What would happen if a character came in contact with or even became immersed in brine from an Illithid Elder Brain's brine pool?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I rephrased your title to be clearer. You may want to add some details to your question (such as what race of characters you are referring to). \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Rose Nov 19 '17 at 4:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Volo's would be the authoritative guide on this, I'll try to take a look at it later to see if it says anything. The most obvious one is drowning however. \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Rose Nov 19 '17 at 9:47

Volo says little:

Volo's Guide to Monsters, the only authoritative 5e source where we might expect to see anything, only has

an elder brain sprawls within a vat of viscous brine, touching the thoughts of creatures near and far,


the creature dwells in a dimly glowing brine pool, filled with foul and brackish water infused with the elder brain's vital fluids and with psionic energy. (Both p.173, emphasis mine.)

So there's certainly daylight to steer yourself toward making up some sort of psionic effect that might occur when contacting elder brine. But there's nothing authoritative--in 5e lore or in the elder brain's stats, lair actions, &c--to say that elder brine itself has any effect.

According to R.A.Salvatore, there's no effect.

In Exile (published during 2e) we find a protagonist enslaved by mind flayers. Assigned to massage the illithid community's central brain, where

only a very few slaves were allowed within this special tower, captives with sensitive and delicate fingers that could massage the illithid god-thing and soothe it with tender brushes and warm fluids.... Drow elves always had proved skilled at this task, and this latest captive was one of the finest so far. (pp. 207, 219)

We see from Drizzt's time serving that the elder brine has no notable effects. Perhaps he's more-attuned to the elder brain's needs, but that seems to be shaken off as readily as the mind flayers' dominion.

As for immersion, I'll point you to PHB p. 183 for rules on drowning. =)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I have Volo's, and reading it came to roughly the same conclusion that in the 5e system, the brine has no particular effect to characters. Still I find that a little difficult to believe, since it is infused with "psionic energy," and is potentially somewhat toxic, so I'll embellish as necessary. \$\endgroup\$ – robbpriestley Nov 19 '17 at 15:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @robbpriestley A loud shout has sonic (thunder in 5e damage types) energy, but does not necessarily harm someone being shouted at. Warm water has some thermal energy, not harmful, while boiling water has more thermal energy and is harmful. Perhaps a matter of density and degree? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 22 '17 at 20:39

It seems reasonable to imagine a pool charged with psychic energy might stun those dropped into it, much like a mind blast. But that isn't the problem....

Everyone seems to be forgetting something critical about Elder Brain pools.

An Elder Brain pool is literally swarming with Illithid tadpoles (see the description in the MM or VG) – if you fall into the pool or are drawn into it by the Brain's tentacles, you will be exposed to thousands of tadpoles all over your body, and chances are high that you will either swallow one by accident or have one crawl into an ear... and that is the first step in ceremophosis into an Mind Flayer. Once a player is exposed to a tadpole, the character has less than an hour to live. Once the tadpole dissolves its way to the brain, removing it is nearly impossible. The character is doomed to a truly horrible death.


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