Spelljammer WTF Spelljamming? (5e) Orbital Mechanics

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Sure they do. Krynnspace has one (Zivilyn, size class F air body), Greyspace has two (Edill and Gnibile, both size class G air bodies, the latter explicitly called a "gas giant" on p. 91 of the original boxed set's Lorebook of the Void), and Realmspace has one (Coliar, size class G air body, also explicitly called a "gas giant", same work, p.94).

I mean, sure, you can do whatever you want in your campaign. But both the example systems and the usual systems generated by the original boxed set's generation system look a lot more like the modern understanding of the Solar System than you're suggesting. It supports weird systems (and it also does things like having the "gas giants" be breathable air at standard pressure through-and-through, or Oerth be the center of its system orbited by its sun), but the really weird systems with giant beetles pushing things around, while allowed for, weren't the default.
I think @Hussar was just trying to be cute.

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One of my most favourite phrases in all of (A)D&D was the first line in the original Spelljammer boxed set:

"Everything you know about space is wrong."

I was just going to post the same thing. I think I pretty much picked up the original boxed set when it came out, so I never had any misconceptions about what it was. Anyone who is really wanting to get into it in 5e should consider picking up a pdf of the original on DMsGuild/Drivethrurpg (though of course you'll have to decide which parts of each edition to use).

I read the 5e version much more recently, and couldn't tell you how it starts. But I always remember that opening from the original. For those that aren't familiar with it, here's the next few lines:

"Infinite space; stars as flaming spheres of super-heated plasma; movement through space as a balance of scientific forces, thrust providing acceleration and maneuverability; scientific fact backed up by natural phenomena; life on other planets built along blocks of carbon or silicon elements.

Forget all that. It's wrong.

You can get out of the atmosphere on the back of a roc; fly between the planets through a breathable ocean of air; sail between the crystal spheres that surround the inhabited worlds on a river of magical energy; encounter roving mind flayers and beholders. The stars are living things in some areas, great bowls of fire in others, and pin-points of light painted inside a sphere in others.

Welcome to the SPELLJAMMER universe. It is a magical universe."


Heh, 5e could probably use a couple of paragraphs like that. The setting book for 5e really is pretty sparse, and heck, I don't really even like all that world building stuff very much, but, sheesh, that's not just thin, that's emaciated.


sorry it took so long to get back to this thread..

I decided I did want to ditch the 15-hour trip through the atmosphere - it's just boring and serves no purpose.
instead, I was thinking like -10 miles above the surface. 2-3 hours is enough to see the tops of clouds, harassed by flying monsters etc...

as the surface below you gets so far away you can only see landforms. The pilot sees whispy lines coming down from the sky, one seems to lead towards the sun, and another two lead toward each of the moons. (or the visible stars if the players are doing this at night.) the pilot's mind gets too close to one of the threads. ( is going to be the normal moon, because I have a funny encounter in mind going that way)

The air seems to open up, and you briefly see the shape of a dome of air surrounding the ship, (90 ft away) and suddenly you are in the blackness of space, headed for the moon, you look back and the world is shrinking rapidly in size as you are flung out into space at an unimaginable speed, that you can't even feel.

But I'm thinking about this the wrong way again. What Do I want to happen and what do the players think/want to explore?

the players spent a lot of time being excited about designing ship weapons, improving maneuverability, and providing safety lines for the crew. --ie they want to swashbuckle from the deck of their ship. They are also worried about crew size and food.

So a short hop to the existing moon, a longer trip to the bad moon, and some space/air combat.

I want them to be close enough to the world to see the lights of 2 other civilizations, each about 1/3 of the way around the world, and that most of their world is covered in ice. I want them to be interested but not have the instant gratification of just being able to go over and see.

Perhaps they can learn that their solar system also contains a second inhabited world, surrounded by rings of fire.
Or a third "Shattered" world on the edge of the system that has spelljamming built in.
they already know both of these planets exist, from an imperial astronomer.

I plan on ending the campaign after the PCs deal with the moon. We can start over on the same campaign world, or one of the others in system. It will be a conversation. We may eventually return to the Spelljammer party, for a one-shot/short arc or full campaign.
they will end the game somewhere between level 11-13. It's time to start over with new heroes.

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