Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Beholder, Pov-Ray model
Beholder, Pov-Ray model
Above: a 3D Pov-Ray computer model of a Beholder. The Beholder is a powerful and
mysterious monster from the FRPG (Advanced) Dungeons & Dragons. Also known as the
Eye Tyrant or Sphere of Many Eyes is usually encountered in dark secluded places,
underground, and sometimes in more open wilderness. They are exceptionally intelligent
but overtly xenophobic and very aggressive and will usually attack other species on sight,
hesitating only when a foe is perceived as powerful, in which case they will try to negotiate
that the party pay them a tribute for safe passage. They are covered in tough chitinous
plates (though more recently other types with smoother or scaly skin have been reported)
making them difficult to damage. A severed eyestalk can regenerate in one week.

The body is little more than a floating globe, 4 to 6 feet in diameter, which moves by
levitation. There is one large central eye above a wide mouth with pointed teeth and ten
more eyes borne on stalks. Each of its eleven eyes has its own special power, with typical
powers ranging from Telekinesis, Disintegrate Ray, Fear, Slow spell, Flesh to stone ray,
Charm, Cause serious wound spell and Death Ray. The large central eye has the power
to emit an Anti-magic ray. The Beholder is able to recruit 1-4 of its eyestalks plus the
central eye against a single target.

Given their aggressiveness, it might be best to attack first, should you encounter one of
these nasty creatures, however, be warned: not all 'Beholders' are what they seem! Gas
Spores are fungoid growths, each floating gas spore resembles a Beholder, with eyestalk-
like rhizomatous growths and a false central eye. However, should a startled passer-by
lash out at it, then it will suddenly explode, damaging those around it, and liberating
spores. Should the spores contact living matter then they will rapidly shoot out
rhizomatous growths that burrow into the skin, infecting the host. This will rapidly kill the
host, whose body will then sprout 2-8 new gas spores!

Other bizarre and wonderful fungoid life-forms occur in the world of AD&D, including
Shriekers. These toadstool-like creatures, several feet in height, lack a typical fungus
mycelium and instead walk slowly on fungal protuberances at the base of their stalk,
functioning as feet. They again prefer the dark underground. Light, such as produced by
travellers or bioluminescent organisms passing by, will cause the Shrieker to emit a
piercing shriek, with the aim of attracting other denizens to dispatch the intruder. Such
creatures attracted to Shriekers include piercers - creatures with a stony skin that
resemble stalagtites, slowly crawling along the roofs of caves, they kill passers-by by
dropping on them , and then devour them. Perhaps for defence, perhaps to feed off
scraps leftover, this peculiar behaviour makes more sense when you know about Violet
Fungi. These are also ambulatory fungi ranging from four to seven feet in height
resembling Shriekers, but with
1 to 4 tentacles with which they lash out at passer's by.
Contact with one of these poisonous tentacles causes the flesh to rapidly rot. Violet Fungi
are usually found with Shriekers and are attracted to their shrieking and the two
organisms live together in a mutual symbiosis: Shriekers attract food which the Violet
Fungi dispatch, allowing both to absorb the nutrients, presumably after rapid liquefaction,
perhaps through their basal appendages.

One downside is that the shrieks of the Shriekers may attract Purple worms and
Shambling Mounds who like to prey on Shriekers, though presumably the Violet Fungi
and the possibility of attracting other passers by limits the amount of time these predators
will spend feeding. All-in-all, the creators of the AD&D world (they are many in number)
have created a rich ecosystem of fascinating 'monsters'.

The Beholder's have evolutionary cousins living in the ocean depths, the so-called Eye of
the Deep. Like a beholder these creatures are more-or-less globular, 3 to 5 feet in
diameter, with a large central eye. However, they have only two eyestalks. However, it has
a pair of crab-like pincers and sharp pointed teeth. The central eye is capable of emitting
a flash of dazzling light. The smaller eyes can generate illusions or  hold others
motionless for a time by means of magic. Like beholder's, Eyes of the Deep are just as
aggressive and xenophobic.

Similar to, though apparently not related to the Beholder is the Spectator, an inhabitant of
Nirvana this creature can be summoned, by magical means, to guard treasure. It
resembles a Beholder, with a large central eye, but without chitinous plates (they have
quite tough skin nevertheless) and only 4 eyestalks on top of its body, which is about 4
feet in diameter. The central eye has the power to reflect magic, whilst each of the four
lesser eyes has its own magical ability, such as: create food and water, Cause serious
wounds, Paralyzation ray and Telepathy. If its eyes are damaged then it will teleport back
to Nirvana, where its eyes will regenerate in one day, then return to continue guarding the
treasure until its duty is fulfilled, in which case it will return to Nirvana. Unlike its relatives,
the Spectator is not particularly aggressive or hateful, but more neutral in disposition.

The AD&D game is full of wonderful monsters, magics and other wonders! To play, you
ideally need at least the dungeon Master's Guide, the Player's Handbook and at least one
Monster Manual and i would recommend looking at the original version as well as the
newer versions (it is interesting how the art-work has changed with changing artist and
fashion). The older version of the monster Manuals had many more monsters to choose
from than the later editions, but many of the other supplements contain other monsters
too. Some of the curiosities you may find include: Rust monsters, Ropers, MindFlayers,
Thought Eaters, Morkoths, various oozes and slimes, Umber Hulks and a myriad of
demons and malignant spirits, creeping and crawling things, plant-like and fungus-like
monsters, and more besides.
Article created: 27 Dec 2016