Allies can come in all shapes and sizes, and the more desperate the circumstances, the stranger the bedfellows. You’re arguably at your weakest at the very start of the game, and in such dire straits, your bedfellows can end up strange, indeed. This page will cover how to free the Intellect Devourer on the Nautiloid Ship in Baldur’s Gate 3.
Where to Find the Intellect Devourer
Being abducted by a race of brain-eating, octopus-faced psionic horrors can lead to unlikely alliances being formed, especially when the machinations of the mind flayers who captured you lead to you being infested by a parasite that causes other illithid-kin to regard you as an ally… thrall or otherwise. Your mental subjugation is not yet complete, however, so perhaps you can benefit from this mistaken assumption?
After you wake up on the Nautiloid Ship, make your way to the second room where you’ll find a “Neural Apparatus” you can interact with, which will cause a lift to raise. Ride up to the second floor, then continue north to find the corpse of an unfortunate named Myrnath at around (x=2, y=436), whose fate portends your own. You should be able to hear some high-pitched voice entreating you for aid, and if you examine the corpse of Myrnath you may succeed at a Perception check to determine the source. Fail or succeed, you can then ask “Who am I talking to - a man or a brain?” for clarification, which will lead to an Arcana check that, if successful, will identify the source as an Intellect Devourer. Most certainly not an ally, but it’s not like anything benign could have been trapped in the brain of a deceased captive aboard a mind flayer vessel.
At this point you can abort this budding monstrosity by picking the dialog option Destroy the brain, which will kill the newborn Intellect Devourer before it can become a threat, but getting this creature on your side will aid your escape significantly.
How to Free the Intellect Devourer
To free this aberration, you must succeed at some Ability Score checks and/or Skill Checks, and you’ve got enough options available that most characters will find something they excel at.
- [Investigation 10] Inspect the exposed brain.
Not a solution in itself, succeeding at this option will cause you to spot an oedema that complicates a straightforward extraction, opening up a new check:
- [Medicine 10] Attempt a cerebral extraction, staying mindful of the swelling.
If you succeed at the [Investigation 10] check above, you’ll unlock a followup [Medicine 10] check that allows you to attempt to remove the brain carefully after identifying a complication. It might seem silly to pass an extra DC 10 check only to end up getting a second one, but the [Medicine 10] check is made with Advantage, meaning you get to roll two dice and pick the highest one to determine the outcome, greatly increasing your odds of success. If you have a high Intelligence score and/or are proficient in Investigation or Medicine, this may be the optimal route for you to take.
- [Strength 10] Break the skull.
Alternatively, if brawn is more your style, you can forgo introspection and get to the root of the problem - brain stuck, break skull, free brain, brain happy. This is about the only time that sort of logic will work.
- [Dexterity 10] Gently prise the brain from the skull.
Finally, if brawn and brains aren’t your thing, but you’re reasonably nimble, you can attempt to remove the brain from its confines with a bit of finesse. This will free it just as well as any other option will, so if Dexterity is your strong suit, use it.
Should You Mutilate the Brain?
However you go about it, once the brain is free you’ll get an opportunity to sabotage the newborn Intellect Devourer to ensure its compliance. You can do this by picking the [Dexterity 15] Mutilate the brain option immediately after the brain is removed. [Dexterity 15] is a fairly high check for a new character - even the nimblest of characters will need a roll of 12+ to succeed, and frankly, the results aren’t worth it. The Intellect Devourer already regards you pretty highly for freeing it and will generally do what you need it to do for the rest of the prologue without risking confrontation by thumbing its new body.
Speaking of which, if you attempt to hinder the brain and fail your check, the newborn Intellect Devourer will be none too happy with you, correctly identifying you as a threat. It’s a relatively powerful foe, and you’re on your own at this point in the game, so things can potentially go sidewise with an unlucky roll or two. Fortunately the Intellect Devourer has the “Newborn” debuff for 5 turns after you free it, reducing its Hit Points by around half, lowering its Armor Class and giving it Disadvantage on Attack Rolls. This will make besting the creature more manageable, but it’ll become a much more fearsome foe if it has enough time to get its bearings.
Should you not provoke the Intellect Devourer, however, (after freeing it, pick the dialog option “Spare the creature - any injuries might weaken it.”) it’ll beseech you to accompany it to the helm, which is your goal regardless. Wait a few turns for the creature’s “Newborn” debuff to fade and its stats will improve from 11 Hit Points to 21, and its Armor Class will rise from 7 to 12. It’s no bruiser by any means, but it is fairly durable, and will gladly oblige commands to barrel into melee combat, drawing fire from enemies that might otherwise have targeted you. For ranged attackers and spellcasters, having the Intellect Devourer - named Us - along for the ride will make the prologue much, much easier, and there’s absolutely no downside to bringing this disgusting creature with you.