Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space
SpelljammerAdventuresInSpaceBox.jpg
The Spelljammer boxed set
Genre Role-playing game
Publisher TSR, Inc.
Publication date
1989
Media type Boxed set

Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space is a 1989 boxed set accessory for the Spelljammer campaign setting, part of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. It supplies rules and materials for playing AD&D in space. The set was well received by critics and fans.

Contents[edit]

The Spelljammer boxed set describes rules for AD&D in outer space.[1] The "Lorebook of the Void" booklet describes space travel, commonly known ship types, spacefaring races, and monsters.[1] The "Concordance of Arcane Space" details fantasy combat, more rules for spaceships, celestial mechanics, travel, and variations on rules for space.[1] The set includes cardstock sheets which provide both descriptions and deck plans for various ships, and counters for ship-to-ship combat. The set's large color maps depict two floating cities in space, a grid for space combat, and a map of the space between the planets of the Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, and Dragonlance campaign settings, which allows player characters to travel between these settings.[1] The set also includes guidelines for space campaigns, as well as campaign setting material.[1]

The set details the Spelljammer helm, which any spellcasting character can use to pilot a ship through space.[2] There are two kinds of outer space: "wildspace", which is similar to the outer space of science-fiction with some alterations to its physics, and the "phlogiston", an ocean of a unique element in which many vast crystal spheres float around.[2] The set includes systems for designing starships and for celestial navigation, and visual displays representing planetary systems for design and space travel.[2] It provides mechanics, counters, ship displays, and a map display for tactical engagements between spelljamming craft; the mechanics are explicitly designed to supplement role-playing, not as a stand-alone board game.[2] The tactical engagement system includes 8½" × 11" cardstock displays for 11 types of spelljammer ships, with a color illustration of the ship and a summary of tactical combat features on one side, and deck plans with map keys on the reverse.[2] The elves of the Spelljammer campaign are the largest political and military presence in space, having just completed a successful extermination of interstellar orcs and goblins throughout the known universe.[2] Dwarves use huge spacefaring asteroids, honeycombed with tunnels.[2] The lizard men and tinker gnomes (from the Dragonlance setting) are available as PCs; the beholder and the mind flayer appear as intergalactic menaces, along with a new race, the neogi.[2] The set also contains color fold-out maps of the Spelljammer, a colossal manta-ray-shaped starship a quarter-mile long with a half-mile wingspan, and the Rock of Bral, an asteroid merchant and pirate port.[2]

Publication history[edit]

Spelljammer was written by Jeff Grubb, with cover art by Jeff Easley and interior covers and illustrations by Jim Holloway, and was published by TSR in 1989 as a boxed set.[1] The set included two 96-page softbound books, four full-color 22x34 map/displays, 20 color card-stock reference displays, and four colorful card-stock cut-out counter sheets.[2]

Reception[edit]

Ken Rolston reviewed the Spelljammer supplement for Dragon magazine #154 (February 1990).[2] According to Rolston, the color cover of the Concordance of Arcane Space booklet "is the perfect visual precis of the epic themes of the Spelljammer role-playing universe", with its depiction of a Spelljamming ship ("a combination of a Greek war galley, Jules Verne's Nautilus, and a mammoth exotic tropical fish") and "a swashbuckling, eye-patched fantasy pirate" with a wounded mind flayer lying at his feet.[2] He calls the gameplay physics "cheap-and-cheerful, tailor-made for swashbuckling AD&D fantasy action, with original and simple concepts that are also enormously flexible, with an appealing internal fantasy logic".[2] The adventure and campaign potential for using the Spelljammer set "can only be measured in tons".[2] Rolston compares the Spelljammer set to the Space: 1889 and Shadowrun games reviewed in the same column, stating that they are both "original and exciting, but they are likely to appeal to more experienced, sophisticated role-players" and "require mastery of unfamiliar game systems", but because Spelljammer is part of the AD&D game, "few new mechanics need to be mastered, and they're based on ever-so-familiar AD&D system conventions".[2] Rolston concludes that "The Spelljammer set is a perfect evolution of the big, flexible, open-ended, and fun-loving elements of AD&D role-playing adventure. [...] The tone, objectives, and spirit are just right for its audience and purpose. The presentation is colorful and wonderfully imaginative" and "the rules and game concepts are simple, open-ended, and unpretentious, in keeping with the best traditions of AD&D role-playing, and remarkably comprehensive without intimidating in volume and detail."[2] He writes "The Spelljammer set is a gloriously silly idea executed with spirit and imagination."[2]

The Spelljammer set was a Gamer's Choice award-winner.[1]

In his 1991 book Heroic Worlds, Lawrence Schick describes the Spelljammer setting as seen in the boxed set: "forget about science, because this is fantasy space: there's a magical cosmology that creates strange planetary systems, bizarre spaceships that move by magical propulsion, and space zones where spells behave in strange ways".[1]

Further reading[edit]

  • Review: Challenge #43 (1990)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 114. ISBN 0-87975-653-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Rolston, Ken (February 1990). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR) (#154): 59–63.