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In the next story arc, the party are heading down through some old Dwarven mines, so naturally they're going to come across a few underdark beasties, namely the Intellect Devourer.

Currently, they are all level 5 and will likely remain so while doing this arc. What options do the players have for reversing the effects of Devour Intellect?

I am interested in all of the ways that this can be reversed, preferably starting with options available to second-tier parties. (Character levels 5 through 10, p. 10, Basic Rules).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is your intent to have only one, or multiple, ways for them to overcome this depending upon how they follow or pick up clues, treasure, NPC interactions, etc? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 7 '16 at 16:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ preferably as many ways as they can potentially have, but they are only level 5 so the options may well be limited \$\endgroup\$ – Jamie Brace Sep 8 '16 at 8:52
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Well, the standard answer would be "Greater Restoration", however:

As the guy who wrote that ecology, you don't. Here's how Intellect Devourers work. They devour your intellect then they meld into your brain and turn you into their prey. It's in the Monster Manual. They're ambush predators and strike when you're alone. So, ideally, you can't really recover the lost intelligence. It takes a long rest. So, if you get ambushed (and they don't attack parties. They attack single or duo victims), you get stunned, they take over your brain and then they make you lure others.

Parsing that is somewhat complex, but it seems as though (and this follows for a CR2 creature IMO) that you should regain your mental capabilities after a long rest.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/DnDBehindTheScreen/comments/3cridh/5e_intellect_devourer_how_do_you_regain/csym9ca

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Might help this answer if you include the verbiage where it says long rest regains lost ability points. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Sep 7 '16 at 16:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth I've included that portion with the post. The problem is, it does not say 'a long rest regains lost ability points'. To my knowledge only greater restoration does that. However, the quoted source, in context, seems to imply that it is the case with "It takes a long rest." \$\endgroup\$ – Cyrus Bufkin Sep 7 '16 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ A Causal link proving that redditor was really the one to write said entry is missing. It cannot be taken as authoritative, -1. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Sep 10 '17 at 11:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Specially when it contradicts a sage advice entry. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Sep 10 '17 at 12:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ "As the guy who wrote that ecology" means that reddit user wrote a fan-made ecology post, which is part of a /r/DnDBehindTheScreen subreddit project to add some flavor to the creatures in the Monster Manual. It's explicitly not a rules reference nor in any capacity official. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Clark Sep 12 '17 at 15:32
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Greater Restoration will cure:

  • Any reduction to one of the target’s ability scores

Wish can duplicate Greater Restoration, or it can do this:

You allow up to twenty creatures that you can see to regain all hit points, and you end all effects on them described in the greater restoration spell.

Killing them then bringing them back to life might fix this, especially with True Resurrection. Unfortunately, Devour Intellect isn't a curse, disease, or poison, so even True Resurrection is by no means guaranteed to work.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. In another thread (rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/95291/…), there's what looks like a quote from the manual that says, "... The intellect devourer is also forced out if the target regains its devoured brain by means of a wish. ..." Which seems to indicate that a brain can be regained, though I'm not sure if it would be a new brain or what. \$\endgroup\$ – Wayne Nov 23 '17 at 0:39
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Xanathar's Guide to Everything (p. 131) includes "Relaxation" as an option for a downtime activity, which lets a character recover reduced ability scores by spending a week of downtime:

Resources. Relaxation requires one week. A character needs to maintain at least a modest lifestyle while relaxing to gain the benefit of the activity.

Resolution. Characters who maintain at least a modest lifestyle while relaxing gain several benefits. While relaxing, a character gains advantage on saving throws to recover from long-acting diseases and poisons. In addition, at the end of the week, a character can end one effect that keeps the character from regaining hit points, or can restore one ability score that has been reduced to less than its normal value. This benefit cannot be used if the harmful effect was caused by a spell or some other magical effect with an ongoing duration.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Good find. It might improve your answer if you justify that the intellect devourer's effect isn't a spell or magical so that this downtime option can be used for it. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Mar 10 '19 at 22:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder: It is magical ("The target must succeed on a DC 12 Intelligence saving throw against this magic"), so the argument would need to be that it's not one with an "ongoing duration", i.e. it's just an instantaneous effect (like animate dead). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 10 '19 at 22:31
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The spells Greater Restoration and Wish would reverse the Intelligence lost from the Devour Intellect ability of an Intellect Devourer. According to Jeremy E. Crawford, one of the lead designers of 5th Edition, has the following to say about your question, which you can find here:

"The greater restoration spell can restore an ability score that's been reduced."

Jeremy Crawford is known for concise, but thorough, explanations and would list the easiest method possible so Greater Restoration would be the easiest possible method and would mean that it couldn't be recovered via long rest since that would be a much easier method than a 5th level spell.

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