Hey folks! It has been a while since the first of “DMs Know What They Are Doing” blog was published. Well, we have been working on our codex of evil, Corpus Malicious, and not so evil Christmas adventure. In the first one, the mindflayers were examined in detail. It was totally unique and iconic. This time, we will continue with another iconic creature of D&D, Beholder.
Beholders are aberrations and one of the most bizarre alien creatures of all time. It is a flying globe of eyes that can dispose of their enemies with several magical rays fired from the 10 eyestalks and the antimagic field created by the big central eye. They are surely powerful enemies and can be thrown to players as a unique encounter. Players will probably be terrorized because of disintegration rays but the encounter will be better if you know about their origin, motivations and daily life routines. So, let’s start!
What are their origins?
It is thought that the first beholders were created in one of the Outer Planes by an entity named the Great Mother. Actually, this is the name given to this entity by other races since beholders do not need to name it. Also, it is called the mother not because it is a female but since it is the origin of the race. After their creation, the beholders spread to many other places to produce and bring destruction.
To whom do they worship?
They worship their creator, the Great Mother who is chaotic evil and whose symbol is an egg with an eye. One of the Great Mother’s children, Gzemnid, is also worshipped by beholders especially living in the Underdark.
What are their personality traits and motivations?
Beholders are insane creatures, I mean literally. They have two distinct minds, personalities. One is the intuitive mind, the other one is the cold and logical rational mind. One observes the outside, experiences the events happening and gives the necessary information to the logical one. Logical one thinks and determines the actions required. The two minds do not trust each other, even hide secrets. This distrust leads beholders to insanity and paranoia. Because of this insanity and paranoia, most of the beholders do not trust any other creature from other races, even other beholders. They become extremely xenophobic and attack other creatures on sight.
There are surely sane beholders also, although they are rare. A proper dialogue can be executed with them they do not necessarily to be evil. However, when they are forced, they can be as merciless as their insane relatives.
How much do they live and grow?
Beholders’ normal life span is about a hundred years. However, most of them die during the first decade since they need to search for a proper place to live in, a home. They can be hunted while they are building their home, a vertical cave complex underground, by disintegration rays. Even if they survive this process, when they reach the ninetieth year, they start to lose the magical ray powers in their eyestalks and they rarely live more than 120 years. Actually, a beholder reaches its grown size in the first two years. After then, their growth in size slows drastically. However, extremely rarely, a beholder can be cunning enough to hunt adventurers not just to eat, but to search the ways of lengthening life span with magic. Legends have it that there are beholders whose ages are several hundred years. They also speculate that the same beholders are 20 feet in diameter.
What and how much do they eat?
Although they are alien creatures, they still need to eat. Their sense organs are hampered except the tongue. However, ironically, they cannot taste also. So, since the taste is not important for them, they can feed upon anything organic. 10 pounds of food and 2 gallons of water each day is enough to sustain a beholder. And again because they cannot taste, they look for other qualities in food. A delicate food should have soft flesh and crunchy bones. It can also have an interesting shape or different colors since a beholder can observe its food while eating with its frontal eyes.
Even if it exceeds their need for a day, a beholder can eat 200 pounds of food, just to entertain more.
How do they reproduce?
There are no genders in the beholder race. A beholder can reproduce once in its lifetime, carrying up to twelve new beholders in a new organ created under its tongue. During this period of six months, a beholder should eat four times than normal and should save food within its body (in its lungs etc.) for the last two months. This is because, in the last two months, the wombs grow so much that it fills all the mouth and even forces the tongue to stay outside. Also, a beholder becomes even more insane, paranoic and xenophobic during this period.
After birth, new beholders remember most of the horrific and maddening racial memories instantly. It takes a time for a new beholder to get all of its magical powers and grow in size. During this time, the parent beholder observes them to select the ones who resemble it most. Then the parent eats others.
Are there different kinds of beholders?
There are several different types of beholders. Elder orb, death tyrant, hive mother, and beholderkin. Beholderkin also has several different members in it. Most of these can live together in beholder cities (YES, THERE EXIST BEHOLDER CITIES. I strongly recommend you stay away from them). However, they cannot stand with death tyrants. Death tyrants are undead beholders resembling zombies. They are generally created by powerful wizards to guard important places. Creating an undead beholder is heretical even for beholders.
Can they wear any magical items?
YES, OF COURSE! They can wear a headband or a helmet made specifically for it. They can wear other items on their eyestalks. These are the numbers of items that they can effectively use at a time. 3 necklaces, 3 eye lenses, 1 belt, 1 pair of bracers or bracelets and 3 rings.
Is there anything valuable in a beholder’s body?
Their eyes and source of eye rays are valuable. They can be used as material components for spells and rituals. Also, it is not unheard of that power-hungry people try to modify themselves with beholder eyes and eyestalks to use their rays.
It must be discussed that there are some members of this destructive and insane race pursuing arcane knowledge. However, the ones who want to be arcane spell casters experiences two main difficulties. One of them is that they have no hands which make it very hard for them to use spell components. The other difficulty is that their central antimagic eye.
As a result, who wants to pursue arcane ways discovered a heretical and vile way. They ritually destroy their central eye for more arcane power. After the ritual, they do not need spell components to cast spells. Also, they leave their eye rays behind. Instead, they assign each eyestalk with a different spell level as they grow in power. Each eyestalk can fire spells from that level.
Truly terrifying, aren’t they?
So, this is the end of my blog about these insane tools of destruction. See you on other parts of DMs Know What They Are Doing series.
This article written by Alican Develioğlu. He is a concept writer in Dream Realm Storytellers. If you want to learn more about him please click here