While entering or joining a battle, Illithids typically use their unique mind-affecting spells to blast the party from a distance with the possible effect of Stun, Domination, or Maze, and then engage nearest party members in melee to devour their brains. Their melee attacks do negligible damage, but drain 5 Intelligence points on hit. A character will die when his Intelligence drops to 0 or below. A Mind Flayer may kill a low-intelligence companion (such as Minsc) in just two melee hits. Mind Flayers are often accompanied and protected by Umber Hulks, who always use their Confusion ability while joining a battle and will use it again during combat.
Protection against mind-affecting spellsEdit
First, the party should take precautions to avoid being stunned or dominated by Mind Flayers, or being confused by Umber Hulks (if any). It is advisable not to send party members to attack any Illithid, if unprotected. Instead, either use summons and rely on them, or send only mind-protected characters to attack them at a safe distance out of their melee range (to avoid Brain Devour). Ideally attack one Illithid at a time. They are typically strong against spell-based attacks, but are very weak against weapon-based attacks and hard-hitting summons. Keep unprotected party members in a greater distance or out of their sight. Some protective spells and equipment include:
- Chaotic Commands is a level 5 priest spell that renders up to 18 minutes of immunity to Psionic Blast as well as mind-affecting effects such as Domination and Confusion, though Devour Brain will still work. Combined with Wondrous Recall, an entire party of six can receive this protection at the cost of two level 5 slots and two level 6 slots.
- Psion's Blade works wonders but is only available in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal.
- Shield of Harmony is made available early in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.
- Lilarcor and Aeger's Hide protect their users from confusion.
Surviving Intelligence Drain AttacksEdit
- Use ranged weapons to pelt Illithids from afar;
- Animate Dead to charge the Illithid, as undead are immune to Intelligence drain and letting your party members blast them with ranged weapons. (Does not work on all platforms, e.g. Linux desktop).
- Other summoned creatures will also work, though they are susceptible to intelligence drain.
- Mordenkainen's Sword creates a magical sword that attacks enemies on its own, allowing the caster to keep his distance from Mind Flayers.
- Increase your Armor Class, since Mind Flayers have a mediocre THAC0 and will miss more often than not.
- Use character with Intelligence higher than 10 for tanking, since such characters can survive at least 2 illithid hits; Minsc is a notoriously bad choice for this job, as he can die in two hits due to intelligence loss.
- Try to insta-kill Mind Flayers with the Death Spell. Illithids are vulnerable to this spell, but their magic resistance is so high that the spell will not affect them in most cases.
Become Practically Invincible against Mind FlayersEdit
- Protection From Magical Weapons (level 6 Mage spell) + Chaotic Commands (level 5 Priest spell) => Become practically invincilble against Illithids and their Umber Hulk pets for a short time. The mage spell can only last 4 rounds per cast, but it will completely block melee attacks from IIllithids and Umber Hulks, thereby also protecting its caster from Devour Brain. The priest spell last 1 turn per caster level, protecting its receiver from Psionic Blast, Confusion and Domination.
- Protection From Magic Weapons + Shield of Harmony => the same result as above.
- Note: in additional to Psionic Blast (Stun) and Psionic Domination, Illithids also have the ability to do Psionic Maze. But in actual gameplay, none of them seems to actually use that ability. For practical purposes, it can be safely ignored.
Make Mind Flayers Completely HarmlessEdit
- Mind Flayers are vulnerable to the same mind-affecting effects that they can inflict on others. They may also be stunned or dominated by the player party, either via weapon effects or by using disabling spells.
- Additionally, Spook (level 1 Mage spell) works well and can make them panic.
- Blindness (level 1 Mage spell, single target) works well and can blind a Mind Flayer. Once blinded, a Mind Flayer loses ability to attack in any meaningful way.
- Nature's Beauty (level 7 Druid spell, no-save) works brilliantly. The unique beauty of Nature's Beauty is that it does NOT break invisibilty, it affects every enemy within 16 feet from the Druid, it allows no-save, and it can only be blocked by Magic Resistance or immunity to blindness. An invisible Druid can safely walk up to a group of Mind Flayers to permanently blind most if not all of them with this spell.
- Mind Flayers are unable to see through or dispel the illusion of Invisibility. Under the effect of Mislead (level 6 Mage spell), any Mage or Bard can attack Mind Flayers and/or Umber Hulks without worrying too much about being retaliated. And a Mage/Thief, such as Jan Jansen, can backstab them to his heart's content. This is widely regarded as a most cheesy tactic in the game, though it's 100% legit.
Make Best Use of Summons Against Mind FlayersEdit
- All the Mind Flayers in the game can be killed by relying on summons.
- Animated swords created with the Mordenkainen's Sword spell, as well as the one that may be conjured from the long sword Ras, are immune to everything that Mind Flayers or Umber Hulks have. On the other hand, if hasted, 5 such swords can quickly destroy any group of Mind Flayers in seconds. The downside is that they don't last long and being a level 7 spell, are relatively costly to replace.
- Skeleton Warriors created by the Animate Dead spell (level 3 Priest / level 5 Mage spell) last 8 hours, are cheap to replace, and have 3 tiers. At highest-tier, they are very strong against Mind Flayers unaccompanied by Umber Hulks.
Make Best Use of Companions Against Mind FlayersEdit
- Aerie is the only companion who is able to shield a whole player party from Psionic Blast and other mind-affecting attacks with Chaotic Command, while also being able to natively cast Protection From Magical Weapons. She can easily make herself immune to all Mind Flayer attacks (perhaps except for the never or rarely used Psionic Maze, but Chaotic Commands is supposed to provide protection from Maze). She's also the only companion who can provide any type of summon at every tier that a player may want to have, including the most powerful summon Planetar.
- Cernd only needs to acquire 1.5 million XP to reach level 14. From then on, once becoming invisible, he can safely walk up to any group of Mind Flayers and use Nature's Beauty to blind them all. He can also shield a whole party with Chaotic Commands, just like Viconia .
- Jan and Hexxat can set a maxium of 7 traps by any door that leads to a group of Mind Flayers and their pets. Turn themselves invisible and then open the door. The traps will fire on nearby Mind Flayers in the range, possibly killing one or two right away. They can also set up a line of traps and then lead Mind Flayers along the line, possibly killing a group of them. Unlike Jan, Hexxat is immune to Confusion and Domination. But she is too weak to tank Umber Hulks in melee and just like other party members, needs protection from Psionic Blast and Devour Brain. Once 3 million XP acquired, both of them may pick UAI allowing them to use Shield of Harmony and have the mind immunites needed in fighting Illithids. Unlike Hexxat, Jan has access to Mage spells up to level 10 and can make himself practically immune to all attacks from Mind Flayers and their pets. Additionaly, Jan can set traps via Project Image , which is in his spellbook from the beginning. Jan is much more powerful and versatile than Hexxat. At a relatively higher level, Jan can single-handedly clear the entire Illithid lair in the Underdark, with no or just a little assistance from other party members. Make best use of this little gnome and other companions, and Illithids will never be a big deal again.
- Mind flayers will play an important role in the upcoming Baldur's Gate III.