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"Every beholder thinks it is the epitome of beholderkind, and the only thing it fears is that it might be wrong."
Valkara Ironfell, dwarf sage

Beholders are malevolent floating one eyed creatures who evoke terror and fear into the hearts of mortals. They shoot powerful beams of energy from their tentacles, either killing or fatally wounding another.

Beholders are also known as eye tyrants or spheres of many eyes.[1]

Appearance[edit | edit source]

Personality[edit | edit source]

[2]

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History[edit | edit source]

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Ancient history[edit | edit source]

Recent history[edit | edit source]

Notable beholders[edit | edit source]

For a full list of beholders, see Category:Beholders.

Related creatures[edit | edit source]

Variant beholders[edit | edit source]

Publication history[edit | edit source]

Original D&D[edit | edit source]

The beholder first appeared in Greyhawk (Supplement 1) (1975), p.37-38), and also appears on the cover of that book.

Basic D&D[edit | edit source]

AD&D 1st edition[edit | edit source]

The creature was further detailed in Dragon #76 (Aug 1983)'s Ecology of the Beholder.

AD&D 2nd edition[edit | edit source]

D&D 3rd edition[edit | edit source]

The beholder appears in the Monster Manual (3.0) (2000) and Monster Manual 3.5{{UnknownBook}}, the covers of which are decorated with a single central eye and decorated as if bound in beholder hide.

By far the most detailed sourcebook on beholders is Lords of Madness (2005), which dedicates an entire twenty-page chapter to the creature. Additional beholder lore appeared in Dragon Magazine #296's Worshipers of the Forbidden and Dragon #313's Eye Wares: Potent Powers of the Beholders.

D&D 4th edition[edit | edit source]

The beholder appeared in the Monster Manual (4e) (2008), p.32-33 with the Beholder Eye Tyrant and Beholder Eye of Flame, with full-page artwork depicting two beholders. Numerous variants appeared in sourcebooks and Dungeon and Dragon magazines, including the level 5 gauth, level 29 ultimate tyrant, and level 30 voidsphere beholder.

D&D 5th edition[edit | edit source]

A beholder appears on the cover of the Monster Manual (5e) (2014). Pages 26-30 describe the beholder along with the undead death tyrant and lesser spectator.

Creative origins[edit | edit source]

The beholder was invented by Terry Kuntz, brother of Rob Kuntz, in 1974. Terry Kuntz had been a player in D&D creator Gary Gygax's campaign for two months when he invented the creature, which Gygax made minor changes to before including it in Greyhawk (Supplement 1) (1975).[3][4]

The beholder is one of the earliest D&D creatures for which Wizards of the Coast holds copyright. It is one of eleven creatures in the Monster Manual (3.5) (2003) omitted from the SRD as Wizards of the Coast product identity, along with the alternate gauth beholder.

Reception and influence[edit | edit source]

The beholder is one of the most popular of all Dungeons & Dragons creatures.

In 2019, a tournament of Twitter polls identified the Beholder as the greatest of all D&D creatures, narrowly defeating the lich 53% to 47%. The beholder also defeated the gelatinous cube, mimic, and the dragon goddess Tiamat.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Greyhawk (Supplement 1) (1975), p.37.
  2. Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.26-30.
  3. "I can't take credit for the critter in question, as great a monster as it is. Terry Kuntz came up with the beholder after he had been playing in my campaign for about two months. Where he got the idea I have no ides, but I latched onto it immediately, and with his kind permission made it an integral creature in the D&D roster of ugly customers to encounter" - Gary Gygax, ENWorld
  4. "Terry Kuntz, one of Rob's brothers, came up with the beholder back in 1974. All I needed to do was a bit of editing to make it a great addition to the terrible monsters to be found in the D&D game." - Gary Gygax, ENWorld
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