D&D General Is Spelljammer really that bad?

If I'm going to by Spelljammer I'm going to want to have magical space ship combat.

I have no idea if the rules are there, or if they are sufficient or not. I had a buddy who was really into it back in the day and we had to repel gith boarders at one time. That was fun. Tried to harpoon the Great Iridescent Whale, but most of the crew was blinded so we had to flee.
 

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Chaosmancer

Legend
No it doesn't. It gives you no information at all. Is it named that because clowns come from there? Or is it because all of the inhabitants have a highly developed sense of humor(class clowns)? Or could it be because instead of giant space whales it has giant space clown fish? You don't know, because no information is conveyed to you based on a name. It can inspire you to think of things related to clowns, but that's it.

Okay, sure Mr. Pendant, I need to see the Space Clowns too. Funny thing is, you don't get any mention of Clown Space outside of their statblock. Which means it would be literally impossible to to miss that it is the space clowns.

And somehow, I don't think anyone would hear "We are going to clown space" and thing to themselves "Ah, we must be going to see a pd of giant clown fish." I mean, it could just be because I don't immediately seek every possible definition of clown when I hear the word, and just assume it means what it usually means. So, space clowns from Clown Space... and yeah, this gives me plenty of information. I don't even need to know clown space has three ring worlds. I do, which just adds to the insanity of the place, but I didn't need it.

And I could run a full section of an adventure in that space, with just this. No problems.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Doesn't have to be the same but if you're using the name it's gonna get compared to what came before.

I had ordered it but canceled once reports started coming in. It's even more expensive here think no Amazon sales add more.

.I don't expect them to match 2E product line just comparing boxed set to boxed set (1989 to 2022).
It's your 2.5% light beer because you can't get drunk in front of your in llaws vs a nice 7-8% whatever.

No point, anemic, wasted.

So, if I handed it to someone who had never heard of 2e, they will look at it and say "Ah, clearly this is inferior to the product that came before, this gift is wasted upon me sir!"

Or... do you think they would judge what is in the product, since they have no clue something came before it?

That's my entire point. If you are only judging it as compared to 2e, are you giving it a fair shake as a setting book? I don't think so. I think you are calling out "flaws" that don't really exist for the people who bought this book as their introduction to Spelljammer.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Okay, sure Mr. Pendant, I need to see the Space Clowns too. Funny thing is, you don't get any mention of Clown Space outside of their statblock. Which means it would be literally impossible to to miss that it is the space clowns.

And somehow, I don't think anyone would hear "We are going to clown space" and thing to themselves "Ah, we must be going to see a pd of giant clown fish." I mean, it could just be because I don't immediately seek every possible definition of clown when I hear the word, and just assume it means what it usually means. So, space clowns from Clown Space... and yeah, this gives me plenty of information. I don't even need to know clown space has three ring worlds. I do, which just adds to the insanity of the place, but I didn't need it.

And I could run a full section of an adventure in that space, with just this. No problems.
Fair enough. I didn't read the space clowns because they're not something I would ever use. I figured you got the name from the adventure which is something else I will never use. I was buying two books and only the monsters book mostly delivered. I was okay with that one. The setting book, though, failed to be much of anything. It was waaaaaaay too sparse with the information given. Hell, since you don't count mechanics as setting, there was almost no setting at all.

After PC options, which are not setting, it got into adventuring, which was nearly all mechanics. The only actual setting material in the setting book was the Rock of Bral and that was 6 pages, and 2 pages on the astral sea. 8 pages of setting in the setting book.
 

That's my entire point. If you are only judging it as compared to 2e, are you giving it a fair shake as a setting book? I don't think so. I think you are calling out "flaws" that don't really exist for the people who bought this book as their introduction to Spelljammer.
Speaking only for myself, who never owned a 2e spelljammer product til picking a couple up on DMGuild a bit before this release - I'm not judging it as a setting book against the 2e line. I haven't even read the majority of the 2e line. I'm judging it as a setting book against other 5e setting books - Rising from the Last War, VRGtR, SCAG, and even third party setting books like Midgard. It's 2022, we're not short of comparisons here.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
So, if I handed it to someone who had never heard of 2e, they will look at it and say "Ah, clearly this is inferior to the product that came before, this gift is wasted upon me sir!"

Or... do you think they would judge what is in the product, since they have no clue something came before it?

That's my entire point. If you are only judging it as compared to 2e, are you giving it a fair shake as a setting book? I don't think so. I think you are calling out "flaws" that don't really exist for the people who bought this book as their introduction to Spelljammer.

Irrelevant I'm not buying it based in all the negative feedback.
. If I really want too run Spelljammer IL break out my 2E stuff no need to buy the 5E version.

Newer players can do whatever they like.
 


fjw70

Adventurer
I loved the 5e Spelljammer set. It’s nit quite a full setting book. It’s an adventure with enough setting material to expand on the adventure. Do I wish there were more? Sure. I always want more of a good thing.

It goes with the approach of show me instead of tell me. Instead of having page after page of how to create systems, it has a few examples of systems. Instead of telling me how to create Spelljammer adventures it gives me a really good adventure in a variety of environments and shows me what can be done. It introduces the Mercane, vampirates, a elven space empire, etc.

And let’s not forget the ships. Sure no tactical combat for the ships but what they do have is consistent with 5e combat. It’s not a highly tactical game.

I know others don’t like it but I am just having fun with it so a win for me.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
That's wrong. Ship movement and combat rules are setting for SHIP settings like Spelljammer, pirate settings, etc. It's core to what the setting is. Much of the setting is literally the ships.

No. The setting relies on the rules, sure, but the rules don't make the setting. I could port in rules from Savage Worlds for ship combat and that doesn't change the setting one bit.

Cool. Many of us disagree with the last word.

Yeah, you disagree, but you have yet to demonstrate anything except "2e had more!!!". Which doesn't mean that this is insufficient.

You have sparse information. You can run him based on limited, "He knows a lot.", sure. That's not really enough to tell you about him. You'll have to make that up which means 12 DMs will have 12 different Luigis.

Oh the horror, it isn't like that happens with literally every NPC ever. I mean, I'm certain that time I encountered Vecna he was 100% exactly the same as the Vecna you encountered, which is why he was disguised as a woman and flirted with the party.

Well, that Vecna was a bit different, but the one who showed up in person and demanded we protect a pregnant woman or he would kill us was TOTALLY like the Vecna that you've encountered, right? 100% consistent between every table.

I am. Or more accurately I'm looking at it from both views.

Really? Cause all you've said is "but 2e had MOAR!" I'm not hearing much about how you could use this to run in 5e.

If it's free, no. If I'm paying money to them, yes. If I'm giving them money, I want a complete product. Not one that I have to do a ton of work on to make it work.

The bar is the only thing for me to talk about, because the setting is so sparse it didn't give me any of the TONS of other stuff the 2e setting did.

It does make them incomplete, though.

Then every setting is incomplete, because no setting has a complete gazeteer about EVERYTHING. It is an impossible standard. And frankly, not one that I have ever heard before.

No setting has everything laid out, and plenty have things like "there is a bar in this city called [blank]" and that's all they say, because that is all you needed. And it is fascinating to me that you say there is nothing to talk about except the bar, when there is an entire gang war listed out in the same section. There is also an entire company devoted to adventurers, a secret mindflayer plot, a neighborhood with consistent gunshots and marksmanship contests... yet the ONLY thing to talk about is that one of the four taverns in the book didn't tell me that the beholder bartender knows everything in all of existence?

What kind of standards are these?

1. Pelargir
2. The palace in Pelargir
3. Ithilien
4. Minas Tirith
5. the tower of the sun
6. The tower of the moon, now Minas Morgul
7. Osgiliath
8. The Argonath
9. the court of the fountain
10. Pelennor Fields
11. The Great Gate
12-18. Each of the 7 walls of Minas Tirith
19. The white tower of Ecthelion
20. The citadel of Minas Tirith
21. The Anduin River
22. The Morgul Road
23. The Dome of Stars in Osgiliath
24. The Great Stone Bridge over the Anduin(Osgiliath)
25. Pinnath Gelin
26. Anfalas
27. Dol Amroth
28. Belfalas
29. Erech
30. Calembel
31. Lebennin
32. Linhir
33. Tolfalas
34. Ethring
35. Lamedon
36. The White Mountains
37. Amyn Arnen
38. The Hills of Agar
39. The fortress in Dol Amroth
40. The Paths of the Dead
41. Henneth Annun
42. The Mountains of Shadow
43. The Forbidden Pool
44. Edhellond
45. Bay of Belfalas
46. Fortress of Belfalas
47. The Anduin Delta
48. Ringlo Vale
49. Blackroot Vale
50. Anorien
51. Iron Saw Peak in the White Mountains
52. Starkhorn Peak in the White Mountains
53-59. The seven warning beacons, Amon Din, Eilenach, Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon, Calenhad and Halifirien.
60. Isengard
61. The Firien Wood
62. The Druadan Forest
63. Cair Andros
64. Mindolluin(mountain in the White Mountains)

I could probably find more, but this is plenty.

No need.

Wow... really? "Each of the walls of Minas Tirith" cover seven different locations? Did a quick google, seems each wall is not unique and special. Also, are the walls of a city really a different location than the city itself? Is the gate in the walls a different location than the walls? You do this a few times actually, You also included the "seven warning beacons" because I guess those are somehow super detailed locations and very different from each other? And how is it that you can include the city of Peligar, then the Palace in Peligar. That'd be like the writer of the Rock of Bral information saying that they had two locations, Elmandar's Star Charts, the business, and Elmandar's Bathroom inside of Elmandar's Star charts.

And looking closer yet again, you do the same thing. #36 is "the White Mountains" then you include three mountains that are part of the White Mountains. The Court of the Fountain is also in Minas Tirith. And the Tower.

Good Lord, I'm just going to have to redo this list, because it is impossible to actually talk about every single thing you are doing to pad these numbers.

1) Pelargir
- Includes: The Palace of Pelargir,
2) Ithilien
3) Minas Tirith

Oh my god, are you kidding me right now? I looked up "The Tower of the Sun" and it is the SAME PLACE as Minas Tirith. You literally frickin' listed the same place TWICE to pad the numbers. Are you kidding me?!

3) Minas Tirith, formerly Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun
- Includes, The Court of the Fountain, Pelennor Fields (They are literally the fields outside of Minas Tirith), The Great Gate, The Seven Walls of Minas Tirith, The White Tower of Ecthelion, The citadel of Minas Tirith
4) Tower of the Moon, Minas Morgul
5) Osgiliath
- Includes the Dome of Stars, a "great stone bridge" (it isn't even named the Great Stone Bridge, they just had a massive stone bridge in the city),
6) The Argonath
7) The Anduin River
8) The Morgul Road (Since I am counting this, I'm going to increase my count of the locations in Spelljammer from 33 to closer to 52, since they have roads listed on their map too)
9) Pinnath Gelin
10) Anfalas
11) Dol Amroth
- Includes the Fortress in Dol Amroth
12) Belfalas
13) Erech
14) Calembel
15) Lebennin
16) Linhir

Tolfalas isn't in Gondor. It is in a Bay past the borders of Gondor. It isn't claimed by them, it is a barren rock. It also seems to have been added in a 1971 guide based on Tolkien's notes. This one is too far of a stretch, and I've been including the cities and fiefs detailed in the video games and RPG sourcebooks, just because they showed up in the old map.

17) Ethring (Its a bridge, but at least it is a named bridge I guess)
18) Lamedon
- Includes the Ringlo Vale (Lamedon is a region, Ringlo Vale is a valley in this region)
19) The White Mountains
- Includes Mindolluin, Iron Saw Peak, Starkhorn Peak, The Paths of the Dead,
20) Amyn Arnen actually Emyn Arnen, good thing I double checked the spelling

The Hills of Agar are only referenced in Christopher Tolkien's series about the people of Middle Earth, published by references unpublished notes. Do we really need to include unpublished material to show how complete the published Middle Earth is?

21) Henneth Annun
- Includes The Forbidden Pool (For those who don't google, Henneth Annun is a cave hidden by a waterfall, The Forbidden Pool is the pool of water at the base of the Waterfall. Only notable because Gollum was seen in it once... such high quality detail)

The Mountains of Shadow are Mordor's Mountains. You want to count parts of Mordor as Gondor?

22) Edhellond
23) Bay of Belfalas (This is the Bay that Tolfalas is in, I'll count the bay since it at least touches Gondor's shores.)
- Includes: The Fortress of Belfalas, and is fed by the Anduin Delta
24) Blackroot Vale
25 ) Anorien

I'm not counting the Warning Beacons. Even if I did, it would be one count.

26) Isengard
27) The Firien Wood
28) The Druadan Forest
29) Cair Andros

So yeah, after cutting out the nonsense like counting walls for seven different locations, then the gate for an eighth, then the city they surround for a tenth, then the palace in that city for the 11th, then the court in that palace for the 12th... turns out I can agree to about 29 locations, 30 if I give you the Warning Beacons. Many of which are just large stretches of land, with little to no detail about them.

And in fact, the VAST majority of these locations are given a single line IF THAT in the books.

This is what you want to boast about for a "good setting"? A list you had to cheat on, and stretch, that has little to nothing to do with the source material of the setting? And so many of these are literally just names with no purpose.

I can't believe I allowed myself to end up two hours late to bed for this level of sophistry and flat out deceit.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
SWN has tables that assign up to 60 world tags (e.g. Abandoned Colony, Alien Ruins, Altered Humanity, etc.) and the description for each tag provides Enemies, Friends, Complications, Things, and Places. There's a lot more, but just this relatively brief section is enormously useful to a DM who wants to create a universe for his players to explore. You get a similar treatment for Systems, Factions and Adventures, a section on creating aliens and alien societies, etc., and then write ups for a house setting using these tools. It has great, modular organization so you can grab what you need when you need it, without reading through hundreds of pages of stuff just to get to what you want.

Point is, if you provide tools, you don't have to detail "every single location in all of Spelljammer." The more the better (systems, worlds, adventure locations, factions, NPCs, etc.), but the tools also provide huge value by helping DMs create the content they want. The tools are even more important when the product does not provide a lot of canned content.

I completely agree with you, a tool to generate these things would have made a better product.

But does it make a better setting? That's the crux of the issue I'm trying to address. With or without the tool to make generating these things easier, isn't the setting the same?

Spelljammer is thin and shallow on both counts, which is why it's a low-value product. You can say this stuff wouldn't add any value for you (I recognize that you specifically did not say this), but even then, the value of the product isn't increased by its absence. I don't want to read hundreds of pages of setting lore any more than you do, but I do want content I can use when I open my wallet.

I'd also suggest that if you aren't particularly interested in opposing viewpoints on something you love, attend to the wording of your title a bit. "Why Spelljammer is Really Good" might have been a better choice.

Oh, I don't mind debate, but I'm trying to focus the debate. I don't even particularly have a strong attachment to this product.

Are the mechanics lacking in the books? Absolutely. 100% agree. But does that mean the setting is lacking?
Would better tools have made a better product? Absolutely, 100% agree. But do they change the setting by not being in the book?
Did 2e provide more content? Very much so. Does that make this version a bad setting? No, I don't think so, because I am looking at this as an entry for people who have never touched a 2e book in their life. And for them, 2e could have provided 10 million pages of additional content, and it is still zero. If you've never seen a product, it doesn't exist to you. A setting that no one has read is a dead setting. 2e Spelljammer may be good for people, but 5e Spelljammer wasn't written to be 2e spelljammer. It was written for an audience who is only 20 to 30 years old.
 

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