Well, with the new book Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, you can! The latest sourcebook from Wizards of the Coast dropped in August 2022, and it’s got more spaceships and alien species than you can shake a stick at.
So, buckle up, and let’s hop into a deep dive on this whole spelljammer business!
Check out our guide to Spelljammer 5e below.
Table of Contents
What is a Spelljammer?
Let’s start with the basics. The spelljammer setting has actually been around since the 1980s when it was initially developed for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2e. But, when you see the word here, we aren’t just talking about the campaign setting; it’s also a verb meaning to magically navigate a ship through the Astral Plane.
So, how do the spelljammers fly the ships? Obviously, with a magic spelljamming helm! You can go up to 100 million miles in 24 hours. Talk about some serious horsepower. However, this also leaves ships open to hijacking from rival helmspersons, so the nominated spelljammer must be prepared to fight off potential space pirates.
Location, Location, Location
Most of your time is clearly going to be spent navigating the wilds of the Astral Sea onboard your ship. The Astral Plane connects all other planes of existence, so theoretically, you can sail anywhere. However, the book gives a concrete location your party can visit on your many adventures.
The Rock of Bral is a thriving mercantile city built on an asteroid that can serve as a hub for an enterprising party. It used to be a haven for pirates, but the entrepreneurs eventually took over.
Spelljammer encourages DMs to let their imaginations run wild, concocting new wildspace systems for their players to visit. They give two examples of such systems, but most of it is left up to the creators to populate for their own purposes.
When you travel between systems, you’ll go through the Astral Sea, a strange and wondrous place where you can breathe, but nothing ever ages or feels hunger or thirst. That’s pretty convenient since you won’t need to worry about checking rations onboard.
Plus, if you ever get bored during your travels, you can always try astral fishing!
Unlike other campaign guides, Spelljammer takes care not to infringe too much on how DMs run their campaigns so that the players can have something uniquely crafted to fit their vibes at the table.
New Spelljammer Races
There are six new playable races to check out in the outer reaches of space. People who played the previous edition of the Spelljammer setting will likely recognize these races, but remember that they have heavily updated them, and there are plenty of changes.
- Giffs are humanoid hippos
- Autognomes are robotic gnomes built by Rock Gnomes
- Hadozees are like gorillas or chimps
- Thri-Keen are insectoids with four arms
- Plasmoids are oozing, sentient slimes
- Astral Elves are another subclass of elves with a bit of space flavoring
Players aren’t the only ones to get some new toys in space, though. Dungeon Masters have plenty to play with in the new list of monsters part of Boo’s Astral Menagerie. Our personal favorite might be Giant Space Hamsters which are pretty self-explanatory, but it isn’t all laughs.
Cosmic Horrors, for example, are eldritch beings from the Far Realm that long for the light of the stars. They drift through Wildspace, consuming stray ships, asteroids, and even planets in their wake. At over 100 feet long and with a Challenge Rating of 18, these are not monsters you want to mess with if you want to survive your trip through space.
And now, the part you’ve been waiting for: the ships. Spelljammer goes into great detail about ship combat, crashing, and the various models available.
With 16 different options, there’s bound to be something for every party! Even if there isn’t, they give enough information for intrepid DMs to homebrew new types of ships to fit your campaign. We’ll give you a brief intro for each ship.
Giff ships with huge cannons and a hulking amount of hit points. Bombards can carry a large crew, cargo, and whatever else you want.
Fast but small ships that can perform ground landings. They’re preferred by pirates and explorers alike since they can go 8 miles per hour.
Flying Fish Ship
One of the most common ships in space, merchants love flying fish ships because they can handle a decent amount of cargo without sacrificing safety or weaponry.
A much larger version of the damselfly ship, successful pirates enjoy having a ship that can handle heavy cargo and a reinforced bow that is more than capable of withstanding ramming.
Lamprey ships are the oldest model in space, used mainly by Psurlons. The ships have enormous metal mandibles that latch onto other ships to enable successful boardings, though they can’t hold much cargo.
The ship of Druids, Rangers, and others devoted to nature. These ships feature Treants as part of the crew, and since they’re interwoven in the ship, they automatically repair the wooden parts when they sleep.
Mind Flayers created nautiloids to traverse space in search of new victims. Nautiloids can use the spell plane shift once daily and have a ton of hit points, so they’re incredibly durable. The tentacles are a little bit off-putting, though…
Neogi patrol space in nightspiders, terrorizing anyone unfortunate to be in their path. They prefer ambush tactics and overtaking the spelljamming helms of their prey. They have an intimidatingly high AC and crew capacity, but if you can steal one for your party, you’ll definitely make a statement.
Another older model of ship, scorpion ships, have multiple legs that let them safely perform ground landings and even walk around on land. They have mangonels on their tails and large claws to grapple opponents.
A lightweight, faster version of the scorpion ship.
The most common ship in wildspace, the space galleon, is an all-purpose ship.
Yet another older model, these patrol ships can ram others or fire on enemies. They can sail through space, water, or land on the ground. If all else fails, they have tentacles to capture their opponents.
Astral elves made Star moths, showing off the grace and sophistication inherent in elves. Massive crystalline wings provide lovely decoration, and the ships are pretty fast, but they have lower ACs than other ships.
Ladden with weapons encased in a metal shell, the turtle ship is the ultimate battleship. It is quite roomy and versatile, although it’s pretty slow. It can even function as a submarine!
The ships of Beholders, tyrant ships feature eyestalks as cannons and are shaped like big blobs. Only Beholders can attune to their spelljammer helms.
Lightweight wasp ships don’t need much of a crew to fly, are affordable, fast, and hold a decent amount of cargo for their size. They don’t have much in the way of weapons, but this will likely be your first ship.
Spell Jammer Races
- Astral Elves
Fly Me To The Moon
Besides giving you all the information you need to start your own campaign in space, the guide includes an adventure called Light of Xaryxis with four parts.
Each part is divided into multiple chapters with the intention of getting through one chapter per session so you can finish the adventure in 12 sessions. It’s intended for 5th level characters; by the end, they should have reached level 9.
We won’t spoil anything about the adventure for you, but suffice it to say it’s a fun way to encourage players to explore the multiverse with plenty of twists and turns.
What are you waiting for? Let’s go to space!
Alexa spends the majority of her days explaining the ins and outs of DnD to her two cats, much to their dismay.