The Netherbrain

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The Netherbrain is an Aberration of massive proportions that serves as the final boss of the game. An Elder Brain empowered by the ancient Crown of Karsus, the Netherbrain is the overarching antagonist of the game, its insidious plans having set in motion the events of the story.

Bhaal's Chosen placed the Crown upon me in the depths of Moonrise Towers, and there I was born.
— The Netherbrain

Overview[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

An Elder Brain enslaved by the Crown of Karsus, the Netherbrain is the true identity behind the Absolute and its enigmatic cult that quickly spread all over the Sword Coast. Chained and under control of the Chosen of the Dead Three, in truth, the brain is the mastermind behind their plans, using the proud Chosen merely as pawns to serve it the Crown, amass an army and plant the seeds to control over Baldur's Gate and beyond.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

  • The Netherbrain is a level 20 Aberration type Elder Brain
  • It serves as the main antagonist throughout the game, as well as the final boss
  • Mentioned first in Act 1, it briefly appears at the end of Act 2 before becoming a proper enemy during Act 3
  • Depending on player choices, its fate can vary and affect the endings of the game
  • Dialogue choices can have an effect on its HP when entering the final battle

Quests[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Appearance[edit | edit source]

The Netherbrain is a gargantuan elder brain easily towering above most buildings in the Lower City. The brain is flesh colored, with crimson blood vessels and purple-blue chitinous growths emerging from the sides and the top, shaped in menacing spikes running along its dome, the flesh noticeably darker where the growths surface. It has an extremely long spinal cord and tentacles adorn the front of the brain. The Crown of Karsus sits on top of its head, simple yet well-made, adorned with rose jewels and intricate details.

When interacted with, it uses an illusion that grants it the visage of a familiar mind flayer. A huge face appears at the front of the brain, skin pale blue with eyes dark orange and pitch black pupils. The tentacles are larger, resembling that of a nautiloid, allowing it to emote similarly to other illithid.

Personality[edit | edit source]

Highly intelligent and extremely devious, the Netherbrain is a cruel creature, willing to do anything to achieve the Grand Design. It views any creature other than illithid is lesser, and is perfectly willing to use its followers as pawns. The Netherbrain also shows some curiosity when discussing its plans with the Urge, impressed by the former's cruelty, but lost interest the moment they were removed from the plan. Though chained, its immense appetite for domination and destruction made even Ketheric and Gortash wary, taking careful steps to keep it subdued.[text 1] Much like other illithid, self-preservation guides its actions and, if defeated and facing destruction, it submits to the victors in order to survive.

History[edit | edit source]

Before the events of the game, a mind flayer colony was established under Reithwin Town and what would later be Moonrise Towers. With the colony steadily growing unbeknownst to the inhabitants of the town, in time, an Elder Brain would emerge to lead it into furthering the Grand Design, a sacred mission to restore the once vanquished illithid empire.

At some point during his efforts to take over Baldur's Gate, Enver Gortash stumbled into the colony when visiting Ketheric Thorm at Moonrise and, sensing an opportunity, hastily formulated a plan: using the Crown of Karsus, an ancient artifact of immense power belonging once to the archwizard Karsus of Netheril, he would enslave the brain in order to harness its power and take over the Sword Coast in Bane's name.[text 2] Together with his partner, the Bhaalspawn, they hired the services of a diabolist named Helsik to provide passage to Mephistar, lair of Mephistopheles and location of the crown. With the crown obtained, the pair returned to Moonrise to join Ketheric and chain the elder brain, yet after the Bhaalspawn placed the crown on the brain,[1] Orin the Red, second in command of the Bhaalspawn, betrayed her superior, slaying them and pronouncing herself the new Chosen of Bhaal.[text 2]

With the brain under control, the Chosen of the Dead Three begin their plan of taking over the Sword Coast, coming up with the Cult of the Absolute, a sect dedicated to the figure of the Absolute, the name given to the newly enslaved brain. Using it, they would hatch tadpoles to infect the population of important cities and amass as army to take over the entire coast, luring them with the promise of a powerful, new goddess that welcomed the meek, the outcasts. The netherese magic of the crown allowed them to create special tadpoles that would remain in their victims in a suspended state of ceremorphosis, able to be controlled psychically while not becoming properly illithid yet.[text 3] This way, the group would be able to target important targets while maintaining the ruse of religious fervor instead of the more sinister truth.[text 2][text 4]

Unbeknownst to the Chosen three, the brain was willing to go along with the Bhaalspawn's plan until they began infighting.[1] The brain then began plotting, and one of its plans included the Astral Prism, an ancient arcane item that was the key to breaking the control of its masters.[text 5] While the brain could be controlled so long as all three netherstones were separate from the crown, it was still able to guide events to its favour. The Netherbrain, the elder brain's new form after being infused with the crown's netherese magic, granted the Emperor its freedom so it could retrieve the Prism, and planted the knowledge of Orpheus' power, setting in motion it's grand plan for liberation.[2]

Involvement[edit | edit source]

Act One[edit | edit source]

Though the Netherbrain never makes a physical appearance throughout Act One, its voice, under the guise of the voice of the Absolute, is first heard by the party in one of three locations: outside the Goblin Camp, the area exits of the Wilderness leading to the Mountain Pass, or at the elevator which connects Grymforge to the Shadow-Cursed Lands, whichever is visited first by the player. It attempts to command the party to obey its Chosen by controlling their tadpoles, but its efforts are prevented by the Mysterious Artefact, which disrupts its communication. The Dream Guardian later states that it has attempted to command the player's tadpole to transform them into a mind flayer several times, but that they continue to block its efforts.

Act Two[edit | edit source]

The Netherbrain makes its first physical appearance toward the end of Act Two, where one of its tentacles emerges from beneath Moonrise Towers. The brain itself is encountered later on, at the end of the Mind Flayer Colony, where it is revealed to be the true identity of the Absolute. It is also revealed that the brain is under the control of the Chosen of the Dead Three, Ketheric Thorm, Enver Gortash, and Orin the Red, through the use of the Crown of Karsus and its Netherstones.

At the end of Act Two, the brain emerges from the colony and commands the Absolute's armies to march on Baldur's Gate. The brain itself is also moved to Baldur's Gate by the remaining Chosen, who hide it beneath the city.

Should the player attempt to proceed back to Act One, against the Dream Guardian's warnings, the Netherbrain will overwhelm their defenses and appear before them, forcing their transformation and resulting in an instantaneous game over.

Act Three[edit | edit source]

With the defeat of Thorm by the party and the resulting loss of his Netherstone, the remaining Chosens' control over the brain is severely weakened. As a result, the brain makes frequent attempts to break free from its enslavement, resulting in regular psionic outbursts that are believed by the rest of the populace to be earthquakes. Knowing the threat that this poses to their plan, both Gortash and Orin attempt to convince (or coerce) the party to kill the other Chosen and bring their respective Netherstones to them, in order to reestablish control over the brain.

Once the party confronts the brain in the Morphic Pool, the brain reveals that it orchestrated the entire series of events leading up to their confrontation. The player attempts to dominate the brain with the rejoined Netherstones, but it overwhelms them, prompting the Emperor to force the player into the Astral Prism for safety. The Emperor explains that the brain in its current state is too powerful for any mortal to bring under control again, and that only an illithid has the mental capacity to dominate the brain.

With its free will fully restored once again, the Netherbrain proclaims that it will achieve the Grand Design, rising from beneath the city to reveal itself. It commences a full-scale assault on Baldur's Gate, forcing many tadpoled civilians to transform and commanding the hordes of the Absolute's armies to attack, while simultaneously summoning a fleet of Nautiloids to provide additional support. With the help of an illithid, the party manages to battle their way to the brain itself, where the illithid can use the Netherstones to enter the brain's mind and defeat it once and for all.

Once beaten, the Netherbrain yields to the party, proposing that they take control of it and rule in a last-ditch effort to spare its own life. From here, the player can choose to have their illithid ally destroy the brain, or betray them and take control of the brain, and the Absolute, for themselves. If the latter option is selected, the player will stab the illithid and seize the Netherstones, taking a seat atop the brain and proclaiming themselves as the Absolute.

If the player chooses to kill the brain, the illithid ally will order the brain to destroy all of the tadpoles, including the party's, before killing itself. Overwhelmed by the Netherstones, the brain is forced to comply, and it falls into the sea, sinking along with the Crown of Karsus into the harbor, thwarting the Grand Design once and for all.

Combat[edit | edit source]

See main article: The Netherbrain/Combat

The Netherbrain serves as the final boss of Act 3 and of the game. Its defeat marks the end of the main adventure, giving way to the Endings and the Epilogue.

Loot[edit | edit source]

The Netherbrain cannot be looted as the game ends immediately after it is defeated.

Achievements[edit | edit source]

A-Hero of the Forgotten Realms.jpg

Hero of the Forgotten Realms
Save the day: kill the Netherbrain and destroy the Absolute tadpoles.

A-Absolute Power Corrupts.jpg

Absolute Power Corrupts
Reign with terror: take control of the Netherbrain and bend the world to your will.

A-Sins of the Father.jpg

Sins of the Father
Claim your Throne of Blood: take control of the Netherbrain for Bhaal and break the world.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Morphic Pool, lines spoken by the Netherbrain when confronted by the Dark Urge and their companions.
    "You placed the Crown upon me in the depths of Moonrise Towers, and there I was born. (...) Your plan was devious, your cruelty unparalleled. I would have followed it, were your mind not destroyed by your sister. But with you gone, the three pitiful Chosen fought like children in your wake. I gave them power to harm one another with, while I crafted my design."
  2. Morphic Pool, lines spoken by the Netherbrain when confronted by the party.
    "Who do you think told the Chosen about the Astral Prism? Who do you think planted the knowledge of Orpheus' power, and the fear of what it could do? When the Chosen sent my thralls to retrieve the Prism - who do you think let the 'Emperor' slip its leash, knowing it would be the one to bring you to me?"

External links[edit | edit source]

The Netherbrain on the Forgotten Realms Wiki