A beholder is a giant lumpy... thing that looks like a floating octopus with a giant eye in the middle. The tentacles also have eyes at the end of them. Yuck.
Beholders, like Mind Flayers, are considered "intellectual property" of
TSR Wizards of the Coast, so they aren't allowed to be used in third party D&D supplements or in Pathfinder as they were not covered under the Open Gaming License. This naturally doesn't stop weirdly similar creatures from appearing in various weeaboo JRPGs and related works, where they're usually called "gazers" or similar. Yes, this includes Monstergirls. Of course one game even used the name beholder, but we all excuse it, because this game is THE GAME. THE LEGEND.
Personality and Characteristics
Beholders are selfish bastards who love to manipulate and enslave any races considered beneath themselves (i.e. every other species). They are extremely xenophobic even going so far as to kill other individuals of their species that look even slightly different from themselves, though they always go after the more extreme divergences first; two beholders will gang up on the "freak" with scales and fiery eyes before trying to kill each other over the differences in their numbers of teeth. Soooo basically the D&D equivalent of a Dalek.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the beholder race has a lot of genetic variety (as evidenced by the number of Beholder variants, all of whom hate each other, as listed below). They are greedy, often living in dungeons stuffed with valuables. They can cast magic from their eyes and often rule over unwilling souls through domination. One even runs the Thieves' Guild of Skullport, the most recent of several beholders to have done so.
2nd & 3rd Edition
- Gauth: basically, babby's first beholder, with only 6 eyestalks of doom and a reduced ability to disintegrate everyone.
- Eyeball: tiny beholder, best used as a familiar. Pretty damn adorable for a beholder, still Neutral Evil.
- Death Tyrant: basically, a Beholder lich. Yeah, you're probably fucked.
- Death Kiss: instead of dispensing death-beams from its eyestalks, they use them to suck your blood.
- Astereater: giant space-faring asteroid beholder with no eyestalks that eats your ship. Spelljammer was weird.
- Hive Mother/Hive Tyrant: basically a bigger meaner beholder that holds other beholders under its sway.
- Spectator: true neutral beholder. It's actually pretty swell, as far as beholders go. Remember that one beholder in Baldur's Gate?
- Overseer: a beholderkin that looks like a giant fleshy tree trunk with eyestalk branches, tentacles for roots, and several mouths at the base. Yes, I realize that it looks nothing like a beholder, but the book says it is so fuck it, let's call it a beholder. Like the hive mother, it also has the ability to dominate other beholders.
- Eye of the Deep: it's like a beholder BUT UNDERWATER! And it tastes oddly of shrimp. Also, it's got little arms with crab-pincers. Only has two eye stalks and the central eye can flash blinding light. Also can cast the spell persistent image.
- Director: a beholder with three bottom tentacles that it uses to ride vermin, usually giant centipedes. Because haven't we all wanted to ride a giant centipede like a pony up and down the streets... SHUT UP, I DON'T JUDGE YOU! Has six eye stalks and its central eye generates a protective forcefield around itself and its mount.
- Beholder mage: when the DM wants the entire party to die horrible deaths but doesn't feel like using rocks. All the cheese of a wizard with more spells per day, the ability to blast 10 spells at once at you as free actions, and fucking spontaneous casting. Even munchkins shit their pants in fear when they hear of these things. One of the unholy trinity of fuck off broken PCs that you can technically enter, the others being tainted scholars and Illithid Savants. And that's before you start optimizing the bastard because the fucker can still take ten more levels before becoming epic.
- Gas Spore: Not a true beholder, but actually a fungus that resembles a beholder. May have been created by beholder mages, may be a fungus that took on the form of the beholder that it fed on, or maybe it's just mundane evolutionary mimicry.
- Gouger: A beholderkin created to fight beholders. It does not have any eye powers other than the antimagic eye. It attacks with a long barbed tongue which it uses to disable other beholder's eyes. Larger than regular beholders and has four small legs hanging off of their body.
4e made use of quite a few different kinds of beholder, though almost all of them were pretty rapetastic, being made for higher levels. Most kinds of beholders had a Telekinesis Ray that they could use to slide enemies about, though for most that's all they do.
- Gauth - Pretty much the same as old editions, this is the pitiful little baby of the beholder family in 4e, and something you can toss at low-level parties to scare them without killing them. Level 5 Elites that can shoot fire, sleeping rays and exhaustion rays, and immobilise with its central eye.
- Bloodkiss - Another carry-over, and the second-weakest beholder statted, this one got the Undead subtype for some reason (guess they didn't read up and thought it was "just" a beholder vampire). Level 9 Solo Controller that relies on its blood-sucking tentacles to rip up anything in reach, though it also packs a psychic + dazing effect Death Scream attack and can hit people a lot of times.
- Eye of Flame - A beholder that specialises in burninating shit. Central eye gives vulnerability to fire and causes fire attacks to do ongoing, eyestalks blast foes with fire and fear effects. A low-Paragon tier (level 13 Elite) foe.
- Eye of Frost - We got a burn-your-ass beholder, so evidently we need a freezinating beholder. Slightly tougher (1 level higher) than its counterpart. Central eye means cold damage can immobilise those it looks at... weirdly, its got two kinds of freezing rays; one that does a lot of cold damage, one that does less cold damage but freezes your ass solid.
- Beholder Spawn - Baby beholders wanna eat your face, too. Level 15 Minions that can bite or do elemental damage with their eye-rays.
- Eye Tyrant - Your basic beholder for this edition, and pretty damn nasty (level 19 Solo). Can daze you with its central eye, or use its eyestalks to cause radiant and necrotic damage, put you to sleep, paralyze you, confuse you, terrify you, petrify you, disintegrate you or kill you outright.
- Eye of Shadow - Beholders who spent too long in the shadowfell, dissolving into a blot of darkness and hate. Fairly puny (level 12 Elite), but seriously trolling, with blinding rays, thundering rays, freezing rays, and the ability to pull off a "teleport 20 squares and then be invisible" trick.
- Ghost Beholder - Dead Eye Tyrant who came back as a ghost. A level weaker and only an Elite, but still pretty nasty. Freezing eye rays and the ability to possess and mind control your dudes: not a lot of fun if your Will is shitty.
- Death Tyrant - Zombie Eye Tyrants, pretty much. Way weaker than their older namesakes (level 15 Solo). Central eye can strip away necrotic resistance (guess what kind of damage it does most) and slow you, and eyebeams focused on kill-you-dead. Choice is whether it just necrotic damages you to death, petrifies you, makes you die, or makes you die and then come back as a ghoul. Oh, and it has a fear ray too.
- Eye of Chaos - Now we're getting into the big guns. Level 25 Elites that will drive you almost as crazy as themselves, with the ability to lock you down to at-will powers only with their central eye and hit you with rays of force, blinding, confounding, madness, fear or teleportation.
- Ultimate Tyrant - They ain't fucking kidding when they named this bastard. Level 29 Solo - there are ancient dragons that aren't this nasty! Central eye locks you down, other eyes can drive you mad, unravel you, dissolve you, burn you, freeze you, drag you around, petrify you, disintegrate you, pull you closer or hurl you away.
5e's first Monster Manual provides three forms of beholder; common beholder (or Eye Tyrant), Death Tyrant, and Spectator. The first two variants are what 5e calls Legendary creatures, meaning they have extra powers in their lairs that they can trigger on Initiative Count 20, certain specific effects mark the regions in which they lair, and they have special Legendary Actions that they can perform outside of the normal turn sequence. Their legendary ego has been given up a serious boost; now, beholders mutate at random just by accidentally thinking too hard, their ego is that overpowering. This is also how they reproduce: by sleeping and dreaming of other beholders, bending reality in that way.
- Beholder: You know it, you hate it. Challenge level 13. Has its old antimagic cone central eye back, a bite attack for piercing damage, and ten eye rays, of which it can use three each round, rolling randomly to determine which three it has. Charm ray, paralyzing ray, fear ray, slowing ray, enervation ray, telekinetic ray, sleep ray, petrification ray, disintegration ray and death ray. It can burn one of its three legendary actions at the end of another creature's turn to blast somebody with a random eye ray. Its lair effects consist of three options; change a 50ft square up to 120ft distant into slimy difficult terrain, make any walls within 120ft sprout flailing appendages that'll grapple anyone within 10ft who can't beat a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, or cause an eye to pop up on any solid surface within 60ft that can then shoot a random eye ray at any enemy within its sight. For region effects, they're all fluffy; creatures within 1 mile sometimes feel they're being watched, or minor reality warps that affect inanimate objects (markings changing on a wall, slime coating a statue, etc) pop up whilst the beholder is sleeping. Volo's Guide to Monsters introduced a table of potential alternate eye rays, in case your party was feeling complacent.
- Death Tyrant: A beholder who dreamed of living forever. So it died in its sleep and became an undead beholder skull with ghostly eyes. It trades the antimagic cone for a negative energy cone (creatures can't regain hitpoints, humanoids that die in its area of effect become zombies under the death tyrant's command on the next turn). It has the same eye rays and legendary actions as the beholder. Its lair actions are variants of the beholder's - its grabbing walls are DC 17 and reach into the Ethereal Plane, it creates a 50ft cube of lightly obscured difficult terrain, and it can create a spectral eye at any point within 50ft, which can also target foes on the Ethereal Plane. It has one crunchy regional effect; a creature that is both hostile to the death tyrant and aware of its existence must roll a D20 if it finishes a long rest within 1 mile of the death tyrant's lair. On a 10 or less, it gets zapped with a random eye ray.
- Spectator: A lesser beholder variant with only four eye stalks, conjured from another plane of existence via a ritual that requires four beholder eyestalks as material components. It's only Challenge level 3 and it's Lawful Neutral, rather than the Lawful Evil of the others. It has a Confusion Ray, a Paralyzing Ray, a Fear Ray and a Wounding Ray, and it can magically create all the food and water it needs to sustain itself each day. It's a fool's gambit to attack it with spells thanks to its Spell Reflection reaction, which lets it retarget a spell that missed the spectator, or which forced a save that the spectator passed, against another creature within the spectator's line of sight and that is at least 30 feet from the spectator.
- Death's Kiss: A Beholder who had nightmares about bleeding out spawns a vampiric tentacle monster, using toothy mouth-stalks to voraciously suck the blood from other creatures. It also bleeds lightning, for some reason. Not as smart as a normal beholder, but for this reason not as egotistical or paranoid. Added in Volo's Guide to Monsters.
- Gauth: A smaller beholder who sometimes shows up if you screw up the ritual to summon a spectator; it's got six eyestalks, four tentacles, and smaller eyes all around its central eye, so it's hard to understand how wizards can get confused when it lies and claims to be the real deal. The issue is that Gauths are magic eaters, sucking the juice from magical items to sustain themselves, so you can see why that makes them pretty piss-poor guards for a wizard's lair. They're weaker than true beholders and also less xenophobic. Also, they explode when you kill them.
- Gazer: A ridiculously adorable and weak little beholder (only Challenge 1/2 - that is, a twenty-sixth of the strength of a true beholder) that is sometimes dreamed into being. They're so amusingly pathetic that even pure beholders often keep them as pets, and they have the same sadistic ego of a full beholder in miniature. Have caused a lot of argument over whether the sidebar on gazer familiars is intended for PCs as well or just for mage NPCs, and if so if house rules should be used to slot them in as Chain Pact warlock familiars, let them take the action to fire their eye-rays, etc.
- Mindwitness: A beholder converted into an illithid-like creature via ceremorphosis. Now that those of you who aren't currently running from your computers in terror have stopped screaming, the end result is less "terrifying perfect marriage of beholder eye-rays with illithid mind rape and the combined egotism of both" and more "quasi-lobotomized docile glorified psionic email server," though still smarter than the average human. Notably, if the illithids and elder brains they serve are slaughtered and they survive, mindwitnesses tend to drift around looking for other psionic creatures to serve, taking on the alignments and worldviews of those they meet, be they kindly flumphs or evil demons. Four of their eyestalks become tentacles, but they have six kinds of eyerays: fear, telekinetic, and slowing rays like those of their normal cousins, but also aversion rays that cause disadvantage on attack rolls, stunning rays that stun creatures, and a psychic ray that just causes a pile of psychic damage.
- That beholder head of the thieves' guild who was the first major boss in Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance
- Another beholder head of another thieves' guild who was the final boss of the first Eye of the Beholder game.
- That funny spectator you kept running into and quasi-befriended in Baldur's Gate II
- That blind death tyrant boss you had to get a special god-killing magic wand to kill in Baldur's Gate II
- That beholder in Dungeons and Dragons: Heroes
- That beholder in Futurama who's there for no apparent reason (was meant to be guarding some passage in the Central Bureaucracy but fell asleep on the job)
- Xanathar, the writer of "Xanathar's guide to everything" and head of Skullport's Thieves' Guild, which includes new options for classes and backgrounds, along with his snide comments running throughout. Apparently he's only one of many beholders to have used the title since the first one seized power. He really loves his pet goldfish. It is kind of adorable. What he doesn't know is that his beloved goldfish has been replaced several times by the Thieves' Guild since goldfish don't live very long and he would not be happy if he ever found out.
Beholders as Monstergirls
|This article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.|
Gazers (as they are typically known due to copyright) are often depicted as arrogant, selfish beings that do not hesitate to use their eye ray powers to get what they want. Of course, fitting for a monstergirls setting, their powers are less destructive than that of a D&D Beholder, going more toward charm, hypnotism and mind control.
Still, beholder-girls are a rarity, simply because there's something rather counter-intuitive about turning a floating head full of teeth and eyes into a monstergirl. Perhaps the most well known example of them on /tg/ is the Gazer of the Monster Girl Encyclopedia, whose smug grin currently adorns this section of the page. Described as spiteful and full of themselves, their deepest secret is that this is mostly bluster to cover up feelings of insecurity about their looks. They specialize in hypnotic spells, mostly to brainwash men into falling in love with them.