Spelljammer More Spelljammer Details Emerge: Spelljammer Academy, Flash Gordon, Light of Xaryxis

As you've heard, the D&D team officially announced yesterday what has long been teased – Spelljammer is coming to 5th Edition. (The team says that they announced Spelljammer on April 1 only no one believed them.) After the official presentation during today's D&D Direct, Chris Perkins, one of the architects of 5th edition and the project lead for the Spelljammer team, answered some additional questions.


Screen Shot 2022-04-21 at 5.46.58 PM.png



Much like the original 1989 boxed set the 5E version will be called Spelljammer: Adventures in Space. Instead of a boxed set, the new Spelljammer is a slipcase edition containing three books, double-sided poster map, and a DM screen specifically for Spelljammer. An alternate cover version will be available through game and hobby stores. That second set will have different art on the slipcase, books, and DM screen exterior.

When asked if any of the Spelljammer books in the slipcase will be available for individual sale Perkins said that they're only talking about the bundle package at this time. “But it's safe to say that we'll have some mechanism for breaking up the material into smaller pieces later,” said Perkins.

While not confirmed it's safe to assume that that might refer to the fact that through D&D Beyond users can buy sections of books so selling digital versions of just the individual books there would be reasonable. But since the D&D Beyond sale is not yet complete the D&D Team didn't want to discuss the digital content service.

D&D Executive producer Ray Winninger and Perkins said that Spelljammer was their pandemic lockdown project. They wanted to create “something fun” that would make people happy. They're also trying to give D&D fans a range of adventure types.

That goal also informed the decision to release Spelljammer as a three-book slipcase set with a DMs screen. “We wanted to surprise and delight people,” said Perkins, “and have them not feel they were trapped in a format.”

The slipcase format also allows them to test the waters for how to package an adventure and setting. How well it's received will determine if they do it again. Perkins wouldn't address any future Spelljammer releases after this set and its accompaniments.

However, Perkins did talk briefly about Spelljammer Academy, and how it ties into the Spelljammer: Adventures in Space set. Spelljammer Academy will contain digital content that's free to registered users of the Wizards website. Perkins called it a “friendly introduction to the concept of spelljamming” that explains what the setting is, and how to run a Spelljammer campaign. Spelljammer Academy will also have a lower-level adventure that can take players from 1st to 5th level.

That ties into the slipcase set adventure, Light of Xaryxis, which is for players 5th to 8th level. However, if Spelljammer Academy isn't your speed, Perkins said Light of Xaryxis has “several mechanisms to get players prepped for that,” meaning 5th level, including running one of the Starter Sets or making characters at 5th level. A more detailed announcement on Spelljammer Academy will be made when it's closer to launch, which is currently set for July. The slipcase set has an August 16 release date.

Light of Xaryxis is a journey through wildspace and astral sea,” said Perkins. Among other locations showcased in the adventure are two new wildspace locations as well as the fan favorite Rock of Bral, which is a campaign hub in space where players can shop, carouse, and gather information. The set comes with a big poster of Rock of Bral that Perkins said contains an incredible level of detail.

The Light of Xaryxis adventure has 12 episodes. Each chapter ends in a cliffhanger. For those unfamiliar with the space adventure setting Perkins explained that “Spelljammer is about a journey through the oceans of wildspace and the astral sea. When you leave your world in D&D on a spelljammer you're sailing into a new ocean of adventure. Creatures abide there. You can have a whole campaign visiting cities in space.”

Perkins mentioned that Spelljammer first came out at the height of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and he was a big fan of both. He added that Boo's Astral Menagerie, one of the books in the slipcase, gives a lot of fodder for creating episodic adventures akin to ST:NG where the players can travel, visit cities on asteroids, and explore locations in wildspace and the astral sea.

Boo's Astral Menagerie is, obviously, the creature guide for the setting. It will include a murder comet, vampirates, space clowns, and, of course, a few space dragons such as lunar dragons, among others. That's not surprising since in a separate Q&A Shelly Mazzanoble commented that D&D fans “love dragons” and always want more.

Perkins said that he loves the kindori, which are space whales. He “loves that you build a cottage on the back of a space whale instead of a having spelljammer ship,” communicate with the kindori, and sail that around.”

When asked about changes from the original Spelljammer set to the new one, Perkins talks about navigation for spelljammer ships. Traveling through space in the setting requires a spelljammer helm. In old editions using the helm “sucked magic out of you” so you lost spells for the day to navigate the ship.

Perkins said he toyed with the idea of keeping that mechanic but decided that “it saps fun away from the player who has to pilot the ship.” In the upcoming version a player will have to attune to a spelljammer helm to use it, and that can take some time, but it “does not deprive you of things you need to survive encounters,” Perkins added.

The Astral Adventurer's Guide has the rules for spelljammer helms as well as how to make one within the game. It's a book for both players and DMs. It includes six new player race options: astral elves, autognomes, giff (a hippo-humanoid creature that made its 5th Edition appearance in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes), hadozee (a sort of flying primate humanoid), plasmoids, and the psionic insectile humanoid species thri-kreen. Perkins thinks that the plasmoids will be the breakout stars of Spelljammer, and said they were the first playable ooze in D&D.

Perkins never mentioned the word “Planescape,” but I'm more convinced than ever that Planescape will be one of the old settings revived in 2023. While talking about wildspace and the astral sea Perkins said, “If you travel out far enough from the star in your system wildspace gets silvery and hazy, and you transition into the astral sea where dead gods are trapped, githyanki live there. It's an ageless silvery void. Travel far enough in there you can reach wildspace again and encounter other worlds of the D&D cosmology in a different way than a plane shift spell would go.”

Perkins added later that you “can travel between material planes through wildspace.” He said that The Astral Adventurer's Guide “will include more details on how wildspace systems work. It won't describe the other worlds [meaning other setting books]. Other books do that. This book is about describing wildspace and astral sea.” Perkins added that it gives a few wildspace systems to be a framework for DMs so they can create their own.

Perkins also said that some day he wants to do a future adventure with giant space hamsters everywhere. Why? “Giant space hamsters tell you something about D&D because no matter how serious a situation is, it also has giant space hamsters,” said Perkins. “D&D is an escape, and this is the best escape.”

As far as plush versions of Boo and his space hamster buddies go, Perkins didn't have any news on that. A later discussion with more of the D&D team showed enthusiasm for a plush space hamster product, while acknowledging that plush toys take a lot of work to make.

The astral sea shanty used in the Spelljammer video that debuted today made a splash, too. Perkins said that “Enough people have asked about the song in the video that we might have to something with it. “ The song was made by someone in-house, and it was only intended for the video, but after the enthusiastic reaction it got at the D&D Direct event Perkins will see if they can work something out to put it somewhere.

That led to questions about music for adventures, partnering with Syrinscape, and such. Perkins said that they're working on “a top secret project with a top secret person for flash music so an album is going to drop at an undisclosed time.”

Perkins went onto say that he's a big fan of the music Queen created for the movie Flash Gordon. But about the top secret music project Perkins said, “It's pretty cool, but I can't say more.”
 
Last edited by a moderator:

log in or register to remove this ad

Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

jgsugden

Legend
That can be said of literally every setting TSR ever published. I think the audience is much better primed for Spelljammer today than it was in the late 80s/early 90s, but that doesn't change the fact that it wasn't popular at the time.
Go back and look at all the stuff they published back then and the time frame in which it was published. I was a player back then and this stuff was being sold at a fair clip. Popular is a matter of perspective, but the idea that nobody liked this stuff back in those days is very wrong.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Go back and look at all the stuff they published back then and the time frame in which it was published. I was a player back then and this stuff was being sold at a fair clip. Popular is a matter of perspective, but the idea that nobody liked this stuff back in those days is very wrong.
I've been playing since 1980. I guess I can only say I never saw anyone playing it, even at conventions, when it came up in conversation it typically wasn't positive, and the line was dropped relatively quickly. I'd never suggest "nobody liked this stuff," just that, based on the evidence, not a lot of them did. It's popularity was in stark contrast to Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Mystara (as the Basic default setting) and later Dark Sun and Planescape. I'd be tempted to lump it in more with Birthright, except I always saw people playing Birthright at cons. Still, I've always heard that Birthright was rather unsuccessful too.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I've been playing since 1980. I guess I can only say I never saw anyone playing it, even at conventions, when it came up in conversation it typically wasn't positive, and the line was dropped relatively quickly. I'd never suggest "nobody liked this stuff," just that, based on the evidence...
Personal anecdote does not equal evidence. The line lasted four years and has something like 21 products released for it, including a few box sets, adventures, accessories, and monstrous compendiums. That also doesn't count the six-novel series and 15-issue comic book series. And here we are. Almost ten years into 5E, on the cusp of 5.5, and Spelljammer is an internet meme, and was just announced as a slipcase set...that before the end of business on Friday has climbed to be the #5 top seller on Amazon. It's clearly popular and loved.
It's popularity was in stark contrast to Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Mystara (as the Basic default setting) and later Dark Sun and Planescape. I'd be tempted to lump it in more with Birthright, except I always saw people playing Birthright at cons. Still, I've always heard that Birthright was rather unsuccessful too.
That's not a great comparison to make. There are three tiers of D&D settings, basically. First tier: "The popularity of settings in the survey fell into three distinct clusters. Not surprisingly, our most popular settings from prior editions landed at the top of the rankings, with Eberron, Ravenloft, Dark Sun, Planescape, and the Forgotten Realms all proving equally popular." Second tier: "Greyhawk, Dragonlance, and Spelljammer all shared a similar level of second-tier popularity." Third tier: "[F]ollowed by a fairly steep drop-off to the rest of the settings."

So, almost 10 years into 5E, on the cusp of 5.5, we have books for Eberron (T1), Ravenloft (T1), and Forgotten Realms (T1). They just announced Spelljammer (T2) and Dragonlance (T2). Of those left that are named as tier one, Dark Sun and Planescape are noticeably missing. The only tier two setting left is Greyhawk. Both Dragonlance and Greyhawk were specifically called out as "hew[ing] fairly close to the assumptions we used in creating the fifth edition rulebooks, making them much easier to run with material from past editions." And yet, we still got Dragonlance coming by the end of the year.

Everything else is not likely to get much play at all. The source article even calls out the fact that Spelljammer was more polarizing than the other settings, almost suggesting it should have been tier one. Saying, "My sense is that Spelljammer has often lagged behind the broad popularity of other settings, falling into love-it-or-hate-it status depending on personal tastes."

Source:

 

There are three tiers of D&D settings, basically.
This is measuring popularity today, right? I'm talking about it's popularity at the time it was published. And while I'd agree that my anecdotal experience wouldn't count for much if I were trying prove something to you, the fact is that Spelljammer was released at the same time as 2nd Edition and didn't make it four full years. This does align with my experience, when I was living in game stores and attending conventions across the country and never saw it. But sure, despite that, perhaps it was actually really popular.

Like I said, I do think the audience is better primed for it today than we were at the time. I've pre-ordered it, despite thinking the price-point is a bit of a ripoff. I dig it. I'm a fan. I'm not trying to insult anyone.
 
Last edited:

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Personal anecdote does not equal evidence. The line lasted four years and has something like 21 products released for it, including a few box sets, adventures, accessories, and monstrous compendiums. That also doesn't count the six-novel series and 15-issue comic book series. And here we are. Almost ten years into 5E, on the cusp of 5.5, and Spelljammer is an internet meme, and was just announced as a slipcase set...that before the end of business on Friday has climbed to be the #5 top seller on Amazon. It's clearly popular and loved.

That's not a great comparison to make. There are three tiers of D&D settings, basically. First tier: "The popularity of settings in the survey fell into three distinct clusters. Not surprisingly, our most popular settings from prior editions landed at the top of the rankings, with Eberron, Ravenloft, Dark Sun, Planescape, and the Forgotten Realms all proving equally popular." Second tier: "Greyhawk, Dragonlance, and Spelljammer all shared a similar level of second-tier popularity." Third tier: "[F]ollowed by a fairly steep drop-off to the rest of the settings."

So, almost 10 years into 5E, on the cusp of 5.5, we have books for Eberron (T1), Ravenloft (T1), and Forgotten Realms (T1). They just announced Spelljammer (T2) and Dragonlance (T2). Of those left that are named as tier one, Dark Sun and Planescape are noticeably missing. The only tier two setting left is Greyhawk. Both Dragonlance and Greyhawk were specifically called out as "hew[ing] fairly close to the assumptions we used in creating the fifth edition rulebooks, making them much easier to run with material from past editions." And yet, we still got Dragonlance coming by the end of the year.

Everything else is not likely to get much play at all. The source article even calls out the fact that Spelljammer was more polarizing than the other settings, almost suggesting it should have been tier one. Saying, "My sense is that Spelljammer has often lagged behind the broad popularity of other settings, falling into love-it-or-hate-it status depending on personal tastes."

Source:

Don't forget that Greyhawk has gotten a bit if support, with Ghosts of Saltmarsh.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
While the setting itself hasn't seen much direct love, Tasha and Mordie have been fairly active in the various books, showing WotC hasn't forgotten about the setting.
My thought: a slipcase with 64 pages detailing the Setting (significantly more material than the old Folio), a Gygaxian Monster supplement, and a Ruins of Castle Greyhawk microcaampaign...with a poster map made by Darlene...would be a seriously cool 50th Anniversary product.
 

jgsugden

Legend
... I'd never suggest "nobody liked this stuff," just that, based on the evidence, not a lot of them did. It's popularity was in stark contrast to Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Mystara (as the Basic default setting) and later Dark Sun and Planescape. I'd be tempted to lump it in more with Birthright, except I always saw people playing Birthright at cons. Still, I've always heard that Birthright was rather unsuccessful too.
Consider that perhaps your experiences are not aligned with everyone.

It had a following. It sold a lot. There is a lot of old threads discussing it on these boards from the early 2000s, a decade after it was widely released ... so ....
 

JEB

Legend
No. Or at least it wasn't pre-2e Spelljammer. Prior to 2e the idea was that there were multiple "Alternate Prime Material Planes". In the 1e Player's Handbook it says it "is the plane of Terra and all of its parallels" - explicitly setting up a parallel Earths motif. In the 1e Manual of the Planes they talk about "Alternate Prime Material Planes" that each have their own Alternate Ethereal Plane as well.
I'm far from an expert on 1E cosmology, but did they ever explicitly tie these "alternate" Primes to specific other campaign settings? (Which would have been just Dragonlance and the Realms at that point.) All I'm aware of as far as identified alternates are a chain of alternate Oerths (Aerth, Yarth, Uerth, and, well, Earth).

3e basically undid that in the 3e Manual of the Planes with a throw away comment about how most games would have only one Material plane for the campaign setting, and then they spent the rest of 3e studiously never mentioning Crystal Spheres ever. Even in the 3e version of Spelljammer in Dungeon magazine they set it in a single system and don't mention crystal spheres (and in fact the setting suggests that it isn't in a crystal sphere at all - that it's part of a galaxy like our own).
Yeah, 3E set up the Shadow Plane as the preferred way to get between different campaign settings, each of which had its own cosmology. Was just paging through the 3E Manual of the Planes earlier, and their examples implicitly include the Realms' new World Tree cosmology. (And also one that reminds me a smidge of the World Axis, but so far back that has to be coincidence.)

They did apparently reference crystal spheres once in 3E, though, in a Spelljammer-based article in Dragon. It's a tiny reference, but does suggest they still existed in 3E (and their avoidance of the matter certainly doesn't contradict that).

Funny enough, 4E even references crystal spheres in its Manual of the Planes, albeit as just a suggestion.

One oddity with 5E, though - Mearls and Crawford have both referenced crystal spheres and phlogiston as part of the 5E cosmology in interviews and on Twitter. Never in anything published that I'm aware of, but does indicate a shift in thinking since earlier 5E.
 

Remove ads

Latest threads

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top