Spelljammer: Adventures in Space is the next Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Setting and Adventure Book to release. It will release on August 16th so it is just around the corner! In this collection of three books players will be returning to the Spelljammer setting first introduced in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons but all with a few 5e twists.
This release won't just be a single book but a collection of three different books:
- Astral Adventurer's Guide - A Spelljammer equivalent of the Player's Handbook with some extra information related to the Spelljammer setting
- Boo's Astral Menagerie - A Spelljammer equivalent of the Monster Manual
- Light of Xaryxis - A new adventure set in the Astral Sea
We had a chance to catch up with Chris Perkins, Senior Story Designer for D&D at Wizards of the Coast, to learn more about what we can expect from this triple release.
How does Spelljammer: Adventures in Space look?
Each of these books is smaller than the books that players might typically be used to but there's a greater purpose for this. As you're running the adventure and referencing different new races, feats, spells, etc there's a tug of war between what the players have access to and what the DM needs to run their game. Splitting the release into three books allows the DM to keep track of their adventure, pull out creature stat blocks where necessary, and then any player at the table can have free access to the Astral Adventurer's Guide. This is a really elegant solution for something that I've definitely faced at the table before as both a DM and a Party member. The added benefit is that there's a beautiful slipcase, map, and DM screen that also come with this collection.
As always there's the standard edition of the collection and there will be an alternate artwork release. The artists that worked on the book include:
- Julian Kok Joon Wen for the Standard Cover DM Screen
- Justin Gerard for the Standard Boo's Astral Menagerie
- Bruce Bernneise for the Standard Astral Adventurer's Guide
- Ekaterina Burmak for the Standard Light of Xaryxis
- Jedd Chevrier for the Alternate Cover DM Screen
- Hydro74 for the Alternate editions of the three books
Also as always, the differences between the Standard and Alternate cover are all on the outside. Nothing within the content of the books is changed at all so you don't need to worry about missing out. Each book is 64 pages long so the complete collection will be 192 pages long, all in all, these three books will equate to a standard Setting release for D&D 5e.
Perkins took some time to give the background of his own history and experience with the Spelljammer setting, the campaign that he ran for it in the 90s, and how eager he was to work on this project to bring Spelljammer to 5e. He brought a particular focus to the high art budget allowed to Spelljammer which means you'll find more of the beautiful D&D art that you're used to within.
How is Spelljammer in 5e different from AD&D?
While the original Spelljammer took place in the Phlogiston but for 5e Spelljammer will take place in the Astral Sea and Wild Space. Talking on this change Perkins explained that in the original the Phlogiston was the flammable ether between the different Crystal Spheres that each of the solar systems of Dungeons & Dragons inhabited. For 5e instead of introducing a brand new system of cosmology, they instead opted to use the cosmology that players would already be familiar with from the DM Guide including the Astral Sea. Hopping aboard a Spelljammer ship players can leave the planet's atmosphere and enter into Wild Space, then if they continue further they'll find that passing through a silvery haze they'll reach the Astral Sea. This creates a new connection between the Material Plane and the Astral Sea that wasn't previously there.
"It's a divergence from the original but we think it fits elegantly into the cosmology and the Astral Plane is really a much more exciting place, I think for adventures to happen"
Players can also expect all kinds of fun references to pop culture sci-fi within the pages of the book so be sure to keep an eye out for that.
How can I fit all this Spelljammer into my campaign?
When asked about how much the material planes know of the Spelljammer setting and the Astral Sea it was equated to the amount of knowledge a medieval peasant might have about the content of Australia. But for royalty or those high in power might have heard things about Australia. It depends on who you speak to in-game whether they know that space will lead to a greater ocean that can be sailed.
Ways that players can introduce a campaign into the world of Spelljammer is through the Spelljammer academy. The adventure in the collection assumes knowledge of the Astral Sea is unknown to the party. It's early on that they stumble into it though. It allows for the players to match their characters with a loose knowledge of what the Astral Sea is. This will allow the DM to teach the players as well as the characters what the limits are.
When can I get on my ship?
In the Astral Adventurer's Guide players will be presented with 16 different designs. An example of one of these is the Nightspider Ship, as the name suggests it's a ship in the shape of a spider. These ships also come in more common-looking varieties for those with arachnophobia.
There aren't any rules around creating your own ships with so many others on offer but Perkins was confident that players would be able to mix and match where they saw fit and that there would be plenty of communities that would want to create all manner of ship, or recreate previous versions of ships.
For ship combat players won't need to learn much more as it will use traditional combat, just on a much larger scale. These engagements aren't meant to create a minigame of ship combat within the greater game of Dungeons & Dragons but will cover ship-to-ship combat like it's regular combat, but also factor in the ability to board each other's ship or fire from afar. Time for those Spell Snipers to show off some trick shots. It is designed this way to make sure that while a Ballista might be more powerful than a cantrip, it will still take a large hit from a Fireball spell.
For those who have already tried out some Spelljammer via the Spelljammer Academy series of adventures, currently available on D&DBeyond for no additional charge, you'll already have a good idea of what this combat will look like in practice.
What might you encounter in the Astral Sea?
Some of the creatures that Perkins discussed that players will be encountering are along the lines of Space Clowns, as well as other novel and cosmic horrors.
Threats that players might face are the Eye Monger, an asteroid-like beholder, and the different groups of Mindflayers that roam the Astral Sea. Knowing that Dungeons & Dragons have been moving away from the idea of certain races always being evil there are still evil factions within the world of Spelljammer, they just want to make sure that if you judge a book by its cover that those expectations might be turned on their head.
Some friendly creatures to encounter might be the Giant Space Hamsters (that are twice the size of the average Halfling race). There are also a number of variants to the Giant Space Hamster, such as the Miniature Giant Space Hamster, as well as some others.
What are the player races of Spelljammer: Adventures in Space?
In order to satisfy the sci-fi tropes that D&D players might take an interest in Spelljammer: Adventures in Space a variety of unique races have been added to D&D with this adventure.
The Astral Elves are a race of elves with starlight in their eyes. These elves originated in the Feywild before making their way out into the Astral Sea. These elves have an even longer lifespan compared to their more grounded relatives. Perkins chuckled to himself as he revealed his inspiration for adding the Astral Elves was his love of Mr. Spock from Star Trek, and that the Astral Elves reminded him of the Vulcan race.
The Auto-Gnomes are a construct race that instead of being a Vulcan falls into the Data realm of sci-fi. These constructs have been made by the Gnomes that they're modeled after. Players will have different options behind why they were created, but those weren't delved into any further.
The Hadozee are a flying monkey race that are "wonderful gliders". They tie into the Planet of the Apes style of future sci-fi as an evolved simian being.
The Giff is the hippo race that throws a bit of absurdity into Spelljammer. They lean heavily into different firearms and were also a large part of the original source material.
The Plasmoids are the final race. These gelatinous creatures can shift between a blob form and grow limbs to appear more humanoid. Mechanically this allows for a wide variety of purposes if roleplayed correctly. Uniquely they also enjoy absorbing dyes into their membrane allowing them to appear in a wide variety of colors.
The Thri-Kreen is an insectoid race that almost resembles a praying mantis. While this bug-like appearance is a bit of a far cry from the sci-fi fantastical natures of the other races this was a good fit for them to be added to 5e.
Perkins mentioned that his favorite race of this new set is the Auto-Gnomes or the Plasmoids, but it slightly leans towards the Plasmoids. There was a lot that went into trying to make sure that the Plasmoid and playing an ooze wasn't too powerful while also remaining a lot of fun and unique.