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Video Game: Eye of the Beholder

Eye of the Beholder is a trilogy (or just a pair) of RPGs developed in the early nineties, the first two by Westwood Studios that would later be known from games such as Command & Conquer, and the third one by Strategic Simulations Inc., that also published all three games.

The games use a simplified version of the rules for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition, in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

All games are first-person, and feature an adventure party, between four to six members, going on quests and fighting evil. The first game has them hired by the lords of Waterdeep to investigate an evil residing under the city. It had an Absurdly Spacious Sewer, not just one but two ruins of lost civilizations beneath Waterdeep, and an infamous ending, where the player was treated a window of text before dumping them back to DOS (the Amiga version, however, added a proper ending cutscene). The second, generally thought to be the best of the series, involves the party checking out an ancient temple for Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun. It had more roleplaying content and much better ending.

The third game, assuming you're willing to acknowledge its existence, sends the player into the ruined city of Myth Drannor. It was not made by the original developers, and is generally considered a massive disappointment.

A spiritual successor, Lands of Lore, was created by Westwood in lieu of a third Eye of the Beholder after the split with SSI over creative differences.

A remake of the first game was released for the Super Nintendo, and later for the Game Boy Advance. It was also ported to Mega CD, with music composed by Yuzo Koshiro. Note that this remake diverges quite a lot from the original game, both in game mechanics and in that it adds sub-boss enemies.


The Eye of the Beholder series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The first game begins in Waterdeep's sewers.
  • Antidote Effect: In the first game, you can find potions of counterpoison in the Giant Spiders level. Quite necessary, since at that time your cleric isn't high level enough to cast Neutralize Poison, only the weaker Delay Poison spell, which just gains you some time.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You start the game with four characters, even when importing to the sequels. You may get upto six. The second game also has an NPC that runs off, but he won't do it if you reduce your party size after recruiting him.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Xanathar's can be exploited — as well as the doors' tendency to block all projectiles, including magical ones — to fight him in relative safety since he can't open the doors (which also allows you to rest in the middle of the battle).
    • A lot of enemies follow a given pattern of movement and don't change it unless having a straight line to the party, or being themselves attacked. This include enemies patroling behind a door; some doors allows projectiles to go through, but the target won't change its pattern or open the door even if pelted with arrows.
  • Bag of Spilling: Averted (see Old Save Bonus below).
  • Degraded Boss:
    • Between the first two games, beholders. Xanathar is the Final Boss of EotB1 and the only one seen in this game; in EotB2 there's a dungeon level full of them. Your party should be high level enough to handle them at the time, but they're still to be fought with caution, especially when confronted by a pair.
    • The first guardian daemon you encounter in EotB2 is a MacGuffin Guardian, and a dangerous fight since you confront it at the end of a section where you can't use magic or healing. (Plus, it's a lengthy corridor where you have nowhere to hide from its fireballs.) Later in the game, though, guardian daemons are the standard monsters of a level.
  • Disc One Nuke: The magic dagger Guinsoo, obtainable in the very first level of the original game. However, you may never figure out how to get it... Although it sounds impressive to have a +4 weapon at low-level, it really only deals 5 to 8 points of damage on a hit. Also, you don't know it is a +4 weapon, this might be more of a Guide Dang It territory, at least until you reach the Identify Alcove, which you don't know is an Identify Alcove.
  • Disintegrator Ray: The Disintegrate spell, and the beholders' most deadly attack (although, see Normally, I Would Be Dead Now below).
  • Double Meaning: Deep in the first game, at the start of the Mind Flayer level, a wall engraving reads "Alignment must be true". Since this is a D&D game, you'd expect it to be a cryptic mention about Character Alignment. In truth, it's a hint about how to open the next secret passage, which is a the end of an alignment of hidden doors.
  • Dummied Out: There is a removed area in the very first level of the first game, containing a portal and an unused portal key.
  • Fan Remake: Using the modding toolset from Neverwinter Nights, the first two installments are available here and here .
  • Faux First Person 3D
  • Fireballs: Not only the spell itself, but there's also plenty of traps that would launch a fireball at the unlucky victims.
  • Giant Mook: EotB2 places frost giants within one of the dungeon levels. They are crawling within the 10' cube, and are able to hit three characters in a single punch.
  • The Goomba: The kobolds in EotB1.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: The "antimatter" part is handled by the keys being jammed in the locks. The 3rd game actually averts this in several spots.
  • Level Grinding: Some actions or locations will spawn monsters regularly and previsibly. This can be used to grind XPs pretty quickly with a party properly prepared for the specific enemy, if you're patient enough.
    • EotB1:
      • The most useful place early on is the kenku (bird-men) level. They're worth a lot of XPs but are not terribly dangerous once you neutralize their main attack (Magic Missiles) with a pair of mages protected by a Shield spell in the front row.
      • In the deepest level, there's a spot where you can create stone golems at will, as long as you have black spheres, stones and potions (any potions, including some pretty useless ones by this level like healing or counterpoison, or even poison potions). Golems are dangerous because of their immunity to offensive magic, but are slow and can be handled with projectiles and your mages focusing on Status Buffs instead.
    • EotB2:
      • There are spots where a will-o-wisp or a bulette will automatically appears as soon as you step in. Dangerous monsters in either case, but once again worth lots of XPs, and easily handled by a well-prepared party.
      • Deeper in, a specific corridor automatically surround the party with a pair of mages. Trickier, but since they're Squishy Wizards and always open the hostilities with Magic Missiles, you have a good chance of killing one and getting out of the way before the other pulls out the Fireballs.
      • At another place, a salamander will be behind a door every time you walk before it. With enough Cones of Cold, you can kill it before the door is fully open.
  • Made of Explodium:
    • EotB1: Explosives Runes, but only in the remakes.
    • EotB2: Gas spores.
  • Master of Unlocking: The thief class, but not really. Most locks in the game are unpickable, and for every lock that you can pick, a key will be added if your party doesn't have a thief.
  • Meaningful Name: Dran Draggore is secretly a dragon, duh.
  • Mooks Ate My Equipment:
    • The rust monsters in EotB1 will eat any metal item.
    • The gelatinous cubes in EotB2 can also destroy items on a hit.
    • The black puddings in EotB3 will eat your weapons if you attack them in melee.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Every dungeon level of the first game has a special secret that you can discover if you perform a specific sequence of actions on that level (the first level's is the aforementioned Disc One Nuke)... and the game only gives very obtuse hints about what those actions are. For example, put rations in the closet labeled "pantry", or eggs in the room labeled "nest".
  • Nerf:
    • The complete disappearance of the Stoneskin spell in EotB2, even with an imported party from EotB1, for whom it vanishes from spellbooks (and a Stoneskin scroll can't be saved either). See the Game Breaker entry for why.
    • The Turn Undead function also get modified between the two games, as mentioned below.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: In EotB1, Xanathar's Disintegrator Ray, by AD&D rules, should kill instantly, but instead inflicts exactly 100 HP of damage. No One Should Survive That, right? Well, except if you have a high-level dwarf fighter with 19 in Constitution and the maximum possible on each roll (thanks to Save Scumming and Level Grinding)... that character can perfectly have more than 100 HP by the end.
  • Old Save Bonus: The sequel can be started with the party from the first game — along with all their equipment, containing a significant amount of weapons and armor that outclass everything available in the second game. If you play it right, you end up with at least three +5 weapons and a dozen +5 darts, whereas the best weapon available late in the sequel is only +4.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Most of the NPCs that can join you in the first game are dwarves. All are fighters with An Axe to Grind and preferring heavy armor, practically identical except in stats. The dwarves that can be seen in large amounts in their camp are, other than a single exception, literally all the same: your basic bearded, heavily-armoured, axe-wielding type.
  • The Paralyzer: Several monsters have this power.
    • Most annoyingly the thri-kreen, which are so fast that almost without fail one of your front-row fighters will be paralysed before even having the time to strike on his own.
    • The mind flayers' psychic blast is a distance paralysing attack, and can affect several PCs at once. Your cleric better have several Remove Paralysis spells ready... and if the cleric himself is paralysed, you're out of luck.
    • On the other hand, if a beholder just paralyses some members of the party, you've gotten off lucky.
  • Poison Mushroom: In EotB1, some apparently useful potion flasks contain poison. And in this game, it's not easy to identify them early on.
  • Pressure Plate: Full of them.
  • Puzzle Boss: In the first game, Xanathar the beholder can be easily defeated by using a wand to push him into a spiked trap. He can be killed by regular means as well, though.
  • Save Scumming: Quite useful, especially if you save just before a character gain a level (and thus can "re-roll" the Hit Points for a better result).
  • Scaled Up / Turns Red: Dran Draggore turns out to be a dragon.
  • Schmuck Bait: If you're warned to not enter the room full of awesome magical items... you shouldn't.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: Played completely straight with one character in EotB2 . A halfling you meet early in the game is locked up, and you have the option to free him. However, the first time you camp with him in the party, he runs off and takes, not the equipment he's carrying specifically, but some of the gear of the sleeping party members. Well, you should have expected it; he's a Thief (the Character Class). He even leaves a note basically invoking this trope by name.
  • Status Buff: Both Mages and Clerics have spells like this. They are quite useful, though for the most part with very short durations (except for the aforementionned Stoneskin).
    • Aid is a good cleric spell to absorb damage. Especially handy if you know you're going to get hurt, like by jumping down a pit.
    • Haste is probably the best choice on the mage side, especially since a single casting can affect the whole party.
  • Stock Femur Bone: Most of the bones found in EotB2. They can be used as clubs.
  • Take Your Time
  • Turn Undead: A power for the cleric or the paladin, along with the D&D rules. In EotB1 it is an automatic function, as long as the character is holding a holy symbol. Starting with EotB2, it becomes an action like any spell-casting, though not limited in use.
  • Undignified Death: Tod Uphill in the first game died by falling down into the sewer. He is not happy about this if the party resurrects him.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: At one point in EotB2, you have the option to help out a beholder stuck into a circular hole in the ceiling. If you choose so, it thanks you... and then immediately attacks the party because it's hungry.
  • Unknown Item Identification:
    • The first game has the Detect Magic spell to determine whether an item is magical, but doesn't reveal what powers a magic item has, until you use one of two "oracle" places deep in the dungeon that are powered by black spheres.
    • The second game adds an Improved Identify spell for this purpose.
  • Universal Poison: Every poisons in the games, whether from monsters or potions, work the same way: the poisoned character lose 5 hit points at regular intervals, until death or healing.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Khelben Blackstaff, in the second game. Subverted once, when it's actually the bad guy in disguise. He tells you to go to the next room and drop dead, almost literally. Considering your last conversation was abruptly cut off by a magic barrier, it should be fairly obvious that something's fishy — in the Amiga version, it also plays distinctly different background music for the cutscene.
  • Warp Zone: The magic portals, especially the room with five of them in EotB1.
  • A Winner Is You: The MS-DOS version of the first game is notorious for its anticlimactic ending. After defeating Xanathar, a simple message box appears, describing the party's rescue and the following celebrations — and then the game boots you back to the DOS prompt.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Not so much of an issue though, as the game gives you more than enough rations to last until your cleric can learn a very useful Create Food spell, that instantly fills the entire party's hunger bars. The first game actually contains enough food to make it through without the Create Food spell — although adventuring without a cleric is a bad idea for other reasons.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: How the third game begins, complete with a dubious cloaked individual offering the party a job.


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