The work contained on this page is the property and copyright of Chris Kobbe. It has been formatted for viewing on the web by the Scribes of Candlekeep. The article is available for download which has also been reformatted by Craig Sefton.
The Book of Weeping Eyes
By Chris Kobbe
This tome is three hands tall and two hands wide (12" x 8") and bound by a front and back cover of the white dwarven metal Hizagkuur. The front plate is has a large eye surrounded by a ten smaller eyes, while the edge of the plate is bordered with an intricate design of crossed swords, starbursts and tears. The back plate has an etched depiction of King Silvam of Tethyr carrying the Shield of Silvam and battling two eye tyrants in a forest. (This metal reflects all magic cast at it 100% and causes 2d12 point of electrical damage per touch [or round of continuous contact] to all beings touching it).
The book itself contains 89 pages of now very brittle vellum. (There is a 5% chance that even careful study of any page will result in its destruction, anything short of careful perusal of the pages has a 50% chance per page of destroying that page. Certain magics may mitigate this, and DMs should remember to make items saving throws anytime the Book of Weeping Tears encounters danger).
At the end of the Eye Tyrant Wars in the Year of Seven Loves Lost (-166 DR), the first Vizera Zahyra Ithal commissioned this tomes crafting. Before returning to help rebuild the decimated dwarf-city of Iltakar, the great dwarven smith Matlr Stoneeyes agreed to craft the outer plates of the Book of Weeping Eyes, just as he had crafted the seven shields of Eyeblight. Meanwhile, her apprentice Sebra "EyeDeath" Belmore, a noted beholder slayer and sage specializing in the vile creatures, wrote down most of the information in the tome. While this tome was a treasured possession of the Ithal dynasty (even when magic fell from favor, the other tactics in the book were still valued), the rise of the Shoon dynasty soon after eventually resulted in the book being kept in the city of Shoonach, where it presumable remains to this day.
The first seven pages of the tome contain a brief history of the Eye Tyrant wars, including the actions of King Silvam, Vizera Zahyra Ithal, Matlr Stoneeyes, the Axe-Brothers of Iltkazar and the Eyeblight squad of Clan Ithal.
The next 24 pages contain a discourse on the anatomy, society, magical abilities and known beholder-kin of beholders. (This is essentially the information given in the I, Tyrant supplements, modified in whatever manner the DM wished).
The next 11 pages contain specific tactics of use in combating beholders.
The final 57 pages contain various spells specifically designed for use in the combat of beholders. These spells include Suppleskin, Detect Mold*, Lose Depth Perception*, Power Word Depetrify*, Beholder skin*, Eye Catcher*, Gas Spore Trap*, Instruct Spectator, Lockjaw*, Beam Curve*, Lesser Eyecap*, Greater Eyecap*, Wall of Blackstone, Control Death Tyrant, Immediate Mutagen*, and Prismatic Cap*.
The Eye Blight Shields
In the Year of Smoldering Graves (-169 DR) the master dwarven smith Matlr Stoneeyes crafted this series of 10 shields from a cache of valuable darksteel, gained at much expense from the northern Ironstar dwarven clan, and Hizagkuur. Crafted in the smith's home city of Iltakar, center of much of the resistance to the beholders, these shield were bestowed to the Eyeblight squad.
The Eyeblight squad was a proven group of warriors from clan Ithal who survived many of the early skirmishes of the war. Because of the magical reflective properties of the Hizagkuur, First Vizera Zahyra Ithal was instrumental in training this special squad in how best to utilize this distinctive advantage over the beholders. This band is known to have slain close to 70 beholders in the next three years. While prestigious beyond words this highly trained group of warriors had a high turnover rate, with only one of the original members, Brotal Ithal, surviving through the entire war.
These shields are of a circular design roughly 2 and a half feet in diameter. They have an exterior covering of the white dwarven metal Hizagkuur, while the interior of the shield is a disk of darksteel. It should be noted that while normally the Hizagkuur naturally generate electricity, the darksteel neutralizes this property, allowing the shields to be safely handled by warriors. However, due to the amount of metal in the shield, they are extremely heavy weighing close to 45 pounds each. Even the greatest warriors tire quickly with such a load on their arms.
These shields will no longer be created in my campaign, although the PCs may acquire one on their quest. While I am sure the 2nd edition has fatigue rules somewhere (probable the DMG - which I haven't reacquired yet), right now I am just planing on applying penalties to dex and str the longer a person uses the shield. The rate at which these penalties will be assessed will be based on the PCs str and con.
To effectively use the shield, a character will have to learn a new nwp called spell deflection. It will only cost 1 slot, and the check will be at Dex -4. The character will be able to attempt to deflect up to 2 spells/beholder eye attacks per rounds. A successful check means the attack is deflected. A failure means the PC is hit, a 20 means the attack is deflected, but at a random PC/allied NPC. If the check is successful by 5 or more then the PC successful deflects and re-aims the attack. This attack is still subject to all the characteristics of the original attack so if it doesn't have enough range left to successfully reach the new target it will fail. The new attack will hit if the PC makes a successful attack roll at -2 to hit. It should be noted that while a warrior will always have at least 1 attack per round, while using the shield, 1 attack per round is lost for warriors with multiple attacks. The only way for a warrior to learn this skill is for a mage to shoot spells at him while he is using the shield (an arduous and dangerous process). Use of the shield without the spell deflection proficiency results in a check of Dexterity -14 and a -6 re-aim penalty.
This item can be extremely unbalancing, which is why I have built in quite a few limiting factors. It would be a major quest to have one made in the modern age. Darksteel is no longer made and Hizagkuur is extremely rare.
This item is difficult to use successfully and very tiring. Finally, once a character is known to have this item, every thief, mage, warrior or whoever will want it.
Crafted by a few rare gnomish smiths throughout the war, these were almost always fashioned in the form of a small eye. They were sold as a single earring for upwards of 50 gp each at the time. Worn in the right ear by those who had not yet been party to a successful beholder slaying, it was viewed as a mark of great stature to have worn the earring in the left ear. Indeed, there were instances of blood duels when a fraud was found to be wearing an earring in the left ear.
The Telstang the earrings were crafted of has a natural property of negating body altering magics, making the wearer immune to the Flesh to Stone and Disintegration rays of beholders.
While few modern day residents of the Realms realize the properties of these earrings, the PCs will encounter several of these "historical treasures of Tethyr" in a pawnshop at some point. Additionally, they may seek out a gnomish craftsman to create additional ones once they are aware of the properties they possess.
Oddly enough, a favorite weapon of village boys, the lowly sling can be an excellent delivery weapon against beholders. This weapon served clan Ithal well in the beholder wars as many of their warriors were still skilled in the difficult weapon.
Salt missiles were created by grinding the salt into fine powders that were carefully stitched into containers made of dried leaves. When these missiles contacted with a beholder's body often several of the eyes would be coated in salt, rendering them useless for a time.
Other substitutes were attempted (sand, dirt, flour) but salt was deemed the most effective.
In gamed terms a successful strike against the central eye renders it useless for 1d6 rounds. A successful strike against an eyestalk renders that stalk useless for 1d6 rounds, and the two next to it useless for 1d4 rounds. A strike against the body has a 10% chance each of rendering the central eye and/or a single eyestalk useless for 1d4 rounds.
A few skillful alchemists of the time created these useful items. Designed to create a cloud of smoke for a brief time when struck against a hard object, this thick billowing cloud of smoke limited all sight to a 5' radius and obscured a beholders rays to the same range. The Axe Brother, a dwarven warrior group in the war, would surround a beholder and drop these bombs, blindly fighting at close quarters till the beholder dropped like a rock.
Combined with the weighted nets, this was an effective tactic to taking out a beholder if you could get close enough to use it.
The smoke cloud obscures a 10' radius area for 1 round before dissipating.
For this tactic to be effective, a smoke bomb must be dropped every round.
They are of a non-magical nature. In all likelihood in the last 1500 years alchemy will have advanced and my PCs will probably be able to find a more effective smoke bomb, however the book will list a recipe for the creation of this particular smoke bomb.
Initially these were just large fishing nets weighted with rocks to keep a floating beholder in place. Latter though, a few master dwarven smiths created a few nets that were woven out of extremely fine. tough metal. They were used specifically to keep a beholder from rising out of melee combat range.
Simply put, on a successful to hit with a net the beholder must save vs. paralysis at -4 or be immobilized. A beholder can chew through a regular net in 1d4 rounds, while a metal net is impervious to chewing, it is not to the Disintegration ray. That is why this tactic is most effective when combined with the smoke bombs, because it prevents the beholder from seeing enough of the net to free itself with its Disintegration ray. Regardless what type of net is used, they rarely remain usable after a single combat and must be replaced. It is up to the DM as to whether the metal nets are available in his campaign. In all likelihood I will include them in mine.
The Yellow Box Mushroom
While not in actuality a poison, this rare mushroom has a mutegenic property to it that many beholders are unaware of. If ingested while the beholder is "gestating" beholder infants there us a 40% chance that any beholder born would possess a flaw serious enough for the parent to consider it to not be a true born beholder. The parent will then do its utmost to slay the "aberration".
This mushroom is found almost exclusively in the Underdark, and it is a favorite (if rare) delicacy of dwarves. During the Eye Tyrant Wars foodstuffs of beholders were often spiked with these mushrooms by slaves that were captured, de-charmed, and then re-charmed to return to the beholderís lair and help in the resistance.
As a further note, this mushroom is an essential component in the Immediate Mutagen spell.
Thanks to the observations of Sebra "Runny Nose" Belmore of the small village Vilmore we know that a certain percentage of beholders are allergic to ragweed. Sebra, a seven year old girl at the time, was hiding from her brother (Avram) while playing hide and search when this discovery was made.
She chose to hide in a field of ragweed because her brother knew that she was allergic to ragweed and hated to go near it. She was just about to leave the field, after not being found, when she spotted the beholder. She noted that its central eye was red and swollen and that several of its lesser eyes were swollen shut.
About 15% of beholders are extremely allergic to ragweed. As allergic beholder reacts almost immediately to the presence of ragweed or ragweed dust. Within 1 round the beholder will be affected. 1d6 of the lesser eyes will swell shut and all the rest will have their effective power ranges cut in half. The central eye's effective range is reduced to 70 yards with a 45-degree arc.
Purple Luiren Mint
When served as a tea, this mint has a slightly narcotic effect in beholders, causing euphoric feelings. This tea is mildly addictive (5% + 2% per use). While under the effects of the tea, which last approximately 1 hour/ pint ingested, the beholder will behave slightly recklessly, tending to believe in combat that it will win even against overwhelming odds and dismissing failures (no specific game effects, just DM adjudication). The euphoric state does tend to cause the beholder to meander slightly in its flight (FL 3(C)).
If eaten raw, the effects are greatly intensified (addiction 25% + 5% per dose). In effect, there is a 30% chance that any given dose will cause a condition similar to the Beholder Mania disease listed in the I, Tyrant resource. It becomes even harder for the Beholder to consciously direct its flight (Fl 3(D)). The effect lasts for 1 hour/ quarter pound of mint leaves consumed.
Authorís Note: I am also thinking about a poison that causes a beholders eyes to fire randomly or that causes a certain chance of failure whenever the beholder attempts to fire off an eye attack.
Tactics: Plans of Attack
Net and smoke bombs, already covered.
A beholder isn't that fast and most of their rays have a range limit, so it is possible to have a running battle with missile weapons where the PCs always stay out of range of the eye attacks. However not only is it not heroic/dramatic, but the PCs will also suffer range penalties to hit. This sort of combat is very long and drawn out.
Attempt to attack in bad weather. Depending on the severity of the weather, the beholderís attack ranges may be diminished. Additionally, a druids Call Lightning spell will not be negated by a beholders anti-magic ray because the lightning itself isn't magical, only the call.
By the same token any spell that summons natural obstructions will help diminish a beholders attack ranges. For example, an insect swarm will almost instantly be negated by a beholder, but the insects will still be there (depending on your interpretation of the spell) obscuring its vision.
In a cave, use Stone to Mud on the ceiling over the beholder, not only does the beholder get doused in mud, but the mud instantly reverts back to stone when the mud hits the antimagic eye.
If you can smoke enough of a beholderís lair, it will have to come out, and it has no defense against this. They are air breathers, so they need clean air, and their eyes will suffer damage from the smoke, blinding their aim and (at least in my campaign) shortening their beam ranges.
If a beholder keeps charmed slaves, go after the slaves. De-charm them and then charm or convince them to strike back at their ex-masters. Poison, theft, bad cooking, whatever. Always harass a more powerful enemy.
The only place a beholder cannot truly defend is its bottom, for this reason they float close to the ground. In a combat situation if all else fails and you have no protection form the beholders special attacks, always attack its bottom, the worse it can do is land on you (which will hurt by the way). Thieves take note, a beholder bottom is it's only "backside"!
Beholders know they are vulnerable down below, they also know that highflying things attract unwanted attention. If you can prepare an ambush for a beholder in a canyon, or amongst city buildings, do so! If they choose to float close to the ground drop BIG rocks, FLAMING oil, HEAVY furniture, grand pianos on them, whatever as long as it squashes them. Duck behind cover, repeat. If they choose to float above, use trees, doorways, windows as cover and pepper them with missiles, when they come down to dig you out go back up the stairs and then drop stuff on them. If youíre in a canyon, drop-traps with pull lines work if you can't easily get back up to the top however, itís harder to aim them and you are likely to get squashed as well.
If you are a mage, never, ever, ever fly/levitate around a beholder! You will be in so many forms of hurt it would take too long to mention them all.
Never attack a beholder by conventional methods near a body of water, they can just float out over the water and zap you to death, stone, friendly, sleep, whatever.
While it would be nice if a lance charge would work against beholder, they don't so forget this means of attack, you will lose any knight that tries it. The beholder just floats out of range, and then - See Above -.
If all else fails surround a beholder with archers and fire away, You will lose a good portion of the mercenaries, but the beholder will die.
If your party is magically strong it is always advised to disable the central eye if you are facing a protracted battle. This allows them to be effective.
If you must close with a beholder always try to attack form one direction, this lowers the number of eye attacks it can bring to bear. Since a beholder will almost always turn to face attackers with its central eye, it is also advisable to attempt to get the spellcaster behind the beholder while warriors attempt a frontal assault. Even if the mage only gets in one attack before enveloped by anti-magic, that attack could make the difference between success and failure.
Also, it should be noted that while enveloped in anti-magic none of a beholderís other eye-beams can affect you! If a main group is enveloped in magic make sure that at least one mage is always fake casting to keep the anti-magic turned on. This protects your warriors from the eye-beams and limits the beholder attack to its bite (Warning: some DMs don't play this way, allowing a beholders eye-beams to work through its own anti-magic, I don't because it's not logical).
Mages -- do not close with a beholder. You make an excellent snack. Stay out of melee range and, if you don't need to do any fake casting, throw daggers and darts while trying to get out of the anti-magic.
Thieves -- caltrops aren't just for the floor any more -- can you say area missile weapon? Just remember, once you throw a bunch of caltrops at a beholder they will fall to the ground, so don't throw them where your friends will have to walk.
Return to Traveler's Notebooks
Return to Alaundo's Library