What is Spelljammer?

To Realmspace! And beyond!

Spelljammer is a setting in the D&D universe first introduced in 2nd edition. A Spelljammer is also a vessel capable of interstellar travel allowing characters to travel to new planets to explore all kinds of worlds. This is the premise of the Spelljammer setting, giving characters the potential to travel to worlds unknown and encounter increasingly alien ecosystems.

What is Realmspace?

Because of the inter-connected nature of realmspace, just about any setting can be reached in a Spelljammer. For example, Realmspace is the system in which Torril can be found (the planet that Faerun can be found on and the most common setting in D&D 5e). Realmspace is the home of several planets including:

  • Anadia – The closest planet to the sun and one inhabited primarily by halflings and umber hulks. It’s equator is practically uninhabitable because of its proximity to the sun
  • Coliar – A gas giant mostly populated by flying creatures. Floating islands of water and earth rotate around the core of the planet
  • Toril – The third planet from the sun and the most highly populated. It’s similar to Earth in nature as a primarily water based planet covered in landmasses and flora
  • Karpri – An oceanic world inhabited by beautiful and deadly sea-dwelling creatures such as aquatic-elves
  • Chandos – Another oceanic planet with island masses inhabited by dwarves, humans and orcs that had crashed here long ago. These factions are often in a state of conflict with one another
  • Glyth – A world inhabited by the illithid and devoid of plant life due to the harsh atmosphere and the illithids themselves destroying plants to prevent humanoid slaves from hiding.
  • Garden – Not a planet but rather a group of connected landmasses populated by pirates and non-sentient life-forms
  • H’Catha – A port planet inhabited by beholders that operate interstellar trading points

Where else can you go in a Spelljammer?

So what about beyond Realmspace? Well the world (or the universe) is your oyster. Want to travel to Krynn or Greyhawk? Why not? Just make sure your spelljammer ship is properly fueled up and you have a map to the right system and characters are free to travel there.

Not everywhere is accessible in a Spelljammer though. The setting of Dark Sun is not accessible via Spelljammer (or at least, it’s so far away that no Spelljammer has ever made the journey there). Ravenloft, on the other hand, is a demi-plane and can’t be reached with a Spelljammer. The encompassing mist of the dark Powers do operate in space however and can even consume Spelljammers that’re mid-flight, dragging their inhabitants into one of the Domains of Dread that make up Ravenloft.

Dangers of Spelljammer travel

Spelljammer travel has been utilised by advanced races such as beholders, illithid and the Gith. Each of these are deadly adversaries and often have nefarious schemes of their own. There are also space pirates to be wary of, looking to plunder from traders. And of course, there’s an even more varied array of monsters to contend with as you travel to more obscure worlds.

On top of this is the fact that magical abilities are often more limited during Spelljammer travel. For example, a magic wielder is required to use spells to pilot the vessel. Summoning spells are usually useless as there’s nothing in range to summon and even worse, gods only have powers extending within the sphere of their influence, meaning many clerical abilities cannot be used when travelling to new realms.

All of this makes for incredibly wild, varied and perilous adventures across space and a myriad of settings including any of your own that you might choose to create. Wizards of the Coast have recently announced that they’re updating the Spelljammer setting for 5e and packing in a whole new adventure so you’ll be able to adventure in Realmspace and beyond.

Creatures of the Spelljammer setting

While many of the creatures that you might find in Spelljammer are common throughout the D&D universe such as beholders, mind flayers and elves; some uniquely appear in the Spelljammer setting.

These creatures include:

  • Autognomes – Mechanical gnomes built by rock gnomes to serve a particular function. Autognomes tend to be loyal but can strike out on their own under certain circumstances. There is no uniform way to build an autognome so designs can vary drastically from creature to creature.
  • The Arcane – Mysterious, space-faring merchants of giant proportions that sell spelljamming equipment
  • Asteroid spider – Not actual spiders, but very similar in appearance, they’re 10 legged creatures that resemble an asteroid when curled in a ball with a body of 30 feet in diameter and 30 foot long legs
  • Clockwork horror – Spider-like and built of metal, they strip whole worlds of metal so they can replicate their own species
  • Comet steeds – A horse-like being that can freely travel through space leaving behind a cloud of stardust
  • Eldritch lich – Creatures that have allowed a great old one to implant a parasite into their body, granting them eldritch powers and eternal life through undeath
  • Fractine – A 2 dimensional creature that flies through wildspace and appears like a mirrored trapezium
  • Gadabout – A plant that elves use for brief journeys into wildspace as it gives an envelope of breathable air around it
  • Giant space hamsters – Large hamsters bred by gnomes to make their spelljammers work by having them run in large wheels. They also come in the miniature variety
  • Giff – Mercantile beings with the appearance of bipedal hippos
  • Murderoid – Evil, living asteroids with their own center of gravity. They attack all creatures that are smaller than themselves
  • Nightmare beast – Deadly, 20 foot tall, 4-legged creatures with claws and tusks
  • Neogi – Spider-like creatures that are ruthless slavers and hate all other races other than their own
  • Puppeteer parasite – A rubbery amoeba with bony hooks to attach to walls and ceilings (or their unfortunate prey)
  • Radiant dragons – Shimmering dragons capable of travelling through realmspace
  • Star lancer – A 4-winged shark like creature living in the husks of dead gods
  • Thri-keen – Intelligent, bipedal insectoids with psionic abilities
  • Vampirates – Pirates that also happen to be vampires
  • Yggdrasti – Cast-off splinters of the world tree that float through space and have their own gravity and atmosphere. Yggdrasti hate all other living beings

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.