That old chestnut? Mind Flayers on Athas

I may use that Yaggol in my campaign… I read something recently in a source book about Mind Flayers that have either separated themselves from an Elder Brain or been exiled from one and they become very crazy, so I hear… I don’t remember what book that was, maybe Dungeoneer’s, maybe something else.

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How about instead of more savage you go the other way with them?

Their minds have become so developed and advanced and they are so reliant on psionics for everyday things that they have all but abandoned using physical means for most everything. With generations of neglecting their bodies, they have evolved to become a head attached to a mostly withered husk of a body. Their head possesses a tight, expressionless face with a superior brain trapped inside. They hover in place as gaunt, pale white humanoids with minimal movement from their extremities. Their nearly naked bodies reveal little care for physical needs as they manipulate their surroundings with the power of the mind.

Any you can still give them spikes:

Their once menacing spikes protrude from their body with a rubbery curled appearance.


Interesting concept, although if you are changing the mind flayers so much, you might as well create a unique creature for this purpose.

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Yeah. Maybe I took it too far.

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No, Rovewin, you did not. The entire point is to change them from what we see in other settings. I don’t understand why people want to change Dark Sun, by adding things from other settings to it. Dark Sun is unique. If you’re going to add things, you must change them to make them as unique as Dark Sun itself.


Yeah, I’m not seeing the “too far”. That could have just been description - there’s no specific need to change the mechanics/ stats to allow for that description, unless you want to.

Especially if you just give them a psionic Mage Hand effect that mimics what they’d normally do physically.

It COULD also have been a description of their changed (mechanical) abilities, if you want(ed). My point being it doesn’t have to be.

(I do understand that redking is quite excited about 3e mechanics and probably sees everything though that lens; no judgment. :hugs:)


Illithid ceremorphosis would spawn some unique Athasian variants.

Half-giant sized or mull physiqued mindflayers. Silt dwelling neothelids.


I’d like to see the mechanics fit the fluff. I was a 2E holdout forever, probably until 2008. 3.5e finally turned me around when I realized that when done properly, the mechanics can fit the fluff in 3.5e. 2E fluff was the best, but the mechanics didn’t really represent it.

Here is Pennarin’s Illithid Project. It was never finished, but here is the outline. Proposes a mind flayer killing champion called Barien.

While I liked Pennarin’s illithid stuff, I personally like my illlithid to be non-indigenous to Athas.



I’d like to see the mechanics fit the fluff.

Sure. Mechanics SHOULD fit the fluff, but there’s sometimes a way to reconcile them w/o changes to the mechanics.

I’m a big fan of doing things like changing the description and reskinning a displacer beast as a dual whip-tailed scorpion monster or something.

Making the stats and description agree isn’t the same thing as letting the description FORCE a change to the mechanics.

I’m happy to let/help folks use description to drive stats, but I’m against being a slave to that.

There’s a way to swing that overly-cerebral Mind Flayer description to still work just fine with the standard version’s stats, if a person wanted, and still have a different FEEL to the Flayer. It’s just a matter of personal preference.

PS: I also don’t really see the point of Mind Flayers in DS, Psurlons are VERY similar; but to each their own.


I like the idea of them hating each other and always looking to subvert or sabotage the other’s schemes.


I am also a fan of doing this. However, I prefer to add rather than replace or subtract. So if there is a beast similar to a displacer beast with a scorpion stinger, for example, just let the PCs wonder ‘what the hell did we just fight’, rather than saying that these are displacer beasts and replacing them.

The place of mind flayers in DS is in the context of an adventure instead of a supplement. That way the mind flayers only happen in DS if the PCs actually participate in the adventure. See Expedition to the Barrier Peaks for something similar. Are there really robots in Greyhawk? Most say no, but there are PCs in some groups that have fought robots and won.

I’m not huge on mind flayers on Athas. I’ve seen various ideas about mind flayers and most of them position mind flayers deep in Athas’ historical narrative. My approach is minimalist. It’s saying “here, if you want mind flayers in your DS campaign, here’s how you can do it without warping the setting”.

Keeping the setting intact and following broadly the Dark Sun themes is my MO.


Right. I did this with some of the new monsters in Faces of the Deadlands - and i promise you’ll never figure out what monster I started with (for at least one of them). I’d never say the phrase “reskinned displacer beasts” to my players.

Ah, nice. That’s how I’d do it, were I so inclined.

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The Gith would not be on Athas, if there were no Illithids at some point.

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Thats been my rationale as well. They went through the trouble of building an entire underground city. Seems extreme unless it was to assault a huge conclave of illithid.

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Mmm, that’s an assumptive reach, but its not illogical. Could be. :man_shrugging:

But, I believe the Girhyanki have nesting colonies/facilities to mature their young. I’m sure many are on/in Prime worlds, and that very few are on worlds known to have Mind Flayers (that’d be the Githyanki playing with fire).

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I’m talking original Gith, as in pre-split. The Mind Flayers were here with the Gith enslaved, and the champion Gith, the person the race is named after had made a fortress here to assault them, and when the split came after Gith’s death, the Githyanki took it over. The Githzerai sabotaged the Githyanki here and they became the degenerates they are today…

The Gith probably didn’t destroy all the Mind Flayers, but they forced them into hiding. There are Hej-kin, Durro, Duergar, and many other races on Athas that are degenerate or changed by the Mind Flayers, there is just so much evidence ethnologically that they were and ARE still on Athas.

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I know the Gith forerunner history. Not sure about evidence of derro and duergar existing on Athas though.


I never found any references in any source in all the versions of Dark Sun that mention Derro or Duergar.