April 21, 2022 0 By Gary

It happened on April 1st.

Everybody assumed it was an April Fool’s joke. But it wasn’t. It was perhaps one of the slickest RPG marketing plays ever.

Confirm it, let nobody believe it, and then blow everybody’s minds three weeks later when you confirm it again. Here’s the April Fool’s tweet:

And as of today, it’s official official: Spelljammer: Adventures in Space launches on August 16th. It represents a new delivery system for a D&D setting, a three volume slipcase that includes a DM screen and a double sided poster map.

The three books are a player/DM resource that includes six new races The Astral Adventurer’s Guide, a bestiary with all the creepiest astral creatures Boo’s Astral Menagerie, and a new adventure The Light of Xaryxis, which takes players from level 5 to level 8 (and of course is set in space.)

Chris Perkins, lead developer on the project, said of this new format, “[w]e’re experimenting with different form factors to surprise and delight, and” he added somewhat cheekily, “to see what we can get away with.”

One of the benefits Perkins noted for this format is that it allows DMs to have multiple resources open at once, as opposed to flipping through a single book. The DM could have the adventure open in one spot, the bestiary open in another, and the player’s guide too. Each book comes in at 64 pages, so in total length it’s about what is expected from a standard release.

The Light of Xaryxis adventure is broken up into 12 “episodes” each of which represents between 2 and 4 hours of play. Each episode is 4 pages long, and ends on a cliffhanger to whet players’ appetite for more between sessions.

Perkins was cautious of the subject of future Spelljammer supplements, when asked about them. “[We]’ll take a wait and see attitude. Let’s see how this set is received. [Do people] like the form factor? If people like it, I’d love to revisit it. [And of course I’d happily] board a ship toward wildspace again [if the opportunity arose.]”

The original setting was a mix of styles and the 5e setting is much the same. Perkins said that science fiction is a broad genre, and when coupled with fantasy, it’s an even greater “melange.”

The design team included elements of cosmic horror, of exploration, and of camp: yes, there are space clowns, and “vam-pirates” in this 5e update. They are fully expectant that this iteration of Spelljammer is going to be flexible enough to meet the needs of anyone who wants to pick it up.

And with every new book, or supplement, they are trying something new; trying to make each book its own experience. Perkins talked a lot about how “Spelljammer illustrates what D&D can do, and what it can be, but in Dragonlance you’ll see a completely different experience entirely!” As D&D grows to even further heights, that’s their new goal, to bring the broadest array of experiences possible to the world’s greatest roleplaying game.

It was a dream for Perkins to work on Spelljammer because it was his favourite setting in 2nd edition D&D. During the press availability he opined fondly about the Spelljammer campaign he ran from 1990-1995, and how he was the only staff member who didn’t laugh when he first raised it as a possibility for the 5e treatment.

It’s an exciting time to be a D&D fan, and Spelljammer is just one of the many reasons why.

OH, and space shanty.

You’re welcome.