If a PC had his brain "eaten" by an Intellect Devourer and then goes into an antimagic field...?

Klaudius Rex

Explorer
We're playing Waterdeep Heist (5e), and one of my players got his brain "eaten" by the intellect devourer in the sewers via the Body Thief ability.

I dont necessarily want to kill this PC, so i decided to just have him play his character normally, and as DM be able to take control of this player's character whenever the intellect devourer would reasonably make a different decision, which has been fun.

So far, the intellect devourer has only interrupted in a few instances. The intellect devourer isnt dumb, and doesnt want to be revealed inside this guy's head and be killed. So it has been conservative in overriding the character's autonomy and patiently waiting for further instructions from Nihiloor or the Xanathar's guild (which will be coming soon!)

So, despite a few minor bad decisions on the part of this character controlled by the intellect devourer, the other players have not noticed that he is being controlled by anything or anyone...

However, this PC (along with the other players in the group) are being accused of a crime they did not commit unrelated to the intellect devourer or Xanathar's guild or the Heist. He will soon be detained in the Waterdeep jails, which in my game is covered by a giant antimagic field (a prudent measure by the Waterdeep guards so no criminals of any kind try to break out or disguise themselves using magic).

My question is: while in the jail/antimagic field, does that break the intellect devourer's control over the player's mind? Would the intellect devour be forced out in an antimagic field? Or, is the intellect devourer's 'Body Thief' ability sort of a permanent thing unaffected by an antimagic field?

Thanks in advance!
 

jasper

Rotten DM
The stat block says jack about Antimagic field. Only spells which affect it are protection from good and evil. Wish to get the brain back. I do like how you allowing the player to still play the pc.
 

Dausuul

Legend
As I read the Body Thief ability, while the process of devouring the brain and replacing it is magical, the control thus established is not. So the devourer would not be affected. But you could argue the other way, too; in that case the field would shut down the devourer's control and the PC would become catatonic.

If you're going by the book, forcing the devourer out or disrupting its control will not free the PC. He's already dead - the devourer ate his brain and took its place. If it leaves or dies, his body dies 1 round later, per the Body Thief description. A resurrection spell would be required to bring him back (since he is missing a body part vital for his survival).

However, if you haven't already established the details of how the devourer's ability works, I'd be tempted to rewrite it on the fly and allow the player to regain control of his body while in the field. That seems like a lot more fun.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
For all practical purposes the PC is dead barring a wish because their brain is gone and the devourer has taken up residence where the PC's brain used to be.

While the creature can be forced out of the body by a protection from evil and good, doing so leaves a body with no brain. On the other hand, there's nothing about the antimagic spell that's going to harm the devourer, although I would rule that they can no longer communicate telepathically with anyone.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
A standard intellect devourer as I understand it controls a person by physically removing the brain and taking its place in their skull. So I wouldn't have an antimagic field shut that down any more than it'd shut down a heart transplant. But that doesn't seem to be what's happening here. I think the mechanism of the control is up to you, thus so too is whether it counts as "magical".
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
...
However, if you haven't already established the details of how the devourer's ability works, I'd be tempted to rewrite it on the fly and allow the player to regain control of his body while in the field. That seems like a lot more fun.
Good point. If it's more fun for you and your group just change how the devourer works.

Don't let the rules get in the way of a good game. As long as you're consistent changing the rules to fit the story is something I do on a fairly regular basis.
 

darjr

I crit!
I don't think it's magic. Isn't the field pretty precise in what it works on?

Anyway I had a player lose their brain to an ID when he wen't off on his own. The surprise on the players face when he ganked the guy he was following and the ID dragged itself out of that guys head. Wow! He wanted to play his dead mind controlled NPC. I maybe shouldn't have though, he was super effective.
 

Klaudius Rex

Explorer
As I read the Body Thief ability, while the process of devouring the brain and replacing it is magical, the control thus established is not. So the devourer would not be affected. But you could argue the other way, too; in that case the field would shut down the devourer's control and the PC would become catatonic.

If you're going by the book, forcing the devourer out or disrupting its control will not free the PC. He's already dead - the devourer ate his brain and took its place. If it leaves or dies, his body dies 1 round later, per the Body Thief description. A resurrection spell would be required to bring him back (since he is missing a body part vital for his survival).

However, if you haven't already established the details of how the devourer's ability works, I'd be tempted to rewrite it on the fly and allow the player to regain control of his body while in the field. That seems like a lot more fun.
thanks. Eventually, I want to give this player back full control over his character, and have the intellect devourer leave his head...just not now while in jail...
 

Aaron L

Adventurer
Well, considering the fact that the Intellect Devourer literally ate his brain and took up residence inside his empty skull... I'd say the character would be in pretty bad shape. :)

Honestly, I would say that the actual magic happened when the monster ate his brain and teleported into his empty skull, and from then on the monster was physically integrated with the body's nervous system and so the Anti-magic Field really wouldn't do anything to interrupt it.

As for eventually putting the PC back into the player's control, I would highly recommend against just having him eventually return to normal after the Intellect Devourer is somehow removed, and instead suggest creating a story reason for a powerful Cleric to Resurrect him when the time comes to make the big reveal.

"Oh my Gods he's dead, and his corpse has been the puppet of a squamous, brain-sucking, eldritch grotesquery the whole time! Ahhhhhhhhhh! [gibber gibber scream]"

Go full-on Lovecraft with the description of the whole situation; that's what the Intellect Devourer is meant for! It would be the perfect time to introduce the optional Sanity ability score and have everyone make Sanity saving throws. :devilish:

The reason for the Resurrection doesn't really matter; if you want him to come back just make up some excuse for a friendly Cleric to do it, maybe so they owe him and he can call upon them for future quests. It could give you a hook into the PCs to lead to another adventure. In my opinion you should play out the real horror of the situation for everyone and really make it a major campaign milestone, having the corpse fall to the ground with a thump such that the top of his head falls off and the empty skull is on full display... I really think just having the little brain-eater pop out of his head and then letting the character return to normal without consequence would be tragically missing out on a memorable, character defining scene, and it would absolutely cripple the impact and emotional power that such a horrifying monster as the Intellect Devourer should have.

I always like to play up the horror angle in games, instead of letting players just be blasé about every extraordinary, momentous, and horrific thing that their PCs witness and endure; even if it doesn't make the players squirm, it would still horrify the characters... and having one's (or witnessing one's companion's) brain being eaten and body used as a puppet by an alien/aberration parasite should be cosmically horrifying, especially since I would rule that the monster leaves the cerebellum intact to continue operating the body's autonomic nervous functions, breathing and such, that it wouldn't want to bother expending the effort to maintain. In my imagining that would leave enough of a brain left to maintain a psychic connection between the character's body and his soul the entire time, his soul remaining in a deathless limbo, unable to pass on through the Astral Plane to the appropriate Outer Plane of his afterlife, his soul tethered to his body by the Silver Cord, to remain stuck in the Near Astral Plane adjacent to his body on the Material Plane until the body dies... his soul Astrally witnessing every awful thing the Intellect Devourer does with his body, and psychically aware of every cosmically horrific thought the monster has, but unable to do anything or exert any control over his body to stop it. Thinking of the whole situation in those terms makes the Intellect Devourer into a much, much more horrifying monster rather than just a fancy mind controller, doesn't it? ;) Such a situation would almost assuredly result in the character becoming a ghost when his body finally dies, from all the trauma and horror of the situation... I would imagine that Intellect Devourers and Mind Flayers are responsible for creating a lot of ghosts in this way... some special type of Sanity-sucking, madness-inducing Spectral entity. Something like a cross between a Spectre and the old Allip.

I would make the character's return to player control into a huge event in the character's life, and a huge event in the campaign, period. Something that will haunt him forever, rather than just let it play out as simply another case of charming or mind control. This squamous monster ate his brain and grotesquely squatted in his skull as it foully impersonated him for how long? You should really play up the horror of the situation... this is the stuff that defines characters and makes them interesting!
 
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darjr

I crit!
What if, after so long pretending to be him, the ID begins to actually THINK it is him? What if that would eventually allow the devoured intellect to reassert control? Then he could be both?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
What if, after so long pretending to be him, the ID begins to actually THINK it is him? What if that would eventually allow the devoured intellect to reassert control? Then he could be both?
I like it, maybe a intellect devourer with dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities)? Something about being in an anti-magic zone makes the ID think it's really the person it ate. Except of course does it know leaving the zone could be dangerous? Or can the "real" personality take over now and then? :unsure:
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Well, considering the fact that the Intellect Devourer literally ate his brain and took up residence inside his empty skull... I'd say the character would be in pretty bad shape. :)…..
Yes he has become a Star Wars fan.
beep beep Jasper runs and hides.
 

NotAYakk

Explorer
How the ID works isn't actually described. But let's go for maximum fun.

The ID is like a hermit shell crab. That brain on its back? One it took from someone.

It wears your brain like a hat. This is where your mind, memories and soul live. You are dead, and trapped in your own dead brain. It has complete veto over all of your actions as it is wrapped around all "IO ports" of your brain.

Over time it digests your memories and becomes smarter. But it isn't very good at social intelligence, and devouring your morality and the like would get in the way of eating more brains. So when disguising itself as you, it actually lets your soul and mind do things; it magically knows what you are about to do, and steps in and takes over whenever you do something out of line. Then it edits your mind a bit to make you not do that any more.

In an antimagic field, it is still in there, but it isn't as fast at intercepting your actions, nor can it further digest your memories, nor can it edit your mind to avoid you doing it again.

This means whenever the "trained mind" it has in the skull does something it doesn't want it to do, it is slower at stopping it, and the resulting behavior isn't as smooth.

Not every mind notices this. A well "trained mind" can continue to do what the intellect devourer wants without ever noticing that it has increased control. It may continue to fool its companions because it is broken to the harness. If it did try to say "I'm possessed by an intellect devorerer", it could probably get out the first two words before the devourer could take over, and the devourerer in direct control would be forced to act strange not having full access to its backpack-brains mind.

All you tell the player is "you feel a strange headache" when you walk into the prison. That is the only clue they get. As a player, they get to say if their character is broken to the harness ... or not ... by the player's choice of actions.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
OK, I've run the numbers, and it appears that when you put someone infected by an intellect devourer into an antimagic field, the buildup of thaumaturgons inside the cranial cavity will overcome the negative Δ3-wave pressure from the field resulting in an acute volatile exothermic reaction. (The PC's head will explode.)
 

Coroc

Adventurer
I like it, maybe a intellect devourer with dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities)? Something about being in an anti-magic zone makes the ID think it's really the person it ate. Except of course does it know leaving the zone could be dangerous? Or can the "real" personality take over now and then? :unsure:
The therapy session is over and the shrink thinks he is the hen now :p haha
 

Coroc

Adventurer
OK, I've run the numbers, and it appears that when you put someone infected by an intellect devourer into an antimagic field, the buildup of thaumaturgons inside the cranial cavity will overcome the negative Δ3-wave pressure from the field resulting in an acute volatile exothermic reaction. (The PC's head will explode.)
Yea that sounds good. Exploding heads should come up more often. Everybody at the table will have a blast.

Just joking Your post is absolutely great.

We should start a thread explaining magical effects especially unclear side- and counter effects using some pseudoscientific language.


Imagine you sitting on the table telling the player: "Ugh, bad luck pal, you ran into an antimagic field which interacted with the intellect devourer who has been replacing your brain for some time now. Your head explodes."

Player starts to complain : "But, but ahm that's not quite RAW is it ...?"

You: "Ok it is not that detailed in the rule books, but let me give you the full scientific explanation of what just happened:

When you put someone infected by an intellect devourer into an antimagic field, the buildup of thaumaturgons inside the cranial cavity will overcome the negative Δ3-wave pressure from the field resulting in an acute volatile exothermic reaction."

:LOL::ROFLMAO::LOL: I just try to imagine the look on the faces of my players would I come up with something like that
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
OK, I've run the numbers, and it appears that when you put someone infected by an intellect devourer into an antimagic field, the buildup of thaumaturgons inside the cranial cavity will overcome the negative Δ3-wave pressure from the field resulting in an acute volatile exothermic reaction. (The PC's head will explode.)
I'm envisioning something like this. NOTE: kind of graphic at the end!
 

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