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Species beast
No. Appearing 1
Behaviour malevolent
Range subterranean
Size 4 to 6 ft. in diameter
Weight 550 lbs.
Intelligence 15
Armour Class 0
Hit Dice 15
Action Points 1
Max. Stride
THAC0 12
Hp/Die d10
Attack Forms 1: maw (attack)
Damage maw [3–24]
Special Attacks anti-magic, cause wound, death,
disintegrate, fear, hold person or
, hypnotism, levitation,
petrification, sleep, slow, telekinesis

The beholder, or eye-tyrant, is well-known as one of the deadliest creatures to exist anywhere. It's only been encountered at the core of deep dungeons, preferring to make its lair in a small cave. The size is chosen to ensure the beholder room enough to unleash its infamous arsenal of magical attacks, while the line-of-sight keeps interlopers in range of the beast's powers.



Typically, the beholder is supported by upper levels of lesser creatures, helplessly in the beholder's thrall. While allowed to dwell and live out their lives, these slave creatures are organized so as to protect the beholder's lair and give warning to the beast if anyone should attempt to fight their way down through the complex warrens above. These slaves also feed the beholder, sometimes with their own bodies. A beholder's appetite is prodigious.

In reality, the beholder is notably vulnerable. Despite its powers, if enough creatures were to give their lives in a rush against it's attacks, the beholder could be overwhelmed. Though many would die, the remainder — with oil and torches — could set the beholder's lair alight. Another means might to be seal the beholder in its own lair, or somehow bring about an avalanche. Even if it survived, the beholder would be forced to look for its own food. This might enable a group of adventurers, or even a large beast to take it by surprise and bring about it's end.

The beholder's greatest power is its intelligence: knowing precisely how to make its lair safe and cultivate its minions, so that they're either too frightened or too dependent to turn on their master.


The beholder is shaped like a globe, covered in heavy plating and hardened ridges, causing its surface to appear stone-like. The beholder has eleven eyes altogether. It has a large mouth and one "Great Eye" that identifies the front of the sphere. Atop the sphere are ten stalks, each of which is topped with a much smaller eye.

Each of these eyes are blessed with a unique and individual power, any of which may be employed by the beholder once per round. These eyes are grouped on the beholder's head in a particular fashion; none of these eyes has the power to affect a 360° circle around the beholder. Their attacks relate to the direction the beholder is facing, as explained by the eye orientation image.

Beholder Fields of Attack.jpg


The Great Eye determines the beholder's facing in combat. It's ten other eyes are numbered clockwise, starting at the beholder's foremost right eye, designated #1. It and #2 can attack the brown and purple areas, but cannot reach to attack elsewise. Similarly, #9 and #10 can only attack creatures in the pink and brown areas.

Eye #3 can attack to the right, at creatures in purple and green; #8 can attack to the left, in the blue and pink areas.

Eyes #4 and #5 can attack back left, in the green and yellow areas; #6 and #7 can attack in the yellow and blue areas.

Therefore, attackers in any given zone will have to face three or four eyes on stalks — and then one more, counting the Great Eye. The best angle of attack depends on the character's strategy and the eleven powers the eyes possess.

Further, it's worth knowing that there are two species of beholder; the "left-handed" shown above, and the "right-handed," where the powers are reversed in mirror-fashion. It requires a true expert in beholders to visually tell the difference between the two by sight.


The effects of each eye is described below, in order from the Great Eye to #10:

  • The Great Eye — Anti-magic Ray. The beholder can turn this upon any one creature in line-of-sight; it's very powerful and allows no saving throw. If a spellcaster is actively casting, the casting is disrupted and the spell is lost for the day. Other ongoing spells for which that individual is a recipient, such as strength, enlarge or hold person, have that magic dispelled. This effect also applies to creatures who have drunk potions or are being affected by other magical items. A quaffed potion's effect is permanently nullified.
With items, the magic is not destroyed, but the item itself is unable to function for three full rounds. Spellcasters who have experienced the anti-magic effect will be unable to employ any magic of any kind, for three rounds. Remember that the beholder's effect applies to all magic items, and all other forms of magic, carried by the affected person, without exception. Unquaffed potions must also wait three rounds, but their magic will be restored at that time.
  • Eye #1 — Disintegration. Causes complete annihilation of the body of one creature, leaving nothing behind that can be raised or otherwise preserved. The creature is entitled to a saving throw against magic. The beholder can affect one creature in this way per round. Creatures that are disintegrated can be retrieved only through a wish spell.
  • Eye #2 — Telekinesis. Enables the beholder to move or hold immobile any object or creature up to 375 lbs. weight. The beholder is most likely to use this power to seize an attacker and hurl him or her against a distant wall or towards the ceiling (depending on the ceiling's height). The ceiling is preferred, as this causes the "falling" damage to be experienced twice by the victim: once upon hitting the ceiling, then again when the creature falls back to the floor.
The beholder may only affect one creature per round in this fashion, and may commit only one action against that creature. If the creature is viewed as especially dangerous, the beholder can use telekinesis to hold the victim indefinitely. The beholder may also use its telekinesis power to turn aside a missile weapon, discarding that hit and counting this as the eye's attack that round. Only one missile attack can be stopped in this manner per round.
  • Eye #3 — Sleep. Affects creatures like the 1st level magical spell, sleep. Is able to cause sleep in one creature, regardless of hit dice or levels, without a saving throw; or it may be used like the spell against a number of creatures with 4 or less HD. Sleeping creatures [Rouse Sleeping Creatures|can be roused]]. However, if the creature isn't acted upon, it won't be awakened by the battle and will sleep for 5-30 rounds.
  • Eye #4 - Hypnotism. Affects a single creature like the 1st level illusionary spell, hypnotism, except that the beholder's power can be used to force the hypnotized creature to harm his or her allies. Allows a save against magic; effect lasts 2-5 rounds.
  • Eye #5 - Fear. Affects a single creature like the 3rd level illusionary spell, fear. Allows a save against magic; effect lasts 16 rounds.
  • Eye #6 - Slow. Affects a single creature like the 3rd level magical spell, slow, causing all action point (AP) costs to be doubled, precluding the creature from running. The creature is limited to its normal attacks but taking place over two rounds; creatures normally able to attack once per round would do so every other round. A creature normally able to attack twice a round attacks once a round. There is no saving throw; effect lasts 6 rounds.
  • Eye #7 - Hold Person or Monster. Affects a single creature like the 2nd level clerical spell, hold person. Allows a save against magic; effect lasts 4 rounds.
  • Eye #8 - Flesh-to-Stone. The reverse of the 6th level magical spell, stone-to-flesh. Effect transforms a creature into solid stone, including all the creature is carrying or wearing, even another person. Allows a save against magic; effect is permanent.
  • Eye #9 - Cause Wound. Causes 22 points of damage, half if a save versus breath weapon is made. If the total damage is 22, the victim will continue to bleed for 2 hit points per round thereafter, 1 point per round if the save was successful. Bleeding lasts until the wound is bound or otherwise treated.
  • Eye #10 - Death. Causes the death of one creature, no saving throw. Killed creature can be raised or resurrected, but cannot be brought back to life using death's door.

Each eye is free to attack an individual creature; usually the beholder seeks to disable as many attackers as it can, in order to destroy the most powerful at its leisure with the death or disintegration eye.

Engaging a Beholder in Combat

Because of the beholder's formidable attacks, defenders should seek strategies that counteract the many eye attacks of the creature — or seek to fool the beholder into wasting its attacks on lesser combatants. Knowing which attacks can affect which arcs of assault is critical to placing effective combatants into the right positions, so as not to have a high level killed off by the death eye. Protection spells are unquestionably necessary, despite the Great Eye.

Destroying the Great Eye requires the beholder be actually killed, but the eye stalks atop its head are fragile and might be destroyed. However, as the beholder is floating and the stalks are atop its head, beyond the reach of most melee weapons, attackers must target the eyes with either a missile weapon or a pole arm. To hit and destroy an eyestalk requires a roll that will hit armour class -5. Only 1 damage is needed. If an eye stalk is attacked, the beholder is sure to use its telekinesis eye, if it can, to belay the attack.

Potentially, a character could surprise the beholder by employing an invisibility spell, using a sanctuary spell or using various magic items created for the purpose of deception. This might give enough time for an individual to take out one of the more powerful eyes. However, as the beholder need not touch the floor to live, it usually sets up traps to catch or expose this form of stealth attack. The beholder is of genius intelligence and will be prepared for most simple strategies.

See Bestiary