The Complete Guide to Mind Flayers in D&D 5e (Update 2022)

The Complete Guide to Mind Flayers in D&D 5e: Guide to Mind Flayers in D&D 5e No matter if you recognize them by their names like Mind Slayers, Illithids, or Mind the tentacled, psionic terror with a hankering for brains under any other name could be equally sly.

When Mind Flayers were once among the most powerful creatures in the Inner Planes They are now almost completely gone.

The few who are still alive are hiding in the dark and secretive nooks. They plan and wait for their turn while they plan to rise and take back their glory from the past.

So prepare yourself, dear reader!

Today we look closer into one of the famous creatures from Dungeons & Dragons: the Mind Flayer.



Mind Flayers are immediately identifiable by their octopus-like heads with sharp, white eyes, and four tentacles that cover their mouths. In addition, the Illithid possess a great grasp on their tentacles but they can spread out four feet long.

In grabbing its prey using these tentacles The Mind Flayer is able to hold its victim tightly while gnawing into their heads with its tiny, circular mouth, which is lined with razor-sharp teeth.

The skin of these creatures typically has a variety of shades of mauve. However,  there are some that have a slightly greenish shade. They’re generally about the same size as human beings and have thin bodies.

In the middle of the Mind, The body of the Player is covered with a thin layer of slime. This mucus signifies that the creature is well-nourished and healthy.

Although any encounter with an Illithid can be risky One with little if any slime is sure to be extremely insatiable…

Concerning the clothes they dress, the majority of Mind Flayers wear clothes that are appropriate for the Underdark. Black robes with deep black ornaments and breastplates are all common and enhance their intimidating appearance.


Mind Flayers are able to speak however, they communicate through telepathic communications.

When trying to communicate with several creatures, activating an item of magic with an instruction word, or casting spells that require communication and the Mind Flayer must devise an approach to talking. They do this by slithering an arachnid into their throats and then manipulating it in the manner of the tongue.

This is a source of discomfort for everyone who is a part of this disgusting scene.

Beyond their telepathy abilities, In addition, numerous Mind Flayers also speak Undercommon as well as other languages they could have acquired.


Quality is a form of “written language” that Mind Flayers employ. However, it’s not able to function as a written language in a way that can be understood by anyone else.

Instead, the Quality messages psychically transmit ideas of their creators into the Mind Flayer which “reads” the inscription by touching it with its tentacles.

Quality inscriptions are imprinted onto nonliving, nonmagical materials such as stone. The inscriptions do not make any modifications to the material and, consequently, they can be completely invisible to the naked eye.

The inscriptions are four-line stanzas that must be read in tandem by interlocking blocks. The patterns are nearly unreadable by non-Illithid animals.

It is possible to touch a Quality inscribed text to receive an instant “transmission” of the writer’s thoughts.

In the event of trying to read the meaning of a Quality Inscription, a character might need to make an Intelligence check against the DC in relation to how complex the thoughts that are contained in the inscribed text are.

Be careful!

Failure could lead to any number of outcomes ranging from minor anxiety or a minor headache to the short term (or maybe even longer-term) crazy!

For those who want to translate the Quality inscribed text and want to translate it into another language, it is suggested that the spell Comprehend languages spell can provide an accurate comprehension of the text. There may be a few small distinctions, but the majority of the information should be comparable to the information the Mind Flayer can discover through the written inscription.

life Cycle

Mind Flayers The life cycle of Mind Flayers begins with a bunch of parasitic tadpoles born in Illithid-spawning pools.

A single batch could contain about 1000 eggs, however, the majority of them won’t mature. The vast majority of the tadpoles are eaten by the Mind Flayer colony’s Elder Brain.

The ones that don’t get eaten from The Elder Brain are put into the body of the colony’s humanoids via the ear, or nose canal. The tadpole burrows in the head of the host, feeding and expanding until it has removed the brain from the body and has attached its brain to it.

This process is known as Ceremorphosis and turns the human being into the form of a Mind Flayer.

mind flayer weakness d&d

It takes around a month for Mind Flayer eggs to develop, but it takes ten years to get to the point of maturation required to be inserted into an animal host. After the body of the host has been completely transformed by the Illithid that has been created Illithid is able to spend the following twenty years learning and growing within the colony.

If the Mind Flayer has a complete life span, it could last at least 135 years.

After their demise The Mind Flayer’s body is removed from its brain before being placed in the spawning pool, to be eaten by the Elder Brain.

This is considered to be a huge honor to be a part of the Mind Flayer society, as all the knowledge of the creature is being absorbed into The Elder Brain. Also, not being able to be a part of the Elder Brain is believed to be more severe than death.

Brain Food

The brains of intelligent animals are utilized to develop new species of them, Mind Flayers also rely on their brains for food sources.

Mind Flayer colonies will commonly be hidden from the sight of any other animals. In the event that the location is far away, they will sacrifice the possibility of a reliable source of food to ensure security. The ideal situation is near enough to a community of humanoids to have plenty of brains to feast on. However, it’s also hidden enough to be left unaffected.

While the brains consume give them nutritional nourishment They are mostly fed via the power of psionics which is released by the final hours of the brain’s existence.

Most often the Mind Flayer will stun its victim with a powerful blast with psychic force. When the victim is unable to move, the slimy tentacles wrap around their heads and pull towards the mouth of the Illithid.

It is believed that the Mind Flayer’s mouth is home to an enzyme that is capable of melting the skull of the victim. The mucus that drains from the skin of the Illithid can counteract this enzyme.

The skull is weakened, and the prey is left stunned and stunned, the Mind Flayer takes the victim’s brain.

‘You are what you eat’

Since Mind Flayers absorb the psionic energy they receive It is possible to discern how their diet is in the manner they look.

A Mind Flayer that feeds primarily on Elf brains would put more emphasis on wearing extravagant clothes and acting in an “elegant” way. If it primarily feeds on Dwarves they might have symbols that look like Dwarven Runes, either on the breastplate or on the jars that contain brains that have yet to be utilized.

However, it is true that a Mind Flayer that primarily feeds on something similar to Goblins or Grimlocks is not likely to be able to achieve these kinds of goals.

These subtle lingering characteristics are not obvious and are only an outcome of large quantities of brain consumed. However, it does add an undertone of darkness to the Mind Flayers’ already chilling manner of speaking!

The Healthy Illithid 5e

The standard for survival for the Mind Flayer is the ability to consume one brain every month. Although this isn’t ideal, it is likely to survive under such circumstances.

Healthily Mind Flayers consume every two weeks one head of brain. If they live in colonies that have access to plenty of food they could be able to consume brains up to every week.

Mind Flayers are able to take advantage of slaves they house in their colonies however they tend to be reluctant to do this if offered the option.

The slaves require time to develop and are usually employed to increase the size of the colony after the tadpoles mature. Additionally, the brains of slaves aren’t equipped with the same level of psychic power that the brains of the intelligent creatures that live on the surface are equipped with.

Can Mind Flayers Eat Animal Brains?

Everything we know concerning Mind Flayers’ diet details their intake of human brains.

Mind Flayers have the physical capability of eating the brains of animals, but eating them would result in very little or no food.

Since only a tiny portion of the nutrition that Mind Flayers get by eating a brain comes due to the physical substances of the brain, it is likely to eat creatures. After all, it’s the psionic energy that intelligent animals Mind Flayers use to get their food.

Imagine it as an animal eating grass.

It is possible to physically consume grass, however, you’ll not enjoy it and will receive virtually no nutrients from grass. It’s likely that you’d rather have an ice cream or pasta rather than take pleasure in eating a handful of grass.

Mind Flayer History

In the past, many thousands of years ago the Illithids were the dominating power in the inner Planes.

In the course of their journeys, on huge flying vessels known as Nautiloids, They would collect intelligent humanoids from the many planets within their reach. They would eat some while others would be utilized as slaves, and some are specifically utilized to breed the Illithid race.

Another race called the Gith was one that was heavily dependent on slave labor.

For long periods of time, The Gith were slaves to the Illithids until they finally revolted against the brutal Tentacled Tyrants.

In just one year within a year, the Gith totally devastated in a single year the Mind Flayers’ empire. The Illithids were killed as well as they were wiped out, the Nautiloids had to be destroyed and all evidence from the Empire was crushed to dust.

In no way content to stay there Not content with that, the Gith started sending hunter teams to hunt down and eliminate Mind Flayers who they could locate.

Even millennia and centuries later, the Gith have not abandoned their pursuit.

Remnants of The Illithid Empires

After the Gith revolt, there are some pockets of Mind Flayers that are still in existence.

They are a part of vast underground spaces, most especially the Underdark. Despite their size as well as their psionic powers and the ferocity of their attacks, Mind Flayers stay vigilant in their defense of their territories and, perhaps most important the Elder Brain of their members.

While it’s the Gith that they must be in the forefront of their mind but this can also be useful against other enemies, such as Drow raids, other creatures of the Underdark, and, of course, adventurers.

Mind Flayers have been working hard towards their aim of restoring their once vast empire. To recapture the glory they once enjoyed Mind Flayers make no sacrifices.

As they reside in caves beneath the food source, it’s unusual to see Mind Flayers interfere in local affairs. By using their psychic abilities to influence important people within local towns (such as the rulers and officials) It can be extremely difficult to determine how the depth of an Illithid plot is.

Elder’s brain

There is nothing more crucial to a Mind Flayer group than the Elder Brain. It’s what you think of: a single massive brain that each Illithid in the colony is connected to.

The range of the Elder Brain of joining the colonies is typically approximately 5 miles. Mind Flayers who exceed that limit only do so on strict instructions by The Elder Brain.

It’s sometimes hard (if it isn’t impossible) to determine exactly the point at which the influence of the Elder Brain ceases and the influence of the Illithid itself begins.

As a manipulative and completely evil mind, The Elder Brain keeps very tight control over all the colony which is around it. In this way, every Illithid Illithid is simply an expansion of its power.

Every Elder Brain thinks it is extremely important and is adamant about not hearing anything else. However, they can differ in each colony. Some may be violent and hostile, while others seem more like neutral sages or living libraries of the knowledge the Illithids have accumulated.

As giant brains, These creatures are essentially inactive. They are confined to their swimming pools (where Illithid eggs hatch) otherwise they’ll rapidly dry out and die away.

Mind Flayer Culture

Everything in Mind Flayer culture is focused on helping those who are Elder Brain. Their minds are connected together in a network that facilitates efficient organization and seamless operation because each Illithid understands the exact purpose and role of each.

Similar to the thrills generated by the Mind Flayer is completely submissive towards their Master, the Illithids are obedient to the Elder Brain.

This fosters an atmosphere of order and servitude where any sign of rebellion or dissent is immediately identified and addressed.


As a collective hivemind founded on the service provided to the Elder Brain and the Elder Brain, it’s no reason to be surprised to learn that Mind Flayers are legal alignment.

Similar to that, as they attain their goals through enslaving other people in the process of… that’s right… devouring brains… they’re generally evil.

There is an admittedly rare circumstance in which it is possible that the Lawful Evil alignment may not completely be the case…

Can a Mind Flayer Be Good?

Mind Flayers generally stay in their tightly knit communities and are connected with The Elder Brain. However, certain situations could be triggered that could make the Mind Flayer to cease to be in supervised by the Elder Brain.

When the links between the Elder Brain are damaged (whether this is due to their colony being destroyed, or another powerful action) An Illithid could be prone to going out on its own. With its free will, it’s in a position to make decisions on its own and possibly choose to be good.

The Gith will not be concerned about the Illithid’s position and will still kill it at first sight. Due to this, it’s still preoccupied with a Gith hunter group.

The Illithid would want to go out and build its own colony of protection in a secret area. It could also be less antagonistic and even prove to be a valuable all-weather partner for the cause of good.

Of course, all this could go out the window when it comes back within the vicinity of an Elder Brain.

Be aware, however, that the “good” Illithid would still have to eat brains. It could be okay with wicked creatures with some kind of ability, but it’s up to you to decide if it’s possible to be a cruel fate. the fate…

Don’t make the mistake of believing the Mind Flayer which claims to be a good one as being 100% authentic. Be aware that they’re extremely clever manipulators, and they may try to gain sympathy, before eventually eating your brains after they’ve gained your trust of you.

The Grand Design

As per the objectives in The Elder Brain, a Mind Flayer colony focuses on establishing the foundation for their operations before embarking on the task they believe will rebuild their power.

Being extremely intelligent they are able to have as much knowledge of the world as is possible. Incorporating all this knowledge in the Elder Brain as a type of vast storage of information and focusing the entire colony together in perfect harmony to achieve their objectives.

Certain of these objectives could be huge, while others appear simple in the comparison. However, all information can be useful to the Illithids in their quest for their Grand Design.

Goals And Strategy

Mind Flayers’ goals are totally dependent on their Elder Brain that controls them. What one colony believes to be the most important thing to what is considered to be the Grand Design may not even be considered by another colony.

Some goals might include:

  • The development of a method to ward off and eliminate the Gith
  • Rediscovering the secrets to creating Nautiloids
  • Facilitating the flow of intelligent guests to their homes for food. (Possibly by influencing the political system by creating rumors of old magical ruins or magic that appeals to people with intellectual inclinations, or simply dumping a whole city in the Underdark)

In the course of battling the humanoid population, three strategies are employed by Illithids to accomplish their objectives.

They could attempt to completely influence the population of the settlement, changing the inhabitants into inscrutable trillions. If they’re not able to successfully penetrate the city the Mind Flayers could instead concentrate on increasing their Elder Brain’s abilities to start influencing innocent residents of the settlement by this method.

However, it could be more effective for Mind Flayers to gain control of just a few crucial elements of the settlement. By sabotaging the community from within They can cause an unstoppable decline while the community is destroyed internally and thus, are incapable of fighting back against Mind Flayers’ attacks.

The Elder Brain might instead dictate that total destruction is the best option. Inflicting plagues, famines, and natural disasters on the populace, the aim is total destruction.

To learn more about the weaknesses of the settlement, Mind Flayers are taught everything they have to know by feeding the brains and brains of stragglers that reside there.

Magic And Psionic Powers

Mind Flayers possess extremely powerful psychic abilities that form the basis of their abilities.

They range from their telepathic communications to the Mind Blast ability to their ability to create enchantment.

Certain Mind Fighters (such as those in the Mind Flayer Psion variant in Volo’s Guide to Monsters) dedicate all their time to enhancing their inherent powers of psionic. The Illithids are able to imitate certain spells using only their personal psionic abilities.

Others, however, could be interested in studying Arcane magic.

Though they’re not very common (and generally shunned by their own colony) however, the combination of arcane and psionic powers makes Mind Flayer Arcanists (on page 222 of the Monster Manual) extremely perilous.

Minions & Monsters

Mind Flayers are not often encountered on their own, though encountering several Mind Flayers at once is not uncommon.

Due to their ability to create the illusion of a trillion and enchantment, any Mind Flayer that is going far away from their colony would receive additional security.

They typically are humanoids who have been captured, Duergar, Grimlocks, Kuo-Toa and Quaggoths. Obviously, anything that goes into the Illithids’ lands could be compelled to become a Thrall.

Imagine what you could do by a thrall of an Ogre!

Naturally, the experiments carried out by Mind Flayers have also resulted in the creation of new creatures that adventurers must be cautious about.

A Beholder, for instance, fitted with an Illithid tadpole transforms into the creature that is known as Mindwitness. Mindwitness. (Think about it like a Beholder with smaller eyes and many tentacles, which acts in the capacity of amplification for the elder brain’s connections to the psychic.)

Some of these creations are Neothelids (a tiny tadpole that is not placed into a host and continues to grow unchecked until it’s nearly as large as the Purple Worm and, somehow and still larger and more thirsty) and the well-known Intellect Devourers (which made our list of 12 monsters that will instantly kill your characters).

Variations of Mind Flayers

With Mind Flayers being among the first iconic monsters of the beginning in Dungeons & Dragons There is a myriad of variants on these monsters.

The main variations that have been published within the materials of 5e to the moment include:

  • Mind Flayer Arcanist Mind Flayer Arcanist – An arcanist-type Mind Flayer that blends arcane magic and its own psionic powers to produce dangerous results.
  • Mind Flayer Psion is one of the Mind Flayers who has increased its psionic capabilities to mimic other arcane spells in creative ways.
  • Altoona (Illithilich) Altoona (Illithilich) – Mind Flayer was exiled from the colony for the purpose of studying Arcane magic. They have successfully gone through an unusually-illusory process to become a the lich.
  • Ulitharid is a rare and powerful form of Mind Flayer that is capable of establishing its own colony and eventually becoming an Elder Brain itself.

Mind Flayers in Your Games

Whew! There are lots to the Mind Flayers, isn’t it?

After we’ve explained the basics of what they are and what they do, let’s move on to the details of how they impact your game!

Fighting For Mind Flayers

Mind Flayers have impressive mental stats but are lacking in physical skills. With a low strength, dexterity, and Constitution the mind-flayer can be slain in the event that you manage to take it down.

However, however, it is possible that Mind Flayer’s Mind Blast ability is able to knock out the entire party and result in the death of one or more characters.

Spells that let targets take save castings aren’t likely to perform well in this game (at least, not to Mind Flayers, or even against Mind Flayer itself) because of the tentacled monsters’ resistance to magic effects. However, trusted spells such as Magic Missile or Fire Bolt will allow you to do some damage from an appropriate distance.

The most significant threats to face in a fight with a Mind Flayer (not counting its other allies) include the Mind Blast and Dominate Monster capabilities.

By using Mind Blast, the Mind Flayer will have no trouble getting the brain of at most one person. Naturally, that character is likely to die in the event of this happening…

Also, if the Mind Flayer can effectively apply the technique of “Dominating Monster” on one of your group members, things can turn bad very quickly.

The bottom line is that you should develop a plan and be able to implement it swiftly. If you are able, maintain a safe distance from the Illithid from the Illithid and be prepared to utilize your Inspiration whenever the Illithid employs its Mind Blast If you own it.

Archers who can range are your best option to fight the Mind Flayer. They can keep an appropriate distance, utilize any terrain they encounter to their advantage and secure their targets down with a torrent of archers.

The longer a battle against a Mind Flayer drags on, the less chance there is of getting off.

Additionally, as one user has pointed out in Stack Exchange, use spells such as protection from evil and good to better withstand Mind Flayer’s attacks, and to be resistant to the charm effect of the Dominate Monster. (Even though the topic is focused on Pathfinder the same advice is applicable to 5e! )

Using Mind Flayers as a DM

Mind Flayers are extremely intelligent and extremely informed.

If the battle is inevitable for a Mind Flayer, you can almost guarantee that the fight is ready. With a few thralls and even a few Intellect Devourers in the mix, the fight will soon turn deadly for the group.

The Mind Flayer will search for the fastest methods to defeat the most powerful dangers. Mercy isn’t part of the Illithid game So don’t be scared to be uncompromising with its strategies!

In the end, as an animal with a 19-level Intelligence level, the Mind Flayer must take advantage of the strategic game.

If the group is congregating around, the shock effect of the Mind Blast will make them to become slumbering ducks. A 60-foot cone could be a disaster!

If not, then dominating the largest batter and turning them against their rivals is a great way to do it.

You could also look into using the Mind Flayer to dominate the ranged attacker of your party instead. The Mind Flayer make an alliance, also the best defense against the Mind Flayer’s tactics won’t be in their favor anymore!

If you’re looking to become more strategic when using the Mind Flayer, I’d suggest purchasing a copy of “The Monsters Are Educated About What They’re doing. You’ll have a difficult time not laughing out the traditional “mad scientist laughter” as you plan your encounter using this book’s guidance.


After a grueling fight with a Mind Flayer and, more difficult or a colony, it is likely that the party is anticipating a massive treasure hunt.

Unfortunately, Mind Flayers do not really care about treasure in this way. Gold and precious stones mean nothing to them and do nothing to advance their goals.

I understand however it is like a punch to the gut to endure an effort that is so difficult but then receive nothing.

A lot of money isn’t a good idea I’d recommend considering alternatives for magical items you can offer to the guests as a token of appreciation.

Maybe the Mind Flayers were trying to investigate the mysterious objects or perhaps they were simply tossed to the side while the previous owner’s brain was eaten.

To have survived their encounter with the kind of creature that is so terrifying The characters definitely have a right to some kind of reward, beyond the warm fuzzy feeling they receive for making their home at the very least, a bit safer.

Conclusion – Mind Flayers in Dnd 5e

What’s the matter? There’s a lot to say about Mind Flayers!

It’s no wonder that these are around for so long! They’re awe-inspiring, yet full of lore. Because of their style of operation, they can easily be added to virtually any story without feeling forced.

Have you ever faced a Mind Flayer within your game?

Let me know how it went in the comment section below!

People also ask

Can you play as mind flayers in DND?

A unique Dungeons and Dragons race offers players the chance to construct an individual who is infected by a mind flayer’s Tadpole.

How do you play a mind flayer D&D 5e?

What level should I be to fight mind flayers 5e?

Based on their real status block within The Monster Manuel, mind flayers reside in the tricky middle ground. If they have a 7 Challenge Rating the possibility is that they can be a deadly threat for a party of four players with four levels or a simple encounter for a group of four of eight levels.

What CR are mind flayers?

Mind Flayer Mind Flayer is a 7-CR monster. Be careful when playing it against an opponent that has a minimum of 6 average levels. The rest of the info shows you how to figure out the number of creatures that make an Easy-Medium, Hard, or Deadly encounter.

How powerful is a mind flayer?

The Mind Flayer is believed to possess an immense psychic ability that it can discern Eleven watching him from the vacuum even when Eleven did not make contact with the Mind Flayer aware of her presence. The Mind Flayer is also able to protect himself and his host from Eleven’s snooping and even keep Eleven in a vacuum.

What do mind flayers do?

Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)
In this article, the Mind flayer can be described as “a man-like, super-intelligent creature that has four tentacles in its mouth that are used to attack the target.” When it strikes prey with a tentacle the tentacle enters the brain and pulls it forward and allows the beast to devour the prey.

How do you beat Mind Flayers?

All Mind Flayers that are in this game are defeated through summoning. Swords animated with Mordenkainen’s Sword spell and the one summoned using the lengthy sword Ras are immune to anything that Mind Flayers or Umber Hulks possess.

Where do mind flayers plane shift to?

Most likely, they’ll only utilize it to escape quickly and escape, so they’d jump in the Astral or similar plane, after which they would return later after they’ve been secure. They could also use it for trading with powerful animals of the outer planes before shifting to Baator or one or the lower levels.

What are mind flayers weak to?

Weaknesses. Mind-flayers are susceptible to specific physical and mental illnesses. The exhaustion of one’s mental resources of psionic power on a frequent basis could result in brain injury known as a Psionic Cascade. It could trigger psionic powers at random and ultimately result in death.

Can mind flayers be good?

Be aware, however, that a “good” Illithid would still have to eat brains. This could be okay with evil creatures with some level of intellect, but it’s entirely your decision if this is possible to be a cruel fate. an outcome… Simply be sure not to misinterpret an Illithid Mind Flayer which declares to be good for being 100% authentic.



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