Beholders are hateful creatures, and nothing inspires their hatred more than other beholders. In theory, a beholder could get along well enough with another beholder that looked similar to itself, but over time, beholders always find tiny imperfections in a companion that drive them to rage. Each beholder's physical characteristics are unique, and no beholder would regard another as anything other than an inferior, good only for food.
Physical differences are the most minor of variations among beholders. Two notable beholder variants, the elder orb and the hive mother, possess wildly different abilities from those of normal beholders. Beyond these are the myriad forms of beholderkin, true aberrations among the race. Creatures like gauths, overseers, and eyes of the deep are the subjects of wrath among true beholders, for they are similar enough in appearance and ability to be regarded as mockeries of the beholder self-image.
Elder Orb: One in every several hundred beholders is born with amazing longevity. These beholders are known as elder orbs, and the source of their longevity is hotly debated. The elder orbs themselves believe that it is proof that they embody the primal purity of the Great Mother. An elder orb is effectively immortal; it never grows senile or infirm from age and can live forever unless it perishes from violence or disease. Elder orbs have statistics similar to those of standard beholders, although most have significantly advanced Hit Dice. All elder orbs have at least six levels of sorcerer. They favor spells without material components (or take the Eschew Materials feat), but they can easily produce a spell's somatic components with their eyestalks. Elder orbs never summon familiars. Naturally, they must close their central eye when casting spells. When an elder orb reaches venerable age, it stops losing physical ability score points for increasing age but continues to gain mental ability score points. The cumulative effect of middle age, old age, and venerable age therefore modify the elder orb's ability scores as follows: -3 Str, -3 Dex, -3 Con, +3 Int, +3 Wis, and +3 Cha. Elder orbs have enough additional racial Hit Dice that their size increases to Huge; this helps offset their lower Strength and Constitution scores, but, in the end, elder orbs are less agile than standard beholders.
Hive Mother: Even rarer than elder orbs are hive mother beholders. Although their name implies a feminine gender, these beholders are as gender- neutral as typical members of their species. Their name stems more from the fact that they have the ability to magically dominate other beholders. Hive mothers form large communities of beholders to serve them. This is how beholder cities originate; left to their own devices, beholders would rather slay their kin than live in harmony with them. Hive mothers are universally larger and fiercer than typical beholders. For hive mother statistics, see page 135.
Death Tyrant: These truly reprehensible creatures are undead beholders akin to zombies, though they retain some innate magical abilities. These creatures are used by powerful wizards as guardians; they are almost never encountered near other beholders, who find them abhorrent. Death tyrants are detailed on page 309 of the Forgotten RealmsCampaign Setting.
Beholderkin: A vast number of beholderkin exist. Not true beholders, these creatures do not share the race's xenophobia, although most are still quite evil and cruel in nature. True beholders consider beholderkin to be abominations. The death kiss, eyeball, and gouger are detailed in Monsters of Faerûn. The gauth is detailed in the Monster Manual. For statistics for the director, eye of the deep, overseer, and spectator, see Chapter 8.
Death Kiss: This creature's eyestalks are replaced with blood-draining tentacles, and its body roils with a powerful electric aura.
Director: A director is often found dwelling in a beholder community led by a hive mother or an overseer. It has six eyestalks and three clawed tentacles with which it bonds with monstrous vermin mounts.
Eye of the Deep: An eye of the deep rarely comes into conflict with true beholders, for this aquatic variant dwells deep underwater. It has only two eyestalks, but its massive pinchers make it a dangerous combatant.
Eyeball: An eyeball is a Tiny beholderkin with four eyestalks; they are popular familiars in some wizardly and sorcerous circles.
Gauth: Easily the most common of the beholderkin, a gauth has six eyestalks and a central eye that can stun its enemies.
Gouger: A gouger's ten eyestalks are magically useless. Its central eye retains the antimagic properties of true beholders, and four small legs hang from the creature's underside. A gouger's most hideous feature, though, is its long, barbed tongue, which is adept at temporarily neutralizing beholder eyestalks.
Overseer: An overseer is the most dangerous of the known beholderkin. Rivaling the power of a hive mother, an overseer resembles nothing so much as a large, fleshy tree with mouths on its trunk and eyes on its branches.
Spectator: A spectator is an extraplanar beholderkin with four eyestalks. Somewhat mild and even-tempered, spectators have even been known to form friendships with other creatures, a trait that no other beholderkin or true beholder ever displays.