Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread! Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games that you nerds might be into. Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.
For a discussion topic this week, I thought I’d take a deep dive into some monster lore and talk about the iconic Beholder. One of the few monsters that has appeared in every edition of the game since 1975, a Beholder is a large floating spherical monster with a gaping, toothy maw and a large single eye in the center of its face and 10 smaller eyes sprouting from stalks on the top of its body. They are highly intelligent but extremely xenophobic creatures, quick to attack anyone not like themselves, even to the point of attacking other Beholders. For this reason, they are generally encountered as solitary creatures, though they have humanoid thralls or slaves as minions. They are classified as aberrations, and are thought to originate in the Far Realm or deep in the Underdark.
In 5th edition D&D, a Beholder is a CR 13 monster, making it a threat to even a relatively high-level party. The main threat of the Beholder comes from a combination of its 10 eye rays that shoot out from its eyestalks and the large antimagic cone that emanates from its large central eye. Each of the 10 eyestalks is associated with a different ray, which have effects ranging from charming or frightening a target, to dealing direct damage, to petrifying or disintegrating someone completely. The antimagic cone negates all spells and magical effects within it, so which way the Beholder is facing on any given turn is an important consideration.
In combat, the Beholder makes use of its ability to fly to keep out of reach of melee combatants and turns its antimagic cone on spellcasters to disrupt their magic. On its turn the Beholder can shoot three of its eye rays (determined at random) at three separate targets, though if the eye rays pass through its own antimagic field they will cease to function. It can also use Legendary Actions to fire more eye beams between turns.
Beholder lairs generally have high ceilings and are criss-crossed with cylindrical tunnels that the Beholder can use to escape an attack and set up an ambush elsewhere in the lair. The Beholder’s paranoia also inspires it to have many traps set for potential invaders.
Have you had any memorable encounters with these classic monsters in your games? Tell us about them in the comments!
Wafflicious is out of town for a bit, so Otto took over to run a D6 Cliffhangers game called “The Lost Jewels of Eire.” Our players include:
- CleverGuy as Johnny Talon, the Daredevil Pilot
- TheHayesCode as Aleksandra Pavlovic, the Tour Guide
- Spiny Creature as Willy van der Woodson, the Independently Wealthy Adventurer
- The Wasp as Solange “Patience” Pacquet, the French Intelligence Agent
After stopping the attack on the Princess and preventing the theft of her ruby necklace, Willy had noticed a tiny inscription on the back of the jewel that read “Gormghiolla Daigh.” The phrase is unfamiliar, but Willy and Alexsandra have a connection to history professor in Yugoslavia, Tanja Bohdana, who our heroes had rescued from the criminal Andrej Anze during their escape from Predjama Castle.
After spending an night in a very fancy hotel, provided by the Princess, Alexsandra calls Professor Bohdana on the telephone. The professor recognizes that the phrase”Gormghiolla Diagh” is Gaelic, but doesn’t know much more than that. However, she is able to put our heroes in contact with an expert on Gaelic history, Roisin Bauer, who just so happens to be at the University of Austria in Vienna.
Crowded into Professor Bauer’s tiny office, our heroes show Prof Bauer the inscription in the jewel. The Professor is very exited and explains that the Gormghiolla Daigh were an almost legendary secret society of master thieves in Ireland. Legend has it that the Gormghiolla Diagh had even stolen the crown jewels of Ireland, which were never recovered. The star diamond of the Irish jewels had been inscribed with a Latin phrase, “Quis separabit,” which was supposed to make it “un-stealable.” Yet, the Gormghiolla Daigh had done it. There were rumors that the Gormghiolla Daigh operated out of Doonagore Castle in the west of Ireland, where they supposedly took kidnapped children to train as thieves.
Professor Bauer says that hardly anyone ever asks about the Gormghiolla Daigh, but now two people have talked to her about it in one week. Just a few days before our heroes arrived, an Italian man by the name of Ludo had also paid her a visit to chat about the legendary thieves. He said we was researching a book, and had even sent Professor Bauer a bottle of very nice wine as thanks for her help.
Suddenly, Willy and Solange notice a shadow in the hallway outside. Solange opens the door quickly, just to see a short skinny man in plain clothes with a large keyring on his hip start to run down the hall. Johnny chases after the running, and catches up as the man fumbles with his keys at the door at the end of the hall. The man takes a swing at Johnny as he approaches, and Johnny tries to fight back, but the cramped hallway makes things difficult, especially as the others catch up as well. Alexsandra reaches out and snatches the man’s keys away. Willy calmly offers to pay the man double whatever he was being paid to listen at the door. The janitor says a couple days ago an Italian gentlemen gave him lots of money to keep an eye out for anyone asking Professor Bauer about the Gormghiolla Daigh or Doonagore Castle. The Italian told the janitor to call and left his card, which the Janitor passes on to Willy. The card just says “Perchloroethylene and Supplies, Ludo Bocchi.” We recognize the phone number given as being from Berlin, and the janitor tells us that perchloroethlyene is a chemical used in dry cleaning.
Back at the hotel, Solange calls the number from Ludo’s business card. After a brief conversation, she tells the rest of the group that it’s not a real dry cleaner. The number is a message drop for a spy network. Given that its based in Berlin, most likely a Nazi spy network. The group then piles into Johnny’s plane to fly to Ireland to check out Doonegore Castle. Instead of flying into Galway Airport and then taking an hours-long drive to the castle, Johnny decides he can get them as close to the castle as possible, landing on a dirt road in the area. The landing is a little bit rougher than anticipated, though, and the plane is damaged. It won’t fly again without a mechanic.
As our heroes step out of the plane, a boat is spotted leaving the castle, heading out on the ocean. Alexsandra and Willy count 5 people aboard the small craft, but one of them appears to be struggling against the others. The boat disappears quickly into the fog, and our heroes start to approach the castle. However, a handful of armed guards in Nazi uniforms are heading towards them already, having spotted the plane make its landing…
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