Mind Flayers

Forsaking Brain-Eating & Benevolence - Ed 8/9/12 Yes, many illithids over the years have forsaken eating human brains in favour of other diets, and working with human thoughts and memories in other ways. As it happens, I wrote about one such example of this VERY recently, but NDAs prevent me from sharing. Yet. A few illithids have gained enough experience and been mentally flexible enough (as opposed to iron- hard and unwavering, which also means unlikely to shift world-views and see things differently) to come to view the position of themselves and their race in the Realms differently from the view held by most mind flayers (that other beings are lesser cattle, to be "used" at will). A few alhoon (illithiliches) come to such a mind-shift after attaining lichdom, as the inevitable chemical shifts in their brains bring about mental changes - - but more alhoon simply go insane, rather than achieving a new world-view. Yes, there are some benevolent illithids, though these tend to be reclusive and well-hidden, or magically disguised into other shapes they "wear" almost all the time, just to avoid constant attacks or hostility from others who see their mind flayer bodies and react accordingly. At least one longterm-in-print "human" NPC of the Realms is actually one of these disguised illithids. On Targeting Dragons - Ed 8/9/12 Yes, illithids have taken over the minds of (and in some cases shared the bodies of, having lost or abandoned their own) all sorts of creatures, from the comical wingless wonder and flumph to the mightiest dragons, but I'm going to be coy about just which ones are favourites/repeatedly popular, or work best, other than to say: mind flayers take pleasure in defeating and dominating strong minds (it's a challenge, whereas controlling a sheep is so easy that there's almost no satisfaction in doing so), but strong-minded creatures seldom make the best long-term thralls, because the illithid must either "break" such a mind to conquer it, or continually battle it, risking it rebelling whenever the illithid is busy with other matters. Many illithids instigate or take over breeding programs among other races (including humans) to manipulate the affairs and society of those other races, and to provide themselves with ample future stock for thralls. Fears and Allergies - Ed 13/7/12 Yes, all illithids have some deep-rooted fears, and the chief one is a fear of going insane. They loathe creatures that are immune or highly resistant to their mind-powers, and beings they regard as possibly mentally stronger than they are. Contact with a powerful insane mind, or with multiple mind-recording or -broadcasting magics at once causes them discomfort ranging up to pain if the thoughts being broadcast are laced with strong emotion. Any generalization about a race is just that: a generalization that breaks down when applied to individuals. However, in general, mind flayers have what might be glibly described as a "brittle superiority complex." That is, their confidence in the superiority of their race carries them through life - - and whenever it is shattered, they become enraged because they are frightened, and see any challenge to their "proper and natural, innate" superiority as a threat to their entire race. When it comes to allergies, we are again speaking in racial generalizations that apply with greater or lesser effectiveness when it comes to individuals, but most illithids are allergic to the weed yellowstrap (a tall grass that grows widely in temperate wilds, such as grasslands throughout the Heartlands) and the herbs vammaerth (a brown lichen with a "nutty, smoky" taste that is usually dried and powdered, but can be added raw, fresh, and whole to soups and stews), borage, and rue (the latter externally as well as internally). In an illithid, these cause nausea and revulsion (strong desire to withdraw), plus debilitatingly painful internal cramps and convulsions if large amounts are ingested. Vammaerth in sufficiently high doses (which can only be masked by very hot, peppery spices) can cause brief dazedness and mental confusion. In addition, SOME illithids feel intense pain and nausea when in contact with electrum that is charged (i.e. that has lightning or electrical magic "running through it" at the time). This causes them additional damage, destroys their concentration, and makes them want to get away, right now and at all costs. Undead near illithids - Ed 13/7/12 While any large gathering of undead (i.e. more than a score of zombies, skeletons, or the like, and more than a dozen of more powerful undead) near an illithid community would be met with a "destroy" response if they were noticed, they are not always noticed or considered a threat. This is due to the overweening self-confidence of most mind flayers, and the tendency of many of them to dismiss or belittle the judgment of their fellows ("If *I* deem a threat grave, it is of course grave, but Quxorl's notion of grave has always been sadly deficient"). Yes, using thralls or manipulating dupes (such as handy nearby unwitting adventurers) to "deal with" the undead would indeed be a general response. As for your query: "Are very powerful undead near illithid communities constantly harassed or once a number of thralls are lost will community move itself?" . . . the answer must be that Realms standard: it depends. On the nature of the undead, the size and characters of the illithids involved, and why the community is located where it is in the first place (i.e. is it situated in a place or near a resource the illithids will be loath to give up?). As for this: "I've always wondered if illithids have developed a certain warrior class to combat undead and constructs in particular." My answer has to be: no. Rather, individual illithids, as the need arises, have developed experience in dealing with undead and constructs, and in some cases developed this into almost a profession (just as we call a plumber or an electrician, certain illithid individuals become known as good at dealing with such nuisances, and get called upon to do so).

 
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