This week, the D&D Direct Youtube channel surprised long time DnD players with a huge announcement – Spelljammer is finally making its way into 5th edition!
So are, of course, Dragonlance and a new DnD movie. But the most excitement I’ve seen has been for Spelljammer. And who can blame us?
What is Spelljammer?
Spelljammer is a popular setting for Dungeons and Dragons, first appearing in the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons edition of the game, which brings the players into space. While it takes place among a vast universe, Spelljammer maintains the fantasy of DnD. It uses unusually shaped ships, powered by magical helms, to travel between the stars. And the ever changing will of the gods and the arcane holds just as much sway as on a single world.
People started speculating about the return of Spelljammer to 5e when WotC released an Unearthed Arcana for several Spelljammer races a while back. And when they did, we released an article all about the setting (Dungeons and Dragons’ Science Fiction Campaign Setting: Spelljammer). We included links to fan-adaptations for all sorts of editions, where to find the original material, and ideas for how to include it in your regular campaign.
And with its official arrival in 5e DnD, we now have a laundry list of things we hope they’re going to include. Here are a few:
Phalangilon, The Living Asteriod
Somewhere out there, in the furthest reaches of Wildspace, floats a lone asteroid with a strong psionic aura. This is Phalangilon, an asteroid created as a haven for psions, who battled each other until their combined consciousness brought a tenuous peace, thousands of minds and personalities melding into one being. Now, each mind spends it own time using their powers to study Wildspace, and the worlds within it.
There is no being with a greater knowledge of the world. Even divine beings may be less omniscient. But if you seek answers from Phalangion, you must be ready to face the necessary trial to prove yourself more than a mere opportunist.
Phalangion makes for a great source of information and motivation to any Spelljammer game. It’s the place to go to find your answers, and has the potential to send your players through a variety of strange and unusual tests and trials.
Dracons, a race of dragon-centaurs, are relatively new explorers of Wildspace. They’re polite and well-mannered, with elaborate dueling and combat rituals, and a preference to retreat rather than get involved in intergalactic conflict. They do have some trouble telling most humanoids apart, but they’ll also adopt them into their family units if given a chance to make connections with individuals. Perhaps most humorously, they have very little fear of Beholders, which they tend to think look like toys and balls from their homeworld.
I can see a member of this race quickly becoming a favorite NPC for almost any party. They’re cute, friendly, and not likely to have motivation to become a serious enemy to the party. They’re also likely to get along famously with any dragonborn or kobolds you have among your players.
Most of the dwarves in Wildspace are not Spelljammers. They tend to be merchants and miners, scattered throughout the different realms and planets, but largely uninterested in creating their own ships or conquering other worlds. In the Astromundi Cluster (a central cluster with a great deal of lore already written for campaigns), much of their power senters around Cerekazadh, a massive asteroid settlement which acts as a central hub for most dwarves.
Not only does this asteroid play home to many of the most powerful political figures among the dwarves, it also sets the prices for dwarven merchants, keeping them from competing with each other, and maintaining their negotiating power throughout the cluster. What’s more, they’ve been working on outfitting the place with helms of it’s own, making it an operable, movable fortress in its own right, comparable to the most powerful citadels in Wildspace. Something many other species wouldn’t be too happy about if they knew…
If your party likes politics and intrigue, Cerekazadh is a must-include location in Spelljammer. The possibilities for negotiation, subterfuge, and scheming are unparalleled here. And your party are likely to want to buy gear from the dwarves (they’re the best in space, after all), so even if they don’t start out involved in galactic trade issues, they’ll likely have cause to become so!
This one is almost certain to appear in 5e: The Spelljammer.
The namesake for the whole setting, the Spelljammer is the largest spaceship known to Wildspace. Many myths and legends surround this massive helm which bears the shape of a manta ray. Some are accurate, most are mere falsehood. But all speak to the majesty and power of the helm, the elegance and power of it.
In truth, the Spelljammer is a sentient being, descended from the original ships which first traveled Wildspace at the beginning of exploration through it. It converts its own thoughts into the energy needed to power itself, and cannot be guided or controlled by an outside entity. But it does need a crew to maintain itself – and to that end, it has a “crew” of almost 5000 creatures, charmed to live aboard it. These creatures are a diverse bunch, and have most of their own will (aside from remaining aboard), creating their own groups and societies aboard the Spelljammer.
What does the Spelljammer want? That question has never been answered, and probably never will…
You may never decide to actually have your party encounter the Spelljammer itself in a game. But the legend of it, the myth and the mystery, is something that motivates a great many characters throughout Wildspace. Adventurers, scholars, and noblemen alike seek it – all for different reasons. And if you decide that you do want to have your characters find it, there’s no limit to what can be done within its walls.
Are you excited for the addition of Spelljammer to 5e? What in particular do you want to see? Let us know in the comments below!