Monthly Archives: May 2008


This is what the sails on a spelljammer ship catches to provide movement. It can only be detected by very specialized magic. Mostly the magic used by spelljamming helms. While using a spelljamming helm a magic-user can sense the flows and texture of the Aether around the ship for a good distance. This is how the major currents and moods of the Aether are first mapped out in unexplored space. You can also judge them by how they are pulling on the ship’s sails, but that is a lot less accurate and much harder.

The flows of the aether are influenced by gravity of the planets, all the asteroids and comets whizzing around, and the turbulent energies coming from the elemental maelstrom. This creates chaotic, but somewhat predictable patterns and paths for ships to follow.

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Posted by on May 24, 2008 in Spelljammer


Gas Giants

Gas Giants in the Spelljammer setting are not large planets made out of dense gases and hard minerals. Instead they are churning balls of Elemental Chaos that orbit the systems they are in. The resources of a ‘real’ gas giant would be of no interest to a fantasy world, but a planet made of the energies and pure elements of the Elemental Chaos are.

The sci-fi classic of diving into the upper atmosphere of a gas giant to avoid detection by enemies and to lose pursuers is still likely. The rolling storm of elements fouling magical detection and sight, but dangerous to pilot a spelljamming ship into. Storms of fire and cyclones and ice shards constantly battering the ship. The stabilizing air pocket around the ship only providing a slight protection.

The reason so many of these elemental vortex planets exist when they are simply open portals to the elemental chaos can be traced back to the Tiefling empire. During their war with the Draconian empire they used more and more powerful magics and summoning spells. The result was that in the twilight days of the war they managed to have a network of portals through the elemental chaos for large scale transport and for easy access to demons for defenses and attacks, but the dragon magic of the Draconian empire finally managed to disrupt the portals, sending them out of control and causing the elemental chaos spilling into the universe. Destroying the planets the portals were on and surrounding the planets with elemental maelstroms.

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Posted by on May 23, 2008 in Spelljammer


Common Spelljamming Ships

Here are some common spelljamming vessels that are found in the known spheres.

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Posted by on May 23, 2008 in Spelljammer


Spelljamming ships

Spelljamming ships come in all shapes and sizes, often depending on the race that made it. Humans tend towards Fish and Whale designs. Draconians favor reptile shapes. The Elves tend to favor more graceful insect-based designs for the ships they use. Beholders use spherical ships with no single plane of gravity. Mind Flayers use complex nautilus and squid designs with no open decks. The only thing that is a constant is that a spelljamming ship needs adjustable sails. This can be as big or small as desired, but the bigger they are the faster the ship will move.

Most spelljamming ships have a up-down orientation and one or more decks on the top of the ship with several others down below. The helm is usually in the rearmost compartment with easy access to the main deck so whoever is the magic-user on duty can get to it quickly when danger threatens and speed is required. Which also means that it is often easy for attacking enemies to get at it as well.

In the times of the great empires ship designs were fairly standardized as the empire would be building most of the ships. nowadays ships are a lot more unique and personalized. Many of the old styles still are around as the ships continue to be used, but the few new ships that get built are pretty customized. The various shipyards that are still in business do mostly repairs and modifications to already built ships. Most have the capability of building new ships, but need the customer to provide the spelljamming helm. Which means most new ships are custom-built to the owner’s desires. Since the design of a spelljammer only has one requirement, the sails, this can lead to some very odd designs.

Ships are most often built out of simple wood. How heavy the ship weighs is a important factor for how fast it can move and how maneuverable it can be. In the old days mighty empires had the resources to build whole ships out of the lighter metals such as mythril and could magically reinforce the ships of the fleet to be as strong as steel. Only a few places have the skill and riches to make such ships nowadays. So once again simple treated wood is used for the few new ships that get constructed.

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Posted by on May 19, 2008 in Spelljammer


Spelljammer Lexicon

Spelljamming Helm: The magical device that allows ships to travel through space.

Crystal Sphere: The large hollow crystal constructs that have entire systems of a star and planets inside them. Also used instead of ‘solar system’ to describe them.

Wildspace: The term for ‘normal space’ inside crystal spheres.

Phlogiston: The rainbow-colored semi-liquid that exists outside of the crystal spheres.

Aether: The undetectable substance that fills the void of space. This is what spelljammer ships sail through.

Groundlings: This is slang for people who live on planets instead of on moons, asteroids, ships, etc. Normally used as a derogatory comment towards those who have little to no experience in space.

Aether: The invisible substance that fills the void of space that spelljamming ships use to travel between planets.

Spelljammer Information

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Posted by on May 19, 2008 in Spelljammer