Are you just too excited for your players to fight a Beholder? Are your friends too low-level to handle one, but you just want to use the iconic monster? Then the Spectator is just the monster for you!
The Spectator takes everything that the Beholder and Death Tyrant had and cranks it down. Their stats are, at least in comparison to the the other two, pitifully low. This makes them a great early-game boss fight. But they lack the luster that makes the Beholder so cool.
Lore: The Mad Guardians
You know you’re in for something good when the first line in the flavor text is ‘A Spectator is a lesser Beholder’.
After being summoned by a magic ritual, which requires the sacrifice of four Beholder eye stalks, a Spectator is set to a task by its new master. Often times, they’ll be guarding over a treasure or location for 101 years, allowing no one to approach without the master’s permission. If the charged item is taken or destroyed before its term is up, the Spectator disappears.
Despite it being seemingly tamed, the Spectator still holds the typical Beholder’s madness. These will come across as quirks when it speaks, as it lives mostly in isolation. It also, as Beholder’s do, believes itself to be the epitome of its species. If two Spectators meet, they will always fight to the death.
Once freed from its servitude, a Spectator is free to do what they want to do. They typically make their places of residence into their lairs, especially if the summoner has dies in the years of its service. This is when their madness comes to fruition.
There are plenty of story telling possibilities with the Spectator. Maybe a low-level party needs to get a Spectator’s guarded treasure for a quest. Or perhaps a high-level party could be hired to gather the materials for a Spectator summoning, either for their own purpose (as there is a spell that allows a player to summon them, which is neat) or for some rich NPC’s purpose.
They don’t have as much depth as the Beholder or Death Tyrant. You can’t spin an entire campaign out of a Spectator. But they are still easy and fun to work with. But if you’re throwing them at a party higher level than one or two, they’ll hardly be a threat.
Design: Beholder Jr., Green Edition
Yup. That’s sure a Beholder. He is much simpler, what with his lack of a few eyes, but it’s still incredibly effective.
There really isn’t much to say here. These guys are just simplified versions of the Beholder. They still look cool, and they’re instantly recognizable as the iconic beast of Dungeons and Dragons. But there just isn’t anything new here to talk about!
Unless you count subtracting a few eyes as new.
Stats: Baby’s First Beholder
These guys are truly quite pathetic in terms of combat ability. Unless the party is very low level, as in level one each, then this thing can hardly be considered a threat. This is why it is such a good early-game boss fight. Aside from that, it’s pitifully easy to kill.
It still has the Beholder’s infamous Eye Rays. But all of the truly dangerous ones are long gone, leaving only the four weakest of the eyes. In terms of physical attacks, this thing is only capable of a pitiful 1d6-1. That’s right! If you get bit by a Spectator, there is a chance that you won’t take any damage at all! How threatening!
Its defenses are equally pitiful. It only has an AC of 14, making it very easy to hit. It has a decent pool of HP for a low level monster, so the fight won’t go too quickly. But the party can still rest as well as a Snorlax if they’re faced with one of these things. They’re pitifully easy to kill.
But hey! They can make food and water! Oh, and they can reflect magic back at another party member. That’s okay, I guess.
As I’ve stated before: this is a perfect level one boss fight! With the limited abilities of first level players, or even second level players, the fight could prove challenging, but not frightening. The chances of them dying are incredibly low. But their abilities would certainly be pushed to the test.
Just don’t put this thing against any party higher than the fifth level. They’ll kill it in two hits. Funny, yes. Effective, no. You’d spend more time setting up the initiative list than you would in the actual fight.
I know I’ve sort of been shitting on the Spectator. Yes, compared to the two Beholder-type monsters that came before it, it is really mediocre. But it is still a cool monster, even if killing it is painfully easy.
That said, let’s put the Spectator on the list of the Best of the Bestiary.
- Death Tyrant
- Animated Armor
- Rug of Smothering
- Flying Sword
At the moment, it finds itself in the middle of the pack. It is a very good fight for a new party, with some cool lore and a nice design. But that’s about it.
And with that, we’re done with the Beholders. It’s been a lot of fun talking about D&D’s best monster, as well as it’s multiple variants. But now it’s time to move on, and talk about another thrilling monster!
Blights. You know. Rotten tree people. Thrilling, right?