Tuesday 19 April 2011

An Adventure for Every Monster - Beholder

The party is wandering through a section of the dungeon that seems quieter than others. They might even think about using it as a base for rest periods and from which to explore. This, of course, would be a bad move because not long after they enter the area, they hear an unearthly wail, a scream that sounds as if no human mouth could utter it.

And of course, no human mouth did. If the party try to track down the source of the sound, which is repeated several times before tailing off into an eerie silence, they find that it appears to be coming from a room with a heavy iron door, several locks and two tough-looking armed and armoured men guarding it. If they covertly spy on the door, after a while it will open and an even tougher looking man will step out. Before he closes the door, he will call back into the room “Carry on and let me know if you get anything”
Then he will walk further on down the corridor and through another door, nowhere near as heavily fastened.

The even tougher man, we will call The Warlord, although you can give him whatever name you want. He is Lawful Evil in alignment, cruel but organised, wielding control over his men with an iron fist and the promise of large amounts of gold. He has heard rumours of a fabulous treasure several levels down, hidden behind fearsome defences and protected by traps and magical barriers. However, he now believes that he has a way to get to this treasure – some time ago, he and his men captured (at considerable loss to themselves) Mazoriax, a Beholder who had previously been lording it over this area of the dungeon. The Beholder was overpowered, its eye stalks cut off and then it was chained up in the room with the heavy iron door. The Warlord has been interrogating it to try and persuade it to give up what it knows about the treasure hoard. He has a magic user, several fighters, a couple of thieves and two clerics, master and acolyte, of his LE god. The magic user is busy applying red-hot pokers and branding irons to the beholder in an attempt to force it to tell its secrets. He also has iron shears and pliers which he uses, heated to a cherry-red temperature in the brazier in the confinement room, to remove any eye stalks that look as if they are growing back. The main eye has been securely covered and the Beholder is fastened very securely in chains that keep it in place, albeit hovering some feet off the floor.


Frequency Very rare
No appearing 1
AC 0/2/7
Move 3”
HD 45-75HP
% in lair 80%
Treasure type I,S,T
No of attacks 1
Damage per attack 2-8
Special attacks Magic
Special defences Anti-magic ray
Magic resistance Special
Intelligence Exceptional
Alignment Lawful Evil
Size L (4’ – 6’ diameter)
THAC0 10/9/8/7
XP value 12,900 +20/hp

The beholder (eye tyrant, sphere of many eyes) is most frequently found underground, although it infrequently will lair in desolate wildernesses. The globular body of this monster is supported by levitation, and it floats slowly about as it wills. Atop the sphere are 10 eyestalks, while in its central area are a great eleventh eye and a large mouth filled with pointed teeth. The body is protected by a hard chitinous covering. The creature's eyestalks and eyes are also protected, although less well (thus the armour classes of 2 and 7 respectively). Because of its particular nature the beholder is able to withstand the loss of its eyestalks, these members are not computed as part of its hit point damage potential, and lost eyestalks will eventually grow back (1 week per lost member). The body of the monster can withstand two-thirds of its total damage potential, while the great central eye can withstand one-third this total, i.e. a beholder with 45 hit points can withstand 30 hit points of damage to its body before being killed; the eleventh eye can withstand 15 points before ceasing to function. Eyestalks take from 8 to 12 hit points each before being lost. The body of a beholder represents 75% of potential hit area, the central eye and the eyestalks 10% each, and the 10 small eyes 5%.
Eyes: The various eyes of a beholder each have a different function. Typically only the central eye, plus 1-4 of those on stalks are able to function considering that the attack is coming from an arc 90° before the monster. If attacks come from 180° double the number of eyestalks able to function, and for 270° or 360° triple or quadruple the number. Attacks from above enable all 10 eyestalks to function, but the central eye cannot. Functions of the eyes are:

1. Charm Person spell
2. Charm Monster spell
3. Sleep spell
4. Telekinese 2500gp weight
5. Flesh – stone ray 3” range
6. Disintegrate ray 2” range
7. Fear (as a wand)
8. Slow spell
9. Cause serious wounds (5” range)
10. Death ray 4” range
11. Anti magic ray 14” range

The warlord also keeps a statue of a man in a horrified pose of agony where every one of his henchmen can see it. This is what happened to one of his men when the beholder was negligently allowed to recover one of its eyes.

The Beholder, whilst nominally Lawful Evil has been driven to the point of insanity by the torture and is now more CE than LE. Nevertheless, it is still extremely intelligent and very cunning and may appeal to the better nature of the party to assist its escape and end its torture. If the party is of Good alignment, they may have very firm views on maltreatment of creatures, even if they are evil. The DM can really play up the moral quagmire into which the party have stepped if they get involved in this particular adventure.

The treasure may really exist or it may not. The beholder may be taking the party for a bunch of suckers. Bear in mind that its current mental state and shift in alignment will not be known initially to the party and so they may be expecting more Lawful behaviour from it.

If the treasure does exist, it will probably be based around, but much, much expanded upon the treasure types belonging to the beholder.

Treasure type I is heavy on gems and jewellery, with a slight chance of magic and a moderate chance of platinum. Type S is potions whilst T consists entirely of scrolls. This could be bulked out with Type H, the one type we all hope to come across and maybe V for extra magic.

Of course this hoard will be phenomenally well-guarded and although the beholder will know quite a bit about how to deactivate the traps and bypass the explosive runes, spectral guardians etc, he won’t know everything. That’s why he needs the party. It’s up to them to decide whether they trust him or not.


  1. Very nice.

    I just finished B2 with my players and they found the locked up medusa. This is the high level version wracked up with extra trimming!

  2. Nice... engendering sympathy for a horror like a beholder! This would make a good dilemma for saintly-good types.

  3. Well-written and interesting. Thanks for the post.