The intellect devourer's Body Thief action states that the Intellect devourer "takes control of the target's body." We know that the victim's body is still alive and counts as a creature.

The ghost's Possession action states "The ghost now controls the body but doesn't deprive the target of awareness."

So does the ghost override the intellect devourer to control the humanoid in question?

Also, in terms of the Charisma save, would the save automatically fail since the target is ultimately the humanoid, or would the intellect devourer attempt the save with its own Charisma to try and maintain control of the body?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ As your "bonus question" is substantially different from your original one (and might have a distinct answer), I've edited it out of the post. You're welcome to ask it separately. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 1:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sounds reasonable \$\endgroup\$
    – Lumenbeing
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 3:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It seems to me that the removed "bonus question" could be answered just as easily by the same explanation of the mechanics of the Body Thief ability since it seems like the question is based on a misunderstanding of how Body Thief actually works. \$\endgroup\$
    – Seidr
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 3:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Alright, so, a Ghost possesses a human, then an Intellect Devourer chomps the brain, making it a corpse, then a Dybbuk hops into the corpse. Body Party! \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 11:52

2 Answers 2


Yes, the possession does override the intellect devourer and the intellect devourer would most likely want to abandon ship at that point, but could technically choose to stay along for the ride for a while to keep from being exposed. When the target dies, both the ghost and the intellect devourer would be forced out.

In light of another answer challenging some of the basic assumptions listed in the OP, here are the reasons why an intellect devourer's host is a valid target for a ghost's Possession.

Possession only requires it's target to be a humanoid. It says nothing about being conscious or "having awareness to begin with. The other answer has questioned whether an intellect devourer's host still counts a creature, and further questioned that if it was in fact a creature, was it still a humanoid.

Okay, so what's a creature?

There is no technical definition of what constitutes a "creature" in the 5e books. Jeremy Crawford has tweeted that a creature is a "being" of one of the types listed in the Monster Manual introduction.

But wait, does it lose its creaturehood if its dead?

No. Let's look at the Resurrection spell.

You touch a dead creature that has been dead for no more than a century, that didn't die of old age, and that isn't undead.

Right. So being dead does not stop a creature from being a creature otherwise there would be no such thing as a "dead creature". But this is all a moot point anyway because the host is explicitly NOT dead. According to the Body Thief description, the host body is still alive until the intellect devourer leaves or is driven out of the brain cavity of the host body. There is no "effectively dead" or "dead for all intents and purposes" here. The body, the creature (I covered that) is not dead.

But wait! Is it still a humanoid?

This is getting a little circular, but Jeremy Crawford tweeted the humanoid is a creature type and a creature is a humanoid if they are of that type.

A creature type is a statistic found in a creature's stat block. If only we had a stat block for an intellect devourer in a host.

In Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (p. 210), we have a stat block for

Meloon Wardragon, an NPC possessed by an intellect devourer. It lists him as "Medium Humanoid (human), neutral evil" and we see that he knows Deep Speech and has telepathy 60 ft.

Based on the text that follows his stat block, under the heading "Adjusted Game Statistics", we see that is he is restored to his old self, his alignment changes, and he loses the Deep Speech and the telepathy. It does not say that his creature type changes to humanoid. And it would, since other game effects clearly call those types of changes out.

Looking at this stat block, we can conclude that this NPC is a valid target for a Ghost's Possession attack because he has the humanoid creature type.


There is effectively no humanoid the Ghost can target

The way that I am reading the Body Thief ability of the Intellect Devourer is that the brain is destroyed.

(Emphasis mine)

Body Thief. The intellect devourer initiates an Intelligence contest with an incapacitated humanoid within 5 feet of it. If it wins the contest, the intellect devourer magically consumes the target's brain, teleports into the target's skull, and takes control of the target's body. -Monster Manual pg. 191

The brain is consumed by the Devourer, essentially leaving the body just a shell or a husk with a cavity left in the skull that the Devourer then resides in to control the husk of the former creature. This is further supported further down the description of the ability:

The intellect devourer is also forced out if the target regains its devoured brain by means of a wish. -Monster Manual pg. 191

The Ghost's Possession ability reads as (emphasis mine):

One humanoid that the ghost can see within 5 feet of it must succeed on a DC 13 Charisma saving throw or be possessed by the ghost; the ghost then disappears, and the target is incapacitated and loses control of its body. -Monster Manual pg. 147

The original creature no longer has control of it's body as it is, and is for all intents and purposes dead once the Devourer actually consumes the brain and assumes control of the body, so it could be reasoned that the Ghost wouldn't even be able to target it since it would no longer technically be a humanoid, just a human body being piloted by an Intellect Devourer which cannot be possessed by a ghost.

While the Ghost would not "deprive the target of awareness", the target effectively no longer exists even if it could somehow possess the body and so has no awareness to be deprived.

"We know that the victim's body is still alive and counts as a creature."

While the body is still alive due it later saying the body dies if the Devourer leaves, it doesn't say that the body itself still counts as a creature even though you could infer that. And even if it were a creature, it wouldn't necessarily count as a humanoid since it is basically a mech suit made of meat that contains the Devourer.

The last sentence of Body Thief reads:

The body then dies, unless its brain is restored within 1 round. -Monster Manual pg. 191

It doesn't actually state that the "creature" the Devourer targeted dies, just the body dies. This would imply that the creature is effectively dead the moment the brain is consumed.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ It does say that the body is still a creature, though. It says "while inside a creature..." \$\endgroup\$
    – Lumenbeing
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 7:30
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ If that were not the case, it would be impossible to target an intellect devourer with almost any spell that requires a "creature" as a target, including Protection from Evil and Good. And we know that that spell CAN target the host body because its listed as a way to end Body Thief. And since the intellect devourer "otherwise adopts the target's statistics" it adopts its creature type, which is "humanoid." \$\endgroup\$
    – Lumenbeing
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 7:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it's safe to say, that the original creature is "brain dead", but even more: taking @Lumenbeing 's comment into account, if the intellect devourer adopts the target's type, doesn't that imply that the target is basically discarded (devouring a humanoid does not result in the existence of two humanoids)? On the other hand, if the ghost can't possess an intellect devourer but the type is now humanoid, one could even argue that the ghost can possess the intellect devourer under these circumstances. \$\endgroup\$
    – hajef
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 10:30

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