A: When Wizards of the Coast designates it “Product Identity”.
On Saturday night my gaming group got together to continue our Pathfinder D&D Campaign. Our characters had travelled into an area seeking a DracoLich’s phylactery. By the end of the night I think we’d forgotten why we were there. [Side note to Von if you’re reading: We have one woman playing – my wife. She runs a rather zealous Paladin and helps to keep us from getting sidetracked by rampant & irrelevant stupidity or Monty Python. She has also played WoW.]
The first main cave chamber turned out to hold cattle! A closer look was quite dangerous. One gorgon is fairly nasty – a very large metallic scaled bull that breathes a large cone of petrifying gas. We faced eight! I’m quite impressed that by the end of the combat, we only had two (out of 8 characters/NPC’s) that were statues.
My character is a Dwarf Cleric/Wizard/Mystic Theurge. He’s not known for his melee combat. (He might be known for his generosity, his drinking and total disdain for copper pieces.) He has 68 spells to cast each day, and then there are scrolls and wands. I like my wide range of offensive, defensive and miscellaneous magiks! I’m not happy if I can’t use them and even less so if I don’t understand why I can’t.
During the stampede of the Gorgons, the Warmage and I found many of our spells being cancelled. We also started getting attacked by spell effects from a source we couldn’t locate. Things like Charm, Slow, Stun and Disintegrate! In my long history of D&D, these are classic hallmarks of a Beholder, except that two of us were still flying, previously cast defensive spells were still operating and magical items appeared to be functioning normally. Also, a Beholder can’t use it’s eye rays in it’s own anti-magic field. The next thought was multiple invisible casters but I couldn’t see any of those either. (Before people think of lots of stupid responses – I can see invisible.)
It turns out that we were fighting Glaring Tyrants. These are Pathfinder’s answer to the Beholder – ten eyes that fire different ray spells and a large eye that issues a spell-casting disruption cone.(They initially were in an upper chamber, firing rays through a connecting hole.)
Why can’t we fight a “real” Beholder?
Because, because, because, because, because…
It’s the way that Wizard’s of the Coast has defined it’s SRD (System Reference Document) and OGL (Open Gaming License). A bunch of things like certain book names, the planes, and a bunch of monsters that include the beholder, displacer beast, githyanki, mind flayer, and umber hulk are all designated Product Identity and as such cannot be used, copied, modified, etc in Open Game Content. [Full list and legal info can be found on Wizards site, or by web search.]
Actually, we mix a heap of 3rd and 3.5 edition D&D stuff in with our Pathfinder anyway, and I don’t think our campaign/gaming sessions can be defined as bound by the OGL/SRD. (We did buy all the books too!) So a “real” beholder probably could enter our games, but it was a extremely memorable night and quite impressive of the DM to throw something new at us. (Thanks Orez!)