D&D General Is Spelljammer really that bad?

Chaosmancer

Legend
I reject the proposition that an introduction should necessarily be quick and linear.

As someone who has introduced a LOT of new players, I do not reject that proposition. Linear means they know where to go next instead staring blankly at me and having a meandering discussion for 30 minutes. Quick is just good.

Heck, I was introducing new players, and in the first session gave them a simple quest. Find a Priest's amulet. He lost it, he wanted them to find it. We got four sessions in, lost enough players we restarted with a different story, and never got to that amulet, which was supposed to be a quick level 1 encounter.

It should have something meaty in it. If not more setting, it should at a minimum have some way to generate places for the setting. I'm disappointed that there's basically no advice for creating planets, systems, or the like in it, for instance.

I agree, but does that make it a bad setting book? I'm not convinced. We know what the types of places we want are, we just want a tool to randomize and mix them. That tells me the setting has done an excellent job of expressing itself.

I'm not saying that you're wrong to say it's good enough for you. I'm just saying that I find it very, very disappointing, and that, moreover, the things I find disappointing are consistent in recent releases- everything after Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, which, in contrast, I find fantastic and full of great advice and techniques for running horror games of all kinds. VRGtR was meaty; regardless of how closely it hewed to previous RL material, it provided what you need to run horror. It was like a great hunk of meat dripping with juice. In contrast, the 5e SJ book is like the bones left after you eat a steak: you can get a few scraps from it, but if you're hungry for D&D in space, you basically need to cook a new meal.

What advice do you think is necessary to running a "ships in space" game? This isn't a facetious question. To me, unlike Horror adventures which are very unlike traditional DnD, Spelljammer adventures are classical DnD. Explore the Unknown, delve into ruins, and fight monsters. I don't think they needed to explain how to run these adventures, because they are just classic adventures set in a different setting.
 

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Chaosmancer

Legend
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.

But, you keep missing the point. There isn't a setting book, then a monster book, then an adventure. It is all "the setting book"

All three are bundled together for a reason. The monster book has a lot of the setting information in it. The Rielgar are part of the setting, and something that would be great to use, but they are only in the monster book.... because they are going to be foes 99% of the time and putting them anywhere else doesn't make sense. I literally covered this in the OP.

And just because you will never use something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist in the setting. I'd never use the Scarlet Brotherhood, doesn't mean I can claim that they aren't part of Greyhawk.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
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.

How are these three books worse than the SCAG? Sure, there aren't a lot of bespoke locations, but again, it is space. And they make it very clear that even massive empires are small. The introductory adventure has you fighting an evil Astral Elven Empire... that otherwise gets no mention at all.

Some people seem to think that's because the book is bad, but I look at the Astral Elf write-up, and I see something different. They don't get a bigger mention, because they aren't the only Elven Empire. There are others. Spelljammer isn't a setting like Eberron, where political tensions between neighbors could erupt into a full-scale war that effects everyone. There could be entire galatic, planet destroying wars going on, and the Rock isn't going to care about them. Because space is that big.

The setting is basically "The Multiverse", all those settings you mentioned are supposedly in this, so what "should" they have included? You are given plenty I think, and then left to fill in the specific details
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
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.

So, it could be a GREAT setting, because newer players are getting value out of it.

I don't care if YOU buy it, I don't care about what you spend money on. My point is that saying "there haven't been any good setting books" (The claim in the previous thread that inspired this) seems completely wrong when I can take a setting book with such horrible feedback and say "Nope, I can an entire campaign set in this world." The setting works fine, it is a good setting. The issue many people seem to have is it isn't the 2e setting.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
A big difference between Spelljammer and Eberron is that with Eberron, I additionally have access to Exploring Eberron, Chronicles of Eberron, Dread Metrol, Morgrave Miscellany, and various adventures, and that's JUST counting the KANON 5e material from Hellkow Keith Baker.

With Spelljammer, if I want more details, I need to dig back into the old 2e material and the rare 4e element from The Plane Above that are relevant and adapt them. While a lot of materials for all these revival settings can be mined from past editions, and the old books are readily available on the DM's Guild, it's not the same as having 5e material that's been playtested and built specifically for 5e.

As far as I can tell, Spelljammer doesn't have a singular creative interest in the setting where I can go to know the DMs Guild fan material is worth buying from them. I have to sift through the cruft of material I may or may not like on the Guild. And that's fine, there's some good systems for figuring out what's good and what isn't. But settings like Eberron and Forgotten Realms have ongoing love poured into them by their original creators, so I don't need so much from any singular WotC release. The big thing is that Eberron was unlocked for the Guild.

Spelljammer is now unlocked for the Guild, and I'm sure over the next few years we'll find some good Guild content. I just don't know if it'll be such high quality hardcovers that I can feel comfortable using it sidebyside in my games without my own sticky note editorializing.

I personally loved these Spelljammer books. But I do feel like this is an issue of WotC not having enough time to dedicate to any given setting. Even a second book is huge - see Ravenloft and how it got both an adventure in 2016 and a setting book in 2021. Feywild, Strixhaven, Spelljammer, and Dragonlance have all leaned much more heavily into the adventure with the setting as support for the adventure, rather than the earlier setting books that were setting first, adventure second. This isn't as heavily adventure tilt away from setting as say Storm King's Thunder (which was actually a pretty good gazetteer supplement to SCAG, but ultimately was a very small amount in service of a big adventure), but it is heavier than say, Ravnica or Eberron or even Theros. Note that Ravenloft and Critical Role both both a separate adventure from their setting books, so even though they were later releases, they were more like older settings than newer settings that heavily featured adventures.

Spelljammer and Feywild (and presumably Planescape next year) are also playing as the Adventurer's League season setting, so they need to have a robust enough adventure to carry most of the AL tables, given that the WotC-created AL official adventures were retired as of Feywild's season.
 

So, it could be a GREAT setting, because newer players are getting value out of it.

(snip)
My point is that saying "there haven't been any good setting books" (The claim in the previous thread that inspired this) seems completely wrong when I can take a setting book with such horrible feedback and say "Nope, I can an entire campaign set in this world." The setting works fine, it is a good setting. The issue many people seem to have is it isn't the 2e setting.
My players are getting value out of the Tyranny of Dragons campaign I created.
I took an AP with horrible feedback and I created a massive extensive story.

Does one now say that because it worked for ME and MY table, the AP works fine, it is a good AP?
 

Well, so far, from the very limited anecdotes in this thread, those who actually played it and used it, enjoyed it.

Has anyone run this and not enjoyed it? That, to me, would be the strongest condemnation. "It doesn't have X" is not a condemnation. If you want X, add it. It's not like it's all that hard. You can use the published 2e stuff, outside of mechanics, as is. You don't even have to do conversions.

Did pick up a really cool random world generator from Reddit. Will have to go poke around my hard drive when I get home and I'll post it here.
I'm playing in a spelljammer game right now - it's okay. That group was already pretty gonzo and the ship is mostly just a home base, so it feels like just another setting.

Which isn't bad - I like the dm and group so we're having fun - but I do wish the setting felt more different from generic DnD.
 

grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
To start, I love Spelljammer. I love the 2E box Set. I even loved the 3E Spider Moon write-up in Dragon. There is a lot of good in the 5E set, but there are some negatives.
SJ5E has fewer pages than comparable products. Spelljammer has 192. Von Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, Ravnica, and Theros all have 256. Wildemount has 304. Eberron tops out at 320. So it has the fewest page count but also has the highest price of $69.99.
For that premium price point, there must be value added, right? The slipcase format is a mixed bag. Besides the 3 booklets, we have a nice double-sided map of the Rock of Bral, another DMs screen, and a 3 sided box to hold it. The added value is limited. Personally, I like the format of having the book split into three booklets. Less page flipping. Less of players snooping on my DM Eyes Only stuff. So the setting feels light and I haven't even cracked the spine.
What do we get when we crack it open? Beautiful art. Stunning really. And lots of it. Big expansive full-page spreads of space whales and so much color. I like art in a setting book. Picture >1000 words, but we already have a lower page count than other settings and now a lot of big art pieces. This skews the perception of there being even less information in the books.
Then there is the content. The adventure is ok. The monsters and player options are great. No mechanics for ship-to-ship battles. No procedural system generation. The lore is bare bones.
The other part of the content is the giant errata and the whole Hadozee insanity. I won't rehash it. The product seemed to have been rushed to meet production constraints and editing and critical oversight were sacrificed. This cast a pall over the product that stained it.
Again, I love Spelljammer. I am getting enjoyment out of the product. I can run a ton of campaigns, but I find myself going to a lot of different disparate places to get material to compensate for the spartan substance of the slipcase. It could have been so much more.
 

So, the Spelljammer Boxed set is a mixed bag.
1. The adventure is good. The format they picked is very easy to run with minimal prep. I like that.

2. The Monster book is fine and usable.

3. The Astral Adventurer’s Guide is lacking from a DMs perspective. For Players the ships and new species are fine.
For DMs?
There is not a lot to use. How do I build my own spelljammer systems? How do I build adventures in spelljammer? Is ship combat really so dull and boring (if you start at 1000 feet distance, you need at least 10 rounds before people can use anything else than the shipboard weapons, which don't do enough damage to change anything).
My expectations were something similiar to Van Richtens Guide to Ravenloft. A freaking book that gives me a lot of examples on what to build. With Ravenloft I know now how to build a freaking domain of dread and have dozens of ideas.
With the 5e boxed set? Nothing. Two example systems without any details that sre not even jn the DM book but in the adventure.
I had to go to 2e to actually get an Idea on how to use spelljammer as DM. How to create systems and adventures in Spelljammer.
Very simple things are missing, like how long are traveltimes in the Astral Sea? How long does it take to start from a planet? What planet types are there?

When spelljammer came out, I wanted to write a short intro adventure for the DMs Guild in German (my native language). What I ended up with was a 50 page supplement with all the rules that were missing in my opinion from the 5e set - like system and planet creation rules, adventure creation tables and guidelines, more advanced ship combat and travel rules, hazards in space, magic items (like a low grade Spelljamming helm) and spells. And additionally an intro adventure that starts in space.
And what is crazy ... it is now not only the only German product for Spelljammer on the DMs Guild, it seems to be the only German spelljammer product ever (until they translate the boxes, which will probably again take forever).
... can you send me a link? My German is bad but I think this might be the sort of thing to make me actually practice it (plus I want to content)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I was very interested in the book before the came out. Then I read it. There are some useful rules stuff, but most of them give very vague ideas (how big air envelopes are etc.) that 1) already existed in the 2E books, sometimes with the same wording, 2) I could've come up with them using common sense. They completely axed any complex rules about space travel, and ships have a warp speed that is the same for all ships (so ship quality never affects travel times) and a regular speed - about which there are no rules.
That's not accurate. They do give regular speed which is a flat movement rate based on the individual ship. A Bombard has a fly speed of 35, so it will lose a race to a black pudding. The smaller ships are faster with the Damsel Fly having a speed of 70. So ships go from the faster ship barely being able to outpace a jogging human to warp speed with nothing in-between.
 

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