Spelljammer Why Play Spelljammer Over a Regular Pirate Campaign?


So this is a genuine question. What is the virtue of a Spelljammer game over a regular pirate setting? (Razor Coast, Skull and Shackles, Ghosts of Saltmarsh)

Does space travel/crystal spheres/phlogiston make that much difference?

What else is there that makes it worth playing - that couldn’t be done on the Sea of Fallen Stars? I use that example as the original AD&D sourcebook for SoFS featured a wrecked Neogi ship.

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Also, use of bombards.

Mechanics, it's not a lot different, but asking why doing a regular seaborne pirate game instead of air pirates or space pirates is like asking why not just watch Excalibur instead of Star Wars. Set and dressing play a huge part, and it can affect tone.


Victoria Rules
I've never really looked into Spelljammer (any version) but one thing I'd expect it to have would be sound and solid rules and guidelines for ship-vs-ship combat.

My questions for any who know are a) does it? and b) if yes, how portable would those rules and guidelines be for use with conventional sea-based ship combat?


I was wondering the same thing the other day about my D20 Modern space pulp/planetary romance campaign: why set it in space, rather than an unexplored sea on Earth?

My conclusion was that fictional space allows more flexibility, variety and pulpy action. There's a ready explanation for why one adventure is set in a toxip swamp (pulp Venus) and the next in a city floating in endless clouds (pulp Jupiter). This works with Spelljammer too

Also, I think it creates a different vibe. The assumption is that the play style is going to be slightly weird and over-the-top. Everyone goes into the game knowing this.


B/X Known World
The same reason you'd choose to watch Star Trek or Star Wars over Black Sails.

But, honestly, part of the point of Spelljammer is not having to make that choice. It's a false dichotomy. In Spelljammer you get both. That's part of the draw.

Well, more accurately you get all of them. You can go anywhere and do anything and meet anyone. And especially with them adding in planar travel to the mix with the updates, you get everything.

You can run a crime thriller story about a heist on the Rock of Bral this week...next week run a first contact with a new race...the week after break someone out of the Abyss...the week after take a relaxing layover in the jungles of Xen'drik from Eberron. All with the same characters and crew. On the same ship.


So tone makes sense, but every pirate campaign I’ve ever played in has featured a crazy mix of people from anywhere and everywhere, weird and over the top. That’s pretty much part of the pirate trope.

Im pretty sure Giff have been included in regular D&D, you want a pirate ship crewed by Giff, have at it.

Does Spelljammer have different technology levels? Equipment? Magic? Beyond the vessels themselves. In essence is a Spelljammer physically different from any other ship when you take the Spelljammer helm away?

I think most people would struggle to port Starwars into D&D but then again a Spelljammer ain’t the Millennium Falcon.


Does your Pirate Crew deal with British Hippos (hungry optional) with a fabulous love of high-end explosives/gun powder while dealing with SPACE whales and avoiding the wrath of an Eldritch Lich while your Astral Elf is flying around in a butterfly plant space suit in the middle of the Caribbean with very loud 80's music playing in the background?

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