Ask a player what monster he or she fears most, and some will say dragons, demons, or dark elves. Some are bothered by beholders, and a few are terrorized by the tarrasque.
But deep down, in places they don't like to talk about at parties, every player knows only one monster whose appearance, tactics, and pure reason for existence can send a shudder through the most powerful archmage or warlord . . . the dreaded illithid.
Among the mind flayers, a few gain power from the consumed brains of their victims. The illithid savant learns the very tricks of its enemies, in turn using those tricks to gain more sustenance, and more power, and so on, and so on . . .
Epic Illithid Savant
The epic illithid savant believes itself to be a scholar -- a scientist involved in the research of knowledge. It is also among the deadliest, most unpredictable foes in the world.
The epic illithid savant's feat and ability score choices depend largely on its choice of victims. Since most savants dabble in arcane lore, it's likely that feats contributing toward improved spellcasting, such as Spell Knowledge, Epic Spell Focus, or Improved Spell Capacity, will prove useful. Regardless of its acquired abilities, feats that contribute toward defense help the savant survive encounters with pesky meals, so consider Energy Resistance or Epic Toughness. Boosting your Charisma is always a good choice, since it enhances your innate powers.
Other Options: If the illithid savant has pursued a more unorthodox selection of victims, just about any feat in the book can come in handy, from Combat Archery to Epic Weapon Focus to Unholy Strike.
Hit Die: d4.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier.
Lore (Ex): Beginning at 11th level, the illithid savant may use its lore ability at will.
Acquire Skill (Ex): The epic illithid savant can acquire and use one additional skill from a consumed brain at every even-numbered level above 10th.
Acquire Feat (Ex): The epic illithid savant can acquire and use one additional feat from a consumed brain at every even-numbered level above 10th.
Since an illithid savant may acquire a feat from a devoured brain only if he meets the feat's prerequisites, an illithid savant cannot acquire an epic feat before character level 21.
Acquire Class Feature (Ex): The epic illithid savant can gain one additional class feature from a consumed brain for every three levels gained after 10th.
An illithid savant below 13th level cannot gain the ability to cast spells higher than 9th level. Beginning at 13th level (the first level at which an epic illithid savant can acquire a class feature), it can gain the ability to cast spells higher than 9th level if it consumes the brain of a creature who has the ability to cast such spells.
An illithid savant cannot gain the ability to cast epic spells unless he has selected (or acquired) the Epic Spellcasting feat. If an illithid savant with the Epic Spellcasting feat devours the brain of a creature who knows one or more epic spells, the illithid savant gains the ability to cast one of those spells, chosen by the illithid savant.
Acquire Special Attack or Special Quality (Ex): The epic illithid savant can gain another special attack or special quality from a consumed brain for every 4 levels gained after 9th.
Bonus Feats: The epic illithid savant does not gain any bonus feats for its illithid savant class levels. It still gains bonus feats for other class levels as appropriate, as well as the normal feat gained every 3 levels.
|| Lore at will
||Acquire feat 5, acquire skill 5
||Acquire class feature 4, acquire special 3
||Acquire feat 6, acquire skill 6
||Acquire class feature 5, acquire feat 7, acquire skill 7
||Acquire special 4
||Acquire feat 8, acquire skill 8
||Acquire class feature 6
||Acquire feat 9, acquire skill 9
S'rurrus: Female mind flayer Enchanter 2/Illithid Savant 14; CR 24; Medium-size aberration; HD 8d8+8 plus 2d4+2 plus 14d4+14; hp 100; Init +6; Spd 30 ft.; AC 22, touch 17, flat-footed 20; Atk +19 melee (1d4+4, 4 tentacles); SA extract, improved grab, mind blast, psionics; SQ darkvision 60 ft., frightful presence, lore +24, regeneration 5, SR 25, telepathy, true seeing; AL LE; SV Fort +17, Ref +13, Will +27; Str 18, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 30, Wis 17, Cha 24.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +26, Concentration +21, Diplomacy +11, Hide +22, Intimidate +22, Knowledge (arcana) +37, Knowledge (religion) +26, Knowledge (the planes) +44, Listen +24, Move Silently +21, Search +17, Sense Motive +10, Spellcraft +37, Spot +24, Use Magic Device +26; Ability Focus (mind blast), Alertness, Combat Casting, Dodge, Expertise**, Heighten Spell, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip**, Iron Will, Mobility, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (mind blast), Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus** (Enchantment), Weapon Finesse (tentacle), Weapon Focus (tentacle).
Epic Feats: Epic Fortitude, Great Intelligence**, Improved Heighten Spell, Improved Spellcasting Capacity**.
*These skill modifiers include the following ranks stolen from victims: 11 ranks of Knowledge (arcana), 10 ranks of Knowledge (religion), 24 ranks of Knowledge (the planes), 25 ranks of Spellcraft, 16 ranks of Tumble, and 14 ranks of Use Magic Device.
**feat gained from victim.
Extract (Ex): If S'rurrus begins her turn with all four tentacles attached and successfully maintains her hold, she automatically extracts the opponent's brain, instantly killing that creature.
Frightful Presence (Ex): This ability takes effect automatically whenever S'rurrus attacks or charges. Each creature within a radius of 360 feet that has 37 or fewer Hit Dice must make a successful Will save (DC 36) or become panicked for 4d6 rounds (if it has 4 or fewer HD) or shaken for 4d6 rounds (if it has 5 or more HD). A potentially affected creature that makes its saving throw is immune to S'rurrus's frightful presence for 24 hours.
Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, S'rurrus must hit a Small to Large creature with tentacle attack. After a successful grab, she can try to attach her remaining tentacles with a single grapple check. The opponent can escape with a single successful grapple check, but S'rurrus gets a +2 circumstance bonus for every tentacle that was attached at the beginning of the opponent's turn.
Mind Blast (Sp): At will, S'rurrus can produce a 60-foot-long cone. Anyone caught in this area must make a successful Will save (DC 23) or be stunned for 3d4 rounds. S'rurrus can quicken this ability three times per day.
Psionics (Sp): At will -- astral projection, charm monster, detect thoughts, levitate, plane shift, suggestion. Caster level 8th; save DC 17 + spell level. The save DCs are Charisma-based.
Lore (Ex): At will, S'rurrus can make a special lore check to recall esoteric information from the brains of those she has consumed.
Regeneration (Ex): Damage dealt to S'rurrus is treated as subdual damge, which automatically heals at a rate of 5 hit points per round. Fire and acid deal normal damage to her, which doesn't go away. Attack forms that don't deal hit point damage ignore regeneration, and she does not regain hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation.
Telepathy (Su): S'rurrus can communicate telepathically with any creature within 100 feet that has a language.
True Seeing (Su): S'rurrus continuously uses true seeing as the spell cast by a 12th-level cleric.
Cleric Spells Prepared (1/2/2/2/1/1/1/1/1/1; save DC 13 + spell level, or 15 + spell level for Enchantment spells; caster level 17th): 0 -- cure minor wounds; 1st -- cure light wounds, divine favor; 2nd -- cure moderate wounds, silence; 3rd -- protection from elements, speak with dead; 4th -- divine power; 5th -- spell resistance; 6th -- heal; 7th -- greater restoration; 8th -- heightened harm; 9th -- heightened blasphemy.
Wizard Spells Prepared (8/9/6/5/5/5/5/4/3/3/3; save DC 20 + spell level, or 22 + spell level for Enchantment spells; prohibited school: Evocation): 0 -- arcane mark(1), daze(1), ghost sound(3), mage hand(2), mending(1), open/close(1), ray of frost(4), read magic(1); 1st -- alarm(2), expeditious retreat(3), identify(4), mage armor(4), obscuring mist(1), shield(4), sleep(1), spider climb(4), true strike(1); 2nd -- blur(3), cat's grace(4), endurance(4), invisibility(4), mirror image(2), Tasha's hideous laughter(4); 3rd -- dispel magic(2), fly(4), haste(4), hold person(4), vampiric touch(3); 4th -- charm monster(4), confusion(2), enervation(4), improved invisibility(4), stoneskin(3); 5th -- dominate person(3), feeblemind(4), hold monster(4), mind fog(4), wall of stone(2); 6th -- disintegrate(4), eyebite(4), greater dispelling(3), mass suggestion(4), mislead(2); 7th -- insanity(4), power word stun(3), spell turning(4), teleport without error(2); 8th -- horrid wilting(4), mind blank(3), Otto's irresistable dance(4); 9th -- dominate monster(4), energy drain(4), time stop(3); 10th -- heightened disintegrate(4),heightened feeblemind(4),heightened mind fog(4).
Spellbook: 0 -- arcane mark, daze, detect magic, detect poison, disrupt undead, ghost sound, mage hand, mending, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic, resistance; 1st -- alarm, burning hands, expeditious retreat, identify, mage armor, obscuring mist, shield, sleep, spider climb, true strike, unseen servant; 2nd -- alter self, blur, cat's grace, endurance, invisibility, mirror image, resist elements, Tasha's hideous laughter, web; 3rd -- dispel magic, displacement, fly, haste, hold person, nondetection, vampiric touch; 4th -- charm monster, confusion, enervation, improved invisibility, lesser geas, polymorph self, stoneskin; 5th -- dominate person, feeblemind, hold monster, mind fog, teleport, wall of stone; 6th -- disintegrate, eyebite, greater dispelling, mass suggestion, mislead, Tenser's transformation; 7th -- finger of death, insanity, power word stun, reverse gravity, spell turning, teleport without error; 8th -- horrid wilting, maze, mind blank, Otto's irresistable dance, prismatic wall; 9th -- dominate monster, energy drain, imprisonment, time stop.
(1)prepared and casts as Wiz2
(2)prepared and casts as Wiz13
(3)prepared and casts as Wiz20
(4)prepared and casts as Wiz23
Spells Active:Cat's grace, endurance, mage armor (all included in stat block below).
Possessions: ring of protection +5, wand of cure critical wounds (30 charges), amulet of natural armor +5, belt of giant Strength +6, cloak of Charisma +6, vest of resistance +4 (as cloak), headband of intellect +6, pearl of power (9th-level spell).
S'rurrus (Enhanced by Spells): Female mind flayer Enchanter 2/Illithid Savant 14; CR 24; Medium-size aberration; HD 8d8+24 plus 2d4+6 plus 14d4+42; hp 148; Init +8; Spd 30 ft.; AC 26, touch 19, flat-footed 22; Atk +19 melee (1d4+4, 4 tentacles); SA extract, improved grab, mind blast, psionics; SQ darkvision 60 ft., frightful presence, lore +24, regeneration 5, SR 25, telepathy, true seeing; AL LE; SV Fort +19, Ref +15, Will +27; Str 18, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 30, Wis 17, Cha 24.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +26, Concentration +23, Diplomacy +11, Hide +24, Intimidate +22, Knowledge (arcana) +37, Knowledge (religion) +26, Knowledge (the planes) +44, Listen +24, Move Silently +23, Search +17, Sense Motive +10, Spellcraft +37, Spot +24, Use Magic Device +26; Ability Focus (mind blast), Alertness, Combat Casting, Dodge, Expertise**, Heighten Spell, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip**, Iron Will, Mobility, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (mind blast), Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus** (Enchantment), Weapon Finesse (tentacle), Weapon Focus (tentacle).
Epic Feats: Epic Fortitude, Great Intelligence**, Improved Heighten Spell, Improved Spellcasting Capacity**.
Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Epic Level Handbook, Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, Savage Species.
About the Author
Andy Collins served as the lead developer for the Revised Player's Handbook and was a co-designer of the Epic Level Handbook. He thanks all the visitors to www.andycollins.net for their inspirations for this column.