Mind flayers employ bizarre flying ships called nautiloids.
Able to move through the Astral Plane, nautiloids
can also transport mind flayers between the various
worlds of the Material Plane.
A nautiloid looks like an enormous conch shell fitted
with an exterior deck and a large mass of rubbery tentacles.
Ages ago, when the mind flayers could fly through
the worlds of the Material Plane without resistance,
they used the nautiloid's tentacles to scour the surface
for interesting creatures to take back home for study or
a feasting.
The most notable feature of a nautiloid is its ability to
move directly from one world to another in the Material
Plane. Normally, travelers must venture to Sigil, a city in
the Outer Planes, and find a doorway leading to the specific
world t~ey seek. But mind flayers can use nautiloids
to move between worlds without going through Sigil. By
this means, they have been able to spread themselves
out into almost every corner of the multiverse.
Nowadays, a nautiloid is an incredibly rare sight. A
colony in possession of one takes great care to keep it
hidden, taking to the sky only out of necessity. Word of a
nautiloid seen soaring through the air travels quickly in
almost every world and is likely to attract the attention
of vengeful githyanki and githzerai. A gith hunting party
counts a nautiloid as the greatest prize it can claim,
above even an elder brain.
The illithids have lost the secret of manufacturing
nautiloids, meaning that the loss of any vessel brings
them one step closer to remaining trapped on the Material
A colony that has access to a nautiloid uses it as a
weapon only in rare circumstances, perhaps as part of
the final phase of a plan to subvert, destroy, or control
an enemy. Nautiloids move quietly and are almost impossible
to detect in the darkness. A sudden strike, with
the ship disgorging mind flayers and thralls to finish the
assault after it lands, can reduce an enemy settlement to
ruins in a single night.

Most colonies that possess a nautiloid save it for use
as an emergency escape vehicle. If pressed by attackers,
the surviving illithids and the elder brain move into the
vessel and immediately shift to another world, leaving
the attackers in their wake.
A few nautiloids are large enough to hold an entire
colony, serving as a mobile lair. A colony that uses a
nautiloid in this way is much more aggressive than other
colonies, since it can effectively carry out hit-and-run
attacks and can vacate an area that has been depleted
of victims.
These immense vessels invariably have protections
that enable them to survive in extreme environments. As
such, the illithids typically locate their lair on a mountaintop,
beneath the surface of the ocean, or at the upper
levels of the atmosphere- places where raids by their
enemies are almost impossible.

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