Gaze Attacks

Monsters with a gaze attack, such as the basilisk, have the power to affect an opponent simply by making eye contact. This makes these creatures incredibly dangerous, for the slightest glance can cause great harm.

Characters who look directly at such creatures to attack them, or those who are surprised by the creature, automatically meet the creature's gaze. These unfortunate characters must make the appropriate saving throw or suffer the effects of the creature's attack. Such attackers undergo the gaze attack each round they attack. In large groups, only the front rank can meet the gaze, a fate that can be avoided if the attacker approaches from the rear, where the creature cannot see.

Characters can also attempt to avoid the gaze by looking in the general direction of the creature without actually looking into its eyes. This enables characters to see the target well enough to fight normally without falling victim to its power. However, there is a 20% chance each round that an attacker trying this trick will accidentally meet the gaze of the creature.

Finally, a character can completely avert his gaze or close his eyes when attacking the creature, preventing any chance of meeting the creature's gaze. This is like fighting in the dark, and the character suffers all the normal penalties for fighting while blinded.

Safer than all of these methods is to use some type of reflective surface--a mirror or highly polished shield is very handy. The powers of gaze attacks are not effective in reflections, so it is safe to observe a basilisk or medusa in a mirror.

For this trick to be effective, there must be some source of light available, since nothing can be reflected in darkness. Also, characters should be reminded that using a mirror can be disorienting. The character must back toward his target, holding the mirror in his shield arm. He suffers a -2 penalty to his chance to hit and does not gain the benefits of his shield or his Armor Class bonus for Dexterity when the creature attacks him.

Creatures with gaze attacks can choose not to use their power. In this case, it is the creature that avoids looking at the characters. Not meeting their gaze, it can't affect them. Creatures intelligent enough to parley may do this on occasion.

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