Best Beholder Varieties In DnD

There are plenty of lore-rich and intimidating monsters for heroes to face in Dungeons & Dragons. The Beholder is an iconic one that dates all the way back to the First Edition. Floating one-eyed orbs with eye stalks that shoot beams, these aberrations rank about halfway up on the challenge rating scale in Fifth Edition D&D.

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There are several intriguing kinds of Beholders for brave players to confront. Dungeon Masters can set up a memorable campaign for their table to enjoy, or you can brush up your D&D monster trivia with this host of classic aberrations.

10 Beholder

Beholder chases adventurers in stormy ruins
Monster Manual Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

To best appreciate Beholder variants, the original monster is a fantastic place to start. These daunting enemies are often found during encounters in the Underdark and give the DM and adventurers an interesting battle. Beholders are magically powerful and intelligent enough to strategize, while their many eyes mean that an ambush is very challenging.

They don’t need a reason to be hostile, so your table must coordinate to fight these aberrations. Eye beam attacks can inflict a range of status ailments and pose a risk to any party. Beholders’ indiscriminate malice makes for a chilling opponent and compelling roleplay opportunities.

9 Eye Of The Deep

Roaring Eye Of The Deep seabeholder from Lords of Madness
Eye Of The Deep Beholder art from Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations. Designed by Richard Baker, James Jacobs, and Steve Winter.

When you’ve got an oceanic adventure at your table, there are tons of impressive aquatic monsters to pick from. Round off your lineup by bringing the timeless Beholder to the sea. The Eye Of The Deep isn’t as strong or smart as its predecessor, but the aesthetic is on point for an underwater quest.

Even better, the illusion abilities of this lobster-like aberration give your crew an unexpected challenge to overcome. They can lure in unsuspecting party members and use another eye ability to stun and blind people. Living in deep sea areas only, they’re a rare and exciting adversary.

8 Director

Director Beholder from Lords of Madness with vine tendrils and teeth bared
Director Beholder art from Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations. Designed by Richard Baker, James Jacobs, and Steve Winter.

By dreaming other Beholders into existence, these aberrations can develop a hive with front-line attackers like this Beholderkin. One of the most concerning traits of Directors is their clawed tentacles. Heroes can choose from plenty of exotic mounts in D&D, but these legless monsters can surprise your party by also riding animals into battle using the barbs on their tendrils.

Sharing a mental link with their mounts adds to the horror of this Beholder cavalry. While they’re not as challenging as a standard Beholder, at least in raw power, this larger-than-average variant can catch heroes off-guard by riding into combat.

7 Death Kiss

Artwork of Death Kiss Beholder on spiral staircase
Death Kiss by Daren Bader

On the scarier side for Beholderkin, Death Kisses are spawned from a Beholder’s nightmare of severe blood loss. Their retractable tentacles end in fanged mouths that are made for draining blood. Because of their origins, they are actually afraid of bleeding out—but this just drives them to consume blood and convert it to electricity or heal from injuries.

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The viciousness of their lineage did pass onto the Death Kisses, which will ensnare victims in their tentacles to slowly drink their blood. Add on that if they encounter another of their kind, they’ll fight and use the loser’s corpse to host their young, and you have a deeply unsettling enemy.

6 Beholder Zombie

A blind and undead Beholder from DND Monster Manual
Official D&D Monster Manual art from Wizards of the Coast

Their mindlessness after being revived with necromancy does eliminate one threat compared to the living variety. While Beholder Zombies are not as cunning, typically attacking anything at all, they can follow basic commands that make them more formidable. They will also try to bite enemies (but it should be noted this isn’t a contagious disease in D&D).

Despite the compromised state of its eyes, this undead Beholder still has deadly rays that can cause disintegration as one of the D&D insta-kill attacks that it had in life. The chaotic nature of combat against these unintelligent aberrations keeps your table guessing.

5 Hive Mother

Hive Mother Beholder art from Lords of Madness The Book of Aberrations designed by Richard Baker, James Jacobs, and Steve Winter
Hive Mother Beholder art from Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations. Designed by Richard Baker, James Jacobs, and Steve Winter.

Genderless like all Beholders, this massive aberration is more difficult to fight than the usual sort. It can command certain other Beholders in battle to wear down your party and is particularly smart for this kind of monster. The combination of these traits with their natural magic resistance and suppression makes the Hive Mothers a serious obstacle.

It also gives them a great advantage against an overpowered party that wants to test their skills. Hive Mothers fight in numbers, use strategy, and don’t have any problems devouring heroes. Winning against one of these is a shining victory for your table.

4 Doomsphere

A many eyed creature shoots beams of light that disintegrates a terrified humanoid
Eyes of the Beholder by Kari Christensen

The ghost of a Beholder isn’t held back by being incorporeal. Possessing the living is one of many new talents it has, including a range of necromantic abilities. Toss in an eye ray of magic acid, among other horrifying attacks, and this ghastly aberration is incredibly dangerous.

These aggressive specters are kept alive by wild magic or having especially violent and greedy natures. Specific spells and magic weapons are the only way to defeat a Doomsphere in battle. Dying once before makes them more careful, but creative (or lucky) players could convince them to move on without fighting if the Beholder ghost felt they’d exacted vengeance for its death.

3 Death Tyrant

Artwork of red-eyed Beholder skeleton floating in a cavern
Ghastly Death Tyrant by Peter Polach

Loathed even by Beholders, the Death Tyrant is an undead aberration that’s born from a Beholder’s dream of living beyond their deaths or created by magical means. The dream can become potent enough that the monster having it will become this animated skeleton. Capable wizards can use Death Tyrants as protectors or give them orders too, presenting an additional hazard for your table.

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Their glowing red gaze inhibits all recovery because they’re the absence of life. Summoning undead enemies without the need to concentrate means they can call in reinforcements at will. More hazardous than ever, some Death Tyrants can’t be commanded and establish their own lair.

2 Elder Orb

Artwork of large green Beholder firing eye ray
Baleful Beholder art by Lars Grant-West

One of the entities that’s experienced enough to create a Death Tyrant, the immortal Elder Orb is gigantic and vastly knowledgeable. They usually lead a faction of their fellow floating monsters that will be placed between them and any attackers. Not inclined to fight their own battles, they are still highly powerful with magic and can even invent their own spells.

It’s only when they’re older that an Elder Orb becomes noticeably different from your rank and file Beholders. While they’re not as quick during their longer lifespan, this enemy never gets less intelligent with age and will only die in combat.

1 Mindwitness

Many-tentacled Mindwitness Beholder from Volo's Guide to Monsters
Official Mindwitness Beholder art from Volo’s Guide to Monsters

Mind Flayers have a habit of putting their tadpoles into anything and everything, and a Mindwitness is the result of that tadpole in a Beholder. They may not have the sheer strength of the regular variety, but they more than make up for that by being absolutely terrifying.

Their mouths are surrounded by tentacles and resemble a leech’s. They have no blind spots, so it’s almost guaranteed to see you before you see it. Fighting with eye rays as well as psionic abilities is only how the battle starts with this telepathic Mind Flayer servant. Its ultimate goal is to extract your brain.

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