I had a really interesting idea for a character for D&D 5e-an Illithid PC. They're a rogue who, at first, prefers to work alone like your stereotypical edgelord and just kill bad people and consume brains. But as they journey with other mercenaries, they realize that hey, maybe other people aren't that bad? There could be some interesting conflict over the brain-eating stuff.

I came up with this statblock/feature list:

  • +2 to WIS, +1 to DEX

  • Once/rest, has the ability to release a psychic blast in a 15-foot line, dealing 2d6 psychic damage. Increases to 3d6 at lv. 6, 4d6 at lv. 11, and 5d6 at lv. 17.

  • 60 ft. darkvision (cannot discern color, only shades of grey)

  • can C O N S U M E brains of creatures at 0 HP to gain temp hit points equal to 1d6+proficiency bonus (once/long rest)

  • can speak with willing creatures within a 60-foot radius telepathically

  • languages: Deep Speech, Common

Tell me if this is too OP or not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I swear I've seen this before.... lemme do some digging. \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Mar 13, 2023 at 16:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Heavily related: Not pushing for a dupe at this time. Is This Homebrew Mind Flayer Race Balanced? \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Mar 13, 2023 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did base it off that race, but I felt as if it was a bit OP. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 13, 2023 at 17:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question linked by @goodguy5 is much better formatted. And if that was your starting point, you should have linked it and described what have you changed and why. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Mar 13, 2023 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, no-I found it originally here: dandwiki.com/wiki/Illithid_(5e_Race) but I thought it was overpowered \$\endgroup\$ Mar 13, 2023 at 19:11

2 Answers 2


From balance point of view:

  1. Attributes - since MPMM most races have attributes in form of +2/+1 or three +1 to any different attributes. So, allowing only +2/+1 is a bit less flexible than last races. Still, it's pretty much staple of what almost all races get, so it's fine. 2.7/5 power-wise.

  2. Psychic blast - really strong feature. It deals ~7 damage at begining, 10.5 at 6th level, 14 at 11th, 17.5 at 17th and it doesn't require any roll to hit or saving throw. For comparison - dragonborns - another race with breath weapons - deal average of 5.5 at 1st level, 11 at 5th, 16.5 at 11th, 22 at 17th - not much more than your option. But they require a Dexterity save (which many monsters/enemies often have high) that can half the damage easily. Dragonborns can use their ability a bit more often in one battle, while Illithid can use use it several times per day easily (with enough of short rests) 4/5 power-wise. Strong damaging option. I've assumed that psychic blast is used as action and recharges on short rest - but since I can't read thoughts and guess what was intended - I'd add that if it's done with bonus action - it would go one level higher and if it recharges only at long rests - one category lower

  3. 60 ft darkvision - many races have it, so it's okay ability. 3.3/5 power-wise

  4. Consume - ability that is strong at low level (almost doubles hp of first level character) but goes down more levels. 3/5 power-wise, since it really shines at first levels, but about level 7-10 it becomes almost useless. Once again - while it's less important than in psychic blast - you need to describe more about how it works and which action it uses, if used in combat. I've assumed that illithid needs to be standing next to a corpse that was recently slain (no more than a minute) and use it as action. Changes to it may move rating one way or another (especially if illithid doesn't have to be standing next to a corpse or does it as a reaction, when someone is killed)

  5. Telepathy - really strong - equivalent of an always active 3rd level spell (tongues). Of course, in pure fighting campaign it won't work as good, but in all other cases - very useful. 4/5 - and may be 5/5 for social campaign where contacting someone is important.

  6. Languages - 2 languages is pretty standard for most characters. 3/5


Race is moderately powerful with both combat and utility abilities. I'd give it 4/5 on a power scale. Also it requires some editing to make it clear - how its abilities work.

P.S. I focused on balance issues. I have some doubts that lore-wise it would fit any setting, but it wasn't the point of the question.


Some balance, mostly character ideas

Remove the Telepathy, style the character as the result of a failed Ceremorphosis where the character was unable to connect to the Elder Brain, and was hunted by the "hive", having to pick up the Rogue level to get away.

Make it able to subsist off of regular food; the brains, instead of vital nourishment, provide the temporary hit points you suggest (good call). Add in tentacles, without the damage, for grappling/eating purposes (and flavor):


Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.

If the target is Medium or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 15).

Extract Brain

Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target already grappled by the mind flayer.

Hit: The target takes 3d10 piercing damage.

If this damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the mind flayer kills the target by extracting and devouring its brain. The first time the mind flayer devours a brain after a long rest, it gains a number of temporary hit points equal to the number of hit dice of the target.

My advise is to have the original human's base personality still existing, just memory-wiped and convinced by the Illithid tadpole that they are an Illithid. The tadpole itself could even be dead, after the failed Ceremorphosis. That way, the base personality could "guide" the Illithid memories into adhering to a non-Lawful Evil behavior and e.g. avoiding snacking on sentients.

Note that an Illithid which doesn't eat sentient brains can't use psychic abilities, i.e. your Psychic Blast. (Well, at least according to 3.5e Lords of Madness)

Speaking of that Psychic Blast, consider restyling that as an Innate Spellcasting ability of the Mind Sliver (credit to Jack) cantrip:

Psychic Blast

Innate Spellcasting: The Illithid innately knows and can cast the Mind Sliver cantrip as a 1st level Warlock. Its innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom.

That way, we're firmly in the realm (here, at least) of what can be expected of a 1st level character.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The Mind Sliver cantrip in TCE is good option for psychic blast \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 15, 2023 at 2:23

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