Beholder Rules Questions
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  1. #1
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    Beholder Rules Questions

    I'm DM'ing for a party that might just be running up a beholder sometime in the near future. I've yet to DM one in 3e, but historically they have lived up to their CR (partially due to a serious lacking of defensive capabilities, and partially due to DM's pulling their punches with the offensive capabilities). I've posted this on the WotC Monster Manual messageboard in the (vain?) hopes of receiving an official sage answer, but I figured I'd run these up the flagpole here at ENWorld to see what the general consensus is:

    1) Can a beholder pivot its body in 3 dimensions? The MM entry states that a beholder can only fire 3 eyes at its front, left, right, rear, and bottom arcs, but it can fire all of its eyes upwardds. This becomes a much less limiting factor if the beholder is allowed to, for instance, turn upside down while hovering over a party and blast away with all eyes.

    2) Are firing the eyes treated as multiple free actions, or one standard action, or something else? The MM entry states that the beholder can fire its eyes while moving full speed or making a bite attack. That doesn't exactly clarify the type of action using its eyes is considered. The beholder has the feats Flyby Attack and Shot on the Run, so I'm not sure if the description is simply referring to the capabilites that those feats grant it. Is a beholder with only a partial action (e.g. during a surprise round or when slowed) able to move its speed and still fire off one or more eyebeams? Is a hasted beholder able to use its extra partial action to fire each of its eyes twice in a round?

    3) Within a single round, can a beholder shut its central (anti-magic cone) eye, then fire all of its other eyes, and then open it afterwards? The MM entry states that the beholder decides once per round on its turn whether or not the anti-magic is activem so it would seem that's not the case (although shutting or opening one's eye does seem like it would fal into the free action category). Does it necessarily have to decide whether or not to keep the central eye before it takes other actions, or can it do so later in the round? Would being hasted make a difference here?

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    1) I don't think it can. That would make them very powerful.

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    First things first I would not let the beholder rotate vertically as they are naturaly bouyant, and that would just be too much, however this is just my take..secondly the beholder can fire its ray regardless of what else it does during the round, that much is stated in the description.....third point;they have to pick on or off and stick with it till the next round..

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    Thanks for the responses! Here's what I tend to think on the matter:

    1) No, they can't. This opinion is based on simple speculation, but I have a feeling that if this question was run past Skip Williams, he'd simply say that for game purposes a creature's "up", "down", "forward", "back", "left", and "right" arcs are factors relevant to the creature's position relative to the environment it's in, not to its personal orietation. In other words, just because you're lying down on the ground, you can't call the direction that your feet are pointing "down" and the direction that your head is pointing to be "up". The ground is down, the sky is up.

    2) Firing the eyebeams count as free actions, and the beholder can fire one eyebeam each round, regardless of whether it's slowed, hasted, etc. From how the entry reads to me, the beholder can make a bite attack (a standard action in and of itself) and move and still fire its beams. All you have left after a standard action and a move action are free actions, ergo the beam attacks are free.

    3) I doubt the beholder has the option of shutting the central eye, firing away with its beams, and then re-opening its eye all in the same round. Common sense would dictate that that's a rather simple, straigtforward tactic that the beholder could physcially perform within the space of one round (especially if we're just talking about a bunch of free actions), but the rules trump common sense. The rules state that you get to declare each round whether the central eye is "open" or "closed". Now, that may still make the following a legal set of tactics:

    Round 1: The eye is closed at the beginning of the round. Fly over your targets (assuming they're clustered together), fire all beams, and afterwards declare the eye to be "open" and pointing down on them. The antimagic cone remains active until the beholder's next action.

    Round 2: Declare the eye to be "closed", and then fire the beams away. The antimagic cone is inactive until the beholder's next action.

    Round 3+ : Repeat the actions performed in Rounds 1 & 2.

    Anyone have any major objections to those calls? And does anyone know where exactly to post something so that someone official can't help but notice it? There are a LOT of messageboards on the WotC site after all.
    Last edited by Felon; Wednesday, 4th December, 2002 at 10:56 AM.

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    Re: Beholder Rules Questions

    Originally posted by Felon
    1) Can a beholder pivot its body in 3 dimensions?
    I actually think this was asked of Skip in the past by personal email, and, indeed, he answered "no". Perhaps someone could search boards for the last time this was discussed and verify that.

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    I'd personally give a beholder roughly the same range of tilt that an average human has. For example they by tilting thier bodies and looking upwards could probably see above themselves with thier core eye and be able to look below themselves although a fine creature could probably comfortably hide underneath the beholder.

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    I originally ran the beholder being able to pivot and found that this made the creature way too powerful.

    I've since followed the book verbatim and added little tactics that a beholder would use because it is highly intelligent. A potion of flying will enable the beholder to pivot since it has full control of how he flies.

    because of how 3e works, facaing is no longer an issue. have central eye beam do a sweep, while eye stalks (note eye, can see) point and shoot. even with the central eye being open and on, the beams can work as long as the beam itself doesn't intersect the anti magic.

    so a beholder can train the central eye directly on the mage or cleric, and use the eye beams on the side or back where the fighters or rogues attack because they want their weapons to be magical.

    The beholder can still turn the central eye on or off, but in combat I'd say it'll keep it on.

    The central eye would be off if said beholder is not expecting the part and is reading a magical book or doing craft magic items or researching some other thing from another book that is magical.

    -----
    The above is purely how I run the beholder now, not necessarily an official version of the beholder.

  8. #8
    It would seem that the official beholder would greatly benefit a mook that can haste him. A haste beholder could close his eye, fire his eyebeams, then with his partial, open the central eye again.

    Strictly speaking, what is keeping a beholder from effectively having 360 degree antimagic? After all, it is assumed a creature can turn in any direction it chooses during a round, hence no facing rules. (talking about turning on the plane here, not tilting) It should be able to turn to antimagic anyone it likes, or free up an arc to blast with his eyes.

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    Like a detection spell, I think you choose an arc for the antimagic ray to cover.

    Incidentally, I'm all in favor of a beholder being able to swivel and pivot. Nothing's more fun than a beholder in the bottom of a deep chasm with his anti-magic eye beam pointed straight up. As PCs fly overhead... whuuuuuump! I don't think it's legitimate by the book, though, without a potion of fly.

    Of course, I'm of the opinion that beholders, like dragons and mindflayers, should be memorable opponents.

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    Beholders should be very memorable, in fact they should be deadly encounters even for higher level opponents. If you give a beholder the advantage of home turf the beholder becomes exceedingly deadly. Collapsing tunnels and chamber onto PCs should be used liberally. That and removing walls of force, iron, etc that contain pools of lava, acid, monsters etc would be very effective. Giving them access to a decent amount of magically items configured for thier needs also makes them disgustingly powerful.

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