Star Spawn

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Star Spawn refers to either of two groups of Monsters in Dungeons & Dragons, although precisely which group depends on the edition.

World Axis Star Spawn[edit]

The original Star Spawn appeared in Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. Here, they were intimately tied into one of the more Lovecraftian aspects of the World Axis cosmology; long story short, the World Axis is full of stars that are sapient creatures, strange cosmic aberrations who were mostly known for serving as patrons to Warlocks, with a list fleshed out heavily in the article "Wish Upon A Star" from Dragon Magazine #366, which also features the Student of Caiphon Paragon Path and the Radiant One Epic Destiny, both tied to these dark stars. The Starspawn, as their name suggests, are cosmic aberrations born from these stars - although it can also be used to refer to the aberrant stars themselves, as Allabar, Opener of the Way, is considered a "Starspawn" in his own right. These Starspawn were detailed in the Monster Manual 2 and 3.

In "Wish Upon A Star", only the following information is presented about the Star Spawn:

  • Acamar: Acamar is a corpse star whose motions and behemoth size send celestial objects that draw too close spiraling to their doom.
  • Caiphon: This purple star is usually on the horizon. It has the guise of a helpful guide star, but sometimes betrays those who rely upon it.
  • Delban: An ice-white star often visible only during winter, Delban might surprise the star-gazer with an impromptu flare during any season.
  • Gibbeth: Better not to write or think overlong on this greenish point in the sky.
  • Hadar: Hadar is the extinguished cinder of a star lurking within the cloaking nebula of Ihbar.
  • Ihbar: A dark nebula between stars, Ihbar is slowly expanding and eating the light of neighboring constellations.
  • Khirad: A piercing blue star, Khirad’s radiance sometimes reveals secrets and gruesome insights.
  • Nihal: Nihal is a reddish star that writhes around the position it should hold in the heavens.
  • Ulban: Ulban’s blue-white light disrupts cognition and the ability to recognize danger.
  • Zhudun: Another corpse star, Zhudun is historically described as shining a baleful light over the Ruined Realm of Cendriane in the Feywild before its fall.

Further information on Star Spawn was presented in the second and third Monster Manuals, whilst Ulban was fleshed out in Dragon #381 as a potential patron for a Star Pact Warlock. An article called "Strange Constellations" in Dragon #403 furthered the Star Spawn by converting several of the monsters from the 3e splatbook Elder Evils into Star Spawn; Atropus, Father Llymic, Pandorym, Ragnorra and The Worm That Walks. It was functionally a repeat of "Wish Upon A Star", with brief adaptations of the Elder Evils into the Star Spawn of the Elder Constellation in terms of lore, plus a warlock spell or two tied to each one.

Ulban, the Messenger[edit]

After crossing paradoxes of space and time, Ulban, self-proclaimed remnant from a thousand eons hence, arrives. Origin: Streaking across the night sky in a radiant flash, the comet Ulban has appeared throughout the centuries at times of great distress. With each passing, those sensitive to the power of the stars receive an opportunity to commune with the sentience bound within it. It reveals truths by opening one’s eyes to the greater reality and limitless scope of the universe, and potentially one’s pivotal place in it. Such listeners learn that Ulban is no mere comet; the Messenger exists outside space and time, and it is the last survivor of the universe’s final undoing. It searches for one it believes can alter its past, ensuring the survival of the cosmos. It claims that you, more than any other individual at any time, can direct the fate of the universe, saving everything that will ever exist from the atrophy of the Star Spawn.

Goals: Ulban’s appearance marks dark times ahead. It crosses the alignment of Allabar and other baleful celestial bodies when their influence is greatest, disrupting their machinations by instructing you in the use of the powers of warlock champions from its own time. Its mysterious knowledge drives you to instigate plots taking years to complete. These plots test the limits of morality by sending entire regions spiraling into chaos, uncovering secrets best left hidden, and confronting enemies without regard to moral motivations. All this, Ulban claims, shall avert disaster in coming eons.

Interaction: Ulban’s mission does not accommodate mortal frailty. Its directives are so forceful that they paralyze your mind. These episodes bombard you with unfathomable images from across time. After recovery, you have instantaneous understanding of new star magic and Ulban’s will as you watch the comet disappear into the night sky.

Communication: Contacting Ulban demands intricate astrological calculations that change with phases of the night sky or hostile meddling of the other stars.

Pact Boon: Ulban has foretold the felling of your last enemy and—as also foreseen—sends you brief glimpses of the doomed future, giving you insight into your next action.

Roleplaying: The comet’s revelations have left their mark on you. Can you still find meaning in familiar experiences? Do you go through life in nihilistic apathy, foretelling doom? Or do you accept Ulban’s pact because denying it would invite the death of the universe? With your knowledge you could protect countless innocents or philosophize with sages about the true nature of reality. What of Ulban itself? Do you fully trust it, or do you doubt its intentions? You can only guess who or what will benefit most from the manipulation of its past, but is ignoring its ominous predictions worth the risk?

Suggested Traits: Apathetic, bizarre, nervous, pessimistic, prophetic, truth-seeking, unreadable, unsettling

MM2 Star Spawn Lore[edit]

Warlocks and sages know that when one looks up at the stars, some stars glare back with hunger. When a star hangs in the correct position in the sky and its light strikes the world at precisely the right angle, the star spawn walk the world. Star spawn are utterly malevolent beings.

Dungeoneering DC 20: The star spawn are creatures sent by the baleful stars of the night sky, accursed celestial objects that gaze upon the world with a mixture of hatred, anger, and hunger. The spawn are the avatars of these stars, sent to wreak havoc. Some stars have only one spawn, but others manifest a multitude of creatures. The spawn of a particular star appear only once a year at most, but sometimes a spawn becomes trapped in the world and continues its depredations until slain.

Dungeoneering DC 25: Sometimes cults form around a star spawn. Some star spawn simply devour their worshipers, but others tolerate their presence and use them as allies. Warlocks who have the star pact flock to star spawn. Whether they serve, study, or slay them depends on a particular warlock’s goals and attitudes.

Dungeoneering DC 27: Star spawn are known to appear before great tribulations and at the convergence of unparalleled levels of power. During great wars, battles between divine beings, and the preparation of mighty rituals, the spawn appear across the land. The star called Allabar, a wandering object known as the Opener of the Way, courses across the sky, causing the spawn of any stars it nears to manifest upon the world. Some believe that Allabar is a trickster star that merely spreads havoc between the world and its kin. Others claim that Allabar itself is the greatest of the stars, a strange being from beyond the world, manipulating the other stars to its own end. What that end could be, and the role played by the star spawn, none as yet can guess. Before his disappearance, the warlock Thulzar claimed that he had successfully charted the incursions of all star spawn since the fall of Bael Turath. His research showed an emerging pattern, but he, his tower, and all his works simply vanished one starless night, leaving behind only a smooth, glass-coated crater.

Herald of Hadar

Hadar's dull red glow is barely visible in the night sky, as the star slowly burns down into a lifeless, dead cinder. According to the Revelations of Melech, Hadar was once the brightest star in the sky, but during the calamities that led to the fall of Bael Turath, it surged into a searing brand of light and then faded into a blood-red ember. Hadar now hangs on the edge of annihilation. A herald of Hadar is an avatar of Hadar’s dying gasps, a fiendish monster that grows stronger in the presence of living creatures.

Dungeoneering DC 18: A herald of Hadar is spawned by its namesake, a dying ember of a star. The herald feasts on life energy, channeling it back to its creator in an effort to avert its demise.

Maw of Acamar

The star Acamar is a corpse star, a dead star of utter inky nothingness that devours other stars that draw too close. The maw of Acamar is that star’s hunger made real, an avatar of devastation that eats everything in its path.

In battle, the maw of Acamar strides amid its foes, relying on the powerful magic that surges from its form to drag victims to their doom. Winds howl as Acamar draws the very air around the maw into itself. Creatures slain by the maw are ripped apart and dragged away to disappear into Acamar’s endless darkness. The maws are deadlier still when encountered in numbers; they crowd around a foe and tear him in half as they pull him in several directions at once.

Dungeoneering DC 18: A maw of Acamar enters the world when the dark influence of the star Acamar is at its peak. The maw wanders the world, pulling living creatures into its destructive void to feed Acamar, a dead star wracked by endless hunger.

Scion of Gibbeth

Gibbeth is a cursed green star, said to have at its core an utterly unknowable being. Warlocks and other arcane users say that Gibbeth shall show its face only at the end of the world, when the very glare of its eyes and the monstrous aspect of its being pushes all of creation into inescapable madness. The scion of Gibbeth is a terrible shard of that green star, a herald of Gibbeth’s curse and a forerunner of what might come.

When the scion appears, no two observers can agree on its actual appearance. Some see a green-skinned, horned giant, while others report a red, spider-like creature with a child’s face or a serpentine monstrosity with dozens of gibbering mouths along its body. Sages maintain that this outer appearance is merely an aspect projected by the shard that dwells within the scion. The mental strain of seeing even a shadow of Gibbeth’s essence is such that mortal minds must conjure knowable, though strange, images to contain it. Anyone who sees the scion’s true form is doomed to madness.

Dungeoneering DC 20: A scion of Gibbeth wanders the world seemingly at random. Prophets, the insane, and cultists are drawn to its presence. The scion typically lashes out at any living creature that draws near, but it tolerates these worshipers.

Dungeoneering DC 25: The scion of Gibbeth manifests in the world when Gibbeth is in conjunction with the star Allabar, a celestial object known as the Opener of the Way. Allabar wanders the sky in a pattern unlike that of any other star. It follows a seemingly random path, and when it draws near one of the baleful stars, that star’s spawn appear in the world. The wandering star avoids only Acamar, because that object’s hunger is so great that it would destroy even the star that would open its path to the world.

MM3 Star Spawn Lore[edit]

Distant stars glimmer in the reaches of the cosmos, portending the advent of sinister creatures, the culmination of dark conspiracies, and the occurrence of catastrophes. In the world, a green star flares brightly in the night, watched only by cloistered scholars and mad warlocks. With the sound of a thousand screams, a rift tears through the fabric of reality, releasing an aberrant monstrosity into the world. It surveys the surroundings and spots the glimmer of lantern light from a nearby farm. The creature then creeps forward, advancing on its target.

Star spawn come in all shapes and sizes, but most bear a semblance of humanoid features. The stars are their only masters. Although nihilistic cultists offer frenzied petitions to star spawn, the creatures follow their own ambitions. Warped by proximity to the Far Realm, the creatures have a purpose incomprehensible to even the most unbalanced humanoids.

Regardless, one can be sure that the appearance of a star spawn is a harbinger of terrible things to come.

Dungeoneering DC 33: Before his disappearance, the warlock Thulzar posed a question to the scholars and philosophers of the world. “Why do some stars hate the world?” he asked. None could answer the question, because the stars and their spawn have remained quiescent about what motivates their loathing. A silent war has persisted between the stars and the world for millennia. Sometimes called the Forgotten War, owing to the subtlety of the conflict compared to the Dawn War, this battle is more significant than most believe. Star spawn are the stars’ soldiers in this battle, and through these creatures’ influence in the world, the stars seek to unravel civilization—and, ultimately, life. With the aid of powerful looking-glasses, a few warlocks have dared to search the deepest parts of the sky for the answer to Thulzar’s question. Those who have retained their sanity—who have seen the place where the Far Realm meets the oblivion of space—have seen dark, sinister creatures stirring. Forgotten by the gods and the primordials, these malevolent creatures wait for something. They watch as Allabar, Opener of the Way, glides patiently across the sky, inciting the stars to war.

When a star spawn descends from the sky, it has no allies. Soon after, it might have an entire cult or town under its thrall. A spawn such as an emissary of Caiphon might disguise its form to insinuate itself within a town, gaining powerful allies there. Because star spawn seek to cause chaos and destruction, they find allies among demons, tulgars, undead, elementals, beholders, mind flayers, and aboleths. Whether they are leaders or servants to such creatures, the spawn hold no allegiance to their allies; whether those creatures live or die is of little concern. Self-interest and the interest of the star it represents is a star spawn’s only motivation.

Spawn of Ulban

A bolt of blue fire comes streaking down from the cosmos, racing across the night sky above a peaceful kingdom. The kingdom’s citizens look on with awe, yet soon they see the significance of the event. Rebellions spring up in the realm’s borders, and soothsayers cannot sense the future or provide guidance to the kingdom’s leaders.

The spawn of Ulban is a cunning star spawn whose presence upsets creatures’ ability to distinguish friend from foe. A spawn of Ulban assures itself a place of security while it undermines those around it. Foes must fight their way through traps and lackeys before they can confront one of these creatures. Even then, the spawn is a nimble combatant. For these reasons, a spawn of Ulban makes an excellent villain or villain’s sidekick

Emissary of Caiphon

Caiphon lurks on the horizon and watches the world day and night. With each passing year, it bides its time, providing guidance. As times grow hard and a community is beset by famine, plague, or oppression, Caiphon grows bright, as if to remind people of its reassuring presence. When prayers to gods fail, people offer whispered pleas to the star for help. And Caiphon listens. When their calls grow loud enough, Caiphon sends one of its emissaries. A stranger might arrive in town one day, offering hints for how the people might end their suffering: The stranger subtly suggests that because the lord of the town hasn’t been afflicted by the plague yet, perhaps he has a cure. Soon, those who whispered pleas to Caiphon lie strewn across a vacant battlefield or at the walls of a fortress, victims of a desperate revolt they staged at the suggestion of the stranger.

An emissary of Caiphon magically disguises itself as a humanoid while it works to bring about the downfall of those around it. The creature operates covertly within a society, studying its inhabitants and learning their weaknesses. Thus, when one confronts an emissary of Caiphon, the creature already knows a good deal about its enemies. An emissary might jeer during combat to incite its foes to be reckless, or it perhaps has gathered allies that are resistant to the types of attacks its enemies make.

Serpent of Nihal

The dreaded serpents of Nihal have long held a place of infamy in the annals of history. The jungle nation of Az-Kiral once had a mighty presence in the world due to backing from Zehir and his snaketongue cultists and yuan-ti. The leaders of the nation sought more power than Zehir alone could offer, and they began to search the stars for a force that would help them grow their nation into an empire. They found their solution in the form of Nihal, sometimes called the Serpent Star because of its slithering route across the sky. They created a portal to the star, and through it they brought serpents made of star-stuff into the world. Nihal had different plans, though, and the onslaught of serpents consumed the nation’s inhabitants, leaving its cities desolate. The dreaded serpents still wander the jungles of the cosmos, swallowing any prey they find, feeding Nihal’s unceasing hunger.

Where one serpent of Nihal is present, more lurk nearby. A serpent blinks in and out of reality, so in combat, a group of them might appear initially, only to be followed by more and more as the first round unfolds. A serpent on its own acts at the behest of Nihal. A powerful master might control a group of serpents, sending a slithering mass against its foes.

Allabar, Opener of the Way

As it wanders the sky, Allabar seeks to fulfill a dire vision of the cosmos. A few stars are not confined to stationary positions, bound to watch distant worlds and exert minimal influence. Allabar is one such star, and it has used its mobility to generate strife between the creatures of the stars and those of the world. In the early days of creation, the primordials created Allabar as a planet like the mortal world. The gods noticed the primordials’ new creation and experimented with it, attempting to create a thinking, living planet. The gods managed to ignite a spark of life within the planet, but they feared the power that their creation possessed. Thus, they cast away the planet, Allabar, into the Far Realm.

In the Far Realm, Allabar was warped in body and mind, so when it returned to the cosmos millennia later, it came full of cunning and malevolence. In the intervening years, Allabar has instigated the stars’ hatred of the world. It has used its power to help create star spawn and transport them into the world to sow chaos. Its ultimate goal might be nothing short of the world’s destruction, or it might plot something more sinister—perhaps to transform the world into a perverted semblance of life, much like itself.

Allabar is intelligent and cunning, so it tries to fight on its own terms. Allabar works to keep its foes close so that when they inevitably die, it can absorb them into its fleshy bulk. When Allabar is bloodied and senses that its enemies pose a true threat, it sprouts more tentacles and enters into a flurry of attacks.

The Elder Constellation[edit]

Atropus, the World Born Dead, drifts through the gulfs of space, searching for worlds to consume. When it finds a world, it erases all life from it with a single gruesome touch. As the afterbirth of creation, this entity is committed to unmaking all things. Nothing, not even the gods, can halt the relentless progress of Atropus.

A mote of alien thought given form and flesh, Father Llymic dwells in an icy prison, awaiting a time when the world will be right for his arrival. As his age of freezing darkness draws near, his brood begins to appear, stalking the wastes in preparation for his reign. If he is released from his prison, he will cover the entire world with a deadly glacier and remove the world from light and hope for all time.

Pandorym personifies the emotionless void of utter annihilation. Though imprisoned millennia ago, a future era will see its release. The god-slaying weapon awaits the arrival of a being powerful enough to reunite its awesome mind with its potent body. Pandorym seeks freedom, and thereafter it intends to bring about the extinction of every god in the cosmos.

Ragnorra, Mother of Monsters, is a primeval source of corrupted life. Bloated, hideous, and filled with a terrible love for her children, this entity waits at the end of time to gather all her fell offspring back to her awful bosom.

The Worm That Walks is a sentient tear in reality through which one can see a swarming mass of maggots and worms that goes on forever. The light from this star is green, and it writhes eternally. Nihal is brother to the Worm, or rather, they are aspects of the same entity as seen from different ends of time.

All of these previously appeared in the book Elder Evils.

5E Starspawn monsters[edit]

In Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, Starspawn is used as a new grouping for various Lovecraftian monsters, mostly edition upgrades of the Foulspawn and a handful of new faces, such as the D&D Worm That Walks. Statted Star Spawn in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes consist of the Grue (a spindly, ghoulish humanoid, weakest of its ilk), the Hulk (a skinless, ogre-like brute), the Larva Mage (aka the Worm That Walks), the Mangler (a many-armed horror that slithers along the ground), and the Seer (a distorted humanoid form that acts like a parody of a cleric), the Emissary (an amalgam shapeshifting mastermind). They are the creations of the Elder Evils. A few of the Starspawn from 4th edition have had cameo appearances in 5e, including some appearing as Vestiges in Curse of Strahd's amber temple.