I’m a big comics reader one of my longtime mainstays has been the X-Men. Like many an X-fan, I have a big soft spot for Chris Claremont’s Dark Phoenix Saga. The story, the drama, the high stakes; it really is an amazing work that I can re-read over and over again.
Probably my favorite element of the whole thing though, is the Phoenix Force itself. The appeal shouldn’t be hard to explain: it’s a giant alien fire bird that eats stars. It’s an unstoppable creature that can be benevolent in its good moments and terrifying in its darker ones. It might be overused in modern comics, but that’s only because it’s so dang cool.
I wanted something similar for D&D, and thus the Starbird was born.
My biggest goal with the Starbird was to make it more than just a rip-off of the Phoenix Force. The influence is obviously there, but I wanted to take that basic “cosmic bird” idea and put my own spin on it. I hope you like it!
Gargantuan, Cosmic, Chaotic Neutral
Armor Class 24 (natural armor)
Hit Points 722 (30d20 + 122)
Speed 30 ft., fly 100ft.
STR 20 (+5) DEX 24 (+7) CON 30 (+10) INT 22 (+6) WIS 22 (+6) CHA 10 (+0)
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities fire
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened
Senses truesight 100ft., passive Perception
Challenge 24 (62,000 XP)
Innate Spellcasting. The starbird’s innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 16, +6 to hit with spell attacks). The starbird can immediately cast the following spells, requiring no material components.
1 per day: Cosmic blast.
Celestial Healing. If the starbird takes damage on a night when the stars are clear in the sky, it may recover 2d12 hit points every round.
Cosmic Blast. After every long rest, the starbird builds up enough cosmic energy to perform a Cosmic Blast. It ascends into the sky, stretches its wings, and fires a stream of cosmic fire 1,000 feet long and 300 feet wide. Any characters within this space take 200 (20d20) damage. Any characters aware of the incoming attack can make a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw for half damage. A critical failure on this saving throw instantly vaporizes the character and all of their nonmagical equipment.
Cosmic Nest. When an older starbird is nearing the end of its life cycle, it will slip into a world sphere to find a planet on which it can build a nest. Doing this creates a crack in the world, unleashing the energies within. It uses this energy to build a nest of cosmic fire.
Once the nest is completed, the starbird will lay a single egg. The baby bird inside will grow to maturity over the course of a thousand years, draining the planet’s energy as a food source. When it finally hatches, the planet will be destroyed and the new starbird will follow its mother (all starbirds reproduce asexually) back into interstellar space where it will remain with her until she finally dies.
A starbird will fight to the death protecting its egg.
Multiattack. The starbird can make two melee attacks per round.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 15ft., one creature. Hit: 53 (8d12 + 5) piercing damage.
Talon Slash. Melee Weapon Attack: +15 to hit, reach 5ft., one creature. Hit: 47 (10d8 + 7) slashing damage. While in flight, the starbird may swoop down and slash at a target with its claws. This attack is only available if it hasn’t used up all of its flying range for that turn. Once the attack is completed the Starbird will continue for 10ft past its target.
Cosmic Burst. Ranged Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 50ft., multiple targets. Hit: 19 (8d6 + 6) per fireball. The starbird fires four small cosmic fireballs at any target within range. The fireballs may be split between targets at will.
What About the Egg?
If the player party manages to defeat a nesting starbird, its cosmic nest will dissipate while the egg remains. The baby starbird inside is doomed without its parent. It is possible however, even for mere mortals, to harness its life force and become something greater.
If a PC lays their hands on the egg, the GM should ask them to perform a DC 14 Constitution roll. On a success, they will absorb the life force of the starbird inside. This PC gains the ability to fly at will (Speed 60 ft.) and may also add a permanent +2 to any two of ability scores.
They also gain the ability to perform an at will Cosmic Burst attack six times a day. Its charges are restored after a long rest.
Most potent of all, the PC gains the ability to perform a Cosmic Blast. This is identical to the Starbird’s Cosmic Blast but comes with a dire caveat. The cosmic forces unleashed by the attack are too great for a lesser creature to wield safely. The PC can only use Cosmic Blast at the cost of their own life. Their body is destroyed in the aftermath and cannot be resurrected.
Beyond the confines of your solitary world exist other planets, confined by cosmic spheres and warmed by their own distant suns. The Starbird lives in the space between these spheres.
A incredibly rare creature of cosmic energy, it wanders the universe, peering into the spheres to watch the worlds and the lesser creatures that inhabit them. Sometimes, however, it is not enough to just watch. When it’s curiosity becomes too great it will tear open a gap in a sphere to slip inside and directly interact with the people living there. This rarely goes well.
While the Starbird isn’t a malicious creature, its nearly-godlike power makes it difficult for it to view other life forms as being more than playthings. Countries, continents, and even entire worlds have been left ruined by Starbirds that simply wanted to see what would happen.