On a whim, I dug out my old AD&D Spelljammer books this afternoon. Spelljammer is the woefully under-appreciated space fantasy setting for 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons; instead of crawling through dungeons looking for goblins to murder, you captain a magic-powered sailing ship through Ptolemaic outer space looking for space goblins to murder. My high school game group really got into it; Spelljammer gave us one of our most memorable game campaigns.
While the general tone of Spelljammer is “swashbuckling adventures in space,” my gaming friends were not content to handwave away the everyday practicalities of space adventuring. When you own a magic space boat, you’ve suddenly got to worry about questions like “How little can we pay our crew without triggering a mutiny?” I found several type-written sheets going into the details:
At first I thought that the “expendables” listed here were consumable items like food and ammunition. But no, that’s the term my players used to describe the ship’s crew. Which is a pretty good summation of most of our Spelljammer adventures.
Looking through this material made me realize how much I miss Spelljammer; it took the inherently silly concept of “D&D… in spaaaaaace!” and wrapped it in just enough seriousness to make it playable, while proudly retaining its goofy side. It only appeared as an official setting during the 2nd edition era; bits and pieces of it turned up in 3rd and 4th editions, but never as a standalone campaign setting. Perhaps one day we’ll return to the stars.by