Welcome, new Spelljammer cadets! In this series of dispatches we will help you prepare for the vast and wondrous Wildspace. Whether this is your first time on a Spelljammer or you have previously sailed the void, we will teach you the latest ways to soar through space. Today we begin with a look at the types of adventurers you may find on your voyages.
First off, there are two interesting types of spacefaring backgrounds you may find.
The Astral Sea is a wondrous place, holding the remains of deities, gith and githyanki fortresses, portals to other worlds, and much more. Because creatures don’t age when on the Astral Sea, an astral drifter tends to have seen a great many wonders. Such experiences can change a traveler, and none more than being touched by a god. Was it a strange vision when they explored the petrified remains of a long-forgotten deity? Powerful words from the deity themselves? Lore or prophecy received in a deity’s astral temple? Whatever it is, it’s likely something that leads the astral drifter to a life of searching, even when they find their way to Wildspace. Maybe it’s even what led them to Wildspace.
Considering the Astral Drifter background? Insight and Religion proficiencies can represent the many wondrous sights you have seen. Your equipment includes a diary and ink, which you can use to record your travels, perhaps acting as your ship’s record keeper. Your key feature, Divine Contact, is all about the secret or lore you gained. Work with your DM to make this interesting and to keep paying off over time. Maybe your initial vision will be followed by others over time. Or perhaps you uncovered the first two lines of a prophetic poem, with others to be revealed by your DM as the campaign evolves. Your feature also grants you the Magic Initiate feat (you must choose the cleric option), and the cantrips and spell you choose can be even more fun when they reflect the deity’s secret or your quest for answers.
Wildspacers grew up amongst the stars, so they are especially hardy when they face the many perils of space. Some wildspacers have great courage, while others are just stubborn or foolish enough to keep going. The stories a wildspacer can tell are as varied as space itself. What challenges have they overcome? What close calls define their personality? What do they wish to encounter again, or never have to face once more?
Picking the path of the Wildspacer? Your tool proficiencies make you especially useful on a Spelljammer, and you should always keep that grappling hook handy. Spend some time detailing the exciting Close Encounter you faced. Are there any loose ends? Could there be a rival, or someone who disagrees with how it played out? Consider working with your DM to define the event and what may come of it. Your feature, Wildspace Adaptation, grants you the Tough feat and you don’t suffer disadvantage when in zero gravity. Lean into these concepts when defining your personality and the risks you take aboard a ship!
All of the races and ancestries you have met on your home world could be in space. While it doesn’t happen every day, from time to time a landlubber finds a Spelljammer and ends up on an adventure. In addition, a number of races with which you may not be familiar on your home world are common in space. Let’s meet the astral elf, autognome, giff, hadozee, plasmoid, and thri-kreen!
Elves who sought the Astral Sea to be closer to their gods, these elves have a divine touch and an ageless quality beyond those of other elves. Their divinity manifests in a cantrip they know, which involves divine light. Further, their Starlight Step allows them to teleport 30 feet through space as a bonus action – a sight to behold when an elven spelljammer boards another vessel! Finally, their Astral Trance provides a long rest in four hours and also ties them into shared elven memories, allowing them to gain proficiency in one skill and one weapon or tool.
When choosing an astral elf, consider how your migration to the Astral Sea changed you, particularly once you found the connection to your deities. With DM permission, you may wish to personalize your cantrip such as your sacred flame having a silvery radiance. Your Starlight Step makes you highly mobile, and can change the battlefield if you can access hard-to-reach spots on an enemy spelljammer.
Each autognome is as different as its original rock gnome creator, and the story of how the mechanical creature came to become independent is a defining aspect of each autognome. The constructs are small but tough, resisting poison and being immune to disease, as well as receiving a boost to their Armor Class when not wearing armor. They can also surprise their foes, using their clockwork or other mechanisms to bolster an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw when they need it the most. An autognome remains alert while it rests and gains two tool proficiencies based on their design.
Playing an autognome is awesome! You get to define your look, your creator and why they created you, and how you came to independence. Your features give you a number of benefits, including the ability to benefit both from normal healing and also the mending spell.
A bipedal hippo with a penchant for firearms? It isn’t without reason, as giff have a gift for using firearms (gaining proficiency with them, ignoring the loading property on firearms, attacking at long range with ease, and even being able to boost the damage several times per day). Giff also enjoy unusual strength.
But there is so much more. Giff have an interesting story with their constant search for their lost home world. And they enjoy a rich camaraderie with one another or any group they adapt as their own. Many are militaristic, but you can also lean away from that to play against type. The big question: will your giff wear a monocle?
You’ll never forget the first time a hadozee pick-pockets you… using their feet! These agile creatures look like monkeys, but were created from mammals and evolved through magic. Their nimble feet and hands make them natural climbers, while the skin membranes hanging from their arms let them glide safely to the ground.
How is your hadozee influenced by their creation story? Escaping the manipulations of an evil wizard can lend itself to being a free-thinker, wishing to liberate others, or desiring to never be confined. On a ship, you can navigate rigging with an easy few can match. Roleplaying what you do with your feet can be a lot of fun, and your ability to reduce the damage you take lets you take fun risks.
While the first plasmoid you meet may appear humanoid, they are likely adopting that form to be polite. A plasmoid can alter their form into a blob, a long coil, or other forms. Don’t be surprised if the plasmoid on your ship prefers to squeeze under the door instead of opening it! These oozes resist acid and poison and they can hold their breath for up to an hour.
When creating a plasmoid, start by thinking about your color and texture. You are an unusual creature, an ooze, so think about ways to make that fun for you and for the other players. What forms do you like to adopt? Do you wear armor only when you know battle is imminent? Your ability to extrude a 10-foot pseudopod or squeeze through a 1-inch hole gives you great flexibility. Literally!
Thri-kreen are found on many different worlds, so it is no surprise to learn they are found in Wildspace. These insectoid mantis warriors have a thick carapace, and as an action the color can change to make hiding easier. Thri-kreen have an extra pair of arms capable of manipulating items or wielding a light weapon. Thri-kreen don’t need to sleep, and they have a limited form of telepathy that helps them communicate with non-kreen.
Fans of other settings, such as Dark Sun, already know how fun it can be to play a thri-kreen. They feel alien, and you can downplay that or lean into it by dual-wielding weapons and describing how your extra arms make that possible. Or, simply hold useful items in your extra hands. Who doesn’t want to hold a shield, an axe, a rope, and a set of tools? Thri-kreen in Dark Sun often form tight friendships, considering fellow adventurers to be pack-mates. This can be a fun concept to borrow for a Spelljammer campaign.
Well, that sound tells me either a gnomish invention went wrong or the giff are throwing a party. Either way, I better go make sure my ship is still standing. I will see you next time, when we take a look at adventuring in the Astral Sea!
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