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5E Dungeons & Dragons Is Replete With Spelljammer References

Captain N’ghathrod, art by Eric Belisle

Discussion took off on Twitter after the recent post, What a 5E Spelljammer Campaign Setting Might Look Like, leading to a conversation on the many references already present in 5E. Look at all these appearances! (And, thank you to the contributors)

Vault of the Dracolich: Way back in this D&D next adventure, we added the ruins of an elven Spelljammer, though we didn’t label it as such. The AD&D sourcebook Cult of the Dragon mentioned the dracolich Dretchroyaster having a crashed elven Spelljammer, so we added it to honor the old material and give his lair a sense of greater mystery.

Volo’s Guides to Monsters provides stats for Neogi (Spelljammer evil species). “the neogi designed and built sleek vessels, some capable of traversing the planes, to carry them to their new frontiers. Some neogi groups still create and use such vehicles, which have a distinct spidery aspect.” (@Dan_Dillon_1)

Volo’s Guide to Monsters has a Mind Flayers section discussing nautiloids. “Mind flayers employ bizarre flying ships called nautiloids. Able to move through the Astral Plane, nautiloids can also transport mind flayers between the various worlds of the Material Plane.” And, “The most notable feature of a nautiloid is its ability to move directly from one world to another in the Material Plane. Normally, travelers must venture to Sigil, a city in the Outer Planes, and find a doorway leading to the specific world they seek. But mind flayers can use nautiloids to move between worlds without going through Sigil. By this means, they have been able to spread themselves out into almost every corner of the multiverse. Nowadays, a nautiloid is an incredibly rare sight. A colony in possession of one takes great care to keep it hidden, taking to the sky only out of necessity. Word of a nautiloid seen soaring through the air travels quickly in almost every world and is likely to attract the attention of vengeful githyanki and githzerai. A gith hunting party counts a nautiloid as the greatest prize it can claim, above even an elder brain.” It also says that the illithids “have lost the secret of manufacturing nautiloids,” which is interesting!

Mordenkainen’s Tomb of Foes has a section on the githyanki that mentions their ship helms and gith planar ships. “During the great war between the mind flayers and the gith, one of the githyanki’s greatest achievements was their discovery of the magic that mind flayers used to produce and propel the flying vessels that the illithids used to travel between worlds. Now, the githyanki scour the worlds of the Material Plane in their versions of those craft.” And, “each githyanki ship is powered by a helm, a magical device in the form of a throne-like chair that converts psychic energy into motive force.” Size and speed information is provided for an Astral Skiff, Astral Brig, and Planar Raider. (@ThemyscirKnight)

Mordenkainen’s also details the hippopotamus-like Giff, a species originating in the Spelljammer game. “These spacefaring mercenaries are renowned for their martial training and their love of explosives.” (@ThePaxNormana)

In Volo’s Wake is an adventure featuring the ruins of a nautiloid in Adventure 5, “The Tentacled Maws of Evil.” The ship is unlikely to ever be able to fly again. The helm is described as integrated with an elder brain. (@darjr)

Storm King’s Thunder has a subtle Spelljammer connection. The ship that looks like a giant squid is depicted in a manner that closely resembles a squidship. However, the ship isn’t supposed to fall into player hands and no helm is described. (@GarrettKP)

From Storm King’s Thunder
A Spelljammer squidship

Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage has several Spelljammer connections.  SPOILERS Begin!!!

Level 16 allows travel to Stardock, an asteroid in the Tears of Selune orbiting Toril. While there are many allusions to spelljamming, and Stardock clearly sees periodic space travel, none happens during the adventure. It does further capture the mind flayer vs gith wars and how the battles also take place in space.

Level 19 has a Spelljamming vessel. The Scavenger is a nautiloid and has a mind flayer pilot who lived on the planet of Glyth in Realmspace.

Level 23 has a hidden chamber (area 20) with a Spelljamming Helm, “a gilded wooden throne with a cushioned seat and backrest covered in black velvet sewn with silver stars.” The helm is a legendary wondrous item and is given statistics. “When placed aboard a vessel weighing between 1 and 100 tons, the helm generates an envelope of fresh air around the ship while it is in the void of space (but not underwater). This envelope extends out from the edges of the hull in all directions for a distance equal in length to the vessel’s beam, so that creatures aboard and near the ship can breathe normally in space. The temperature within the air envelope is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. When placed aboard a vessel weighing between 1 and 100 tons, the helm generates an artificial gravity field while the ship is in the void of space, so that creatures can walk on the ship’s decks as they normally would. Creatures and objects that fall overboard bob in a gravity plane that extends out from the main deck for a distance equal in length to the vessel’s beam.” Very interestingly, the helm does require being a spellcaster and on water your speed in miles per hour is equal to your highest-level unexpended spell slot. When in air or space, the speed is ten times that. The helmsperson can also steer clumsily and can see as if they were standing upon the vessel on a location of their choice. While attuned, you cannot expend spell slots. If these were to be the basis for 5E Spelljammers, it would surely hurt play the same way the old AD&D rules hurt spellcasters. For example, if you are boarded you can’t use spells to help the party. Or, if you come across a derelict ship and want to investigate, you can’t use spells and then continue piloting. (@jamesjhaeck and others) 

 (END Dungeon of the Mad Mage SPOILERS)

DDEP08-02 Stardock Under Siege is a season 8 Adventurers League Epic adventure tied to Dungeon of the Mad Mage. The players prevent an attack on Stardock, including fighting on the deck of a Spelljammer. It also features gith and illithid.

DDEP09-02 Hellfire Requiem features Emirikol the Chaotic (originally from art in the AD&D DMG) and he has a vessel known as Demonwing that is capable of flight and plane shifting. It isn’t called a Spelljammer, but it likely is. It is said Emirikol may also have the eye of Vecna and at least one orb of dragonkind, and doesn’t sound like something we will deal with in a future adventure?

2 comments on “5E Dungeons & Dragons Is Replete With Spelljammer References

  1. Dan H
    April 23, 2022

    The AL adventure The Sword of Selfaril (DDEX2-14), designed by yours truly, mentions a trio of beholders who crashed their eye tyrant ship into the Dragonspine Mountains.

  2. Pingback: The Bold New Future Hinted at by D&D Direct | Alphastream

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This entry was posted on March 2, 2020 by and tagged , .


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