Part Ten: The Final Battle

Welcome to the final installment of Gamestoppers, in which we take a look at one of the most dangerous (and complicated) monsters in the game: the beholder! Last month, the group confronted the goblin high priest Torgulbek and his mount Yarkle in their temple and killed the goblin's mount, but not before he got in some fancy mounted combat tricks on them. Torgulbek had already leaped free of his mount, taken some damage, and used a couple of spells (deeper darkness and greater command among them) to get far enough away to use his handy-dandy bracelet. However, the PCs aren't that far behind him this time around, and they encounter him in the next large room. Krusk had been in the lead, with the rest spread out right behind him, when the DM sets their positions. We start the new encounter as the PCs find Torgulbek and with the appearance of . . .

DM: . . . a beholder!

PC (Lidda): D'oh! We're in no shape to take on a beholder! Wasn't the high priest just alone?


DM: The beholder roars in apparent outrage just before it speaks. "YOU DARE CALL UPON ME AGAIN, TORGULBEK? I GROW TIRED OF THE CONSTANT DEMANDS . . . I THINK IT MAY BE TIME TO AMEND OUR AGREEMENT!" Hearing this, the poor goblin yelps in terror. "No, Zorthool! You promised me one more boon! And behind. . ." The beholder sneers at the sniveling goblin and cuts him off. "Very well . . . and that boon shall be this; I shall AID YOU AGAINST these unruly bipeds you have no douBT JUSTLY OUTRAGED. BUT THERE SHALL BE A PRICE, FOOL . . ."

PC (Vadania): [Whispers.] Gulp . . . um . . . okay. We're gonna fight this thing, right, guys?

PC (Lidda): [Whispers.] Ummm . . .

PC (Nebin): [Whispers.] Uhhh . . .

PC (Krusk): [Shouts.] HELL YEAH! Krusk needs a new beholder eye for his trophy wall!

PC (Lidda): Krusk! Ya big oaf!

PC (Krusk): Bah! They heard us running in anyway.

DM: The beholder spins around to face Krusk. That puts him facing you, Krusk. You're close enough to hit him, if you take a 5-foot adjustment. Nebin and Vadania are to the creature's left. Lidda's off to the right. I'd say that this is a good time for initiative rolls.

PC (Vadania): That's what I was afraid of.

[Everyone rolls. Vadania gets an 18, Lidda gets a 17, Nebin gets a 16, Krusk gets a 15, the beholder gets a 15, and Torgulbek the goblin cleric gets a 12.]

PC (Vadania): Okay then . . . I am, at least, out of its antimagic cone, so I'll take advantage of that and use wildshape to change into a polar bear. Sheesh. I wish I'd brought along my pet dire lion.

DM: Okay. Lidda, you're up. The beholder is facing away from your position a bit behind the pillar, so the antimagic cone is not in full effect.

PC (Lidda): Beautiful. Is that haste effect still up? Nebin cast it on me, remember?

DM: Yes. Barely. You have this round left.

PC (Lidda): Darn! Okay, I'll take advantage of it. I adjust myself so that I can take a single shot at it with my bow. [Lidda hits the beholder with a result of 22, doing 5 points of damage with her +1 mighty composite shortbow and +1 arrows.] Now I skitter back behind the pillar as fully as possible.

DM: Fair enough. Your turn, Nebin.

PC (Nebin): Vadania's got it right; while it's not looking my way, I hit it with a phantasmal killer.

DM: Okay. You cast your spell and a sinister, shadowy form appears next to the beholder. Some of the beholder's eyestalks on that side widen momentarily in utter fear, and it gets to make a Will saving throw. [The DM gets a total of 28 for the beholder.] It makes it! It still takes 3d6 points of damage, though.

[Nebin rolls well and does 15 points of damage to the beholder.]

DM: You and the beholder both got a 16 for initiative, Krusk, but since your Dexterity score is higher, you go first.

PC (Krusk): As it should be. Seeing how the monster was kind enough to stand right there in front of me, I move into the room a bit so that he stays focused on ME, hopefully, and take a full attack action on it! [Krusk rolls two attacks and hits once. The beholder is still facing him, so his axe does not benefit from its +2 enhancement bonus. Krusk rolls damage, and he does a total of 17 points of damage.]

DM: Your attack carves a huge gaping hole into the side of the beast, which roars out in shock and pain under your assault. Luckily for it, you didn't do enough damage to kill it. The beholder's no fool; it's going to try to get away from you by floating 20 feet straight up, turning to get Vadania and Nebin in its antimagic cone. Both of you are now in its antimagic field. It's doing some other things, too, so you get an attack of opportunity, Krusk. [Krusk rolls and hits again for 20 points of damage, bringing the beholder down to 3 hit points.] OOF! The beholder staggers under that blow but doesn't go down. And since it has the Flyby Attack feat it can use its eye rays, as well. It can aim only three of its eyes down in your direction, Krusk, and here they come! Three brilliant blasts of energy lance out at you; the beholder needs to make a ranged touch attack for the eye rays to hit. [The DM makes three attack rolls and gets results of 22, 17, and 10.] Urg! Two of the three hit you, Krusk; fortunately the inflict moderate wounds ray missed. You were still hit by the fear ray and the sleep ray, though, and need to make two Will saving throws; the beholder knows better than to attack a barbarian with only Fortitude saving throw rays!

PC (Krusk): Will saves? [Krusk groans and rolls the two Will saving throws and gets results of 17 and 11.]

DM: Well, the DC was 18, so Krusk goes down like a ton of bricks, affected by both the sleep and fear effects. Pleasant nightmares, Krusk! In the meantime, the beholder's looking for you, Lidda. It saw you duck behind the pillar, and aims one of its eyes at it; it needs to make a ranged touch attack to hit the pillar. [The beholder does so with no problem, rolling a total of 12.] The pillar disintegrates into powder and does quite the job exposing you to the other two eyes that it can bring to bear on you! [The beholder makes two more ranged touch attacks with these eyes and rolls for a total of 19 and 14.] Well, the finger of death ray missed you completely, but the flesh to stone one didn't; make a Fortitude saving throw, please!

PC (Lidda): Nice knowing you guys. . . . [Gets a result of 16.]

DM: Ah, a good roll! Unfortunately, not good enough. Lidda quickly and painlessly turns to stone, taking the place (however inefficiently) of the stone pillar that she was standing behind only moments before. Right! Two down, two to go! Vadania and Nebin; you're both full in the antimagic cone projecting from the beholder's central eye so it can't target you directly with any of its remaining eye rays. What it can do, however, is this; it snakes its telekinesis eye down behind it and lifts up the 120 pound chest that was near Torgulbek. The eye twitches, then scythes up and over towards you, Vadania, hurling the chest at you with shocking force. By the time the hurled chest enters the antimagic cone, it stops being telekinetically manipulated, but it's velocity is enough to carry it the rest of the distance. Let's see if it hits! [The DM uses the beholder's base attack bonus of +7, plus its Intelligence bonus of +3, per the rules for the telekinesis spell, granting a total attack roll of +10; he rolls a 25.] Oof! A hit! The chest slams into you violently, Vadania. Let's see, this chest isn't quite as dense as stone, but it's still pretty heavy so I'd say it does 4d4 points of damage. . . .[The DM made this ad hoc judgment by estimating the chest to be somewhere between a barrel and a boulder, as detailed in the description of the telekinesis spell, pegging its base damage at1d4. Since the chest weighs 120 pounds, it does a total of 4d4 damage. The DM rolls and does 11 points to Vadania]. Hmmm, let's see. Yup. I guess I'm done. Wait, no, I'm not. It's the goblin highpriest's turn!

[All the players groan.]

DM: Heh heh heh. Let's see here. Since both of you two are still in the antimagic cone, he can't do much to you. Aha! I know! He makes his 5-foot adjustment over to the sleeping, twitching, nightmaring Krusk with his action, and then as a full round action makes a coup de grace attack on him! MWA HA HA HA HA!!! Let's see, he hits automatically since poor Krusk is helpless, and the hit is automatically a critical hit. A heavy mace does double damage on a crit, so that means . . . [DM rolls damage and winces] . . . that you take 23 points of damage, Krusk.

PC (Krusk): That's nothing!

DM: You also have to make a Fortitude saving throw of 10 plus the damage dealt to avoid having your head crushed. That's a DC of 33 to you, Krusk.

PC (Krusk): Oh. Ummm, interesting. Since I'm not raging, the best I can do is a 32. Here's hoping for a natural 20! [Rolls die. Does not roll a natural 20. Throws die out of room. Crushes favorite pencil in hand. Breaks clipboard in half. Casts character sheet to the ground and stomps on it.] That ALWAYS happen to Krusk!

DM: That's a shame. Well, it's your turn again, Vadania. You complete your change into a polar bear, but since you're still in the antimagic cone, the wildshape is suppressed and you remain in your natural form.

PC (Vadania): Well, it's not like a polar bear can reach a beholder that's floating 20 feet off the ground anyway. Crud. Let's see. It looks like the antimagic cone extends far enough to either side that I can't make it out of range and still use magic, so I guess that means I move 30 feet closer and throw my +1 returning halfspear at it.

DM: Okay, but you realize that it's just a normal spear right now due to the antimagic, right?

PC (Vadania): Yup, but one way or another I won't need the spear to return; if Nebin or I don't kill that monster before it goes again, we're hosed! [Vadania makes an attack roll and gets a 20 after modifications for range penalties, which is still lucky enough to hit. She rolls damage and gets a result of 8!]

DM: ARRRGH! The spear pierces the beholder right through the central eye, driving deep into its evil brain. The monster's menacing laughter and roars are cut off in an instant as its eyestalks twitch once then fall limp. The body begins spinning lazily in the air, suspended by its natural buoyancy but quite dead.

PC (Vadania): WOO HOOOO!

DM: With the beholder slain, your wildshape suddenly kicks back in and you transform into a polar bear; your cries of victory are muffled and turn into a strange grumbling bear snort.

PC (Vadania): Gotta cut my victory short by any means necessary, eh?

DM: Hey, it's in the rules!

Although the beholder is slain, the battle is far from over. Torgulbek puts up a good fight, but ultimately, the combination of a polar bear and a gnome bent on vengeance for fallen comrades proves to be more than he can stand, and he goes down in the 7th round. Vadania and Nebin find a fairly large cache of treasure in a back room of the temple and the chest; even after they pay to have Krusk resurrected and Lidda de-petrified, there's still enough to go around. Unfazed by the nearly disastrous encounter with the beholder and his goblin ally, the group wastes no time preparing for their next adventure.

Thank you for following along these last ten months with us as we explore some of the most complicated and convoluted rules in the D&D game. It's been an education. The fact that Gamestoppers has messed up once in a while (oops...sorry about those!) only goes to show that they're complicated enough to confuse even those of us who work here at Wizards of the Coast. Hopefully, these articles can help, but in the end, if you're running a game and you run into a gamestopper, don't panic and spend hours looking up some obscure rule. Use a similar rule you're more familiar with, make up an on-the-spot house rule, or just fudge the results. The game may be based on a big set of rules, but the point of the game is to have fun. No one likes it when an exciting session bogs down over a search for some obscure rule. Once the session is over, though, make sure to go back and study up on your new gamestopper so that you won't be caught off guard the next time it rears its ugly head!

Where to Look: The rules for beholders can be found on pages 24-25 of the Monster Manual. Before running a combat with a beholder, you should also brush up on the rules for ray attacks and cone area of effects, as well as the specific rules for the various spells that are duplicated by the monster's eyes.

Rules for coup de graces can be found on page 133 of the Player's Handbook.

Torgulbek: Male goblin Clr10/Rog2; CR 12; Small humanoid (Goblinoid); HD 10d8+10 plus 2d6+2; hp 64; Init +7; Spd 20 ft.; AC 21, touch 15, flat-footed 18; Atk +11/+6 melee (1d8+2, +2 heavy mace); SA rebuke undead 1/day, sneak attack +1d6; SQ traps; AL NE; SV Fort +9, Ref +10, Will +13; Str 10, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 15, Wis 20, Cha 7.

Skills and Feats: Concentration +16, Heal +8, Hide +5, Knowledge (religion) +17, Move Silently +4, Ride (dog) +12, Spellcraft +17; Improved Initiative, Mounted Combat, Ride-By Attack, Skill Focus (Ride [dog]), Spirited Charge.

Cleric Spells Prepared(6/7/6/5/5/4; base DC 15 + spell level): 0 -- cure minor wounds (2), detect magic, guidance, mending, resistance; 1 -- cause fear, command, cure light wounds (2), divine favor**, inflict light wounds*, shield of faith ** (cast on Yarkle); 2 -- aid** (cast on Yarkle), bull's strength**, cure moderate wounds, desecrate*, endurance**, shatter; 3 -- bestow curse, contagion*, cure serious wounds, deeper darkness, dispel magic; 4 -- cure critical wounds, death ward**, poison, spell immunity** (vs. flame strike and fireball -- he knows who's after them and what kind of spells they like to use!), unholy blight*; 5 -- circle of doom*, flame strike, greater command, spell resistance**.

*Domain spell. Deity: Maglubiyet. Domains: Destruction (smite 1/day), Evil (cast evil spells at +1 caster level). **Indicates a spell Torgulbek has cast while the party was bashing in his front door; it took the group 5 rounds to get through the door; the first round was spent drinking his potion of haste followed by his potion of heroism, allowing him to cast two preparatory spells per round. The bonuses granted by these spells are included in the stats below but not in those above.

Possessions: +2 hide armor, +2 heavy mace, potion of heroism (imbibed), 2 potions of haste (one already imbibed), potion of Wisdom (imbibed; 3 points result), 5 potions of cure light wounds, ring of protection +1, periapt of Wisdom +2, bracelet of friends, cloak of resistance +1, amulet of natural armor +1, 23 gp.

Adjusted for potions and spells:

Torgulbek: Male goblin Clr10/Rog2; CR 12; Small humanoid (Goblinoid); HD 10d8+30 plus 2d6+6; hp 88; Init +7; Spd 20 ft.; AC 21, touch 15, flat-footed 18; Atk +13/+8 melee (1d8+4, +2 heavy mace); SA rebuke undead 1/day, sneak attack +1d6; SQ SR 22, traps; AL NE; SV Fort +13, Ref +12, Will +15; Str 14, Dex 17, Con 17, Int 15, Wis 21, Cha 7.

Skills and Feats: Concentration +20, Heal +10, Hide +7, Knowledge (religion) +19, Move Silently +6, Ride (dog) +14, Spellcraft +17; Improved Initiative, Mounted Combat, Ride-By Attack, Skill Focus (Ride (dog)), Spirited Charge.

Cleric Spells Prepared (6/7/6/5/5/4; base DC = 15 + spell level): 0 -- cure minor wounds (2), detect magic, guidance, mending, resistance; 1st -- cause fear, command, cure light wounds (2), inflict light wounds*; 2nd -- bull's strength, cure moderate wounds, desecrate, shatter*; 3rd -- bestow curse, contagion*, cure serious wounds, dispel magic; 4th -- cure critical wounds, poison, unholy blight*; 5th -- circle of doom*, flame strike.

*Domain spell. Deity: Maglubiyet. Domains: Destruction (smite 1/day), Evil (cast evil spells at +1 caster level).

Zorthool, beholder: hp 60; see Monster Manual pages 24-25.

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