Baldur's Gate 3 launched in early access on October 6 2020. As the third title in the famous Dungeons and Dragons' RPG series, the new game released 19 years after its direct predecessor. However, there's no end date in sight for Baldur's Gate 3's early access period yet, which only features the first chapter of the game.
Despite this, there's enough content in the early access to reveal the game's primary antagonists; The Mind Flayers, an unspeakably ancient and powerful race of psionic brain-drinkers, have come to Baldur's Gate. Mind Flayers, also known as Illithids, are one of the most iconic villains in the Dungeons & Dragons' franchise. Here's everything players old and new need to know about the squid-faced mind readers in Baldur's Gate 3.
The Mind Flayers of Dungeons & Dragons' lore are a race of evil, sadistic aberrations from the Far Realms. They're rightfully feared all across the many worlds of D&D's multiverse. Although there have been many different depictions of Mind Flayers over the years, their otherworldly, alien intelligence and skills in planar travel have always made them stand out.
Physically, Mind Flayers are around 6 feet tall, with a roughly humanoid body shape. That's where the comparison ends, as the Illithids also have octopus-like heads with tentacles for mouths, four-fingered hands, and two-toed feet. They're sensitive to light, through not to the same degree as Dungeons & Dragons' Drow elf race.
Because of their need for a precise blend of hormones, enzymes, and psychic energy, Mind Flayers feed only on the brains of sentient creatures. Using their incredible psionic powers, Mind Flayers are able to absorb the memories of a creature that they feed on. The other unique thing about Mind Flayer physiology is that they're an asexual species, and instead reproduce through tadpoles. These tadpoles hatch from eggs laid by the Illithids, and are eventually implanted into a humanoid victim. Once implanted, the tadpole devours and replaces the victim's brain, before metamorphosing them into a new Mind Flayer.
Although Mind Flayers are weaker than most races in terms of physical strength, they more than make up for it with their vast psionic talents. All Mind Flayers are proficient in a variety of mind-affecting abilities, ranging from stunning blasts to outright mind control, as can be seen in Baldur's Gate 3's early access chapter. Their powers also grant them lesser skills, such as the ability to levitate and detect the thoughts of sentient creatures.
In battle, Mind Flayers prefer to rely on their Thralls, creatures enslaved to their will through Psionic domination, to do the actual front line fighting. Rather than risk spilling their own silvery blood, Illithids strike from range using their prodigious abilities to disable and destroy their foes. This makes them similar in gameplay to the Necromancers of Divinity Original Sin 2.
In most Dungeons & Dragons' campaigns, Mind Flayers are almost exclusively found in the Underdark. There they form secretive colonies to hide from their ancient enemies the Gith, enslaving and consuming any creature foolish enough to cross their path. It's in the Underdark that players could encounter Mind Flayers in Baldur's Gate 2, where they formed one of the most dangerous encounters in the entire game.