Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Intellect Devourer: The Cannibal Brain

Don’t cry. We have no intention of eating your brain. In fact, your brain is going on a wonderful journey!

Qorik El-Slurrk, Mind Flayer

You know it’s a great monster when you do a double-take when you first see it. I mean, come on! Who sees a walking brain and doesn’t pause to say “What the holy fuck?”

Lore: The Puppet Maker

Bred by mind flayers, created by putting a thrall’s brain through a ritual, the intellect devourers hunt in the Underdark. They consume the mind and memories of their victims, then turns the host’s body into a puppet. Typically, those puppets are used to lure others into a mind flayer’s domain to be enthralled.

Wow. That’s surprisingly bare-bones. Yet at the same time, it’s rife with possibility! Perhaps a party member succumbs to one and the party has to find a way to get rid of it (that’s a good way to write a party member out while the player is on vacation). Or maybe an established NPC is taken over and used to lure the party into a mind flayer lair. Sure, they’re basically stuck as a support creature for the mind flayers. But this is among the best supporting monsters in the book!

Design: Ew, Gross!

It’s amazing how you can make something so simple, yet so disgusting and creepy.

What noise would this thing make?

Sometimes, the most simple ideas can be the most creative. Someone really said, “What if we stuck animal legs onto a brain and made that a monster?” And to that person I say: well done. You get a gold star. Put it on your fridge.

Sure, you might not have any idea what this thing’s deal is with one glance. You might not be able to guess that it serves mind flayers or consumes people’s brains to make them puppets. If you didn’t read the lore or stats, you’d have no idea what this thing is about. Aside from it being a disgusting brain thing.

Wow, we haven’t had one like this in a while. A monster that has a creative design, but not a clear one that tells you what to expect? I’ve forgotten how to handle this situation!

Um… I guess we’ll just move on?

Stats: A Terrifying Combo

You might not think this monster would be dangerous. But you’d be wrong and stupid and you deserve what you’re going to get.

Sure, it may not be durable. Its AC and HP are both fairly low, bolstered mostly by its resistance to non-magical melee damage. And you can’t blind it, since it doesn’t have eyes. And its claws aren’t all that dangerous in terms of numbers.

It’s the rest that you need to be terrified of.

First of all, it has Detect Sentience. With this, any creature with an intellect score higher than 3 (a high bar, I know) can by sensed by the intellect devourer so long as they are within 300 feet of it. Interestingly, you can use the Mind Blank spell to conceal yourself from it. So if you need to sneak past a hoard of these little bastards, you’d better know that particular incantation.

Next up is the Devour Intellect ability. With this, the creature attacks one target within 10 feet that has a brain. Should they fail a DC 12 INT saving throw, they’ll suffer 11(2d10) psychic damage. Not only that, but the DM will roll 3d6; should that total exceed the target’s intelligence score, said score will be reduced to 0, stunning them until they can regain at least 1 INT.

So you can quite easily turn the party’s barbarian into a standing vegetable. Cool. And terrifying. Because that all leads into its most deadly ability: Body Thief. With this, it can steal the body of one target, provided it wins an intelligence contest.

Which should be easy, if it has reduced said intelligence to 0.

Should Body Thief work, the intellect devourer consumes the brain within and takes over the body, assuming their stats. Upon the body’s death, it is driven out. If it leaves, the body will die completely within one minute, unless the brain is restored. It can also be driven out (or prevented from entering at all) with Protection From Evil and Good, or if the original brain is restored with a Wish spell.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen! This tiny bastard has a guaranteed kill murder combo! I hope no one in your party is too dumb, or they’re gonna need a new party member!

This one combination turns this from a straight-forward filler enemy to a terrifying trial. Anyone who fails that Intelligence save can suddenly find themselves in a lethal situation. If mishandled, this could quickly infuriate your party members. But if handled elegantly, it could make a terrifying encounter that will have your players trembling for many sessions to come.

Placement

To my surprise, this was a really interesting entry! The lore is barebones, but rife with potential. It’s design is simple and a bit esoteric, but extremely creative! The stats can make for either an incredibly terrifying encounter or a brutally unfair and infuriating one! I’m honestly lost on where to put this guy!

But I’ll figure it out. Given that that’s all that’s left to do.

With all that in mind, let’s put the Intellect Devourer on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Dragon Turtle
  4. Green Dragons
  5. Red Dragons
  6. Blue Dragons
  7. Black Dragons
  8. White Dragons
  9. Silver Dragons
  10. Couatl
  11. Behir
  12. Aboleth
  13. Sea Hag
  14. Bronze Dragons
  15. Brass Dragons
  16. Copper Dragons
  17. Gold Dragons
  18. Chuul
  19. Gibbering Mouther
  20. Intellect Devourer <——————
  21. Chimera
  22. Death Knight
  23. Fomorian
  24. Bone Devil
  25. Dracolich
  26. Faerie Dragon
  27. Hobgoblins
  28. Night Hag
  29. Green Hag
  30. Ankheg
  31. Hook Horror
  32. Storm Giant
  33. Hill Giant
  34. Empyrean
  35. Efreeti
  36. Grimlock
  37. Dao
  38. Cloud Giant
  39. Drow (all four of ’em)
  40. Shadow Demon
  41. Marilith
  42. Drider
  43. Aarackockra
  44. Azer
  45. Demilich
  46. Spectator
  47. Hydra
  48. Marid
  49. Harpy
  50. Half-Dragon
  51. Cambion
  52. Fire Giant
  53. Animated Armor
  54. Banshee
  55. Basilisk
  56. Yochlol
  57. Bulette
  58. Cloaker
  59. Darkmantle
  60. Doppelganger
  61. Ghoul and Ghast
  62. Ettin
  63. Pit Fiend
  64. Erinyes
  65. Chain Devil
  66. Bearded Devil
  67. Barbed Devil
  68. Spined Devil
  69. Ice Devil
  70. Djinni
  71. Nalfeshnee
  72. Glabrezu
  73. Chasme
  74. Grell
  75. Barlgura
  76. Horned Devil
  77. Balor
  78. Shadow Dragon
  79. Vrock
  80. Dretch
  81. Gnolls (all three)
  82. Goristro
  83. Hezrou
  84. Manes
  85. Frost Giant
  86. Duergar
  87. Quasit
  88. Dryad
  89. Flumph
  90. Goblin
  91. Githyanki
  92. Planetar
  93. Imp
  94. Clay Golem
  95. Flameskull
  96. Displacer Beast
  97. Carrion Crawler
  98. Githzerai
  99. Grick
  100. Rug of Smothering
  101. Bugbear Chief
  102. Bugbear
  103. Flesh Golem
  104. Vine Blight
  105. Twig Blight
  106. Needle Blight
  107. Bullywug
  108. Hellhound
  109. Ettercap
  110. Gas Spore
  111. Cockatrice
  112. Lemure
  113. Homonculus
  114. Solar
  115. Deva
  116. Gorgon
  117. Hippogriff
  118. Griffon
  119. Cyclops
  120. Centaur
  121. Ghost
  122. Fire Elemental
  123. Water Elemental
  124. Air Elemental
  125. Stone Giant
  126. Deep Gnome
  127. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  128. Iron Golem
  129. Stone Golem
  130. Earth Elemental
  131. Galeb Duhr
  132. Helmed Horror
  133. Flying Sword
  134. Crawling Claw
  135. Violet Fungus
  136. Shrieker
  137. Gargoyle

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