Beholders in D&D 5e

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Beholders are alien creatures of exceptional intelligence with minds so powerful, they’re able to warp reality around them. They’re well aware of their intellectual capacity and incredible power and are extremely arrogant because of it (though with good reason). They consider all other life-forms, including other beholders, to be inferior to themselves. They’re also extremely paranoid, remaining constantly vigilant of danger, even as they sleep in a semi-conscious state, and they are very good at anticipating danger; their minds being capable of anticipating all possible outcomes of any given situation and to prepare accordingly.

Beholder Stats 5e

Beholders utilise their magical eye rays to devastating effect, essentially being able to use several spells a turn making them devastating opponents. On top of this, they’re able to use their antimagic cone to disable enemy spellcasters making them something of a one man army.

  • Large aberration, Lawful Evil
  • Armour Class: 18 (natural armour)
  • Hit Points: 180 (19d10 + 76)
  • Speed: 0ft, 20ft (hover)

10 (+0)14 (+2)18 (+4)17 (+3)15 (+2)17 (+3)

Saving Throws: Int (+8), Wis (+7), Cha (+8)

Skills: Perception (+12)

Condition Immunities: Prone

Senses: Darkvision 120ft., Passive Perception 22

Languages: Deep Speech, Undercommon

Challenge: 13 (10,000 XP)

Antimagic Cone: The beholder’s central eye creates an area of antimagic, as in the antimagic field spell, in a 150-foot-cone. At the start of each of its turns, the beholder decides which way the cone faces and whether the cone is active. The area works against the beholder’s own eye rays.


Bite: Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (4d6) piercing damage. 

Eye Rays: The beholder shoots three of the following magical eye rays at random (reroll duplicates), choosing one to three targets it can see within 120 feet of it:

  1. Charm Ray: The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the beholder for 1 hour, or until the beholder harms the creature.
  2. Paralyzing Ray: The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
  3. Fear Ray: The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
  4. Slowing Ray: The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the target’s speed is halved for 1 minute. In addition, the creature can’t take reactions, and it can take either an action or a bonus action on its turn, not both. The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
  5. Enervation Ray: The targeted creature must make a DC 16 Constitution saving throw, taking 36 (8d8) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
  6. Telekinetic Ray: If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 16 Strength saving throw or the beholder moves it up to 30 feet in any direction. It is restrained by the ray’s telekinetic grip until the start of the beholder’s next turn or until the beholder is incapacitated. If the target is an object weighing 300 pounds or less that isn’t being worn or carried, it is moved up to 30 feet in any direction. The beholder can also exert fine control on objects with this ray, such as manipulating a simple tool or opening a door or a container.
  7. Sleep Ray: The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or fall asleep and remain unconscious for 1 minute. The target awakens if it takes damage or another creature takes an action to wake it. This ray has no effect on constructs and undead.
  8. Petrification Ray: The targeted creature must make a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature begins to turn to stone and is restrained. It must repeat the saving throw at the end of its next turn. On a success, the effect ends. On a failure, the creature is petrified until freed by the greater restoration spell or other magic.
  9. Disintegration Ray: If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw or take 45 (10d8) force damage. If this damage reduces the creature to 0 hit points, its body becomes a pile of fine gray dust. If the target is a Large or smaller non-magical object or creation of magical force, it is disintegrated without a saving throw. If the target is a Huge or larger object or creation of magical force, this ray disintegrates a 10-foot cube of it.
  10. Death Ray: The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw or take 55 (10d10) necrotic damage. The target dies if the ray reduces it to 0 hit points.

Legendary Actions

The beholder can take 3 legendary actions, using the Eye Ray option below. It can take only one legendary action at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The beholder regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Eye Ray: The beholder uses one random eye ray.

Beholder Physiology


Beholders have the appearance of large, floating heads with a single, very large eye dominating the centre of its face, a mouth of vicious teeth and about 10 eyestalks protruding from its head. These eye stalks surround its head giving the beholder the ability to see all around itself, even when it sleeps with the eyestalks remaining alert. Its skin is tough and gnarly though many variations exist in the physical attributes of a beholder. Usually, beholder kin that are further from other kin in geography, tend to have increasingly different physical attributes.


Beholders do not reproduce in a typical manner. When a beholder dreams, it might dream of other beholders or even of a copy of itself. Occasionally, when this happens, the dream will become a warp in reality with the dreamed up beholder becoming a real, living being. Often, the new beholder and the creator beholder will fight to the death (much to the relief of other creatures). A beholder could dream up any creature its twisted mind conjures up in its dreams including other variations of beholders such as those described below.

Types of Beholders

Solitary Beholder

Most beholders are solitary creatures due to their paranoid nature; they distrust even other beholders. This is why they often try to kill beholders created from their dreams. This doesn’t mean that they operate entirely independently, instead, they will often gather minions from among the lesser races to do their bidding.

Eye Tyrant


Eye tyrants are beholders that have overcome some amount of their xenophobia and paranoia and are comfortable living among other creatures as a ruler or leader (they still consider themselves vastly superior to other races). Eye tyrants are still ruthless, powerful beings, but they are more prepared to converse and communicate with others and are more rational beings to deal with. Xanathar is an example of an eye tyrant; he is the leader of a guild in Waterdeep known as Xanathar’s Guild.

Beholder Hives

Beholder lair

In some rare instances, when a beholder dreams, they will dream of multiple beholders or multiple versions of themself. When this happens, those versions of the beholder might become reality and appear as smaller versions of the original beholder. When this happens, the beholder views these offspring as extensions of itself and isn’t consumed with the desire to kill these newborns. When this happens, a beholder hive is formed.

A beholder hive has such similar personalities and motives that they’re able to anticipate the thoughts of others within the hive. A hive will typically consist of 3-10 beholders with the original beholder taking the place of hive leader.

Death Tyrants

Death Tyrant

Death tyrants are older beholders that have become increasingly paranoid and concerned about their mortality. When this occurs, their dreams can go into strange realms, considering how it can live on after death. Such dreams can cause a change in reality transforming the beholder into an undead state. A death tyrant’s fear of death remain just as vivid as before its transformation and it continues to take on similar behaviours to protect itself from enemies.

Death Kiss

Deathkiss 5e

A death kiss is a lesser beholder born of a beholder’s nightmares, often about blood or following an encounter with a vampire. They have 10 tentacles with mouths of sharp teeth on their ends. A death kiss is paranoid about dying of starvation so constantly seeks to feed. It feeds on the blood of other creatures and is always trying to consume other creatures to feed itself.


Gazer 5e

A gazer is a tiny manifestation of a beholder’s dreams. It’s far less intelligent and powerful and will usually follow its creator like a devoted, aggressive puppy. Usually, such creatures are used to rid a lair of vermin and such other menial tasks.



A spectator is a lesser beholder that is summoned from another plane of existence to guard something of great value such as treasure or an artefact.


Gauth 5e

Gauths exist on the same plane of existence as spectators and will often use the summoning process used to summon a spectator to travel to the new plane. The place of origin of gauths is unknown though it is believed that they are born differently to normal beholders.

Battle Tactics

Xanathar Fighting

Because of a beholder’s natural paranoia, it will design its lair in such a way that it is as protected as possible. As the DM, you can use this paranoia to design a lair that is fraught with danger for your players. For example, you can place traps along the floor knowing that your levitating beholder is safe from them, you can also include sleeping space that is inaccessible without flying allowing your beholder to be in relative safety even when it’s at its most exposed.

Beholders can create anti-magic fields with a cone from their central eye to protect it from the magical harm, with this in mind, you’ll want to make sure that your beholder is facing the nastiest spellcasters in a party and preferably, has its back up against a wall, limiting flanking maneuvers.

A beholder’s eyestalks can be used at distance so staying high and far from the party is preferable and these eyestalks can be devastating. The eyestalks perform 3 random spell-like rays at random (from a list of 10) every turn! They have a spell save DC of 16 with different rays targeting different ability scores (strength, dexterity, constitution and wisdom) meaning it’s not hard to match a ray with a character’s own weaknesses.

On top of this, beholders get 3 legendary actions allowing them to make 3 more eye ray attacks every turn making them even more devastating! The only drawback is that these attacks are random which means you can’t always fire off a death ray, though I’d argue that the randomness makes for a far more interesting combat anyway.

The other thing to be aware of is that while most beholders are aggressively xenophobic (considering all other creatures lesser and even repulsive), some beholders do channel their xenophobia into terrible despotism instead (slightly better than the usual genocidal tendencies they have I suppose. Such beholders are known as eye tyrants (Xanathar of Waterdeep is an example of an eye tyrant). Eye tyrants often do have a group of slaves or even agents that work on their behalf. With this in mind, you can also utilise a potentially huge number of minions to also fight on the beholder’s behalf. These can be used to distract party members and prevent them maneuvering outside of the cone of anti-magic.

Beholders are terrifying foes bent on destroying all others. Their magical abilities make them difficult enemies to face. If you want to use them in your campaign, you can find out more about them and their stats in the Monster Manual.

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.