Beholder Monster Class (WIP)

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In a 4E D&D thread on Monte's boards, I griped about a statement by one of the 4E authors that monsters and PCs wouldn't be built the same. I pointed out that if you build monsters like PCs, and balance them like PCs, then you don't have to deal with kludges like level adjustment. A 6HD monster is about the same power level as a level 6 character. A 6HD minotaur has 6 levels in the "minotaur class," which might look a lot like the barbarian or fighter (the class might stop at level 6 and require you to take regular class levels for advancement, that would be simpler than trying to balance out an additional 14 minotaur class levels). It requires more work up front on the part of the designers, but it is quite doable, and in the long run saves a lot of hassle for building encounters or making monsters-as-PCs. This monster class is something I thought of about a year ago but never got around to finishing; I finally polished it up a bit to show you what I mean.

Abandon your idea of the 3E beholder, with at-will use of its eye rays and antimagic cone. At-will abilities become game-breakers in the hands of PCs because while monsters generally only live about 4 rounds, PCs are on-stage every round of every fight and thus would get to use an at-will ability as often as they wanted. This beholder class starts out at about the power level of a 1st-level PC (I'm still fine-tuning it, this is just a rough idea of how I'd plan it, don't bite my head off if you think it's way to powerful at any particular level) and scales up into a creature that can use multiple eye rays in a round, much like the 3E beholder, but because its abilities are not at-will it is completely suitable as a PC class. Yes, I'm saying you could let a level 1 beholder (using this monster class) join a party of level 1 PCs and not throw game balance off-kilter.

This may not play exactly like the 3E beholder, but it's a pretty good fit, and if you use this as the PC version or the monster version then you aren't cheating your players by making them play this version (one of my 2E beefs, which I hope they're not going back to for 4E, is that NPCs could do things that PCs couldn't do, and having a monster that's unplayable as a PC is doing basically that). 3E took some huge steps in making monsters playable as PCs, though there are a few holdout creatures that are hard to balance (beholders, dragons, big outsiders, etc.) ... this is me taking it the next step and trying to present all monsters as PC-useable. Note that if you used this beholder monster class, you'd probably want the publisher to include a default-statted beholder so you could immediately use it as a monster, probably at the equivalent of the 3E level of power (CR13, which for convenience's sake let's just say is monster level 13), because statting an NPC from scratch is very time-consuming. So in a monster manual using all of these classes, you'd have the minotaur class and a statted minotaur at level 6 that is probably very close to the 3E MM minotaur, and so on.

Design notes are in green.

The Beholder Racial Class
LevelBABFortRefWillSpecialBite
Damage
Natural
AC Bonus
FlightEye Pool IEye Pool IIEye Pool IIIEye Pool IVEye Pool VEye Pool VIEye Pool VII
1+0+0+0+2Alertness, all-around vision (skill bonuses), mage hand, sorcerer equivalency1d4120 ft. (hover)1
2+1+0+0+31d422
3+2+1+1+31d4320 ft. (levitate)3
4+3+1+1+41d4441
5+3+1+1+4Antimagic cone (1 round, 1/day)1d4520 ft. (fly)52
6+4+2+2+5Eye rays 100 ft., Eye Pool I (free action)1d66631
7+5+2+2+51d67642
8+6+2+2+6All-around vision (can't be flanked), eye ray (free action)1d686531
9+6+3+3+6Antimagic cone (1 round, 3/day)1d696642
10+7+3+3+7Eye rays 150 ft., Eye Pool II (free action)1d61066531
11+8+3+3+7Size Large1d61166642
12+9+4+4+82d412666531
13+9+4+4+8Antimagic cone (1 round, 5/day)2d413666642
14+10+4+4+9Eye Pool III (free action)2d4146666531
15+11+5+5+92d4156666642
16+12+5+5+102d4166666653
17+12+5+5+10Antimagic cone (1 round, 7/day)2d4176666664
18+13+6+6+11Eye Pool IV (free action)2d4186666665
19+14+6+6+112d4196666666
20+15+6+6+122d4206666666
LevelBABFortRefWillSpecialBite
Damage
Natural
AC Bonus
FlightEye Pool IEye Pool IIEye Pool IIIEye Pool IVEye Pool VEye Pool VIEye Pool VII
* Cleric BAB, just like the MM beholder. Saves should progress as a MM beholder as well.
Hit Die: d8
* Same as MM beholder.
Ability Score Modifiers: Intelligence +2, Charisma +2
* These are basically the racial stat bonuses for the beholder "race." Yes, too good compared to an elf and such, but its only powers at 1st level are two weenie rays, so the ability score bonuses aren't too out of scale. The PC can eventually reach ability scores comparable to the MM beholder by placing roll results and spending level-based points appropriately. I might have to fill in one of the blank Special sections for one of the levels with a stat boost but I'd rather not if I can avoid it. We're trying to get the feel of the MM beholder, not create it exactly, as the goal is to make THIS beholder the new standard.
Class Skills: Hide, Knowledge (arcana), Listen, Search, Spot, Survival * Just like the MM beholder.
Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier
* Just like the MM beholder.
Class Features
Weapon And Armor Proficiency: None.
Alertness: Beholders gain Alertness as a bonus feat.
* Just like the MM beholder.
Mage Hand (Su): A beholder may use mage hand once per round as a free action, affecting a single object up to 5 pounds per level. It cannot use this ability at the same time it uses its telekinesis eye ray. As it lacks limbs, this is the beholder's primary means of manipulating its environment.
* I wanted it to be able to manipulate stuff at level 1 even though it doesn't have hands, but I didn't want it to have full TK at level 1, so this is a compromise.
Bite Damage: A beholder has a bite attack that is a natural weapon. It is proficient with this natural weapon. At 1st level the bite attack deals 1d4 hit points of damage. At level 6 this increases to 1d6. At level 12 this increases to 2d4. A beholder may select the Improved Natural Attack feat to increase the damage of this natural attack.
* Starts appropriate for level 1, then scales up to the MM beholder value.
Natural AC (Ex): A beholder has +1 natural armor at 1st level, increasing at each level thereafter.
* Starts low, scales up to MM beholder.
Flight (Ex): A beholder's body is naturally buoyant. This buoyancy allows it to hover up to 3 feet off the ground and move laterally at speed of 20 feet. This buoyancy also grants it a permanent feather fall effect (as the spell) with personal range. A beholder can crawl along the ground at speed 5 feet. At level 3 it can move vertically at a speed of 20 feet but safely falls to a height of 3 feet if it tries to move laterally above its hover elevation. At level 5 it can fly at speed 20 feet (good) and no longer is limited in its height or direction of flying movement.
* The thing needs to be able to move itself but full flight is too powerful at level 1, so this is a compromise.
All-Around Vision (Ex): Beholders are exceptionally alert and circumspect. Their many eyes give them a +4 racial bonus on Spot and Search checks. At 8th level a beholder can no longer be flanked.
* Just like the MM beholder (eventually).
Eye Rays (Su): Each of a beholder's small eyes can produce a magical ray. Initially the beholder can only use one ray per round as a standard action. A beholder's eye rays are grouped into "pools" of shared energy, much like a sorcerer's spells per day of a particular spell level. A beholder can use any ray from that pool as long as he has uses per day remaining for that pool. For example, at 1st level a beholder has access to Eye Pool I (charm person and sleep) and has 1 use per day from that pool; it can use either of these rays once per day, which exhausts that group of energy. At 2nd level he can use that pool 2 times per day, creating 2 charm person rays, 2 sleep rays, or 1 charm person ray and 1 sleep ray.
An eye ray only affects one target, even if the spell it is based on affects an area or multiple targets. Saving throws are Charisma-based.
* The progression also parallels the sorcerer spell progression, getting access to level 2 spells at level 4, level 3 spells at level 6, and so on.
A beholder can always use a superior pool to power an inferior pool's ray, just as a spellcaster can use a higher-level spell slot to cast a lower-level spell. For example, a 7th-level beholder with access to Eye Pool IV 1/day could use that energy to create a ray from Eye Pool I or Eye Pool II (expending its possible use of Eye Pool IV rays for that day).
During a single round, a beholder can aim only three eye rays at targets in any one 90-degree arc (up, forward, backward, left, right, or down). The remaining eyes must aim at targets in other arcs, or not at all. A beholder can tilt and pan its body each round to change which rays it can bring to bear in any given arc. As using an eye ray normally is a standard action, the ability to fire multiple rays in an arc only becomes useful once the beholder gains the ability to fire rays as a free action (see below).
* This is only in the MM description so it can't make 10 ray attacks per round. As our monster class can NEVER do that, we probably can drop this limitation entirely or change it to a more D&D-standard "targets must be no more than 15 feet apart" sort of limitation.
Each eye's effect resembles a spell (caster level each to the beholder's class level), but follows the rules for a ray (see Aiming a Spell, page 175 of the Player's Handbook).
A beholder's eye rays have a range of 30 feet. At level 6 this increases to 100 feet. At level 10 this increases to 150 feet.
* I could have made it scale with caster level like spells do but it's so much easier having a flat value instead of having to calculate each spell's range.
As it gains levels, the beholder gains the ability to use some of its rays as a free action. The beholder can only fire 1 ray from a particular pool per round, even as a free action (thus multiple ray attacks in the same round require drawing on multiple eye pools). A beholder can use a ray from eye pool I as a free action at level 6, eye pool II at level 10, eye pool III at level 14, and eye pool IV at level 18.
* This parallel's the MM beholder's ability to fire multiple rays within a single arc.
A beholder may take the Extra Spell Known or Extra Spell Per Day feats, adding a spell known or use per day to a particular eye pool. Any new spells added this way function as rays and must be on the sorcerer spell list. The spell uses an eye pool of the same level as the equivalent sorcerer spell (1st-level sorcerer spells use eye pool I, and so on).

Antimagic Cone (Su): At 5th level, a beholder gains the ability to negate magic with its central eye once per day. The range of the cone is the same as the range of its eye rays. Each use lasts 1 round and is activated as a free action. This ability increases to 3 uses per day at level 9, 5 per day at level 13, and 7 per day at level 17. The use of the antimagic cone does not count toward the number of rays the beholder can fire per round (though it does negate any of its rays fired into that area).
* The 1-round limitation makes this work much more like dispel magic, an appropriate ability at level 5.
Darkvision (Ex): A beholder has darkvision with a range of 60 feet.
* Just like the MM beholder.
Size Large (Ex): At 12th level, a beholder grows to size Large and its space changes to 10 feet. Its reach does not change.
* Just like the MM beholder. More of a hindrance because the reach doesn't change, but whatever.
Sorcerer Equivalency (Ex): A beholder's levels in its racial class stack with sorcerer levels for the purpose of determining caster level for its sorcerer spells, eye rays, and antimagic cone, but not its spells known, spells per day, eye pool uses or available eye pool rays.
* This lets a beholder sorcerer avoid some of the multiclassing weaknesses. The limitation ("but not its...") keeps a level 15 beholder who takes 1 level in sorcerer from suddenly gaining all the powers of a Sor16, which would be WAY too good when added to the beholder class' existing abilities.