During an episode of Critical Role, the PCs battle an Illithid Elder Brain. I tried to find out more about this creature for possible inclusion in a campaign, but it barely has a mention in the Illithid section of the Monster Manual (just a sentence stating that it exists), and I can't find any stat blocks for it.

Is this a creature with an official 5e stat block, or something houseruled? If there are official 5e stats for it, in which publication could I find them?

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    \$\begingroup\$ By "this creature" do you mean the elder brains in general, or the particular individual that appeared in Critical Role? \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Grant Jun 15 '17 at 3:20

Official Stats are in Volo's Guide to Monsters

Volo's Guide to Monsters (released November 2016) includes many additional Illithid variants and related creatures. One of these is the Elder Brain.

The official Elder Brain description can be found on pages 173 and 174 of Volo's Guide and includes lair actions, regional effects, a full stat block, and lore on the nature of the Elder Brain.

But Matt Mercer's Elder Brain is homebrewed

Matt Mercer's Elder Brain appeared well before the publication of Volo's Guide, and thus is distinctly homebrewed. Additionally, Matt himself has stated:

...and at full strength [the Elder Brain] is a CR 20 creature.

This doesn't line up at all with the official publication, which only has a CR of 14. A quick search didn't turn up any exact stats for his Elder Brain, only a meager collection from the third party critical role stats site which has the following information:

  • Elder Brain First Appearance: 10 K’Varn Revealed
  • Armor Class 18 (at weakest), 20 (before party flees)
  • 320 damage taken and “not on death’s door yet”
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good catch. Since the release of Volo's Guide to Monsters, this is now The Correct Answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Grant Jun 15 '17 at 2:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TimGrant If it wasn't the monster the people in critical role faced, is it really the right answer? I am still upvoting it. \$\endgroup\$ – BobTheAverage Jun 15 '17 at 3:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BobTheAverage, good point, it hadn't occurred to me the OP might have been asking about the particular elder brain individual. I’ve asked the OP to clarify. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Grant Jun 15 '17 at 3:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TimGrant Indeed, a good point. I've updated the answer to include an analysis of Matt's Elder Brain, and what little stats I could find for it. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Jun 15 '17 at 3:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for visiting my ancient question and providing updated info; I've updated this to be the correct answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Liesmith Jun 15 '17 at 11:04

The Out of the Abyss Module makes reference to an Elder brain named Cyrog, and the D+ App will make have a story about Orcus and Cyrog at some point. However they do not have an adventure for those characters and thus no stat block.

However, there is, in my opinion a well published homebrew elder brain stat block for 5e in Google docs.


Likely house bred. A current stat block doesn't exist for the Elder Brain, though there are several home brews available for reference. An example is the Elder Brain from D&D Wiki.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That copy-paste was done without following the licensing requirements, so I've replaced it with a link to the original. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 7 '15 at 2:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie - So, a link was the appropriate path this time? \$\endgroup\$ – Drunk Cynic Nov 7 '15 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Better than violating copyright at least. Whether what remains is a good answer is a different realm of consideration. Generally, what we look for beyond a bare links is editorial, “value added” material in the answerer's own words. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 7 '15 at 2:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ …but as you're just pointing to it as an example of how there's no official, only homebrew stats, probably there isn't much more to say about the link itself. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 7 '15 at 3:09

The Lords of Madness supplement book is dedicated to Aberrations. There are detailed descriptions of the Illithid society, as well as stat blocks. Elder Brain is on page 144.

Unfortunately, it's a 3.5e book, but still a useful reference. Conversion is possible, too.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the “conversion” method in that document is (paraphrased) “Open the DMG to the monster-creation section and recreate the monster from scratch,” so that doesn't improve on the status quo in the question or explain where the podcasters got the creature from. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 18 '15 at 16:25

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