Spelljammer Why Play Spelljammer Over a Regular Pirate Campaign?

TheSword

Legend
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.
So this is the bit I’m really interested in? What are the unique elements that make Spelljammer special.
 

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TheSword

Legend
Why explore a dungeon and not a palace? Why adventure in the arctic and not the jungle?
Because the jungle and the arctic are fundamentally different places. Different environment, different creatures, different experience.

Spelljammer seems to look and feel like a pirates campaign in space. I mean look at the intro video by WOC. The exact same scenes could take place on Eberron or the Forgotten Realms just on water. There is nothing apparent there that identifies with space to make it clear why Spelljammer is so unique.

If a palace is just like any other dungeon who cares which you adventure in?

I’m not trying to diss Spelljammer. I’m just genuinely interested in what it’s USP is.
 

jgsugden

Legend
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.
When you have a really well told story, the genre is not really a barrier to a great time. I can think of TV shows about topics that do not intrigue me at all - yet they're so well written I think they're amongst the best TV ever.

D&D games are like any other stories. When the D&D story is told well, it is engaging, whether it is ship to ship battle, a dungeon delve, a war epic, a political thriller, or anything else.

If one or two people are enjoying the story and the rest are not, then there are ways for the DM to engage those players and increase their interest, even if ship to ship battles are not 'their thing'
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
I guess I'd be that one player then, as I love that kind of stuff! :)
The iteration in 2e SJ, and added to with War Captains Compendium, were of the time. Warts and all, certain fans enjoyed them.
I'll have to keep my eye open for those.
 

Arilyn

Hero
Because the jungle and the arctic are fundamentally different places. Different environment, different creatures, different experience.

Spelljammer seems to look and feel like a pirates campaign in space. I mean look at the intro video by WOC. The exact same scenes could take place on Eberron or the Forgotten Realms just on water. There is nothing apparent there that identifies with space to make it clear why Spelljammer is so unique.

If a palace is just like any other dungeon who cares which you adventure in?

I’m not trying to diss Spelljammer. I’m just genuinely interested in what it’s USP is.
I've never actually played Spelljammer but the locales and creatures will be even more fantastical than in a typical D&D game. Cities on asteroids, weird planets, giant space hamsters. No reasons at all to be even remotely realistic. I think it'll be a fun change of pace.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
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.
Well, look at the monsters from the Monstrous Compendium document or the Minis in the Ship scale line from WizKids: lots of Gargantuan, ridiculous monsters that are outsized even for the deep sea, with weird properties and goals.

Spelljammer isn't just about the sailing, it's also about scale and permission to go completely Gonzo. You can do that in a seafaring campaign, sure, but Spelljammer is a format to go even weirder. And to tie in literally anything imaginable.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Because the jungle and the arctic are fundamentally different places. Different environment, different creatures, different experience.

Spelljammer seems to look and feel like a pirates campaign in space. I mean look at the intro video by WOC. The exact same scenes could take place on Eberron or the Forgotten Realms just on water. There is nothing apparent there that identifies with space to make it clear why Spelljammer is so unique.

If a palace is just like any other dungeon who cares which you adventure in?
My guess - and having never done anything with Spelljammer it's only a guess - is that the uniqueness ties largely to two main things:

One, it's in space - a mostly-empty 3-D environment you move around in where the foes you meet are also going to mostly be transient, as in based on other ships. D&D otherwise doesn't really lean into this - sure the PCs move around a lot but their foes and adventure sites are mostly static in place. The only other campaign type that would be similar would be sea-ships on an all-water world, but space just gives way more options.

Two, because it's in space there's a limitless scope of possibilities for where you can land and-or what you might find there when you do. You can easily have all those different experiences - jungle, arctic, waterless, all-water, different physics-astronomy-etc., different inhabitants - all in the same campaign and even maybe in the same adventure. Best part: you don't even have to be high-level planeshifting or world-hopping characters to do this; you just use your ship to go from one to the next.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
So this is the bit I’m really interested in? What are the unique elements that make Spelljammer special.
  • Cosmic scale
  • High camp on a Baron Munchausen Gonzo tall tale level
  • Breaking out of usual high fantasy norms, with insect and ooze cremated or ships that are also living trees or turtles
  • Connecting other Settings, allowing for elements from anywhere to be incorporated
  • Greater separation of places visited, so you can have Planet of the Week adventures without explaining whybthe inhabitants of a given island haven't destroyed the world.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
What's the difference between a Pirate Campaign in Eberron and one in the Forgotten Realms?

You're still on a boat. You're still on water. You're still robbing other ships and ports and singing shanties...

The difference is in the setting and the style. In FR you have to deal with FR's threats. Their politics, their monsters, their gods. In Eberron it's a similar campaign, sure, but the threats and the politics and the people are going to be different. You don't have a Warforged Ironsides from House Cannith barreling down on you in the Sea of Stars, for example. There's also the Tone to be considered, with FR's very traditional Tolkienesque style compared to Eberron's early 2000s "Let's get DIFFERENT from the old man's game!" style.

Spelljammer is the same. Just a different setting. One, however, built from the ground up for piracy and quasi-nautical battles and Cartoonishness.
 


Vaalingrade

Legend
Find me the private campaign where the ships are powered by giant space hamsters running on wheels, where British hippomen carry blunderbusses, where some of the ships are giant nautiluses and everything is powered by AWESOME instead of common sense.

Spelljammer is everything D&D should be, the highly fantastic and lavishly ludicrous applied to the Age of Sail and the Space Opera.
 

Rogerd1

Explorer
So this is the bit I’m really interested in? What are the unique elements that make Spelljammer special.
Here you go

 

Stormonu

Legend
@TheSword, you're hunting for distictions you won't find or accept. It's different because it is different, like Star Trek to Star Wars. For Spelljammer, you can use/borrow/steal all sorts of naval and pirating tropes and use it there; its the twist of being in space, with its vast dark reaches and entire planets instead of mere continents or islands that makes a difference. Also too, the creatures you will meet and interact with. Could you turn around and throw them into a sea-based or cloud-based pirate game? Sure, you could, but it is the element of space and the implications of those differences that differs.

Spelljammer has a lot in common with the StarGate series, hopping from planet to planet and interacting with technologies far more ancient and powerful than what you would find in a standard D&D campaign. Space presents some different challenges - outside of the small air envelope of a spelljamming ship, it's cold, empty vacuum (and you'd better hope you don't stay flying so long your air gets fouled and turns poisonous). The gravity plane also comes into play in that you can build ships multisided with a deck on top and bottom of the ship (and maybe along all sides, too). Now, that's not too much different from drowning in the sea, or running out of rations at sea or even going 3D at sea when you start to account for submarines, undersea threats and the like, but it feels different enough in game.

During SJ's run, the created a boxed set, the Astromundi Cluster. It is a campaign setting they created for Spelljammer that plays on the strengths of what makes Spelljamming different from seaborne pirate adventures, with a variety of places to explore, secrets to uncover and factions to interact with - without having to even leave the Crystal Sphere to visit other worlds such as Greyspace (Greyhawk), Realmspace (Forgotten Realms) or Krynnspace (Dragonlance).
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Because the jungle and the arctic are fundamentally different places. Different environment, different creatures, different experience.

Spelljammer seems to look and feel like a pirates campaign in space. I mean look at the intro video by WOC. The exact same scenes could take place on Eberron or the Forgotten Realms just on water. There is nothing apparent there that identifies with space to make it clear why Spelljammer is so unique.

If a palace is just like any other dungeon who cares which you adventure in?

I’m not trying to diss Spelljammer. I’m just genuinely interested in what it’s USP is.
So youre suggesting that the Sargasso Sea isnt different to an Asteroid belt?

indianna Jones exploring a south american jungle or Lara Croft in the Arctic have the same scenes too
 

What is the virtue of a Spelljammer game over a regular pirate setting?

Some people like the setting. That's all it is.

I don't particularly care for the setting. It's much too campy, and I don't care for the Aristotelian or Renaissance physics. In my experience from the 80s is that there's one person at the table who is really in to it, and most of the rest of the table isn't interested. I've described it elsewhere like this: I find the setting jarring when it's often an interstitial setting. You go from Krynn, Oerth, or Toril, and all they're pretty standard high fantasy. They feel like Lord of the Rings, or The Witcher, or Skyrim, or Dark Souls. Spelljammer, however, feels more like Flash Gordon, except only one player at the table can hear the Queen soundtrack.

However, I'm willing to give it a go as a change of pace.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Some people like the setting. That's all it is.

I don't particularly care for the setting. It's much too campy, and I don't care for the Aristotelian or Renaissance physics. In my experience from the 80s is that there's one person at the table who is really in to it, and most of the rest of the table isn't interested. I've described it elsewhere like this: I find the setting jarring when it's often an interstitial setting. You go from Krynn, Oerth, or Toril, and all they're pretty standard high fantasy. They feel like Lord of the Rings, or The Witcher, or Skyrim, or Dark Souls. Spelljammer, however, feels more like Flash Gordon, except only one player at the table can hear the Queen soundtrack.

However, I'm willing to give it a go as a change of pace.
Only if the DM is bad and not playing the Flash Gordon Queen soundtrack.
 

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