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D&D General Is Spelljammer really that bad?

BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
I've never played in the Spelljammer setting before, I was introduced to D&D in 3.5. The new Spelljammer product seems like a fantastic setting book... for players. Just enough lore and a few zazzy new mechanical options to play with. As a GM, it feels kinda useless as a tool to help me build or run adventures in the setting. It works as an "introduction to Spelljammer" product, but not great as a setting bible in and of itself. Which, to be fair... I don't think it was trying to be? It feels like a book written for the tourists rather than the tour guide. And considering the latter outnumber the former 4-6 to 1 at most tables, I understand why they aimed it where they did.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I've never played in the Spelljammer setting before, I was introduced to D&D in 3.5. The new Spelljammer product seems like a fantastic setting book... for players. Just enough lore and a few zazzy new mechanical options to play with. As a GM, it feels kinda useless as a tool to help me build or run adventures in the setting. It works as an "introduction to Spelljammer" product, but not great as a setting bible in and of itself. Which, to be fair... I don't think it was trying to be? It feels like a book written for the tourists rather than the tour guide. And considering the latter outnumber the former 4-6 to 1 at most tables, I understand why they aimed it where they did.
I mean, that seems silly to me. It's the tour guide that runs the game. Only aiming at the tourists renders the "setting" into a novel to be read, rather than played.
 

BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
I mean, that seems silly to me. It's the tour guide that runs the game. Only aiming at the tourists renders the "setting" into a novel to be read, rather than played.
I agree as an end user, but ultimately as a company Wizards cares about people buying their product, not what works best for people at the table. If a table has two/three people clamoring to play Spelljammer, the GM is likely going to just put in the elbow grease to make it work regardless of how much support WotC actually gives them. It's still technically less work for the GM than inventing a setting whole-cloth and fighting for buy-in. The argument that "the superior product will prove the most economically viable" has been proven wrong more than enough over the years, unfortunately. I am NOT saying that this product in particular is badwrongfun, just that for what I would use it for it provides insufficient value to me to be worth the purchase. YMMV
 


DragonBelow

Adventurer
I am playing through Light of Xaryxis, and I am about half way done. I have enjoyed playing it a lot. I believe if your aim is to run the provided adventure, it's pretty good. Not all kinds of Spelljammer campaigns are possible with the rules provided, also setting information is very skimpy. I don't have a lot of issue with this because I own all the 2e SJ books, and can fill the gaps, and also there is a lot of stuff in the DMs Guild. Having said that, I wish WotC veered away from adventures for a while and focused in proviing solid treatment of settings.
 

2e and 3e did settings right. First they put out a decent comprehensive setting and then later more detailed sections of the settings. The section on the rock in the first setting product wasn't much to go on, either.

It seems a little unfair then to expect the current 5E book set to have as much on The Rock of Bral as an entire supplemental book devoted to the subject when the original setting box (the equivalent of the current setting) only had 3 pages.

If you’re going to compare one product against everything that was ever produced for Spelljammer in 2E then it’s no wonder you’re disappointed.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It seems a little unfair then to expect the current 5E book set to have as much on The Rock of Bral as an entire supplemental book devoted to the subject when the original setting box (the equivalent of the current setting) only had 3 pages.
I disagree and this is why. WotC doesn't put out other books for their settings, so no Rock of Bral supplement is ever going to happen. The Forgotten Realms, the biggest and most popular setting, still doesn't have a setting. It just has a sliver of the setting in the Sword Coast which was put out 7 years ago and no further setting book has been released. That means that the one setting book they release needs to be better and richer.

If they had a faster release schedule and/or released multiple books for a setting, I wouldn't be as upset by sparse crap like we got with the Spelljammer setting books.
 

edosan

Adventurer
I didn't even bother picking up Spelljammer because it seemed that WOTC was not interested in doing in-depth campaign settings.

I assume some marketing guy told them no one was going to buy a "just a setting" book so that's why we got Waterdeep mashed in with Dragon Heist, Baldur's Gate mashed in with Descent into Avernus, et cetera. IMO WDH tried to be both a setting book and adventure and didn't go a great job at either.

Between DMs Guild and fanmade stuff, there's hardly any reason to buy setting guides from WOTC any more.
 

No, it's not. You claim that, but monsters are not setting. They are monsters that go into a setting. An adventure is only setting for the adventure and nothing more. We have 8 pages of setting.

Reigar are no more setting than the ships and flying speed. Both are used in the setting.

True, but you will find the Scarlet Brotherhood in the setting book where it describes the area they live in, goals, behaviors, etc. This is what I get from the 1e Greyhawk setting on the Scarlet Brotherhood.

"Ruler: HIs Peerless Serenity, the Father of Obedience(true name unknown)
Capital: Unknown, but rumored as a hidden city of splendor and magnificence
Population: 35000+
Demi-Humans: Doubtful
Humanoids: Probable
Resources: Rare woods, spices, gold, gems(I, III and IV)

It is said that an order of monastic religious militarists was founded long ago on the remote plateau south of the closed city of Kro Terlep. This order is purported to espouse the cause of the Suloise as the rightful rulers of all the Flanaess, claiming superiority of that race above all others, and embracing evil as the only hope of achieving its ends. Supposedly the Scarlet Brotherhod is the fruition of these aims, and now it controls the whole of the land from the Vast Swamp to the tip of the peninsula. Brothers of the Scarlet Sign are reportedly hiding as trusted advisors or henchmen in many courts and castles in the north, spying for their master and ready to strike. The thieves as its lower ring, assassins next, and then the smallest and highest ring of monks as superior. The leader of the thieves is called "Elder Cousin," that of the assassins is known as "Foster Uncle" - thus other thieves are entitled "cousins" and assassins "nephews." The temple and monastary of the Scarlet Brotherhood is supposedly a fortress and walled town uno itself, guarded by soldiers, humanoid legions which are being readied for future conquest, and monsters trained to serve the Brotherhood."

That's quite a bit more than "Wanders around space not trusting each other because they destroyed their homeworld and exist to make art and war." which is just lore for the monster, not setting.
And as a more recent example, here’s what the Eberron book (the gold standard of WotC 5e setting books) uses to cover ONE power group in the setting.

This is in addition to the gazetteer of locations and personalities and the monster descriptions found elsewhere in the book, so it’s not getting bogged down in minutiae, nor is it overly tied to a particular specific location that may not have relevance to your campaign. But it’s crammed with ideas, hooks, advice, etc etc, and RftLW goes into a similar amount of detail for I think 12-15 different power groups, major setting elements or campaign themes, etc etc.

THIS is the sort of setting material that Spelljammer was so lacking in.
 

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