|I actually like this design better than the Beholder,|
with its weird mouth and bite attack ...
A terrifying creature summoned by a wizard with Chaos spellbooks, the Chaos Spawn is a thing with virtually no melee capability, and which nevertheless cuts through units of normal men with ease using its various gaze attacks ...
Probably a couple months ago, my wife asked me why she and her brothers-in-law, who all play a semi-weekly game in a non-Greyhame dungeon, have never encountered a beholder before. I expect the question was prompted in part by the appearance of the beholder (and thri-kreen, lich, and dragon) on the cover of the 2e Monstrous Manual, which I was perusing at the time.
My first basic answer was just that they're still not at a level where an encounter with a beholder would make any sense--with its death gaze, stoning gaze, disintegration ray, antimagic cone, etc. etc. they just wouldn't stand a chance. And yes, I want dungeons to have high level things that will destroy the party if they just blithely attack it ... but beholders are just so dangerous, and their highest level character is 8th level.
But honestly, that isn't the full answer--as I gave it, I also realized that I just don't like beholders much. They're iconic D&D, sure; and I like the idea of a thing with eyes that each project a different kind of ray or magic effect (especially if the effects aren't the same for every monster!); but I just think they look terrible, with that great gaping mouth (and I also remember all the frustrating fights I've had against beholders in Baldur's Gate 2 or Icewind Dale, and I just don't quite want to inflict that frustration on others ...)
So I don't like beholders much; but I do remember liking the aesthetic of the Chaos Spawn of Master of Magic (pictured above), so I thought I'd give a look at them to see if they might be a beholder rip-off that I could stomach to use in my games.
Per MoM the Chaos Spawn has stats: Chaos Spawn -- Magic (Chaos) -- Upkeep 12 (mana/turn) -- Melee (1) -- Defense (5) -- Resistance (10) -- Hits (15) -- Movement (1 Flying) -- Special (Death Gaze -4 save; Doom Gaze strength 4; Stoning Gaze -4 save; Poisonous Bite strength 4)
Death Gaze -- in melee, each figure in the unit opposing the Chaos Spawn must save at -4 or die without any chance to deal melee damage
Doom Gaze -- in melee, the entire unit opposing the Chaos Spawn automatically takes damage equal to the strength of the gaze, without any chance to resist or defend; figures killed by the gaze do not receive a chance to deal melee damage
Stoning Gaze -- in melee, each figure in the unit opposing the Chaos Spawn must save at -4 or be petrified without any chance to deal melee damage
Poison Attack (bite) -- in addition to melee, the unit opposing the Chaos Spawn must save with their resistance once per each point of strength of the poison attack or take that damage; figures killed by poison still deal damage during melee
So, the Chaos Spawn
attacks: 1 stinger, 5 gaze attacks
damage: stinger 1-6 plus poison (save v. poison at -2 or die in 1-3 rds)
movement: fly 90'
special: death gaze (save v. death ray or die)
doom gaze (take 1-8 damage, no save)
stoning gaze (save v. petrification or be turned to stone)
fear gaze (save v. wands or affected as by a wand of fear effect)
confusion gaze (save v. spells or confused as per the spell)
considering gaze attacks, each gaze affects one character in melee, determined at random (there's no guarantee any particular character will ever meet any particular gaze, regardless of the creature's intentions); otherwise, characters in melee may choose to fight "from the corners of their eyes" taking -2 on their "to hit rolls" and taking a +2 penalty on their AC, but receiving a commensurate +2 bonus on saves; OR, characters in melee may choose to fight blind (blindfolded, eyes closed, fighting backwards with a mirror, etc.), attacking at -4 "to hit" and with a +4 penalty to AC, as if against an invisible creature, but also not vulnerable to the gaze attacks
It's still a pretty nasty monster, and not really all that different from a beholder ... but I'd be slightly more likely to use it in my own game.