HomeMobileGet an Inside Look at D&D's Spelljammer Revival

Get an Inside Look at D&D’s Spelljammer Revival


Introduced earlier this yr, Spelljammer: Adventures in Area is an replace to the traditional D&D setting for Fifth Version Dungeons & Dragons. We not too long ago sat in on a briefing with Lead Designer Chris Perkins who walked us by way of what’s included the varied editions of the books in addition to among the new guidelines and creatures coming to this revised spacefaring fantasy realm.

Spelljammer: Adventures in Area – Paintings and Editions

Chris Perkins, Lead Designer: Spelljammer has at all times been a little bit of a weirdo and so we felt like this was an amazing alternative to play with the shape issue of the product. As a substitute of presenting it as a e-book—like we’d usually do—what we determined to do was break it down into smaller, extra digestible elements. So, this product consists of three books: a rule e-book/setting e-book referred to as the Astral Adventurer’s Information, a monster e-book referred to as Boo’s Astral Menagerie, and an journey, Mild of Xaryxis. Coupled with a poster map of the Rock of Bral, which is a traditional setting, and a DM display all tidily tucked away in a ravishing slipcase.

The standard (right) and hobby-store-exclusive (left) editions of Spelljammer: Adventures in Space.

The usual (proper) and hobby-store-exclusive (left) editions of Spelljammer: Adventures in Area.

There are two variations of this product, the mass-marketed model (proven within the earlier picture), which has its personal slipcase design, and DM display, and distinctive covers for every of the three books. After which there’s the model unique to native pastime shops, which has completely different artwork on the slipcase, the books, and the DM display. All of the alternate covers have been carried out by artist Hydro74… however aside from the modifications in artwork, each variations of the product are similar.

It is a divergence from the unique, however we expect it matches elegantly into the present cosmology.


Perkins goes on to elucidate among the modifications made to the Spelljammer setting to be able to make it a greater match into the Fifth Version lore. He begins with the artwork on the alternate DM display, a rendering of the Astral Sea by artist Jedd Chevrier.

CP: Those that are accustomed to the unique Spelljammer setting, there have been two components of that setting that have been attention-grabbing and peculiar. One was that each system, each planetary system is mainly contained inside a crystal sphere, in order that when you have been to rocket away from the solar to the sting of the system, finally your ship would simply slam into this crystal shell that encases each system.

The Astral Sea as seen on the alternate DM screen, by Jedd Chevrier

The Astral Sea as seen on the alternate DM display, by Jedd Chevrier

Now, after we have been constructing this model of Spelljammer, we have been attempting to hook it into the cosmology that’s described within the Dungeon Masters Information. And it is the cosmology that we have adopted in latest editions, that features not solely the Astral Aircraft, however this idea that the Astral Aircraft is sort of a sea… Within the DMG, we make no point out of crystal spheres, we make no point out of the Phlogiston (the unique Spelljammer’s “area between multiverses”). And so, for this model of Spelljammer, what we opted to do as an alternative is say, “Okay, Spelljammer is you touring among the many stars.” The Astral Aircraft, astral technique of the celebrities, and it’s the heavenly realms. It’s the medium in our cosmology that you simply cross by way of to get to different planes and the realms of the gods and issues like that.

A Wildspace scene on the standard DM screen by Julian Koch

A Wildspace scene on the usual DM display by Julian Koch

And so, what occurs now’s when you’re on a planet and also you hop aboard a Spelljamming vessel and also you head into area, you’re getting into the huge ocean that’s Wildspace (as pictured within the DM display artwork under). And when you proceed outward to the sting of your system, reasonably than bumping right into a crystal shell, you begin to enter or see round you this silvery haze. And the good colours of Wildspace give option to a silvery purplish void by way of which the sunshine of the celebrities of different Wildspace techniques shine. At that time, you’re crossing into the Astral sea, the Astral aircraft, which is a realm of thought, given type. And when you hold going by way of the Astral Aircraft, just like the Phlogiston, you’re passing by way of a medium and finally can get to a different Wildspace system. Because the silvery mist start to skinny, you end up in one other piece of Wildspace. And so, it is a divergence from the unique, however we expect it matches elegantly into the present cosmology.

In the case of how you may really transfer by way of the Astral Sea and Wildspace, there are greater than a dozen ship templates statted out.

CP: A lot of Spelljammer ships are modeled after creatures in design, that is one thing that we preserved. I feel it is one of many key components that defines Spelljammer.

A Nightspider ship drifts through Wildspace; art by Jessica Nguyen.

A Nightspider ship drifts by way of Wildspace; artwork by Jessica Nguyen.

Within the Astral adventures information, we current 16 completely different ship designs that DMs and gamers can select from. And this picture (above) reveals one of many extra uncommon ships used primarily by creatures referred to as Neogi. It is a Nightspider. So, we offered these ships as examples they usually run the gamut from the anticipated area galleons to weird issues like this and hammerhead ships and squid ships.

We do not then go off and say, “Here’s a package you need to use to construct your individual ships.” We provide you with so many to select from and so a lot of them are player-facing choices that we felt we did not need to do something greater than that. And naturally, there’ll nonetheless be communities on the market designing, creating their very own ship designs or riffing on variations of Spelljammer ships that have been created in earlier additions, and that is cool.

An spacefaring adventure using an Air Bubble spell; art by Nikki Dawes

An spacefaring journey utilizing an Air Bubble spell; artwork by Nikki Dawes

For many who do not know, one of many issues we did hold from the unique Spelljammer is the idea of gravity, planes and air envelopes. And that’s when a ship enters area, Wildspace or the Astral Sea, it has a gravity aircraft, so folks can keep, stand on the deck of the ship. It has an air envelope that manifests round it, so folks can breathe on the ship. What that does by way of play is straight away inform gamers, “Oh, we’re not in regular area. And this isn’t a traditional space-based marketing campaign.” That is fantasy. Because of magic. We’re standing on a ship and respiratory air as we rock it by way of Wildspace and that is cool and peculiar and completely different.” And it signifies that ships in area kind of behave like ships on planets. There isn’t any bizarre sense of getting to reorient your self or strap your self in or something like that. And so you’ll be able to have very conventional D&D battles and encounters in area by advantage of those guidelines.

Even if your ship could have a catapult on board, it is nonetheless fairly arduous to trump a Fireball spell.


For ship engagements on this setting, we’re mainly utilizing the core guidelines of the sport. Many ships have siege-like weapons on them like ballistas and mangonel and different types of catapults and whatnot… The best way we consider ship-to-ship engagements is, in Fifth Version—which is extra a theater of the thoughts—there aren’t issues like Going through or Turning or something like that. We’re not attempting to create a game-within-a-game the place all of a sudden you are now not role-playing, you are engaged in some tactical, “The place’s my ship precisely in area” sort of sport.

Sailing through Wildspace; art by Artist: Robson Michel

Crusing by way of Wildspace; artwork by Artist: Robson Michel

It is sort of like two teams on two small islands, separated by capturing arrows at each other. A ship turns into a platform on which the encounter takes place, like a dungeon room a room in a fortress. You may assault the ship, after all, and the ship can take injury, however for probably the most half, ship-to-ship engagements actually need to do with the crews on board. And, although your ship could have a catapult and ballistae and whatnot on board, it is nonetheless fairly arduous to trump a Fireball spell or a Lightning Bolt spell. The characters have so many different choices at their disposal for disposing of shipboard enemies. We keep very a lot within the theatre of the thoughts with this product for the sake of maintaining encounters fluid and quick.

As we flip by way of slides, Perkins is raring to get into Spelljammer’s pop-culture sci-fi inspirations, explaining how he needed to introduce a brand new race of Astral Elves in no small half resulting from a specific love for Star Trek’s Dr. Spock, and stopping on a bit of artwork that includes a galleon crewed by area clowns (not a typo) and retrofitted with a big pie-slinging catapult.

Space clowns captain their modified galleon; art by Robson Michel.

Area clowns captain their modified galleon; artwork by Robson Michel.

CP: They seem to be a nod to one in all my favourite campy science fiction movies of the Nineteen Eighties, which was Killer Clowns from Outer Area. Since this product is, to some extent, an homage to various science fiction/fantasy movies of the 80s, we’d be remiss if we did not embrace area clowns within the combine.

Violent Jesters of Far-flung Realms; art by <strong>Scott Murphy</strong>

Violent Jesters of Far-flung Realms; artwork by Scott Murphy

D&D has at all times been this pleasant ad-hoc combination of great fantasy, horror fantasy, and whimsy. I feel this setting succeeds at bringing among the whimsy ahead – and utilizing that as form of a counterpoint for among the extra critical components of the setting.

It was an amazing alternative to place various new races in right here, partly to fulfill sure science fiction fantasy tropes.


Perkins additionally obtained right into a bit extra element in regards to the new playable species which have been added – together with the Astral Elves, but additionally a number of different anthropomorphized creatures and constructs (and extra Star Trek references than you would possibly anticipate!).

CP: As a result of that is such an uncommon setting and since Spelljammer has a historical past of introducing some very uncommon bipedal characters, we felt it was an amazing alternative to place various new races in right here, partly to fulfill sure science fiction fantasy tropes.

Astral Elves are elves that left the Feywild and ventured to the Astral aircraft and mainly simply resided there. And since the Astral Aircraft is ageless and creatures don’t age whereas they’re there, you generally is a significantly long-lived elf when you’re an Astral elf. However as you’ll be able to see, Astral Elves are nonetheless elves by way of their shapes physique and whatnot. They have a couple of distinguishing options like little starry pinpoints of sunshine of their eyes and their outfitting is slightly completely different. They’re keen on visors protecting their faces and whatnot. Nonetheless very elf-y although.

With Autognomes, I used to be leaning just about into the Commander Information archetype. You are a assemble on this case constructed by gnomes within the likeness of a gnome and that is the primary time we have allowed you to play a real assemble. We have struggle solid within the sport, after all. There you are a dwelling assemble, however right here, you are purely mechanical.

The Giff are really Spelljammer, strongly recognized with Spelljammer. Giff are broad-shouldered hippofolk. And they’re simply so absurd and pleasant and folks love them. They have a penchant for firearms, which really traces again to their divine origins. So, we discover that slightly bit, however we won’t do Spelljammer with out relating these guys. They’re simply so intrinsic to the setting.

Then we have got Hadozees, that are bipedal with some huge eyes and really cute squirrel-like or simian-like options, after which they have wing flaps, like flying squirrels. They’re fantastic gliders, they usually’re pleasant area explorers. And so they trope-wise or homage-wise, they tie into the science fiction Planet of the Apes really feel to them.

As a fan of Deep Area 9, one in all my favourite characters on that present is Constable Odo, performed by the late nice René Auberjonois. And we felt like if any setting can help a blob as a playable race, then Spelljammer is that setting. Right here is your first probability to play an ooze. It is simply so splendidly absurd. And Plasmoids are pleasant for various causes. One in every of which is a few of them like to soak up dyes into their membranes, to allow them to really change their colour.

And eventually, the Thri-Kreen, which looks like an odd race, however I feel in any setting the place there’s hints of science fiction, an insectoid race will not be misplaced. And we have been wanting for a very long time to carry Thri-Kreen into our bigger multiverse. And so, right here you’ll be able to play a forearmed bipedal insectoid. The opposite motive why I needed to incorporate Thri-Kreens, Plasmoids and Hadozees is as a result of they hint their origins again to one in all my all-time favourite TSR video games, Star Frontiers. That is the place they first appeared and I felt that I needed to carry them into Spelljammer. They have been really introduced into Spelljammer late in second version. I do not suppose they obtained a lot consideration, so we’re giving them the eye now.

10 years into 5e, now is an efficient time to show our consideration to Wildspace.


In fact, one of many larger questions surrounding Spelljammer’s 2022 revival is “why now?” With the “subsequent iteration” of D&D—whether or not that finally ends up being Sixth Version or, extra possible (just like what was revised again in Third Version), a “D&D 5.5″—on the horizon, it is considerably stunning to see legacy settings like this one (or Dragonlance, which is getting an replace this fall) make a return.

The natural wonders of WIldspace; art by Jessica Nguyen.

The pure wonders of WIldspace; artwork by Jessica Nguyen.

CP: Within the early years of Fifth Version, we have been actually centered on the forgotten realms for numerous and varied causes. And infrequently branched off and did stuff aside from that like Curse of Strahd. However we weren’t on the level within the line but the place we felt like we might actually begin to dive into the multiverse. Properly, that modified about two years in the past.

After which we began to say, “Okay, we have carried out a number of stuff with the Forgotten Realms or no less than an excellent quantity of stuff for the fifth version. We’ll put the Forgotten Realms on maintain for a bit and begin to attain out into numerous corners of the multiverse.” And that is how we ended up with stuff like Van Richten’s Information to Ravenloft and Wild Past Witchlight and that sort of factor. And it simply appeared like, “Okay, we’re now eight to 10 years into Fifth Version, now is an efficient time to show our consideration to Wildspace.” As a result of it’s just like the Last Frontier.

Spelljammer: Adventures in Area is obtainable for pre-order now and can launch on August 16, 2022. For extra D&D on IGN, try the whole lot we discovered in regards to the upcoming D&D film at Comedian-Con, or compensate for the most recent D&D online game bulletins.

JR is a Senior Producer at IGN, you’ll be able to observe him on Twitter for extra video video games and tabletop RPG shenanigans.





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