Spelljammer Why Play Spelljammer Over a Regular Pirate Campaign?

TheSword

Legend
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.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Stormonu

Legend
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.
 



Lanefan

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?
 

Dioltach

Legend
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.
 

overgeeked

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.
 

TheSword

Legend
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.
 

Weiley31

Legend
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?
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
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.
My question too, and I could be evil and add, why not play a pirates in a space game instead of Spelljammer or on a standard pirate game. I've always preferred enclosed, typical starship decks, over open decked Spelljammer ships for my games, so probably would never play Spelljammer (the original or the New).
 



jgsugden

Legend
I've used Spelljammer (heavily modified) in my homebrew since the 1990s. Here are a few ways it fits into my setting as a beneficial addition:

1.) Evolution of sailing: If you have a sea based campaign, Spelljammer gives you a way to evolve it to keep it interesting over the life of the campaign. As you reach higher levels, the change from 2D to 3D 'naval' combats opens up new considerations and options. In other words, it is not al alternative to sea based campaign - it is the second half of it.

2.) It fits better with moderate high level play: When you hit 9th to 11th level, the concerns of the PCs often start to tend more and more towards extraplanar activity. Your foes might be extraplanar, you might need to go to other planes to solve problems. You might explore other planes. Regardless, the Spelljamming mechanics give PCs another way to navigate to other places outside of spells and portals. Often, PCs will find that moving around the PMP becomes trivial around 9th level. However, being able to navigate and move large amounts of material around between planes does not become trivial - and that is where Spelljamming often comes into play. To me, the sweet spot for Spelljamming is between levels 9 and and 13 - after teleportation makes traveling the material plane mundane, and before plane shift makes planar travel easy.

3.) Spelljammer is more than ships: There are a lot of lore elements of Spelljammer that are unique and different. It feels like something unique when you really dig into it, or when you develop your own version like I have. There are major elements of my campaign that are highly influencd by the way I use Spelljamming, and they are amongst the most iconic elements of my homebrew. I have distinct factions, persaonlities, and long storylines that are based around Spelljamming and the influence it has on the setting.

If you're just running adventures or adventure paths, then Spelljammer probably is not that necessary unless you want to run a Spelljammer campaign. However, if ou develop a campaign world that is full of homebrew personality, Spelljamming is a great tool for mid to high level adventuring that can bring a distinct feel and isolate a 'new phase' of the game
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
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.

I can’t imagine any possible ship to ship combat system that works for a party of PCs that does not put all but one player (the one interested in ship battles) to sleep.

The iteration in 2e SJ, and added to with War Captains Compendium, were of the time. Warts and all, certain fans enjoyed them.

Myself, I checked out until the two players that loved Star Trek battles got done taking all the time. The rest of us twiddled our thumbs until we got to the boarding.
 


Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
This is one of those questions that can only be answered if you ask the person asking it : "How exactly do you think they are the same?"

Because when I think of a "D&D pirate game", I think of mundane (even if they are quirky) pre-gunpowder pirates on wooden ships maybe featuring some Pirates of the Caribbean low magic thrown in.

Which, to me, is vastly different than a high fantasy setting with actual aliens on living bioships featuring 3d space combat with cannons.
 


TheSword

Legend
This is one of those questions that can only be answered if you ask the person asking it : "How exactly do you think they are the same?"

Because when I think of a "D&D pirate game", I think of mundane (even if they are quirky) pre-gunpowder pirates on wooden ships maybe featuring some Pirates of the Caribbean low magic thrown in.

Which, to me, is vastly different than a high fantasy setting with actual aliens on living bioships featuring 3d space combat with cannons.
Okay, we’ll firearms can and have been a part of D&D for a long time, gunslingers are a thing.

D&D is very much high magic.

Aliens doesn’t really mean much in a world with monstrous races.
 


An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top