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D&D 5E Where We've Been and Where We Might Be Going (or, What I Think WotC Is Doing)


That's the thing... he doesn't say much at all about what is "between-the-spheres."

Timestamp starts at about 19:20 where he talks Spelljammer. He does say Spelljammer is specifically about the Material Plane (while Planescape is not) which one could assume means the space between spheres is also part of the MP... but what is actually there is not said.
I mean, it could be inflammatory, so I can see why he avoided talking about it.

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You presented your perspective in such a biased fashion that it invited a response setting things right. Moreover, there is a reason streaming does not work with geeky complex games like 3.5/PF/4e (see, I'm not targeting 4e specifically here), they are very technical and resolution (in particular of combat) takes hours, way longer than a streaming session. Only hardcore people would ever have followed endless hours of technical combat resolution (and not only of combat, 4e has technical resolution out of combat too), which would have prevented the explosion anyway. Honestly, if it was that easy, PF2 (amongst others) would have exploded at the same time as 5e, but it did not.

5e's "genius"(although it is certainly not perfection) is in its streamlining and simplicity, which allows casual games where storytelling again (like before 3e) takes over from geeky/expert games where you need to study rules for hours to play the game and where you are always interrupted by expert ruleslawyers arguing (usually in their favour) that you are making mistakes in technical resolution. 5e's simplicity (and it takes real skill to create something simple, much more than something complex) and handing back the reins fully to the DM (and shutting down experts) allows streaming to work on shows without boring viewers to death.

Of course, it requires "better" DMs in the sense that they must maintain the story moving forward to keep the audience interested (and of course it biases the game towards a show rather than a game), but even these "better"(I'm using quotation marks here because although they certainly are better at gaming a show, which does not mean they are the best at running real games amongst friends although Matt for example seemed to be able to do both really well) DMs need real skill and the audience (as usual these days) know what they are looking for, something not technically boring to watch...
Glass Canon disagrees with you


Great Old One
1. Fair, but I believe the phlogiston is a big part of Spelljammer, so Mind Flayers at minimum have a perceived presence there. This has only increased in 5E, as the only Spelljamming craft we've seen in this edition have all been nautiloids (there may be one that actually wasn't, but the captain was still a Mind Flayer).

Again, I don't disagree with the fact that Mind Flayers are important, what I think you are still not being clear about is the fact that the Phlogiston is a big part of Spelljammer. It has never been in the campaign that we've run, most of them being inside a few spheres, with the Phlogiston being used exactly like Hyperspace in Star Wars. It's a huge place with no interesting features and almost no chance of meeting someone. What can happen there are intrigues aboard one ship, and the special atmosphere makes things just different, but it's really a small part of the setting.

2. I don't want to retcon Planescape, I think having Phlogiston integrated into the Astral is actually a fairly small change that doesn't really impact the majority of Planescape.

It fundamentally changes the nature of the planes like 4e did.

3. Glad to see we agree on this bit.

I'm not sure what this was about, but we don't have to disagree on everything, you know... :)

5. I don't really want it to be like Hyperspace. I want it to be more like a ship pursuing another, like on a real ocean, like Pirates of the Caribean. The video is from the Tintin film, where they have a big ship v. ship fight against Red Rackham. Great scene in an ok movie.

Hmm, for me it was a bit too much, but you can certainly do that in the space inside a crystal sphere, which is weird enough, you don't have to run the scene in the phlogistion where it is really like Hyperspace. The space between planets within a sphere is perfect for that and there is no phlogiston there.

6. Well even if it's not (I believe it is, but I digress), I would argue that the Githyanki and Elven Armada should be the biggest forces in Spelljamming routes, whatever form they take. They are arguably the equivalents of the British Trading Company and Spanish Armada, as great large enemies or allies. They make great employers or BBEGs.

You don't need to use the githyanki for that, there are lots of other very dangerous fleets without making the Githyankis one of them. Or you can if you want, I just think it wastes two of the primary githyankis specialities, there movement on the Astral Plane and Silver Swords....

7. Ok, no need to call my thinking "mundane." I personally feel like you have a more esoteric view of the Astral than it has, since it has so many very physical locations there.

Which does not preclude the other thing. What is interesting is the combination of the views, because there is also a difference between being physically in the Astral Plane and projecting oneself Astrally.

Back to the Githyanki, they have their whole city of Tu'Narath there, built on a god's corpse. As gonzo as that is, it's very much a real physical place you can go to, and the center of Githyanki activity.

It's a combination of physical and spiritual, like everything on the Astral Plane, see above. By putting this on a purely physical realm, you are losing half the flavour of it.

To conclude, I think integrating the good ideas of phlogiston would increase the Astral's diversity, make it more important to overall cosmology and to the factions on the MP, and increase the playability of Spelljammer overall.

I think you still have not understood the fact that the Phlogiston is only between Crystal Spheres, and that the Astral Plane is just a transitive plane to the spiritual ones of gods and alignments. Flattening all that into one loses one dimension in the game, which is a lessening of its wealth, for sure.


Great Old One
See my response to that then; doesn't actually say that they are physically connected, or preclude them from being a single MP (I don't believe these contradict either).
Its very simple RAW, there is only one prime, and spells like teleport will work the same way to any destination on the same plane, so RAW there is no distinction between worlds like Greyhawk and the FR, the book specifically say that they are all in the prime, you can therefore teleport from one to the other, they are connected.

You can implement things the way you want in your campaign (mine does not work that way because I implement Spelljammer and Planescape as designed a long time ago), but the rules are crystal clear.

1. Mind flayers are on the cover of the Spelljammer adventure book, and their Nautiloids are arguably the most iconic spelljamming ship. They are at minimum viewed (by us consumers) as having a much larger influence in "space" than on the MP. Which makes sense, because they're horrific monsters from the Far Realm!

2. So? The Astral Sea sounds cool, certainly better than "Phlogiston." New doesn't mean bad!

3. Sorry you don't like the 4E cosmology... but I do! At least parts of it. The Feywild/Shadowfel are great additions and click together more neatly if you need a cosmology to plug-and-play into your homebrew. If you need something more innovative or less structured, I totally get it (and the DMG gives a wide assortment of suggestions if you want that), but for folks you want something more cohesive, some of the 4E changes are great.

4. This is my point! Spelljammer should be swashbuckling space-fantasy... it is CRAZY to me that people would prefer a region of travel where combat is unfeasible, in a game where the rules are primarily combat. I want to run a session where I'm being pursued by spelljammer pirates, the goal being to hold them off until we can make it to a safe port... the Phlogiston won't let me do this, so I find it completely unuseable in my game. See below for the time of combat that the phlogiston can't let happen there.

5. I won't argue too hard here, as I actually don't like how the Githyanki are the dominant force in the Astral either. Though I'll add, this isn't really true, as the Elven Imperial Armada is definitely the dominant force on the Phlogiston. I would like to see them more balanced against the Githyanki in the Astral, and the plhlogiston scrapped.

We can keep going after each other point-by-point, but we are coming at this topic from completely different perspective, so I have no idea how we could reconcile these ideas.

I agree 100% with this merging, plus I will never have to try and spell Phlogiston again, awful word, I can just say Astral Plane. There is already Githyanki and Mindflayers and I guess Astral Elves flying around in ships on the Astral Plane in 5e.

Plus why call them ASTRAL Elves if they hadn't ready decided to merge the Phlogiston (yuck) with the Astral Plane. Hell adding in the Blind Eternities while we're at it.

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