An encounter in the crater of a fallen star, including a location, three magic items, and three otherworldly creatures with stat blocks for use in D&D 5E.
A light falls from the night sky, drawing the curiosity of everyone in town as it streaks through the darkness and crashes in the distant fields. Naturally, it takes only moments for curiosities, rumors, and questionable stories of otherworldly visitors to erupt. The distance from town and the dangers along the way are the only things preventing an assembly of ale-sodden farmers from marching their way to the impact site in the dead of night.
This changes when the sun rises and the rest of the town is awoken by the gathering of what one could, with some embellishment, call a militia. The gravel path outside the town’s sole tavern bustles with excited townsfolk, exchanging ill-advised plans with pitchforks in hand. It is the town mayor that stands alone in his apprehension. Recognizing his constituents’ overestimation of their own abilities and knowing that he can only delay, but not dissuade, them, he turns to the only people who might be able to aid the situation: the recently-arrived adventuring party.
The overzealous farmers cannot be stopped but the way before them can be cleared. The mayor offers what gold he can for the adventurers to press on ahead and secure the site, promising more if the task does prove to be dangerous. Of course, whatever the group finds out in the fields may also prove to be valuable, and they are welcome to their share of the spoils.
The Fallen Star
The night is calm and crisp, and would be peaceful were it not for the sight before you: a cluster of craters disrupting the grassy fields, blasted open by crystals that now shine white against the blackness of the night. Lines of loudly hissing energy run outwards from the largest, central impact. But stranger still is the atmosphere of the site. Your skin prickles with static wherever the light touches you. There is no wind, yet the grass sways rhythmically like submerged seaweed. Above you, the stars shudder and blink, seeming to draw closer the longer you stare, as if descending to join their fallen fellow.
Though the surrounding fields are clear, uninterrupted grassland, the strange energy is affecting the immediate proximity of the craters. This presents as chaotic disruptions to space and time and, when sensing nearby creatures, also brings forth the starfallen.
Previous studies. The craters are littered with the remains of other creatures that have fallen prey to the starfallen’s studies. A character that sifts through the dirt or that succeeds on a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check with the craters in sight notices scattered bones. Those bones are all that remains, suggesting that they have been there for a great deal of time, yet they are all intact and undamaged by the star’s fall. The character can make a DC 14 Wisdom (Medicine) or Intelligence (Nature) check to identify the bones as those of local wildlife.
A character that looks over the bones and that is aware of the abilities of the starfallen can make a DC 13 Intelligence (Investigation) check to deduce that the remains are, in fact, recent, but were affected by the time distortions of the star and starfallen.
Reality distortion. Once the crystal is alerted to the proximity of living creatures and combat with the starfallen begins, its otherworldly aura’s distortion effects intensify. This aura extends in a radius of 60 feet around the central crystal and 30 feet around each of its shards. Its effect is volatile and changes frequently but has no effect on the starfallen that the crystal spawns.
On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), roll a d10 and consult the table below to determine the aura’s effect:
|1-2||Zero gravity. Creatures within the area must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be lifted 5 feet into the air and suspended as if affected by the levitate spell until initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties) of the next round.|
|3-4||Explosion stars. Six balls of energy spark in random locations within the light’s area before all bursting in 10-foot radius explosions. Creatures caught in an explosion must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or take 4 (1d8) force damage and be pushed 10 feet away. On a successful saving throw, the creature takes half as much damage and is not pushed.|
|5-6||Psychic scrutiny. Creatures within the area must succeed on a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or take 4 (1d8) psychic damage and have disadvantage on their next attack roll made before the end of their next turn. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the creature is stunned until initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties) of the next round.|
|7-8||Implosion stars. Six balls of energy spark in random locations within the light’s area before all collapsing in 10-foot radius implosions. Creatures caught in an implosion must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or take 4 (1d8) force damage and be pulled up to 10 feet towards the center of the implosion. On a successful saving throw, the creature takes half as much damage and is not pulled.|
|9-10||Enhanced gravity. Creatures within the area must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the creature’s speed is halved, it has disadvantage on Strength and Dexterity checks and saving throws, and its ranged weapon attacks automatically miss a target beyond the weapon’s normal range. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the creature is also knocked prone. This effect lasts until initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties) of the next round.|
The starfallen consist of most of the star’s energy and their defeat sees the crystal’s power diminish and its effects end. The violent sparks dissipate and leave only softly glowing cracks in the ground, and the meteorite shards themselves become safe to touch. A character that inspects the stones is unable to recognize the material as anything they have previously encountered or know of. If the character succeeds on a DC 14 Intelligence (Arcana) check, they surmise that the crystals’ residual energy is similar enough to magic that it could perhaps be used in the enchantment of a weapon or other item.
Map & Asset Downloads
The starfallen are inspired by our recent Fallen Star battle map but would also work perfectly for the Glowing Crater and other, similar locations. We even have a previous encounter for the crater, inspired by ‘The Colour Out of Space’, which you can find here!
The light flashes again with a loud zap, sending sparks across the dirt and grass. But something gives you pause this time. In the flaring light, for just a moment, you feel the gaze of something watching you. You turn to face the glare and see a ribbon of the energy snaking upwards and outwards, branches extending. They twitch, continuing to pulse and grow. As it begins to take shape, resembling a diagram of the nervous system of an unknown creature, several other flares of energy burst around the craters.
The creatures that step forth from the energy of the star present as approximations of whatever its light has touched. Without a full understanding of what they replicate, these guesses can only reach out in further curiosity. But their learning comes at the cost of the very reality around them. Space bends, time falters, and living creatures are consumed.
The starfallen, whatever their origin may be, are the definition of alien. They cannot speak or communicate and do not interact with the laws of the world in the same way that other creatures do. As such, descriptions of their movement and actions should emphasize this strangeness and the way it affects everything around them. This requires some aspects to be vague or difficult to picture, leaving some interpretation to the characters themselves, but this can actually help to enhance the bizarre nature of the encounter. The party walking away, successful but unable to exactly explain or even agree on what they faced, is a perfect outcome for the starfallen and the abnormal atmosphere of the fallen star.
The shimmering tendrils fill a humanoid outline. It hovers above the ground, its lower half a branching tail of energy and shoulders dividing into multiple arms, the number of which changes each time the light pulses. Its body jerks and shudders as it begins to move, as if rapidly accelerating, slowing, then accelerating again.
The starfallen didact is the leader and coordinator of any group of starfallen. Its purpose is to fly safely above the battlefield and support those around it by manipulating the flow of time itself. The didact is able to accelerate the movement of its allies or slow whatever they are facing, giving the empiricists and venators all the time they need to carry out their work.
The didact’s Temporal Bolt is based on the slow spell, with the impact on spellcasting shaved off to mitigate the complexity of tracking its effects. While the didact can use this attack frequently, it can only affect a maximum of two targets in a shorter range than the spell and for a shorter duration. Accelerate Ally is similar but is instead based on the haste spell. The spell’s limitations on its additional action were not added to Accelerate Ally’s description, as the didact only targets its accompanying empiricists and venators, neither of which have a multiattack.
What begins as the energized shape of a man then drops, its arms stretching to meet the ground and neck bulging into a hunch. Antler-like branches grow upwards from its head, twitching and feeling at the air.
The empiricist acts as a field researcher, breaking down the components of whatever it finds in order to understand them. Its form mimics the creatures it has studied. In combat, the empiricist briefly mimics whatever it discovers in its target, enhancing its own body to gain an even greater understanding.
A long but thin, snaking body forms from the light, extending and contracting in size. At what can only be its front is the silhouette of a snouted head, with two arms protruding from just beyond it. They claw at the ground as if the creature is only just discovering its limbs, yet it moves eagerly like a hound in search of prey.
The venator is the forward scout and hunting hound of the starfallen. It is swifter and stronger than its compatriots but lacks their mental acuity, making up for it with the ability to bend pockets of space in its vicinity. The venator uses this to quickly close in on its target or to shield itself or other starfallen against an incoming attack.
A skilled enough craftsman, if provided with pieces of the fallen star, can work the crystals and their remaining energy into certain pieces of gear. This enchants the items with abilities similar to the effects seen in the impact site. Though these effects are potent, it is best to use the crystals in small quantities, for the sake of one’s personal health.
Weapon, uncommon (requires attunement)
The weapon glistens with fine veins of crystal dust that appear to move and rearrange as you watch it.
This weapon has 3 charges. As part of an attack with this weapon, you can expend 1 charge to teleport up to 10 feet before making the attack. You can then choose to immediately teleport back to your starting position after making the attack, without expending another charge.
The weapon regains 1d3 expended charges at dawn.
Armor (shield), uncommon (requires attunement)
Lines of pale, crystalline blue run across the shield’s face, alight with a faint glow that washes back and forth in waves.
Once per day while holding the shield, you can use a reaction after being hit by an attack from a creature within 5 feet of you to encase the target in slowed time until the end of its next turn. While slowed, the target’s speed is halved, it has disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws, and it cannot take reactions.
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)
A shard of white crystal is supported in metal framing. In the stone’s center is a tiny light that reaches out to the inside of the gem’s surface with thin ribbons of energy.
This trinket has 3 charges. As a bonus action while wearing the trinket, you expend 1 charge to enhance one of your ability scores, gaining advantage on skill checks and saving throws made using that ability score until the start of your next turn.
The trinket regains 1d3 expended charges at dawn.
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