Cromstar's Thread of Spelljammer Ideas

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Cromstar
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Cromstar's Thread of Spelljammer Ideas

Post by Cromstar »

I love Spelljammer, its tied with Planescape for my favorite D&D setting, but sadly, the effort to run a Spelljammer campaign is much higher than I am likely to have time for in the forseeable future. So I thought I'd start a thread and post some of the ideas I've had over the years. None of these ideas are very fleshed out at this point (since I'm not going to be running Spelljammer, they're very low priority for me), but sharing them for some comments and the like seems like a good plan to me.

So, here's one I've had:

I'm provisionally calling it Coldfirespace (wait for it...). Upon entering the crystal sphere, it seems relatively normal at first glance: its a smaller sphere, but contains a handful of planets orbiting a bright blue star at the center. Nearest the sphere wall, there's a slight nip of cold that settles in, like the cold that comes from a surprise gust of wind on a mild summer's day.

But it quickly reveals itself to be unusual as a ship heads in-system. The temperature drops as you approach the middle, and the reason becomes apparent quickly: through some unknown means of its creation or modification, the sun in the center, though wreathed in intensely burning blue flames, radiates cold energy, instead of heat like most stars.

Total number of planets undetermined at the moment. I have ideas for the 2 innermost and very vague ideas for two further out closer to the wall (the most habitable of the planets in this sphere).

The innermost world is the cold, dried up remnant of a world that was once a ferocious boiling ball of lava. But being so close to the star, even the heat of its raging core was eventually cooled, leaving behind a nearly-solid orb of igneous rocks (pumice, basalt, granite, obsidian, etc). The remnants of old civilizations of efreeti, salamanders, and the like can still be found on the surface or in the remnants of pockets beneath the surface. Some creatures of earth or mineral elemental origins may roam this planet, though no civilizations of such are known to exist.

The second planet out looks, from orbit, like a giant snowball. And it is, in essence, just that. Its an airworld that has, over time, managed to accumulate enough snow in the center to *look* like there's a solid planet. Attempting to land on this 'surface' is dangerous as it is incredibly easy to burst through the crisp outer layer and plunge into the soft, deep snow beneath. Entire vessels can be lost this way.

I don't have much detail on the two outer worlds, other than they're the 'more habitable' and where most of the meaningful life in this system is found. I'm loosely thinking one is a water world with a surface layer of ice over a world ocean beneath (think real life Europa) and the other is a terrestrial planet locked in eternal winter. I'm strongly leaning to dhowar being the main population of one or both of these worlds (though aquatic races could live in the water world as well).

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Re: Cromstar's Thread of Spelljammer Ideas

Post by Big Mac »

Cromstar wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:11 pm
I love Spelljammer, its tied with Planescape for my favorite D&D setting, but sadly, the effort to run a Spelljammer campaign is much higher than I am likely to have time for in the forseeable future. So I thought I'd start a thread and post some of the ideas I've had over the years. None of these ideas are very fleshed out at this point (since I'm not going to be running Spelljammer, they're very low priority for me), but sharing them for some comments and the like seems like a good plan to me.
Planescape and Spelljammer do play well together, although not everyone likes them both.
Cromstar wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:11 pm
So, here's one I've had:

I'm provisionally calling it Coldfirespace (wait for it...). Upon entering the crystal sphere, it seems relatively normal at first glance: its a smaller sphere, but contains a handful of planets orbiting a bright blue star at the center. Nearest the sphere wall, there's a slight nip of cold that settles in, like the cold that comes from a surprise gust of wind on a mild summer's day.

But it quickly reveals itself to be unusual as a ship heads in-system. The temperature drops as you approach the middle, and the reason becomes apparent quickly: through some unknown means of its creation or modification, the sun in the center, though wreathed in intensely burning blue flames, radiates cold energy, instead of heat like most stars.
<NitPick>Don't forget that fire bodies are "suns" not "stars" in Spelljammer. You might want to change that in your next revision.</NitPick>

Most suns seem to have portals to the Plane of Fire of the Plane of Radiance.

Have you considered giving this sun a connection to one of the Quasi-Elemental Planes that has a tie-in to the Negative Energy Plane?

How about there was some sort war in the distant past and some Planewalking faction "hacked" Coldfirespace's sun, cutting it's ties to the Plane of Radiance and giving it a new connection to the Plane of Ice.

This could kill the Azers, Efreet or other fire-based creatures living on the surface of the sun and win the war for the other faction.
Cromstar wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:11 pm
Total number of planets undetermined at the moment. I have ideas for the 2 innermost and very vague ideas for two further out closer to the wall (the most habitable of the planets in this sphere).

The innermost world is the cold, dried up remnant of a world that was once a ferocious boiling ball of lava. But being so close to the star, even the heat of its raging core was eventually cooled, leaving behind a nearly-solid orb of igneous rocks (pumice, basalt, granite, obsidian, etc). The remnants of old civilizations of efreeti, salamanders, and the like can still be found on the surface or in the remnants of pockets beneath the surface. Some creatures of earth or mineral elemental origins may roam this planet, though no civilizations of such are known to exist.
Hmm. So the changes to the first world could actually be an attack on that planet...

...or maybe an epic attempt at terraforming that went wrong.
Cromstar wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:11 pm
The second planet out looks, from orbit, like a giant snowball. And it is, in essence, just that. Its an airworld that has, over time, managed to accumulate enough snow in the center to *look* like there's a solid planet. Attempting to land on this 'surface' is dangerous as it is incredibly easy to burst through the crisp outer layer and plunge into the soft, deep snow beneath. Entire vessels can be lost this way.
Hmm. You should look up stuff like dry ice.

I bet there is an entire frozen-gas based weather system waiting to come out.

Have you considered having birds that can fly through snow (the way that some elemental creatures can dig through earth)?

How about some sort of "hot penguin that swims through the warmer parts of the snow and then lays eggs on the colder parts of the snow?
Cromstar wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:11 pm
I don't have much detail on the two outer worlds, other than they're the 'more habitable' and where most of the meaningful life in this system is found. I'm loosely thinking one is a water world with a surface layer of ice over a world ocean beneath (think real life Europa) and the other is a terrestrial planet locked in eternal winter. I'm strongly leaning to dhowar being the main population of one or both of these worlds (though aquatic races could live in the water world as well).
One thing to ask yourself is why the outer worlds are going to be more habitable.

Is this going to be a dying planetary system, where the inner two worlds have already frozen and the other worlds are still slowly cooling down?

Or are you going to have natural heat sources elsewhere in the crystal sphere?

Planets can have molten cores, so you could go down that route.

Or you could have a faction "hack" the stars, as well as the sun. Maybe the stars used to be portals to the Elemental Plane of Ice and the natural magic that linked the stars and the natural magic that linked the sun were both swapped over...or somesuch.

Or maybe you have some other explanation that fits in with other themes you have not told us yet.

Either way, I think you have potential here and am looking forward to where you go next.
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Re: Cromstar's Thread of Spelljammer Ideas

Post by Cromstar »

Big Mac wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:34 pm
Planescape and Spelljammer do play well together, although not everyone likes them both.
Shame, really. Lots of wonderful/terrible potential if you smooth out the edges between them.
<NitPick>Don't forget that fire bodies are "suns" not "stars" in Spelljammer. You might want to change that in your next revision.</NitPick>
FFFFFFFFFF-- I went through a lot of trouble not to mess this up and *right at the beginning* I did. Let the real world astronomy definitions slip in there.
Most suns seem to have portals to the Plane of Fire of the Plane of Radiance.
This trope(?) is kind of one of my personal pet peeves with some Spelljammer stuff. Like, turn this around and think how ridiculous that would be from another perspective: 'most earth bodies have portals to the plane of earth, which is probably somehow connected to why they have ground'. I've never understood why some people felt there needed to be a direct connection between every fire body and an elemental plane to explain why it existed. I suspect its because one of the canon fire bodies had that and people just rolled with the idea?

Rant aside, I don't subscribe directly to the theory that the portals are necessarily related to the bodies themselves. Like, sure, there are probably portals to those planes on many of these fire bodies, just as there are portals to elemental planes on Toril. But since on a fire body, only creatures from planes like fire, magma, and radiance are likely to survive normally, they are disproportionately common.

...that said, I've another crystal sphere idea I'll be posting later that makes full use of a variation of this trope, so let it not be said I'm not also guilty of it.
Have you considered giving this sun a connection to one of the Quasi-Elemental Planes that has a tie-in to the Negative Energy Plane?

How about there was some sort war in the distant past and some Planewalking faction "hacked" Coldfirespace's sun, cutting it's ties to the Plane of Radiance and giving it a new connection to the Plane of Ice.

This could kill the Azers, Efreet or other fire-based creatures living on the surface of the sun and win the war for the other faction.
I haven't really decided on what the event was that changed this sun, but there is definitely a strong contender in the 'epic magic shenanigans involving the elemental planes' idea. Ice in particular would make some sense, if someone somehow blended ice and fire and 'ruined' the sun, whether on purpose or not. The Negative Quasi-elemental Planes don't seem like good choices, since nothing about the situation really ties into Ash, Salt, Dust, Vacuum, or the Negative Plane itself (except maybe the general inhospitable nature).
Hmm. So the changes to the first world could actually be an attack on that planet...

...or maybe an epic attempt at terraforming that went wrong.
It could be. I'd envisioned it as a natural result of the sun's change, but it could have suffered some awful fate before/around the same time as that event. Hardening the surface of a molten world would make it potentially habitable for humanoid races...and volcanic soils tend to be nutrient rich, so imported crops would probably do very well (and maybe even be free from many weeds and pest creatures that would often stunt harvests). Of course, none of that is an option now for normal plants, though some sort of crop that can survive the harsh cold and near-total lack of water could thrive I suppose.
Hmm. You should look up stuff like dry ice.

I bet there is an entire frozen-gas based weather system waiting to come out.
I hadn't thought about this possibility. I'd envisioned an air world with a nice damp atmosphere that had basically fallen into a state of perpetual blizzards which caused small solid bodies (of any kind) to slowly accumulate snow and literally form a giant snowball.

But this idea is also cool. Could replace it or have another planet (modeled after a more real-world gas giant maybe?) like that. Gonna have to think how that might look/work. Hrrrmmm.
Have you considered having birds that can fly through snow (the way that some elemental creatures can dig through earth)?

How about some sort of "hot penguin that swims through the warmer parts of the snow and then lays eggs on the colder parts of the snow?
I legit had not given any thoughts about what might live in/on this planet yet. You mention birds, and animentals immediately spring to my mind. Ice animentals would be all over this planet if they could get there.

That penguin idea does sound wonderfully fun.

This got me thinking about the fact that the best place for 'normal' life to live would actually be at the center of the snowball (it would be 'warmer' there due to the insulating effect of the ice if you had a space dug out and could get warmth into it in the first place).
One thing to ask yourself is why the outer worlds are going to be more habitable.
As opposed to the theory given in at least the Realmspace book (older spheres are generally 'warmer'), I kind of subscribe to the theory that spheres have a 'default' temperature, and that the given sun(s) and other factors act upon this. These worlds are more 'habitable' because they are warmer...by virtue of being further away from the sun, which is the source of the cold in the sphere. I've kind of imagined the outermost world has having an equatorial belt somewhat analogous to, say, northern Europe or the US-Canadian border regions in climate? Or maybe more like Greenland, depending on just how harsh I wanted it to be, I guess.
Is this going to be a dying planetary system, where the inner two worlds have already frozen and the other worlds are still slowly cooling down?

Or are you going to have natural heat sources elsewhere in the crystal sphere?

Planets can have molten cores, so you could go down that route.

Or you could have a faction "hack" the stars, as well as the sun. Maybe the stars used to be portals to the Elemental Plane of Ice and the natural magic that linked the stars and the natural magic that linked the sun were both swapped over...or somesuch.
Hrrmmm. That's actually a good question that I surprisingly didn't really consider. I envisioned the inner worlds as being too close to the sun to be good for most life, and envisioned the outer ones as better, but did not actually consider if this would be a static state or still an on-going process. If I did want it to be static, I'd probably use the cores of the outer planets as the reason they stabilized, they produce enough internal heat to balance out the sun's cold at the distance of their orbit(s). I actually had that thought as soon as I saw your question before reading further to see you suggest it as well.

Maybe I'll kind of cheat and do both: add some middle planet(s) that are currently somewhat habitable, but are clearly in the grip of a millennia-long losing battle with the cold.

I hadn't even given the stars a thought at all. Stars are usually one of the last things I think about with a sphere, unless they play an important role in the theme for the sphere.
Or maybe you have some other explanation that fits in with other themes you have not told us yet.
Uhh...

*checks notes*

Black penguin magic? Never trust an animal that always wears a fabulous tuxedo.

To be honest, this idea stemmed from some work I was doing on types of energy in D&D, since 'cold' is a form of energy in D&D (as opposed to the real world where its just the absence of heat/a byproduct of heat exchange). And that made me wonder out loud 'imagine if a sun in a crystal sphere radiated cold instead of heat energy!' Then I worked outward from that point.
Either way, I think you have potential here and am looking forward to where you go next.
Glad you like it. At some point I'm going to have to nail down all the planets and other bodies and decide what they all are (gonna have to think up some interesting/novel ways this could effect moons, asteroids, other types of planetary bodies), figure out the stars, and then, in addition to considering populating with creatures from the Paraelemental Plane of Ice, probably at least sketch out some unique things that would have evolved or moved here from 'somewhere else'.

But my next idea post will probably be a different sphere.

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