Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Eye Tyrant

As a D&D player I have a wealth of knowledge pertaining to all manner of fictional creatures. A whole lexicon of nightmares is at my disposal, including a kind of fiery demon horse known as a nightmare. I may even prepared to say that I know goddamn near everything.

So to me the idea a Beholder is old news. This floating abberation known for it's deadly eye beams is a symbol of D&D, and as a someone who often plays the role of Dungeon Master it's one of my most prized minions.

It's said that we only fear things we don't understand, but I'm here today to argue the exact opposite of that. I, as a D.M., knew that a Beholder Eye-Tyrant was a level 19 Solo Artillery (large aberrant magical beast). It's just that I didn't really have a grasp on what "Large" meant until recently.

Maybe a photo will help you understand.

Remember when looking at that picture that the little person off to the right is me, and that I'm nearly six and half feet tall.

Large used to mean that it occupies a 2x2 square instead of just one, has reach, and has higher strength but lower AC. It didn't used to compute into being a looming terrifying monster.

This realization was followed by another which was at the same time both the sundering of the insulation of nerdity and the epitome of it.

I've mentioned before that as a D.M. I love these things. That used to be because they're massive central eye projected a cone of anti-magic which royally screws with the players. In the newest edition that's gone, but they've gotten an even cooler ability. It's an Aura 5 effect, and any creature that starts its turn inside that aura gets zapped. Yes Beholders lost my old favorite ability, but they finally became what I always wanted them to be. Insane floating laser monsters. Now to someone thinking in game terms Aura 5 just means stay 5 squares away and throw fire at it. A rough translation of that means that if you're within twenty five feet of the monster it's going to keep zapping you until you're charred enough for it to devour you.

Which lead to me and Kevin standing around it thinking about how much that really meant. Backing away to the point where we thought we might be safe, and giving some serious consideration to how fast this creature could ravage the Pike Street Annex if it needed to. The room we were in was pretty big, but I maintain that if it had floated over to the middle it could have it every square inch of it, including the balcony's on the 2nd and 3rd floor.

It was, with that discussion, that it went back to being a matter of numbers. It oscillated several more times that day, thinking about it as a D.M. then thinking about it as a person, and somewhere along the way the place it fills in my head changed. Soon all of the monsters changed. Seeing a life size model of that made it something more then just numbers and roles. Now it's a real monster. Now it's an Eye Tyrant, and I think that may have been what they were going for the whole time.


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