Spelljammer Spelljammer: Adventures in Space Review

The new Spelljammer: Adventures in Space is the latest 5E revival of a beloved old setting, and one that has intrigued new D&D fans because it promises swashbuckling fantasy adventures in space. WotC also decided to do something a bit different by releasing it as a three-book slipcase set with a DM screen. Yet Spelljammer presents some unique challenges that other revivals haven't faced, making it a complicated endeavor.
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What's in the Box, Err, Slipcase?​

As with other recent releases, Spelljammer: Adventures in Space is being sold in two versions: a regular edition for mass market retailers with covers by Bruce Brenneise, Justin Gerard and Ekaterina Bumak, and an alternative cover edition available through game stores featuring cover art by Hydro74. It is also being labeled a “campaign collection” because it has everything a DM needs to run a Spelljammer adventure”. That includes:
  • The Astral Adventurer’s Guide, a source book for players and DMs,
  • Boo’s Astral Menagerie, a bestiary
  • Light of Xaryxis, an adventure
  • A double-sided poster map of The Rock of Bral
  • A four-panel DM screen
Large Luigi.jpg

The Basics​

The 1989 Spelljammer was designed to bring space adventures to D&D fantasy, but Jeff Grubb and the original developers were also tasked to not contradict anything already established about other campaign worlds like Krynn (Dragonlance), Toril (Forgotten Realms), or Greyhawk (Oerth). The team decided to dream big and come up with something wild. The result has touches evocative of space opera, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, Jules Verne novels, classic sailing adventures, and pulp science fiction like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

Spelljammer also mixed in the Ptolemaic concept of planets being moved by spheres. So what we would call a solar system is contained in an unbreakable crystal sphere in Spelljammer and what is within those spheres is called wildspace. The Dragonlance crystal sphere was known as Krynnspace, the one containing Toril was called Realmspace, etc. The crystal spheres float in a flammable sea known as phlogiston. Portals allow passage from within a crystal sphere to phlogiston and the reverse, but portals don't have a consistent location or availability.

Spelljammer ships could look like classic sailing vessels or designs inspired by insects and sea creatures, or almost anything that can be imagined. Depending upon the design, they might be able to land on the ground or sail in an ocean as well. Spelljammer ships were controlled by a mage or cleric through a magical helm.

In essence, Spelljammer as a setting is a realm between worlds that allows a party to experience all sorts of space fantasy adventures. Yet while the original Spelljammer opened up new dimensions of adventure for D&D players, it also added a level of complication.

While Planescape involves, as the name indicates, different planes of existence, original Spelljammer looked at the D&D cosmos as a series of planets in space and the titular spelljammer ships. That sort of fits together, but not exactly.

With the new edition, project lead Chris Perkins sought to connect Spelljammer cosmology more firmly to the cosmology described in the Dungeon Master's Guide. So instead of crystal spheres bobbing in highly flammable phlogiston it works a bit differently now.

In 5E, the space you see when looking up at the sky from Toril, Krynn, etc. is still called wildspace, but it's not contained in a crystal sphere. With a spelljammer ship you can travel that wildspace and visit other worlds. Travel far enough and when you reach the edge of a wildspace system it becomes silvery and misty. Cross into it, and you're in the “sea” of the Astral Plane. From there you could also travel to other wildspace realms or just explore the astral sea.

Unlike space in our world, wildspace isn't a void. It's a bright, colorful “ocean” filled with weird creatures, like space fish, and mysterious worlds. The astral sea is silvery and more conceptual with dead gods floating in space. You don't need to breathe or eat in astral space whereas Wildspace requires both, the former facilitated by air envelopes.

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What's in It for Players?​

The Character Options chapter contains two new backgrounds and six new player races. The Astral Drifter background is for someone who has spent a significant amount of time in the astral sea. That provides longevity, making them older than they should be without penalty. They also experienced “Divine Contact” while in the astral plane, which grants the cleric version of the magic initiate feat regardless of the character's class. The Wildspacer background is for those who have been asteroid miners, explorers, etc. and grants the Toughness background. Wildspacers have also had a harrowing experience in their past with a creature like a mindflayer, beholder, etc.

The new player races are:
  • Astral Elves
  • Autognomes
  • Giff
  • Hadozee
  • Plasmoids
  • Thri-kreen
As the name indicates, Astral Elves traveled from the Feywild to the Astral Planes to be closer to the gods, spending a long time there. They have the usual abilities, such as darkvision, but Starry Step replaces the Misty Step associated with Fey Elves.

Autognomes are constructs created by Rock Gnomes. Besides some logical abilities due to its mechanical nature, such as immunity to disease, resistance to pain, and no need to eat, it gets the cool ability, Build for Success. After rolling a d20 for an attack, ability check, or saving throw, the Autognome can choose to add a d4 after seeing the result of their roll but before learning if it was successful or not. The Autognome can do this a number of times equal to its proficiency bonus, and regains it after a long rest.

Giff are fan favorites—hippo-like humanoids with a passion for explosives, which grants Firearm Mastery. They also get Hippo Build, which gives advantage on Strength checks, and Astral Spark, which allows them to do extra Force damage. Like Build for Success, it can be used a number of times equal to their proficiency bonus and refresh after a long rest. Note that 50 percent of the Giff pronounce their name with a hard G and 50 percent use a soft G and the Giff may come to blows over that.

Hadozee are simian-like aliens with membranes attached to their wrists and ankles that can be used to glide. Their feet are dexterous and able to function almost like hands. They have a special resilience related to their magical origin that allows them to roll a d6 on a reaction roll, add their proficiency bonus to it and decrease the amount of damage they take. Usage and refresh is like Build for Success and Astral Spark.

Plasmoids are creature type ooze but sentient. They can hold themselves into a humanoid shape to match those around them. They have Amorphous shape abilities as well as Shape Self, and can go an hour without breathing.

Thri-kreen are already in the regular Monster Manual, where they're listed as creature type humanoid. As a playable race they have been switched to creature type monstrosities. Along with Sleepless, and Telepathy, and Secondary Arms, they can change the color of their carapace with Chameleon Carapace, which also includes a base Armor Class of 13 plus Dexterity modifier if they aren't wearing armor.

What we don't get in the Character Options are new classes or subclasses. At first I thought that was odd, but after thinking about, the existing classes/subclasses already have everything you need. Spelljammer is meant to be fantasy swashbuckling in space, not hard science fiction and the classes that might require.

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The Rest of the Astral Adventurer’s Guide

The remainder of the AAG, understandably, focuses on spelljamming itself. That includes rules for speed, falling, etc. and a little bit of magic. AAG only contains two new spells (2nd level Air Bubble and 5th level Create Spelljamming Helm) and three new magic items (Fish Suit, which lets you breathe and move in wildspace outside of a ship, Wildspace Osprey, a sort of galactic compass, and, of course, Spelljamming Helm).

AAG contains 16 spelljammer ships, complete with beautiful color images (by a variety of artists) of the ships in space. The spacedeck plans are by Dyson Logos, so the designs are well done—clear, logical, practical, and imaginative.

Some of the ships carryover from the original Spelljammer while others are brand new. If you're an OG Spelljammer fan and don't think 16 ships are enough, don't worry. It's super simple to grab one of your omitted old favorites and quickly convert for 5E.

Lastly, the AAG provides information on the Rock of Bral. Think of it as a sort of Port Royal or Waterdeep in space. Traditionally in Spelljammer, Bral is a location ships return to regularly for supplies or new jobs—and there you might be Large Luigi, a lawful neutral beholder who owns The Happy Beholder bar.

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Boo’s Astral Menagerie

Do we ever get enough monsters? Of course not. BAM contains 39 monsters/species, but several of them come with a number of variants, bringing the number of stat blocks up to 72. For example, the two dragons, lunar and solar, get four stat blocks each: ancient, adult, young, and wyrmling. Similarly, Giff get a Giff Shipmate, Giff Shock Trooper, and Giff Warlord, and Hadozees get Hadozee Explorer, Hadozee Shipmate, and Hadozee Warrior stat blocks. The included adventure, Light of Xaryxis, also contains one more stat block for Astral Blights.

The variety of creatures have a nice blend of NPC species/rivals, straight-up monsters, and astral creatures like space whale Kindori. The also range from utterly creepy, like the Cosmic Horror to the utterly adorable and well-known Giant Space Hamster.

Speaking of cute, the penguin-like Dohwar (art by Brynn Metheney) are an alternative to the typical merchants your players may encounter. They prefer secretive deals even when the products are completely legal. Appropriately, the collective noun for Dohwars is cartel.

If 72 stat blocks aren't enough for your Spelljammer campaign, and you don't want to use Mordenkainen's Monsters of the Universe, BAM explains how to adapt any terrestrial 5E creature for Spelljammer. Simply add the trait “Unusual Nature”, which means they don't have to breathe, and you're all set.

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Light of Xaryxis

Not surprisingly the set's adventure is designed to make the players travel through wildspace to Bral, Doomspace, and more, giving them an overview of what Spelljammer as a setting can do. LoX contains four section of three chapters each. The chapters are designed to be to take about 2-3 hours to play, depending upon how much your group sidetracks, of course.

LoX is for characters of 5th-8th level so it fits easily as a follow-up to the original D&D Starter Set, the D&D Essentials Kit, the new D&D Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle, Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, or any other adventure that gets the players to 5th level. It doesn't really matter what type of campaign you run or what world you use, including homebrew, because LoX starts with Astral Elves from the Xaryxis Empire attacking your starting world to steal its vital energy to prolong the life of their dying sun.

LoX feels like a Flash Gordon or similar space adventure movie serial. Each chapter ends with a cliffhanger and the full-page artwork that begins each chapter has its title in big block letter, which is not the usual D&D style or design. There's even a fight in a warlord's arena while trying to build a coalition and an epic fight with an armada.

While it's designed to let players travel, meet people, and build alliances, LoX is not a sandbox adventure. The plot has a definite order to it, though it does branch a bit depending upon choices characters make. Still, those plot branches usually have opportunities to come back together at a later point or there are options for “if the players win” and “if the players lose”.

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Changes for the Better​

This may ruffle some fan feathers, but I always liked the idea of Spelljammer far more than the way it was executed in 2nd Edition. The crystal spheres bothered me, especially since portals through them could be difficult to find and inconsistent. I know I wasn't the only one who hated that the mage or cleric helming the ship couldn't do anything else while controlling the ship. Add in how flammable phlogiston was and instead of feeling like a challenge, it just felt frustrating—or required home rules to compensate.

So I like the changes 5E made to Spelljammer, switching from crystal spheres to wildspace realms separated by the astral sea and getting rid of phlogiston. The person attuned to the helm can transfer the attunement to a willing person with a touch. But you do still have to maintain concentration, as if casting a spell, to maintain control of the ship. Mages can know what's going on around them while in the helm, which is an improvement, but I question if it's enough. If there's a solution to that in the set, I keep missing it because I looked.

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What I Liked​

The slipcase format has some advantages. A DM can hand the AAG to players to check a rule or the new species and not worry about them seeing adventure material. A GM can also have a page of BAM open to the creature they need and do the same with LoX instead of flipping back and forth. And getting a custom DM screen with the set, complete with encounter tables, is very handy.

I love the art. Perkins said they bought more art for Spelljammer than usual, and it shows. Some pieces are reused from earlier books, like a piece of Giff artwork, but the new art clearly establishes the scope of a Spelljammer adventure. The regular covers are very good and the alternative covers by Hydro74 are stunning. Dyson Logos' map for the butterfly-shaped Xaryxis Imperial Citadal is fantastic and clever.

I really like that the LoX adventure can start anywhere, including on a homebrew world. Depending upon how LoX ends and what the players want to do next, they could also return home for new terrestrial adventures. It's a nice flexibility as is the fact that the Rock of Bral can be placed anywhere in wildspace (in 2nd Edition it was near Toril).

And LoX does have the feel of pulp space adventure or a comic book with its swashbuckling feel and cliffhangers. LoX also does a great job of teaching characters about wildspace adventures.

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Stumbling Blocks​

Most of my complaints have one of two causes—length and objectivity.

S:AiS is a setting, an adventure, and a bestiary, but it's the smallest product in terms of written content of anything similar. Each book is only 64 pages whereas Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frost Maiden was 320 pages, and Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus is 256 pages. S:AiS's total of 192 pages isn't just a smaller page count, but when you factor in full- and half-page art, it's even less written content.

That wouldn't be so bad if it didn't feel like they left things out. BAM fairs the best in that regard. While only 72 stat blocks and limited lore/background content to go with it would be skimpy for the average dedicated bestiary, it's typical or better than usual for the monster appendices in a lot of the books.

LoX suffers the most from its tight page count. Many chapters are just three pages long. While Perkins said LoX is more of an example adventure and introduction because DMs like to make their own adventures I still wanted a bit more meat on the bones than we got. The writers for the adventure—Justice Ramin Arman, Sadie Lowry, and Jeffrey Ludwig—did the best they could with what is obviously a tight word count, and they were working from adventure developed by Perkins and Dan Dillon. I've definitely enjoyed Arman, Perkins and Dillon's work in the past so the book length seems to be the culprit. The writers needed more space to flesh things out.

Spoilers below for those playing the adventure:

The limited page count is felt most at the ending. The characters are put in a difficult situation in which at least one seems likely to die—but wait, there's a deus ex machina plot point to save them. I hate that. The ending does have a legitimate emotional dilemma that will allow the players to argue among themselves and with NPCs in their alliance about what to do, and someone is going to lose in the scenario.

I think the ending bothers me because not only does it feel rushed, but it's also unsatisfying. Save your homeworld (and several others) and another world will die (and vice versa). That's rather heavy for a setting that loves playing up the swashbuckling aspect (there are Vampirates, for example).

AAG falls in the middle in terms of how badly the short page count affected it. The Character Option chapter is fine, though more info on the new player races wouldn't have hurt. A little more info on running a spelljammer might have been appreciated. But the Rock of Bral really suffered with most locations on Bral only getting a couple of sentences. I wasn't expecting anything as extensive as the original Rock of Bral supplement, but only five pages of written content (when you deduct the portion of the pages taken up by art) isn't enough. AAG would have benefited from at least another eight pages.

I suspect the short page counts were for financial reasons. Three 64-page hardcovers are more expensive to produce than one hardcover of 192 pages, and the price goes up when the slipcase and durable DM screen are added. Switching to softcover books wouldn't be a solution. Fans like the more durable hardcovers, it's part of the 5E branding, and the hardcovers allow for metallic ink alternate cover editions for game stores. So I understand it but dislike it.

So if most of my problems with S:AiS are related to its limited word count, my other complaint is that it needed a final look by an editor who could represent the newcomer's perspective because a few sections fell into the category of “can't see the forest for the trees.”

For example, the sequencing problem in AAG. The first chapter, which is only two pages long, has a column of “terminology” to introduce Spelljammer's “Vast Oceans of Adventure.” Chapter 2 is Character Options. Chapter 3 is “Astral Adventuring” with the subhead, “How Spelljamming Works.” The problem is it doesn't actually start with how spelljamming works but begins with speed and other technical details like air envelopes, falling, and gravity planes before more firmly explaining the astral plane and moving through it. Starting with helms instead, how they work and control a ship would have made much more sense than speed. And while it seems the person at the helm isn't quite as limited as they were in 2nd edition a bit more clarification would be nice.

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Summing Up Spelljammer for 5E​

If you loved the original Spelljammer you'll probably like this one. I don't think getting rid of the crystal spheres and similar changes will be a deal breaker for anyone and the easier attunement switching will be appreciated. BAM has a good creature selection with an option to convert more. IoX needed more space to breathe, but if Perkins is right and people like customizing adventures then that's not necessarily a drawback even though it bothered me.

For me, while I like a lot of S:AiS, the stumbling blocks keep me from giving it top marks even though I'd love to. That said, I hope it does really well so we can get more Spelljammer products.

If you like Spelljammer (or are more forgiving than I am), it's likely an A- or better. For me, the short page count led to too many problems, from IoX feeling rushed at the end to the skimpy treatment the Rock of Bral got (it didn't need exhaustive coverage but more than five pages is reasonable), and more meant that it only gets a B from me, B+ if I'm feeling generous.

Do I recommend it if you want something different or like space adventure? Absolutely. Just be prepared to flesh more things out that you would in the typical D&D adventure. At the minimum it would be a fun change of pace from the typical D&D campaign, and that can be well worth it.
 
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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

What would you expect to do with it, apart from slip under a door occasionally?
With the disclaimer that I'm not a game designer and that there'd need to be proficiency per long rest limits etc applied for balance, just off the top of my head some options I'd consider messing with would be: advantage on grapple and escape checks, ability to use Grease centered on self, ability to use reaction to gain resistance against an incoming physical attack, ability to disarm weapons that hit you by absorbing them. Temporarily gain reach. Temporarily split in two. An acid touch attack. Give them some downsides to balance them if you have to. Disadvantage on saves to avoid thirst or environmental heat, for example. At least give them some sort of natural armour ability so they can function in combat without automatically crippling their iconic racial ability. Or hell, give them the ability to spend half their movement (or something) to don/doff any armour by pouring themselves into it,

There's load of possibilities. But if you're having an ooze PC race, put the ooziness front and centre, not as an afterthought ribbon ability.
 
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advantage on grapple and escape checks
I think they had advantage to escape grapples in the play test. But it also would require them to be naked.
ability to use Grease centered on self
It's not something any ooze creature in the game gets. They are sticky, not slippery.
use reaction to gain resistance against an incoming physical attack
Very overpowered, especially when you already have resistance to two damage types (which might be dull, but isn't weak).
ability to disarm weapons that hit you by absorbing them.
If you have the disarm manoeuvre, you could fluff it this way. But I don't see why all oozes would develop that skill.
Temporarily gain reach. Temporarily split in two.
Both overpowered.
An acid touch attack.
Being acidic would make it difficult to ever use any gear.
Give them some downsides to balance them if you have to
Racial disadvantages are not allowed under current rules.
There's load of possibilities. But if you're having an ooze PC race, put the ooziness front and centre, not as an afterthought ribbon ability.
Plenty of people seem keen to play the race. Maybe they are inspired by the look rather than combat advantages?
 

It's not something any ooze creature in the game gets. They are sticky, not slippery.
If plasmoids were sticky, they'd stick to narrow gaps like polyfilla, rather than seep through them.

Very overpowered, especially when you already have resistance to two damage types (which might be dull, but isn't weak).

As i said, i'd remove or limit the resistances in the interests of making the plasmoid an ooze-focused race rather than a resistance-focused race. This is something I'd limit to proficiency per long rest or something
Both overpowered.
As i said, all of my suggestions would need balancing by uses per rest.
Being acidic would make it difficult to ever use any gear.
Make it a cantrip like shocking grasp then. Easy.
Racial disadvantages are not allowed under current rules.
Drow in the 5e PHB - which is still current - disagree. And racial disadvantages are not disallowed by the rules exactly, unless I've missed somewhere that it's explicitly written down, but more not a design strategy that's currently in favour with WotC. Which i think is a mistake, by the way.
Plenty of people seem keen to play the race. Maybe they are inspired by the look rather than combat advantages?
They just strike me a lot like the initial PHB implementation of dragonborn, which had breath weapons that just weren't worthwhile after a few levels. A case of overcautious balancing by the designers resulting in a missed opportunity, and even WotC recognised that eventually and gave them a tune-up in Fizban's. A very watered-down and limited version of an iconic monster ability that increasingly gets ignored at higher levels because it's a pretty worthless novelty thing that you pull out once every couple of levels maybe. It just seems like very bland, unadventurous design. If there's people who have fun with it or who are inspired by the look - well, good luck to them. In my opinion though, it's a disappointing implementation of a great concept.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I haven't read the adventure because at some point I might play it, but I read the other two books this weekend.

Short review - it's about two thirds of a really good book, which is being sold for a third above the price of a book. Even though it claims to be, it's not a setting book, which takes some adjusting for those of us accustomed to setting books like Rising from the Last War or even VRGtR or SCAG. There's no gods, no organisations, no locations (other than an overview of the Rock of Bral that's really abbreviated to the point of uselessness) and not really even any plot hooks or 'how to run a Spelljammer campaign' advice. It's a toolkit which leaves almost everything for the GM to do - a bit like if WotC published the bits of VRGtR about different horror genres and the monsters in a skinny overpriced hardback, and then dumpstered the rest. The art is gorgeous and is without doubt the best aspect of the product (I love that there are three pics for each playable race, to give an idea of variety within each race), with the strange exception of Minsc's face on the front cover and the odd choice to leave ship deckplans uncoloured. And this 100% cannibalises a cancelled 5e Dark Sun book for its monsters, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar.

Regrettably, on balance I can't really give this a good overall verdict, and that's entirely down to the poor editorial choices. A three-book set might be a decent format that allows GMs to give player material to players without spilling the beans on other stuff, but if it means gutting the pagecount to the point of minimum functionality like this then they're far better off sticking to conventional big books. Significant rules issues with hadozee and plasmoids that were raised extensively during the UA feedback phase went to print unaltered. Too much of the monster book was taken up with Dark Sun monsters, these should wait for their own product and be replaced with more ships, and preferably some useful Volos' Guide-style ecology material which gives newbie DMs at least some implied setting material to work with. Also, on the hadozee illustrations the patagium just looks appallingly wrong and biologically non-functional from a gliding-creature point of view (Australian wildlife rescuer speaking here, I've had a bit to do with various gliders, and every time i see the huge holes between the hadozee wings and arms it just hammers on my berserk button...), and an art manager really should have jumped on this early at the concept sketch stage.

I suspect it's too late to avoid Planescape going to print in the same awful format, but fingers crossed that after that they learn their lesson.
Since droves of people buy every WotC product that comes out now, they're going to continue to release substandard product. No reason not to.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I think they had advantage to escape grapples in the play test. But it also would require them to be naked.

It's not something any ooze creature in the game gets. They are sticky, not slippery.

Very overpowered, especially when you already have resistance to two damage types (which might be dull, but isn't weak).

If you have the disarm manoeuvre, you could fluff it this way. But I don't see why all oozes would develop that skill.

Both overpowered.

Being acidic would make it difficult to ever use any gear.

Racial disadvantages are not allowed under current rules.

Plenty of people seem keen to play the race. Maybe they are inspired by the look rather than combat advantages?
The average 5e player (the ones WotC want money from, ie, not us) care far more for asthetics than practical value. If you want cool, interesting rules, you're not going to get them from the IP holder.

Level Up and it's own third party supplements have much better origin rules than anything WotC or TSR has ever released, including a system for creating your own heritage that would do a lot of what is being reasonably ask for here.

They don't have an issue with heritage disadvantages either.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It looks like fail forward then. Sales are very high, and it uses less paper, which is very expensive at the moment.
It uses less paper, but they used a much, MUCH higher quality paper in the printing. The paper is almost double thickness and super glossy. I doubt they saved much money this way.
People like stuff that looks pretty, the word count doesn't matter.
Sales were high due to a lot of presales and people running out to buy it right away. Now we know and if they fool us twice, shame on us. I know that I won't touch the Planescape setting without more and better content after being burned on Spelljammer. I doubt I'm alone in this.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
As I've said, WotC no longer has to make quality product to sell well. They could put out pretty branded garbage and people will still buy it at this point.
Yep, but continuing to do so is what killed 3e. They put out a number of garbage books at the end of that edition and sales dropped off. At first they sold like hot cakes. Then people wised up and started looking at the books with a lot more scrutiny before buying. Just like I'm going to do with the next few settings.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Dungeonology, though that was back in the 3E era.
Magic of Incarnum, also from the 3e era. Complete junk. The definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over hoping that this time it will be different, but I've been through that book 30-40 times, each time hoping that I'll see something that I missed that will make it not a complete waste of money. I still pull it out probably once a year and try.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Yep, but continuing to do so is what killed 3e. They put out a number of garbage books at the end of that edition and sales dropped off. At first they sold like hot cakes. Then people wised up and started looking at the books with a lot more scrutiny before buying. Just like I'm going to do with the next few settings.
Given the volume of new players and WotC's market dominance, I'm not sure that will happen (as much as it should).
 



I wonder how much more expensive it would have been to produce 3 94 page books instead of 3 64 page ones. I know these books have to be done in 32 page increments.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Just a bit. I went back to reread to make sure I had the details straight.

There are 10,000 Astral Elves on the citadel. The majority of those are NOT military, and are worried they've made a mistake with their current emperor. The players then must immedietly spelljam suicide-run (literally) into the star, or teleport into it with the fountain nearby, immedietly killing every single thing in Xaryxispace. This includes the two planets that still have life, one of which is all Underdark, the other one is all flora and has a few elves that live there and harvest the crystal vines.

I just feel...there was a better way of doing a Death Star plot then having to actually genocide all these lives.

Yeah, this is a bit dark as an adventure end:

first, the damned if you do, damned if you don't choice of dooming at least one of the systems, that's harsh. Though the astral elves have an escape, not all of them will. I think the adventure tries to mitigate by saying they've been pretty bad for a while, but that's hardly an excuse for forced genocide - even in self defense.

But aside from that. Forcing a PC (it only takes one) to suicide run is a bit ridiculous to build into the adventure. If a to player makes that choice for a PC organically, that can be great but to force write it in - that's just terrible. And yes, the adventure gives an out to have one of the NPCs do it, but that's lame too.

I get that the adventure was going for epic, but I consider it a belly flop!

Just my two cents.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Magic of Incarnum, also from the 3e era. Complete junk. The definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over hoping that this time it will be different, but I've been through that book 30-40 times, each time hoping that I'll see something that I missed that will make it not a complete waste of money. I still pull it out probably once a year and try.
Well if you want to go that route, I have/had the same issue with Weapons of Legacy.

Dungeonology was unique because it was nothing but a book of spoilers for existing modules. No rules or anything, just summaries full of spoilers for adventures like Tomb of Horrors, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Forge of Fury, etc.
 

Now that I have it physically (as while it's flawed due to missing a few things, I still believe it's a decent enough product), they should have just not included the DMs screen. It's about half as big as each of the books, which means there would be ~32 pages that would have gone a long way towards including what it needed so it could be a more complete product. Definitely something they should consider if they want to continue in this format.

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Stormonu

Legend
Of all things, I saw a copy in my local Walmart - never thought I'd see that day!

If I didn't have the B&G version on order, I would have snapped it up right then and there. I think they picked up the 3-book format from B&G to be honest, and it's a great idea, just not if the books are going to be hardbacks. As a single book it's what - 192 pages?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The average 5e player (the ones WotC want money from, ie, not us) care far more for asthetics than practical value.

Mod Note:
You are developing quite the habit of insulting people.

Continuing to take your frustrations out on other players is not going to serve you well here. Please reconsider your approach to such topics.
 

DaffCon1

Professional Lurker
I'm a longtime Spelljammer fan. I've got all of the original material -- boxed sets, adventures, sourcebooks, Monstrous Compendiums, the novels, and every TSR magazine that had something about Spelljammer. In fact, I got it all twice; I lost my original copies and had to replace everything.

I was excited about getting this set.

That excitement lasted about twenty minutes after getting it in hand.

The covers of the books are thicker than the pages are. There's simply no room to properly explore, here. They crammed the two 96-page books of the original boxed set, some of the materials from SJR1 Lost Ships, and some of the material from two MC releases into two 64-page books.

While I liked that they made helms cheaper and did away with the mechanic of "Your butt touches the seat and you've lost all your spells" that was about the only improvement. I'm neutral about losing the Phlogiston, but I don't like losing the crystal spheres -- one thing about chucking them that wasn't mentioned was that was where the stars were. Now we have space travel without stars!

I've not looked at the adventure yet, but I know the main book doesn't say anything about taking off or landing on planets, or dealing with re-entry, or even discuss ships going from wildspace to the Astral. It says they can do it, but then goes on to talk about traveling in the Astral without a ship, and doesn't mention spelljamming through the Astral at all.

All of the info on the Rock of Bral is a reprint. Once more, when given the opportunity to do an update, WotC just recycled old material.

There are brief mentions of the Sindiath Line and Gaspar Reclamations, but that's about it for spelljamming organizations. There's no mention of the First or Second Unhuman War.

And oh gods, they gave us evil space clowns. With ray guns. And they eat people. I'm not making this up!

I didn't pay full cover price for this set; I got it for $40 on Amazon. I'm not sure it's worth that much.

As I said, I'm a longtime Spelljammer fan... And if another longtime Spelljammer fan asked me if they should get this, I wouldn't be able to tell them yes.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I've not looked at the adventure yet, but I know the main book doesn't say anything about taking off or landing on planets, or dealing with re-entry, or even discuss ships going from wildspace to the Astral. It says they can do it, but then goes on to talk about traveling in the Astral without a ship, and doesn't mention spelljamming through the Astral at all.

What information are you looking for here? The ship slows down to tactical speed when it reaches the planet's air envelope (equal to the diameter of the planet). Each ship has a small section about whether it can land (most can't stop on dry land, and "fall on their side" if not in water). Reentry isn't covered because you're never going fast enough to burn up, and if it's uncontrolled, it's just a fall (from reeeeeally high up). As for Astral Spelljamming, I assume the ship just uses the same spelljamming speeds since it doesn't indicate anything different and Wildspace/Astral overlap.

Rock of Braal gets some additional color in the adventure, but the old 2E supplement Rock of Braal has everything you need on it if you really want any detail. And the old 2E info in the main book was about as threadbare as the 5E's set.

I will say, the books aren't perfect. I could have done with a 1-2 page spread on "Advanced Movement", more example systems (if nothing else, like the sidebars in the 2E books) and any more pages they could have squeezed in if they hadn't gone hardcover.

But for me, it was a must-have.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
What information are you looking for here? The ship slows down to tactical speed when it reaches the planet's air envelope (equal to the diameter of the planet). Each ship has a small section about whether it can land (most can't stop on dry land, and "fall on their side" if not in water). Reentry isn't covered because you're never going fast enough to burn up, and if it's uncontrolled, it's just a fall (from reeeeeally high up). As for Astral Spelljamming, I assume the ship just uses the same spelljamming speeds since it doesn't indicate anything different and Wildspace/Astral overlap.

Rock of Braal gets some additional color in the adventure, but the old 2E supplement Rock of Braal has everything you need on it if you really want any detail. And the old 2E info in the main book was about as threadbare as the 5E's set.

I will say, the books aren't perfect. I could have done with a 1-2 page spread on "Advanced Movement", more example systems (if nothing else, like the sidebars in the 2E books) and any more pages they could have squeezed in if they hadn't gone hardcover.

But for me, it was a must-have.
Yeah. I'm not going to defend the limited pages (it could have been a product on expenses with having so much amazing art and 3 hardcovers), the page count sucks and the book suffers because of it. However, I tried to run 5e Spelljammer a few years back using a homebrew system, and it was an absolute nightmare. It was kind of a relief that the campaign ended in a TPK. I haven't fully read the book yet, but I've looked through a lot of it, and it looks like it would be a real help. Definitely a "must have" if you want to run Spelljammer without having a ton of other 5e books, 3rd party products printed off, and homebrewed answers to common space questions.

The books are very far from perfect (largely because of their small page counts), and it's upsetting that the 5e Spelljammer release was this unfinished. But I still bought the book and am going to take another shot at 5e Spelljammer because of it. The art is amazing, the poster map is great, the monster stat blocks and 6 new races are extremely worth getting the book for, and there are cool bits of the adventure I can raid for my homebrew Spelljammer campaign.

The book set has got problems. Big problems. But I'm not boycotting future WotC releases or anything that drastic because of it, and would definitely recommend it to people that want to run 5e Spelljammer.
 

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