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My (currently level 9) Divination Wizard has been implanted with an Illithid Tadpole. Through various events the Ceremorphosis was ended, and I was left with the live tadpole within me. I could have had it removed (the rest of the implanted people did), but decided not to in the hope that I could flip the tables and exert my own will upon it. The DM has already showed it possible, by letting me use it to power some kind of strange flying Illithid fish.

Since these events we have escaped and moved onto a new arc, but I remain very interested (both as a player and a character) in the living alien tadpole within my brain. To that end I am going to ask my DM if I can bring it more into the game by having it count as a magic item, and I am going to base my first proposal around the vestiges of divergence from EGtM, specifically I used Verminshroud because it wasn't a weapon and seemed reasonable in power.

The inspiration for the abilities are based on the Mindflayer (MM pg. 222), although it works well with my wizard who quite likes to exert their will upon people, communicate using the Message cantrip and counts detect thoughts as a basic way to say hello.

So, is this homebrew magic item balanced?

Illithid Tadpole

Wonderous item, legendary (requires attunement)

The technique required to ensure the host of the parasitic Illithid Tadpole does not undergo Ceremorphosis and transform into an Illithid is rare, but those lucky enough to be saved from this process can turn the tables and enforce their will upon the tadpole.

Dormant. While the tadpole is implanted you gain the following benefits:

• You gain telepathy out to a range of 120ft. You can share words, images, sounds, emotions and other sensory messages. The target recognises you as the sender and can reply in a like manner.

• As an action, you can use the Illithid Tadpole to cast the detect thoughts and levitate spells (Using Intelligence as the spellcasting modifier) requiring no verbal, somatic or material components. After each spell is cast in this manner it can't be used again until you complete a long rest.

Awakened. While the tadpole is implanted you gain the following benefits:

• You have resistance to psychic damage

• As an action, you can use the Illithid Tadpole to cast the detect thoughts and levitate spells (Using Intelligence as the spellcasting modifier) requiring no verbal, somatic or material components. After each spell is cast in this manner it can't be used again until you complete a short or a long rest.

Exalted. While the tadpole is implanted you gain the following benefits:

• You can cast the detect thoughts and levitate spells (Using Intelligence as the spellcasting modifier) using the Illithid Tadpole, at will, requiring no verbal, somatic or material components

• As an action, you can use the Illithid Tadpole to cast the dominate monster and plane shift (self only) spells (Using Intelligence as the spellcasting modifier) requiring no verbal, somatic or material components. After each spell is cast in this manner it can't be used again until you complete a long rest.

Notes:

This item lets me cast a spell from the divination school, but I know that won't work with the Expert Divination feature because it isn't using a spell slot - this is not an attempt to power game, but to fit a theme.

The DM will decide when to change the various states, and I will RP my many attempts at interacting and trying to experiment with the tadpole (and I also have some Illithid experiment notes which I regularly read and try to find less evil ways of replicating their experiments). It seems to fit with the general advise on how vestiges increase in power at certain levels.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you intend to mirror the progression guidance given for the Vestiges? "A Vestige of Divergence typically remains dormant until its wielder achieves 9th level. It becomes awakened between levels 9 and 15, and achieves an exalted state between levels 16 and 20. Ultimately, though, this progression is determined by the Dungeon Master." \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov that is up to the DM, but it roughly fits so is probably what I would suggest of them \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jan 5 at 18:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri For clarification, at exalted level does the attuned creature have to choose which spell they can cast at will? " You can cast either the detect thoughts or levitate spells using the Illithid Tadpole at will." Either/or implies only one of the two can be cast at will. As well, do they now need components for these spells, where they didn't need them for the previous 2 forms? I know you aren't concerned with rules lawyering but these 2 things need clarification. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri did you meant to say "or" as in "detect thoughts or levitate" as in they choose one OR the other and they stick to their choice, or can the PC cast either of the spells? \$\endgroup\$
    – Thank-Glob
    Jan 5 at 21:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @wakinadivellir same as it means for the mindflayer I based the power off, whatever that may be. In reality it means I ask the DM where I can go, and most likely means the group are dead and I am escaping to who cares where. I see that as more of a ribbon effect despite it being a powerful spell, the limit pretty much neuters it \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jan 7 at 19:44
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Disclaimer

First of all this sounds like a fun way to merge fun and functionality.

I would advise discussing with your DM whether they meant this to be something explicitly useful in the long run or it was meant to be a fun way to reward your decision without further plans to emphasize on it.

A Legendary item (even if it is one that is not all powerful at the beginning) that cannot be taken away from you might slightly overpowered compared to other items (even if it requires attunement).

I just checked the other items in EGW and they are all around the place from advantage to skill check, through 8th level spell (evolving DC and max CR for target) to a "1 minute of fame" transformation, so it is pretty much impossible to balance anything base on these items. They are not even in the same league with each other, in my opinion, to begin with.

I would recommend the following modifications:

General

Consider changing the following for mechanical reasons and transparency

As an action, you can use the Illithid Tadpole to cast (...)

to

You can cast (...) without expending a spell slot. You can also cast the spell using any spell slots you have.

The reason being: In your version it might be considered "item use" rather than casting. It might help to avoid issues about the number of spells you can cast in a turn as it would not apply to the "using an item" action, while saying it is a straightforward casting, it would. If your DM is lenient, maybe add a: You always have these spells prepared and they do not count against the number of spells you can prepare.

Consider giving it curse like effect:

Symbiotic

This item is symbiotic living object. Attuning to it make it root its tendrils into your you blood vessels for sustenance, without the neural connection to your brain to control you. You can only end your attunement permanently by a casting of greater restoration or similar spell targeting the Illithid Tadpole or by physical removal via a 2 hour long surgery ending with a Medicine Check (DC20) from the surgeon to avoid complications.


Awakened

Consider changing the following for transparency

(...) detect thoughts and levitate spells

to

(...) detect thoughts or levitate spells

As the following clarifies at the end that each can be cast once per long rest: After each spell is cast in this manner it can't be used again until you complete a short or a long rest.


Exalted

Consider changing the following for balance reasons

First of all two non-combat spells at will is not that big of a deal, but you also included the 8th level spell Dominate Monster, so let's compare to something similar.

Wreath of the Prism

You need to hit a target, DC17, CR15 or lower target, beast, dragon, or monstrosity

Illithid Tadpole

Up to DC18 without items, CR anything, requiring no verbal, somatic or material components.

In addition to the two 2nd level spells and the Plane Shift (self only)

Recommendation: Instead the two high level spells at Exalted consider settling for a smaller improvement or a different extra ability


Extra ability Idea 1:

Mix of a psi warrior and a soulknife abilities with some minor tweaks

You harbor a wellspring of psionic energy within yourself.

Your energy is represented by your Psionic Energy dice which are all a d6. You have a number of these dice equal to twice your proficiency bonus. You regain all your expended Psionic Energy dice when you finish a long rest. As your body adapts to the psionic powers of the Tadpole, the size of your Psionic Energy dice increases: at Awakened (d8), at Exalted (d10).

The powers below use your Psionic Energy dice.

Protective Field

When you or another creature you can see within 30 feet of you takes damage, you can use your reaction to expend one Psionic Energy die, roll the die, and reduce the damage taken by the number rolled plus your Intelligence modifier.

Spatial Distortion

If you make a ranged attack roll and miss the target, you can use your reaction to expend one Psionic Energy die, roll the die and add the number rolled to the attack roll.


Extra ability idea 2

Mind Blast (Recharge 5–6)

You can emit psychic energy in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must succeed on an Intelligence saving throw against your spell save DC or take 4d8 psychic damage and be stunned for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

This is a slightly modified version of the Illithid ability, in damage it is around the same value as cantrips but it is has a nice built in control effect tied to your spell save DC.

There are many ways to tailor it as well for lower frequency but better reliability. A few possibilities you could consider:

You can use it a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. All uses recharge after taking a long rest.

You can use it two times. All uses recharge after taking a short or long rest.

You can use it once per turn, but suffer half the damage caused by the ability without being subjected to the stun effect.


Extra ability idea 3

Intelligence Bonus If you are okay with less complicated methods to spare your action economy in return for a more static buff you could give it a scaling bonus of +1,+2,+3 for Intelligence.

PS: I appreciate anybody reading the above, the formatting might be not the most helpful yet unfortunately. Tried my best, but this is my first time with this tool. Please feel free to let me know if it got into the way of clarity in any way

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't express how much I love the curse idea! I don't necessarily agree on your exalted suggestion that it is too powerful, but if that is the consensus then I will go with it - as this is for me I would focus on abilities I want to use so would pick your Intelligence bump if I went that route, or I am now thinking dominate person instead of dominate monster maybe. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    yesterday

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