Spelljammer 5e Rules: Revealing Everything We Know So Far
The old school Spelljammer setting collides with D&D 5e this year! And now we know some of the Spelljammer 5e rules visible on the Spelljammer DM screen thanks to a dedicated group of Redditors! In this article, we take a look at what they uncovered to get a sneak peek into the fantastical world of Spelljammer 5e.
For those who don’t know: the original Spelljammer is actually a campaign setting published in 1989. It’s great to see it make a comeback in 5e! We here at NNN are stoked to get our hands on this sourcebook! So stay tuned for a Nerd Night News Spelljammer 5e campaign in the future.
I will be updating this article as we learn more rules. So keep this bookmarked if you’re curious about the rest of the rules or want a quick reference in the future!
The Wondrous Spelljammer Setting Launches D&D into Deep Space
For those not familiar with the Spelljammer universe, it is a fantastical campaign setting. Spelljammer takes Dungeons & Dragons into space! In Spelljammer 5e, outer space has two “regions” called Wildspace and the Astral Sea. Wildspace is the space around planets while the Astral Sea is like deep space but it connects different planes of existence rather than just being a cold void of darkness. And adventurers traverse Wildspace and the Astral Sea using vessels called spelljamming ships. Honestly, the easiest way to envision it is Disney’s Treasure Planet—and I LOVE the vibe of Treasure Planet.
Spelljamming ships have their own gravity and “atmosphere” so the crew can walk around like normal. The magical spelljamming helms enable “normal” ships to be space worthy. And this wouldn’t be D&D without combat. In Spelljammer, your ship can be attacked by other ships as well as incredible and terrifying space monsters, so there are rules for ship combat. Speaking of rules, how did we come to learn these Spelljammer 5e rules?
Future Spelljammer 5e Dungeon Masters and Players—We Come Bearing Gifts
Wizards of the Coast published an image of the Spelljammer set with their big announcement last month. And you can see the beautiful DM screen partly opened in the Reddit post below.
Turns out, you can make out the words on the DM screen if you zoom in and squint hard enough. But we’re here to save your eyes the strain. Below you will find a rundown on all the Spelljammer 5e rules the Redditors could decipher from the DM screen.
Spelljammer 5e Rules Straight From the DM Screen
We can see some headers across the top half of the DM screen. Start from the left where we have a d100 table for Ship Encounters. Then there’s a column for Ship-to-Ship Starting Distance and another column below it for Crashing. On the right half of the screen, we see Shipboard Tasks, Ship Quirks, Ship Cargo, and Expensive Cargo.
It’s hard to make out the regular text, but that’s why we have Reddit to thank. Give u/MegamanJB some karma for starting this effort.
Spelljammer 5e Rules—Ship Encounters
The DM uses this d100 table to choose random ship encounters for the adventurers’ spelljammer. There is a column for Attitude Roll, which gives a 1d12 dice roll for each encounter. For some of the encounters, there is a modifier added to the d12. This could be for determining hostility levels. So with the modifier some of the encounters would naturally have a more hostile attitude toward your adventurers’ spelljamming ship.
Underneath the header are:
d100—Ship Encounter—Attitude Roll
And below those subheadings we find the descriptions for each encounter. Keep in mind that some information is still missing so ellipses (…) are used in place of text that has not been deciphered.
- Bombard Leviathan? captained by… (giff warlord) and … giff shipmates and 3…
- … captained … explorer
- Scorpion ship Claws of… captained by H… (hobgoblin captain) and crewed by 1 bugbear (first mate) 8 hobgoblins and 2 hobgoblin priests
- Shrike ship… captained by Yaj (githyanki xenomancer) and crewed by 11 githyanki buccaneers.
- Space Galleon … captained by K… (beholder) and crewed by 1 spectator (first mate), 3 cult fanatics and 16 cultists
- Space Galleon … captained Myttan the Mighty (djinni?) and crewed by 1 invisible stalker (first mate)… aarakocra and 7…)
Ship to Ship Starting Distance
The description for this one reads:
- At the start of an engagement, decide how far a ship is from its enemies. Three possibilities are provided in the table below. The shorter the distance, the less time creatures have to find weapons and make other preparations.
- 250 ft—Long range for ballistae, mangonels, shortbows, longbows, light crossbows, and heavy crossbows.
- 500 ft—Long range for longbows and mangonels, too far for ballistae and crossbows.
- 1000 ft—Beyond the range of most ranged weapons.
This one is also not too difficult to read:
- When a spelljamming ship crashes into a creature or object that would presumably damage it, both the ship and the creature or object struck take bludgeoning damage based on the size of the struck object, as shown in the table below.
Size of Creature or Object Struck—Bludgeoning Damage
There might be more below where the DM screen covers the column. What sizes might we expect beyond gargantuan?
This describes a list of tasks the captain can assign to crew members:
- During the uneventful part of a voyage, the captain of a spelljamming ship can put crew members to work in several ways. If a character is looking for a job to do, or if a captain wants to keep a character busy, roll on the Shipboard Tasks table to determine what needs to be done. The time it takes to complete a task is at least 1 hour and certain tasks might take longer at your discretion.
- 1—Scrape barnacles off the hull.
- 2—Scrub pots and dishes in the galley.
- 3—Chop vegetables in the galley.
- 4—Swab the deck or sweep the cargo hold.
- 5—Update the ship’s navigational charts which require cartographer’s tools.
- 6—Repair the captain’s favorite pair of boots which requires cobbler’s tools (a mending spell also does the trick).
Looks like we only have half of the tasks so far but repairing the captain’s favorite boots is my favorite. I can imagine a campaign where the captain has a gargantuan boot collection onboard that needs constant upkeep. And at one point the captain loses his favorite pair to an interstellar thief (or creature of mischief) so the adventurers have to embark on a noble quest to retrieve them.
Sign me up!
I dig flavor stuff like this:
- Roll on the Ship Quirks table if you want to add a bit of “personality” to a ship.
- 1—A chatty but harmless spirit haunts the cargo hold.
- 2—The excessive creaking of the hull echoes throughout the ship.
- 3—Any creature that removes itself from the ship’s spelljamming helm receives a startling but harmless magical shock.
- 4—The ship’s … are smaller than those found in most other similar vessels.
- 5—The ship makes a growling sound in what seems like defiance wherever it comes to a stop.
Yes, DM, I want to add a bit of personality to the ship! Add ALL of the personality and let’s go be space pirates!
The DM can use the d12 tables here to determine what cargo the adventurers might find in the hold of a spelljamming ship. The description reads:
- To randomly determine what’s in the cargo hold of a spelljamming ship roll 1d8 times on the Cheap Cargo table and 1d4 – 1 times on the Expensive Cargo table. A duplicate result indicates that a ship has more of the same cargo.
- If a cargo container is locked, at least one crew member (typically the captain) has the key to it. A character can try to unlock a container using thievery tools doing so with a successful DC 20 dexterity check.
Then we have tables for Cheap Cargo and Expensive Cargo.
- 1 – Trunk containing…
- 1—Crate containing fifty blank spell books (50 gp each)
- 2—Crate containing one hundred 1 ounce bottles of ink (10 gp each) and one thousand sheets of parchment (1 gp each).
- 3—Crate containing twenty potions of healing, flasks of alchemist’s fire and … (50 gp each)
- 4—Crate containing one hundred bottles of … wine (25 gp each).
- 5—… crafted furniture…
- 7—…containing an … dragonchess set made of ivory (2,500 gp).
- 8—…containing ten bombs…(see “Explosives” in the Dungeon Master’s Guide).
- 12—kegs of gunpowder … (see “Explosives” in the Dungeon Master’s Guide).
Spelljammer 5e Rules in a Nutshell
I’m regularly impressed by the collective effort of Redditors to crack puzzles and decipher mysteries. The Spelljammer 5e rules they have uncovered are painting a clearer picture of what we can expect in our adventures through Wildspace and the Astral Sea.
The Spelljammer release will be here before we know it and I can’t wait to get my booty kicked by giant space monsters!
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SPELLJAMMER 5E? ARE YOU GOING TO PICK IT UP? WHY OR WHY NOT? TELL US IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!