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As the question asks: Can a human who has had their body stolen by an intellect devourer undergo Ceremorphosis?

More importantly - would they allow such a transformation? I have taken a read through the relevant sections of the Monster Manual (MM) and Volos Guide to Monsters (VGM) and can't find anything to say.

Intellect Devourers would surely be aware of this procedure given that Mind Flayers create them to lead people to the Mind Flayers' lair to either have their brain sucked or undergo the transformation - as per information from MM.

In looking at VGM it only seems to compound the information above. I am at a loss as I have 2 players who have had their bodies stolen and the story does not say what should happen next.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for 5e lore or interested in lore from all editions? Any specific setting for the ceremorph? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 3, 2023 at 0:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I only have 5e material at the moment. Its a Dungeon of the Mad Mage game - I will take any lore that is still somewhat (even loosley) backed by information in the current Forgotten Realms setting. My players got hit by Intellect Devourers, 2 failed and now I am seeing what is possible given the colony of Mind Flayers 14 levels lower and the Mind Flayer in the room next door. \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2023 at 0:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ What's Ceremorphosis? \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2023 at 0:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TieflingDragon84 The process of being transformed into a Ceremorph (also called Illithids and Mind Flayers). \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2023 at 1:31

2 Answers 2

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Technically, yes. Lore-wise, probably not.

According to the D&D 5e Monster Manual, when the intellect devourer steals a body, they consume the brain and take its place, adopting the target's statistics. This includes type, meaning that they are humanoid. As a humanoid, it is technically vulnerable to ceremorphosis as described in Volo's Guide to Monsters.

However, we can look at the broader lore regarding ceremorphosis, as summarized in the Forgotten Realms Wiki article and D&D Lore Wiki article.

In particular, the process is highly sensitive with regard to the host, such as its species and brain chemistry. A healthy human makes a good host, but a human whose brain is an intellect devourer might not work. The process does sometimes work on aberrations (e.g. the beholder) but not others (e.g. it doesn't work on mind flayers).

The illithid tadpole which performs ceremorphosis begins by consuming the original creature's brain. It doesn't just fill in for a creature with a missing brain. In other words, it would have to consume the intellect devourer.

It's unclear if it can work that way, and mentions of it are absent. You'd think it would be an easy strategy for mind flayers to acquire new hosts, but instead, intellect devourers serve as imposters to lure new healthy humanoids to the mind flayers. Intellect devourers are not themselves eaten by mind flayers (although it's noted that immature are often eaten by mind flayers as a snack, which suggests that the mature intellect devourers are not eaten).

Ceremorphosis itself is generally described as being reserved for humanoids captured alive and in good health. Previous editions of the game often described the intellect devourer as more like temporarily animating a dead body, rather than properly becoming a new humanoid creature.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for that comprehensive break down :) \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2023 at 10:41
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No.

"the intellect devourer magically consumes the target's brain, teleports into the target's skull, and takes control of the target's body"

"Ceremorphosis was a bodily change that occurred when an illithid tadpole reached maturity and was inserted into the brain of another being, usually a human."

Basically the devourer has already eaten the brain and taken over before the tadpole can do the same.

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