beholder

The D&D Beholder – Randomized!

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I have a love for all that is weird and other in the D&D fantasy worlds we share. One of my favorite creatures from the Dungeons & Dragons mythos is the beholder. As an avid reader of H.P. Lovecraft and the many other authors who followed in his footsteps, Arthur Machen, Robert Bloch and Stephen King, to name a few, it should come as no surprise that ball of tentacles, eyes and madness should attract my attention.

A beholder as seen in the fifth edition Dungeon & Dragons Monster Manual. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]

A beholder is perfect, right? RIGHT?

I enjoy the beholder’s potential for whimsy. A beholder is an innately unstable creature. They are insane, paranoid and egotistical, some even possessing multiple personalities working against one another. Believing themselves to be the embodiment of perfection, a beholder hates any of their kind that differ from it, even in the slightest.

As their features vary in many ways, it is difficult to find identical beholders. The only time beholders are identical is after reproduction. They reproduce by thinking of themselves while they dream. Their dream reflection becomes reality. The two beholders usually fight to the death, despite the fact they’re identical.

Beholderkind has so much diversity that I thought it was time to celebrate what makes them different. My indulgence will likely  result in punishment. Ah well, I always knew death-by-eye-ray would be my end.

What follows will be a list of tables to create my very own living, breathing beast of madness. Using the beholder from the Monster Manual (pg.28) as my base,  the first table will dictate the central eye beam, which will replace the antimagic cone.

Each cone is linked with a school of magic and all but two of them are my own creations. Table two is simple – the number of eyestalks the beholder possesses, which will also determine its number of spells known. The final table will roll school and level of the spell before determining the spell itself. These random spells will replace the eye rays and function in the same ways as described in the Monster Manual.

Don’t worry if the creature comes out of the box with strange or seemingly useless abilities. This article is designed to create a fun, unique creature that fits best as a long-term villain. Consider the unconventional spells and decide how the beholder would use them to further its goals and increase its range of influence. The summon steed spell may be useless to a beholder but, without the limitation of spell slots, it could wield a mounted army. Enough speculation. Let’s roll some dice.

Central Eye / Cone Attack

The central eye possesses the main source of power for a beholder. Some of these cones are silly, others powerful, but all exist to further the creature’s goal as well as inform how it sees the world. Pun intended.

D&D beholder
An Alphabetical Guide to Dungeon Monsters by Dusty Peterson.

 

Number of Spells / Eyestalks

This is the number of eyestalks your beholder will have. It ranges from five to 15 with the average falling on ten. Each eyestalk contains a single spell. The beholder is not limited by a number of spells per day. However, the eyestalks still function under the same rules at eye rays. The spell’s range is either 120 ft. or the range of the spell, whichever is greater. If a spell requires a melee attack to trigger, allow the beholder to use its bite attack as part of casting the spell. All spell DC’s are 16.

School / Level / Spell  This table will roll a random school, level and then spell.

Use this table for each eye stalk the beholder has.

If you prefer to choose the school here are the tables for that option.

AbjurationConjurationDivinationEnchantmentEvocationIllusionNecromancyTransmutation;

These tables are not structured for balance, nor have I set calculations for how they will affect Challenge Rating. Furthermore I did not omit any spells except cantrips. Beholders are smart. If they would rather have a cantrip in place of a spell, I am sure they can pick the one they want.

That does it for spells and at that my Beholder Randomizer. There seems to be only one thing left to do, lets roll up a monster.

Randomized beholder example

  • Central Eye.  I rolled a 2; conjuration it is.
    • Conjuration: Dancing Cone
    • Creatures in a 150-foot cone, emitted from the beholders eye, must use their move action to dance comically in place for as long as they are inside the cone. At the start of each turn the beholder decides which way the cone faces and whether the cone is active.
  • Number of eyestalks. A 9 will give me a total of 12 eyestalks, each with its own spell.
  • Stalks and spells.
    • My first eyestalk school of magic will be enchantment as I rolled a 4. With another 4 it will be a 4th level spell. A 1 decides my spell. Eyestalk number one knows the spell compulsion. From here on out I will just state the school, level and spell of the remaining eleven eyestalks.
    • Necromancy : 3rd : revivify
    • Conjuration : 5th : conjure volley
    • Abjuration : 1st : alarm 
    • Enchantment : 6th : mass suggestion
    • Enchantment : 4th : confusion
    • Conjuration : 7th : planar shift
    • Necromancy : 9th : true resurrection
    • Transmutation : 5th : passwall
    • Abjuration : 6th : forbiddance
    • Evocation : 6th : wall of ice
    • Enchantment : 8th : power word stun

I dreamed my first beholder into existence! It is time to give it a name and a purpose.

D&D beholder randomized
Art by Gido on deviantart.

I shall call it Zuusz. This beholder is a dreamer. Its ambition is to craft a beautiful race. Unfortunately all it has to work with are the ugly beings populating the material plane.

Powers at its disposal like compulsion, confusion and mass suggestion, are used to lure mortals into its lair. Only those under Zuusz’s influence are allowed to enter its sanctuary. Alarm ensures it is aware of any intruders, while forbiddance denies entry to those who try to magic their way in. The latter spell also ensures that Zuusz’s test subject don’t escape, should they come to their senses.

If Zuusz’s home is invaded passwall and wall of ice allow the beholder to control the intruders’ movement, while it can escape into hidden chambers if threatened. Should a band of fools attempt to engage Zuusz in combat they will fine themselves stunned (power word stun) and then peppered with stones.

The beholder scoops boulders into its mouth and spits them, casting conjure volley on the makeshift projectile. Whether a being dies at Zuusz’s hand (eye rather) or as a result of one of its cruel experiments, revivify and true resurrection allow experimentation to continue. Zuusz knows many planar locations. With planar shift it transports itself and a few of its thralls to certain destinations where it sells knowledge and creations, as well as procures a few unique “assets.”

Acknowledgements

Thank you to any who read, enjoy and use this article. I understand there are innumerable flaws with the structure of these tables (many faults stood out when I rolled Zuusz). I made no attempt at balance nor did I try to keep within Challenge Rating, so it your creation kills your party, you are warned. This exercise gave me a change to practice creating original content, something that I have not done before. If you feel it has value leave a comment, or better yet a suggestion for improvements. Stay Nerdy.

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  1. […] took a bit more care with my balance with this creature than I did my Beholder Randomizer. When all is said and done, the new chimera should fall into a challenge rating 5 to 7. With […]

  2. […] creation is below. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: Want to really get weird with a beholder? Check out our beholder randomizer and dream your own strange D&D monsters into […]

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