Yes, The Gorgon Is The Bull In AD&D
But “Bedusa” or “Meholder” Doesn’t Sound As Cool To Me
Now, I’m sure all of you, like me, have asked yourself “What if you crossed a medusa with a beholder?” And if you haven’t, well, now you have, and good luck getting that image out of your head. You’re welcome.
Let’s just assume an insane wizard was involved, and not worry too much about the, uhm, mechanics. If you do want to worry about the mechanics, I’m sure you’ll find examples on the internet. No, I’m not going to link to any. Lrn2GIS, n00b.
Any artistically inclined friends want to illustrate this, be my guest.
FREQUENCY: Very Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 1
HIT DICE: 8
% IN LAIR: 80%
TREASURE TYPE: I, T
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-4/1-6 (claw/bite)
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Eyebeams, petrifying gaze
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Evil
PSlONlC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: None
While it is hard to imagine the circumstances under which a beholder and a medusa might, somehow, produce a hybrid being, surely, it is not harder than imagining those which created the owlbear. Gorgholders, as they are known, are extremely rare creatures. It is generally believed each is a unique creation, and there is no natural process to produce more of their own kind directly – that is, they are sterile, or their offspring will be effectively either a medusa or a beholder. Granted, this remains speculation at best; no one has encountered more than one at a time, nor has anyone managed to interview one about their love life and live to tell of it.
Enough have been reported over the centuries to lead sages to conclude the process must be recorded somewhere, in some unspeakable and blasphemous tome, or perhaps it is a secret whispered by a conjured devil. Some say that it requires, not a magic-user, but two clerics, one serving the god of beholders, the other of medusas. Even less probable origins have been speculated, but it’s clear whoever has the knowledge to create these beings takes pains to keep it within a small circle of folk; it is possible it is handed down from one madman to the next over centuries.
The gorgholder most strongly resembles a medusa, enough so that until it is seen clearly — and bear in mind, it is a fool who goes out of their way to get a good, clear, look at a medusa — it will be taken as one, at least until it uses its eyebeams. If viewed in a reflective surface, it will differ from a medusa as follows:
- It has but a single cyclopean eye, which is elongated, as if the two eyes of a normal humanoid were stretched towards each other and slightly increased in height.
- Its mouth is an enormous, gaping maw, lined with jagged, razor sharp teeth.
- Its serpentine hair does not end in snake’s heads, but in eyeballs.
- It can, if it desires, close or veil its central eye, which prevents its gaze attack from working, while still seeing perfectly well through its other eyes. It will do this to more easily deal with creatures of similar (or somewhat lesser) power and temperament, with whom it may form alliances of convenience (or acquire useful servitors).
- The gorgholder will not be petrified by a reflection seen only by one of its serpent-eyes. At the start of an encounter, it may well keep its main eye closed while checking to see if anyone is holding up a mirror. They will then be careful to avoid looking at that person. With ten eyes peering in all directions constantly, it is very easy for the gorgholder to know who poses the greatest danger in that regard and act accordingly.
- Only the central eye can see into/effect the astral/ethereal planes. The other eyes cannot affect them
In battle, the gorgholder prefers to attack with its array of magical eyes, though if forced into melee, it will use its claws and fangs.
All of the serpentine eyes are in constant motion. Each round, instead of making melee attacks, the gorgholder may aim one eye of their choice at any target in range. Whether or not the gorgholder makes a melee attack or aims a beam, an additional 1d4 eyes will target random enemies. (First roll for how many eyes are “active” in a given round, then roll to determine which eye and which enemy it targets. The same enemy can be hit by multiple eyes. Bad luck, dude.) The same eye cannot fire twice in a single round. Typically, they mimic their beholder ancestor, but some replace the original power with the spells/effects shown in italics:
- Charm Person
- Charm Monster
- Sleep (Hold Person, requires save vs. petrification rather than spell.)
- Telekinesis (2500 gp weight)
- Flesh-stone 6″ range, -2 save,
- Disintegration (2″ range) (Transmute Stone To Mud)
- Fear (as wand)
- Slow (requires save vs. petrification rather than spell)
- Cause Serious Wound (5″ range) (Sticks To Snakes)
- Death Ray (4″ range) (Wall of Stone)
Any given gorgholder may have none, some, or all of the replacements, or others not mentioned. Thematically, powers involving either stone or serpents are appropriate.
In addition, of course, the gorgholder retains the deadly petrifying gaze of the medusa. The single large eye allows the gaze a range of 6″. Those averting their gaze are at a -2 penalty on saving throws vs. any of the other eye beams (so -4 vs. flesh-stone), as it’s kind of hard to dodge rays when you’re looking at your toes. The gorgholder will often command charmed victims to gaze at them; this action is not considered obviously self-destructive, as walking off a cliff or into a lava pit would be, and so, does not provoke any additional saving throws. Another common use for charmed subjects is to have them seek to force their allies to look. The telekinesis ray is often used to remove reflective shields before they can be brought to bear.
If bribed or coerced (good luck with that), a gorgholder can choose to use their flesh-stone eyebeam as stone-flesh.
As intelligent beings with a roughly humanoid outlook on life (as compared to the alien, inhuman, mindset of the beholder), gorgholders often seek to place themselves in positions of power within a dungeon complex. It is rumored some may even be the secret overlords of criminal guilds, but this should be taken with some skepticism. If such a being exists, it would have the abilities (hide in shadows, climb, etc.) of a 5th level thief with a Dexterity of 15.