Yes - another illithids in the Dark Sun setting thread. Or how mind flayers can be fit into the Dark Sun setting without radically changing the setting.
All of the proposals for illithids on Athas that I have seen require extensive retconning, which is fine except that retconning (when not presented as a variant rule) has low levels of acceptability among the fans/players. So how can we bring mind flayers to Dark Sun?
Its not hard. Mind flayers first came to Athas in Free Year 6, during the time that the Black Spine adventure takes place. The illithids were keeping a close eye on Queen Trinth, because they saw in her the potential for sparking a githyanki civil war. Through servants, the illithids subtly supported the rise of of Queen Trinth.
The illithids had an astral spy ship, a Nautiloid, close to the gith city of Galnaki, Queen Trinth’s stronghold city, when Queen Trinth by unknown means effected a dimensional shift for the city and its surrounds (including the Nautiloid), moving the city to the Athasian side of the Gray. The illithids were trapped.
Shortly prior to the defeat of Queen Trinth, the illithids managed to bring their Nautiloid to Athas, where they have been ever since. Establishing themselves somewhere in the Tyr Region underdark, they have taken over a hej-kin enclave, enslaving the hej-kin clan residents. The illithids have been frustrated by the mindhome folk, who are strangely resistant to illithid mind bending. Therefore the illithids are practicing a policy of exterminating mindhome folk in the vicinity of their enclave.
There are currently 200 mind flayers in the colony, and not nearly enough food. Half of the colony lives elsewhere at any given time, and one illithid has been dispatched to live openly in each of the cities of the Tyr Region. What the illithids lack in food, they make up for in gold, and there is a quiet trade of purchased food slaves going to the illithid enclave. The mind flayers are able to move about openly if they wish because they have no reputation on Athas.
*Seven illtihid diplomats have been sent to the seven cities of the Tyr Region to establish open contacts with the various governments.
*100 illithids are out of the colony throughout the Tyr Region procuring food for the colony, by both licit and illicit means
*The colony lacks an elder brain, so the colony is desperate to establish one. Usually this requires the presence of a ulitharid to be the foundation of the elder brain, but the colony does not have an ulitharid at present. They are trying to figure out an artificial means of producing a tadpole that will become an ulitharid.
*The illithids want to learn about the local psionic practices, some of which are unique and they have never seen before. Enslaving psions is easier said than done, so some illithids are attending psionic academies in disguise.
*One of the slave tribes near Raam has been taken over by a small group of illithids. Raids from this tribe, including on other slave tribes, has increased but they mainly seem concerned with taking prisoners.
*A tribe of gith have proclaimed a desert prophet that will lead them back to glory.
*In the city of Raam, Abalach-Re finds the physical appearance of the illithid sent to Raam to be hilarious, and invites the illithid to become a templar. The illithid diplomat accepts, and takes a level in the templar class. The illithid templar finds that Raam is rich in opportunities to feast.
*Slave prices have spiked, even for the old and infirm.
Reconciling the magical and psionic illithid
There are two versions of the mind flayer, the standard version and the ‘psionic’ version. Both versions are kind of lame. The psionic mind flayer cannot spam mind control abilities. The standard mind flayer has no particular affinity with psionics if it takes manifesting class levels. My version takes the standard mind flayer and adds the following two abilities to reconcile the two.
Psionic affinity (Ex): If a mind flayer has levels in a psionic manifesting class, its racial hit dice stack with its class levels for determining manifester level the psion class. For example, a mind flayer with 1 level of psion has a manifester level of 9. This is the equivalent of the epic practiced manifester feat, and for all purposes a mind flayer is considered to have practiced manifester and epic practiced manifester for prestige class prerequisites. Already having both these feats, mind flayers may not take these feats for the psion class.
Mind Flayer Racial Powers (Ex): Mind flayer have a number of powers that they add to their known powers list (if they have levels in a manifesting class) as soon as they are able to manifest them by virtue of their race. The mind flayer knows the following powers in addition to whatever other powers it knows: 1st—defensive precognition, detect psionics, mind thrust, psionic charm,
vigor; 2nd—body equilibrium, ego whip, id insinuation, psionic levitate, psionic suggestion, read thoughts; 3rd—body adjustment, dispel psionics, mental barrier; 4th—intellect fortress, psionic dimension door, psionic dominate; 5th—mind probe, psionic plane shift.
I’m looking forward to hearing any additional ideas about mind flayers and their activities on Athas.