|Images of intellect devourers|
Source: Bestiary, pg(s). 180
Psychic body snatchers to whom no experience is too extreme and no flesh is sacred, intellect devourers are one of the strangest, most mysterious races of the Darklands. Using their ability to compress their body, intellect devourers crawl through the mouths of helpless or dead creatures, consume the brain, and assume control of the new host body.
Intellect devourers appear like large humanoid brains that have sprouted hideous reptilian legs from the depths of their soft bodies. Strangely, despite appearing like soft and squidgy brain matter, their outer shells are incredible resilient to damage and far tougher than they look. Of course, intellect devourers are rarely seen in this form; they are most frequently encountered possessing a host's body.
The first intellect devourers were spawned by a small, dark, living planet in the Dark Tapestry for the purpose of defending the world from alien invaders roaming its surface. Initially unaware of this, they nonetheless dominated and consumed all of those invaders. With nothing more to do, the intellect devourers burrowed within the flesh of their homeworld, discovered its vast brain, feasted upon it and discovered the purpose of their creation. After they devoured the planet's mind, several thousand intellect devourers took control of its regenerating brain.
Eventually the alien invaders returned and established contact with the intellect devourers. They introduced themselves as members of the Dominion of the Black and offered the intellect devourers an alliance. Many intellect devourers accepted and left their homeworld to study with the Dominion, eventually returning and finding a way to reproduce. Intellect devourers physically changed little between the generations, but their mental and defensive abilities constantly improved.
The intellect devourers on Golarion initially arrived when their spaceship was critically damaged by an enemy ship: the same ship that they had been ordered to prevent from reaching Golarion. The intellect devourers escaped in a pod meant for bigger species, which crashed into the Darklands. They quickly came into conflict with the alghollthus, gugs, neothelids, and other aberrations. These intellect devourers eventually came to treat Golarion as their homeworld and develop an attachment to their humanoid hosts, considering themselves distinct from their kin who remained with the Dominion.
Habitat and ecology
The main habitat of the intellect devourer is the Mute Metropolis of Ilvarandin, one of the most impressive and intimidating vaults of Orv. This ancient, abandoned city is for the most part uninhabited and wild, but at its very center is High Ilvarandin, the lair of the intellect devourers. Travellers who stumble upon this place often mistake it for some sort of multi-racial paradise where drow, duergar, skum, and many other varieties of Darklands creatures dwell together in peace. In fact, this is a lie: the residents are little more than fleshy shells being used by the intellect devourers.
The key feature of the intellect devourers is their natural inability to feel or experience anything in their natural form, neither physical sensations nor emotions. This leaves them desperate for sensory input, and the only way of achieving it is to possess a host body. Unfortunately, these usurped bodies rarely last long, as the intellect devourers are decadent hedonists and find pain as intoxicating a sensation as pleasure. As such, they always thirst for new bodies to inhabit.
Intellect devourers living on Golarion prefer humanoid host bodies, due to their wide variety of emotions and their susceptibility to fear. They maintain a large variety of humanoid hosts in their immediate vicinity: drow, duergar, elves, humans, orcs, svirfneblin, and more. They no longer identify with the intellect devourers who remained with the Dominion and try to keep a low profile for fear of attracting their attention, at which point their cousins will likely collect them for analysis: an unacceptable fate for the Golarian intellect devourers, due to their attachment to their humanoid hosts. For this reason, they operate almost exclusively in the Darklands, only keep a few non-exiled intellect devourers on the surface, and consider surface-dwelling exiles a danger.
Intellect devourers' primary foes are the neothelids of Orv, who lack brains and, therefore, cannot be controlled; the neothelids' seugathi servants are similarly uncontrollable. They have found some success in controlling purple worms, but have been unable to gain the upper hand.
Within the Dominion of the Black, intellect devourers usually work under neh-thalggu overlords, who often abuse them. Intellect devourers can only gain some respect by possessing impressive hosts, but most are content with this. They see the velstracs, who are interested in, knowledgeable about, and numbed to pain like intellect devourers are, as kindred spirits; intellect devourers often willingly subject themselves (or their hosts) to the experimentation and augmentation practices done by the velstracs summoned by the Dominion.
Many intellect devourers still reside on their original homeworld, spawning more generations to serve the Dominion of the Black. They have been spotted on Aucturn and the dark corners of other worlds in Golarion's solar system. They maintain a laboratory in the Diaspora to experiment on akatas and hope to weaponise them for the Dominion, but the akatas have proven themselves difficult test subjects.
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- James Jacobs and Greg A. Vaughan. (2008). Into the Darklands, p. 49–51. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-140-4
- Jason Bulmahn. (2009). Bestiary (First Edition), p. 180. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-183-1
- Thurston Hillman. (2016). Darklands Revisited, p. 23–26. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-819-9
- Mike Shel. (2014). Dominion of the Black. Valley of the Brain Collectors, p. 67. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-704-8
- James L. Sutter. (2012). Distant Worlds, p. 57. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-403-0