Note: This creature was originally published in AD&D 2nd edition
A Beholder is an aberration comprising a floating spheroid body with a large fanged mouth and single eye on the front and many flexible eyestalks on the top.
A beholder's eyes each possess a different magical ability; the main eye projects an anti-magical cone, and the other eyes use different spell-like abilities. Many variant beholder species exist, such as "observers", "spectators", "eyes of the deep", "elder orbs", "hive mothers", and "death tyrants". In addition, some rare beholders can use their eyes for non-standard spell-like abilities; these mutant beholders are often killed or exiled by their peers. Beholders wishing to cast spells like ordinary wizards relinquish the traditional use of their eyestalks, and put out their central anti-magic eye, making these beholder mages immediate outcasts.
Beholders are extremely xenophobic. They will sometimes take members of other, non-beholder races as slaves, however they will engage in a violent intra-species war with others of their kind who differ even slightly in appearance. This intense hatred of other beholders is not universal; the most prominent exceptions are Hive Mothers, who use their powers of mind control to form hives with other beholders and beholder-kin. Beholder communities in the Underdark often, when provoked, wage war on any and all nearby settlements, finding the most resistance from the drow and illithids.
Beholders worship their insane, controlling goddess known as the Great Mother, though some also, or instead, follow her rebel offspring, Gzemnid, the beholder god of gases.
Some beholder strains have mutated far from the basic beholder stock. These are aberrant beholders, of which there are numerous different types. These aberrants may have differing abilities and/or appearances but the unifying feature among beholders and the various aberrant beholders seems to be a simple, fleshy body with one or more grotesque eyes.
Traits: Will +3, Eidetic Memory (1 level), Hit Point +5, Lightning Calculator, Mana Damper (cone 3 yards long and 3 yards wide at the end, 4 levels of mana damper), Reduced Consumption 2 (Cast Iron Stomach), Night Vision (5 levels), Early Maturation, Enhanced Move (3 levels, Flight), Scales (Carapace, DR 2), No Neck, Regrowth, Striker (Fangs, Impaling), 360-Degree Vision (Eyestalks), Tunnel, Flight (“Low Ceiling”, 1,5 yards), Innate Attack (Burn, 4d), Innate Attack (Corrosion, 4d), Affliction (coma), Affliction (Stunning), Affliction (Heart Attack), Affliction (Choking), Affliction (Sleep), Affliction (Paralysis), Extra Attacks (7). Reputation (creature loving genocide and destruction of whole cultures, -4 to the reaction), Intolerance (against any other creature), Megalomania, Sadism, Paranoia, Appearance: Horrific, Bad smell, Odious Racial Habit (eat other sentient creatures) Dying Race, No Fine Manipulators, Short Lifespan (1 level)
Skills: Innate attack 16; Tactics 16, Strategy 18
- Elder Orb: A rare variant of the traditional beholder. These creatures have a long lifespan and are more powerful than traditional beholders.
- Hive Mother: These are even rarer than elder orbs. Although their name implies a feminine gender, these beholders are as gender-neutral as typical members of their species. Their name stems more from the fact that they have the ability to magically dominate other beholders.
- Death Tyrant: A Death Tyrant is an undead beholder that has retained some magical ability.
- Death Kiss: This creature’s eyestalks are replaced with blood-draining tentacles, and its body roils with a powerful electric aura.
- Director: A director is often found dwelling in a beholder community led by a hive mother or an overseer. It has six eyestalks and three clawed tentacles with which it bonds with monstrous vermin mounts.
- Eye of the Deep: An eye of the deep rarely comes into conflict with true beholders, for this aquatic variant dwells deep underwater. It has only two eyestalks, but its massive pinchers make it a dangerous combatant.
- Gauth: A gauth is a beholder-kin that feeds on magic as well as flesh. A gauth has six eyestalks (one of which is used to drain magic from items) and four feeding tendrils. The most obvious feature of a gauth is that its central eye (which affects the viewer's mind) is surrounded by a ridge of flesh and many small eyes used for sight.
- Gouger: A gouger’s ten eyestalks are magically useless. Its central eye retains the antimagic properties of true beholders, and four small legs hang from the creature’s underside. A gouger’s most hideous feature, though, is its long, barbed tongue, which is adept at temporarily neutralizing beholder eyestalks.
- Overseer: An overseer is the most dangerous of the known beholderkin. Rivaling the power of a hive mother, an overseer resembles nothing so much as a large, fleshy tree with mouths on its trunk and eyes on its branches.
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