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Death tyrants were an undead form of beholder, similar to zombies, that retained some innate magical abilities.[2] They were often used by powerful wizards as guardians. They were almost never encountered near other beholders, who found them abhorrent.[4]


A death tyrant was the result of a beholder's mad dreams of existing beyond death. On the rare occasion in which such dreams took hold of a live beholder, its flesh rotted away, and a naked skull with spectral points of red light for eyes would emerge. A death tyrant held much of the powers of the original beholder, now fueled by the power of Undeath.[1]

Although somewhat similar to a zombie, a death tyrant was a much more powerful creature, that continued to lord over others the same way beholders did.[1] On the other hand, a true beholder zombie was the result of the necromantic reanimation of a dead beholder, and although a formidable foe, was a considerably weaker creature and a mindless servant.[5]


Death tyrants retained enough of their intelligence to be capable of performing complex commands. When not taking orders or if faced with a situation that was not detailed in their orders, they would attempt to destroy any living creature that wasn't expressly identified as off-limits.[6][7]

If an accident was made during their creation, death tyrants were known to go into a "rogue" state. Death tyrants in such a state were incapable of being commanded by any means, even by spells.[7]


Unlike the gaze of a beholder, which disabled any magic where a beholder was looking, a Death Tyrant's gaze caused recovery to become impossible. Healing magic ceased to work, wounds failed to heal themselves, the very essence of life was gone in anything under the view of a Death Tyrant.[1]

As creatures with the powers of necromancy, death tyrants could summon undead. However, unlike human necromancers who could at best summon a few hundred undead with intense concentration, a Death Tyrant could summon as many zombies as it pleased without effort.[1]


The ritual to create a death tyrant was quite elaborate and the components required for it would typically cost around 3,000 gp.[8] Elder orbs and beholder mages were both known to be capable of casting a spell that would transform dead beholders into death tyrants. They were also known to have a unique spell that would override the orders given to a death tyrant.[9]

Death tyrants were capable of being magically bound to items by wizards, forcing them to obey the commands of whoever wields it. In a similar fashion, they could be bound to obey those who spoke a specific code-word, but this was considered faulty by comparison.[7]


  • Kasharin were death tyrants who had been raised from the bodies of beholders infected with the beholder-contagion malohurr. Though their abilities and behavior largely paralleled that of regular death tyrants, kasharin carried a highly contagious disease similar to mummy rot that slowly killed whatever creature they touched.[10]



The Ruins of UndermountainAnauroch: The Empire of Shade
Video games
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of BhaalDungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder
Board Games
Tyrants of the Underdark: Aberrations and Undead

Further Reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 27–29. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 309–310. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ed Greenwood (1990). Lost Ships. Edited by Jennell Jaquays, Anne Brown. (TSR, Inc.), p. 84. ISBN 0-88038-831-5.
  4. Richard Baker, James Jacobs, and Steve Winter (April 2005). Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 42. ISBN 0-7869-3657-6.
  5. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 315–316. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  6. Arron Allston (1996). I, Tyrant. (TSR, Inc.), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-0404-6.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Arron Allston (1996). I, Tyrant. (TSR, Inc.), p. 14. ISBN 0-7869-0404-6.
  8. Arron Allston (1996). I, Tyrant. (TSR, Inc.), p. 35. ISBN 0-7869-0404-6.
  9. Arron Allston (1996). I, Tyrant. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 34–35. ISBN 0-7869-0404-6.
  10. Arron Allston (1996). I, Tyrant. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 15, 80. ISBN 0-7869-0404-6.