Illithid PC Race

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A digression of topic on another thread inspired me to make a rudimentary attempt at the following...



































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Now, to explain why they are the way they are.

First, they can't go around eating people's brains, that's just not very heroic...even if they're evil people's brains. So these Illithids are "vegetarians" to borrow from that abomination known as Twilight. They only eat animal brains. The consequence of this is that while they can still be potent psionic characters (if they go into a psionic class), they are no longer inherently psionic as they otherwise would be. They're no longer naturally telepathic, no longer have Mind Blast, and are no longer immune to Mind Blasts of other Illithids. Animal brains are enough to survive on, but it costs them.

Next...by all rights, comparing them to the MM they should be dominant in Dex and Cha...but after looking over other PHB races in the MM, the stats in the book have nothing to do with the race's propensities, so I went back to Savage Species for inspiration. I figured Int/Cha was better than Int/Wis.

They should have Psionics as a skill...but there's no such skill yet, probably won't be even in the PH3. In terms of what can be done with them...religion is nothing compared to arcana. So I gave the Bluff (because they need it, frankly) and Arcana (because it just makes sense).

Normally they don't speak common, but I figured if these Illithids are trying to make their way in the upper world, they must at least know that much. In return for sacrificing telepathy, and owing to their still significant intellect, they get to pick an extra language, too. Took out common and gave them telepathy back. It's not that bad, and it just makes more sense.

Edit: For the time being, I'm offering a choice between tentacles and mind blast. Not in the sense of the drow's choice...you get to use one version of the race or the other. Too many people wanna keep mind blast.

Edited Edit: Tentacles is no longer a power...just a flat bonus to grab attempts and a tad more.

-

Now, as for WHY Illithids might take up this lifestyle? Simple, in all honesty, their current methods are far from intelligent. They're not inscrutably alien or incomprehensible. There can be only one outcome...their failure to survive. How they could've possibly dominated the future in the first place does, admittedly, defy description. That's more because it's simply stupid than unknowably weird. Excessive altruism is weak, but the degree of selfishness of most evil races is far far more futile.

So...these PC Illithids are those rare few who have managed to see beyond their race's supposed goals, and somehow have shaken off the will of the elder brains, and have thus taken up the path of the hero. Perhaps these Illithids would have become elder brains themselves eventually, and somehow managed to survive to be implanted in hosts...thus giving them greater freedom than other Illithids. Forced to flee for survival, they've come to understand that things often work quite well without the sociopathic influence of the Mind-Flayers.

Honestly...it's all up to DMs and Players, since this is just homebrew. I just wanted to show it could be done...even if it still might need work. Feel free to comment or adapt it as you see fit. I'm not likely to go much farther with the project...it's just a demonstration to some naysayers.
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To be fair I never said it was impossible, just very difficult... and I'll admit that this is definitely a major step forward in dispelling that difficulty

Now just a few minor nit picks. I think adding a watered down version of mind blast and reducing tentacles to a racial bonus on grapple check would be a better way to go, and I'm not sure on having telepathy as a language... no other PC race has it, but I'm not sure whether that's because no other PC race has a REASON to, or whether it's because it would be over powered. Other than that though, good job

Now all they need to do is convince the party and everyone they meet that no, they AREN'T going to eat their brains :P

EDIT: Included a watered down of Mind Blast while I was typing. It's a little weak, try comparing it to the Dragonborns breath power to get an idea of a direction it could take. I think adding Wisdom, Charisma or Intelligence instead of just intelligence would be better than pigeon holding them into wizards and such, especially since we have no idea whether most of the upcoming Psiconic classes will be Int based or not.

EDIT le EDIT: Sorry, didn't account for the extra burst squares the Ithillid got as oppose to the Dragonborn. With a feat that boosts the damage I'd say that's quite resonable, though targeting Will would make more sense than AC
Just off the top of my head, I'd drop arcana for dungeoneering personally. Arcana just doesn't make sense in my mind, unless of course Arcana ends up being the skill associated with psionics.

Additionally, a weakened Mind Blast would probably work better than that tentacle power. It would show their psionic power while at the same time being useful for more than just melee classes. Then there could be paragon/epic feats or some racial paragon path that would amp up the Mind Blast to bring it more inline with the NPC Illithids.

It doesn't even need to be explained away as reflecting their switch from sentient to non-sentient brains. It could just reflect the fact that the Illithid is inexperienced, what with being level 1. As it levels it's Mind Blast as previously said could improve via feats or paragon path choices.

What would probably be best would be to initially model the Mind Blast after the Dragonborn breath attack.
Um...I have no idea why...but everytime I put in the "Encounter * Psychic" entry of the Mind Blast power...it comes up 0 x Psychic. No idea what's goin on there.

I mostly used the dragonborn for the basis of mind blast...but it was either give them better damage and keep them at blast 3...or cut their damage and make it blast 5 like in the MM.

As for Int to damage and such...I suppose it wouldn't be a huge stretch to at least give them the choice between INT, CHA, and WIS
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Blast 3 would probably be fine. It all goes back to your starting as a level 1.

I could totally see Illithids having a number of feats and such that would be centred around Mind Blast.
Blast 3 would probably be fine. It all goes back to your starting as a level 1.

I could totally see Illithids having a number of feats and such that would be centred around Mind Blast.

Fair enough. Well bargained, and done.
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Definitely, they could have a feat to slide the targets, a feat to daze the targets... basically some controller functionality, mostly to differentiate them from the more "boom, crash" racial feats Dragonborn get for their breath weapon.
To be fair I never said it was impossible, just very difficult... and I'll admit that this is definitely a major step forward in dispelling that difficulty

Now just a few minor nit picks. I think adding a watered down version of mind blast and reducing tentacles to a racial bonus on grapple check would be a better way to go, and I'm not sure on having telepathy as a language... no other PC race has it, but I'm not sure whether that's because no other PC race has a REASON to, or whether it's because it would be over powered. Other than that though, good job

Now all they need to do is convince the party and everyone they meet that no, they AREN'T going to eat their brains :P

EDIT: Included a watered down of Mind Blast while I was typing. It's a little weak, try comparing it to the Dragonborns breath power to get an idea of a direction it could take. I think adding Wisdom, Charisma or Intelligence instead of just intelligence would be better than pigeon holding them into wizards and such, especially since we have no idea whether most of the upcoming Psiconic classes will be Int based or not.

EDIT le EDIT: Sorry, didn't account for the extra burst squares the Ithillid got as oppose to the Dragonborn. With a feat that boosts the damage I'd say that's quite resonable, though targeting Will would make more sense than AC

No worries, you're not one of the naysayers, IMO. I'll have to think on whether to feat-boost the damage...or switch it back around and feat-boost the range instead. Ah well...
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Completely forgot the dazing. Dumbed down the range without boosting power, added a daze. Think it's too much?
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No worries, you're not one of the naysayers, IMO. I'll have to think on whether to feat-boost the damage...or switch it back around and feat-boost the range instead. Ah well...

I'd say keep the range, and feat-boost the damage. It'll keep it different to the Dragonborn, and it'll add more of a controller over a striker feel to them, which suites the Ithillid more imo

EDIT: Adding daze onto the base is a much better way to go. i'd say it's pretty much spot on, or as much as you can be without play testing. Would it be overpowered if it targetted Will instead of AC though?
Made a few more corrections and changes. If they're too good, I'll probably ditch the saving throw bonus or the psychic resistance...or both.
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an encounter daze power at level 1 that's also a minor action? That's too powerful, it'd be better if the daze effect came via a feat in paragon or possibly even epic levels. Daze after all is a NASTY effect.
an encounter daze power at level 1 that's also a minor action? That's too powerful, it'd be better if the daze effect came via a feat in paragon or possibly even epic levels. Daze after all is a NASTY effect.

Fair enough. I really think daze and all other status effects are really only bad in the hands of Orbizards (not that even they seem that dangerous to me), but I removed it and bumped their range back up.
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First off my hat's off to you.

Great job taking on an ambitious and difficult job as this one, and an even better job of actually taking constructive criticism and working to make a happy medium!

Now to my nitpicks:

Speed: 7 Squares
Vision: Normal


I'm reluctant to agree to the extra fast Illithid. I've always thought of mind flayers as purposeful in their movements, not swift. Also I feel it takes away from one of the neat tricks for elves.

Should they have darkvision, or at least lowlight, living in the underdark and all?

I would be happier if the speed was a 6, and darkvision was granted but it isn't a deal breaker.


Psionic Nature: You gain a +5 racial bonus to saving throws against charm effects.
Psychic Resistance: You gain resist psychic 5 + one-half your level.


This might be more powerful than your average race, but it fits in nicely and I don't think it's break the game powerful.


Mind Blast

I think Mind Blast is still a little too good for it's own good. My entire contention comes down to the fact that it is blast 5 and a bonus +2 to hit.

Make it a blast 3, or drop the extra +2 and I think it'll be in line with the dragonborn racial. (I know it's a damage die less, but I would gladly swap out an average of 1 point of damage to gain +2 on my blast size)

The other option I find appealing is to make Mind blast a burst power, instead of a close burst power. This should make the Illithid PCs a little shyer about getting in close (which is good) and keep your Dragonborn players from complaining about how much better mind blast is.

--------------------------


All of that said, I think that as they stand now the Illithid would make great defenders. I really want to play an Illithid swordmage or maybe (even though it's very sub optimal) a fighter.
First off my hat's off to you.

Great job taking on an ambitious and difficult job as this one, and an even better job of actually taking constructive criticism and working to make a happy medium!

As long as the criticism's constructive, there's nothin to bother me. It's when some will inevitably post in ways that are not constructive that I might start having problems. But, time will tell. I appreciate the input though.

Now to my nitpicks:

Speed: 7 Squares
Vision: Normal


I'm reluctant to agree to the extra fast Illithid. I've always thought of mind flayers as purposeful in their movements, not swift. Also I feel it takes away from one of the neat tricks for elves.

Should they have darkvision, or at least lowlight, living in the underdark and all?

I would be happier if the speed was a 6, and darkvision was granted but it isn't a deal breaker.

Truth be told, I gave them 7 squares of speed strictly because that's what they had in the MM, but they only had 30 ft of movement in 3.5, so I think I'll knock it back to 6 squares.

On the subject of darkvision, I know it suits them to have that or low-light, but they don't have it in either the 3.x or 4e MMs, so I'm reluctant to include it. If I were to do so, I'd defintely scrap at least one of the two psychic benefits. I'll give it some thought...see what others have to say about it in the meantime.

That said, I agree...living in the underdark you'd think they'd at least have low-light. I find it odd that even in 3.x they had neither Darkvison nor Low-light.


Psionic Nature: You gain a +5 racial bonus to saving throws against charm effects.
Psychic Resistance: You gain resist psychic 5 + one-half your level.


This might be more powerful than your average race, but it fits in nicely and I don't think it's break the game powerful.

Yeah, I did it partly to give them something extra, and also because they'd no longer have immunity to the mind blasts of other illithids...but then again, other illithids won't be immune to the PCs mind blasts either. Hmm...

Mind Blast

I think Mind Blast is still a little too good for it's own good. My entire contention comes down to the fact that it is blast 5 and a bonus +2 to hit.

Make it a blast 3, or drop the extra +2 and I think it'll be in line with the dragonborn racial. (I know it's a damage die less, but I would gladly swap out an average of 1 point of damage to gain +2 on my blast size)

The other option I find appealing is to make Mind blast a burst power, instead of a close burst power. This should make the Illithid PCs a little shyer about getting in close (which is good) and keep your Dragonborn players from complaining about how much better mind blast is.

I knocked it back down to blast 3. I'm apprehensive about close bursts in general...but I'll consider it. Making it a close burst instead of a close blast would certainly make an Illithid Avenger interesting.

All of that said, I think that as they stand now the Illithid would make great defenders. I really want to play an Illithid swordmage or maybe (even though it's very sub optimal) a fighter.

Hopefully it all works out. I don't expect to be making any racial feats or the like, but if it works out well and I get proper suggestions and advice, I might do it. And thanks again.
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I'm impressed. I was being pretty silly when I made a few comments about how to do it (turns out my comments weren't necessary because fluff already existed which coincided with what I said). But this is an impressive build.

I still doubt I'd let my players play Illithids anytime soon. But if I ever run an Eberron campagin where the Daelkyr die/are neutralised (Daelkyr are the illithid overlords in Eberron), this could convince me to have the illithids journey to the surface world and become a PC-playable race. Regardless I definitely think I'll keep this bookmarked in case I need to make any Illithid NPCs.
I'm not going to make the change til I've got some opinions...but I just had a thought.

How about close burst 3, no +2 to hit, and put the daze back in? Then it would be potentially devastating to catch your own party members in it. It would have to be used with great care.

Would that be a valid trade-off?

I'm still fine with things as they are, but it just doesn't feel right without some mental effect, and I figured it was a good reason to turn it into a burst as suggested before.
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The +2 to hit is REALLY necessary just for any racial power to keep up with weapon/implement powers, since they never get the bonus for a magic weapon/implement to their hits. Removing it would make the power worthless at higher level play.. which is to say past level 5 or so. In fact, it should really scale to +4 at paragon and +6 at epic... I think, I'm not exactly a balance expert...

That said, maybe you could add daze with a feat? Or bump it up from a minor action to a standard action, and maybe make the range 5 again. Keeping it as a minor action though, adding daze, sliding and other effects with feats seems the best option.
This is a good job! Congrats!

I suggest not increasing the area, making it a burst, adding daze, or anything else. I think it's fine the way it is. Maybe 1d6 for damage dice though...

BUT, adding feats to improve its area/damage/daze/etc would probably be a good option.

Don't forget to scale by level! Increase bonus to +4 at 11th level and +6 at 21st level.
Hmm, I need a signature...
I noticed something when comparing Mind Blast to the Dragonborn's Dragon Breath power.

The stat for damage is niether of the stats that dragonborn get a bonus to. And only one of the 3 stats they can choose from to attack with IS of that pair. The more I look at it, the more I think it's a deliberate means of keeping the power reasonable...instead of say, them having a con bonus, and therefore always picking con. In fact, I think the choice of Cha is strictly to throw Dragonborn paladins a bone.

So...here's the Illithid with Mind Blast as a racial power...and the way I have it...how could they ever do anything BUT pick Int?

Here's what I'm considering to bring it more in line with the precedent set by Dragon breath...add WIS mod to damage instead, and replace CHA with CON as one of the attack choices. I know CHA fits really well, but CON isn't that far of a stretch it rewards those who play outside the box, and prevents people from doubling up by picking INT because it's optimal.

Does that sound reasonable to all of you? Would it nerf the power too much? Would it warrant daze being put back in, or a boost to range, or a bump to d6?

Just...looking at it now...it really seems like choosing anything but INT as your attack stat would be flatly stupid. And that sort of design should be avoided in 4e.
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I think that some wires got crossed in my post about Mind Blast.

I think it should be a Blast 3 (or maybe 5), and everything else the same.

What I think would make it a more interesting and unique power is if it is not a close blast.

With that it could have it's own flavor and possibly still have a daze, how about:

Mind Blast
Encounter ---- Psychic
Minor Action ------ Blast 3
Target: All creatures in area
Attack: Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma vs. Will
---- At 11th increase to Int +1, Wis +1, or Cha +1 vs Will
---- At 21th increase to Int +2, Wis +2, or Cha +2 vs Will

Hit: Int, Wis, Cha modifier damage and targets are dazed until the end of your next turn.

Special: When you create your character, choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as the ability score you use when making attack rolls with this power.

--------------------------------------------

That should allow it to be the minion blaster that we all want it to be, remain viable in all three tiers of play, though not as optimal as class abilities, and allows for a lot of feat and feat chains based around making Mind Blast better. (Basically all of the dragonborn breath weapon feats, but with one to make the attack a close burst)

And with the almost damage free Mind Blast it opens up a racial paragon path focusing on building up Mind blast for the melee inclinded Illithid PCs. Sort of a "build a better mind flayer infiltrator".
I left Mind Blast pretty much as is...but I did decide to change the ability scores used in it to something more in-line with Dragon Breath. There was just no way at all to justify offering a choice if they only reasonable choice to make is obviously Intelligence. Now, caster Illithids don't get to abuse the power, and melee Illithids can boost it with their higher Con...and Wisdom is a nice, happy medium.
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A few things:

It seems extremely odd that a subterranean race would not even have low-light vision. You could even give them darkvision (PC Drow have it, why not Illithids?), although you would have to remove some of the other racial bonuses if you did to balance them out against drow.

Personally, I think it's not a good idea to give races bonuses that are only potentially useful to certain classes. This is why I consider the Current version of the minotaur to be a very poor design. Which is why I think the tentacles trait is not a good idea. Melee classes will possibly make use of it, but ranged and spellcasting classes probably never will. My suggestion would be to move this to a racial feat, where PCs can *choose* to take it if it will benefit them.

Telepathy as a language? Consider how much more useful this power is than an actual language-the Illithid can relay messages back and forth between party members telepathically, allowing them to communicate silently anytime they like. It should be a class feature, probably replacing tentacles.
A few things:

It seems extremely odd that a subterranean race would not even have low-light vision. You could even give them darkvision (PC Drow have it, why not Illithids?), although you would have to remove some of the other racial bonuses if you did to balance them out against drow.

I understand...but the problem is, they simply don't have it. I'm not sure about anything before 3.x, but in 3.x and after, they don't have darkvision or even low-light. Dunno why, but they don't. Nothing wrong with other people adding it if they want, but I'm not going to.

Personally, I think it's not a good idea to give races bonuses that are only potentially useful to certain classes. This is why I consider the Current version of the minotaur to be a very poor design. Which is why I think the tentacles trait is not a good idea. Melee classes will possibly make use of it, but ranged and spellcasting classes probably never will. My suggestion would be to move this to a racial feat, where PCs can *choose* to take it if it will benefit them.

Fair enough...I might take out the tentacles at some point anyway.

Telepathy as a language? Consider how much more useful this power is than an actual language-the Illithid can relay messages back and forth between party members telepathically, allowing them to communicate silently anytime they like. It should be a class feature, probably replacing tentacles.

Kalashtar have telepathy 5...so I've been considering bumping it down to 5 for the Illithid. Telepathy only works on one person at a time. It would be a limited tactical advantage...but really not much more than a group that knows each other so well they don't need to communicate to know what to do. Honestly, considering how people arrange themselves tactically (often with little to no in-character communication) in the game anyway, there's practically no advantage in telepathy.

KB posted on a thread over in the Eberron Lore forum in regard to the subject of how limited telepathy really is. Like I said though, since kalashtar only have telepathy of 5, I may drop the Illithid down to that.
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On darkvision:
"Mind Flayers [Addition]
Monster Manual, page 188
In the third line of both mind flayer statistics blocks, add “darkvision” after the Perception bonus." - Monster Manual Update

Hope that helps.
On darkvision:
"Mind Flayers [Addition]
Monster Manual, page 188
In the third line of both mind flayer statistics blocks, add “darkvision” after the Perception bonus." - Monster Manual Update

Hope that helps.

Hmm...they finally did it. Ok then...I think Tentacles is worth sacrificing for that.
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I am both rational and instinctive. I value self-knowledge and understanding of the world; my ultimate goal is self-improvement and improvement of the world around me. At best, I am focused and methodical; at worst, I am obsessive and amoral.
I don't see why they have a skill bonus to Arcana... they're most universally psionic creatures, even though they make perfect Wizards. Flavorwise, they shouldn't get Arcana. I'd substitute Dungeoneering, since they live in the Underdark if anything.

As for their mind blast, I'd remove the Wisdom modifier damage to it and add a stun/daze effect to the blast. Definatly keep it until the end of turn since it's only an encounter. That's the heart of what their Mind Blast originally did anyway, and I think that's more imporant than additional damage. I'd also keep it a Close Blast and not a Close Burst. Other than that, looks about right.
I don't see why they have a skill bonus to Arcana... they're most universally psionic creatures, even though they make perfect Wizards. Flavorwise, they shouldn't get Arcana. I'd substitute Dungeoneering, since they live in the Underdark if anything.

As for their mind blast, I'd remove the Wisdom modifier damage to it and add a stun/daze effect to the blast. Definatly keep it until the end of turn since it's only an encounter. That's the heart of what their Mind Blast originally did anyway, and I think that's more imporant than additional damage. I'd also keep it a Close Blast and not a Close Burst. Other than that, looks about right.

Arcana really has nothing to do with Arcane or even "magic" per se. There probably won't ever be a Psionics skill, so all efforts to identify anything psionic will be made with Arcana. I'll probably swap it out for dungeoneering though...for reasons I'm not permitted to express.

The question on dazing seems to be pretty evenly split. 1d4 with an ability mod is about half what the power in the MM would likely do at 10th level...by comparing the lvl 14 and 18 illithids. But it also dazes, and it also has half damage and no daze on a miss.

So...here's a rework of it...and if it meets with approval from both positions on the matter, it'll get used instead. Bear in mind, I don't currently plan to create any racial feats, but there's obviously plenty of room for a good variety of them.














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I am both rational and instinctive. I value self-knowledge and understanding of the world; my ultimate goal is self-improvement and improvement of the world around me. At best, I am focused and methodical; at worst, I am obsessive and amoral.
Bravo!

This would even be a baseline for making an illithid with a character class, should anyone need to.

Great job getting the flavor into the crunch, too. It certainly feels like an Illithid.
I would never have thought of that! Amazing!
Hmm, I need a signature...
Looks pretty much perfect there. It might do less damage than the dragonbreath, but the daze works to your advantage. It might do well to playtest it though, and maybe bump the damage die to a d6 instead of a d4 now that I think about it. If nothing else, feats will do well to make the Mind Blast better. A Paragon level feat to increase the damage die and change the daze to a stun perhaps? Very nice, I will take one please.
I designed an illithid race almost identical to this for my homebrew, the only difference is I gave them the facial tentacles which simply let them make grab attempts even if their hands were full (nothing more, nothing less). Also I stole an idea from 3.5 Monster Manual 5 and allowed them to use quintessence as a food source (which they could find quite easily in small amounts) as opposed to using animal brains (because I don't think murdering helpless animals is all that heroic either)
I have a suggestion. Instead of letting the Psionic Resistance scale as 5+1/2 level, why not have it scale by tier? The precedent for this has already been set with other published works.

Example: Psionic 5, Increase to 10 at level 11, 15 at 21.
I have a suggestion. Instead of letting the Psionic Resistance scale as 5+1/2 level, why not have it scale by tier? The precedent for this has already been set with other published works.

Example: Psionic 5, Increase to 10 at level 11, 15 at 21.

Whats wrong with it scaling as is, both the tiefling and the deva have resistances that scale the exact way (5+1/2 level). Resistance that scales by tier is usually resistance granted by a feat, if precedent is anything to go by that is.