Spacejammer Primer

By Lindharin
(Lindharin@Telluri.com)

Version 0.93

10/28/00

 

This document is based on "A Spelljammer Primer" by Paul Westermeyer,
which can be found at the Beyond The Moons web site.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Universe

Gravity

Air

Wildspace Ecologies

Society

Time

Economics

Races

Languages

Religion

Secret Societies and Other Organizations

Magic

Spacejamming

Navigation

Helms and Wild Sails

Notes and Bibliography

 

Introduction

This is the first document in a series of conversion notes and house rules.  It presents concepts that will be referred to by the other documents, so I recommend you read them in order.  The entire series is available at my web site.

This document represents two major changes to the standard Spelljammer rules.  First, it includes a number of conceptual changes to the Spelljammer setting, with house rules affecting a number of small but significant elements of the game.  Second, it is a conversion of that modified setting to the new 3e D&D game.  For those who intend to use Spelljammer with its original 2nd edition AD&D rules, there may still be some conceptual ideas and house rules in this document that you may find interesting, but some of them will need to be backwards-converted to 2e.

Definition of Game Mechanic Terms

Term

Abbrev.

Definition

Spacejam, Spacejammer, Spacejamming

SJ

These terms refer to travel through space, and have no implication for the nature of propulsion being used.  More specific terms do have specific connotations, where lifejammer vessels make use of lifejamming helms, spelljammer vessels make use of spelljamming helms, etc.

Normal Scale

NS

This is a term to differentiate between Ship Scale and Normal Scale combat.  Normal Scale combat uses hit points, armor class, melee weapons, 6 second rounds, and the normal 3e rules.

Ship Scale

SS

This is a term used to differentiate between Normal Scale and Ship Scale combat.  Ship Scale combat uses Structure Points, Hardness Ratings, Evasion Ratings, heavy weapons, one minute turns, and my other modified rules for ship-to-ship combat.

Round

--

A round is a standard 3e six second round.

Turn

--

A turn is one minute, or 10 rounds in 3e.

Hex

--

A hex is 500 yards, the same as a 2e SJ hex.

Tactical SJ Speed

--

A vessel moving at tactical speeds will cover one or more hexes per turn, based on its Speed Rating.

Full SJ Speed

--

A vessel moving at full SJ speed is moving at approximately 100 million miles per day in a straight line.

Speed Rating

SR

A ship's Speed Rating is the number of hexes it can travel per turn (10 rounds).

Maneuver Rating

MR

A ship's Maneuver Rating represents how quickly, easily and accurately a vessel can turn.

Evasion Rating

ER

This is the ship scale version of armor class.  It represents size, design and maneuverability.  Unlike AC, it does not represent armor or materials used in the vessels construction.

Hardness Rating

HR

This is my implementation of the 3e Hardness concept in the ship scale system.

Structure Points

SP

This is my equivalent of Hull Points.  I changed it to Structure Points both because it is a more accurate term, and the abbreviation won't be confused with Hit Points.

Spacejammer Tonnage

Ton

An SJ Ton is a measure of size and volume, not mass or weight.  An SJ ton is 100 cubic yards, or 2,700 cubic feet.

The Universe

The universe is divided into two regions:  Wildspace and Phlogiston.  Wildspace is separated from the Phlogiston by unimaginably huge "Crystal Spheres".  Everything inside a Crystal Sphere is in Wildspace, while outside of the Crystal Spheres is the Phlogiston.

Crystal Spheres

Crystal Spheres are hollow spheres made of an unknown material with a diameter that can range from millions to billions of miles.  They are solid, apparently indestructible, and lack many properties of normal matter (especially gravity).  An unknown number of these Spheres "bob" around in the Phlogiston, as corks bob in water. 

Because of their vast size, the curvature of the Sphere walls is very hard to detect.  By the time you are close enough to the outside of a Sphere to see it through the phlogiston "fog", it appears to be a perfectly flat wall of a dark, ceramic material. 

Natural holes, called Portals, will open in a Crystal Sphere from time to time, allowing beings to pass from one side to the other.  There are some spells and magic items that can detect such portals, allowing you to find the nearest entrance/exit, which will typically be 2d10 days away.  There are also spells that can actually trigger this natural process, allowing you to open a new temporary portal at your location and saving the time it would otherwise take to track down a pre-existing portal.

Philosophers, theologians, and sages have come up with several theories regarding the origins of the Crystal Spheres, ranging from gods creating them to protect their followers and keep out the chaos of the Phlogiston, through the possibility that they were created by some higher-order entity to keep even the gods in and confine their activities.

The Phlogiston

The Phlogiston, also known as the Flow, is made up of a gaseous substance that is also called phlogiston.  This unique substance is unlike any of the four elements (air, earth, fire and water).  It is similar in appearance to a radiant gas, emitting brilliant, chaotic and ever changing colors.  It is odorless, and non-toxic, but does not provide oxygen and is non-breathable.  This substance apparently cannot exist in Wildspace (ie, inside a Crystal Sphere), so even bottled phlogiston will fade away as soon as it passes through the wall of a Sphere.

While in the Flow, planar contact of any sort is impossible, even for the gods.  No spells or items that access extra-dimensional spaces, or make use of dimensional travel, or that contact extra-dimensional beings will work.  Clerics can cast any prepared spells they may have, but are limited to regaining only 0-level spells.  They can pilot a spelljamming vessel through the Flow, but are limited to SR 1 when in tactical movement.

Within the vast Phlogiston are regions of varying density, where the brilliant phlogiston gathers into dense clouds or flowing streams or rivers.  Voyagers who travel with the flow of such rivers find they can reach distant locations much faster than otherwise possible, allowing travel even across the unimaginable gulf between distant Crystal Spheres.  However many such rivers or currents in the Flow are one directional, and voyagers will need to find other ways to return.

Traveling between Crystal Spheres typically takes 3d10 days if following a river in the Flow, or 10d20 days otherwise.  When following a river, travel times between any two specific Spheres should stay roughly constant (+/- 1 day) on each trip.  However, just because it normally takes 7 days to travel from Sphere A to Sphere B doesn't mean that it will take the same amount of time going the other direction, since that particular Flow river may not run in both directions, or may not flow at the same speeds even if it does go the opposite direction.

There are two unique properties of the phlogiston itself.  First, it is extremely flammable, which makes igniting any form of fire within the Phlogiston suicidal (triple the damage and area of effect, but any fire magics go off immediately as if targeted on the caster).  Because of the limitations on using fire in the Flow, ships often use cold natural lights (moths or fireflies, fluorescent moss) or magical lights for illumination below decks, at least in areas without any portholes to let in the light of the phlogiston itself.

Second, the Phlogiston has one other unique property that has never been explained.  Creatures that run out of air while within the Phlogiston do not suffocate.  Instead, they appear to go into a form of suspended animation.  Living creatures turn gray and stone-like and remain that way until restored to a breathable atmosphere.  To randomly determine how long a character is in suspended animation before being found and rescued, roll 1d4.  On a 1-3, that is how many months it takes.  On a 4, roll 4d10.  If none of the dice are a ten, the total is the number of months.  If any of the dice is a ten, multiply the results instead of adding, and the total is the number of months.

Wildspace

Wildspace is the region inside a Crystal Sphere.  Generally speaking, wildspace is a void, without air or gravity, and is very deadly.  Fortunately, the ambient temperature in wildspace is usually fairly comfortable, with direct light and heat from the suns and stars (see below), and no day/night or seasonal variations.  However, there are Crystal Spheres where the ambient temperature is much hotter or colder, and can potentially be a serious danger to travelers.

Planets and Other Celestial Bodies

Within the wildspace on the inside of a Crystal Sphere are planets, asteroids, nebulae, and other celestial bodies with shapes and structures of infinite variety.  These celestial bodies may be made up of any of the fundamental elements:  fire (the primary light and heat producing bodies), earth (traditional planets), water (literally bubbles of water or balls of ice), and air (bubbles or pockets of gas, breathable or poisonous).  They can range in size from a few hundred feet through millions of miles in diameter.  They are most often spherical, but there is tremendous variation ranging from amorphous blobs through flat worlds, cubic worlds, ring worlds, hollow worlds, illuminated gaseous nebulae, etc. 

There are often permanent dimensional portals or gateways from these bodies to the appropriate elemental plane.  For example, most fire bodies, which are often called suns or stars, will have some permanent tie to the Elemental Plane of Fire that keeps the body burning endlessly. 

In the case of stars, different spheres are known to have many unique causes of such phenomena.  In many Spheres, the stars will be small portals to the Elemental Plane of Fire.  These portals may be floating within wildspace, or may be mounted on the inner surface of the Sphere, or even held in giant bowls on vast pedestals resting on the Sphere, or any of a thousand other such possibilities.  In other cases, the stars are actually permanent portals in the wall of the Crystal Sphere that allow the multicolored brilliance of the Phlogiston to shine through into the interior of the Sphere.  Legends even speak of a sphere where the stars are actually lights from a great city that stretches over the entire Crystal Sphere, but most sages discount such an idea.

Typically, most Crystal Spheres are fairly well ordered, with celestial bodies orbiting around a central point.  At the center is usually a fire body, a sun, but occasionally Spheres will have either an earth-type planet or even just empty space at it's center point.  However, this too is subject to vast variety.  There are Spheres where the planets are carried on the backs of vast enigmatic beings, such as turtles or dragons or mighty humanoid colossi, that walk on the bottom of the Sphere and actually carry the planets in their orbits.  In other Spheres, there are no orbits, and the planets move in apparently random or chaotic paths, or do not move at all and stay frozen in their places.  In yet other Spheres are filled with a single large celestial body, a vast millions-of-miles-radius flat earth world that fills the bottom of half of the Sphere while a sun or other celestial bodies move through the "heavens" in upper half of the Sphere.

A quick system for describing various celestial bodies has become standard through out known space.  It's origins are much debated but unimportant for our purposes.  Celestial bodies in this system are described by three codes representing size, shape, and type.  These symbols are standard on most charts.  Planetary almanacs like the legendary Geonomicon also include a substantial discussion on the planets ecology, inhabitants, and weather conditions making them valuable commodities. 

There are ten size categories as follows:

A

less then 10 miles across

B

from 10- 100 miles across

C

from 100- 1000 miles across

D

from 1000- 4000 miles across

E

from 4000- 10000 miles across (Earth, Toril, etc.)

F

from 10000- 40000 miles across

G

from 40000- 100000 miles across

H

from 100000- 1000000 miles across

I

from 1000000- 10000000 miles across

J

from 10000000+ miles across

 

Shape categories include:

T

Amorphous or flexible shape

Belt of smaller objects in a single orbit

v

Clusters of smaller objects within a small area

l

Spherical

q

Cubic

0

Elliptical

½

Flatworld, but edges may be sharp, irregular or rounded

r

None of the above, but regularly shaped (like a tetrahedron)

²

None of the above, but irregularly shaped

 

Note:  The shape symbols above are the correct symbols from the Spelljammer Boxed Set.  However, they use the Wingding, Wingding 2, and Wingding 3 fonts and may not display properly on all computers and in all browsers.

Finally, a planet is described by type:  Fire, Earth, Air, Water.  The planet is named after the most predominate feature, though this is subjective.  Earth, Toril and Oerth are all earth type planets even though large percentages of their surface is covered with water, because the majority of the planets' total mass is earth.

Note:  Some cartographers include a fifth type: "Live", which indicates worlds where the entire body seems to be alive.

Gravity

In the SJ universe, gravity is very different.  All objects still exert their own gravitational pull, with small objects having a weaker gravity field.  However, objects beyond a certain size, called the "gravity threshold", actually exert an earth-normal gravity.  Typically, objects that are at least 1 ton (2700 cubic feet) will be large enough to exert their own earth-normal gravity. 

The direction of the gravity pull is typically in one of two forms.  Spherical objects attract other objects towards their center of mass, much like in our own universe.  However, objects with a more irregular shape develop a gravitational "plane" which extends along the most convenient axis, generally the longest.  This gravity plane works in both directions, pulling things above it "down" and things below it "up".  It is actually possible to walk on both the bottom and top of a ship's hull, since you always "fall" towards the gravity plane in the center. 

However, when you are actually on the gravity plane itself, there is nowhere else to "fall" to.  This causes a narrow zone of zero-gravity at the transition point between the areas above and below the gravity plane.  This means that objects dropped over the side of a ship from somewhere above the gravity plane will fall downwards and pass through the plane, only to slow and then "fall" back up towards the plane again, oscillating or bobbing back and forth between the upper and lower gravity fields.  As air resistance slows the object, the height of each cycle will diminish until the object comes to rest in the zero-gee region on the gravity plane itself.  Once an object is floating in the gravity plane, there is a slow but steady outward atmospheric current along the plane, so the object will slowly drift away from the ship and out of the air envelope, being left behind as the ship continues on its way. 

The size of the gravity plane is proportional to the size of the object.  It is typically three times the size of the object in all directions.  For example, a ship that is 15' wide by 20' high by 200' long will have a gravity field that affects everything in a 45' wide by 60' high by 600' long area centered on the object.  However, while that rule of thumb works for almost any ship-sized or asteroid-sized object, for extremely large objects, like a planet, this might not be the case.

When two gravitational fields interact, the gravitational field of the larger body dominates.  For example, a 30' tall giant might have his own gravity plane in wildspace, allowing a smaller creature like a human to walk along its back, but when that giant is within the gravity plane of a larger object like a ship or planet, the gravity plane of the larger object takes precedence.  This makes it dangerous for a smaller ship to be out of pitch or alignment with a larger ship if it enters the other ship's gravitational field.  This also means that when a vessel enters a planetary gravity field, the planet's gravity becomes dominant.

In areas of zero gravity, either on the gravity plane of an object or outside any gravity field, physics work pretty much as expected.  Throw an object one way and you will drift in the opposite direction.  Fighting in zero-gee imposes a -2 circumstance penalty on all attack and skill checks, a -10 penalty on initiative, plus the character loses all Dexterity bonuses on Reflex saves and dodge bonuses for AC unless he has some movement ability such as flight.

Like all things in SJ, local conditions may vary.  On some worlds the gravity might be more or less powerful then Earth Standard; this is rare however.

Gravity and High Speeds

There is one other aspect of gravity that is critically important to spacejamming vessels:  the interaction between two gravity fields is magnified at very high speeds.  Objects moving at hundreds or even thousands of miles per hour won't notice this effect, but a ship moving at full spacejamming speeds (over a thousand miles per second) can actually be affected by the gravity field of other objects that are thousands of miles away.  At that point, the smaller object starts "falling" towards the larger, and at those speeds, it could cause a collision in just a few seconds.  This effect is more noticeable if the spacejamming vessel is approaching the object than if it is moving directly away from it (a form of Doppler effect), and two spacejamming vessels on the same course (one behind the other) may not have any trouble unless the are quite close together.

Fortunately, the magic that makes spacejamming possible has an inherent flaw (or blessing) that it cannot maintain full speed when gravity fields interact this way.  This acts as a built-in automatic cut-off when such an interaction takes place.  This means that when a ship moving at full spacejamming speed comes within approximately 10,000 miles of another object's gravity plane, they spiral in towards each other and rapidly close the distance, and the spacejamming ship(s) automatically slows down to tactical speeds.  This can be disconcerting and even occasionally dangerous for an unprepared crew, but it prevents an otherwise deadly impact.

This process will usually leave the two objects about 3d6 hexes away from each other.  Roll a d8 for a random direction.  Characters may need to make a Spot check to locate the other object, with a DC equal to the number of hexes minus the size modifier of the object.

Note that a vessel can attempt to accelerate from tactical to full spacejamming speeds even if relatively close to another object, providing the vessel moves directly away from the other object.  Since the acceleration to full spacejamming speed is not instantaneous, the interaction effect doesn't start to apply right away, and if the vessel is moving directly away from the other object it can easily get out of range before reaching the really high speeds necessary to trigger this effect.  Typically, a vessel must be at least 7 miles away (25 hexes) from any other objects, and must be on a course directly away from that object, to successfully accelerate to full speed and not be "dragged back".  If an object is closer than 25 hexes, or the vessel is on any course that is not directly away from the object, the vessel probably won't have enough clearance and will end up being drawn back to the object (or vice versa, depending on relative sizes).

Air

One of the most beneficial side-effects of gravity fields is that air will be "dragged" along with an object as it leaves an air envelope (such as a planet's atmosphere).  A typical human, for example, will drag enough fresh air with him/her to breathe for somewhere between a half hour and three hours (2d10x10 minutes), depending on circumstances.  Larger objects/creatures that break the gravity threshold and have a full earth-normal gravity field can bring even more air with them.

For each SJ spatial ton of size, a ship will bring along an atmosphere large enough to support one man sized creature for about 4 months.  So, a Hammership (60 tons) can support a crew of 60 for four months without needing to refresh the air.  If the ship had 120 crew members, it could only last for about 2 months.  When a vessel reaches its air limit, the air becomes fouled, smells bad and is stale and humid.  All attacks, saves and checks in a fouled atmosphere are at a -2 penalty.  Air remains fouled for the same amount of time it remained fresh.  On the final day of fouled air, the penalty on all checks increases to -4, and in the final few hours it increases to -6.  Once the time limit for fouled air wears out, the atmosphere becomes deadly, at which point the crew will suffocate pretty quickly.  Characters can survive in a deadly atmosphere for two minutes per point of Constitution, followed by a Constitution check (DC 10 plus +1 per previous success) every two additional minutes.  Once any of these Constitution checks are failed, the character falls unconscious (0 hit points) and loses -1 hit point per round thereafter until dead.

While obviously important, air is relatively easy to replenish, just by entering a larger air envelope, like that of a planet or asteroid.  Spells which create fog, like _Wall of Fog_ or _Obscurement_ can also replenish the atmosphere.  There are many magical items which also affect air use.  Green plants will refresh air, and some vessels make great use of these for just this purpose.  Many asteroid colonies keep at least half their surface area reserved for plants for this reason as well.

The size of an air envelope is closely related to the size of the gravity plane, since the air that gets pulled along with an object is the portion of the larger atmosphere that was within range of the object's gravity.  As a general rule of thumb, assume that the air envelope extends to the edge of the gravity plane.

Wildspace Ecologies

Unlike our concept of space in the real world, Wildspace in the SJ universe is teeming with life.  The actual population of living creatures within wildspace is truly staggering, but because of the vast size of a Crystal Sphere, life still seems somewhat rare in the void. 

The ecology of wildspace resembles that of a terrestrial ocean.  Deep space, far from celestial bodies, is generally less populated, while the areas around planets and asteroids collect an ecology all their own.  Creatures resembling sharks, squids, whales, and even giant plants float around these bodies and move with an innate, supernatural version of spacejamming.  Since many of these creatures are carnivores it behooves spacejammers to keep a sharp eye out.

Society

Society in Wildspace is similar to societies anywhere else, but there are some important differences.  The distance between settlements, the scarcity of basic resources necessary for life, the amount of magic that is necessary for survival, and the number of races that compete for limited real estate all contribute to the major differences in space-faring societies.  For a more complete discussion of this, I recommend you read Leroy's article on "Spacefaring Societies" ( http://www.users.qwest.net/~malacoda/SpaceSociety.html ).

One of the most critical differences between traditional groundling and space-faring societies is the interaction between the races.  Wildspace is a very unforgiving environment.  Like many harsh frontiers, this enhances the extremes of social interaction. 

Most people quickly learn that their best way to survive is through cooperation.  Some space-faring societies have strong hospitality traditions, like many groundling societies in hostile climes.  You don't turn away a stranger in need, because tomorrow you may be the one in dire straights.  Combined with the critical importance of trade in sustaining any wildspace settlement, this leads to much more relaxed interactions between different societal groups and races.  A groundling might be shocked to see an ogre, mind flayer, or even a beholder browsing in the local marketplace, but to a space-farer it is an every day occurrence (well, maybe not every day).  As long as they come in peace, almost anyone will be welcomed.  After all, who knows when the next traveler might pass through with the goods you need, or be interested in the goods you sell?  And even those races that are traditionally "evil" will usually behave themselves while visiting your settlement, because they never know when their ship may be running out of air or supplies and need to dock here in the future.

On the other extreme, many people with a tendency towards selfishness or greed can become hardened by this environment.  People who, in a gentler environment, might normally be just slightly more ruthless or self-serving than average will often become outright amoral in wildspace.  They are out only for themselves.  They will prey on others whenever possible, either because they find it to be the easiest way to acquire what they need to survive, or just because they won't tolerate any competition for their precious resources.  This leads to an amazing amount of piracy and quite a few belligerent petty fiefdoms.  And don't forget that the ogre, mind flayer, or beholder that you saw in the market earlier today might well attempt to capture your ship and sell you into slavery if they encounter you alone and unprotected in the depths of wildspace!

Time

Timekeeping poses some unique problems in a space-faring society.  Ships and even most asteroids do not necessarily have any "natural" way to keep track of time, because they don't rotate like planets.  In addition, even on the planets, planetoids and occasional asteroid that do rotate, the length of a day or year will vary drastically for one world to the next.

There is a commonly accepted standard that is used by most space-faring races, where a "standard day" is 24 hours and a "standard month" is 28 days.  There are no standards for times longer than a month, and no official standard for a week, although most societies use 7-day weeks.  When long periods of time must be tracked, and using standard months is not convenient, then most races default to the local calendar of the dominant planet/society in the local Sphere. 

Alternatively, the official calendar of the Elven Imperial Navy (see below) is another common choice for dating historical events.  In the Imperial Calendar, a year is made up of 12 months or 336 days.  The Imperial Calendar dates from the semi-legendary founding of the Elven Imperial Navy. 

Economics

Spacejamming economics tend to revolve around an odd mixture of small-size, high-profit luxury goods and high bulk products that are scarce in wildspace, like wood and foodstuffs.  However, there are usually local variations about what products are most desirable, a function of supply and demand.  The civilizations of most large worlds are self-sufficient, and they tend to supply much of the raw material and basic goods needed by space-faring civilizations.  In return they often are good places to sell rare products from other worlds.  Wildspace civilizations require virtually everything, especially staples like food, water, building materials, even air.

Spacejamming is a very expensive business, the cost of the helm alone often takes a ship owner ten years or more to pay off.  As a business, spacejamming ships require high initial investments and are high risk, so they are attractive only to the more adventurous investor.  This has lead to the formation of Trading Costers, where a large group of merchants invest in a fleet of ships that they all own a portion of.  This protects each member of the coster from a single disastrous loss, for example if a ship is lost or a shipment fails to earn a profit due to unexpected market conditions.

Economic conditions within any given sphere are highly variable, so it is advisable to find a guide or do some research before undertaking any trade ventures within or to an unfamiliar Sphere.

Races

Wildspace is home to a vast array of species, many of which are familiar to groundling cultures, but many others which will be completely new.  Which races are common in local wildspace will vary from Sphere to Sphere, but there are several races that are common in most of the Known Spheres.

Humans

As in most settings, humans are ubiquitous in wildspace.  Their combination of ambition, adaptability and relatively short generations combine to make them the most populous race in the Known Spheres.  The majority of humans in wildspace are free agents.  In a change from feudal attitudes of many groundling nations, the social order is much looser.  Loyalty is given to whoever can offer protection, safety and regular meals.  A significant portion of humans makes their living as free traders, mercenaries or adventurers.  The majority eventually settle down, usually in small towns and cities on asteroids or planetoids. 

For the minority of space-faring humans who do have a particular allegiance, it is most likely to an idea, philosophy or organization rather than a lord or prince.  Various religious faiths, military brotherhoods, philosophical organizations and trading companies are the most common recipients of a human's loyalty.

Given their numbers, willingness to deal with other races, and general lack of species-wide blood feuds, humans provide the common ground of space.  It is in human settlements that you will most commonly find many other races living, visiting or working to advance their own ends.  This means that in a "typical" human settlement, humans will be the single most populous race, but they rarely make up more than half the total population.  The asteroid city known as the Rock of Bral is a good example of this type of cosmopolitan settlement.

Arcane

The Arcane appear as large, twelve-feet tall humanoids with gaunt, elongated features, blue skin, and large hands that have an extra knuckle on each of their six fingers.  Not much is known about the Arcane or their origin.  They seem to have numerous magical abilities, come and go as they please without using ships, and are extremely enigmatic.  All that is really known about them is that they are the primary dealers in helms, wild sails, and other magical tools that make space-faring possible.  Without the Arcane, there would be no space society. 

They are aggressive merchants who ply their trade wherever possible.  Contacting them is usually fairly straight-forward, if a little slow.  On almost any space-faring settlement, you just spread word around the local grapevine that you are looking for an Arcane, and one of them will surface within a few days, even if the locals are sure there are none currently in the settlement, and no one saw him arrive. 

The Arcane are usually quite cautious, however, and they deal in very valuable goods, so they rarely contact the seeking party directly.  More often, they will work through an intermediary to determine the needs of the client.  If the client does meet with the Arcane himself, he is almost always extremely well protected by both hired guards and magical protections.  They usually require payment up front, with the goods to be delivered shortly thereafter.  Since there has never been any record of an Arcane going back on a deal, such practices are commonly accepted even by the most cautious buyers.  Their merchandise is always delivered to the buyer as agreed, even if the delivery point is in another Sphere, and no one knows where it comes from. 

On the down side, the Arcane are known to deal with almost anyone, human or mind flayer, elf or beholder, dwarf or neogi (although some say they won't actually work directly with the neogi but use the mind flayers as middlemen).  A few crusading nobles have tried to pressure the Arcane by banning them from a major settlement unless they agreed to stop selling their products to the "undesirables".  The Arcane simply stopped coming to those ports, and soon enough the ban would be lifted because Arcane equipment is the only way for most races to survive in space.  Other settlements have tried to impose a tax or tithe on the sale of Arcane goods, and again the Arcane simply withdrew until the settlement rescinded such measures.  As a result, the Arcane are viewed as a necessary evil by most governments and organizations.  The Arcane are truly a law unto themselves.

There are also several tales and legends of daring adventurers, or stupid pirates, attempting to steal from or assault an Arcane.  According to these tales, when a person offends one Arcane, all of the Arcane seem to know about it, and they will never deal with that individual again, no matter where in the Known Spheres he goes.  It is said that the blacklisted character can restore himself to their good graces only by undertaking a major quest on their behalf.

Elves

Elven life in wildspace is vastly different from the typical groundling elven stereotype.  While the elves in wildspace still love and revere nature, the only elves who can thrive here are the ones who are willing to give up such beauty for the greater good or personal ambition.  For this reason, the majority of elves in space tend towards a more lawful alignment, and there is a slightly higher proportion of neutral or evil elves as well.

Elves are one of the races that wield the most influence in the Known Spheres.  By far the largest space-faring organization, the Elven Imperial Navy may arguably be the single most influential (and resented) organization in the Known Spheres.  The EIN was founded to maintain contact between elven groundling nations on the various worlds of the Known Spheres, and to protect the elven race and its interests in space. 

There is an official elven presence in most of the Known Spheres.  No one outside the Council of Admirals  knows the true strength of the Fleet (and maybe not even them!), but rumors range from hundreds to thousands of capital ships and countless smaller vessels!  Fortunately for the rest of the races, space is a truly huge region, and if the Fleet does possess such power, it is spread over all of the Known Spheres.  The result is that the elven influence and presence in any given Sphere varies drastically, from a token squadron monitoring local events from the depths of the void through one or more major naval bases and strong system-wide influence.

There have only been a few cases of the Fleet acting across the board against a multi-Sphere menace that they deemed dangerous to elvenkind.  The last such action was in the Unhuman War, many human generations ago (though many current elven admirals were already high-ranking officers in the War).  The legendary Battle of Kule, in Greyspace, is believed to be the largest wildspace battle in living memory (even elven living memory) where more than 100 elven capital ships routed an orcish fleet of around 50 capital ships.

The events of the Unhuman War were typically elvish:  long-winded debates about the extent of the orcish threat that lasted for over a hundred years before the decision was made to purge them from Wildspace.  They mostly succeeded, driving the goblinoids into the depths of wildspace, and possibly into heretofore unknown Spheres.  In the many decades since, the goblinoids have been slowly rebuilding and are still not fully recovered from that rout.  Rumor has it that similar debates are currently on-going in the Council of Admirals about whether the pernicious neogi should be similarly chastised, but it may be decades before an answer is reached.

Over time, especially after its success in the Unhuman War, the EIN has slowly adopted a more protective and condescending attitude towards other races.  They have become a little presumptuous, almost pushy, in their dealings with others.  They have unofficially declared themselves the de-facto police of Wildspace, which is where the other races' resentment of the EIN comes from.  Politely asking them to mind their own business may lead to an apology and withdrawal, or a sky full of men-o-war capital ships, depending on the officer you speak with.

The EIN primarily uses a unique breed (literally) of spacejamming ships.  It is unclear whether they found or created them, but their ships are made of a living plant-like being with a unique epidermis (counts as ceramic hull and plating).  Various styles and sizes of these living ships are commonly used, ranging from tiny one-man flitters to massive capital ships, although they all typically look somewhat like butterflies with great flowing wings.

Dwarves

Dwarves have adapted quite well to life in space.  They were always clannish, insular, and comfortable with life underground with scarce resources like water and food.  In space, a dwarvish clan will claim an appropriately sized asteroid and begin hollowing it out for living space.  Then they install a unique kind of helm, a dwarven Forge helm.  The Forge helm actually feeds off of some intangible essence that the dwarves alone seem to possess.  When dwarves are working in their asteroid home, carving rooms, sculpting decorations, and crafting items, in some way that process of creation, of creativity, seems to power the Forge Helm and allow the asteroid-turned-Citadel to travel through wildspace!  Some sages theorize that this creative essence is what allows the normally non-magic-oriented dwarves to craft such wondrous and powerful magic items.  Maybe dwarves aren't actually magic-poor, but their magic just expresses itself through crafts rather than spells.  Regardless, the end result is a wildspace society that is little different than the groundling cultures it is derived from.

Due to their easy transition to life in space, there are many dwarves in the Known Spheres.  In fact, it is widely accepted that there are more dwarves in space than on groundling planets.  For many generations, dwarves on most planets have been in decline.  A slow birth rate, constant conflict with racial enemies, and other causes have been steadily reducing the dwarven population on most worlds.  However, in space, the dwarves live, work and travel in the largest, toughest, most powerful vessels in Known Space.  They are always in a literal fortress, even when they are traveling and trading.  In addition, there is a very strong demand for dwarven items in wildspace.  Their durability, utility, and efficiency make dwarven-manufactured goods highly desirable in such a hostile environment.  Their ability to craft magical items and clever devices is the icing on the cake.  These factors have combined to allow the dwarves to do very well for themselves in Wildspace.

While the dwarves may actually be as numerous as the elves in wildspace, and have equivalent or greater potential power, they lack the organization that the EIN provides.  Each dwarven citadel is it's own nation, led by a King Under The Mountain and his court, the Shining Council.  Life in a citadel is often approaches the dwarven concept of heaven:  hard work at mining and crafting broken up by feasts and celebrations.  And there are always plentiful natural resources, because as one Citadel becomes completely mined and decorated, they can always move into another one and start all over.  In fact, they have to do so, because once the work is finished on a Citadel, it becomes much harder to power the Forge.  So upon completing one citadel, the whole clan participates in choosing a new asteroid, moves the Forge, and starts the whole process over again.  The old citadel is often left vacant, an asteroid-sized work of art floating in the void.  No one knows how many of these citadels are floating in wildspace, but it is known that they are rarely abandoned for long.  They make perfect bases for pirates and other groups desiring privacy, and are also favorite lairs for a number of creatures that are native to wildspace.

Lizardfolk

It is a well known stereotype that the scalykind (as they are sometimes known) are primitive, stupid brutes.  It is believed that the first lizardfolk brought into wildspace were much the same, and legends say (when there are no lizardfolk around, of course) that the only reason they made it into space at all was because of their usefulness as expendable troops for illithid or human slave-masters. 

However, that all changed.  In time, the space-faring lizardfolk became smarter, faster, and more adaptable than their slave parents.  Many reasons for this have been put forward, but the most commonly accepted reason actually blames it on the sun.  Lizardfolk who were born on ships and bases that were closer to a sun or other celestial fire body were marginally smarter than their kinfolk.  In time, this led to a few tribes of enslaved lizardfolk who became quite cunning and learned much of civilization and technology from their unsuspecting masters. 

In time, these tribes freed themselves from slavery, and began developing incubator ships whose sole purpose was to bring their eggs closer to a sun during gestation.  After only a few generations, the lizardfolk have become full partners in many wildspace societies.  However, they are still short-tempered and emotional, with some bestial traits remaining (voracious appetites and lack of table manners being the most commonly commented on).

Gnomes

Similar to dwarves, gnomes are creatures of the earth.  Unlike dwarves, they are more tied to rolling and wooded hills than deep rock, and they are therefore much less common in wildspace.  There is a breed of gnome, however, that has taken to space very readily:  the tinker gnomes from Krynn.  These gnomes are similar to their ground dwelling cousins, but are a gadget-happy race that will invent the wildest contraptions to solve the simplest problems.  Their gadgets are often extremely complex and unreliable, and usually dangerous to the user as well.  This makes most other races very leery of dealing with tinker gnomes.  However, occasionally they get lucky and come up with a truly good idea for solving a real problem, and so most people end up warily tolerating their presence.  Basically, tinker gnomes are the car accidents of space:  it isn't pretty, but you can't quite resist taking a look at what is happening.

Halflings

Like gnomes, halflings are commonly drawn to living earth, and in this case pastoral fields and gardens.  For this reason most halflings are not comfortable in space.  However, the more adventuresome or urban halflings do quite well in wildspace, and are therefore more common than gnomes.  There are no "halfling nations", but they are found in small numbers everywhere you might find humans or, to a lesser degree, elves, dwarves and gnomes.  These halflings are nearly as industrious as most humans, and they have the advantage of taking up less space and less air (both of which are valuable assets in space), so they are quite popular for work in tight spaces.

Giff

The giff are a large, powerfully muscled humanoid species with a vaguely hippopotamus-like head and thick hide.  They are very lawful, very organized, and very militaristic.  Think of the stereotypical British military officers at the height of their empire.  Every giff has a military rank within giff society, and it is always included in introductions or formal discourse.  If a giff is given another rank by a non-giff organization, he will only use that rank within that group, but will retain his giff-rank when meeting other giff.    When together, the giff always organize themselves into squads, platoons, companies or even larger groups.

The giff pride themselves on their combat skills, but their true love is guns.  The explosions, power, and sound of a bombard are what really excite them.  They love personal firearms, and will have at least one arquebus or flintlock pistol if they can get their hands on them.  They don't even fear misfires, given their thick hides.  They make excellent mercenaries, particularly if they are led by one of the brighter races, since theyare generally a little simple-minded and very unsubtle.  Most giff in the Known Spheres actually work as some form of mercenary, whether an actual soldier, a bodyguard, a shipboard marine, a siege engineer, etc. 

They are also very un-magical, to the point that they cannot use even a sailjammer helm, so they are always passengers on the ships of other races.  Considering that, it is surprising that there are so many of them wandering around in Wildspace, but most sages agree it is because they make such excellent and willing hired muscle.

Dracon

These beings look like a reptilian centaur, with the body of a brontosaur (about the size of a horse, though), a humanoid torso, and a very draconic head.  They are relative newcomers to the Known Spheres, emigrating from a hidden home world.  They are very civilized, with a highly developed code of honor.  They are vegetarians and herd-oriented to the point that they can become seriously ill if separated from their extended family.  However, some dracons that have become isolated have recreated that family bond with members of other races, and thrived as part of an adventuring group, brotherhood, or other organization. 

Mind Flayers

The illithid have a surprisingly strong presence in space, with their own nations, navies and colonies.  They engage in trade with everyone, even the neogi.  Life in space is difficult for any creature, even the dreaded mind flayers, but they have adapted surprisingly well.  They are aggressive merchants and very successful traders.  They have grown more tolerant and less diabolical as they have been forced to share wildspace with many other races.  The strong urge to "hunt and dominate" has been replaced with one of "trade and dominate".  Neutral and chaotic illithids are not unheard of, although tales of a lawful good mind flayer are definitely inaccurate.

In the process of adapting to space, they have also learned to control their less endearing habits.  For example, when dealing with other thinking creatures, they usually restrict themselves to eating the brains of animals, or perhaps the brains of their trading partners' enemies.  Nonetheless, rumors of a strong black market for slaves and brains are common in most settlements that have any dealings with, or enclaves of, the mind flayers. 

Similarly, their habits of keeping mind-controlled slaves does not endear them to the locals, so such slaves are kept discretely out of site whenever possible.  Most illithids trying to gain an advantage in negotiations with other races will even limit themselves to the hard-to-detect abilities like mind reading, rather than attempting outright mind control and possibly ruining the deal if detected.  Merchants and people who regularly deal with the illithid take precautions against the worst such powers, and the mind flayers have learned to work within these boundaries (unless they are careless, or sure they can get away with something more drastic).

Beholders

The typical groundling adventurer would be appalled at the number of beholders that reside in Wildspace.  The evil Eye Tyrants are known for their solitary and wicked nature on most worlds, and that would be true in Wildspace as well, except for one thing:  the presence of Hive Mothers.  There is a growing body of evidence that the beholder race originated in Wildspace.  It would certainly help explain their body shape and means of locomotion.  Regardless, it is known that the rare beholder Hive Mothers only live in space, and only a Hive Mother can overcome the solitary nature of the common beholders and bring a small nest of them together. 

Given their power, they could pose an unimaginable threat to the other races in space.  However, there is one thing that keeps the beholders from conquering wildspace:  they are racists.  Somewhat surprisingly, they aren't xenophobes, since they actually seem to consider humanity and the other races as objects rather than people.  No, it is their own kind that they loathe.  Apparently, there are many racial divisions among the beholders.  Some have hard chitinous shells, while others have softer amorphous hides.  Some have short stubby eye stalks, others have long, slender stalks.  Even slight variations in color of their skin or eyes, or the size of their central eye, is enough to distinguish beholders from different clans.  And each clan believes they, and they alone, are the ideal beholder.  All other clans must be destroyed.  While this tendency exists in dirt-side beholders, which will gladly kill each other when their paths cross, the true depths of this conflict only occur in Wildspace, where the Hive Mothers can overcome their race's solitary nature and forge their offspring into a cohesive unit with which to purge the universe of the "abominations".

This racial war is probably the only thing that keeps humanity and the other races from being overwhelmed.  To the beholders, the other races are just things to possess, or to vent their sadism upon, or to use as pawns.  And as long as the real enemy is out there, the other races will never be more than just pawns on the great chess board of the beholder conflict. 

For this reason, beholders are actually more likely to manipulate the other races than outright assault them.  Admittedly, they aren't particularly subtle when they think they have the upper hand, so such "manipulation" might take the form of blackmail:  "Do this for us, or we will destroy you" and similar threats.  Such requests will almost always be in furtherance of their war, but Hive Mothers are extremely cunning and intelligent, and it may not be immediately obvious how the requested task will actually help them.  These are difficult situations to resolve, because completing the task may well earn the enmity of an entire clan of beholders, but refusing will likely result in immediate destruction.  The best you may be able to do is twist the task in such a way that either both clans end up happy, or they wipe each other out.  Also remember that the beholders will show no gratitude even if you succeed in their mission, but they may remember a successful service and attempt to use these obviously-useful pawns again.

Neogi

Given the beholders' race war and the illithids' obsession with trade, the role of "Great Threat to the Universe" currently goes to the neogi.  They are almost universally hated, and are one of the few exceptions to any hospitality traditions.  If there ships are encountered in space, it is best to either attack immediately, or flee immediately, depending on whether or not you think you can take them.  It is a brazen neogi that moves openly through a town, and shops might have a tendency to close as it approaches.  However, they are usually quite safe from physical harm in such situations, thanks to their bodyguards.

The neogis are a surprisingly small race to inspire such hate and fear.  Only about 3' high, they have the body of a giant spider with the neck and head of a moray eel.  The body is furry, with eight chitinous legs, and the evil, vicious face is filled with needle sharp teeth.  Their bite is poisonous, and their personality more so.  They are all, to the last member of their race, killers, plunderers, slavers and sadists.  To a neogi, everything in the universe is either owned or owner, slave or master, and only neogi can be the masters.  Even neogis are slaves to other neogis, forming a hierarchy within their society, but even the slave-neogis may have their own slaves and may eventually become the master themselves.

For all their viciousness, the neogis would not be such a threat except for their relationship with umber hulks.  The neogis raise umber hulks from birth, training the monsters to follow their "small lords" and care for their every need.  They provide the strength and combat ability that the neogis themselves lack.  Every neogi has at least one primary umber hulk, called a "lordservant", and usually many other lesser servants. 

To the neogis, all other species are desirable as slaves, but none of them will never be valued as highly as the least umber hulk.  Neogis gather slaves for many purposes, including expendable troops in battle, laborers, playthings to be tortured, and eventually, food.

Goblin Races

The goblin races have a long and confused history in space.  For much of the history of wildspace societies, goblins and their kin were as common a menace as they are on the typical world.  They were brought into space as slaves, mercenaries or troops by several evil races and people, and adapted to it fairly well.  It wasn't long before mutiny led to humanoid-controlled ships, which typically became pirates and raiders. 

Over time they became more common, more powerful, and more dangerous, forming petty kingdoms on asteroids, planetoids, or abandoned dwarven citadels.  For many years they warred on each other as much as they preyed on others.  But in the long run, similar to the elves, it was the most organized among them that had an advantage in wildspace, and this slowly led to a more lawful alignment and a more organized threat.  They began to fight among each other less often, and could gather in greater numbers.  They were responsible for depopulating several areas of space.

Eventually, the Elven Imperial Navy declared an all-out war on the humanoids, which has become known as the Unhuman War.  Over the next decade, fully half of the goblin fleets were destroyed and the rest scattered to the fringes of the Known Spheres.  Many of the survivors retreated to the shelter of their groundling cousins and abandoned wildspace for good.  Others abandoned their leaders and migrated among the fringes of human society, slowly becoming accepted (if still disliked) members of society.  It is not unusual to see an orcish first mate or an ogre creman on a predominantly human ship.

But there were some which refused to give up or be assimilated.  There were some who bided their time and struggled to survive and rebuild in out of the way areas, and many generations later, their presence is once again beginning to be felt.  These humanoid kingdoms are still only minor annoyances in a few Spheres, but there are always tales and unconfirmed rumors of a great orc horde that lies gather just beyond the Known Spheres…

Giants

Since larger beings both take up more space, and use up air faster than smaller races, giants are relatively unsuited to wildspace.  However, there are some who make their way here.  A captain willing to risk the loss of air to take on a giant gains a portable catapult with great aim and a super rate of fire.  It is also known that some of the neogi have enslaved some giants for use in combat and boarding parties, although they must surely be difficult for even the neogi to control.

Undead

Unfortunately for everyone, undead are perfectly adapted to space, with little in the way of food or air requirements, and unlimited lifespans that can easily accommodate the long travel times involved in frequent space travel.  Many have been created to act as crews for powerful spellcasters, and the more intelligent types of undead occasionally populate a ship with their victims and go on a rampage.  For example, news of a ghast, wight or spectre captain with a crew of ghouls, goblins or even humans is not unheard of.  Liches are, unfortunately, more common in wildspace, since the process offers the extra temptation of being perfectly adapted to space travel in addition to it's normal lures of power and undying existence.

Tales claim that during the Unhuman War, some necromancers and adepts used skeletons as a standard defensive tactic around their bases.  Skeletal minions would be folded up into small balls and spread around a base like a mine field.  The skeletons apparently had orders to wait until they were picked up in a ship's gravity field and then attempt to board it and kill any invaders.

There are many legends of a sub-cult of Ptah that created mummies as part of their burial rituals, so there are potentially mummies in all of the Known Spheres.  Vampires have some difficulty in space, thanks to the omnipresent sunlight, but the lack of any significant diffraction means that any area of shade is safe, and it is easy to have a fully enclosed ship or lair. 

Dragons

Most dragon species would not fare too well in space, at least not in their normal form.  While they would bring some atmosphere with them, travel times without a spacejamming helm would be just too long to make it practical.  However, there are a few new dragon species that do make their home in wildspace, or at least spend some time there.  The most familiar, and powerful, of these are the Celestial or Radiant Dragons.  Larger than most war ships, and more powerful than a host of siege engines, these dragons are notoriously fickle and the presence of one in the region often has a major impact on the other races in the area.  The dragons that can thrive in wildspace all have a natural, or rather, supernatural ability to spacejam.

Extraplanar Beings

Most natives of other planes, including elementals, demons and the like, do not enjoy being in wildspace.  The ties between them and their home planes are always strongest on worlds, which typically will have a few scattered gates and links back their home plane.  In the depths of space, millions of miles from anywhere, there is little to attract their attention.  They may come when summoned. but it is the rare outsider that spends much time in space.  Those few who do live in space are most often the more intelligent species, and are typically found advancing an agenda in the heart of a major settlement or asteroid city.

Languages

One of the great mysteries of wildspace is the way so many worlds possess the same languages.  Elvish, for instance, is intelligible to the elves of most worlds, and the same principle applies to dwarven, gnomish, and most other demi-human and humanoid languages.  Unique dialects, accents, and even a few "odd" languages appear of course, but the widespread use of these core languages on worlds whose development was seemingly unrelated is remarkable.  The "common tongue" of Toril is almost identical to the common tongue of Oerth and Krynn, as well.

A variety of explanations for this have been advanced by sages.  A current popular approach is the idea that each Crystal Sphere is in fact an alternate prime material plane in which evolution took a different course from the same starting point, and thus the languages all come from the same roots.  Others suggest that each race's vocal cords are structured in a way which makes certain language-forming sounds unavoidable.  A third theory says this all comes from the gods.  Many other explanations exist, but when it comes right down to it, most spacers don't care why it is so, they are just glad that it is so.  After all, wildspace is a difficult enough place as it is.

Religion

Nothing illustrates the limits of the gods better then the Phlogiston, where clerics and paladins are completely unable to recover spells above 0-level, and their ability to man a spelljammer helm is reduced to a maximum tactical SR of 1 regardless of level.  Moreover, each deity can only be contacted from a Crystal Sphere that already has an established band of worshippers (100 seems to be the minimum number).  In other Crystal Spheres where the god is not known, his priests must go to extraordinary lengths to stay in touch.  For this reason many deities highly encourage their priests to establish temples and centers of worship in new spheres, hoping to expand their influence. 

While these challenges can cause the cleric class some difficulties, they can also provide some great roleplaying hooks.  In addition, all is not dark for our favorite divine minions.  The civilizations of space have evolved their own faiths, or new approaches to existing faiths, that take into account the wide variety of beliefs and have been carried into all the Known Spheres.

The Church of Ptah

This god has a unique role in Wildspace.  He is widely considered to be one of the "creators" of the universe, an opener of doors, and a god of travelers.  He is closely associated with wildspace and is supposed to have been the first being to have a natural spacejamming ability.  Whether for those reasons or something else, Ptah has power anywhere in Wildspace, whether or not his church has a presence there.  He also has power on any uninhabited planets, or worlds where the population is small enough that there are no "native" pantheons.  However, he has no power on any inhabited planet that has an established pantheon which he is not a part of.

The Pantheists

Traditionally, gods form a pantheon that is revered by the people of a given region.  People, including clerics, will revere all of those gods, at least a little, and give them all respect as a god and member of the pantheon.  Clerics, however, select one specific patron that they consider their principle deity and upon ordination they develop a very specialized bond with their god.

However, a new approach to worship has developed in wildspace that puts the focus onto the pantheon rather than individual gods.  In a pantheistic church, the cleric is dedicated to all the members of the pantheon.  Based on personality and morals, the cleric is expected to favor some of the deities over others, but there is not as direct of a one-to-one bond.  Because of this, the cleric can regain spells in any Crystal Sphere that has any member of the pantheon present. 

The Path and the Way

This religion was actually the philosophical basis for the development of both pantheistic and theophanist churches.  The Celestial Bureaucracy is a well-managed and organized pantheon of gods, each of whom takes on specific duties or roles.  Native worship of this pantheon is most common among societies that have a strongly oriental flavor.  However, it was brought into space with the earliest space-farers from those cultures, and its flexibility led to it being adopted by many people and many races.  Today, it is one of the most widespread religions in the Known Spheres.  In addition to those Spheres where this religion is established, followers of the Path or the Way can also regain spells when in a Sphere that has organized worshippers of any of the individual gods that participate in the Bureaucracy.

Note that while the Celestial Bureaucracy is fairly monolithic, there are many sects, schools and philosophies about how to venerate them.  The two most common approaches are called the Path and the Way.  Adherents of different sects may disagree (even violently) about the true nuances of the religion, but they all benefit from the presence of this religion in most Spheres.

Theophanists

This approach to religion is the exact opposite of the Pantheists.  The pantheists give up their devotion to a single god and its divine concept in favor of revering the full range of gods in a pantheon.  A Theophanist believes that the divine concepts, the divine archetypes, are more important than the individual gods.  A cleric might worship the archetype of War, or Kingship, or Death.  In a sphere where the war god is Ares, he might receive his spells from Ares.  In a sphere where the dominant war god is Tempus, he will receive his spells from Tempus.  It is the Office or Role that is most important, not the god that fills it. 

In many ways, this type of religion is the most "efficient" since the same fundamental archetypes exist in virtually every pantheon.  However, this impersonal approach has its down side, because it works both ways.  The cleric may be able to regain spells in virtually any Sphere, but none of those gods will have more than a token interest in or loyalty towards that cleric as an individual.

Secret Societies and Other Organizations

To be completed.

Magic

In most respects Spacejammer is a typical setting in regards to magic.  The only significant, constant difference is the way the phlogiston prevents any spell which contacts extra-dimensional space or other planes in any way, and the way fire spells tend to cause massive conflagrations in the phlogiston (just like any other source of fire). 

While magic does work differently in some Spheres, in most of the Known Spheres it follows standard patterns. 

Note that many Spheres include the existence of wild or dead magic zones within wildspace.  These are somewhat dangerous, as they are difficult to chart and can disable any spacejamming vessel.  A dead magic zone in space is often called a Sargasso as it causes helms to cease functioning and leaves vessels adrift, unable to replenish air.  Unless a non-magical means of movement is available these become slow death traps for ships.  The most common method of avoiding them is to bank as hard to port or starboard as possible the moment one is encountered, hoping the vessel will drift out with its incoming velocity.

A final note concerning magic:  In Wildspace, magic using characters and magic items are both somewhat more common then on many fantasy worlds, even worlds as rich in magic as Toril, for instance.  The dependence on mages for survival means that most people with any gift for magic at all will likely learn a little, and ultimately this trickles down into in increased number of minor magic items as well.  This is especially true of "household" magic used to make living easier.  However, archmages and artifact-level magic (aside from the helms, if they are seen that way) are no more common then elsewhere.

Spacejamming

Spacejamming is term used to describe the propulsion of a creature or object through wildspace.  There are many different ways to spacejam, ranging from innate supernatural abilities possessed by some species native to wildspace, through magical artifacts that can propel ships they are attached to.  Regardless of the methods used to achieve spacejamming, it seems clear that they all produce the same results because they all share the same abilities and restrictions.

Many creatures native to Wildspace and/or the Phlogiston have developed a supernatural form of spacejamming.  They are often very maneuverable for their size, making instinctive use of their fins/tails/etc to optimize their mobility.  These species count as magical beasts, unless stated otherwise in their descriptions, and this ability is considered Supernatural and a free action (ie, it just counts as normal movement).

Of course, most races lack the innate ability to spacejam and must rely on magical spells or devices instead.  Almost all such methods rely on the use of a device called a Helm, which will be described below.

There are two types, or levels, of movement that can be gained via spacejamming: tactical and full.  Tactical spacejamming propels the subject at speeds ranging from a dead stop or hover, up to a few hundred miles per hour (depending on the capabilities of the spacejamming source).  Full spacejamming propels the subject at 100 million miles per day (and doesn't usually vary much from method to method).  Most methods of spacejamming can provide both types of movement, but some are limited to tactical movement only.

As discussed above, objects or creatures moving at full spacejamming speed are vulnerable to course changes due to intersecting gravity wells, and can be forced down to tactical speeds if other large objects come too close.

Navigation

Within most Crystal Spheres navigation is not difficult.  It is basically just an extended version of terrestrial navigation by the stars utilizing three dimensional instruments.  In addition, many ships have a magical device called a Planetary Locator that makes finding major sites within the sphere extremely easy.  It is only when a ship needs to travel to a specific, empty point in space that any complicated navigation takes place inside Crystal Spheres.

Navigation in the Phlogiston is much more difficult, for there are precious few landmarks or navigation aids in the flow.  So how does one get from place to place?  The easiest method is to follow a flow river, and that is done by determining the predominate colors of the areas flow.  There are many major flow rivers through the phlogiston, and each has a distinctive color pattern that makes it distinct from the others.  Since most Crystal Spheres remain in relatively stable positions with regards to these flow rivers, one can navigate by counting the Spheres passed as one follows the river.  River intersections provide another means for determining location, as the colors do not intermix (sages still debate the reasons for this).  Travel to Spheres outside a major flow is much more time consuming and difficult, and usually require the use of magical navigation tools.

Helms and Wild Sails

Helms are the primary method of powering spacejamming vessels.  Simply put, a helm is a magical device which channels magical energy from a some source into motive force for the ship it's attached to.  It's important to keep in mind, however, that while the helmsman controls speed and basic maneuverability, for best results many vessels also use sailors to add additional maneuvering ability, as described below.

There are several different types of helms of varying abilities, being used in the Known Spheres.  While the features of the most common types of helms are relatively common knowledge, remember that other types of helms exist, some of which are quite bizarre.  This list is just a starting point for "standard" spacejamming cultures, and as always in SJ, expect the unexpected.

For more details about the different types of helms, see the appendix of my Ship Construction rules (available from my web site).

All Helms have the following generic features:

Bonding:  A helmsman is an individual who sits on the helm and directs the ship's general motion.  The helmsman actually merges with the ship, and feels as if he is personally flying through space.  The helmsman perceives damage to the ship as white flashes of pain, but takes no actual personal damage in most cases.  Sometimes, however, the pain is intense enough to cause unconsciousness; this is called "spacejammer shock" and is usually a result of a special hit.

Instinctive Piloting:  In many ways, helming a vessel is instinctual, because the helmsman "merges" with the vessel and can generally control the vessel as easily as walking.  While this is true for general movement, it is possible to become much better, more efficient, and more effective with training and practice (ie, learning the Profession [SJ Piloting] skill). 

Spatial Perception:  The helmsman can perceive the world around the ship as if he were standing anywhere on the outer hull, and can change the point of view as a free action.  It is said that skilled pilots can even perceive his environment as if he were in multiple places at once.

Dual Awareness:  While spacejamming, the helmsman retains his normal senses and can hold a conversation with those nearby.  In general, spacejamming is no more difficult than walking (except during combat) so that anything a person can reasonably be expected to concentrate on while walking can be done while 'jamming.

Wild Sails, Arcane

The most common form of spacejamming among sentient races makes use of special, magical sails, known as Wild Sails, that are provided only by the mysterious Arcane, although they can sometimes be found for resale by middlemen. 

Using Wild Sails requires trained sailors to gain full benefit from the sails while moving at tactical speeds, although ships at full spacejamming speeds can get by with a skeleton crew rotation if they are willing to risk being shorthanded in an emergency deceleration to tactical speed.

NOTE:  To make use of the Wild Sails you still also need at least a Sailjamming Helm.

Sailjamming Helms

To make use of the Wild Sails, you also need a Helm. Sailjamming Helms are the most basic (and least expensive) helms available in the Known Spheres.  These helms have the four generic helm features described above, and can be used by any sentient being.  However, since this type of helm does not provide any propulsion, all motive power comes only from the Wild Sails, so if the sails are removed, the helm cannot move the vessel (though the helmsman could still shift his perspective to any point on the hull, for example).  Similarly, speed control is only via the helm, so a ship with Wild Sails but no helm cannot move either.  A ship with both a working helm and working sails can maneuver, although if the sails or rigging are damaged it may move slower and/or maneuver very poorly.

Spelljamming Helms

This helm has all the features of a generic Helm, and it also provides propulsion to the vessel by drawing power from the spell abilities of the helmsman.  These helms drain all memorized spells at a touch.  As a result, minor helms can move vessels at both full and tactical spacejamming speeds, provided the helmsman is a spellcaster.

Vessels with this type of helm still need rigging and at least Minimal Wild Sails for maximum maneuverability.  If the ship actually has Standard or Topped-Out Wild Sails, the sails' Speed Rating adds to the current helmsman's SR.  The Wild Sails must be purchased separately from the Arcane (or a reseller).

Furnace Helm

This helm propels a vessel by drawing on the power of magical items placed within its fuel opening.  Items placed within are burned (literally) by the fire within, and their dweomor is sucked into the helm to give it power. 

These helms are used extensively within Spheres (they explode in the phlogiston, of course) to power fighters, lifeboats, harbor ferries, etc.  Most are fueled by scrolls with Continual Flame or some other common spell inscribed upon them.  They can even be fueled for an hour or so if a piece of wood or paper with a Magic Mouth, Continual Flame, or even Nystul's Magical Aura spell has been cast (as opposed to inscribed) on them. 

Vessels using a furnace helm still need rigging and at least Minimal Wild Sails for maximum maneuverability.  If the ship actually has Standard or Topped-Out Wild Sails, the sails' SR adds to the furnace's SR.  The Wild Sails must be purchased separately from the Arcane (or a reseller).

Arti-Furnace Helm

These exceedingly rare and powerful items function just like the Furnace Helm in principle, but provide a higher speed for an unlimited duration.  However, this phenomenal power is only available because the furnace is drawing power from a Major Artifact-class magic item!

There are only a handful of these helms rumored to exist in the Known Spheres, and rumors of one can lead to conflicts across an entire Sphere as various factions strive to find or capture it.

Lifejammer Helm

The lifejammer helm is a very specialized and evil type of helm which feeds off the life energy of an individual placed inside (usually against his will).  The lifejammer can function on any creature with Constitution.  For every day of operation, the lifejammer drains temporary Constitution, which cannot be regained while the individual is within the lifejammer.  In addition, for every day of operation the victim must make a Fortitude save or perish.

Lifejammers are widely believed to be the invention of the neogi, but other evil races, including undead, have been known to use them as well.  There are rumors that these helms were actually designed by the Arcane, but most people hope that it is not true.

Series Helms

An invention of either the Illithids, or of the Arcane with the Illithids in mind (accounts vary as to which), this helm has been adapted for a number of other species with innate supernatural or spell-like abilities.  These helms work like a normal spelljamming helm except they draw power from creatures with innate powers.  Each additional helm, up to a maximum of five in the series, can increase the speed of the vessel.

If a helmsman in a series helm is slain, there can be drastic affects on any others in the series. 

Notes and Bibliography

The above contains TSR trademarked material, as well as paraphrased copyrighted material.  This use should not be construed as a challenge to that status.

TSR / Wizards of the Coast

The core rules and setting for the Spelljammer game were produced by TSR in the early 1990s.  TSR was subsequently bought by Wizards of the Coast.  All Spelljammer intellectual properties are copyrighted by Wizards of the Coast.

Similarly, AD&D 2nd Edition (which is referred to as 2e) and D&D (referred to as 3rd edition or 3e) are also copyrighted by Wizards of the Coast.

Paul Westermeyer

Much of the content of this document, including the format, many sections of descriptive text, and a few house rule ideas are based upon Paul's "A Spacejammer Primer", which is available at the Beyond the Moons web site.

URL:  http://www.darkwood.cx/rpg/btm/lore/rules/sjprimer.html

Leroy Van Camp

Some of the societal information is based largely on documents at Leroy's web page, the Tarkas Brain Lab IV.

URL:  http://www.users.qwest.net/~malacoda/TarkasBrainLabIV.html

Spelljammer-L Mailing List (SJML)

The Spelljammer-L mailing list is one major source for ideas and online community within the Spelljammer game.  A number of ideas in this document are based on discussions from the mailing list.  For more information, check out the Official Spelljammer web page. 

URL:  http://www.darkwood.cx/rpg/compendium/