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 Plane.


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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