Gazers

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Gazers
Classical Gazer
Gazer, from Ultima VII manual
Also known as: "Wandering Eyes" (in Ultima I)
First appearance: Ultima I
Last appearance: Ultima IX

Gazers are a strange, but intelligent species of magic-using creatures which are named and noted for their numerous eyes.

Description[edit]

"Wandering Eyes" from the FM-Towns port of Ultima I.

Gazers' bodies are composed of a large, hovering orb with a central eye attached to it. From this node, five stalks radiate outwards - each with a smaller eye on its tip. With this preponderance of sensory organs, little escapes a gazer's attention, although the eyes serve a double-purpose, each one allowing the gazer to enact a different variety magical power. Sleep spells, charms and magical paralysis are among these creatures' preferred techniques to attack their victims. They are also capable of dealing direct physical damage to their quarry by means of blinking their central eye or twisting one of their stalks. By some bizarre mechanism yet unexplained, gazers bodies transmute into swarms of stinging insects when slain.

A gazer (Ultima V, caves)

Gazers can be found in the dungeons and wilderness of Britannia, although in early Sosarian history they appeared as a solely subterranean race, known at the time as "Wandering Eyes." They have often been seen in the company of ettins, headless and zorn, although their exact relations to these other breeds of monsters are not known.

While it is evident from their magical prowess, that gazers are sapient and likely of high intellect, nearly nothing is known about gazer culture. The cyclopean hero, Iskander Ironheart, is noted for slaying seven gazer "princes," although it is unknown if this title is one that the gazers have given their own or if it is an appellation contrived by the cyclopes. Later writings hint at the notion that gazers have an extremely insular society,[1] a claim that meshes with Terran writings regarding similar creatures. It is probable that such isolationism combined with their hostility has made them difficult people to fathom.

Lore[edit]

Wandering-eyes.gif
Many a dungeon seeker hath been startled to enter a darkened chamber and be greeted by a number of eyes staring out of the murky blackness. Stare not long, for the Wandering Eyes weave a hypnotic spell that entrances even the most strong-willed and leaves one helpless before the magical onslaught that inevitably follows mesmerization.
These hypnotic creatures snare their prey by putting them to sleep. The deep forests are the favorite habitat of these evil, floating eyes.
Giant, magical floating eyes, gazers mesmerize their foes, turning them against each other. They make up for their weak, clumsy physique with strong intelligence and a fairly good constitution.
Gazer6.gif
How this monstrosity evolved is anybody's guess, for gazers are among the most unusual creatures found in the realm. They are usually spotted hovering above the ground in dungeons, searching for creatures they can mesmerize with their multiple eyes. One experienced adventurer claims that gazers emit a strange buzzing sound as they move about. Remain alert when you suspect the presence of a gazer, as it is constantly on the alert for prey.
Surely this creature was created by sorcerous means, for no natural law could have given birth to a beast this monstrous. Gazers float through the corridors of our chasm, and with their many eyeballs are quick to spot intruders into their domain. Do not underestimate the fearsomeness of this obstacle, as a Gazer's attack - noted by the wink of its great central eye, or the twist of an eye stalk - cuts as deep as a sword thrust, and this beast seldom misses its mark.
Gazer2.gif
This strange creature is found mostly in dungeons. It hovers about, looking for victims to mesmerize with its multiple eyes. Upon being killed, the body of a gazer will break up into a tiny swarming colony of insects.
These many-eyed floating spheres are the product of some perverse wizard's madness, or perhaps genius, given that once created the gazers proved well-adapted to the subterranean environment, and have multiplied in profusion. No one knows what they eat, or whether they are intelligent. Some have been observed using magic, but we cannot tell whether this is a learned skill among them, or some sort of innate ability.
Gazer3.gif
Hovering orbs of flesh, gazers seem to spend all their time in search of prey Their name comes from their multiple eyes, all but their central eye extending from tentacle-like arms. Having faced one in battle, I can report that a gazer's death results in an explosion of swarming insects.
Beware of the frightful creature that never blinks. The magical gazer is never surprised, for its floating body is guarded by six eyes. Each eye carries in it a type of magic which the gazer can project as desired. It is a singularly difficult foe, as one never knows the next form of attack. Although highly intelligent and capable of language, these creatures prefer their own company and through violence seek to maintain it. The origin of these magical creatures is unknown. It is believed they reproduce without mates.
- from Journal (Ultima IX)

Trivia[edit]

  • Gazers are almost certainly derived from the "beholders" of the table-top role playing game, Dungeons & Dragons. The beholder first appeared in the Greyhawk supplement for the game in 1974, and is described similarly to the gazers of Ultima. Like gazers, beholders are beings comprised of a large eye-stalk-bearing orb, with each stalk connected to some manner of magical attack. They are also noted for their xenophobia, a trait only hinted at regarding gazer society in Ultima IX.[2]
  • In the SNES Port of Ultima VII, gazers had the ability to paralyze their victims from a distance.
  • In Ultima IX the design for gazers departed dramatically from previous incarnations, with several of the creatures' eyes no longer shown as being physically attached to their body
  • Gazers were to be included in the canceled Ultima X, along with the sub-species previously seen in Ultima VIII - the seekers. For more information see: Planned Monsters for Ultima X: Gazer and Planned Monsters for Ultima X: Seeker
  • According to Richard Garriott, gazers were made to contain insects for two reasons: First, to help rationalize their ability to fly, and also to make monster encounters more interesting by swarming the player upon a gazer's death.[3]
  • The habit of gazers transforming into a swarm of insects upon death is inconsistent, with the creature not possessing this trait prior to Ultima V, in the Underworld series, or in Ultima IX.

See Also[edit]

Ultima IX Gazer Concept Art

References[edit]

  1. Mueller, Tonda. "Beastiary". Journal (Ultima IX). Origin Systems, Inc.: 1999. Page 46.
  2.  "Beholder". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
  3.  "Ultima Dragons Internet Chapter -==(UDIC)==-". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-05-09.