Cadets, I know you are eager to head off into space. Remember the dangers I detailed in our last two missives? In the vastness of space, survival can rest upon knowing where to find a safe port and allies you can trust.
The Astral Sea
As you should recall from our second missive, spelljammers can travel from one Wildspace system to another through the Astral Sea. Powerful entities, from the gith to cultists of a dead god, can be found in the Astral. Because travel is done by thought, make a note of both dangerous and safe places you come across in the Astral Sea. When you need to steer to a safe place, or away from a dangerous one, simply using your mind can achieve that!
Speaking of safe places, here’s an old spacefarer tip. Find an abandoned ruin and stash away some emergency supplies. Just return with caution. You never know how long a place will stay abandoned.
As a DM, you can bring the Astral Sea to life by having adventurers come across interesting locales, including places where they can store supplies or recuperate from tough battles. The Astral can feature any wild ideas you can come up with. A ruined floating citadel, the husk of a gargantuan creature, and a wizard’s magical paradise… these and other wondrous locations can add interest to a gaming session and perhaps serve as a base the adventurers can use during future travels. The Astral is a great place to introduce recurring NPCs, from a gith captain hunting for mind flayers to an academy searching ruins for lost treasures. Meeting the same NPCs or members of the same organization over time provides players with a sense of familiarity and ongoing narrative.
Your travels will surely take you to different systems, such as Realmspace, Krynnspace, or Greyspace. Those three are some of the best known, but there are many other systems and each has something different to offer, as well as challenges and customs unique to the worlds in that system. For example, in Krynnspace its best not to mention deities or dragons. Trust me on this one.
Doomspace and Xaryxispace are detailed in the Light of Xaryxis adventure! The giff search endlessly for their homeworld, but have yet to find it. Spelljammer’s second edition sourcebooks and novels detailed other systems as well, though you can just as easily create your own.
Each Wildspace system typically has several worlds of varied natures, as well as asteroid belts, comets, and other places to visit. Cataloguing the worlds in a system can be a fulfilling pastime, as well as providing vital information when you need resources or a place to lay low.
DMs can vary the worlds adventurers have to provide engaging experiences. A planet may be a vast desert or covered in ice, a jungle or completely covered in water, or a mix of any of these. Planets may have magical qualities, interesting cultures, mysterious histories, and more. Is there a derelict spacecraft calling out a warning in a language the players can’t understand? A planet where a strange predator seeks to hunt challenging prey? A world where psionicists battle against tyranny with glowing swords? You can draw inspiration from science fiction novels and movies to create memorable experiences for your players.
Most worlds have no idea that traveling through Wildspace is possible. Flying into a major city that has never seen a spelljammer before? Every spellcaster and siege weapon will target you, so don’t do that. Instead, you want to speak with other spacefarers beforehand and learn which ports cater to our kind of travel. Usually you land a safe distance away and then travel on foot (or on water if your ship supports it and doesn’t look too outlandish). You may also be able to find one of the few ports dedicated to Wildspace travel.
This asteroid is found in the Tears of Selûne, orbiting Toril. Caverns and tunnels indicate this was once the home of a dragon of some kind, but it has been home to illithids, pirates, and more recently, githyanki. The asteroid magically generates breathable air, and a large dock could serve any spelljammer courageous enough to deal with the githyanki.
Stardock is detailed in Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage. A portal leads deep within the famed dungeon of Undermountain. You can easily lift this asteroid and make slight changes, placing it anywhere you need a Wildspace or Astral Sea base. The githyanki can be challenging foes or tenuous allies.
Rock of Bral
This asteroid city and port is named for the pirate Captain Bral, who founded it as a place of refuge almost 200 years ago. While it started as a rough-and-tumble home for scoundrels and cutthroats, over time it became more civilized as merchants and others began to offer goods and services and those calling the Rock home sought more stability. The last four leaders have all been a series of heirs. The third of them, Prince Calar, died just six years ago under mysterious circumstances. His younger brother, Prince Andru, has ruled capably enough since then. That’s no easy feat, given the Rock of Bral’s many factions vying for influence.
By default, the Rock of Bral orbits Toril in Realmspace (home to the Forgotten Realms campaign setting). Adventurers playing the Spelljammer adventure Light of Xaryxis will visit the asteroid during the adventure, and the adventure encourages DMs to place it in the system of their choice. An amazingly detailed map of the Rock of Bral is included with the Spelljammer: Adventures in Space set and the city is detailed in Chapter 3 of the Astral Adventurer’s Guide.
Those factions I mentioned? There are several underbarons who influence the Rock of Bral. One of them is Ozamata, who controls the docks and the Low City. A mean one, so don’t cross them if you can help it. Far friendlier is Meredin Sandyfoot, a halfling who looks out for the craftspeople in the Low City. I don’t know the other underbarons, but it may be worth your time to figure them all out.
A total of four underbarons exist, and DMs can use them to sow intrigue, grant quests, and serve as factions and rivals – very useful if you run downtime activities and use the Rivals option in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, or if you use the Patron rules found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything or Eberron: Rising from the Last War.
The Low City
The Low City is where you will arrive, as all of the public docks and shipyards are found here on the asteroid’s leading edge. I can personally recommend the tavern called The Happy Beholder – give my regards to Large Luigi, the friendly beholder proprietor. You can find a wide variety of goods in the Low City, as well as ship services and potential crew. A group of halflings settled an area known as the Burrows (try the fresh bread), fine crafts can be found in the Dwarven District, and Gifftown is always booming. Ha! See what I did there?
The Middle City
The center of the Rock is home to the Great Market, where you can find a bustling mix of merchants, street performers, beggars, and entertainers from all across Wildspace. Keep your hand on your belt pouch!
All manner of useful businesses can be found here. The busiest tavern in the Middle City is The Edge, where the thri-kreen Vikka makes strong drinks. Gaspar’s Reclamations offers services to find lost items such as magic items and works of art. Elmandar’s Star Charts isn’t cheap, but Elmandar has an excellent reputation and will update the maps you buy from him for free any time you return.
If you are a mage, there is a Mages Guild hall you can join. The fee grants you access to their research facilities and other benefits. You can also find a charter organization offering passage to other planets or systems, a trading company known as Smith’s Coster, and a mercenary company known as Valkan’s Legion. That last group’s leader, Valkan Riogan, often provides soldiers and undertakes missions on behalf of Prince Andru.
The High City and Underside
When you first approach in your spelljammer, steer clear of the Underside of the Rock of Bral, which houses Prince Andru’s military. Similarly, the High City rises above the top side of the asteroid on the trailing edge, and is home to Prince Andru’s palace and several noble estates.
The High City does have a few locations you can visit. The festival grounds and arena are available to the public for various events. The large Lake Bral borders the graveyard and temple district. The High City also houses the Royal Theater and the finest restaurant in town, The Man-o’ War. Finally, the Library of the Spheres has a fine collection of tomes, scrolls, and other documents.
There is much more to the Rock of Bral, but I better end this dispatch so I can explore this ruined gnomish ship and it’s enormous hamster wheels.
Chapter 3 of the Astral Adventurer’s Guide provides additional details on the Rock of Bral. Together with the amazing map, the Rock provides many ways to keep players interested each time their visit, or to serve as a compelling home base.
Cadets, this is the last missive you will receive for me. I will miss you, but you are now ready for the challenges and wonders of Wildspace! Go forth heroes, and find your place amongst the stars!
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