This is part of a series! Go here to see the other entries.

Beholders appear in every 4e Monster Manual and also in the Monster Vault. They’re apparently too iconic to leave out! In this entry, we get spooky.

There’s no new “general” lore in this entry. Everything it introduces would be packaged into the Monster Vault as well and we already looked at that lore here.

Beholder Spawn

D&D 5th Edition would introduce that cool bit where beholders reproduce asexually through nightmares. The MM3 just says that the means of beholder reproduction are best left unknown. In either case, the result of that process could be represented by this Beholder Spawn stat block.

These are beholders at the start of their life-cycle, very young and comparatively weak but already quite smart and evil. You might find them alongside their parents. Or perhaps they’re banding together for survival, hoping to last long enough to be the first to reach full size and devour the rest of their siblings.

In either case they’d be very aware of their fragility and would try to stay mobile, spread out, and away from the reach of the PCs.

The Numbers

Beholder spawn are Medium Aberrant Magical Beasts, and Level 15 Minion Artillery. They have a flight speed of 6, darkvision, and all-around vision (which means they can’t be flanked).

Like all beholders, they bite in melee and fire eye rays with a maximum range of 10. Their rays are a lot simpler than that of a “full” beholder, and do elemental damage of the same type as one of the types used by their parent.

If a spawn is hit or missed by a close or area attack, they can use Desperate Flight as an interrupt to shift 2 squares. This means they can try to get out of the area of effect before they suffer damage.

Beholder Eye of Shadow

In past articles we already established that beholders mutate when they cross over from the Far Realm, taking characteristics that match their new environment. Eyes of Shadow are beholders that hung out in the Shadowfell too long, acquiring powers compatible with that bleak place.

The Numbers

We’re back in familiar territory here: this beholder is Large and a Level 12 Elite Lurker with 194 HP. It has the same speed and senses as the spawn above, deals extra damage when it has combat advantage, and heals 20 HP at the end of a turn if it has remained invisible since the start of that turn.

It capitalizes on those passive traits through a couple of auxiliary abilities: its Central Eye (minor action 1/round) projects a fear attack that targets Will and makes the target grant combat advantage; and it can Vanish Into Shadow (recharge 5+) as a move action, teleporting up to 20 squares and becoming invisible until it attacks or until the end of its next turn.

As for its actual attacks, there’s the usual bite and a set of 3 eye rays. These are ranged attacks but don’t provoke opportunity attacks. The beholder can fire two of them in the same action but must aim each at a different target. They are:

  • a Blinding Ray (vs. Reflex) that deals radiant damage and blinds for a turn.

  • a Thundering Ray (vs. Fortitude) which deals heavy thunder damage and deafens for a turn.

  • a Shadowbond Ray (vs. Will) that deals necrotic damage and immobilizes (save ends). While this condition lasts, the beholder and any shadow creatures in play have concealment while within 5 squares of the target.

This beholder wants to attack from ambush and use its central eye and blinding ray to make the PCs grant it combat advantage from a distance. Then it’s going to hit them with thundering rays and bites while enjoying the extra damage. Shadowbond is for melee defenders, and Vanish Into Shadow is a good escape hatch. The teleport range on that is so large it could allow the beholder to escape combat entirely, though an overconfident or angry individual might still return to the fight as soon as it finishes healing those 20 HP.

Its ability to target any defense makes it quite versatile, even if it only has three rays.

Ghost Beholder

Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast

While the Eye of Shadow is merely goth, this one is actually undead. Beholders are stubborn and hateful creatures at the best of times, so it’s natural that some of them will linger on as ghosts after they die or are killed. This usually suits them just fine, but it also makes the more cautious since they know they won’t get a third chance at existence.

The Numbers

Ghost beholders are Large Level 18 Elite Controllers with 254 HP. It combines common beholder traits (as seen on the two previous monsters) with undead ones. It’s immune to disease and poison, and Vulnerable 10 to radiant damage. As a ghost, it’s insubstantial and has phasing.

Its bite is a ghostly attack that targets Reflex and does necrotic damage. Its Central Eye has a minor-action poltergeist effect that targets Will, slides the target 5 squares, and gives if 5 vulnerability to necrotic and psychic damage for a turn. All of its eye rays deal one of these damage types.

The ghost beholder has three eye rays to choose from. It can only fire one on its own turn, but it also has the Eyes of the Beholder trait that gives it a free random ray attack against enemies that start their turn within 5 squares of it.

The rays are:

  • Chill of the Grave (vs. Fortitude) does cold and necrotic damage, and slows (save ends).

  • Ghostly Possession (vs. Will) inflicts 15 ongoing psychic damage (save ends)e. The first failed save also dazes the target; the second one completes the possession. Possessed targets are dominated, and the beholder disappears from play until the effect ends. This happens on a sucessful save, or the beholder can end it voluntarily.

  • Killing Thought (vs. Will) does psychic damage and forces the target to make a melee basic attack against themselves! Targets who are not holding a weapon will drop what they’re holding, draw a weapon, and make that attack anyway, all as part of the same free action. Creepy.

Ghost beholders are fond of phasing into the floor or walls to protect themselves from attack, emerging from unexpected angles to shoot against the characters. Fighting them without access to force and/or radiant damage is an exercise in suffering.

Final Impressions

More Beholders! Even though the Eye of Shadow follows the same naming convention as the Eyes of Flame and Frost, I think it has a better stat block. It does a variety of unexpected damage types and can target any defense!

The Ghost Beholder also has interesting abilities, but its defenses make it a nightmare to fight for an unprepared party. Even well-prepared undead hunters might boggle a bit when they find one of those instead of more standard monster like a vampire or banshee.

As for the spawn, I’d probably reskin them into something else. The idea of mobile flying artillery minions is sound, but the thought of fighting beholder “children” is a bit disturbing and I’m partial to the idea that beholders spawn as fully-grown nightmares given form.