There are some monsters as a DM I never get to play with for obvious reasons - the beholder is one of them. When I wrote this up long ago, there was a beholder in the dungeon. In the intervening decades I've moved it around a bit but wanted to make sure it stayed there.
But I don't like the idea of insta-kill and the group is only about 4/5th level. So I nerfed it a bit - took out the Ray of Death and the Disintegrate eye. I also changed the Charm to Sleep, and then changed the Flesh to Stone to Immolation (1d8 damage - 3 rounds). Then I let it fly.
And the damned mage took permanent hit point and constitution damage to empower the ring of power he had to shrink the damned thing down. Even then I said with the anti-magic eye (even though it wasn't looking at the mage) it was a 1/3 chance to save. And the dice showed it failed and the beholder was killed in two shots.
Now, the party had spent a week agonizing over this cliff-hanger fight with a beholder and had tactics up the whazoo - so when it was over in two hits, they were sort of stunned and giddy.
So after the total fight was done, I said lets redo it - but this time without the ring working.
And even with the nerfing, it was pretty much a TPK. The Beholder and the Cat Statues tore the group apart and the way they were positioned around the room, I was able to use every eye pretty much every round (when fighting a beholder is limited on the number of eyes he/she can bear down in a given direction). So we had two people survive - the thief played possum and stabilized at 0 hp until the fight was over where he then scavenged healing and then went to the mage and had the ring of power turn him to 1/24th of his size - from which he then ran to the door of the mage's tower an slipped underneath. And the druid after getting telekinesised into the ceiling and walls and beaten to death wild shaped into a mouse after playing possum and at battle end grabbed the ring of power from the floor in his mouth and followed the thief into the tower.
The other 18 people, animals, and hirelings? All killed - some of them terribly.
With an unnerfed Beholder I have no idea how a 9th level party even has a chance.
Write up follows:
Avidius felt himself pulled forward, escaping the notice of the closest growling cat, his preternatural sword skipping him across the floor in order to strike the beholder before anyone had a chance to get caught in the flailing rays starting to scintillate in the aberration’s many eyes. However, before he could strike, Marcus had an internal battle of wills and an accord with the Ring of Power he was wearing and pointed the copper band in the monster’s direction.
His body was cannibalized as it empowered the arcanic energies of the artifact, his life essence siphoning away as it fueled the titanic energies of the ring and send a blast of yellow and white fire to bathe the beholder. It surrounded the beast, the magic fading and rippling away as it passed before its central eye. However, the ring’s power and Marcus’ sacrifice could not be so easily brushed aside. The encasing bolt of magic crept inexorably around the monster, pushing the anti-magic aura further inward until the circle was complete and the monster was engulfed. There was a large “Whooshing” sound followed by a scream and the beholder collapsed inward on itself until it was reduced to roughly 2 ½ inches in diameter and floating very slowly as it struggled to escape.
Avidius, seeing a much smaller target now, skittered to a slide and swung his sword up, slamming into the now 1/24th size beholder. The cut went deep, spinning the aberration wildly as it tried to right itself. One of its eyes sent forth a blinding blast which hit Avidius but it was much smaller and weaker – succeeding in blinding the thief but not permanently. And then Tranis took aim from across the room and let fly.
And the shaft blew through the beholder, skewering it like an apple, before hitting the wall on the opposite side of the chamber and coming to a stop.
Three stone cats left to fight.
One of them was instantly shut down by a blast from Marcus’ dispel rod and the last two did their efforts to take the party down but they were unable to do anything more than wound a few of us before they were broken and smashed to pieces.
The fight over we examined the dead beholder and noted that its anti-magic gaze was still working and seemed to have a limit around 3 inches or so. In order to keep the beholder’s special skill available for us, we carefully pulled the arrow free from its body and then cast gentle repose on it – preventing it from decaying for the next 5 days until we get a chance to stuff it or preserve it permanently.
Some healing was dispensed and then the party had the chance to look in the cylinder vault at what the beholder had been guarding. There were 2 broad swords, a boar spear, a regular spear, a short bow, a stout battle hammer, and a 2 wheeled-low walled chariot that showed some damage.