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Background:

I am starting to play a certainly chaotic, not necessarily evil (depending on your viewpoint) character, which is looking for a reason to go adventuring with a group of magic-using, but otherwise rather mundane characters (i.e., regular village folks going out in the world to solve some plain-folks problem).

My character is from a quirky system and basically comparable to an Ilithid in D&D lore; I'm also nicking parts of the D&D background for him (for his city, deities etc.) although the rest of the world is not D&D based. So, basically a mostly humanoid, tentacled, psionic brain eater from a (from their viewpoint) very advanced high culture based on arts, literature, architecture etc., but not popular with other races due to their brains being on the menu once a day. Unlike the way Ilithids or Mind Flayers are usually portrayed in D&D, he looks pretty normal, except for the tentacles and slightly more reptilian eyes and nose (think Voldemort). The rest of his physique is bog-standard human.

My toon has pretty nefarious religious long-term goals (basically, to make the world ready for the return of one of the Ilithid deities through rituals, ancient magic tomes or whatever) which makes it necessary to go out and about and visit places, possibly along with a party of regular folks. Aside from that, and aside from their cities regularly employing huge numbers of thralled sentients as food, and aside from having to consume a brain more or less daily, there is nothing particularly evil about him (if you are from the Ilithid culture, obviously!) on a personal, small scale. He is intelligent and charismatic, and as part of a group certainly able to play the good samaritan if it benefits his own goals.

Day-to-day, his only evil aspect is the brain-eating, and he is perfectly capable of not feasting on the small group he's gallivanting with; and to hide is eating habits as long as possible; and not to eat important NPCs. Otherwise, he is not cruel, he does not look down on his food, he only kills what he eats, etc.

We had our first session, and it worked out great; we accidentally met in a common plight and quested our way out of it, and the world now is ours to explore, with each of us having their little or large individual goals. The way the DM runs his campaign is that all of this is not known to the other players, and there is plenty of 1:1 going on between sessions. We players know each other for a long time, are all mature, and there is little risk of anything going wrong in out-time, but everybody only knows about the other characters whatever we learn during play.

Question:

As mentioned in the answers to a vaguely similar question, or this one, I am fully aware of the possibility that the other characters will reject this one when they learn his true nature, and am prepared to "hand him over to the GM" and/or maybe even being fought/killed. Those two questions focus on evil characters, but as laid out above, I do not consider mine to be evil per se, although other inhabitants in the world would certainly do so.

Have you played something similar in the past, and do you have some hints or inspiration how to keep this running in an interesting manner (for everyone involved) for as long as possible without breaking disbelief constantly or at all?

To try and focus the question more: how to play a character which on the one hand is not directly adverse to the other characters (he has no nefarious intent towards them, has no will or reason to harm them, and could for all intents and purposes be a valuable long-term member of a roving band of adventurers), but if his true biological nature would be discovered would probably lead to immediate and total disgust and rejection if the other characters are played true to their nature? Hiding it forever does not seem to be an option for practical reasons (i.e., the question "why do you never eat with us" would come up very soon; his tentacles and brain-eatery is also a valid combat technique, and the first time he used it without hiding it very well would also be quite the event...).

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    \$\begingroup\$ It would seem that your brain-eater runs into trouble whenever your party needs to travel any further than a day into the wilderness...if not from their party, where will they find their daily food source? Any substantial quantity of creatures that explicitly predates on humanoids is going to have inherent problems with sustainable food sourcing without heavy handwaving or very low frequency dining. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cronax
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 13:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've voted to close as "opinion based", this seems to me to be a pretty open-ended "idea generation" question. This question may be better suited for a more traditional discussion forum, see here for our curated list: I've been told my question is better suited to a forum, but where should I go? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 14:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Have you played something similar" seems to put this on the right side of "Good Subjective" standards -- at least to my eye. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ How to keep this running for as long as possible without breaking disbelief is well-focused on a specific roleplaying issue, "some hints or inspiration" is not exactly what we should posit, but that doesn't stop the question from being fine. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 9:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nice to see that some of you find the question interesting and have already started to spout ideas! I've added a paragraph trying to focus the question. @Senmurv \$\endgroup\$
    – AnoE
    Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 11:28

1 Answer 1

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Be Worth More Alive Than Dead

I have played the other side of that. I've played a character who slowly comes to the realization that one of my companions is an eldritch horror whose very existence is antithetical not only to any common plebian notions of good, but in fact is, eventually, diametrically opposed to the existence of the world as the rest of us know it.

I mean, other than that, he's not a bad guy. Some really gross eating habits, but, no judgment.

So, why don't we all snuff him out like the made-from-brains eldritch horrorshow that he is? Well, we're friends, ya know? We've all got each other's backs. We've been through some stuff.

Think Belkar from the Order of the Stick. Sure, he's a murderous sexy barefoot god of war, and doesn't hide it, but he's got a lot of good qualities, too.

Or Amos Burton from The Expanse. Sure he's absolutely a stone-cold conscience-less homicidal killer, but he is also explicitly completely and totally loyal. And a bad-ass in a fight.

You might also explore TV Tropes' explorations of vampires and similar monsters to look for other inspirations.

Do a slow reveal

Eventually you're going to have to let on that you're not quite like everyone else in some kinda yucky ways. You might consider small reveals to individual fellow characters to work up to full disclosure. That's how it's gone with us.

Someday your desire to destroy the world is going to come between us

But, as you've pointed out, there's a good chance things aren't going to work out in the long run. It's one thing to look the other way when one of your companions needs to chow down on some brainz that were dead anyway, it's a whole 'nother thing to actively aid and abet the destruction of everything you hold dear. If you stay the course on world destruction, at some point you and your companions are going to throw down one way or another.

Maybe it's just a phase you're going through

On the other hand, maybe you can just get over it. The eldritch horror version of testifying against the mob and going into witsec. That might actually be more fun in the long run.

I mean, do you HAVE to eat brains? How much like a true illithid are you? Maybe it's just cultural habit? Maybe scrambled tofu or mushrooms would be similar. And do they HAVE to be sentient brains?

Or maybe you can go straight and become a useful member of society. Maybe an executioner. Or maybe working for a clandestine intelligence service.... Illithid 007, Licensed to Eat Brains! After all, sometimes governments and other powerful entities employ those with less than savory skill sets, often in secret and with the ability to dis-avow.

Good luck!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Slow reveal" sounds good; my char does not have enough rapport with the other 'toons to reveal anything at all yet, but dealing this info out piecemeal will certainly be my focus and be the short-term interesting stuff making all of this worthwhile. And "just a phase" - very interesting, I hadn't thought of that! A pro-life mind-flayer, and we thought there's nothing new under the sun. :) Will chew on that. \$\endgroup\$
    – AnoE
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 12:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Chew on that", ha ha, I saw what you did there! I mean, do you HAVE to eat brains? How much like a true illithid are you? Maybe it's just cultural habit? Maybe scrambled tofu or mushrooms would be similar. And do they HAVE to be sentient brains? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ The image the GM and myself have in our minds right now (derrrp) is that he indeed can only subsist on actual brain matter. He does get additional benefits from "special" brains (i.e. when eating a magician or someone else who has a pretty interesting state of mind), but can eat any brain. I would also go so far as to propose to the DM that he is allowed to eat animal brains - since they're smaller and have no "thought content", it would maybe have some little drawbacks, but avoid starvation). The char is almost like a true illithid, just not looking so gross. \$\endgroup\$
    – AnoE
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like you could be a useful member of society working for a clandestine intelligence service, or perhaps as an executioner.... Illithid 007, Licensed to Eat Brains! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Dang, keep it rolling. Good ideas! :) Brains - shaken, not stirred. \$\endgroup\$
    – AnoE
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 13:43

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