisions. Their method of reproduction is cruel and evil, but a Mind Flayer doesn't have to do it. I seem to recall reading that they are asexual, and give birth to little Illithid tadpoles once in their lives, but that doesn't mean they must put them in peoples' ears.

Which leaves the matter of their diet. Bottom line, for them to live sentient beings must die. That seems pretty darn evil to me. But plenty of adventurers kill sentient beings all the time, and are okay with it as long as the people in question are evil. Eating their brains after you kill them is probably technically no worse a deed than stealing their stuff. It won't prevent them from being raised or anything.

So I guess there might be the occasional Mind Flayer who rejects the evil ways of their brethren, refuses to engage in ceremorphosis, and seeks out evil doers to feed on (easy for a being who can read minds). Might be an interesting character, especially if they need to recklessly seek out dangerous situations in order to find sustenance.

Which brings up an interesting question: would a clear Ioun Stone sustain a Mind Flayer without the need for brains? A good aligned one would almost certainly try to acquire one if possible.

I could see a situation similar to vampires in Ankh-Morpork where Illithids are grudgingly accepted into society if they forswear brains, and have such a stone in their possessions at all times.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:16 PM
I don't see why a good Illithid would refuse to use his mental powers, good aligned enchanters and telepaths don't have that restriction. I would also question whether it's more evil to kill someone via brain extraction than with a sword or fireball. I think it's often forgotten just how often an average good aligned PC brutally kills a sentient creature. D&D morals are wonky to say the least.

That having been said, your average Illithid can easily afford a ring of sustenance and it's likely possible to perform ceremorphosis on an inanimate body created via a clone spell. They don't do that not because they can't but because they don't care enough to do it, so I don't have much trouble calling them evil.

Eating someone's brain makes it far, far harder to revive someone, and the way that mind flayers reproduce destroy's the host's soul and psyche, making it impossible to ever bring them back, even with miracle or wish.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:17 PM
Hmmm. Slaad also assimilate/destroy others in order to reproduce, but they are considered chaotic neutral.

Of course, they are outsiders whose alignment is (to a degree anyway) built into their very being. A non-chaotic Slaad is incredibly rare, much like a non-lawful Inevitable. They have "Always" in their alignment, which means that at least 99% of their race is CN, and of the few who aren't, most are probably just one step away.

Mind Flayers however are "Usually" lawful evil. They have no alignment subtype, are not from a place with an inherent alignment, and thus are free to make their own decisions. Their method of reproduction is cruel and evil, but a Mind Flayer doesn't have to do it. I seem to recall reading that they are asexual, and give birth to little Illithid tadpoles once in their lives, but that doesn't mean they must put them in peoples' ears.

Which leaves the matter of their diet. Bottom line, for them to live sentient beings must die. That seems pretty darn evil to me. But plenty of adventurers kill sentient beings all the time, and are okay with it as long as the people in question are evil. Eating their brains after you kill them is probably technically no worse a deed than stealing their stuff. It won't prevent them from being raised or anything.

So I guess there might be the occasional Mind Flayer who rejects the evil ways of their brethren, refuses to engage in ceremorphosis, and seeks out evil doers to feed on (easy for a being who can read minds). Might be an interesting character, especially if they need to recklessly seek out dangerous situations in order to find sustenance.

Which brings up an interesting question: would a clear Ioun Stone sustain a Mind Flayer without the need for brains? A good aligned one would almost certainly try to acquire one if possible.

I could see a situation similar to vampires in Ankh-Morpork where Illithids are grudgingly accepted into society if they forswear brains, and have such a stone in their possessions at all times.

No, Slaad are usually chaotic. It is more chaotic to occasionally be lawful than for everyone to be chaotic as variety=chaos.

And Raise dead doesn't work on brainless corpses. Especially considering that when they extract said brain, the head is torn apart as if someone shot a .50 caliber bullet into a water melon.

erikun
2010-03-05, 08:18 PM
Given that their method of eating and propagating involves killing helpless, sapient beings, the standard answer would be no. They would need some way to eat without cracking open everyone's skull, and to breed without killing others (or make it so that they don't need to breed).

If they can overcome that, then it's entirely possible to have a colony of good-aligned Mind Flayers. I believe the Astral Plane both stops aging and stops the need for food, so that would be the most likely place you'd find one.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:18 PM
Given that their method of eating and propagating involves killing helpless, sapient beings, the standard answer would be no. They would need some way to eat without cracking open everyone's skull, and to breed without killing others (or make it so that they don't need to breed).

If they can overcome that, then it's entirely possible to have a colony of good-aligned Mind Flayers. I believe the Astral Plane both stops aging and stops the need for food, so that would be the most likely place you'd find one.

Githyanki live on the astral plane so no. Also, Elder brains by their very nature are evil and more or less totally control mind flayer society, (Telling your people that putting their brains into your pool will let them live forever, when in reality this act destroys them beyond any form of recovery just to enhance your own power, is a very, very evil thing to do)

JonestheSpy
2010-03-05, 08:22 PM
Hmmm. Slaad also assimilate/destroy others in order to reproduce, but they are considered chaotic neutral.


That's because slaad are really, really badly written.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:24 PM
As the Elder brains are irredeemably evil due to their horrid lie to the entirety of illithid kind, Mind flayer society can only be evil, as Elder brains rule them absolutely.

erikun
2010-03-05, 08:27 PM
Wouldn't this make it possible for there to be a good Elder Brain, and thus, a good colony of Mind Flayers? Especially considering that the Elder Brain has "total control" over all the Flayers?

I'm not sure where the comment about the Githyanki came from.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:31 PM
Wouldn't this make it possible for there to be a good Elder Brain, and thus, a good colony of Mind Flayers? Especially considering that the Elder Brain has "total control" over all the Flayers?

I'm not sure where the comment about the Githyanki came from.

Githyanki live on the Astral plane, Githyanki hate Mind flayers and kill them on sight.


Elder Brains are iredeemably evil, their lie to mind flayer society (that they can live forever if they merge their brains with the elder brain, when in reality, doing this destroys the mind flayer's soul and mind forever, just to increase your power is a major **** move.)

ScionoftheVoid
2010-03-05, 08:34 PM
I'd give you that Mind Flayer reproduction may be Evil, but their feeding? It's no more Evil than any other creature feeding. It's certainly not harder to raise someone who has died that way. Raise Dead requires a mostly intact corpse, Reincarnate makes a new body and the next spell up (Ressurection?) would work without a hitch. Why exactly is eating the brain of a creature (Mind Flayer feeding) worse than eating everything and everything of a corpse up to and including: brain, liver, lungs, kidneys, reproductive organs, skeletal muscle and fat (Human feeding, and not even by necessity. Humans have alternatives which they turn down). Yes Mind Flayers eat sentient beings but so do cannibals and they are not inherently Evil due to that. Hell, Humans probably have a fair few dishes made of intelligent but non-human(oid) creatures just because they can, if you could slap a massive price tag on it there would be at least one non-Evil buyer and seller. The fact that Illithid prey must technically be alive during feeding? Humans do that too, and the same applies as to the sentient creature dishes (their is almost undoubtedly a dish that combines the "best" of both, though those people are probably Evil through willful ignorance if nothing else). What exactly is your problem with their feeding methods (Mind Flayers being "they").:smallconfused:

The Elder Brain logic seems circular. Are they statted anywhere? After all Always being an alignment seems misleadingly absolute.

Vulkan
2010-03-05, 08:35 PM
Well they do what they must to survive.. I think the best they could be is in the neutral good alignment and I think I'm stretching the line with that.
Since well they could still perform good acts and deeds of their own free wills.. Actually the same can be said of all races depending on surrounding.

I do not remember that books proper name but my friend refers to it as the book of exalted goody too-shoes and one of the examples was a white Mind Flayer

Kris Strife
2010-03-05, 08:37 PM
Wouldn't this make it possible for there to be a good Elder Brain, and thus, a good colony of Mind Flayers? Especially considering that the Elder Brain has "total control" over all the Flayers?

I'm not sure where the comment about the Githyanki came from.

The Gith were one of the major slave races that the ilithids made when they first came back. There was a major rebellion which lead to the mindflayer empire (in the past) falling and the Gith split into two groups that hate each other, but hate mindflayers even more. To the point that about the only thing that might stop two members of the Gith races from killing each other is if a mindflayer or two is near by.

I can't remember what suffix the other Gith race has.

And to be fair to the Elder Brains, most of them did sacrifice themselves to send mindflayers back in time to save the race, so I could understand the surviving Elder Brains feeling that the mindflayers owe them.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:38 PM
Well they do what they must to survive.. I think the best they could be is in the neutral good alignment and I think I'm stretching the line with that.
Since well they could still perform good acts and deeds of their own free wills.. Actually the same can be said of all races depending on surrounding.

Elder brains don't need to do it, they do it because they are selfish ****s at heart....well they would if they had hearts. They have no need of sustenance, but they ask that the mind flayers effectively destroy themselves forever to enhance their power, and they manipulate them into thinking that this is the hot ticket to everlasting life. It takes an very evil man to do this. Some even take pride in the fact that they duped the entire mind flayer species into doing this, and some actually enjoy the act of destroying a mind flayer soul for all eternity. They discourage any magic amongst mind flayers because they can't absorb that power.

ScionoftheVoid
2010-03-05, 08:39 PM
Well they do what they must to survive.. I think the best they could be is in the neutral good alignment and I think I'm stretching the line with that.
Since well they could still perform good acts and deeds of their own free wills.. Actually the same can be said of all races depending on surrounding.

I do not remember that books proper name but my friend refers to it as the book of exalted goody too-shoes and one of the examples was a white Mind Flayer

Book of Exalted Deeds, probably. Why Neutral Good specifically? No alignment is "best" but if you mean closest to Good, well it's already there. There's not much farther you can go.

Tiki Snakes
2010-03-05, 08:41 PM
The below is a post I saved for my own reference from a previous thread;
So, this thread has got me thinking about, well, a lot of unrelated junk mostly.

But it's also got me considering Mindflayer related Character Ideas and Plot Hooks/Campaigns.

So, here are some things that have struck me throughout this debate.

1) Elder Brains are unquestionably and significantly evil. It's quite possible that they are more significantly evil, even in the opinions of those who have posted condeming the Illithids in general. They are Big Bad Brains.

2) Illithids may not necessarily, depending on interpretations of wording, and which splat-books you consider canon, need to eat sentient brains to live. Depending on what you listen to, they may not even need to eat brains!

3) They are 'wrong' on a cosmic level. Either they originate in the Far Realm, the Far Future, or are in some other way just damn wrong. (In addition, they freak the Aboleth's out on account of being the one creature they don't remember 'starting'. They just appeared, fully formed, as if from no-where.)

4) Illithids reproduce via their (original?) Larval form. The Larvae are left in the Elder Brain's Briny Bath for 10 entire years, and if they are one of the (probably few) who are not eaten by the elder brain then they are implanted in a sentient creature, preferably humanoid. If the 'Far Realm' origin is the true one, likely this form is carried over from their previous, insane-outside-realm origin.

5) Elder Brains completely and utterly dominate Illithid society. They enforce strict rules of conduct and whatever that create the 'classic' mindflayer society. They also have no compunction about lying to their illithid underlings. (Illithid's are unaware that once 'joined' with the Elder Brain, their personality DOES NOT continue. The Elder Brains jealously guard this secret, for quite obvious reasons).

6) Illithids do not go against the Elder Brain very often, if at all. Alhoon's (Illithid Liches) are about the only case of this. This is possibly due to the Elder Brain's psionic aura/dominance. The Illithid are so used to this ever-present psychic presence, or 'buzz', that when they have to be away from it, there exist items to reproduce the same sensation!

7) Illithids express a very limited range of emotions, but very strongly. However, despite being essentially rage-filled engines of spite and loathing, they have a natural tendancy to work together.

8) Depending on your sources, the Illithids once ruled a Vast multi-planar Empire. They were successful enough as a society to not only conquer a planet, but many planets across the entire multiverse. Though impressively enduring, at some point, something went wrong. Perhaps the Githyanki/Githerazi rebelion? Perhaps something that allowed the rebellion...


And all of this is just getting me thinking, suggesting things and Ideas that aren't even fully formed yet, but here's some;
(Spoilered for length)

Elder Brains do not feel right. They just don't. They're an Iconic part of Mindflayer society, but they just don't feel like they are entirely playing for the same team.
The illithid tadpoles - Ten years in the Elder Brains tank? That's a long time. Frankly, suspiciously long. I cannot believe that they are left there purely because of how defended the location is. I do not believe that the Brain is looking out for them. It snacks on them at will! So what else could be the reason? The only one that makes sense to me, for a psionic being of 'Godlike' Intelligence, is that it is indoctrinating them, psionically, over a long period of time so that it is both subtle and enduring.
So, why would it do this, if it is merely the collective conciousness of Illithid Ancestors? It just feels wrong.

Speaking of wrong, is it only me that has difficulty with the idea that the Elder Brains are a natural part of the Illithid life-cycle? I'd agree that's a view that the Brains themselves would no doubt hope the illithid held, but i'm not convinced. The Illithid, originally, were some kind of far realm creature that started in something analgous to their larval form. Perhaps they were essentially parasitic, perhaps not. There is still a kind of logic there. They live, quite probably hunt, (which would fit on some level with their essentially predatory mindset, and their tendancy to co-operate). They live, they thrive, and then? Everything dies. But why would a creature that see's brains as a source of Food, create an 'ancestor god' of sorts that is, itself, essentially a giant foodstuff? it doesn't fit. I propose that the Elder Brain must have been a later development. A matter for civilised times in their development, not the impossible primal past.

And Furthermore, I propose that they were one of two possible things.

First option;
At the height of their eternal empire of the planes, Illithid society must have gotten pretty damned decadent. I see the idea of Powerful Illithid 'Emperors', having conquered pretty much everything and everyone they could find, as then turning their attention to that last enemy, the one that all things must face. Death. The 'Elder Brain', would at it's core, be an attempt to cheat Death. A way for those few, ancient evils, to exist, and rule on till the end of time. just so long as their subjects can be convinced to continue feeding them with what they require.
To hold on to their position of god-kings of the Illithids, they make themselves part of the life-cycle of the Illithids, they make themselves ancestor gods, they deify themselves and make life without them unthinkable. Then, just to make sure? They literally crawl inside the brain of every new-spawned Illithid and quite literally worm out any possible hint or desire to even consider that possibility.

They have two or three main problems. Firstly, Illithids are powerful, essentially arrogant creatures. They sound on so many levels like the kind of 'Magnificent Bastard' types that they should be staging coup-de-etat's every couple of years. If the Elder Brain's Subjects ever really found out the unspeakable truth, their situation would become very...very dangerous.

Secondly, they are not Liches. They aren't even Undead. They can, if cared for properly, live forever. But they are bodiless monstrosities, soft, vulnerable. They need constant care and endlessly vigilant protection. A creature, no matter how powerful, that doesn't even have skin, is going to get a bit paranoid, really, don't you think? It would help make sense of the Elder Brain's Aversion to Illithid Liches, perhaps.

If something did go wrong with Mindflayer Society, wouldn't it make sense that the emergence of these self-proclaimed 'god kings' could have been the cause? An initial uprising of Illithids, or even just the inevitable lapses of quality of judgement that would arise from a lack of fresh blood, fresh ideas, at the head of their empire.
In the instability that followed, it would make any slave-uprising that much more likely both to happen, and to succeed.

The Second Option for their origin is that the Elder Brains come from an external source.
They are not, perhaps, Illithid in nature at all.
Think about it for a moment. They certainly do not act like they are part of Illithid Society. They do not, really, act like they have Illithid wellbeing as their main concern. They act, rather, like they are either the Slave-masters to the Illithid, or the Cookoo children of. They dominate, they stifle and rule absolutely, with a tenuous thread of lies and misdirection as their only protection.

What cosmic horror would be capable of infiltrating and subverting Illithid Society at it's height, so completely? So Utterly? it's an intruiging question, you've got to admit. Like the previous possibility, this event would make a perfectly disruptive calamity in the Mindflayer Empire to destablise it enough for the Rebelion to succeed.

So, Character Concept, and/or Adventure Hooks?
Imagine the consequences of revealing either of the above possibilities, (or even those few facts as we know are definate already) to Mindflayer Society. I do not see the 'masters of the universe' reacting very well to the idea that, far from joining an ancestral hive-mind with their memory and personality in tact, they essentially merely become food, with any kind of decorum or philosophical moderation.

Imagine, perhaps, that the revelation is given to a mindflayer (Or, for instant mindflayer adventuring party, a mindflayer inquisition...) whilst on an errand for their elder-brain outside of it's influence. Just imagine, for a moment.

I cannot see them reaching any decision other than for the pressing and complete need to return to their lair, set the Elder Brain's plans to the torch and feast on it's treacherous (Yet delicious!) brainy mass. Cue a campaign of mindflayer-on-mindflayer guerrilla terrorism, sedition, and outright assault culminating in them storming their own lair, kicking their own doors down, and eating their own hideous god.

Food for thought.




This is from a while back, before I read much of 4e's stuff on the subject. I have, for my own inter-planar campaign scribbled out some ideas to provide a source of a second type of mind-flayer, who are significantly less likely to be Evil on any innate level, without interfering with the nature and existence of 'classic' illithid with their Elder-Brain dominated society and mostly-evil reputation. Not really tied down as canon yet because no-one has had cause to find out...so far.

erikun
2010-03-05, 08:42 PM
Githyanki live on the Astral plane, Githyanki hate Mind flayers and kill them on sight.


Elder Brains are iredeemably evil, their lie to mind flayer society (that they can live forever if they merge their brains with the elder brain, when in reality, doing this destroys the mind flayer's soul and mind forever, just to increase your power is a major **** move.)
Orcs live on the Material plane, Orcs hate Elves and kill them on sight. I would find it hard to believe that Elves are therefore always, irredeemably evil because of it.

What about an Elder Brain that is not irredeemably evil? That does not lie to its society? That tells the truth, promotes growth and understanding? If you can have neutral good Balors and lawful good Paladin Succubuses, then I find it very hard to believe that the idea of a good-aligned Elder Brain is impossible.


I'd give you that Mind Flayer reproduction may be Evil, but their feeding? It's no more Evil than any other creature feeding. It's certainly not harder to raise someone who has died that way. Raise Dead requires a mostly intact corpse...
Missing body parts remain missing. This would (likely) include the brain - the raised character wouldn't be very much alive missing that.

It's also the difference between hunting something for food vs. hunting something intelligent for food. Killing something and eating it isn't necessarily evil. Killing someone in self-defense and eating their body isn't necessarily evil. But going out and intentionally hunting down intelligent creatures as food would be.

Also, I'm sure the Elder Brain is statted out somewhere.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:43 PM
An elder brain is formed when lots of mind flayers dump their brains into the same pool.

And the way that Elder brains control mind flayer society is on a scale far more insidious than any Beholder Hive mother or Aboleth Scion could ever hope for.

Riffington
2010-03-05, 08:49 PM
Alignment of a sufferer has no bearing on what the action is

That might be true for torture. It's wrong to torture helpless evil creatures. But it's not true for killing. Execution is not evil, whereas murder is.
So perhaps the Good Mindflayer must do his best to reduce the pain of eating the prey.

Starscream
2010-03-05, 08:51 PM
No, Slaad are usually chaotic. It is more chaotic to occasionally be lawful than for everyone to be chaotic as variety=chaos.

Oh, yeah, you're right. I thought they were always CN. They do have the chaotic subtype though.


And Raise dead doesn't work on brainless corpses. Especially considering that when they extract said brain, the head is torn apart as if someone shot a .50 caliber bullet into a water melon.

All you need for Raise Dead is a "mostly intact corpse". No mention of it needing a brain, or even a head.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:51 PM
That might be true for torture. It's wrong to torture helpless evil creatures. But it's not true for killing. Execution is not evil, whereas murder is.
So perhaps the Good Mindflayer must do his best to reduce the pain of eating the prey.

Execution is actually a strongly lawful act, granting you 5 out of 9 points needed to forever consign you to the lawful planes for your after-life unless you atone with a chaotic cleric or entity.

erikun
2010-03-05, 08:52 PM
Not even when formed by good aligned Mind Flayers? Not even when they don't need to eat? Not even when they choose not to reproduce?

I'm sorry, but "Elder Brains are unconditionally evil because Elder Brains are unconditionally evil" is a bit to circular for my tastes. No, it should not be something that happens on a regular basis. Yes, it should be unbelievably rare. However, it a world where the demons decide to play with the angels and where pure chaos can be knights in shining armor, saying "It's impossible because it's not possible" feels a bit silly to me.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:53 PM
Oh, yeah, you're right. I thought they were always CN. They do have the chaotic subtype though.



All you need for Raise Dead is a "mostly intact corpse". No mention of it needing a brain, or even a head.
I would classify as that being too much damage for raise dead to handle. Much as how I'd classify a level one commoner who got hit by the killer penguin's corpse to be so badly damaged that you'd need true resurrection to bring him back.

Geiger Counter
2010-03-05, 08:54 PM
Well, the Lords of Madness splat states that illithids must implant their larvae into a Humanoid creature, or the resultant spawn would not be a true mindflayer. So, in order to perpetuate their species, they don't really have much of a choice. It's somewhat like the xenomorph queen from Aliens; she knows that the facehuggers she lays will only create more xenomorphs by implanting into other creatures. And she may have a pretty good idea about how pleasant that is for the hapless hosts. But that doesn't stop her from obeying her biological imperative to reproduce. Does that make her Evil?

According to Alien resurrection xenomorphs more or less preserve the memories and possibly even the personality of the base creature. I remember in alien at the end it didn't seem to want to harm Riply. So I'm entirely sure the xenomorphs are evil depending on what in their mythos you choose to respect or ignore.

I really hated Aliens, they destroyed the mythology of the xenomorphs. They used to be elegant biomechanoids, their face was a human skull behind an organic dome. In aliens they were just big ants with blindsight.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:54 PM
Not even when formed by good aligned Mind Flayers? Not even when they don't need to eat? Not even when they choose not to reproduce?

I'm sorry, but "Elder Brains are unconditionally evil because Elder Brains are unconditionally evil" is a bit to circular for my tastes. No, it should not be something that happens on a regular basis. Yes, it should be unbelievably rare. However, it a world where the demons decide to play with the angels and where pure chaos can be knights in shining armor, saying "It's impossible because it's not possible" feels a bit silly to me.

The brains that formed the elder brain's personalities do not survive, every elder brain is born with the same personality as presented in the lords of madness, their experiences simply show what flavor of domination they'll bring.

Riffington
2010-03-05, 08:55 PM
Execution is actually a strongly lawful act, granting you 5 out of 9 points needed to forever consign you to the lawful planes for your after-life unless you atone with a chaotic cleric or entity.

Wait, but what if your parents always warned you about that, but you become an executioner anyway against their wishes?

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:55 PM
According to Alien resurrection xenomorphs more or less preserve the memories and possibly even the personality of the base creature. I remember in alien at the end it didn't seem to want to harm Riply. So I'm entirely sure the xenomorphs are evil depending on what in their mythos you choose to respect or ignore.

I really hated Aliens, they destroyed the mythology of the xenomorphs. They used to be elegant biomechanoids, their face was a human skull behind an organic dome. In aliens they were just big ants with blindsight.

The Aliens series created the mythology. It's like trying to say Donkey Kong ruined the mario series. It just doesn't work.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 08:56 PM
Wait, but what if your parents always warned you about that, but you become an executioner anyway against their wishes?

Still a lawful action by RAW. The sheer lawfulness inherent in killing a person in a lawful execution outweighs disobeying your parents.

Geiger Counter
2010-03-05, 09:01 PM
The Aliens series created the mythology. It's like trying to say Donkey Kong ruined the mario series. It just doesn't work.

The xenomorph (I don't think he called it that) was the creation of HR Giger, and in aliens they told him to bugger off.

Tiki Snakes
2010-03-05, 09:02 PM
The below is a post I saved for my own reference from a previous thread;
So, this thread has got me thinking about, well, a lot of unrelated junk mostly.

But it's also got me considering Mindflayer related Character Ideas and Plot Hooks/Campaigns.

So, here are some things that have struck me throughout this debate.

1) Elder Brains are unquestionably and significantly evil. It's quite possible that they are more significantly evil, even in the opinions of those who have posted condeming the Illithids in general. They are Big Bad Brains.

2) Illithids may not necessarily, depending on interpretations of wording, and which splat-books you consider canon, need to eat sentient brains to live. Depending on what you listen to, they may not even need to eat brains!

3) They are 'wrong' on a cosmic level. Either they originate in the Far Realm, the Far Future, or are in some other way just damn wrong. (In addition, they freak the Aboleth's out on account of being the one creature they don't remember 'starting'. They just appeared, fully formed, as if from no-where.)

4) Illithids reproduce via their (original?) Larval form. The Larvae are left in the Elder Brain's Briny Bath for 10 entire years, and if they are one of the (probably few) who are not eaten by the elder brain then they are implanted in a sentient creature, preferably humanoid. If the 'Far Realm' origin is the true one, likely this form is carried over from their previous, insane-outside-realm origin.

5) Elder Brains completely and utterly dominate Illithid society. They enforce strict rules of conduct and whatever that create the 'classic' mindflayer society. They also have no compunction about lying to their illithid underlings. (Illithid's are unaware that once 'joined' with the Elder Brain, their personality DOES NOT continue. The Elder Brains jealously guard this secret, for quite obvious reasons).

6) Illithids do not go against the Elder Brain very often, if at all. Alhoon's (Illithid Liches) are about the only case of this. This is possibly due to the Elder Brain's psionic aura/dominance. The Illithid are so used to this ever-present psychic presence, or 'buzz', that when they have to be away from it, there exist items to reproduce the same sensation!

7) Illithids express a very limited range of emotions, but very strongly. However, despite being essentially rage-filled engines of spite and loathing, they have a natural tendancy to work together.

8) Depending on your sources, the Illithids once ruled a Vast multi-planar Empire. They were successful enough as a society to not only conquer a planet, but many planets across the entire multiverse. Though impressively enduring, at some point, something went wrong. Perhaps the Githyanki/Githerazi rebelion? Perhaps something that allowed the rebellion...


And all of this is just getting me thinking, suggesting things and Ideas that aren't even fully formed yet, but here's some;
(Spoilered for length)

Elder Brains do not feel right. They just don't. They're an Iconic part of Mindflayer society, but they just don't feel like they are entirely playing for the same team.
The illithid tadpoles - Ten years in the Elder Brains tank? That's a long time. Frankly, suspiciously long. I cannot believe that they are left there purely because of how defended the location is. I do not believe that the Brain is looking out for them. It snacks on them at will! So what else could be the reason? The only one that makes sense to me, for a psionic being of 'Godlike' Intelligence, is that it is indoctrinating them, psionically, over a long period of time so that it is both subtle and enduring.
So, why would it do this, if it is merely the collective conciousness of Illithid Ancestors? It just feels wrong.

Speaking of wrong, is it only me that has difficulty with the idea that the Elder Brains are a natural part of the Illithid life-cycle? I'd agree that's a view that the Brains themselves would no doubt hope the illithid held, but i'm not convinced. The Illithid, originally, were some kind of far realm creature that started in something analgous to their larval form. Perhaps they were essentially parasitic, perhaps not. There is still a kind of logic there. They live, quite probably hunt, (which would fit on some level with their essentially predatory mindset, and their tendancy to co-operate). They live, they thrive, and then? Everything dies. But why would a creature that see's brains as a source of Food, create an 'ancestor god' of sorts that is, itself, essentially a giant foodstuff? it doesn't fit. I propose that the Elder Brain must have been a later development. A matter for civilised times in their development, not the impossible primal past.

And Furthermore, I propose that they were one of two possible things.

First option;
At the height of their eternal empire of the planes, Illithid society must have gotten pretty damned decadent. I see the idea of Powerful Illithid 'Emperors', having conquered pretty much everything and everyone they could find, as then turning their attention to that last enemy, the one that all things must face. Death. The 'Elder Brain', would at it's core, be an attempt to cheat Death. A way for those few, ancient evils, to exist, and rule on till the end of time. just so long as their subjects can be convinced to continue feeding them with what they require.
To hold on to their position of god-kings of the Illithids, they make themselves part of the life-cycle of the Illithids, they make themselves ancestor gods, they deify themselves and make life without them unthinkable. Then, just to make sure? They literally crawl inside the brain of every new-spawned Illithid and quite literally worm out any possible hint or desire to even consider that possibility.

They have two or three main problems. Firstly, Illithids are powerful, essentially arrogant creatures. They sound on so many levels like the kind of 'Magnificent Bastard' types that they should be staging coup-de-etat's every couple of years. If the Elder Brain's Subjects ever really found out the unspeakable truth, their situation would become very...very dangerous.

Secondly, they are not Liches. They aren't even Undead. They can, if cared for properly, live forever. But they are bodiless monstrosities, soft, vulnerable. They need constant care and endlessly vigilant protection. A creature, no matter how powerful, that doesn't even have skin, is going to get a bit paranoid, really, don't you think? It would help make sense of the Elder Brain's Aversion to Illithid Liches, perhaps.

If something did go wrong with Mindflayer Society, wouldn't it make sense that the emergence of these self-proclaimed 'god kings' could have been the cause? An initial uprising of Illithids, or even just the inevitable lapses of quality of judgement that would arise from a lack of fresh blood, fresh ideas, at the head of their empire.
In the instability that followed, it would make any slave-uprising that much more likely both to happen, and to succeed.

The Second Option for their origin is that the Elder Brains come from an external source.
They are not, perhaps, Illithid in nature at all.
Think about it for a moment. They certainly do not act like they are part of Illithid Society. They do not, really, act like they have Illithid wellbeing as their main concern. They act, rather, like they are either the Slave-masters to the Illithid, or the Cookoo children of. They dominate, they stifle and rule absolutely, with a tenuous thread of lies and misdirection as their only protection.

What cosmic horror would be capable of infiltrating and subverting Illithid Society at it's height, so completely? So Utterly? it's an intruiging question, you've got to admit. Like the previous possibility, this event would make a perfectly disruptive calamity in the Mindflayer Empire to destablise it enough for the Rebelion to succeed.

So, Character Concept, and/or Adventure Hooks?
Imagine the consequences of revealing either of the above possibilities, (or even those few facts as we know are definate already) to Mindflayer Society. I do not see the 'masters of the universe' reacting very well to the idea that, far from joining an ancestral hive-mind with their memory and personality in tact, they essentially merely become food, with any kind of decorum or philosophical moderation.

Imagine, perhaps, that the revelation is given to a mindflayer (Or, for instant mindflayer adventuring party, a mindflayer inquisition...) whilst on an errand for their elder-brain outside of it's influence. Just imagine, for a moment.

I cannot see them reaching any decision other than for the pressing and complete need to return to their lair, set the Elder Brain's plans to the torch and feast on it's treacherous (Yet delicious!) brainy mass. Cue a campaign of mindflayer-on-mindflayer guerrilla terrorism, sedition, and outright assault culminating in them storming their own lair, kicking their own doors down, and eating their own hideous god.

Food for thought.




This is from a while back, before I read much of 4e's stuff on the subject. I have, for my own inter-planar campaign scribbled out some ideas to provide a source of a second type of mind-flayer, who are significantly less likely to be Evil on any innate level, without interfering with the nature and existence of 'classic' illithid with their Elder-Brain dominated society and mostly-evil reputation. Not really tied down as canon yet because no-one has had cause to find out...so far.

TLDR, eh? :)

Oh well. Maybe those of you interested in the possibility of non-evil Illithid would be interested in my setting notes on that exact subject? I'm rather pleased with them, but will likely have to wait for some time before I get opportunity to use the idea.

IDEA - Cosmic Empire of Illithids shattered across time and the planes along the Elder Brain issue. Illithids ALWAYS originate from outside the known/knowable universe, with their true forms being based off of the Illithid-Parasite, and the worm-like-beast that it develops into given time and no suitable host.
Illithid settlements form independantly across reality where the Far-Realm intrudes, but some come from elsewhere or elsewhen. These others appear to be from a fragmented/destroyed future-empire of illithids that are led by 'ancestor gods' in the form of the Elder Brains. They are universally more evil and are essentially indoctrinated into 'classic' mindflayer behaviour by the Elder Brains.

Elder Brains - Are alien to Mindflayer Society. Over time, their original physical forms began to grow weak, so they transformed themselves into the form that survives to this day, using the Illithids as both Food and Servitors. They infiltrated Mindflayer Society, and use them to maintain their fleshy pseudo-bodies, using their psychic might both as a tool to continue their plans, and a source of sustainance. They carefully weed out Flayer Parasites that would be resistant to their influence in the larval stage, as well as slowly building psychic controls into the creatures.
There are currently few, powerful Elder Brains, in comparison to the Far-Future Illithid Empire where the EB's originally hail. They are powerful but vulnerable, and thus insane with paranoia.

Possible Mindflayer Societies (Minus Elder Brain Subjugation)
Desert Dwelling Psions
This particular Society has manifested itself largely on the wind-blasted surface of a largely-desert world. They have an almost symbiotic relationship with the lesser Humanoids who populate it, ruling large thralldoms with a relatively even hand in some regions. Seen as living gods in regions that have successfully subdued the Humanoid population. They are rare, seperate even then, holding themselves in their inhuman, dark and biomechanical looking fortresses/towers/etc. These powerful rulers have access to Spelljammer technology, though the rest of the blasted world is relatively primative. It is thought that they somehow brought this knowledge with them from the Far Realm itself, rather than gleaning it from the minds of their new home.
They do not need frequent meals of brains, and can survive on a simple, unsatisfying looking gruel that maintains their physical forms, but require Sentient Brains (either from convicted criminals or semi-willing sacrifices) to develop their potent Psionic talents.

Illithid Parasites spawned within these conclaves are 'birthed' into a large central vat of mysterious fluids, not entirely unlike the nourishing gruel, where they spend the first few years of their life being periodically tended by their Elders. Often there are several such creatures developing in the vats at the same time, and some are lost at this stage as the creatures fight or feed upon each other, though relatively rarely. In time, they are removed from the vats and allowed to bond with a (usually semi-willing) sacrifice. The Humanoid which the Parasite 'bonds' with is killed in the process as their brain is devoured, and they are fully aware of this fate, however, they believe that their essence will merge with the Illithid Tadpole. Those who volunteer for this fate are reveered in the conclave society at large, and spend their last months of life living in relative luxory. Any surviving family receives a pension of sorts, though they have no contact with the mindflayer who emerges from the union.

Outside of the conclaves, the Illithid Parasites that emerged from the far-realm (and still sometimes do), exist in a semi-feral state as part of the world's harsh eco-system. Though essentially aquatic looking in nature, the Parasites do not apparently need moisture to survive. If left in a dry enough enviroment, they adapt through various subtle mutations and become instead a borrowing creature, escaping the heat of the day by dwelling in the sands themselves. They hunt for living prey during the night, and will devour anything smaller than themselves. If they bring down larger prey, they will eat the Brain of said creature preferably (and derive significant nutrition from doing so.)

Assuming they do not encounter a suitable sentient host during a certain time-frame in their development, the proto-flayer continues to develop in it's worm-like form instead. They become large, non-sentient beasts with ravenous apetites that roam the Deserts. Their apetites wane over time as they grow ever larger, however they will remain a threat to anything they encounter till their death. It is rumoured that without predation or accident, the Mind-Worms could live all but indefinately. Myths speak of collosal worms in the deep deserts, capable of eating entire sand-ships in a single bite.

If they do, however, encounter a suitable Humanoid during their highly morphic phase of development, they will attempt to 'bond' with it, by consuming the creatures brain. Little is known of the Mindflayers that are produced by this unsupervised union, but they tend to be much more solitary than their Conclave brethren, and prone to wander. Like their brethren, they seem to derive knowledge from some additional, possibly ancestral source, as well as some residual memories and personality traits from their 'host'.

So called Desertborn Flayers rarely venture into Conclave controlled territory and are treated with suspicion and occaisionally outright hostility both by the Conclave Flayers, though their Humanoid thralls both revere and fear these mysterious desert dwelling Illithid.

Some of the Desertborn Illithid prey upon travellers, whereas others mainly appear to be content to wander the wastes on inexplicable errands and quests. Some few attempt to band together with similar creatures as themselves, either to hunt for food (brain based or otherwise) or to provide protection from the Deserts more dangerous inhabitants.

Unlike the Conclave Illithids who exclusively subsist on either the mysterious, gruel-like substance or Brain matter, some Desertborn Illithid have very varied diets, apparently being able to stomach and metabolise things that would kill most Natural Humanoids. Like with their Conclave Brethren, however, the consuming of Brain-Matter is apparently required for them to develop any really noteworthy psionic strength.

Whenever they encounter the forces of the Elder-Brains, there is inevitable hostility, and often outright conflict. The existence of such creatures seems to enrage the Elder-Brain society Illithid, and they cannot long abide the presence of their 'apostate' brethren.

Volkov
2010-03-05, 09:03 PM
To deal with the Mind flayers, tear a hole to the Warhammer 40k universe and call in the Necrons. Sure they'll snuff out all life in your universe, but hey the mind flayers are dead.

Tiki Snakes
2010-03-05, 09:03 PM
The xenomorph (I don't think he called it that) was the creation of HR Giger, and in aliens they told him to bugger off.

Actually, the look of the Alien was HR Giger's creation. the content of the first film had nothing to do with him, except where he assisted in a visual-arts capacity.

He was pretty angry with the artistic direction that they took in Aliens, though, as far as the creature is concerned.

TheCountAlucard
2010-03-05, 09:26 PM
They have no need of sustenance, but they ask that the mind flayers effectively destroy themselves forever to enhance their power, and they manipulate them into thinking that this is the hot ticket to everlasting life. It takes an very evil man to do this.Kinda reminds me of how KFC managed to convince the Japanese that it's an American tradition to eat KFC on Christmas, so now you need a reservation to get into a Japanese KFC on Christmas.

Geiger Counter
2010-03-05, 10:52 PM
On the food issue, if a sentient brain is the only thing they can actually digest and draw sustenance from, then they don't have any choice in the matter. That makes their eating habits Neutral.

If they feel really bad about it, I suppose they would be good.

Say your daughter needed a heart transplant. you find a compatible donor, so you kill him. This is an evil act, even if it's to save someone else's life.

Scorpions__
2010-03-05, 11:00 PM
Also, I'm sure the Elder Brain is statted out somewhere.

Yeah, there's a CR 25 in Lords of Madness, and a CR 15 version in Monster Manual V, also one in a Forgotten Realms book I think, in the Underdark book...



They actually have a good-aligned Mind Flayer statted and storied in Book of Exalted Deeds.






DM[F]R

Leliel
2010-03-05, 11:08 PM
Hey, about the whole "Elder Brains are a Cancer" idea, this may explain why Neothelids (what Illthid Tadpoles turn into if not implanted) are hated by flayers:

They aren't indoctrinated, and so, have a chance of learning the true nature of Elder Brains.

It's also a good explanation as to why Illithids are evil-they know perfectly well that they can survive without human hosts or sentient brains (a Neothelid only needs one to achieve sapience and can thrive on bestial brains otherwise) but choose not to.

As for why the Neothelids are evil, it's simple-imagine what would happen to you if you were a freakish psionic sandworm who is hated by everyone including your "parents". They're bitter.

Runestar
2010-03-06, 12:19 AM
Would a ring of sustenance suffice for a mindflayer?

What if a mindflayer cleric cast create food/water? What sort of "brain food" would he get?

Or is he able to survive on the brains of cattle, such as sheep?

Anyways, underdark does have a LN mindflayer statted out, so it certainly isn't impossible. :smallsmile:

Grumman
2010-03-06, 12:53 AM
On the food issue, if a sentient brain is the only thing they can actually digest and draw sustenance from, then they don't have any choice in the matter.
They could lie down in the gutter and die. Better that than killing innocent people to sustain themselves, if they can't find any brigands or murderers to feed on.

chiasaur11
2010-03-06, 01:07 AM
TLDR, eh? :)

Oh well. Maybe those of you interested in the possibility of non-evil Illithid would be interested in my setting notes on that exact subject? I'm rather pleased with them, but will likely have to wait for some time before I get opportunity to use the idea.

IDEA - Cosmic Empire of Illithids shattered across time and the planes along the Elder Brain issue. Illithids ALWAYS originate from outside the known/knowable universe, with their true forms being based off of the Illithid-Parasite, and the worm-like-beast that it develops into given time and no suitable host.
Illithid settlements form independantly across reality where the Far-Realm intrudes, but some come from elsewhere or elsewhen. These others appear to be from a fragmented/destroyed future-empire of illithids that are led by 'ancestor gods' in the form of the Elder Brains. They are universally more evil and are essentially indoctrinated into 'classic' mindflayer behaviour by the Elder Brains.

Elder Brains - Are alien to Mindflayer Society. Over time, their original physical forms began to grow weak, so they transformed themselves into the form that survives to this day, using the Illithids as both Food and Servitors. They infiltrated Mindflayer Society, and use them to maintain their fleshy pseudo-bodies, using their psychic might both as a tool to continue their plans, and a source of sustainance. They carefully weed out Flayer Parasites that would be resistant to their influence in the larval stage, as well as slowly building psychic controls into the creatures.
There are currently few, powerful Elder Brains, in comparison to the Far-Future Illithid Empire where the EB's originally hail. They are powerful but vulnerable, and thus insane with paranoia.

Possible Mindflayer Societies (Minus Elder Brain Subjugation)
Desert Dwelling Psions
This particular Society has manifested itself largely on the wind-blasted surface of a largely-desert world. They have an almost symbiotic relationship with the lesser Humanoids who populate it, ruling large thralldoms with a relatively even hand in some regions. Seen as living gods in regions that have successfully subdued the Humanoid population. They are rare, seperate even then, holding themselves in their inhuman, dark and biomechanical looking fortresses/towers/etc. These powerful rulers have access to Spelljammer technology, though the rest of the blasted world is relatively primative. It is thought that they somehow brought this knowledge with them from the Far Realm itself, rather than gleaning it from the minds of their new home.
They do not need frequent meals of brains, and can survive on a simple, unsatisfying looking gruel that maintains their physical forms, but require Sentient Brains (either from convicted criminals or semi-willing sacrifices) to develop their potent Psionic talents.

Illithid Parasites spawned within these conclaves are 'birthed' into a large central vat of mysterious fluids, not entirely unlike the nourishing gruel, where they spend the first few years of their life being periodically tended by their Elders. Often there are several such creatures developing in the vats at the same time, and some are lost at this stage as the creatures fight or feed upon each other, though relatively rarely. In time, they are removed from the vats and allowed to bond with a (usually semi-willing) sacrifice. The Humanoid which the Parasite 'bonds' with is killed in the process as their brain is devoured, and they are fully aware of this fate, however, they believe that their essence will merge with the Illithid Tadpole. Those who volunteer for this fate are reveered in the conclave society at large, and spend their last months of life living in relative luxory. Any surviving family receives a pension of sorts, though they have no contact with the mindflayer who emerges from the union.

Outside of the conclaves, the Illithid Parasites that emerged from the far-realm (and still sometimes do), exist in a semi-feral state as part of the world's harsh eco-system. Though essentially aquatic looking in nature, the Parasites do not apparently need moisture to survive. If left in a dry enough enviroment, they adapt through various subtle mutations and become instead a borrowing creature, escaping the heat of the day by dwelling in the sands themselves. They hunt for living prey during the night, and will devour anything smaller than themselves. If they bring down larger prey, they will eat the Brain of said creature preferably (and derive significant nutrition from doing so.)

Assuming they do not encounter a suitable sentient host during a certain time-frame in their development, the proto-flayer continues to develop in it's worm-like form instead. They become large, non-sentient beasts with ravenous apetites that roam the Deserts. Their apetites wane over time as they grow ever larger, however they will remain a threat to anything they encounter till their death. It is rumoured that without predation or accident, the Mind-Worms could live all but indefinately. Myths speak of collosal worms in the deep deserts, capable of eating entire sand-ships in a single bite.

If they do, however, encounter a suitable Humanoid during their highly morphic phase of development, they will attempt to 'bond' with it, by consuming the creatures brain. Little is known of the Mindflayers that are produced by this unsupervised union, but they tend to be much more solitary than their Conclave brethren, and prone to wander. Like their brethren, they seem to derive knowledge from some additional, possibly ancestral source, as well as some residual memories and personality traits from their 'host'.

So called Desertborn Flayers rarely venture into Conclave controlled territory and are treated with suspicion and occaisionally outright hostility both by the Conclave Flayers, though their Humanoid thralls both revere and fear these mysterious desert dwelling Illithid.

Some of the Desertborn Illithid prey upon travellers, whereas others mainly appear to be content to wander the wastes on inexplicable errands and quests. Some few attempt to band together with similar creatures as themselves, either to hunt for food (brain based or otherwise) or to provide protection from the Deserts more dangerous inhabitants.

Unlike the Conclave Illithids who exclusively subsist on either the mysterious, gruel-like substance or Brain matter, some Desertborn Illithid have very varied diets, apparently being able to stomach and metabolise things that would kill most Natural Humanoids. Like with their Conclave Brethren, however, the consuming of Brain-Matter is apparently required for them to develop any really noteworthy psionic strength.

Whenever they encounter the forces of the Elder-Brains, there is inevitable hostility, and often outright conflict. The existence of such creatures seems to enrage the Elder-Brain society Illithid, and they cannot long abide the presence of their 'apostate' brethren.

For what it's worth?

I read. I dug.

And, on a mostly unrelated note, having read the Dexter books lately...

that might be a tolerable way to make a PC Mindflayer.

Flickerdart
2010-03-06, 01:15 AM
For what it's worth?

I read. I dug.

And, on a mostly unrelated note, having read the Dexter books lately...

that might be a tolerable way to make a PC Mindflayer.
Level-drain away the HD?

chiasaur11
2010-03-06, 01:20 AM
Level-drain away the HD?

Well, after that, right.

Crafty Cultist
2010-03-06, 01:26 AM
I always assumed the mindflayer mind-set was ingrained into their mind by the elder brain during creation. if an illithid could overcome this hard-wired mindset, or was created without an elder brain nearby to condition them, it could theoretically be of any alighnment

Grumman
2010-03-06, 11:28 AM
Do you understand what a biological imperative is? It's what drives every creature to survive, and it is a powerful thing.
Mindflayers cannot both be sapient and incapable of working around their biological imperative.


I defy you to find a species that suddenly decided "Oh no, eating cute fluffy bunnies is wrong, I hate myself, I don't deserve to live!" and then lay down in the gutter to die.
Considering we've only got one sapient species to look at, many of which don't have this moral dilemma regarding their food source, my failure to find an example out of a sample size of zero doesn't prove much, does it?


If you don't fault the wolf for killing and eating rabbits, or pompilid wasps for paralyzing tarantulas so their hatching larvae can eat its living flesh, or any of the other subjective atrocities that nature perpetrates on a regular basis, then I don't see how you can fault the illithid for eating a sentient creature's brains to survive (UNLESS they can get by on animal brains or magical substitutes, which hasn't been established).
I don't fault the wolf for eating rabbits because neither the predator nor the prey are sapient.

Leliel
2010-03-06, 11:32 AM
Is it just me, or is there a hidden "Flame to Poster Interest" on here?

I just created a tempered, conciliatory post up above, and no one seems to register it existing.

Could I at least have some acknowledgment?

Volkov
2010-03-06, 11:36 AM
The Mind flayers pick humans because they are fairly easy to go after, and breeding their own foodstock takes too long and makes for bland food, and the races that do mature quickly are quite dumb. Marauders don't come frequently enough to feed their society either. So they must raid other societies. Also, mind flayers require normal food, but they need brains for the enzymes that their own brains (the tadpole inside their head that ate the host's brain and took it's place) cannot produce.

Tiki Snakes
2010-03-06, 11:48 AM
Not really sure which post you mean, Leliel.


Though your post on Neothelids is certainly possible, btw, I tend to view the un-bonded parasite and potentially resultant wormy-thing as essentially, if you'll forgive the pun, Mindless. :smallsmile:

Volkov
2010-03-06, 11:53 AM
Not really sure which post you mean, Leliel.


Though your post on Neothelids is certainly possible, btw, I tend to view the un-bonded parasite and potentially resultant wormy-thing as essentially, if you'll forgive the pun, Mindless. :smallsmile:

Mindless? It has an INT of 16.

Tiki Snakes
2010-03-06, 12:00 PM
Mindless? It has an INT of 16.

Yeah. Far as I understand though, they aren't actually meant to be truly Sapient.

Ashiel
2010-03-06, 12:01 PM
Yeah. Far as I understand though, they aren't actually meant to be truly Sapient.

I'm confused as to where this idea comes from. Why aren't they?

Tiki Snakes
2010-03-06, 12:07 PM
Probably from here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illithid#Illithid_biology), however, it fits with my own take on the whole thing well enough.

The SRD also mentions that although they supposedly understand Undercommon, they rarely communicate in any meaningful way. It just all seems to fit.

Oslecamo
2010-03-06, 12:08 PM
To deal with the Mind flayers, tear a hole to the Warhammer 40k universe and call in the Necrons. Sure they'll snuff out all life in your universe, but hey the mind flayers are dead.

Nitpick, but the necrons wanting to snuff out all life in the universe is just imperial propaganda.

What the necrons want is to shut down chaos and then proceed to enslave the sentient races, because the necron gods think the life-essence of mortals is a great delicacy. Yes, life essence, not souls.

If all life was snuffed out, then the necron gods would have to go back to eatin raw star-energy, wich has an horrible flavour, and they simply cannot stand that idea. Just like the mind flayers think the brain of a free willed person with an exciting life is much more tasty than the brain of a slave who never saw the light of day.

So basicaly you would be replacing brain-eating alien squids who want to enslave everyone for life-force-eating robot-zombies who want to enslave everyone.:smalltongue:

In the best case scenario. In the worst case scenario, the mind flayers and necrons realize their objectives aren't mutualy exclusive, and team up to enslave all other races. Mind flayers get the brains, necrons get the life force.:smallbiggrin:

Ladorak
2010-03-06, 12:12 PM
An Illithid's emotional state (As dictated by their biology) is what makes it evil. It's manner of reproduction or feeding are byproducts of that biology.
An Illithidís range of emotions are entirely negative.
'Anger, fear, envy, hate, shame, indignation, contempt, pride, and anxiety comprise nearly their entire emotional repertoire.' (Lords of Madness)

As such expecting an Illithid to be capable of Good is like expecting a human to grow an extra head. That said, this is DnD. Humans CAN grow an extra head, with some meddling. The BoED actually has a picture of a Mind Flayer next to a prestige class called 'Redeemed Villain' or something along those lines, which implies that it's possible.


To deal with the Mind flayers, tear a hole to the Warhammer 40k universe and call in the Necrons. Sure they'll snuff out all life in your universe, but hey the mind flayers are dead.

The C'Tan feed on lifeforce. The whole reason they went to sleep was because there wasn't enough life to sustain them, so they went to sleep until there was. As such they wouldn't wipe out all life, but would create a universe in which perhaps it would be better if they did...

Edit: I've suffered a personal Ninja-ry... But this:


. In the worst case scenario, the mind flayers and necrons realize their objectives aren't mutualy exclusive, and team up to enslave all other races. Mind flayers get the brains, necrons get the life force.:smallbiggrin:

Is actually a really cool idea, especially if Psionics and Psykers are the same thing (Quite likely I think...) the Mind Players might be the only ones capable of stopping the C'Tan, but would be helpless against Necrons

hamishspence
2010-03-06, 12:12 PM
It states that it "awakens to sapience and psionic abilities" - suggesting that it gains both when it consumes its first intelligent creature.

Larval flayers, however, which have escaped from the elder brain pool, are 2 ft long, and only Int 4.

These might be what are being referred to as not sapient.

Tiki Snakes
2010-03-06, 12:16 PM
It states that it "awakens to sapience and psionic abilities" - suggesting that it gains both when it consumes its first intelligent creature.

Larval flayers, however, which have escaped from the elder brain pool, are 2 ft long, and only Int 4.

These might be what are being referred to as not sapient.

We Don't Talk About Those. Or so it says.

Really, I pick and choose, but the concept of super intelligent, Sapient and Evil sand-worms I find just a little bit silly, whereas feral and pretty-much mindless (psionically potent or otherwise) ones, who have failed to adapt to the nature of reality and instead are stuck in their far-realm influenced larval-form (only increasingly big) just amuse me more. *shrug*

(To be fair, I tend to ignore the entire animal-intelligence stuff also)

Hand_of_Vecna
2010-03-06, 12:52 PM
1.Darwinism or biological imperatives is not a valid defense against being asigned an evil alignment based of visious or cruel actions. Having the animal or vermin type and an inteligence of 1-2 is. Darwinism was the primary argument for the Nazi ideal. Social Darwinism is much the same it's basically an excuse to be a greedy LE bastard and not feel bad about yourself.

As a large dominant human I have a biological imperative to use physical force to subjugate smaller weaker males and mate with as many females as I can. I don't do this because it is cruel(good alignment) and because there are laws protecting the rights of smaller weaker males and the females who choose to mate with them(lawful alignment or fear of punishment) a. nd my wife would get jealous not sure where that fits in.

2.Neolithids come from pools of dead communities and they are the last surviving tadpole after eating all the rest and the remains of the elder brain. Their evil alignment is reaonable since they developed sentience in a hellish kill or be killed environment eating weaker tadpoles and it's pears in size and ferocity then ate the elder brain which must have some kind of residual (evil) psychic energy to it.

3. I don't think the brain eating itself makes illithids evil it's the way they go about getting prey and that they will go to great lengths to eat more than they need.

I strongly question the possibility of a non-evil elderbrain. More importantly, I know that tadpoles are left to mature in the elder brain's tank but is the elderbrain actually necessary to the process? A good illithid community would probably control it's population to an even greater degree than a standard one given the difficulty of aquiring "cruelty-free" brains and that they should be hunted by conformist illithids. If they did have a working pool with or without an elder brain they'd have to find a method of reproducing humanely. Perhaps clones, perhaps being sent the condemned criminals of a allied LG community; they would still make the process as painless as possible keeping the subject sedated with their psychic powers.

Does illithid transformation subsume the soul? If so evil people that didn't have the inside track to status in the afterlife might sign up because being a lemure sucks.

Leliel
2010-03-06, 01:10 PM
Godwin's Law!

I agree with you, but by the Rules of the Flamewar, you must concede.

Sir_Elderberry
2010-03-06, 01:42 PM
Considering we've only got one sapient species to look at, many of which don't have this moral dilemma regarding their food source, my failure to find an example out of a sample size of zero doesn't prove much, does it?
We could look at that species. I think we'd all agree that if you had a disease requiring you to eat a human brain every so often, that doesn't give you the right to, you know, eat a human brain every so often. Sometimes morality sucks, but "necessary" and "good" are not the same thing.

Tiki Snakes
2010-03-06, 01:43 PM
We could look at that species. I think we'd all agree that if you had a disease requiring you to eat a human brain every so often, that doesn't give you the right to, you know, eat a human brain every so often. Sometimes morality sucks, but "necessary" and "good" are not the same thing.

How about a monkey-brain, though?

Ladorak
2010-03-06, 01:48 PM
Considering just how advanced the Mind Flayers are over humans, I'd say it was more like eating a Spider's brain.

Darklord Xavez
2010-03-06, 01:51 PM
Are Mind Flayers necessarily evil? They, like vampires, must kill in order to eat and survive. Does that make them evil? If so, would not that make all non-vegetarians evil, as they too kill for food to survive?

And in terms of reproduction, they place a brain slug in someone's ear, where it burrows into their nervous system and eats it and replaces it, and they become a mind flayer. Is this necessarily an evil act? Is it not darwinistic for species to try to survive and carry out their genes and are mind flayers thus but merely Darwinistic parasites?

Can there be a colony of good-aligned Mind Flayers? Or are they evil simply by existing?
The answer: there can be good mind flayers. In fact, you can even have a good lich. Here is how:
1. I never actually says that the person becoming a lich must be evil, it just says they almost always are.
2. If they actually do have to be evil, then an atonement spell can change that.
Anyways, you can do the same with mind flayers. It says "usually lawful evil" in their description in the 3.5 MM. "Usually" is over 50% of the time. Thus, you can have a group of good mind flayers.
-Xavez

Volkov
2010-03-06, 02:58 PM
Neothelids are geniuses, they are just uncultured savages. You can be smart without being civilized.

Volkov
2010-03-06, 03:00 PM
How about a monkey-brain, though?

Too low in intellect to be much of a meal.

Ladorak
2010-03-06, 03:03 PM
Too low in intellect to be much of a meal.

:smallconfused: Are you deliberately reinterpreting people's posts to refute points they haven't made?
It's quite clear he was commenting on someone else's comparison about a HUMAN eating a human brain. Level of intelligence does not enter into it, although relative size would.

Tiki Snakes
2010-03-06, 03:05 PM
Too low in intellect to be much of a meal.

Um, the post you're replying to was in reply to the comment about a hypothetical human who needed to eat human brains to live. Yes, the disease doesn't give you the right to eat human brains. (Unless they can be sourced through some kind of NHS program, ethically, I guess. :smallwink: )

My point is that a better analogy would be a human who had a condition wherein he needed to periodically eat monkey brains, (perhaps as a nutritional suppliment, perhaps as the staple of his diet) to live. I think that considering the difference between illithid and humans, and humans and monkey's, that it's a fair analogy.

And I'd say that it certainly would go a long way towards excusing the monkey-brain-nomming gentleman's behaviour. And you can bet that most people would be down the ol' Frozen-Monkey-Brains aisle pretty quickly if they were diagnosed.

Volkov
2010-03-06, 03:05 PM
:smallconfused: Are you deliberately editing people's posts to refute points they haven't made?
It's quite clear he was commenting on someone else's comparison about a HUMAN getting a human brain. Level of intelligence does not enter into it, although relative size would.

Hm? Oh sorry, The no quote chain feature here makes it hard for me to tell.

CockroachTeaParty
2010-03-06, 04:17 PM
Despite the neothelid's intelligence, I always just view it that they are horribly insane.

Following ceremorphosis, a newly created illithid needs time to adapt to its new life, form, and surroundings. To aid in this, illithids use emotion-emanating 'resonance stones' to help soothe, placate, and educate newborn illithids, and help them grow accustomed to their new life and role in society. The ever-present hum of the Elder Brain is likewise a comfort to help newly created illithids. I mean, most are created with a minimum of an 18 INT. How would you feel if you were suddenly just created, and had the intellect of a super genius? You'd likely over-analyze every new experience, and perhaps collapse into a mental dissolve.

A neothelid has none of this outside assistance to help it. All it knows is hunting and eating, yet it has the brain capacity and intellect of a genius (less so than a normal illithid, but still...), and in the absence of any contact with anything even resembling parents, and no explanation for its purpose, or even something to give it a name, most neothelids just go nuts.

They're not insane like derro are, but their minds do not work in any way a human could label sane, sort of like how a beholder is 'insane.'

Ravens_cry
2010-03-06, 05:45 PM
Um, the post you're replying to was in reply to the comment about a hypothetical human who needed to eat human brains to live. Yes, the disease doesn't give you the right to eat human brains. (Unless they can be sourced through some kind of NHS program, ethically, I guess. :smallwink: )

My point is that a better analogy would be a human who had a condition wherein he needed to periodically eat monkey brains, (perhaps as a nutritional suppliment, perhaps as the staple of his diet) to live. I think that considering the difference between illithid and humans, and humans and monkey's, that it's a fair analogy.

And I'd say that it certainly would go a long way towards excusing the monkey-brain-nomming gentleman's behaviour. And you can bet that most people would be down the ol' Frozen-Monkey-Brains aisle pretty quickly if they were diagnosed.
The average mind flayer is as intelligent as an very intelligent human. No monkey, no matter how smart, is as smart as an average human.
Analogy fail. And an ithiliad isn't forced to eat humans or other intelligent life. A good ol' ring of sustenance (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/rings.htm#sustenance) will see them through.

Ladorak
2010-03-06, 05:57 PM
I'd love to debate the finer points of morality dealing with the only sentient species we have as an example, but I would be violating the forum rules about discussing actual religions and/or societies.

Suffice it to say that nobody (except the mentally ill and macho twits) considers themselves to be evil, and every society finds a way to make its own actions "good" according to their own definitions. Without an objective outsider, it is impossible to determine which viewpoint is correct.

Most people label acts, individuals, and socities "evil" because of their impact on ourselves or others. While I don't necessarily disagree (being just as -centric as the next guy), I am also aware that the other guy feels completely justified and morally correct in his own head.

I think we can all agree that D&D definitions of 'Good' and 'Evil' are rather different from the real world. One imagines this is mainly because D&D good and evil has physical manifestations, but that's neither here nor there.

There is, in the real world, objective measures of right and wrong. Torture is wrong, rape or theft is wrong etc. If there's no objective morality then all morality is a farce.

What matters is we're talking about a people... Actually while we're debating metaphysical morality the use of 'people' is a whole new thing to discuss. To call them species or creatures dehumanises them, thus removing their human rights. Do sentient non-humans get human rights?

Anyway, back to the matter at hand; We're talking about a people who choose to feed off (In a very painful manner) intelligent creatures because the sadist thrill of it is literally the only thing they can feel that we might call pleasure. From an objective sense of morality, I think it's fair to say that's evil.

Volkov
2010-03-06, 06:07 PM
The average mind flayer is as intelligent as an very intelligent human. No monkey, no matter how smart, is as smart as an average human.
Analogy fail. And an ithiliad isn't forced to eat humans or other intelligent life. A good ol' ring of sustenance (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/rings.htm#sustenance) will see them through.

Not really, even the ring will not provide the enzymes they need because their brains cannot make them and the ring doesn't cover enzymes.

Ravens_cry
2010-03-06, 06:15 PM
Not really, even the ring will not provide the enzymes they need because their brains cannot make them and the ring doesn't cover enzymes.
The ring provides nourishment, nutrients. The very definition of an essential nutrient (http://www.everythingbio.com/glos/definition.php?word=essential+nutrient) is a chemical the body can't make itself, or at least enough of, to sustain itself. An enzyme is a chemical. The ring provides enzymes.
Quod erat demonstrandum.

Volkov
2010-03-06, 06:18 PM
The ring provides nutrition, nutrients. The very definition of an essential nutrient (http://www.everythingbio.com/glos/definition.php?word=essential+nutrient) is a chemical the body can't make itself, or at least enough of, to sustain itself. An enzyme is a chemical. The ring provides enzymes.
Quod erat demonstrandum.

Hmm, I stand corrected. However, magic is discouraged in mind flayer society, Elder brains cannot consume that power and thus either encourage mind flayers to become psions instead, or have anyone besides a cleric of illesiene who takes levels in caster classes outright killed. Depending on how much freedom the Elder brains allow their slaves to have. Thus they can't make any rings in many societies, and the power to make one is discouraged.

Oslecamo
2010-03-06, 06:27 PM
Hmm, I stand corrected. However, magic is discouraged in mind flayer society, Elder brains cannot consume that power and thus either encourage mind flayers to become psions instead, or have anyone besides a cleric of illesiene who takes levels in caster classes outright killed. Depending on how much freedom the Elder brains allow their slaves to have. Thus they can't make any rings in many societies, and the power to make one is discouraged.

Considering that rings never wear down, you don't need to be able to build them. Just steal some from the foolish mortals and they'll last for all eternity.

faceroll
2010-03-06, 06:27 PM
Hmm, I stand corrected. However, magic is discouraged in mind flayer society, Elder brains cannot consume that power and thus either encourage mind flayers to become psions instead, or have anyone besides a cleric of illesiene who takes levels in caster classes outright killed. Depending on how much freedom the Elder brains allow their slaves to have. Thus they can't make any rings in many societies, and the power to make one is discouraged.

Mind Flayers trade and pillage extensively. There's no reason a race of ruthless, super-intelligent casters without dogmatic baggage shouldn't have access to whatever items they please.

Ravens_cry
2010-03-06, 06:34 PM
Hmm, I stand corrected. However, magic is discouraged in mind flayer society, Elder brains cannot consume that power and thus either encourage mind flayers to become psions instead, or have anyone besides a cleric of illesiene who takes levels in caster classes outright killed. Depending on how much freedom the Elder brains allow their slaves to have. Thus they can't make any rings in many societies, and the power to make one is discouraged.
So give the mind flayer two scimitars and a panther. That also works for allowing a being to cast off all societal conditioning.:smallwink:
My point is, this is still a choice. A hard choice, yes. One likely to get you rejected by Papa Brain and all your squidly friends and quite likely get you killed and/or eaten.
But still, a choice.
All that is required for evil to flourish is for good beings to do nothing.

Amiel
2010-03-06, 06:37 PM
I would argue that mind flayers are perfectly capable of subsisting on a) artificially manufactured sustenance (the aforementioned ring); b) preserved specimens kept fresh via magic or psionics; c) surviving indefinitely on the Astral.

However, the illithids choose not to, simply because they wish to completely obliterate the sentience of sapients. This is done in a two-fold manner; a) implantation of illithid tadpoles/parasites in unwilling hosts, terminating as total assumption of thought and form (the parasite consumes the host's brain, absorbs the form's physical identity, internally restructures the host); b) complete consumption of sentient brains.

This is also done internally in an external manner; the Elder Brain itself derives nourishment from the total absorption of dead mind flayer brains thrown within their pool; the original personality is irrevocably destroyed.

They wish to completely re-dominate the multiverse; having already done so in the future. They are evil, completely and utterly evil. Their physical means of consumption and "reproduction" are logical extensions of their profound evil.

The Vorpal Tribble
2010-03-06, 06:49 PM
I don't see why a good Illithid would refuse to use his mental powers, good aligned enchanters and telepaths don't have that restriction.
I wrote up a feat for those that do wish to go that extra mile:

Vow of Mind's Sanctity [Exalted, Psionic]
You have taken a sacred vow to refrain from influencing or reading a sentient creature's thoughts against their will.
Prerequisites: Iron Will, Sacred Vow
Benefit: You gain a +4 perfection bonus on Will saves against all mind-affecting powers, spells, and affects. Such is your conviction that your mind reaches out to all creatures within 10 feet of you, whom gain the benefits of the Hostile Mind feat even if they do not meet the prerequisites or would normally be restricted. If any do not wish to be thus protected they are unaffected until such a time as they accept the defense.
Special: To fulfill your vow, you must abstain from using mind-affecting powers, abilities, or items that forces one's will over the other's, such as Telempathic Projection, Cloud Mind, and Dominate. You also may not use powers, abilities, or items that violate the privacy of one's mind such as Empathy and Probe Thoughts unless given permission by their own choice, including telepathic communication.
Mind-affecting powers that do not violate the privacy of one's mind, such as Mindthrust and Psionic Blast are allowed. You may use the Diplomacy skill, and such abilities as Wild Empathy, but not Intimidation.
This Vow only applies to sentient beings with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher.

RebelRogue
2010-03-06, 07:33 PM
Considering just how advanced the Mind Flayers are over humans, I'd say it was more like eating a Spider's brain.
Even if this is true, you must remember that the alignment system is based around human (or more generally, sapient humanoid) standards. In this sense, the mindflayer's action is Evil, just like Cthulhu yum-yum'ing a few cultists is Evil, even though humans are comparable to flies for him.

Ladorak
2010-03-06, 08:22 PM
*Snip*

You make a good case, but I was refering to Objective morality, while you are simply talking about different perceptions, that is Subjective moralities. The truth is a many costumed whore, she is everything to all men and yet belongs to none of them. Objective and impartial reasoning (Such as scientific research or the Socratic method) is the only way to get near the actual truth.

And universal truth does exist. To rip 1984 a little, 2 plus 2 will always equal 4. That's Objective truth. You can pass a law to say it isn't so, you can change the meaning of the words, but 2 plus 2 still equals 4.

Now there has to be objective morality, in just the same way there's objective beauty. You might say beauty is in the eye of the beholder (Although that's a dangerous thing to say in D&D groups...) but the fact of the matter is if I called a plastic bag full of mud the most beatiful thing I'd ever seen, you'd think I was an insufferable poser at best and a lunatic at worse. Therefore there has to be an impartial measure, an objective measure of beauty.

And it's the same with morality. People who do not conform to the standard of objective morality are labelled mad and dangerous, and are sealed away from us for our own protection. We don't need an objective outsider to tell us what objective reality is, because we are capable of reasoned, passionless, unbias reasoned discourse.


What if the entire human race mutated to need other sentient brains to survive?That's a much more relevant question.

Then the human race dies out, think of the logistics of the propasition. Now, since we're all doomed anyway, which is more moral? a) Dying quickly without killing your fellow man or b) Dying slightly slower, by wiping out your own species.

Now, to make the question even more relevent: What if a number of humans (Lets say a few hundred) mutate to need brains (Not sentient ones) to survive, but their minds are so twisted by the experience the only joy they will ever experience is the sadist pleasure of ripping the brains out of sentient creatures, the smarter the better. Otherwise their range of emotion is entirely negative.

Now you be the Objective Outsider on this one. Is it ok for them to torture sentient creatures without nessecity simply because they enjoy it?

Volkov
2010-03-06, 09:08 PM
Considering that rings never wear down, you don't need to be able to build them. Just steal some from the foolish mortals and they'll last for all eternity.

As the death rate of mind flayers drops, their birth rate goes up until it hits a point where there are A. not enough rings for that to sustain them or B. not enough other Sapients on the planet period to sustain them.

Volkov
2010-03-06, 09:11 PM
So give the mind flayer two scimitars and a panther. That also works for allowing a being to cast off all societal conditioning.:smallwink:
My point is, this is still a choice. A hard choice, yes. One likely to get you rejected by Papa Brain and all your squidly friends and quite likely get you killed and/or eaten.
But still, a choice.
All that is required for evil to flourish is for good beings to do nothing.
Elder brains can read minds, and mind flayers have no defense against this. It's why infiltrating mind flayer society never works, you'll be found out as a fake by the elder brain before you can say "whoopsies!" It's also why no group of mind flayers has ever, ever successfully rebelled against their elder brain. They are caught as they form their plan and killed with extreme prejudice. The only mind flayer societies not ruled by Elder brains are ruled by Brainstealer dragons (What you get when you mix a Mind flayer and a true dragon, and it's much too awesome to be silly) Mind witnesses (mind flayer+true beholder) or Ultralithids with levels in Psion. And all of them are Jerk @$$es at heart.

faceroll
2010-03-07, 12:49 AM
You make a good case, but I was refering to Objective morality, while you are simply talking about different perceptions, that is Subjective moralities. The truth is a many costumed whore, she is everything to all men and yet belongs to none of them. Objective and impartial reasoning (Such as scientific research or the Socratic method) is the only way to get near the actual truth.

I would love to see the science that defines a right action.


And universal truth does exist. To rip 1984 a little, 2 plus 2 will always equal 4. That's Objective truth. You can pass a law to say it isn't so, you can change the meaning of the words, but 2 plus 2 still equals 4.

No, it's mostly tautological. 2 + 2 = 4 is a definitional thing. Anything to the contrary necessarily requires us to use the real world, and the real world is entirely subjective measure. 2 + 2 = 4 because we have yet to experience getting a larger sum than the parts.


Now there has to be objective morality, in just the same way there's objective beauty. You might say beauty is in the eye of the beholder (Although that's a dangerous thing to say in D&D groups...) but the fact of the matter is if I called a plastic bag full of mud the most beatiful thing I'd ever seen, you'd think I was an insufferable poser at best and a lunatic at worse. Therefore there has to be an impartial measure, an objective measure of beauty.

And it's the same with morality. People who do not conform to the standard of objective morality are labelled mad and dangerous, and are sealed away from us for our own protection. We don't need an objective outsider to tell us what objective reality is, because we are capable of reasoned, passionless, unbias reasoned discourse.

Appeal to popularity fallacy.


Then the human race dies out, think of the logistics of the propasition. Now, since we're all doomed anyway, which is more moral? a) Dying quickly without killing your fellow man or b) Dying slightly slower, by wiping out your own species.

I go with c) farming the remainder as food animals.


Now, to make the question even more relevent: What if a number of humans (Lets say a few hundred) mutate to need brains (Not sentient ones) to survive, but their minds are so twisted by the experience the only joy they will ever experience is the sadist pleasure of ripping the brains out of sentient creatures, the smarter the better. Otherwise their range of emotion is entirely negative.

Now you be the Objective Outsider on this one. Is it ok for them to torture sentient creatures without nessecity simply because they enjoy it?

Yes, so long as they have the will and power to do it. It's definitely evil in D&D, as there are objective definitions of evil. IRL, even the hardest of physical laws are estimates and approximations. I've yet to see a rigorous moral theory.


And don't assume this happens quickly. It's easy to make a moral decision when you actually perceive the change -- if we all woke up tomorrow with a craving for brains, I think most (but certainly not all) of us would eventually make the right choice and opt for self-obliteration. But if the change took thousands of years, requiring every fourth or fifth generation (who never knew a different way) to make miniscule compromises that they could rationalize as being "objective morality", then you'd probably end up with a society that sees nothing wrong with perpetrating horrors on others for their own survival, and might even enjoy devouring living sentients the way we enjoy a chocolate milkshake. But the kicker is, once the horrors are a biological necessity, a natural part of the life cycle, can they be perceived as evil? Dangerous, certainly, but evil?

We make huge moral changes in only a matter of generations. Compare the year 1900 with the year 2000. Only 5 generations there, and black people are no longer listed as animals in Australia. Going from us to braineaters in a few short decades isn't as hard as you think. To some of our ancestors, we've become depraved monsters.

Ladorak
2010-03-07, 01:07 AM
I would love to see the science that defines a right action.

My point consisted of two examples. The first of which cannot (By it's very nature) validate a 'right action'. The second however is concerned with litte else then that very thing. I refer you to one of the most important thinkers that ever lived.

As for this:
*Snip*

It deserves a better answer then the one I can currently give. I apolagise, but I am not entirely sober at the moment. Tomorrow I will attempt an answer that would do your point justice. It is a well thought out arguement that deserves nothing less.

JonestheSpy
2010-03-07, 01:11 AM
I wonder why it's so hard for some folks to accept an absolutely evil race in a fantasy game? I mean, there's no way mind flayer biology/evolution could be justified in a science fiction setting that made any kind of pretense toward realism.

I mean, we're not alien anthropologists discussing some race we've discovered and trying to maintain our professional objectivity - we're talking about fictional creations that were designed to be horrifying villains, as bad as you could get outside of being a native of the Lower Planes. They destroy sentient beings for food and for reproduction. You can hate them, it's okay.

While I think it's actually cool that there's so many stories nowadays that show things from the point of view of the goblins or orcs or whatever, it's still true that fantasy is all about exploring all the dreamtime stuff in our heads: our ideal selves (e.g. Tolkien's elves) or our worst sides (his orcs) or the indescribable nightmares that make us fear the dark (almost everything Lovecraft ever wrote). It doesn't need to be 'realistic' in the way that convincing science fiction does - you actually do have Good and Evil in a way that doesn't exist in real life.

Rezby
2010-03-07, 02:52 AM
Jones, you raise a valid point. However, as true as that is, that's not the point here. The point is to take the standard D&D Mind Flayers and assuming they were real, debate if they are, or are not, necessarily evil.

Yes, while their behavior, on average, as described in Lords of Madness, is atrociously evil, are mind flayers necessarily evil? In other words, does their biology/physiology make them evil? The fact that they must kill sentient beings at least once a month in a violent, painful manner, in order to survive?

I would be hard pressed to make a similar argument for Elder Brains. Those guys are just d-bags, for the most part. It would certainly be possible for a DM to run a game with a neutral, or even a good Elder Brain and thus community, but in the standard D&D-verse, such do not exist (Lords of Madness states that the mildest of the Elder Brains function as advisors and history textbooks to the illithid society, while the majority are tyrants, of sorts).

To quote Lords of Madness, "For reasons explained below, an illithidís brain is anathema to its body. The process of ceremorphosis creates something closer to parasite than brain. That parasite becomes an indispensable part of the body. Its great weakness is that it does not produce the critical enzymes, hormones, or psychic energy that the body needs to survive and function. Those critical components must come from consumed brains.
Because of the mind flayerís all-embracing nervous system, food does not pass through a simple gastrointestinal tract but through a cognitive, self-aware digestive system. That system absorbs more than just nourishment from food. It scavenges enzymes, hormones, and most important, psychic energy. Illithids are known for consuming brains, but they eat other food as well, most of which contains various amounts of these needed enzymes and hormones. Internal organs are good sources, and they rank high on illithid menus. Brains are ripe with all three and are the only external source of psychic energy."


The BoED actually has a picture of a Mind Flayer next to a prestige class called 'Redeemed Villain' or something along those lines, which implies that it's possible.

Page 17, its a roleplay archetype with an example of the redeemed MF.

Also, does the fact that from pre-birth, since before their very sentience, they are indoctrinated with an evil philosophy and know no better, excuse them from their thus evil actions (as the ones that aren't are presumably eaten by the Elder Brain)?

Grumman
2010-03-07, 03:22 AM
Most people label acts, individuals, and socities "evil" because of their impact on ourselves or others.
Do you know why? Because that's more or less the definition of evil: causing harm to innocent people - deliberately or through a callous disregard for their rights - for your own benefit or pleasure or whatever. It is the impact on others that makes it evil.

Volkov
2010-03-07, 08:25 AM
Page 17, its a roleplay archetype with an example of the redeemed MF.

Also, does the fact that from pre-birth, since before their very sentience, they are indoctrinated with an evil philosophy and know no better, excuse them from their thus evil actions (as the ones that aren't are presumably eaten by the Elder Brain)?
In D&D morality? No. In D&D just following orders, even if you didn't know they were wrong, is no excuse.

In reality it's way more complicated.

Sir_Elderberry
2010-03-07, 12:35 PM
There are plenty of ethical philosophies that lay claim to "right" and "wrong" labels without appealing either to consequences (like utilitarianism) or to personal viewpoints. For example, Immanuel Kant saw morality as being based on logical consistency. Act only according to that maxim which you can at the same time will to be a universal law.

So, let's say I want to borrow a loan with no intention of paying it back. If I take the principle I'm living by and try to apply it as a categorical imperative, we can see that it contradicts itself. I'm using the trust of another person (ie, a bank) against the very concept and system of trust that enables it. My actions are logically inconsistent and therefore cannot be held to be moral.

Mindflayers are killing sentient beings for their own short-term gain (after all, they'll have to do it again. And again. And again.). We can see, however, that doing so undermines their own claim to the right to exist--that is, a mindflayer's logic ("it's ok for someone to die, as long as there's a benefit") goes against their actions (Their own death would bring greater benefit).

The fact that they're shortsighted bastards who don't consider other sentient species as having moral worth doesn't make it true.

Volkov
2010-03-07, 12:37 PM
There are plenty of ethical philosophies that lay claim to "right" and "wrong" labels without appealing either to consequences (like utilitarianism) or to personal viewpoints. For example, Immanuel Kant saw morality as being based on logical consistency. Act only according to that maxim which you can at the same time will to be a universal law.

So, let's say I want to borrow a loan with no intention of paying it back. If I take the principle I'm living by and try to apply it as a categorical imperative, we can see that it contradicts itself. I'm using the trust of another person (ie, a bank) against the very concept and system of trust that enables it. My actions are logically inconsistent and therefore cannot be held to be moral.

Mindflayers are killing sentient beings for their own short-term gain (after all, they'll have to do it again. And again. And again.). We can see, however, that doing so undermines their own claim to the right to exist--that is, a mindflayer's logic ("it's ok for someone to die, as long as there's a benefit") goes against their actions (Their own death would bring greater benefit).

The fact that they're shortsighted bastards who don't consider other sentient species as having moral worth doesn't make it true.

They rely on other sapient species to survive. If they were the last sapient species, they'd need to descend into cannibalism until they were all dead. And though they could find another way to survive, their Elder brain overlords would probably be against it.

Sydonai
2010-03-24, 05:10 PM
Ilithids are, simply put, Humans. That is, Humans that have undergone billions of years of evolution and lived in space a good part of that time.

In my opinion the Elder Brains are avatars of Ilsensine, it made them to ensure it always had a source of worshippers, and being eaten/asimilated by "The Perfect Being" is the afterlife that Ilsensine grants to it's worshippers.

Sydonai
2010-03-24, 05:46 PM
They could lie down in the gutter and die. Better that than killing innocent people to sustain themselves, if they can't find any brigands or murderers to feed on.

In Faerun suicide is stated to be an evil act, one that gets punished in the afterlife. In contrast being a martyr is a very good, and maybe lawful, act.
This is the Faerun interprtation, I don't know about other settings.

Sydonai
2010-03-24, 07:56 PM
I can see a group of epic-level npc(composed of Elans and Synads) Mindflayer city that has been harrasing the surface.

They kill the Elder Brain and the Mindflayers that don't run off, but one of them refuses to kill the larva, using the arguments in this thread.

He convinces the rest to let them mature, under strict supervisio of course.

They gather up the tadpoles and put them in individual pools, fead them bits of preserved Elder Brain and Mindflayer brains(it should be easy to preserve brains, the Mindflayers have canister for that exact purpose) and make or find crystals that give of emotiona like joy, love, caring, ect.

In order to sustin these Flayers they would need to farm Brain-Moles or Ustilagor.

In order to give them bodies the epic people use things like Astral Seed and Simalucum+True Mind Switch.



Voila, you have the starting fluff for a group of good Mindflayers.

Choco
2010-03-25, 08:47 AM
You have to look at their culture and the way they think, not just their biology.

As I see it, mind flayers are one of the more alien types of D&D evil; they don't have any particular desire to be cruel or inflict pain, they're just entirely amoral, at least by human standards. They divide the world up into other mind flayers, and sheep. Sheep (aka non-mind-flayers) exist solely for the purposes of food, slave labour, or incubation systems for more mind flayers.

Basically like us humans do with other animals, like sheep :smalltongue:.

To the average mind flayer, we are nothing more than cattle, food for them to survive. You can't blame them for being what they are in this case, IMO anyway.

Stargate Atlantis brought this up on multiple occasions with the Wraith. Are they evil just because they need to eat sentient beings to survive? If you were born a Wraith/Mind Flayer, what would YOU do? Would you stop eating and die cause it is the "right" thing to do?

While you think about this, remember that starving people have been known to turn to cannibalism, not necessarily eating only already dead people, but "helping" that process along. Do you think you would have the willpower to keep a rational mind as you are starving to death, or alternatively to quickly kill yourself in some other way?

Tiki Snakes
2010-03-25, 09:39 AM
Basically like us humans do with other animals, like sheep :smalltongue:.

Quite. Interesting to note, with the average human being about 10/11 intelligence, they are as far above humanity as humanity is above sheep-kind.

Adventurers sometimes close that gap, obviously, depending on class, but they are exceptional exceptions, and the equivalent in mindflayer society is also pretty likely to exist, (ie, mindflayers not using the non-elite-array and/or possessing class levels.)

I could also see there being conceptual room for super-intelligent sheep, though of course they would count as magical beasts at that point. Like Dolphins and various apes.

They'd be just as rare as adventuring PC's and their equivalent Illithids of course. :smallwink: