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Previously on Tomb of Annihilation

Mannix, level 9 Yuan-ti Inquisitive Rogue/Divination Wizard – inhabited by Papazotl
Khaless, level 9 Half-Drow Assassin Rogue – inhabited by I’Jin
Gillian, level 9 Triton Bard of Whispers
George, level 9 Tortle Battle Master Fighter/Rogue – inhabited by Moa
Therin, level 9 Hill Dwarf Druid of the Moon – inhabited by Obo’laka

We’ve had several show-stopping boss encounters throughout the campaign, including the Steel Predator, a Zombie T-Rex, Tinder the young red dragon, and the King of Feathers. None of them hold a candle to the extra-long, single-encounter session that encompassed the beholder boss fight on the third level of the Tomb of the Nine Gods.

Having previously collected all ten crystal eye keys in the last two sessions, the large stone-eye door to the vault could finally be opened. I had placed that level’s skeleton key in the vault room to force this epic confrontation, but my party enjoys exploring every nook and cranny of each dungeon level regardless.

The door opened to reveal a large, circular, domed room with a 50-ft high ceiling. Treasure spilled out of alcoves along the walls. In the middle of the room a spherical object hovered under a black silk drape, surrounded by a slick floor of polished marble.

Funny enough it wasn’t the hovering sphere that concerned the party, but the slippery marble floor. Mannix pulled a rowboat out of his Vest of Many Pockets, and Thern gave him a little shove across the ice-like surface. The walls were covered in that weird purple alien growth, however, and the party knew not to disturb it. Therin cast Grasping Vine in the middle of the room to grab the boat and stop Mannix from slamming into it.

I hadn’t even rolled initiative and things were already getting a bit wacky.

Belchorz the beholder made his presence known with a fun little villainous monologue (and a lispy voice). He had been spying on the party via the purple mold and protruding eye stalks throughout the level. He knew to stay way out of reach of George and Khaless, hovering near the ceiling.

The beholder was also permanently invisible thanks to a Wish spell from Acererak, making things even trickier for the party, who subsequently failed Perception checks to try and locate the voice.

With the party flailing, (and seemingly not keen to enter the room), I had Belchorz get the party started by lifting off the silk drape with a telekenetic ray, activating the large magnet sphere.


Only Mannix and Khaless were in the room. Mannix, still in the rowboat, held fast against the pull, while Khaless flew up and slammed into it. Roll for initiative!

I rolled an abysmal 4 for the invisible beholder, so the party dealt with the magnet first. Mannix used his first turn to cast Dispel Magic, rolling just high enough on the INT check (DC 16) to shut it off, sending it crashing to the ground (yes Khaless, you can finally use Acrobatics here!). The crash created splintering cracks in the floor, eliminating its slippery qualities. Two major components of this battle were deactivated almost immediately!

The party frantically tried to cast Faerie Fire in different areas to find the beholder. Then the eye rays started coming. The beholder is a fascinating monster. Every turn it can fire three of its 10 eye rays, but you have to roll them randomly (which I delegated to my players). Additionally, it has three Legendary actions in the form of additional eye ray attacks, for a total of six attacks per round!

Normally a single boss monster is a death sentence due to the party’s action economy, but six attacks is a legit threat. I flavored the Legendary actions as coming from the eye stalks in the mold, targeting any party member that did something effective, annoying, or damaging to the beholder.

But the PCs were making the saving throws left and right. Mannix has built-in Magic Resistance thanks to his Yuan-ti transformation, while George has magic resistance from one of his magic swords. I had a moment of sheer panic when he rolled a crit save with his Shell Sword, which reflects the magic back at the user. It was a damn Petrification Ray and the beholder only has a +2 DEX save. Thankfully it made the save, or that might have ended this entire fight WAY sooner.

Paralyzing Rays, Sleep Rays, Death Rays, all missed their mark, but we finally began getting somewhere when Mannix failed a Petrification Ray after Belchorz uses a Telekinetic Ray to lift the rowboat he and Gillian were hiding under – a clever move as Gillian’s Faerie Fire is the only thing making the invisible beholder targetable.

Even so, this party does not have good ranged attack options. Their spells are mostly used for healing and crowd control, not damage, and they rely on melee attacks to destroy their enemies – and the intelligent beholder was well aware of that.

Khaless was left using her Wand of Wonder, which backfired spectacularly. She stunned herself, and an auto-fail Disintegration Ray nearly ended her entire adventuring career. A second Wand of Wonder attempt resulted in a normal rat landing peacefully on top of the beholder – though it did use an eye ray to put it to sleep. New pet!


With the deactivated magnet sphere crashed to the ground, George climbed on top of it, jumped up, and used his Thorn Whip Blade to snag the beholder, bringing it closer to the ground. With the beholder within 20 feet Khaless then used George as a springboard to leap attack the beholder, and hung onto an eye stalk.

George, Khaless, and George’s summoned giant snake (via Moa’s Staff) all started laying into Belchorz. We were 2.5 hours into the session (including break), and the party finally started doing some actual damage!

Things were suddenly looking grim for Belchorz, who had to keep his anti-magic cone eye at a summoned air elemental from Therin (later we realized that Conjure Elemental takes 1 minute to cast – the second time we made that error in this dungeon).

A successful Charm Ray on George forced Gillian to use Hypnotic Pattern to snap him out of it (beholder made the save), but Belchorz was able to Charm Khaless, who climbed on top and peacefully sat next to the sleeping rat. A successful Petrification Ray on George forced him to use his last turn to cleverly grapple onto the beholder and anchor it to the ground before turning to stone.

Meanwhile a frightened Therin had cast Greater Restoration on Mannix, transforming his stone form back to flesh. The newly fleshy Mannix first used his Wand of Magic Missiles to fire a 34 damage auto-hit. On the next round he cast Shadow Blade, strode up to the anchored beholder and rolled a crit, unleashing 50+ damage in a single blow, and destroying the monstrosity.

The entire boss encounter took well over three hours. The party used a lot of clever tricks and tactics, and the beholder held its own for a long time. Despite the furious battle, no one dropped to 0 hit points, though Khaless came very close to auto-dying from the Disintegration Ray (9 HP). However, George is still a statue, and won’t get the benefits of the upcoming Long Rest while Therin recharges Greater Restoration.

Next session everyone will definitely earn a well-deserved level up, the level three skeleton key, and oodles of loot from the Vault of the Beholder.

Voted MVPC – Mannix

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