Still redoing the Monster Manuual,--FINALLY A GOOD MONSTER!
Beholders are wonderful and terrible, of course--and the several variations that the Monster Manual lists just spread the terror thin. Before you get to the actual Eye there's all these preparatory minor terrors like Spectators to worry about. Fuck that. Also, the eye-themed lair actions seem misguided.
Here's a beholder-lite (and sort of a lair action) that makes sense to me. Y'know the gas spore...
…the monster that notoriously looks just like a beholder but is hollow and filled with murder?
I assume these are bio-engineered by the beholder itself as decoys in its moist and stygian alchemical pits.*
(Also, I figure beholders--what with telekineses and no hands and therefore likely thinking of their entire environment as part of their body--are philosophers.)
But where do the Beholders themselves come from?
Do you remember that issue of Thor where he went to look for Odin's missing eye and he found it and it shot fire at dwarves and told Thor stories? Well that's obviously a beholder.
Beholders are the cast-off eyes of gods--that's why they're so rare.
When psychotic white elf alchemists get ahold of beholders, they do this with them...
*Scrap Princess has a great idea: the gas spore is a cordryceps-like fungus that takes over the eye.
OH WAIT HOLY SHIT: the Beholder itself is what happens when the fungus takes over a god's eye and the gas spore is what happens after thousands of years when it finally gets totally fungusized.