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I currently have a Mind Flayer that has successfully used its tentacle attack on a target.The target is a barbarian that is currently Grappled, as well as stunned since he failed the Int Save.

Tentacles. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 15 (2d10 + 4) psychic damage. If the target is Medium or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 15) and must succeed on a DC 15 Intelligence saving throw or be stunned until this grapple ends.

Then on the next turn it makes the Extract Brain action:

Extract Brain. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one incapacitated humanoid grappled by the mind flayer. Hit: The target takes 55 (10d10) piercing damage. If this damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the mind flayer kills the target by extracting and devouring its brain.

On the players turn, can he do nothing?

Stunned make them Incapacitated which means they can't take actions (Escape Grapple is an action). Also, Stunned means they automatically fail STR/DEX saves.

Is the player stuck? What kind of action could another player do to break this? I had another player cast polymorph, but the Mind Flayer's magic resistance prevented it from working. If the MF gets another turn in combat, our Barbarian is likely dead, permanently.

I'd like to know the options my players could take, even if they don't know themselves.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In the title, you ask what the grapplee can do, but in the body you ask what all the players can do, I think the latter would be more on the broad side of answers, so are you asking the former? \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Mar 9 '17 at 4:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know about "dead permanently". Apparently your barbarian-soon-to-be-MF-chow doesn't have friends in high-enough places to have access to Resurrection, although that's not completely unreasonable for someone going up against mind flayers. Not to worry, perhaps the barb will get "lucky" and the MF will decide to turn the barb's brain into an intellect devourer, which isn't exactly all the way dead.... \$\endgroup\$ – Jack May 9 '17 at 22:31
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Your players have a lot of options.

From the Grappled condition:

  • The condition ends if the grappler is incapacitated (see the condition).
  • The condition also ends if an effect removes the grappled creature from the reach of the grappler or grappling effect, such as when a creature is hurled away by the thunderwave spell.

So any method of inflicting the incapacitated condition on the mind flayer will end the grapple. Likewise, anything that gets the barbarian out of the mind flayer's reach will also end the grapple. There are far too many ways of achieving these to list here.

It's also worth mentioning that, since the Extract Brain ability requires the mind flayer to use an action, preventing the mind flayer from taking actions would also work. Most of the methods to do this would involve inflicting the incapacitated condition, and therefore end the grapple anyway. But as an alternative option, there's always mind control. There are a large number of spells that could be used to persuade the mind flayer not to extract the barbarian's brain, or just to let them go.

Since the mind flayer's grapple requires a Medium or smaller creature, polymorphing the barbarian into something Large should also free him. There is a minor point of ambiguity here - while the grapple can only be used on a Medium or smaller creature, it doesn't technically say anything about what happens if a grappled target becomes Large. But I think most DMs would agree that this should work.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Polymorphing the barbarian into a large (or bigger) beast would also work. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Mar 9 '17 at 4:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman monsters don't play by the same rules, so this would not work against a Giant Octopus. But DaleM is right, the Mind Flayer's own tentacles attack says "Medium or smaller" \$\endgroup\$ – András Mar 9 '17 at 7:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @András Wow, I can't believe I missed that. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Mar 9 '17 at 8:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman I did not know either, but if someone with DaleM's experience writes something, I go check. \$\endgroup\$ – András Mar 9 '17 at 17:10
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The methods that come to mind for me include: (a) druid cantrip Thorn Whip -- attack the barbarian (at advantage since he's stunned) and drag him away from the mindflayer. (b) Thunderwave, which he fails the save against (again from being stunned) and blast him away from the bad guy. In either case, he'll take a bit of damage, but not a lot. Possibly a "shove" attack from anyone would work, to shove either the barbarian or the mindflayer. If you have a Battlemaster Fighter, or anyone with the Charger or Shield Master feat, there are some additional possibilities there. Or just a strong character who is close enough to run up, grapple the barbarian, and carry him away.

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The grapplee can only do something if they succeed their Int save. On a success, they would have the option to attempt to escape the grapple as an action, or do some other ability that removes them from the grapple (eg teleportation or forced movement such as misty step or thunderwave). But on a failed save, they're utterly doomed unless someone else can save them.

Polymorphing the illithid would save the grapplee, if the illithid fails its save, but with magic resistance and a good Wisdom save that's unlikely to succeed.

Essentially, you're looking to do one of the following:

  • Make the illithid incapable of doing extract brain (stunned, unconscious, polymorphed, etc)
  • Make the grapplee no longer a valid target to grapple (for example, by making him 2 or more size categories larger than the illithid)
  • Move the grapplee and the illithid apart from each other (for example using spells such as banishment)
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  • \$\begingroup\$ The grapple requirement is even more stringent for the mindflayer, and therefore easier to break. It is capped at medium, and Extract only works on a humanoid. Make the grappled target Large and/or make them non-humanoid (like a beast), and they're free. Polymorph would be great for both. Because of the illithid's magic resistance, you're better off doing it to the grappled ally, rather than the mindflayer. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Nov 12 '19 at 13:14

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