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Star Spawn made their debut in the Monster Manual 2 along with a pretty awesome chunk of lore that’s also tied to star pact warlocks and the Far Realm. You can see it all on the link. This entry adds a bit more lore, new star spawn, and a surprise epic boss!
The lore in this entry confirms some of the most terrible questions we had in the MM2. Yes, if you travel far enough in space you do end up in the Far Realm. Yes, there are things watching across this divide, and some of them are perceived by the people of the middle world as stars. And yes, some of them have hostile designs upon the world.
Allabar, the Opener of the Way, is one of these, and it travels across the universe inciting its fellow stars to send their spawn into the world. Its wanderings are not random, but filled with terrible purpose. Some warlocks claim Allabar and its allies are at war with the world itself, and they call this the Forgotten War because it’s much less noticeable than the Dawn War was but no less significant.
The star spawn presented here are all mid-to-high epic tier threats, making them a lot stronger than the paragon-tier spawn from the MM2. All of them have the aberrant origin and possess darkvision, but the specifics vary a lot between individual stat blocks.
Spawn of Ulban
Ulban is a blue-white star whose intense glow affects mortal minds, disrupting their cognition and robbing them of the ability to recognize danger. Ulban’s influence starts ill-thought rebellions and prevents divinations of any sort from working. Its spawn fall to the earth as meteors, and their presence makes mortals unable to distinguish friend from foe. They also break the “no tentacles” streak for this type of monster, as you can see in the illustration.
Spawn of Ulban are Medium Aberrant Humanoids, and Level 26 Controllers with 241 HP. They have a speed of 8. They’re immune to domination, and every time they’re iht by a power that would dominate them, they dominate the attacker instead! And this is a (save ends) condition even if the one from the attack wasn’t.
The spawn’s basic attack is the Bluefire Strike (vs. Reflex), which causes both cold and fire damage, and dazes for a turn. It can also use a Touch of Strife (vs. Will) instead, dealing psychic damage and forcing the target to make a melee or ranged basic attack against a creature of the spawn’s choice. When it hits with either of these attacks, it can apply a Psychic Boost as a free action, dealing an extra chunk of psychic damage. This recharges every time the spawn takes psychic damage, so while it’s not resistant to this damage type you still don’t want to use it against the spawn.
Less often, the spawn can produce a Ripple of Betrayal (close burst 1 vs. Will, recharge 5+) which deals psychic damage and dominates those it hits (save ends).
As a minor action, the spawn can use Far Realm Reflection to form an eldritch bond with a creature it can see. Whenever that creature shifts, the spawn can immediately shift an equal number of squares. This lasts until the end of the encounter, or until the spawn switches targets by using the power again. An excellent power to use on an ally that can shift long distances, or even on a PC that can do the same.
The Spawn of Ulban wants to get in close and stay there, since its attacks are all melee or close bursts. It’s extremely effective against parties with lots of psionic PCs, or against those that have lots of Essentials martial characters. The best way to fight it is to keep your distance and hit it with non-psychic, non-dominating attacks.
Emissary of Caiphon
Caiphon is a purple star that can always be found near the horizon, sometimes even during the day. It presents itself as a helpful guide star, but will sometimes betray those who rely on it, leading them down tragic paths.
The Emissary of Caiphon is often employed in these betrayals. It’s the most human-looking of all star spawn, and it mimics the tactics of its patrons by posing as a guide or a prophet. Its “wise and helpful” advice usually leads to a lot suffering and death.
The Emissary is a Medium Aberrant Humanoid, and a Level 28 Controller with the Leader tag and 257 HP. It projects an Aura of Ruin (2) that inflicts a -2 penalty to saves, and whenever it’s hit by an attack that would blind it, it blinds the attacker instead (save ends).
Nearly all of the Emissary’s powers mess with the saving throw mechanic, but it lacks the ability to inflict (save ends) conditions by itself. Be sure to pair it with plenty of monsters who can do that!
Its basic attack is a Touch of Despair that deals light physical damage and inflicts an extra 20 damage the first time the target fails a save before the start of the emissary next turn. It’s nifty, but it’s for emercencies only. The creature prefers to stay far away and use its ranged attacks.
Blinded By Greed (ranged 10 vs. Will) deals light psychic damage, slides the target 2 squares, and forces them to make a melee basic attack against a target of the emissary’s choice (“Give me that! It’s mine!”).
Blinded By Need (ranged 10 vs. Will) deals standard psychic damage, and allows the emissary to choose one of the target’s allies. For the next turn, the target is marked by that ally, and everyone except the chosen ally is invisible to the target. This doesn’t force the target and the ally to fight each other, but it makes it hard for either of them to do anything else.
As minor actions, the emissary can use Deceptive Veil to disguise itself as a Medium or Small humanoid, with a DC 40 for people to see through the illusion. It can also target someone with an Invocation of Calamity (ranged 5 vs. Will), which on a hit makes the target fail all of their saves during the next turn.
For triggered actions, it has the same Psionic Boost as the Spawn of Ulban, this time applying to tis Blinded By Need/Greed powers. And when it dies, Foretelling the Doom targets an enemy suffering from a (save ends) condition and inflicts a -5 penalty on all saves against it until one succeeds.
Serpent of Nihal
Nihal, the Serpent Star, is a reddish celestial body that can’t stay still. It travels a random snaking route around the point it was supposed to occupy in the sky according to all standard calculations. That’s why it received this epithet.
The Serpents of Nihal first came through the world shortly before the fall of the ancient empire of Az-Kiral, which dedicated itself to the worship of Zehir. Its leaders grew ever more ambitious and soon they craved more power than the snake god was willing to offer. So they sought out a new source of Snek Power, and found it in Nihal. They opened a portal to the star thinking they would be able to access this power. What happened instead was that countless Serpents of Nihal poured through, and destroyed the empire in a matter of days. They still wander the known cosmos today, and I guess sometimes Allabar opens new rifts to let more through.
Serpents are Medium Aberrant Beasts, and Level 29 Minion Lurkers with a ground speed of 7. They’re only partially present in reality, and keep blinking in and out.
This means that, despite being minions, they have Resist 20 to all damage. Yes, even untyped. You need to deal 21 or more damage with one strike to take them out. It’s not that hard for late epic PCs, but it’s also not 100% guaranteed, so they have more staying power than your typical minion.
Serpents attack with mindbites, which deal psychic damage and can interfere with concentration and psionic power usage: if 2 or more of the serpent’s allies are adjacent to the target, the bite deals extra damage and prevents the target from spending action points or power points (save ends).
If an enemy misses the serpent, it can Depart Reality, removing itself from play for a turn an re-appearing in adjacent to an enemy within 20 squares of its original location. It can also do this exact same thing when it rolls initiative with the Sudden Reality Warp ability.
Allabar, Opener of the Way
Yup, you read that right. This is not a star spawn, it’s a star. Allabar is here to serve as the end boss for a campaign focused on the Forgotten War, which would likely feature the PCs facing and unraveling the plans of increasingly powerful aberrant creatures and star spawn until Allabar itself decides to personally kill them. As the lore implies, Allabar is not the only eldritch star who wants to mess with the world, but it’s the most consciously malicious one and it acts as instigator and enabler to the others. Eliminating Allabar would effectively end the threat posed by its fellows and their respective star spawn.
Putting the lore in astronomical terms would make Allabar similar to a rogue planet, a planet without a star that moves across the universe. The similarity is only superficial, of course, because pretty much nothing else about the Opener of the Way is in any way scientific.
Allabar is presented here as a Gargantuan Aberrant Animate. Those who feel even Gargantuan is too small for a planetary entity might instead say this is an avatar of Allabar, the thing it sends through a portal to personally fight the PCs. When it dies, the star winks out from the sky. Or you can take a page from Atropus in Elder Evils, and have the actual body of Allabar be the dungeon/battlefield on which you fight its avatar.
Anyway, Allabar is a Level 30 Solo Soldier with 1100 HP. It has ground and flight speeds of 6, with Hover. As a planet, it projects a Gravity Well that acts as a 20-square wide aura. This plus its Gargantuan size pretty much mean it covers the entire battle map. Anyone who starts their turn inside the field gets pulled a variable number of squares depending on how much HP Allabar currently has. It starts at 1 square, and doubles for every 25% of its HP that are missing (at 25% or less total HP, it’s 8 squares).
Being covered with eyes, Allabar has All-Around Vision, and can’t be flanked. Its Bloodied Fury also gives it an extra standard action per turn while it’s bloodied, even when it’s dazed.
In combat, the Opener of the Way projects Reach 4 Tentacles to attack, which deal light physical damage and restrain for a turn on a hit. It can use them in a Triple Attack to strike three times in a standard action, and it can enhance a tentacle attack with a Psionic Boost similar to that of the star spawn in this entry. Aside from the boost recharging when Allabar takes psychic damage, it also recharges when the star succeeds with its Devour Body attack. This Close Burst 1 vs. Fortitude targets creatures who are at 0 HP or lower. On a hit, it kills the target and pulls it inside Allabar. It can target dead allies, but it’s also excellent for making PCs exercise those “when you die” abilities they surely have by now.
Another very interesting attack is Wrath of the Forsaken World (close blast 5 vs. Fortitude, recharge 5+), which deals psychic damage and causes each target to sprout a hostile tentacle (save ends). While the tentacle is there, it deals an automatic 20 damage to any target that ends their turn within 2 squares of the victim.
As a minor action, you know, no big deal, the Opener can use Unravel Essence (melee 4 vs. Fortitude), which inflicts 20 ongoing damage on a hit (save ends). On the first failed save, this increases to 25. On the second, the target also becomes weakened and insubstantial. On the third, the target drops to 0 HP if its HP was still positive. A successful save at any point halts the process and clears all related conditions. This recharges whenever there are no creatures affected by it.
And finally, when someone hits Allabar with an attack, it can cause Psychic Feedback as a reaction, automatically dazing the attacker (save ends).
Allabar is very intelligent and will work to maximize its advantages, abusing its flight and superior reach, and focusing fire make them drop to 0 HP quickly so they can be devoured. And if your level 30 PCs are cocky because this end boss is “only” level 30, add a few Emissaries of Caiphon to make it impossible for them to pass the many saves imposed by the Opener of the Way.
The awesome continues! This entry does return to the old standby of “tentacles”, but the monsters are still pretty evocative and their mechanics interesting. Allabar reminds me of Atropus, from Elder Evils, but it’s has more of an aberrant/psychic theme instead of Atropus’ undead/necrotic leanings.
The Opener of the Way is the fourth and last epic boss to be found in this book. The previous ones were Imix, Lolth, and Ogrémoch.