Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thinking about Spelljammer

I've mentioned before that I came into the hobby late (you can read more about that in the article, 30 Day Challenge, Day 1: How I Got Started with Dungeons and Dragons), so I missed a lot of the really cool publications for the game that came out with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Second Edition. These last few years I've spent slowly remedying that situation as I've expanded my collection from the few boxed sets that I had accumulated in my youth into a full fledged collection with everything from Sovereign Stone, to Red Steel, to Al Qadim, to the Iron Kingdoms; and as of Saturday, Spelljammer.

I picked up Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space for five dollars at a local used bookstore. Most of the maps were trashed and quite a few of the cardboard punch out ships were gone, but the two books, Lorebook of the Void and Concordance of Arcane Space, were in pristine condition. A little searching online has provided me with some pretty good images of the maps and I'm not missing that much with their loss - but I wish that I had the complete set of cardboard ships.

Ah well, if they bother me that badly I can just make some replacements.

Some initial thoughts on the setting:

The Ship Designs

I know that it might sound like heresy but I really am not digging the designs for the ships. I'm not saying that I can do better, but I am saying that the ships don't really seem practical for either the races in the game or for the way that they're supposed to be used. 

I think that if I'm going to be using this setting in the future that I will have to come up with some different designs that make more sense to my delicate sensibilities. I love Metamorphosis Alpha, maybe I can draw some influences from there to make it conform with my internal dialog on the subject.

I think that the ships can be expanded and enhanced by looking to modern fiction and art for inspiration. After all, why have this:

When you can have this:

Bigger isn't always better, but when it comes to making something look like a threat, I say err on the side of bad-ass-mother-fucker rather than silly and vacuous comic relief.

The Races

The way that the races are presented in the book is intriguing but I want to finish reading them before I make a final decision one way or the other. The Elves in particular have my attention and that's unusual as normally I want to ignore that race completely.

The Technology and 'Science'

I'm not much of a fan of either of these right now. There's so much more that can be done then what's here. Still, it does get your attention.

More later.


  1. I highly reccomend looking for the Dragon*Star books from Fantasy Flight Games. It was an add-on for the 3E system, but it's pretty universal, all things considered. They did "D&D in Space" much better, IMHO. I think a blend of the two might be what you are looking for.

    1. Thanks for the heads up on the Dragon*Star supplement. I'll have to give it a look!

  2. Congrats on discovering the amazing setting that is Spelljammer! :) 5$ is a great bargain even if some of the material was damaged. While I agree with you about the Dwarven Citadel ship, many of the other Spelljammer Vessels are pretty awesome. The Nautiloid stands out as having a particularly slick design.

    Alot of people seem to start out like you, being attracted to some aspects of SJ, but very sceptical of some of the other features. I urge you to give the setting a chance. Although most settings can use a few tweaks here and there, SJ is an unpolished gem and alot of what is found in the boxed set is pure gold.

    If you feel Spelljammer is something you want to get further into, youn might want to visit The Piazza which has a vibrant group of Spelljammer fans to chat to :)

    Also, I agree with Mr Doolan about Dragon*Star being a pretty neat setting :)

    1. I've been looking for a used copy of Dragon Star since he told me about it - 'cause it sounds fun! Ah, well. Anyway, I'm still working my way through the boxed set and you're right, it's got a lot of good material in there.

      Thanks for stopping by with that link Harvard! I really appreciate it.

  3. Someone posted about your blog, over at the Spelljammer forum at The Piazza, a while ago, but I couldn't get my Google account working at the time.

    I just saw that someone else there suggested you might like Maldin Greyhawk's Ships of Spelljammer page:

    Maldin has taken all the ships, that didn't already have fold up versions, and has started to make his own fold up replacemets.

    I hope this is still useful to you. :-)


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