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I'm writing an adventure where a major NPC is actually occupied by an Intellect Devourer. As I read the description in the monster manual, the Devourer uses magic to teleport inside the victim's head, eats their brain and effectively takes over driving the body. There seems to be no illusion involved, it feels like the Intellect Devourer winds up physically "plugged in" in place of the original brain- although magic can be used to drive the Devourer out.

How would you referee this? Would a character with Truesight detect anything unusual when dealing with the poor sap the Devourer is controlling?

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The ability truesight says:

A monster with truesight can, out to a specific range, see in normal and magical darkness, see invisible creatures and objects, automatically detect visual illusions and succeed on saving throws against them, and perceive the original form of a shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic. Furthermore, the monster can see into the Ethereal Plane within the same range.

However, the intellect devourer does none of those things. The creature it's controlling is still in it's original form - it has not been transformed.

In addition, the intellect devourer's Body Thief special ability says:

While inside a creature, the intellect devourer has total cover against attacks and other effects originating outside the host.

Truesight is most certainly an "effect originating outside the host" and it does not allow you to see through total cover.

In short, Truesight won't help.

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Probably, no

There was a tweet about what is seen by truesight. Jeremy Crawford's answer was:

Truesight—its definition (PH, 185) says what it does.

So, by definition, the Truesight says it allows you to "perceive the original form of a creature that is transformed by magic":

Truesight
A creature with truesight can, out to a specific range, see in normal and magical darkness, see invisible creatures and objects, automatically detect visual illusions and succeed on saving throws against them, and perceives the original form of a shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic. Furthermore, the creature can see into the Ethereal Plane.

While the Devourer's victim is definitely transformed (their brains were replaced with a vile creature) by magic, its form wasn't changed, although (read - up to the DM) it is arguable what "form" is. Another tweet claims that truesight can't see through total cover:

Truesight pierces invisibility, illusions, darkness, and false forms. It doesn't pierce total cover

It is total cover what the Devourer has according to the Body Thief feature description:

While inside a creature, the intellect devourer has total cover against attacks and other effects originating outside the host.

So the Devourer inside a skull is safe.

The DM can say otherwise

For the sake of the plot, the DM can say that the victim is "tansformed by magic" enough to become noticeable for a truesight user. Is this ruling necessary, is completely up to the DM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "While the Devourer's victim is definitely transformed" - So you say true sight might detect that victim is transformed, only it is "void" because its external form is the same? \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Nov 22 '17 at 23:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot it is nothing but a literal reading of the feature description - "A creature with truesight ... perceives the original form of a creature that is transformed by magic" \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Nov 23 '17 at 11:49

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