Wednesday, April 12, 2023


Hey so remember in the product identity monsters post from like, way back in December I mentioned that I was gonna make a part 2 riffing on an alternate name for the Beholder that Warren of Prismatic Wasteland came up with? Yeah I never posted that huh. Well anywho, here it is!

Fear the dread PANOPTIKHAN, the Scourge of Gods Underneath, the All-Seeing Eye, the War-Bek of Cave-Mules! Tremble before his twelve fingered majesty, great and terrible Lord of the Conjunction!

Number Encountered: 1
Hit Dice: 9
Attacks: 6 tentacles (1d6) + 1 eye beam (see below) OR 1 feeding (see below)
Armor: as leather and shield (as chain and shield on horseback)
Morale: 10
Horde Lord: The panoptikhan [or panoptikhans, if one wishes this to be a whole race of creatures] rules over a subterranean horde, made up primarily of whatever poor underground dwellers the scourge impressed into service. There will be at least two deputy beks which command sections of the panoptikhan's horde and delegate authority from him.
Mounted: Frequently found riding horses or cave-mules, especially when leading a section of its horde. 
Paranoiavore: The panoptikhan feeds on feelings on paranoia and anxiety through the many eyes on its towering stalk. In combat, if the panoptikhan chooses not to use its eye beam, it can instead choose to feed on any fear or anxiety in any target within view; if it feeds on the worry of a combatant, they must make a Save vs. Overconfidence [I'd probably make that a Save vs. Wands for the five saving throw categories, I just like having kind of silly overly specific saving throws] or begin acting brashly and without thinking, possibly putting themself or others in danger.
All-Seeing Eye Beam: In combat, if the panoptikhan choose not to feed on the worry of a being within view, it can instead choose to release excess waste emotion in the form of an eye beam fired from the singular eye on the top of its stalk. The target of the eye beam must make a Save vs. Anxiety or begin breaking down, laying down their weapons and attempting to flee.
Weaponry: The panoptikhan typically fights with his bare tentacles, but can wield melee weapons, most commonly sabres and pikes.

The panoptikhan is a malformed and monstrous thing which feeds on feelings of paranoia, anxiety, and worry and, in service of providing itself with a neverending supply of paranoid, anxious, and worrisome underlings to feed on, it establishes a warrior host which roves the tunnels and caverns underground, capturing more half-men and underground dwellers along the way. While perhaps a more straightforward prison scenario would instill a constant feeling of paranoia in its prisoners, the panoptikhan's horde provides enough contrasting feeling to allow the scourge to not be glutted with fear and worry, and to give the warlord something which even towers of unblinking eyes need: a feeling of accomplishment.

It is an eight foot tall spindly tower of wide staring eyes atop a cone-shaped base ringed by six tentacles tipped with two-fingered "hands." It also is fond of horseback riding.

Think a Tomyris, Attila, Chinggis Khan, or Timur if they were also a tentacle monster.

I originally came up with this design back when Warren was workshopping alternate, product-identity free names for the copyrighted D&D monsters like the beholder. I said, if I remember correctly at least, that I really liked the name panoptikhan, but that it evoked some kind of monster which took on the role of a steppe warlord in a dungeon environment moreso than the floating sphere of baleful eyes that is the beholder. When I got back to the concept, I just incorporated the "feeding on anxiety" thing as another element on there, taking cues from Jeremy Bentham's original Panopticon (which is also in the design pretty obviously); felt like it needed some extra power/ability, and I think that adds a fun extra dimension to the concept.


  1. I love the progression from product ID creature -> to rebranding it with a new name to avoid lawyers -> to using that new name to extrapolate an entirely new creature.

    It's such a good name, too. I was working with Prismatic Wasteland when he came up with it, and there was a point at which he thought the reference was too oblique and perhaps he should scrap it. I put a lot of pressure on him to stick with Panoptikhan. It's too good a name to go unpublished.

    (So you might say I'm the *real* visionary of this story, and deserve most (all) of the credit. ;) )

    1. I hope some future historian cites to this comment when writing their heavily researched tome, The Rise and Fall of The Prismatic Wasteland