Exploring Eberron: The eye of the Beholder

You've not heard much lately about OneDAwesome, Massively's Dungeons and Dragons Online guild, but it's still going strong. In fact, we've spent the past weeks taking on our most ambitious project to date: Vault of Night.

Vault of Night is a story arc that consists of six quests and culminates in two raids, one of which pits you against Velah, The Red Dragon. Given that the guild has a fair amount of newer players, it's been an interesting experience for many of us. More than one guild member learned exciting words like "Deathblock" and "Beholder" and "ouch."

I want to take a moment to give a huge round of applause to the members of the guild -- they deserve the public kudos. My schedule for the past five weeks has been a mess. Between the back-to-school-and-sports insanity with my children, PAX, and the subsequent illness, I was an absent leader more often than not, and the members of OdA stepped in and exemplified what's great about MMO communities. They offered well wishes and kept things active and fun when I couldn't -- they're an example of what every guild should be. Well done, you guys.

OnedAwesome will be taking on its first raid next week as we tackle the (almost) end of Vault of Night. As always, we'll meet up at Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. EDT on the Cannith server, and the more the merrier, so join us!

As I was thinking on what to talk about this week, my mind wandered to the fun and frustration the guild has had over the past weeks. We've learned a lot and had a great time, but many of us learned a painful lesson. Follow along after the jump, and I'll see if I can save you the pain of learning it the same way.
The Vault of Night arc is relatively kind at the beginning -- it starts you out slowly before tossing you into quests with all sorts of horrible beasties and traps. Tharashk Arena is the first quest, and if you've made it to level 8 or so by this point, it will be a cakewalk. Your job is to venture into the fighting arena, take down guards and fighters, and emerge triumphant with a special axe for your quest giver.

Prison of the Mind is up next, and "take your time" is the catchphrase here. It pays to be careful and pay attention, because there is a lot of platforming throughout, combined with an extra-special surprise. If you don't go slowly and pay attention to what's ahead of you, sneaky wind traps will blow you right off a ledge into a pit with a large and angry spider.

All the careful tiptoeing in the world won't save you from what's next, though. This quest is where many of our guild members had their first introduction to DDO's signature baddie: a Beholder. Beholders will probably be your biggest problem during this pre-raid quest arc, so you need to be prepared. Personally, my very first experience with a Beholder in DDO came in the form of a drinking contest while I was playing on a superpowered admin character, so I didn't see what the big deal was.

Ow.

"My very first experience with a Beholder in DDO came in the form of a drinking contest while I was playing on a superpowered admin character, so I didn't see what the big deal was.

Ow."

See, Beholders have 10 little eyes and one big one. And it doesn't matter where you stand: front, back, left, or right, you're in range of something nasty and painful. Finger of Death, easily the worst of the bunch, can hit those trying to sneak up from behind, and there's no damage number -- it's simply "Fortitude save or die." The end. Deathblock items and the Death Ward spell can prevent this, but Death Ward is a little more uncertain thanks to another trick the Beholders keep up their, um, eyestalks.

The single large eye on a Beholder serves to cast an antimagic cone that effectively shuts down any caster it strikes. If you can get its attention off of you and move out of range, you can wait for the three-second effect to wear off and continue casting. However, if your party is relying on you for Deathward spells, things could go south easily. Better to track down armor, clothing, or a shield with a Deathblock prefix.

A Beholder's arsenal also includes fun spells like Telekinesis, which will fling you through the air; Disintegrate, which delivers a painful 120 damage; and several more. They're incredibly formidable foes with the ability to cause a full party wipe in seconds, but they're by no means invulnerable.

So how do you take them down? DDO is a game that rewards careful planning, positioning, and preparation, and nowhere is it more apparent early on than when you are taking on a beholder. Much of it is common sense. If you're a caster, take care not to place yourself where the antimagic cone can shut you down, for example. Review the Beholder's arsenal of spells and figure out where your particular character will take the least amount of damage.

You'll encounter Beholders more and more often as you advance through the game, so it's worth it to drop some cash on the proper gear. Thankfully, the imminent arrival of Update 7 means that a search string in the auction house will make this easier, but you can also spend some time browsing the wiki and questing for items as well.

Beholders are Lawful Evil, so they take more damage from certain types of weaponry. Weapons designated Holy and Pure Good are ideal if your alignment allows you to wield them, but Vorpal, True Chaos, Anarchic, and a few others also work nicely. (We'll talk more about these alignments and designations next week.)

What about spells? Beholders -- to borrow from a cliche -- can't take it nearly as well as they can dish it out, so consider turning their own weapons against them. Finger of Death hurts them as much as it hurts you, and the last Beholder I saw wasn't wearing a Deathblock robe. Spells like Destruction and Feeblemind are pretty devastating as well.

You're going to get to know Beholders very well as you adventure through DDO, and it's in your best interest to make sure you know what you're up against before you find out the hard way. Don't learn the hard way like I did.

For now, I'm off to repair my armor. I'll see you all next week!
This article was originally published on Massively.