Excerpts Archive | 9/6/2012
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3.5 Edition Excerpts: The Beholder
3.5 Monster Manual

On sale September 18, the 3.5 Edition premium reprints go on sale, featuring new covers and the latest errata -- so, be sure to pick yours up at your friendly local book or gaming store!

As the books themselves described their contents and role within the game:

  • The Player’s Handbook has all the rules players need to create characters, select equipment, and engage in combat with a variety of supernatural and mythical foes.

  • The Dungeon Master’s Guide provides the DM with advice, guidelines, and everything he or she needs to create challenges, adventures, and full-fledged D&D campaigns, including sections on prestige classes, magic items, and character rewards.

  • The Monster Manual contains material that players and DMs alike will find useful. With hundreds of monsters to populate all levels of dungeons, this tome also includes monster creation rules, information on playing monsters as characters, details on monster tactics, and powered-up versions of standard creatures.

In today's excerpts, we wanted to look at the 3.5 Monster Manual; specifically, at the beholder. And just for fun, let's consider this classic icon as presented across multiple editions!


1st Edition Beholder

The beholder (eye tyrant, sphere of many eyes) is most frequently found underground, although it infrequently will lair in desolate wildernesses. The globular body of this monster is supported by levitation, and it floats slowly about as it wills. Atop the sphere are 10 eyestalks, while in its central area are a great eleventh eye and a large mouth filled with pointed teeth. The body is protected by a hard chitinous covering. The creature's eyestalks and eyes are also protected, although less well (thus the armor classes of 2 and 7 respectively). Because of its particular nature the beholder is able to withstand the loss of its eyestalks, these members are not computed as part of its hit point damage potential, and lost eyestalks will eventually grow back (1 week per lost member).

(257 Kbs PDF)

3.5 Edition Beholder

A beholder is an 8-foot-wide orb dominated by a central eye and a large, toothy maw. Ten smaller eyes on stalks sprout from the top of the orb. Beholders often attack without provocation. Though not powerful physically, they often plow right into groups of opponents to use as many of their eyes as they can. When closing with an enemy, a beholder tries to cause as much disruption and confusion as possible.

(1.1 Mbs PDF)

4th Edition Beholder

Creatures of abhorrent shape and alien mind, beholders seek dominance over all they survey. The floating horrors enforce their will by firing rays of magic from their eyestalks.

When the unwholesome plane known as the Far Realm comes into tenuous contact with reality, terrible things boil across the boundary. Nightmares form the thunderhead of psychic storms that presage the arrival of warped beings and forces undreamt of by the maddest demon or the vilest devil. Many aberrant creatures stumble upon the world by accident, pushed in like chill wind through a door suddenly opened. Others crash into reality because it is as loathsome to them as their surreal homeland is to all sane natives of the rational planes. Beholders, however, come as conquerors. Each one seeks to claim all in its sight, and beholders see much indeed.

A Further Look at the Beholder

As a final note, for those that may have missed the initial publication, we'd also point you to our gallery and podcast for the beholder art segmentation. Wayne Reynolds created the original piece, below. Jon Schindehette then used it as a model, sending it out to wide array of artists and asking for their interpretation of the image using their own specific art styles. The results that came back were impressive, to say the least—and a fascinating look at how D&D art can be expressed in a variety of ways.

Bart Carroll
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.
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