The Beholder is of special interest to scholars because of its semi-unique nature. Only one other Awakened creature has any similarity to the things. Dragons. Like dragons, Beholders are sentient, rare, highly magical and highly intelligent, and like dragons, they have no non-Awakened counterpart. They are an evolutionary enigma. They do not make sense. There is nothing in the natural world which could conceivably have Awakened into a Beholder.

Beholders are loathsome, hostile things which are full of hate for everything and everyone. That said, they are not above having other creatures work for them in order to further their schemes, and they can sometimes be found with a number of hired thugs in tow.

Their activites are as varied as those of other intelligent races, and Beholders can just as easily be found wandering in the wild as they can running criminal operations from back rooms. It is only their loathsome appearance, even worse attitude, and numerous Kill On Sight orders which keep them from the same public activities that dragons enjoy.

Beholders are individual creatures, tending to avoid their own kind. Their breeding cycle is completely unknown, although zoologists posit some kind of egg-laying process based on the apparent reptilian-esque physiology of the Beholder. Their lifespan is similarly unknown.

They seem to have a language of their own, but their lack of contact with others of their race means that it is seldom heard. It is has no written form, although it is thought that it could be converted to a metahuman alphabet easily enough.

Although not all Beholders are hostile beings (this is a supposition based purely on bare statistics -they can't ALL be bad, surely- although the idea that as a race they have some form of chemical imbalance has some credence), the majority are, and have made no effort at peaceful cohabitation with metahumanity. As such, many governments have standing orders that if Beholders are discovered, that they are to be killed or subdued. Many groups would also pay well for a Beholder alive or dead, as their peculiar abilities are of interest to all sorts of people.

The first confirmed sighting of a Beholder occurred in July of 2049, in sewer maintenance tunnels in Berlin. Since then, sightings have increased at the rate of two or three a year, and have been spread around the globe. No one knows why this is, or how many Beholders there are out there. Talkative dragons have hinted that the Beholders are not something new to the world and may be as old, and have the same origins, as the dragons themselves. There does seem to be something of an enmity between the two races, although the reasons for this (beyond the arrogance of the dragons and the hostility of the Beholders, that is) are unknown at present. Nature spirits have also expressed negative feelings towards Beholders, ranging from contempt to disgust. Again, the reasons for this are unknown, although a theory that Beholders were some form of toxic free spirit was proposed and soon discounted.

The term "Beholder" was coined by a unknown or forgotten scholar with a fondness for bad literary puns, but it has stuck, not least with the creatures themselves, who it is said have cheerfully embraced the name.

Normal Elder
Body 10/2 +5/2
Strength 4 +2
Quickness 4 (x2) (x3 flying) +2
Charisma 5 +3
Intelligence 6 +3
Willpower 5 +3
Essence 6(Z) 12(Z)
Reaction 5 +2
Initiative 2 2
Attacks Bite 8S (front only) 10S

Stealth 6
Some Beholders have learned Sorcery and/or Conjuring at around level 4. Beholders almost always follow the Hermetic tradition. Spirits seem to dislike them, and Beholders suffer a +2TN difficulty on Conjuring tests (including banishing) involving nature spirits.
Knowledges: Many at 4
Languages: Many at 6, including their own language.
Perceptive + "All-Around Vision": -3TN to all Perception tests.
"Iron Will": -1TN to all Willpower tests.
Dispelling (See below), Innate Spells (See below), Magical Skills.

Most of the Beholder's abilities come from its ten eyestalks and large central eye. Without them, it can only move and bite, although individual Beholders have been known to learn spells in case their eyes are somehow disabled. They are also not above negotiating when in a losing position.

The eyestalks can be targeted independently of the body. This counts as a Called Shot, although in this case no extra damage is scored. Each eyestalk can take the equivalent of Moderate damage before being effectively severed, and this damage has no effect on the main body which has its own, normal, Condition Monitor. It is probably easier not to take into account damage-related modifiers on the eyestalks, although a brave GM could give it a try. Any modifiers would apply to that eye only.

Elder Beholders are able to regrow lost eyestalks and this process follows the normal rules for physical healing in the Shadowrun rulebook. Eyestalks grow back one at a time, although any number of damaged (but not severed) eyestalks can heal simultaneously. Elder Beholders seem to be able to choose which eyestalks grow back when, but are unable to regrow stalks lost in their "youth". If an eyestalk suffers permanent damage as a result of being severed, then it is lost forever. The loss of eight or more eyestalks leads to the loss of the Perceptive Edge as the Beholder's field of vision is dramatically reduced.

Beholders who have learned Sorcery have access to a Spell Pool and can apply it to any of their Innate Spells and unusually, their Powers too.

Although Beholders have a base Essence of 6, their "casting level" varies (GM's discretion or +1D6 to randomise). Older, more powerful Beholders will have an effective Essence of 12 or higher. Beholders can become Initiates.

Central Eye
Continually (and Automatically) produces a 40-metre cone directly to the front that has the effect of Dispelling. This affects the Beholder's own eye beams, as well as any spells it may use. The Beholder aims this effect by turning and activates/deactivates it by opening or closing the large central eye. Turning and opening or closing its eye count as a single Free Action (but only doing one of these things does not count as "half" a Free Action!). Unlike the use of the eye beams, this Free Action DOES count towards the total number of actions allowed per Phase (think of it as the "Activate Cyberware" action, if that helps).

Eye Rays
Each eye can produce a ray once per Phase, IN ADDITION to the Beholder's normal actions. These count as Free Actions, although they do not count towards the total number of Free Actions allowed per Phase. Yes, this makes Beholders very dangerous indeed. =D

The Beholder can aim all ten eyes upwards, but can only aim three at a time in each of the other "fire arcs" (forward, backward, left, right, down). Moving the eyes from arc to arc involves shifting the whole body, and is a Simple Action. The eyes' effects are all either Critter Powers or Innate Spells. In the case of Sustained Innate Spells, these act exactly like Sustained Powers, and the Beholder can Sustain any number of Innate Spells/Powers simultaneously, although an eye using a Sustained spell must remain pointed at its target in order for the spell to be sustained (i.e. while a Beholder could in theory Sustain two Petrify spells, it only has one Petrify-enabled eye, so in practice it can only Sustain one Petrify spell on one target, although it could Sustain the Petrify spell and both Control Emotion spells at once. And of course, there's nothing stopping it from learning how to cast Petrify as a non-Innate Spell...).

The eyes are numbered below, for clarity only, as not all Beholders have their eyes in this order, although all Beholders have the same number of eyes, with the same distribution of powers.

(1-2) Innate Spell: Control Emotion (Affection)
The Beholder has two of these eyes. The ray makes the target feel overwhelmingly friendly towards the Beholder, which usually means that it won't attack the creature, and may even defend it against others.

(3) Innate Spell: Stun Bolt
Since the Beholder suffers no Drain for using an Innate Spell, it would tend to pitch this at the Deadly level.

(4) Innate Spell: Petrify

(5) Innate Spell: Powerbolt
Since the Beholder suffers no Drain for using an Innate Spell, it would tend to pitch this at the Deadly level.

(6) Fear
As per the Critter Power.

(7) Innate Spell: Decrease Reaction

(8) Innate Spell: Mana Bolt (S)
The Beholder seems to have no control over the Damage Level of this eye's effects. Unlike the subtle visual effects of the next eye's ray, this one causes gaping wounds to develop in the target's flesh and bones to break in a sickeningly obvious way.

(9) Innate Spell: Mana Bolt (D)
The Beholder seems to have no control over the Damage Level of this eye's effects. In contrast to the previous eye's Power, this ray tends to directly affect the brain or heart, and very rarely are there any external effects.

(10) Psychokinesis
As per the Critter Power.

Beholders are probably © Wizards Of The Coast or Hasbro or someone, and Shadowrun is © FanPro (I think).

Okay, so credit where credit is due. The mechanics of this beastie were drawn from third edition Dungeons and Dragons. What I did was try to find workable Shadowrun-based statistics for it. I drew the information from Shadowrun Third Edition, Magic In The Shadows, and the Critters book that comes with the 3rd Ed GM's Screen. All that stuff is rules-legal, with some tweaking (like the fact that the eyestalks are exempt from the normal restrictions on actions per turn) to have the Beholder behave as it should. The only mechanics I made up are the creature's Edges/Flaws. There was no Shadowrun equivalent, so I fudged it a bit. I'm still not sure that the stats are right, and since I don't play much any more, I'd love it if you let me know how the Beholder works out, should you end up using it.
(Actually, I also made up the thing about them not being good at Conjuring. Not sure where that came from, really, but it just seemed to be a neat touch. Suffice to say, all the flavour text at the top is mine, too. At some point, I'll add a non-copyrighted description and picture.)
I know some people will question the idea of a Beholder in Shadowrun. After all, most Awakened critters have some kind of basis in the real world. There's nothing really wacky in there. Even the Harpy is just a bloody big bat. To this I say: dragons. I think it's in one of the Neo-Anarchist's Guides, or maybe Shadowbeat (remember that one?), where it's pointed out that conventional zoological theory would define dragons as insects, because of their six-limbed structure, even though they're clearly nothing of the sort. So my approach is that if dragons can break the rules, why not a handful of other entities? And besides, I'm sure there's something that looks like a Beholder lurking in the sea somewhere in the real world.
Do let me know how the Beholder works if you do end up using (or facing) it, and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have. Have a good one!

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This site created by Kelvin Green on 2004/01/15
Unless otherwise specified, all content is © Kelvin Green 1993-2004. Please contact me if you wish to use anything from this site. Not that I'm likely to make any money off of any of this, but it's nice to be aware of my influence!
Last Updated: 2004/01/15