Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

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Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Seethyr » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:31 pm

Updating the Comet Steed to 5e is a big challenge considering you have to get Spelljamming right, when there is no official rules for Spelljamming.

Or is there...
Dungeon of the Mad Mage wrote: Helm of the Scavenger
Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement by a spellcaster)

Description. A guilded wooden throne with a cushioned seat and backrest in black velvet sewn with silver bars. This ornate chair is designed to propel and maneuver a ship through space.

Passive Properties. The following properties of the helm come into play even when no creature is attuned to it:

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.

Active Properties. The sensation of being attuned to the helm is akin to being immersed in warm water. While attuned to the helm, you gain the following abilities while you sit in it:

You can use the helm to propel the vessel across or through water and other liquids at a maximum speed in miles per hour equal to your highest-level unexpended spell slot.

You can use the helm to propel the vessel through air or space at a maximum speed in miles per hour equal to your highest-level unexpended spell slot × 10.

Provided you have at least one unexpended spell slot, you can steer the vessel, albeit in a somewhat clumsy fashion, in much the same way that oars or a rudder can maneuver a seafaring ship.

Whenever you like, you can see what's happening on and around the vessel as though you were standing in a location of your choice aboard it.

Drawback. While attuned to the helm, you cannot expend your own spell slots.
My point being, I want to give the Comet Steed an "Ability" in its stat block that goes well beyond its speed. I have seen a Comet Steed listed as having a movement of 100 million miles per day, but since a pegasus can only go 30 miles per day according to the rules for movement. I know the mathematics is a little wonky, but this would mean the Comet Steed can travel 3333333.3 times as far each day. If this translated into speed, it would mean the pegasi's flying speed of 90 x 3333333 = 300000000 flying speed!

I don't know, I just dont feel like that is something to put in a stat block.


On the flipside. the entry for 2e on Comet Steeds says...
Comet steeds are not warlike and tend to avoid combat whenever possible. Considering the great speeds at which they can travel, the beasts can avoid combat as they choose. The steed has the amazing natural ability to travel at spelljamming speeds (in combat, consider the horse to have a SR of 7!), making the rare creatures a highly prized mount.
Also on Spelljammer.org, there is a 3e update that looks like this...
Natural Spelljammer (Su): A natural spelljammer can attain spelljamming speed (100M miles per day) without the use of a spelljamming helm. This ability has the same requirements for being far away from large objects as a ship with a spelljamming helm. When not moving at spelljamming speed the comet steed moves either by flight, running or walking.
So, how do you handle a creature that can travel at spelljamming speeds with its normal speed? Does it have two different speeds? Why would it ever take the super slow speed if it can spelljam at will? Should I limit the ability somehow? Does it need a rev up, a limited number of uses each day? What would stop the comet steed from saying, "meh, I'll go 300 speed now."
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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by AuldDragon » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:00 am

Spelljamming speed cannot be used near other gravitational bodies of a certain size (ships, planets, etc.), so the comet steed can only attain that speed in space after leaving other bodies. In other words, in most situations, it won't come up. It has to get away from you before it can go that fast if you are aggressive towards it, in other words.

Of course, considering it can move at SR 7 near other bodies (just over 119 miles per hour), that's really not a problem. I think with 6 second combat rounds that comes out to a movement rate of 1050 feet.

It only has a movement rate of 24 on the ground, though.

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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Jaid » Wed Oct 09, 2019 4:34 am

yeah, i would recommend ignoring the rules for that helm. it is many orders of magnitude too slow for travel in wildspace.

to put it into perspective:

90 miles per hour is the absolute fastest speed that helm can achieve.
90 miles per hour is about 144 kilometres per hour.
the distance from earth to the moon is 384,400 kilometres (this is probably an average, but just for simplicity's sake)
to travel from the earth to the moon using that helm would take 2,669.4 hours.
that is a little over 111 days. of course, given how long it's going to take, this assumes you aimed at the correct point for the moon to be in the right place when you get there, because just to be clear you are *definitely* not fast enough to catch up to the moon, and if you miss, well, just add an extra orbital period to the time it takes for a one-way trip, minimum. never mind getting back to earth afterwards.

i'll just let that sink in for a moment.

....

.............


ok, i think that's long enough. i don't care to calculate how long it would take at that speed to get to, say... mars or venus. but to simplify things, you're going to need to tell your players to write up multiple generations of descendants for their characters by the time that campaign ends. to get to the sphere wall so that you can enter the phlogiston, your campaign will probably need to span a greater amount of time than the history of your campaign setting.

and again, i must stress: this is at the *fastest* speed that helm can achieve. if you don't have an archmage available every minute of every day throughout that entire trip, it is going to take longer.

the helm also completely missed a number of key components of wildspace physics, like not needing to generate gravity or air (well, ok, actually, given how slow it is, it actually would need to clean your air because air isn't actually infinite in spelljammer, so somewhere around the 8 month mark at full standard crew capacity your air would turn deadly without that, but *normally* 8 months is more than long enough to leave a planet with an atmosphere, travel to the edge of a crystal sphere, travel through the phlogiston to another crystal sphere, and then travel through that crystal sphere to reach another planet with an atmosphere. the only reason the helm would need to create air is that they got the speed so wrong.

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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Big Mac » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:36 pm

AuldDragon has already posted some excellent advice, but there are a few things in the text you quoted that I wanted to comment on.
Seethyr wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:31 pm
Updating the Comet Steed to 5e is a big challenge considering you have to get Spelljamming right, when there is no official rules for Spelljamming.

Or is there...
Dungeon of the Mad Mage wrote:Helm of the Scavenger
Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement by a spellcaster)

Description. A guilded wooden throne with a cushioned seat and backrest in black velvet sewn with silver bars. This ornate chair is designed to propel and maneuver a ship through space.

Passive Properties. The following properties of the helm come into play even when no creature is attuned to it:

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.
One thing to bear in mind is that (in 2e) a Spelljamming Helm does not normally need to generate air or gravity, as they are natural properties of Wildspace. Anything that goes into wildspace takes with it a bubble of air and generates gravity.

A "Helm of the Scavenger" is not a name used before, so this could easily be seen as a variant Spelljamming Helm that keeps the air fresh and avoids gravity attacks (that's an attack where a big ship uses it's gravity to screw around with the people on a smaller ship that it rams or grapples).

Taken from the point of view of a Comet Steed, it means that a Comet Steed can fly into Wildspace with a rider on it's back and they will not fall off or immediately die from a lack of air.

I don't recall anything in the monster description that said that Comet Steeds automatically create air. So I would expect them to run from world to world. (They probably want to stop off to eat and drink anyway.)
Seethyr wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:31 pm
Dungeon of the Mad Mage wrote:Active Properties. The sensation of being attuned to the helm is akin to being immersed in warm water. While attuned to the helm, you gain the following abilities while you sit in it:

You can use the helm to propel the vessel across or through water and other liquids at a maximum speed in miles per hour equal to your highest-level unexpended spell slot.

You can use the helm to propel the vessel through air or space at a maximum speed in miles per hour equal to your highest-level unexpended spell slot × 10.
In traditional Spelljamming rules, you have four different speeds a ship might go at:
  • Speed while on the sea/water (this varies) - down to sailing rules,
  • Tactical Speed (this is tied into the Ship's Raiting, which is tied into Spellcasting Levels if a helmsman is flying the ship) - speed while in an atmosphere or while around other ships and asteroids that prevent acceleration to Spelljamming Speed,
  • Spelljamming Speed (one million miles per day) - speed while in open Wildspace and travelling to distant locations
  • Speed while in Phlogistion rivers (this varies) - down to Phlogistion rules.
The Phlogistion is pretty much a luck thing. You make a navigation check and that can help you get from one sphere to another quickly. An individual GM might want to nail down some of the specific rivers to make them constant, but that's my understanding of the canon. You can even get lost and go somewhere else.

For a Comet Steed, I'd say you have the speed it runs at on the ground, the speed it flies at (Tactical Speed), then you have Spelljamming Speed if it leaves the atmosphere and flies to another planet.

They could theoretically travel to other crystal spheres along flow rivers. That would take longer, so they might migrate to outer planets before doing that.
Seethyr wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:31 pm
Dungeon of the Mad Mage wrote:Provided you have at least one unexpended spell slot, you can steer the vessel, albeit in a somewhat clumsy fashion, in much the same way that oars or a rudder can maneuver a seafaring ship.

Whenever you like, you can see what's happening on and around the vessel as though you were standing in a location of your choice aboard it.

Drawback. While attuned to the helm, you cannot expend your own spell slots.
My point being, I want to give the Comet Steed an "Ability" in its stat block that goes well beyond its speed. I have seen a Comet Steed listed as having a movement of 100 million miles per day, but since a pegasus can only go 30 miles per day according to the rules for movement. I know the mathematics is a little wonky, but this would mean the Comet Steed can travel 3333333.3 times as far each day. If this translated into speed, it would mean the pegasi's flying speed of 90 x 3333333 = 300000000 flying speed!

I don't know, I just dont feel like that is something to put in a stat block.

If you really want a Comet Steed to go faster than a Pegasi, it should fly up into space, fly half way around the world at Spelljamming Speed, slow down, fly back down to the ground, let the rider get off...and then fly away.

It is open Wildspace (and only open Wildspace) that gives it the big advantage over a Pegasi.

On the ground and in the air the two might be more evenly matched. (And don't forget that Comet Steeds don't like to fight, so might not chase an aggressive Pegasi.)
Seethyr wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:31 pm
On the flipside. the entry for 2e on Comet Steeds says...
Comet steeds are not warlike and tend to avoid combat whenever possible. Considering the great speeds at which they can travel, the beasts can avoid combat as they choose. The steed has the amazing natural ability to travel at spelljamming speeds (in combat, consider the horse to have a SR of 7!), making the rare creatures a highly prized mount.
SR 7 (which allows for up to 7 hex of movement on the Spelljammer tactical grid*) applies to Tactical Speed when combat can happen. So what this rule is saying is that - if a ship tries to attack someone on a Comet Steed, the Comet Steed is physically able to flee at 7 hexes per turn.

* = Spelljammer rules have points of SR traded to turn ships, but that's dependent on the Manouverability Class.

If a Comet Steed is being chased by a ship with SR 6 or less and continues in a straight line without being shot by a ship weaponn or personal weapon it will eventually get so far away from the ship chasing it, that it can accelerate to Spelljammer Speed.
Seethyr wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:31 pm
Also on Spelljammer.org, there is a 3e update that looks like this...
Spelljammer: Beyonnd the Moons wrote:Natural Spelljammer (Su): A natural spelljammer can attain spelljamming speed (100M miles per day) without the use of a spelljamming helm. This ability has the same requirements for being far away from large objects as a ship with a spelljamming helm. When not moving at spelljamming speed the comet steed moves either by flight, running or walking.
So, how do you handle a creature that can travel at spelljamming speeds with its normal speed? Does it have two different speeds? Why would it ever take the super slow speed if it can spelljam at will? Should I limit the ability somehow? Does it need a rev up, a limited number of uses each day? What would stop the comet steed from saying, "meh, I'll go 300 speed now."
If you can catch a Comet Steed on the ground, it can not accellerate to Spelljamming Speed.

You might be able to catch it with a net or a lasso.

If it runs away, you might be able to catcch it up.

If it flies away, you still might be able to catch it up.

If it can get away from you, it can pop up into Wildspace and quickly fly half way around the world.

In a groundling campaign, think of a Comet Steed as a way to ride from Maztica to Kara-Tur in less than one day. Essentially, if an astronomer saw you flying a Comet Steed around the world, it would look like a comet crossing the sky. That's where the name presumably comes from. Observers would see a comet fly across the sky and come down and then see a horse in the field where they expected to find a comet crater.

So, if you are explaining the creature outside of the context of the Spelljammer campaign setting, why not just say that "it can also move through space at the speed of a comet". Then you can define that speed as being "one million miles per day".

If you are talking specifically about Realmspace, then use the term "The Sea of Night", especially if you want to throw a conversion into a DMs Guild product, as Spelljammer concepts are OK, but Spelljammer trademarks are not.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Seethyr » Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:52 pm

I love all of these points and I am very thankful for it because frankly, my SJ knowledge has really not been stimulated in decades (still remember a little). The thing I am trying to really accomplish here though is a little more extrapolation on what 5e Spelljamming might look like based off of the only official reference we have to it. Based on the helm, I'm thinking we have to assume that if SJ were to be updated (and boy do all the dropped hints appear to suggest it will - there is something SJ related in a plethora of products now) the physics would be more in line with the real world. Otherwise, I would find it really odd to have a one-off helm that generates gravity, air etc.

On the flipside, I don't know where exactly you are travelling to going tops 90 mph. Perhaps that is a legitimate typo and its more like Spell Slot Level x 10 Million MPH?


This is my thoughts on what a 5e "Spelljamming" ability would look like on a creature's 5e stat block.
If the comet steed reaches space, it can increase its travel speed to 100 million miles per hour as long as it is not in combat. In addition, it has a 30 foot radius zone about itself which generates an air envelope with a constant temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and gravity that is subjective to the comet steed. If the comet steed engages in combat in space, the air, temperature and gravity remain, but the comet steed cannot travel at spelljamming speed until it is no longer in combat.
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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by AuldDragon » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:04 pm

I suspect that Spelljamming Helm in the existing 5e product was designed not for *actual* Spelljamming (i.e. interplanetary and intersphere) travel, but instead with the expectation that players who get it will only use it for planetary travel around Faerun.

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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Seethyr » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:13 pm

Image
Last edited by Seethyr on Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Seethyr » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:21 pm

AuldDragon wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:04 pm
I suspect that Spelljamming Helm in the existing 5e product was designed not for *actual* Spelljamming (i.e. interplanetary and intersphere) travel, but instead with the expectation that players who get it will only use it for planetary travel around Faerun.

Jeff
Page 250 of Dungeon of the Mad Mage states:
The Scavenger is a 290-foot-long, 50-foot-wide, 25-ton spelljamming vessel - a ship designed to travel through space. Halaster detected the vessel as it orbited Toril and lured it through a magic gate into Undermountain. He then boarded the vessel, stole its spelljamming helm <snip> and took the helm to level 23, leaving the captain and crew to fend for themselves.
Either fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at the older SJ lore, this seems to be the direction they're going in 5e if it is updated.

BTW the ship looks like a squid in the book. There was a squidship that mind flayers used, I believe?
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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Seethyr » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:23 pm

I think I need to give the comet steed flyby attack as well...

Edit completed
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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Jaid » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:32 pm

there is a squidship in spelljammer.

it is mostly only used by the mind flayers in the sense that any race could potentially use any ship. the mind flayers have a couple of their own designs, as well as at least one that i can recall that was a collaboration.

the most iconic mind flayer ship would be the nautiloid, which looks more or less like a giant snail shell with tentacles coming out of the opening twisted around each other in a straight line coming to a point. if i were to suggest one simple tweak to make the ship feel more like a mind flayer ship, it would be to have the decks be covered, because that is one of the standard features of mind flayer ships; they don't like the sun. mind you, if they're stuck using a squidship they might have just done something temporary (building awnings over everything) and removed that once the ship was underground.

it is also worth noting that mind flayers don't use spelljamming helms at all, they typically use series helms. spelljamming helms work for spellcasters, series helms come in groups and work for creatures with spell-like abilities (the more chairs with a creature in them, the faster they move), and are race-specific (so a series helm that works for mind flayers won't work for ogre magi). mind flayers are also known to use pool helms, although those require a brain pool and are usually only placed in their largest ships, and very likely wouldn't be found in a captured squidship. they may also from time to time use lifejammers, which drain the life out of targets to provide power, although they aren't specifically known for that, and it would likely be a stopgap measure.

anyways, point being, if this is a clear indication of the route they're going, then practically speaking they aren't really converting spelljammer. they're looking at making a new setting that will have some elements of the old, and calling it the same name. that isn't inherently a bad thing, i suppose; certainly, there are enough people who had issues with spelljammer. but it isn't really a conversion. it's like saying the 1997 movie "The Mummy" is a remake of the 1932 movie "The Mummy"; technically true, i guess, but if you were to watch the two of them, you would probably think of them more like movies that draw from the same well of inspiration than as the same movie, one of them being a remake. (in that particular example, there's also a 2017 remake of "The Mummy", which from what i gather would also be more like a movie that draws from the same well of inspiration than a remake).

edit: and just to be clear, while i wouldn't consider the 1997 movie to genuinely be a remake of the original, that doesn't mean i didn't enjoy watching the 1997 movie. they could come out with a new setting that is fun to play in. i'm just saying that if it is based on the rules they've already released, it isn't really the same thing as 2nd edition spelljammer, it's going to be its own thing that only really uses the original setting for inspiration and brand name recognition.

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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by AuldDragon » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:40 pm

Seethyr wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:21 pm
Either fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at the older SJ lore, this seems to be the direction they're going in 5e if it is updated.

BTW the ship looks like a squid in the book. There was a squidship that mind flayers used, I believe?
There's the lore of a thing, and then there's the gameplay reasons for a thing. Since the adventure and other 5e material really doesn't discuss other planets or solar systems, I think it is safe to say that the *gameplay* intentions of the Spelljammer helm are that it be used to ferry a party about the Realms, and that is what the rules are balanced for. I could be wrong, but since it utterly fails at getting players off-planet in a reasonable amount of time, I feel fairly confident in my assumption.

Squids are a human design (possibly influenced by illithids). Illithids use Nautiloids and Dreadnaughts. Illithids can, of course use a human-built ship if they want, though.

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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Seethyr » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:52 pm

Jaid wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:32 pm
there is a squidship in spelljammer.

it is mostly only used by the mind flayers in the sense that any race could potentially use any ship. the mind flayers have a couple of their own designs, as well as at least one that i can recall that was a collaboration.

the most iconic mind flayer ship would be the nautiloid, which looks more or less like a giant snail shell with tentacles coming out of the opening twisted around each other in a straight line coming to a point. if i were to suggest one simple tweak to make the ship feel more like a mind flayer ship, it would be to have the decks be covered, because that is one of the standard features of mind flayer ships; they don't like the sun. mind you, if they're stuck using a squidship they might have just done something temporary (building awnings over everything) and removed that once the ship was underground.

it is also worth noting that mind flayers don't use spelljamming helms at all, they typically use series helms. spelljamming helms work for spellcasters, series helms come in groups and work for creatures with spell-like abilities (the more chairs with a creature in them, the faster they move), and are race-specific (so a series helm that works for mind flayers won't work for ogre magi). mind flayers are also known to use pool helms, although those require a brain pool and are usually only placed in their largest ships, and very likely wouldn't be found in a captured squidship. they may also from time to time use lifejammers, which drain the life out of targets to provide power, although they aren't specifically known for that, and it would likely be a stopgap measure.

anyways, point being, if this is a clear indication of the route they're going, then practically speaking they aren't really converting spelljammer. they're looking at making a new setting that will have some elements of the old, and calling it the same name. that isn't inherently a bad thing, i suppose; certainly, there are enough people who had issues with spelljammer. but it isn't really a conversion. it's like saying the 1997 movie "The Mummy" is a remake of the 1932 movie "The Mummy"; technically true, i guess, but if you were to watch the two of them, you would probably think of them more like movies that draw from the same well of inspiration than as the same movie, one of them being a remake. (in that particular example, there's also a 2017 remake of "The Mummy", which from what i gather would also be more like a movie that draws from the same well of inspiration than a remake).
I know what you mean, and I agree with both you and Aulddragon about this. I’m just trying to work with what I’m anticipating is happening. Not an easy thing to do. Why I’m really trying to “get it right” in 5e-speak is because I’ve been burned before. In my Maztica campaign guide I updated the race of cat folk known as tabaxi, and a few months later it was made obsolete by an official product - drives me nuts when that happens (who’d have thought they’d update tabaxi so early!)

Anyway, I’m not really arguing or discussing the merits, like or dislike, I’m just trying to remain relevant within current systems. I mean, I think I like these new concepts better than the old (I was a physics major, air envelopes burns my eyes lol), but I’d be happy if they remained as they were.
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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by AuldDragon » Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:09 pm

Seethyr wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:52 pm
Anyway, I’m not really arguing or discussing the merits, like or dislike, I’m just trying to remain relevant within current systems. I mean, I think I like these new concepts better than the old (I was a physics major, air envelopes burns my eyes lol), but I’d be happy if they remained as they were.
"Relevant" in what way, though? If you want to play Spelljammer in 5e, you can absolutely just tack on the existing 2e rules (which were tacked on in the first place, in that they are all just additional rules rather than changing anything), flip heavy weapon THAC0 in BAB or whatever it is called now, flip ship AC, note to players that ship combat is "slower" than melee combat and that each SJ round is one minute, and boom, you're good to go.

The question for what WotC will do with SJ isn't "what is relevant to 5e" because all the old stuff is still relevant, it is "what do the current authors of 5e like and dislike about old Spelljammer, and thus what will they change?" We've already seen that they seem to want to go a different direction with Spelljamming helms, even though there really is no reason to do so.

Jeff
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Lord Torath
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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Lord Torath » Sat Oct 12, 2019 6:38 pm

Big Mac, you missed a couple of zeroes in your first post. Spelljamming speed is 100 million miles per day, not 1 million.
Seethyr wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:13 pm
Image
Along those lines, according to this, the comet steed is 24 times faster than a standard spelljammer, since it does 100 million miles per hour, instead of per day.
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Seethyr
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Re: Spelljamming in 5e - Comet Steed

Post by Seethyr » Sat Oct 12, 2019 6:48 pm

Thank you. Yup big typo lol. Get me one of them horses lol
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