Oculus Despot

A challenge was posted on Dragonsfoot some years ago to translate monsters from AD&D to OSRIC, as not all monsters were translated when OSRIC was written. This is my response to the challenge.

The Beholder is the poster child for AD&D monsters that were poorly written. The details are often vague and have produced a lot of questions posted on Dragonsfoot. While this was planned as a “clean up” of the beholder, the final version went a lot further than a clarification. It is a different monster which can be described as “inspired by” the beholder.

Oculus Despot

Frequency very rare
No. Appearing 1
Armor Class variable
Move 30′
Hit Dice 10 to 17
% in Lair 80%
No. of Attacks 1
Damage/Attack 2d4
Special Attacks magic
Special Defenses anti-magic ray, hard to surprise
Magic Resistance special
Intelligence Exceptional
Alignment Lawful Evil
Size Large (4′-6′ diameter)
Treasure Treasure: 3d6*100 PP (30%), 2d10 gems (55%), 1d12 jewelry (50%), any 1 magic item (15%), 2d4 potions (40%), 1d4 scrolls (50%)

published in & Magazine Issue 9, Creature Feature III: Ecology of the Oculus Despot

Note: This version has been updated and expanded from the published version.


The horrid oculus despot is normally encountered in desolate places, often underground but sometimes in the wilderness. Its spherical body floats through the air apparently by levitation, although the means is unknown as this levitation functions even in anti-magical areas.

When first sighting one of these deadly creatures many features fight for the beholder’s attention: the gaping mouth filled with pointed teeth that fills the lower part of the front of the spherical body, the great central eye that fills the space above the mouth, or the over-arching mass of tentacles tipped with smaller eyes that look in all directions.

The body and tentacles are coated in a chitin-like material that is rough looking and provides protection similar to the stronger plate armors.


While the oculus despot can bite, that is its last line of attack, for it uses the magical abilities of its eyes to horrible effect. At will, the great eye projects an anti-magic ray up to 140′ range, with an initial diameter of 5′ and an ending diameter of 30′. All magic items within the ray must save vs. Disintegrate or be permanently drained of magic. Spell casters must save vs. Death Magic or be unable to cast spells for 1d6 rounds. Note that this attack may be used only on opponents within a 30 degree arc in front of the beast. This power can be used at will.

It has been reported that some oculi have exhibited different major eye powers, including these:

1d4 Major Power
1 Magic Jar, 60′ range
2 Minor/normal/Major Globe of Invulnerability
3 Powerword Kill, 60′ range
4 Powerword Stun, 90′ range

Note: The Magic Jar and Powerwords affect only a single creature. See the article Expanding the Globes of Invulnerability in this issue (& Magazine, issue 9) for details of the Greater Globe of Invulnerability.

The creature will have 3d4 functional small eyes. Most oculi will have as many as 12 small eyes, but these are subject to damage and an individual may have fewer functional eyes depending on damage it has suffered recently.

The small eyes can look in all directions except below the creature. Generally, 1d4 of the eyes may look in any direction, e.g., not all eyes can bear on a single target. Each eye projects a different spell effect, the most common of which are listed in the following table. Note that some effects are designated as a ray, indicating it applies to a single creature, whereas the spell the effect is based upon may affect a larger area. Unless otherwise specified, the effect is equivalent to the referenced spell cast a level equal to the hit dice of the oculus despot.

1d40 Minor Power
1 Animate Dead, 30′ range
2 Cause Blindness, 60′ range
3 Cause Critical Wounds, 30′ range
4 Cause Disease, 60′ range
5 Cause Grievous Wounds, 40′ range
6 Cause Light Wounds, 70′ range
7 Cause Moderate Wounds, 60′ range
8 Cause Serious Wounds, 50′ range
9 Charm Monster, 60′ range
10 Charm Person, 60′ range
11 Command, 60′ range
12 Curse, reverse Of Bless, 60′ range
13 Darkness 15′ Radius, 120′ range
14 Death Ray, 40′ range, single opponent, save vs. Death Magic or die
15 Disintegrate Ray, 30′ range
16 Dispel Magic, 60′ range
17 Fear, as wand, 60′ range
18 Feeblemind, 60′ range
19 Flesh-Stone Ray, 30′ range
20 Fumble, 120′ range
21 Gust Of Wind, 120′ range
22 Heat Metal, 40′ range
23 Hold Person, 90′ range
24 Levitate, 120′ range
25 Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere, ray only, 60′ range
26 Paralyzation, as wand, 60′ range
27 Poison, 50′ range
28 Polymorph Other, 60′ range
29 Push, 60′ range
30 Ray Of Enfeeblement, 120′ range
31 Silence 15′ radius, 120′ range
32 Sleep, 90′ range
33 Slow, 120′ range
34 Stinking Cloud, 120′ range
35 Suggestion, 90′ range
36 Telekinesis 2,500 GP wt
37 Transmute rock to mud, 90′ range
38 Vanish, 60′ range
39 Wall of Fire, Ice, Force, Iron, or Stone, 60′ range
40 Web, 120′ range

Note: 1d40 is not a common roll. To simulate this roll 1d4 and 1d10. Multiply the d4 roll by 10 and add to the d10, excepting when the d4 roll is a 4, in which case discard it. Some examples:

1d4 = 2 and 1d10 = 9, so 2*10 + 9 = 29

1d4 = 4 and 1d10 = 6, so 0 + 6 = 6

Attacks from below prevent the smaller eyes from bearing upon the attacker while attacks from above may allow all smaller eyes to attack a target. Survivors of battles with oculi have reported that given the number of eyes facing in all directions, the oculus despot is impossible to surprise except from beneath, in which case surprise is 3 in 6.

The body is coated in a chitin-like material that offers excellent protection (AC 0). The tentacles are also covered by the same material, although thinner and lighter, offering lesser protection to those organs (AC 2). The great eye is the least protected, having no such covering (AC 7).

Rear and side attacks typically target the armored body (75%) although the small eye stalks may be hit (25%). Frontal attacks still typically target the body (75%), with a potential to target the great eye (15%) and the eye stalks (10%). Although the eye stalks (AC 7) and great eye (AC 2) are easier targets the relatively large body attracts the attacker’s focus.

Note that the body represents 2/3 of the oculus despot’s hit points with the great eye representing the remaining 1/3. Each of the eye stalks takes an additional 1d4+8 hit points of damage to destroy. Destroyed eye stalks will grow back, and even the great eye will grow back if destroyed (loss of all hit points) although that is believed to take significantly longer. Loss of all body hp results in death. Note that oculi will flee if 1/4 of their small eye stalks are destroyed, if the major eye suffers 1/3 hp loss, or if the body suffers 1/2 hp loss.


All reliable reports indicate the oculus is solitary, an aggressive, greedy creature, wantonly killing for pleasure and treasure. They attack most opponents immediately and with no provocation. However, if confronted with what it believes to be a strongly superior force the creature may negotiate, typically asking a bribe for it to not attack. If battle is going against it, the oculus despot will also negotiate although it will attempt to do so from a position of strength, regardless of what the situation may be. It will keep its word but being exceptionally intelligent it will attempt to twist things in its own favor, and it is not unusual for one to speak 2d4 languages, or possibly even more.

Although unsubstantiated, one adventurer spoke of a society of oculi, deep beneath the ground. He claimed to have been captured and kept as a slave for more than a decade, escaping when some unknown enemy attacked the city where he was held. Those that interviewed him stated that his mind was unbalanced, possibly by long deprivation, and they were unable to verify his tale.


Dissection of slain oculi have found nothing resembling reproductive organs, although the internal workings are analogous to mortal creatures and they are omnivorous. Their method of reproduction is unknown.

One savant reported that an oculus lived in an abandoned dragon’s lair on a high peak, and it supposedly lived there for nearly two centuries before being slain by adventurers. Assuming the tale is correct, it appears their lifespan is at least two centuries.

Some have been captured, but questioning proved fruitless.



Level/XP Value

I use the 5% Rule Tables published by Len Lakofka in Dragon Magazine. The following provides XP values for both the AD&D and 5% Rule.

The XP value includes four Special Abilities (minor spells – small eyes, 3 or more attacks per round, difficult to surprise, AC 0 or lower) and one Exceptional Abilities (major spell use – anti-magic ray).

Hit Dice AD&D 5% Rule
10 HD 3,300 + 14 xp/hp 4,125 + 15 xp/hp
11 HD 4,950 + 16 xp/hp 4,950 + 16 xp/hp
12 HD 4,950 + 16 xp/hp 5,875 + 17 xp/hp
13 HD 6,800 + 18 xp/hp 6,800 + 18 xp/hp
14 HD 6,800 + 18 xp/hp 7,900 + 19 xp/hp
15 HD 9,000 + 20 xp/hp 9,000 + 20 xp/hp
16 HD 9,000 + 20 xp/hp 10,100 + 22 xp/hp
17 HD 11,080 + 25 xp/hp 11,200 + 25 xp/hp


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