DnD in Space! Things to Watch Out for When Running Spelljammer
Sep 20 , 2022
Space. A place of great mysteries and wonders beyond imagination, but it’s not for the faint of heart. For all the treasures that await, there are just as many horrors and terrors. The astral planes are where imagination runs wild. If you can imagine it, it will be here amongst the stars.
Spelljammer is a wonderful fantasy setting specifically designed to tantalize your imagination. There’s plenty of new lineages to choose, spelljammer ships to build, purchase, and customize, and space themed monsters - some recognizable, and others right out of an H.P. Lovecraft novel. In the world of DnD, it’s referred to as wildspace or the astral sea. It can be a very dangerous setting. Just like in space, there isn’t any air to breathe or gravity to keep you from flying off into nothingness. It’s important to distinguish between space and where Spelljammer takes place. It technically takes place in Wildspace, which has all the characteristics of space, but is a magical realm entered once your spelljammer ship sails beyond the planet’s atmosphere.
So, let’s talk about the spelljammer ships! Anyone interested at all in this setting has dreams of being the captain of their own spelljammer. There is more to sailing than following the second star on the right, straight on til morning. A spelljammer ship that sets out from the prime material plane takes with it a pocket of air. This is important, or your characters will just die immediately. So, the first question that comes up, is what if you happen to meet a bigger ship with a bigger air pocket from a world that’s not so hospitable? Well, the bigger air pocket wins and you’d have to dock your ship on a hospitable planet to re-create your air pocket.
Things like gravity are also dependent on that air pocket, and it can change when your ship interacts with other ships in the area. This brings up the very real possibility of flying off into wildspace. Your air pocket will prevent this; but not for very long. So, that means trying to tether yourself to your ship and possibly trying to find breathable air.
In Wildspace is also a silvery light. That light is the astral plane. The astral plane leads to other Outer Planes. If you come across any space whales in your journeys, it’s safe to assume that they made their way to Wildspace from one of these Outer Realms via the Astral Plane.
With this strange and wonderful setting comes new lineages for your characters. You can choose to be an Astral Elf, Autognome, Giff, Hadozee, Plasmoid, or Thri Kreen.
Astral Elves are quite the interesting bunch. These are elves that live on the Astral Plane. Think of these elves being infused with cosmic powers. They have space magic and get things like Astral Fire along with Darkvision. Astral elves will get perception proficiency right away, and they also get trance proficiencies that allow them to be proficient with many types of skills.
How many of you want to be a robot gnome? Unfortunately, as a robot gnome, you won’t have your innate magical abilities. But in return, Autognomes get great base armor, disease immunity, and are healed with the mending cantrip. Usually healing spells require at least a level one spell slot, but autognomes can be repaired much easier.
The Hadozee are almost broken with how far they can move. Their glide ability could potentially allow for a glide movement of 150 ft without having to take another action. Then they can use their feet to interact with items as a bonus action. Setting aside their controversy, the Hadozee are amazing.
Plasmoids are ooze people. As long as there’s a 1 inch gap, you can fit through it. Along with acid and poison resistance and the ability to shape self, plasmoids are great infiltrators. Oh, and they can hold their breath for 1 hour, which given the setting, could come in handy.
If you want to have an insane amount of attacks, the Thri Kreen is for you. Thri Kreen are insects with multiple sets of arms. They start with their armored carapace that gives them great natural armor. Then they have a natural camouflage, but the real star of the show is their ability to hold a sword and shield in one set of arms while also having a light weapon in the other.
Now we can talk about what these new characters can expect to come across. Let’s break the monsters into three categories: the weird and strange, space pirates, and cosmic horrors. Some weird and strange creatures out there in wildspace include things like merchant space penguins, flying whales, or of course the ever popular giant space hamsters. The term weird and strange seems fitting. For space pirates, expect to engage in combat with killer clowns, star lancers, and vampirates. Imagine if you will, finding a derelict ship out in space, only to realize there are vampires aboard, waiting for a group of scavengers to be their next meal. Then there’s the cosmic horrors out there. It’s one thing to fight a lich, but an eldritch lich just sounds terrifying. It couldn’t be Dungeons and Dragons without dragons, so how about a solar or a lunar dragon? If it exists in your nightmares, it’s out there.
There’s all kinds of rules for how to do space combat. Boarding, ramming your ship into another, artillery barrages, etc. Honestly, give this setting a chance. There’s so much to experience and it will provide that whimsical and horrific niche you’ve been looking for.