Running Spelljammer 5e

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Ahzad
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Running Spelljammer 5e

Post by Ahzad » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:49 pm

Spelljammer is my favorite setting hands down. It's also one I've not run since 2nd edition days. I always talk about running a Spelljammer game but never around to doing it, and run something ground based instead. I just finished Storm King's Thunder and have a bit of a break as 2 of the other players want to run Call of Cthulhu's Horror on the Orient Express, and the other guy is going to run a Savage Worlds Steampunk Secret World (think MMO for the Secret World) flavored game. So I have a little time to sort things out and start working on some basic ideas, and the most basic idea of all is how to I want Spelljammer helms to work in my 5e game. One the big things my group used to do back in the 2e days is have 2 sets of characters a ship crew and a landing party b/c it sucked to hop off the helm and have nothing but magic items to rely on if you were the wizard, at least until you got to rest. I really don't want to do that if I can avoid it.

I've run across a couple of ideas already out there, and the first couple are things I'm just paraphrasing b/c I can't find the webpage that they came from but I did copy some brief notes from the page that I'm working from.

1. spelljamming helm eats all your spells per AD&D
2. Helm eats all of your highest 2 spells slots to a caster with 3rd lvl spells loses the 2-3 lvls but keeps the 1st lvl
3. Helm eats half your slots from each level
and then there was some stuff about when a caster connects to a helm they could choose how many slots to contribute which then would relate to how much power is flowing through the helm.

then a couple friends were talking about this stuff in the game last night and we want to keep it simple and not bog down in rules and rule subsets so i thought a couple more ways that might be even simpler

4. spelljamming feats - something quick and easy as take this feat and after a short rest regain half your spell slots rounded down, can be taken a second time to regain all slots. sort of a way to say these casters that take/invest in this feat are a cut above your normal helmsmen out there. they've studied the ways of spelljamming and are more in tune with the energy's that power the helms.
5. a spelljammer subclass that gives you some spelljamming benefits and incorporates the feat idea into at perhaps the 6/10th and 14th levels abilities. not really fond of this idea b/c I don't like the idea of a specialized subclass that would have to be open to any casters.

of all the above ideas I'm heavily leaning towards the spelljamming feats b/c it seems the quickest and easiest solution. you get on the helm and lose all your spells. As a quick aside I don't envision the casters losing access to their cantrips in any solution. I see cantrips as continually replenishing, so the helm can't ever take them away, so you can at least still do something . So you can sit on the helm and lose all your spells, except your cantrips or you can invest to be come a better helmsmen and be able to regain your spell load w/o waiting for a full rest.

I've not had to worry about anything else so far except for coming up with the GIff b/c someone wants to be a Giff, that was easy.

The next thing would be a quick and easy ship combat system. Anyone run across any contenders for that yet? I've been looking over the combat is Starfinder. I like what I'm seeing in that initial read but I need to spend a little more time looking at it in terms of spelljammer.

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AxesnOrcs
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Re: Running Spelljammer 5e

Post by AxesnOrcs » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:03 pm

I honestly see nothing wrong with the old 'eat all your spells for the day' style helm. This mean the players can a) hire an NPC caster or b) track down some other style of helm like a furnace helm. But have you checked out the 3e/d20 Shadow of the Spider Moon. In it the helms just need a spellcaster to operate it, no spells get used.
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Re: Running Spelljammer 5e

Post by Jaid » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:39 am

the following are helm types that don't require a spellcaster to give up anything:

lifejammer
death helm
pump
furnace
artifurnace
series helm
ki helm

also, from hackjammer, you have splendid sails and ornery oars

so i don't think it's necessarily a *required* sacrifice. that said, i do think one thing the original didn't quite get right was the relative cost of the various helms. a major spelljammer helm has a few advantages, mainly how fast you can change your SR, that i don't think other helm types got (it's also arguable that the spelljamming NWP only works with spelljamming helms, and that the accelerator magic item only works with a spelljamming helm iirc), considering the other big ones (high potential speed, ability to move large ships) are given to some other helm types above. if there was a bigger advantage (say, for example, costing very little) to make spelljamming helms a bit more appealing, at least for the general public, that might've helped.

anyways, i don't necessarily think that removing the spelljamming part is quite the way to go. i think it would be better to present the spelljamming helm as one of many types of helms, and while others have disadvantages (the pump costs a small fortune, for example, and an artifurnace paints a giant target on your back plus most artifacts feel like horribly cursed items that have a few actually useful powers as well) it is perfectly fine if the party feels that the drawbacks of those other helm types are outweighed by the benefits. just make options available to mitigate those advantages. maybe also offer something a bit more interesting that is only available on a spelljamming helm (for example, make a spelljamming feat that makes you awesome at piloting a ship rather than one that lets you just keep what you already had, but also make the baseline spelljamming helm offer at least something interesting) and then present them options: they can get a different helm type, they can hire pilots, or they can even do both (a series helm for hurwaeti with a crew of hurwaeti for example). if they want the advantages offered by a spelljamming helm, fine, if not, well, they can always invest in something else. after all, a trader hiring a spellcaster by the month for relatively small amounts of money isn't bothered by the way it limits spellcasters, so it should be simple enough to trade for something else (at least, one of the lower cost options).

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Re: Running Spelljammer 5e

Post by Big Mac » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:37 pm

Hey! It's great to see you back, Ahzad! :)

Last time we spoke, you said you might pop over to the Introduce yourself here topic (to say "hi") but I've not seen you for ages.
Ahzad wrote:Spelljammer is my favorite setting hands down. It's also one I've not run since 2nd edition days. I always talk about running a Spelljammer game but never around to doing it, and run something ground based instead.
I feel your pain. I've had several things come along and derail me every time I've tried to set up a Spelljammer game.

I resolved to get on with setting up a Spelljammer game late in 2016, but 2017 was an especially disruptive year. (I'm still sorting a few things out.) Luckily for me, I bumped into an announcement by AuldDragon, when he was recruiting for his live-streamed Spelljammer game and won a seat at his virtual table. :D
Ahzad wrote:I just finished Storm King's Thunder and have a bit of a break as 2 of the other players want to run Call of Cthulhu's Horror on the Orient Express, and the other guy is going to run a Savage Worlds Steampunk Secret World (think MMO for the Secret World) flavored game. So I have a little time to sort things out and start working on some basic ideas, and the most basic idea of all is how to I want Spelljammer helms to work in my 5e game.
You ran Storm King's Thunder, huh?

Did you notice that there is a ship called The Morkoth that is a squidship from Spelljammer? It travels backwards from the way that squidships travel in wildspace, but you could easily use that ship as a way to migrate the PCs in the last game up into Realspace (if you fancy a bit of continuity). :)
Ahzad wrote:One the big things my group used to do back in the 2e days is have 2 sets of characters a ship crew and a landing party b/c it sucked to hop off the helm and have nothing but magic items to rely on if you were the wizard, at least until you got to rest. I really don't want to do that if I can avoid it.
Well that's one way to work around the problem, but others have suggested NPC helmsmen. In AuldDragon's game we have hired two NPC spellcasters. They usually (but not always) pull the shifts on the helm, but the players can also swap with them, if they need the NPCs to cast spells. (I actually should check in with them, in-character, and see if they "need" anything to continue with their studies. :) )
Ahzad wrote:I've run across a couple of ideas already out there, and the first couple are things I'm just paraphrasing b/c I can't find the webpage that they came from but I did copy some brief notes from the page that I'm working from.
Perhaps the thing you were looking at was Paul Westermyer's Fastplay rules. :?
Ahzad wrote:1. spelljamming helm eats all your spells per AD&D
2. Helm eats all of your highest 2 spells slots to a caster with 3rd lvl spells loses the 2-3 lvls but keeps the 1st lvl
3. Helm eats half your slots from each level
and then there was some stuff about when a caster connects to a helm they could choose how many slots to contribute which then would relate to how much power is flowing through the helm.

then a couple friends were talking about this stuff in the game last night and we want to keep it simple and not bog down in rules and rule subsets so i thought a couple more ways that might be even simpler

4. spelljamming feats - something quick and easy as take this feat and after a short rest regain half your spell slots rounded down, can be taken a second time to regain all slots. sort of a way to say these casters that take/invest in this feat are a cut above your normal helmsmen out there. they've studied the ways of spelljamming and are more in tune with the energy's that power the helms.
5. a spelljammer subclass that gives you some spelljamming benefits and incorporates the feat idea into at perhaps the 6/10th and 14th levels abilities. not really fond of this idea b/c I don't like the idea of a specialized subclass that would have to be open to any casters.

of all the above ideas I'm heavily leaning towards the spelljamming feats b/c it seems the quickest and easiest solution. you get on the helm and lose all your spells. As a quick aside I don't envision the casters losing access to their cantrips in any solution. I see cantrips as continually replenishing, so the helm can't ever take them away, so you can at least still do something . So you can sit on the helm and lose all your spells, except your cantrips or you can invest to be come a better helmsmen and be able to regain your spell load w/o waiting for a full rest.

I've not had to worry about anything else so far except for coming up with the GIff b/c someone wants to be a Giff, that was easy.
You know what. I know what way I am going to try to do this (in 3rd Edition) but what I and others want to do is not the important thing.

This is your game. If you don't like helms blocking spellcasting you can use any of those options you listed...or more.

The one thing to bear in mind, though, is that changes have knock on effects. If you switch to having no ill effects from operating a spelljamming helm, that's going to mean that every NPC ship your players meet is going to have a fully tooled up wizard, cleric (or other spellcaster) jumping off of the helm to throw spells at the PC.

The very thing that players sometimes complain about is also going to be the thing that allows them to take out a spellcaster that has two or three levels more than the PC spellcasters. (And that is going to land them with a spellbook that they can raid spells from for years.)

Have a think about all the angles, but then do what you think is right. And don't be afraid to use NPC helmsmen.
Ahzad wrote:The next thing would be a quick and easy ship combat system. Anyone run across any contenders for that yet? I've been looking over the combat is Starfinder. I like what I'm seeing in that initial read but I need to spend a little more time looking at it in terms of spelljammer.
Well so far, I've had people tell me I should just stick with the 2e system or that I have to convert things over to rules for Hardness and throw the old system out of the window.

You might be able to hand-wave this away for your early adventures, if you are not totally ready.

One thing I would say is that the Advantage/Disadvantage system seems to be pretty important for 5e. So, whatever way you intend to do, you are probably going to have to think about when ships...or helmsmen gain Advantage or Disadvantage.

Good luck working this out. I'm going to be focusing on 3e, but I wish you all the best!
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Re: Running Spelljammer 5e

Post by AxesnOrcs » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:18 pm

Finding ways to codify advantage for Spelljammers might involve feats (maybe converted from 3e or 4e(?)), new class archetypes, and/or modified backgrounds.

Even though I personally won't need 5e SJ for my games, my wife might be at some time in the future. She's been looking at 5e for a while for her next game.
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Re: Running Spelljammer 5e

Post by Ahzad » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:14 am

Big Mac wrote:Hey! It's great to see you back, Ahzad! :)

Last time we spoke, you said you might pop over to the Introduce yourself here topic (to say "hi") but I've not seen you for ages.
Thanks it's nice to be back talking Spelljammer again. I'll remember to pop over and introduce myself if I don't forget again :D
I resolved to get on with setting up a Spelljammer game late in 2016, but 2017 was an especially disruptive year. (I'm still sorting a few things out.) Luckily for me, I bumped into an announcement by AuldDragon, when he was recruiting for his live-streamed Spelljammer game and won a seat at his virtual table. :D
I've watched a few of his games, not enough though. I've been running my games on Roll20 for a bit now, it's an easier way for far away friends, and busy adults to play. We still miss sitting around the table, but it's gaming. :D
You ran Storm King's Thunder, huh?

Did you notice that there is a ship called The Morkoth that is a squidship from Spelljammer? It travels backwards from the way that squidships travel in wildspace, but you could easily use that ship as a way to migrate the PCs in the last game up into Realspace (if you fancy a bit of continuity). :)
Yea I had a player get excited when he saw that ship, and equally disappointed when I told him it wasn't a Spelljammer, and that there would be no Spelljamming in that particular game.

Perhaps the thing you were looking at was Paul Westermyer's Fastplay rules. :?
I've seen Paul's fastplay rules on Static's page back when I used to visit it in it's prime. Does that make me old? :D
Ahzad wrote:1. spelljamming helm eats all your spells per AD&D
2. Helm eats all of your highest 2 spells slots to a caster with 3rd lvl spells loses the 2-3 lvls but keeps the 1st lvl
3. Helm eats half your slots from each level
and then there was some stuff about when a caster connects to a helm they could choose how many slots to contribute which then would relate to how much power is flowing through the helm.

then a couple friends were talking about this stuff in the game last night and we want to keep it simple and not bog down in rules and rule subsets so i thought a couple more ways that might be even simpler

4. spelljamming feats - something quick and easy as take this feat and after a short rest regain half your spell slots rounded down, can be taken a second time to regain all slots. sort of a way to say these casters that take/invest in this feat are a cut above your normal helmsmen out there. they've studied the ways of spelljamming and are more in tune with the energy's that power the helms.
5. a spelljammer subclass that gives you some spelljamming benefits and incorporates the feat idea into at perhaps the 6/10th and 14th levels abilities. not really fond of this idea b/c I don't like the idea of a specialized subclass that would have to be open to any casters.

of all the above ideas I'm heavily leaning towards the spelljamming feats b/c it seems the quickest and easiest solution. you get on the helm and lose all your spells. As a quick aside I don't envision the casters losing access to their cantrips in any solution. I see cantrips as continually replenishing, so the helm can't ever take them away, so you can at least still do something . So you can sit on the helm and lose all your spells, except your cantrips or you can invest to be come a better helmsmen and be able to regain your spell load w/o waiting for a full rest.

I've not had to worry about anything else so far except for coming up with the GIff b/c someone wants to be a Giff, that was easy.
You know what. I know what way I am going to try to do this (in 3rd Edition) but what I and others want to do is not the important thing.

This is your game. If you don't like helms blocking spellcasting you can use any of those options you listed...or more.

The one thing to bear in mind, though, is that changes have knock on effects. If you switch to having no ill effects from operating a spelljamming helm, that's going to mean that every NPC ship your players meet is going to have a fully tooled up wizard, cleric (or other spellcaster) jumping off of the helm to throw spells at the PC.

The very thing that players sometimes complain about is also going to be the thing that allows them to take out a spellcaster that has two or three levels more than the PC spellcasters. (And that is going to land them with a spellbook that they can raid spells from for years.)

Have a think about all the angles, but then do what you think is right. And don't be afraid to use NPC helmsmen.
I personally don't mind the Spelljamming penalties and were I playing 2nd I would keep them. I guess I'm coming at it thinking of the ways the rulesets have evolved over the years, w/ cantrips keeping your caster casting and the like. The eat all your spells seems out of place to me in that light. I don't want a caster to be able to fully hop off the helm with a full complement of spells at his disposal w/o having sacrificed something to be able to do that, hence the investment in feats if I go that route, or one possible it eats all your slots and you are just left w/ the cantrips, kind of like that one even more than the feat idea. Got to sit down with the players and hash out what they want to see out of the game. Some are already sad that I'm dropping giant space hamsters, and the idea of the DL Tinker gnomes.

I know dropping the DL gnomes right? I don't plan on tying my SJ game to the known realms at least not for a long time. My flavor of fantasy tends towards the Howard's Conan, Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser, Thieves World, Black Company, Freeport, Lovecraft and the like. So i figure to turn my gnomes into kind of scary organic tech purveyors, see the chaositech stuff from Monte Cook, at least that's the idea that started to cook in my brain today at work, we'll see if it happens.
Ahzad wrote:The next thing would be a quick and easy ship combat system. Anyone run across any contenders for that yet? I've been looking over the combat is Starfinder. I like what I'm seeing in that initial read but I need to spend a little more time looking at it in terms of spelljammer.
Well so far, I've had people tell me I should just stick with the 2e system or that I have to convert things over to rules for Hardness and throw the old system out of the window.

You might be able to hand-wave this away for your early adventures, if you are not totally ready.

One thing I would say is that the Advantage/Disadvantage system seems to be pretty important for 5e. So, whatever way you intend to do, you are probably going to have to think about when ships...or helmsmen gain Advantage or Disadvantage.

Good luck working this out. I'm going to be focusing on 3e, but I wish you all the best!
[/quote]

Thanks I've been considering running this game in 3e lately b/c to honest I like that system the best, granted it did break my brain at epic levels and I had to take a break. I've been playing D&D a long time, started with basic and have worked my way a long. I really like the simplicity of 5e, but 3e is really what I keep going back to in my head. I can get my 5e fix with the kids game I'm going to be running for my grandkids, and nieces and nephews next month.

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Re: Running Spelljammer 5e

Post by Tenebrus » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:39 pm

I'm successfully running Spelljammer in 5E right now. I took a VERY different tack for my games than others have. If nothing else it might inspire you. Bear in mind that i personally detest the "eats all your spells" rules. Why that is... is a thread unto itself. Regardless, the goal was to give players meaningful tactical choices during space combat. "Do I use my spells now or save them in case we get boarded?" etc.

First off: To pilot a ship you must have Attune to the Helm. Up to 3 people can be attuned to a Helm at the same time(a departure from normal 5E rules)

Second: If you are attuned the Helm, and you are seating on it, and you are Concentrating - the ship will move at SR1, regardless of spellcaster

Third: If you want to go faster than SR1 while moving at Tactical Speed, than you just spend a spell slot as a Bonus Action to boost your SR(+1 per level of Slot expended), for 1 Round. I'm toying with a feat or Class Ability to increase this duration but have not done so yet.

Normal rules apply for when you can reach Spelljamming Speed, and Pact magic users can't Attune to a standard helm.
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