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.


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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.”
 
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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels


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I doubt it will even be mentioned. They might not have the room. But the Unhuman War and near elimination of goblin races by the elves…no way are they ieeping that in. They couldn’t even keep the slavery domain of dread, they’re not going to keep the elves as space Nazis.
The elven superpower being arrogant and nasty was one of the best decisions spelljammer made. It makes for a much better freebooting swashbuckling game if the big powers are bad (or at the very least incompetent, neglectful, beset with infighting, and/or bureacracy-bound). Otherwise, you're just tamely running a trade route under the protective gaze of your benevolent overlords. I'm a little annoyed they never quite had the courage to go all the way and make the elves actually bad guys and the scro ambiguous or even ally potential. But nope, from step 1 your PCs are assumed to be fine working for the genocide elves, and every goblinoid or ogre or whatever you meet is AAARGH MONSTER. But eh, it was a long time ago, things change, and it's not like anyone FORCED you to run the modules as written.

But I suspect in the 5e edition the Elven Armada will be completely gone, as will the Scro and their empire. Given the tiny page count that WotC have restricted themselves to, we'll probably only get a few pages on a few random sample worlds and systems to travel to, with a whole lot of 'fill out the rest of the universe with the WONDERS OF YOUR IMAGINATION' boilerplate.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
The elven superpower being arrogant and nasty was one of the best decisions spelljammer made. It makes for a much better freebooting swashbuckling game if the big powers are bad (or at the very least incompetent, neglectful, beset with infighting, and/or bureacracy-bound). Otherwise, you're just tamely running a trade route under the protective gaze of your benevolent overlords. I'm a little annoyed they never quite had the courage to go all the way and make the elves actually bad guys and the scro ambiguous or even ally potential. But nope, from step 1 your PCs are assumed to be fine working for the genocide elves, and every goblinoid or ogre or whatever you meet is AAARGH MONSTER. But eh, it was a long time ago, things change, and it's not like anyone FORCED you to run the modules as written.

But I suspect in the 5e edition the Elven Armada will be completely gone, as will the Scro and their empire. Given the tiny page count that WotC have restricted themselves to, we'll probably only get a few pages on a few random sample worlds and systems to travel to, with a whole lot of 'fill out the rest of the universe with the WONDERS OF YOUR IMAGINATION' boilerplate.
I mean, to be fair, they qlso still sell all of the 2E fluff for anyone who wants more.
 

I mean, to be fair, they qlso still sell all of the 2E fluff for anyone who wants more.
True, and of course I expect that if it looks like the Scro, the Elven Armada, Shou dragonships etc etc won't make it into the upcoming release (based on ToC spoilers etc etc), then the 3rd party people will get busy and conversions of it all will be out DMsGuild within approximately 12 seconds of that being allowed.

Mind you, I was reading the old Rock of Bral supplement a while back and the Shou would need some ... updating. Shou is of course a FR China ripoff - but for some reason they bring the yakuza with them wherever they go. Bad case of All Asians Are The Same disease there...
 

Stormonu

Legend
The elven superpower being arrogant and nasty was one of the best decisions spelljammer made. It makes for a much better freebooting swashbuckling game if the big powers are bad (or at the very least incompetent, neglectful, beset with infighting, and/or bureacracy-bound). Otherwise, you're just tamely running a trade route under the protective gaze of your benevolent overlords. I'm a little annoyed they never quite had the courage to go all the way and make the elves actually bad guys and the scro ambiguous or even ally potential. But nope, from step 1 your PCs are assumed to be fine working for the genocide elves, and every goblinoid or ogre or whatever you meet is AAARGH MONSTER. But eh, it was a long time ago, things change, and it's not like anyone FORCED you to run the modules as written.

But I suspect in the 5e edition the Elven Armada will be completely gone, as will the Scro and their empire. Given the tiny page count that WotC have restricted themselves to, we'll probably only get a few pages on a few random sample worlds and systems to travel to, with a whole lot of 'fill out the rest of the universe with the WONDERS OF YOUR IMAGINATION' boilerplate.
The elves won't be gone from my spelljammer, though I will be jettisoning the Scro (I'll just use hobgoblins instead) and the Shou. Well, I might keep the Shou as antagonists to the elves - but they'll have issues of their own.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
True, and of course I expect that if it looks like the Scro, the Elven Armada, Shou dragonships etc etc won't make it into the upcoming release (based on ToC spoilers etc etc), then the 3rd party people will get busy and conversions of it all will be out DMsGuild within approximately 12 seconds of that being allowed.

Mind you, I was reading the old Rock of Bral supplement a while back and the Shou would need some ... updating. Shou is of course a FR China ripoff - but for some reason they bring the yakuza with them wherever they go. Bad case of All Asians Are The Same disease there...
I'll bet the Scro are still there, since ethe companion Monsters of the Multiverse release has playable Orcs already. Not unchanged, I reckon, though.
 

vecna00

Speculation Specialist Wizard
Well, you'd have to find a color pool that goes to the right plane. Since the DMG says that color pools are 1d6x10 feet in diameter, I'd guess at least some of them are big enough to let a spelljamming ship through. But finding a color pool is pretty much DM fiat anyway.

My only issue is that in the Astral, you don't eat, drink, breathe, or age--but as soon as you re-enter reality, it all catches up to you and you possibly die of old age. This takes away a lot of the problems with journeys and with Spelljamming in particular, since you don't have to worry about running out of air or supplies. OTOH, if they rule that the ship's air envelope keeps you in "real time" so you still have to keep your bodily functions running properly but you don't suffer any weird effects by going back to Wild Space or a world, then OK, that's a good enough compromise for me. You can still have the timeless Astral.
I'm pretty sure they took out the side effects of leaving the Astral Plane. It's not mentioned in the DMG in this edition. If it was still there, all those Githyanki leaving to do anything would have a very bad day.
 

My suspects are WotC is going to see the reaction of the fandom when Spelljammer was unlocked in DMGuild. Now WotC is more focused into to publish sourcebooks about "crush" and the metaplots of all settings (but maybe FR) are frozen. And I say again "scro" sounds horrible.
 

Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
True, and of course I expect that if it looks like the Scro, the Elven Armada, Shou dragonships etc etc won't make it into the upcoming release (based on ToC spoilers etc etc), then the 3rd party people will get busy and conversions of it all will be out DMsGuild within approximately 12 seconds of that being allowed.
This is a little off topic, but this post reminds me how grateful I am for WotC's current business model, specifically the DMs Guild. I can't think of any other major IP owner that provides a platform for fans to not only play with their IP, but to legally share it with other fans and even make a little bit of money off it in the process. That's definitely something worth celebrating, even if... no, especially if you don't like the direction WotC decides to take with rebooted settings.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
This is a little off topic, but this post reminds me how grateful I am for WotC's current business model, specifically the DMs Guild. I can't think of any other major IP owner that provides a platform for fans to not only play with their IP, but to legally share it with other fans and even make a little bit of money off it in the process. That's definitely something worth celebrating, even if... no, especially if you don't like the direction WotC decides to take with rebooted settings.
It's probably one of the most innovative publishing models in RPGs since the OGL in 3E.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
This is a little off topic, but this post reminds me how grateful I am for WotC's current business model, specifically the DMs Guild. I can't think of any other major IP owner that provides a platform for fans to not only play with their IP, but to legally share it with other fans and even make a little bit of money off it in the process. That's definitely something worth celebrating, even if... no, especially if you don't like the direction WotC decides to take with rebooted settings.
I think that WotC pioneered this concept, but now several other company allow this, including White Wolf, Paizo and Monte Cook Games.
 

delericho

Legend
The elven superpower being arrogant and nasty was one of the best decisions spelljammer made. It makes for a much better freebooting swashbuckling game if the big powers are bad (or at the very least incompetent, neglectful, beset with infighting, and/or bureacracy-bound).

Agreed. Though it's probably even better if the Unhuman Wars almost wiped out both sides, with the remaining Elven navy just being really good at projecting the appearance of strength.

I'm a little annoyed they never quite had the courage to go all the way and make the elves actually bad guys and the scro ambiguous or even ally potential.

I have mixed feelings on this one.

On the one hand, I quite like the idea that while the elves suck, the ancient orcs/goblinoids were worse, hence the near-genocide. Or, I like the idea that they were both just as bad as each other, with the elves just having better PR.

I'm also tempted by the idea that the ancient elves and orcs/goblinoids may well not be the same as their modern counterparts. So maybe the ancient orcs/goblinoids were that bad, but aren't now (especially with the rise of the scro*). Maybe those nazi elves are losing their grip on power in the elven fleet?

But I certainly agree that at least some factions within the scro fleet (and, almost certainly, the elves too) can serve as potential allies. (Good vs evil actually serves as a fairly poor central conflict, since there's an obvious 'right' answer.)

* That said, the scro don't serve any useful purpose post-3e - the niche that they once filled is better fitted to hobgoblins these days.
 
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I'm also tempted by the idea that the ancient elves and orcs/goblinoids may well not be the same as their modern counterparts. So maybe the ancient orcs/goblinoids were that bad, but aren't now (especially with the rise of the scro*). Maybe those nazi elves are losing their grip on power in the elven fleet?

But I certainly agree that at least some factions within the scro fleet (and, almost certainly, the elves too) can serve as potential allies. (Good vs evil actually serves as a fairly poor central conflict, since there's an obvious 'right' answer.)

* That said, the scro don't serve any useful purpose post-3e - the niche that they once filled is better fitted to hobgoblins these days.

If it were up to me, I'd reinvent the scro as a culture, rather than an orc subrace. The survivors of the genocide in the first unhuman war, banding together for survival and becoming something new, a multi-racial society built from the ground up under the leadership/teachings of Dukgrash, or whatever the guy's name was. You saw this a lot in the first scro-related module, you've got a huge space station, but while the scro at unquestionably at the top, there's hogoblins, ogres, bugbears, goblins, etc etc. As you suggest, this puts the responsibility for creating the scro firmly on the shoulders of the genocide elves. And it's pretty clear that the first unhuman war was a huge murderous overreaction on the part of the Elven Armada, basically retaliating against some sporadic over-border raiding and piracy from disorganised orc/goblinoid warbands with massive planet-destroying overkill. Having this result in the creation of a legitimately dangerous and nasty enemy is nicely poetic and ironic, I think. And since it's only been 400 years, a lot of the elves who made the decision in the first war are probably still around, which has all sorts of plot possibilities...

Have to admit, when I first read the Spelljammer boxed set, and the Lost Ships book, my sympathies were hard on the side of the scro and the goblinoids. The later modules had to really work to make you want to side with the elves against them.

(PC idea - grubby goblin monk-rogue, works in some sort of servile position out in Wildspace, a janitor on Bral or something, but who is really a member of a scro monastic order who filter out into the wider Astral Sea to try to track down legendary elven war criminals from the first war. Other PC idea, a half-elf who was half-elf and half orc. Maybe a barbarian, to mechanically reflect the orc influence. You'd almost have to go with the 'dumped at the orphanage as a baby' origin for this one, and have her deal with the implications of her parentage, and the people on both sides who see her as an embarrassment or aberration)
 

We should rebember elves were willing to peaceful with other civilitations, but scros were hostile against everyones. You can guess who could ask help against the other enemy.

Other point we should remember is the metaplot about the Vodoni empire and the spheres wars. The fandom wiki says it ended with the victory of the good guys (of course!), but I don't remember the consequences of the war in the now fragmented empire.

---

Do you remember the voor larva?
voorlarv.gif
 
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True, and of course I expect that if it looks like the Scro, the Elven Armada, Shou dragonships etc etc won't make it into the upcoming release (based on ToC spoilers etc etc), then the 3rd party people will get busy and conversions of it all will be out DMsGuild within approximately 12 seconds of that being allowed.

Mind you, I was reading the old Rock of Bral supplement a while back and the Shou would need some ... updating. Shou is of course a FR China ripoff - but for some reason they bring the yakuza with them wherever they go. Bad case of All Asians Are The Same disease there...


More a case of only so much space in the book so we will have to make some mechanics do double duty, like how they gave the Shou Lung Emperor the Samurai class, but made it clear it was only mechanically, he wasn't actually a Samurai in lore.
 

The elven superpower being arrogant and nasty was one of the best decisions spelljammer made. It makes for a much better freebooting swashbuckling game if the big powers are bad (or at the very least incompetent, neglectful, beset with infighting, and/or bureacracy-bound). Otherwise, you're just tamely running a trade route under the protective gaze of your benevolent overlords. I'm a little annoyed they never quite had the courage to go all the way and make the elves actually bad guys and the scro ambiguous or even ally potential. But nope, from step 1 your PCs are assumed to be fine working for the genocide elves, and every goblinoid or ogre or whatever you meet is AAARGH MONSTER. But eh, it was a long time ago, things change, and it's not like anyone FORCED you to run the modules as written.

But I suspect in the 5e edition the Elven Armada will be completely gone, as will the Scro and their empire. Given the tiny page count that WotC have restricted themselves to, we'll probably only get a few pages on a few random sample worlds and systems to travel to, with a whole lot of 'fill out the rest of the universe with the WONDERS OF YOUR IMAGINATION' boilerplate.

They didn't create Astral Elves for the good of their Health, I suspect the Astral "Elven Armada" will still be a thing, but it will be very different in nature.
 

Stormonu

Legend
The Scro being a culture instead of race sounds like a good idea.

I suspect the elves of SJ was based on the Spanish navy of the 16th century, and the Scro possibly the buccaneering pirates of the Caribbean - or at least, that's my plan for emulating them. "Scro" Sea Dogs somehow seems appropriate.

Furthermore, you can also do realms where spelljamming isn't a pirate-based adventure, and is more of a Star Trek thing, exploring new worlds and seeking out new civilizations...
 

Maybe the elf navy may seem unfriendly, but they are heroes because they have saved thousands of people against raiders who want to catch slaves (neogis, illithid and company).

Scros (I hate that name!) could be a multiracial faction, not only with space orcs, but also bugbear, goblins and hobgoblings.

If you want to play something like Star Trek you will need a lot of redshirt nPCs ready to replace the more than possible losses.

* The elemental chaos/limbo could be interesting to can add elemental monsters, but not too dangerous for low-level characters. Wasn't there anything as "Riverweb"?

* Shifters(weretouched race) could be former members of Vodoni empire.
 


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