Dungeons and Dragons has a lot of classic monsters knocking about in the vast documentation of the game. The most challenging of these are the ones that fit into the category of “true” monsters; those critters that serve no purpose other than to kill and be killed. These are the horrors that defy any rightful place in an ecology. Perhaps they do not create anything or contribute in any meaningful way to an economy or culture. All they are good for (by design, mind you) is to challenge the players in a good old-fashioned knock-down brawl.
This brings us to the creature most commonly known as the beholder. A crushingly powerful monster found in dismal places and forgotten ruins, beholders are solitary killing machines. Using a bewildering array of spell-like powers at will, and possessing an anti-magic ray that renders even the most battle-hardened adventurers all but reliant on brute strength and their ability to flee. It is all but impossible to sneak up on a beholder due to their numerous eyes that sit atop tentacle-like stalks. While the physical attacks of the beholder are not terribly fearsome their magical powers are. One of those powers is the ability to turn flesh to stone. Although the players and their NPC cohorts did pretty well for awhile with their saving throws, it was just a matter of time before their twenties began to let them down.
Sure enough, one of the NPC’s botched a save and was turned into a stone statue. Not long afterwards one of the players met the same fate, and then another NPC. The remaining player carried on and managed to kill the beholder before anyone else met a rocky end (saving the life of the last NPC in the process who was of absolutely no help whatsoever at all during the fight) and to their dismay the statues remained locked in stone. Now they have to get the three unfortunate souls back to town somehow or find a means to get them revived.
Hint: the spell “turn stone to flesh” is a sixth level wizard spell. The group has no wizard. They have a bard that can cast some spells, but they have been religiously skipping the game so that isn’t really an option. They know a drider, but don’t know how powerful it is and whether or not it can cast the spell. But they do know a very powerful wizard. He just happens to be undead. And evil. Mister Viceroy, a call for you on line two. Something about a lawn jockey.