Because Spelljammer, where Illithid are actually common, I made a playable race for Illithid. They are illitihid that for one reason or another are no longer members of a colony, and lost the link with their Elder Brain.
Obviously Illithid are too powerful to fit into the budget of a normal 5e D&D race. However when you think of it, the illithid in the Monster Manual is an individual that is clearly not equivalent to a level 1 character, same as a human Veteran has abilities that are far above those of an average 1st level human.
My solution? I boiled down the illithid to as basic a race as possible, while still maintaining an unmistakable illithid feel, and added 2 racial feats that unlock features that will bring a character closer to what the Monster Manual Illithid looks like. So in theory say an 8th level Illithid Wizard with both feats will feel very much like playing a Monster Manual illithid.
Like all my brews on this blog, this is a carefully balanced, peer reviewed and playtested brew of the finest malt!
As always I’m glad to hear feedback and about any experiences using this brew for PCs or NPCs.