[Let's Read] Realmspace (Spelljammer -- AD&D 2e)

Afterburner

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Elminster was born in 212 DR, the Simbul in 766 DR. So ... yeah.
So we just make K'Thoutek's orbital period to be 554 years and we're golden.

Was Ed Greenwood a writer on this book? There's a "Space Castle" in his Lost Ships book, too... Just less interesting.
According to the credits, Dale "Slade" Henson is entirely to blame for the contents of this supplement.
 

Trireme

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This is hands-down one of the most useful Spelljammer books in practice, and I've proven it thoroughly over the years.
 

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Spacefaring Companies in the Stars

This section provides a handful of organizations you can throw at your PCs to enliven their existence. These are mainly adventuring companies, but there is also a merchant company for variety. The entries provide info for key members of each group.


Code Helm -- An organization of do-gooders, Code Helm exists for the sole purpose of rescuing the humanoid livestock from the illithid ranches on Glyth. The bulk of the group membership consists of clerics and paladins. Although Helm is the name on the door, anybody can join regardless of who they worship, as long as they are of good alignment and committed to ending the illithid ranching operations on Glyth. Helm himself grants a special spell to all clerics and paladins who belong to Code Helm, regardless of who they actually worship. The spell provides a +6 bonus to saving throws vs. all mind-affecting spells and spell-like abilities (such as, for example, the psychic blast of the mind flayers).

Code Helm currently has 324 members, down from their original 500. The rest have been lost in operations against the illithid menace. But they have freed over 1000 humanoids from the clutches of the wily octopus-heads, so they've got that going for them, which is nice.


Seed-Beholder Company -- This group of merchants and businessmen have a unique niche in life: They provide child-rearing services to the beholders of H'Catha. It seems that planning and conducting wars of genetic purity against the inferior breeds of your own species just doesn't leave much time for proper child-rearing. So the beholders of H'Catha outsource this task to the Seed-Beholder Company. Adult beholders provide the spores, and the Seed-Beholder Company takes them to their orbiting station to create a new generation of beholders.

One imagines that the Seed-Beholder Company has to walk a VERY fine line, making each beholder faction believe that they and they alone are the only beholders to use the company's services. Wouldn't be good for business if your customers found out you were also raising new soldiers for the enemy.


Emerald Brotherhood -- The entry for this group is a little disjointed. We are told "This brave group of adventurers gained notoriety when, upon entering Realmspace seven years ago as neogi slaves, they defeated their cruel captors and destroyed a major neogi slavery operation in the meantime. The Brotherhood purchased their current ship from an arcane who was also a captive of the neogi at the time of their hair-raising escape." Okay, that's a good start.

But then we are also told two paragraphs later "The Brotherhood joined forces officially for the first time over four years ago to save the Thornwood and its resident druids from an invading tribe of gnolls."

So although they first came together seven years ago, they didn't have it notarized until four years ago, thus making it "official".

Anyhow, this is just a typical band of good-aligned adventurers. There are four of them in total, and each one gets a brief blurb. They have been kidnapped by mind flayers and are presumed dead. They also have a ship called Tyr's Strike which they use to patrol the area between Anadia and Toril.

Like I said, disjointed.


The Gauntlet -- A small group of self-appointed police, these folks patrol the spacelanes in the Tears of Selune, looking for threats to innocent travellers. Their current claim to fame is the fact that they have a bounty of 100,000 gp on their heads due to their eradication of a neogi slaving den on an asteroid in the Tears.


The Enforcers -- Another small one-ship operation, this group is dedicated to capturing famed pirate Clive the Fearsome (mentioned upthread). They haven't had much success so far, but in the meantime they're working to keep the outer reaches of Realmspace free from danger.

One of the crew members is a neutral good frost giant who serves as the ship catapult, like so:




Final analysis: Surprised that there aren't any bad groups listed. Raising beholder babies is maybe a little bit questionable, but aside from that all the groups are unvarnished good guys.
 

MacBalance

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This is hands-down one of the most useful Spelljammer books in practice, and I've proven it thoroughly over the years.
I haven't read them recently, but I did enjoy these books. I kind of feel like the Forgotten Realms was the most 'on board' (sorry) with integrating Spelljammer material than other settings. Krynnspace, by comparison, was much more a 'frontier' in space with less traffic in-setting and a feeling the authors weren't really interested in 'playing along.' Maybe this was part of a larger statement: Krynn was arguably the more 'different' of the 3 AD&D settings going in to 2e. (Kender, the Steel Standard, a 'theory' of magic that actually changed some mechanics. Of course, late 2e it looked pretty normal compared to Athas, Planescape, or even Ravenloft and Spelljammer.)

I know Hickman and Weis have been somewhat protective of the setting (which I can agree with, to a point) and I feel this may have extended to Krynnspace being in a weird place. Realmspace could be used as a pretty involved and interesting setting... Krynnspace felt a lot more empty.

Final analysis: Surprised that there aren't any bad groups listed. Raising beholder babies is maybe a little bit questionable, but aside from that all the groups are unvarnished good guys.
I don't know if "raising baby beholders" is "evil" so much as 'Suicidally stupid." I think it makes Lady Sybil Ramkin's home for Swamp Dragons look like a safe, reliable investment opportunity. Even ignoring the parent issue (and on that note, imagine the sheer panic if a child is accidentally swapped or born with a defect?) the whole idea of living with a bunch of babies with eye beams that can disintegrate, charm, and otherwise cause chaos seems like a terrible idea.
 

Afterburner

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I don't know if "raising baby beholders" is "evil" so much as 'Suicidally stupid." I think it makes Lady Sybil Ramkin's home for Swamp Dragons look like a safe, reliable investment opportunity. Even ignoring the parent issue (and on that note, imagine the sheer panic if a child is accidentally swapped or born with a defect?) the whole idea of living with a bunch of babies with eye beams that can disintegrate, charm, and otherwise cause chaos seems like a terrible idea.
It definitely seems like one of those ideas where you could probably make more money selling the tech you use to stay alive than you make actually using the tech yourself.
 

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Adventuring Ideas

Oh how I long for the days when I had all the time in the world to plan out my games. Sadly, those days are gone and unlikely to return. So for DMs like me with limited time to put together a suitable adventure, Realmspace provides some adventure hooks. You can work these in to an existing campaign as a side encounter, or you can make a whole adventure out of them. Just fill in the blanks and off you go.


Scenario 1 -- A hafling governor from one of the halfling communities on Toril seeks passage to Anadia, to open up political relations with the Northern Polarate. On the way there, your ship is attacked by halflings from the Southern Polarate who want to add your ship to their growing armada so that they can take over the Southern Polarate and eventually the Northern Polarate as well.

Scenario 2 -- The PCs are piloting their ship through the Tears of Selune when they are suddenly attacked by the Batship, intent on piracy. The Batship is a pretty badass ship, so unless your PCs are powerful, it's likely that they will lose. If they lose or surrender, the crew of the Batship will take anything of value that isn't nailed down and then depart. If the PCs put up a good fight and are honorable in their defeat, the Captain of the Batship will offer them a place on his crew. If they refuse, he will be disappointed but not angry, and will fly off into the Tears and disappear. If the PCs win, they've got a whole new adventure on their hands. See the entry on the Batship later in this thread.

Scenario 3 -- The PCs are crusing in low orbit over the polar regions of Karpri when they notice an unusual dark speck on the ice. Should they investigate (and what self-respecting PC wouldn't after being told "you see an unusual dark speck on the ice" by the GM?), they will find the remains of the crashed Gnomish Sidewheeler. They will arrive JUST IN TIME to save the gnomes from a remorhaz. Assuming they pull this off, they will have the opportunity to rescue the shipwrecked gnomes. These are not Faerunian gnomes, though. These are Tinker Gnomes from Krynn. And they would love nothing better than to "improve" the PC's ship as a way of repaying the PCs for the rescue. If the PCs are lucky, the gnomes might even ask permission first.

Scenario 4 -- While in the vicinity of Karpri (either with the gnomes or without), the PCs run across the haunted space station. There are 30 elven ghosts on board who will need to be dealt with somehow. If they succeed, they will be the proud owners of seven Elven Man O'War ships in serious need of a trim and repair. A visit from an EIN representative will probably occur as soon as the word gets out.

Scenario 5 -- The PCs discover a derelict ship floating in a decaying, almost fully-decayed orbit above Chandos. This is the remains of one of the human ships that encountered and freed the orcs and dwarves from the Illithids so long ago. There's a well-kept Captain's Log explaining the final battle and hinting that more may be uncovered on the surface of the planet.

Scenario 6 -- While orbiting or approaching Glyth, the PCs see a small egg-shaped moon. While they observe the moon, an Illithid Nautiloid ship detaches itself from the surface and makes a beeline for the PCs. Space combat ensues.

Scenario 7 -- As the PCs approach Garden, they are pursued by a small flotilla of pirate ships. The ships are curiously unaggressive and only act in defense of their own ships. Nonetheless, they are clearly in pursuit of the PCs ship and will try to maneuver themselves to block the PCs from escaping. If the ships get close enough, the captain of the main ship will indicate that he wishes to parley. This will turn out to be a recruiting effort from Clive the Fearsome, looking to replenish his personnel. And because pirates are curiously noble and good-hearted in fiction, it will be a simple request; the PCs will not be press-ganged. If the PCs agree, the DM can then throw exciting adventures as a space pirate at them. If the PCs don't agree, Clive the Fearsome will make appropriately regretful noises but will leave the PCs alone and fly off into the spacelanes, never to be seen again unless he just happens to target them later for piracy. There will be no hard feelings.

Scenario 8 -- The characters run across a drifting Elven flitter. On board is a blind drow elf near death.



If the characters rescue him and nurse him back to health, they have also acquired a quasit, who is part of a curse laid upon the drow. The quasit can be killed temporarily, but will always return in full health to wreak havoc on the drow and the ship he is on. The only way to permanently rid the drow of the quasit is for someone to genuinely and sincerely claim the drow as a friend. The drow is also a wizard, and can therefore man the spelljamming helm of a ship. He will be happy to function as part of the crew as thanks for his rescue.


Final analysis: Well, eh. Aside from Scenario 8, everything is pretty "on-the-nose" with respect to the descriptions of the planets themselves. Don't think we needed a specific adventure hook to tell us "Hey, you can go into the haunted orbiting space station above Karpri!" after being told about the haunted orbiting space station in the Karpri entry itself.
 
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Afterburner

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New Magical Items

And now it's time for everybody's favorite section: NEW LOOT.

When I was a tow-headed Yoot(tm), any new module was first checked for cool new items and treasure before actually reading the meat of the supplement. If you can remember those days (or if you're still in the firm grip of those days), this section is for you!


Rudder of Propulsion -- This is a magical item that looks like a mundane rudder, but provides +1 Gravity's worth of propulsion to ships massing 0.5 to 2.0 space tons. Paired rudders cancel each other out, so adding more to larger ships won't do anything. For ships of the appropriate size, though, the Rudder can be used to travel at Spelljamming Speed 6 through Wildspace and can also be used to travel through the phlogiston. Ships with a Rudder attached can't escape the gravity well of a planet unless the planetary gravity is less than 1G. But they can hover and fly and can even propel themselves through water like a boat with an outboard motor.

The nation of Wa in distant Kara-Tur is the only nation that uses these items. They are theoretically worth 3000gp, but they're also a state secret so any member of the Wa nation (Wanites? Waonians?) who actually sold one would be guilty of high treason.

Attaching one of these to a ship that already has a spelljamming helm is a Bad Idea.

Horn of Voices -- This is a bullhorn, basically. Used on Coliar to communicate between the floating earthbergs. Has a range of one mile. People standing right next to the person using the Horn hear it at a normal speaking volume, as do those a mile away.

Spectacles of True Seeing -- Pretty much what it says on the tin. These are spectacles with the true seeing spell built in. They can be used once per day, and the effect lasts for 10 minutes. Interestingly, these would not work to see through the "moon illusion" on Selune because they specifically fail against illusions cast by deities.

Urn of Water Purification -- A magical barrel that will slowly, over time, transform any water-based liquid placed within it to 100% pure water. It will, of course, do this to water itself, removing all impurities, diseases, particulate matter, etc. But it will also do it milk and juice. Presumably liquids like oil would be unaffected, but that's up to the DM.

<ChemicalEngineeringNerd>
OF COURSE (he says while pushing his glasses back up on the bridge of his nose), you really don't want to make a habit of drinking 100% pure water. Very small doses are fine, but consuming 100% pure water in "normal" amounts will literally kill you by causing a significant imbalance in the osmotic pressure in the cells of your brain. So let's modify this item a little bit to say that it leaves enough dissolved minerals in the water to make it safe to drink in normal quantities.
</ChemicalEngineeringNerd>

Chalice of Continual Water -- Another water-providing item, this is a glass that, when tilted, pours drinkable water at a slow rate. You could leave it tilted in someone's bathroom as a prank while they were away on vacation.

Torch of Continual Fire -- A magical torch that provides light and warmth. Each torch starts with 1000 charges, and each charge lasts 2 hours. So that's almost three months of continuous use. It mentions that the tip of the torch that provides the light and warmth never actually heats up, so I'm not sure how they would interact with the phlogiston.

Antennae of Triangulation -- Have your space D&D games been marked by a distinct lack of 3D radar? These items will correct that problem! The Antennae are large objects 20 feet (6m) or more in length, and often look like actual insect antennae. You mount 'em on your ship somewhere and then convince one of your crew (the helmsman, most likely) to wear the accompanying Helmet of Liason. The Helmet provides the wearer a mental picture of everything larger than eight feet (2.4 meters) anywhere within 10,000 yards (0.9km) of the ship, in any direction. Pricing starts at 55,000 gp, and that's if they really like you.

One notes that it's not the ship, but the Antennae, which is the locus of the Helmet's info.

One wonders if the Antennae could be mounted anywhere (on the side of a fortress, say) and the Helmet thus used for spying purposes.

Bracers of Invulnerability -- These bracers transform the wearer into Unus the Untouchable. Whoever wears these bracers cannot be harmed by any weapon. But, on the flip side, they can't harm anybody else either. And they can't eat or drink anything. Nor can they touch anything. Apparently air molecules can get through because the description doesn't mention asphyxiation. And one presumes that basic light can get through so that the wearer can see. Aside from that, however, these bracers cut you completely off from the rest of the universe.

In NetHack, these would generate cursed 95% of the time.

Sails of Maneuverability -- Magical sails you can run up the rigging to increase the maneuverability of your ship.

Plate Mail of Continual Cleanliness -- This is an item specific to the leader of The Gauntlet (adventuring company mentioned upthread). It is a magical suit of +2 Plate Mail that has additional spells layered on it to keep it permanently shiny and blemish free. Sought out by Paladins who worship Marie Kondo.

Rod of Blind Walking -- If your PCs rescue the blind drow wizard mentioned in the adventure hooks above, he will have one of these. It gives the user a psychic sense of where nearby objects are in space, allowing them to navigate around obstacles while walking.

Masthead of Durability -- This is the thing that holds the mast onto the ship. This is a magical version, though, and renders the mast itself completely indestructible. So other ships that come in for a shearing attack to try and break the indestructible mast are in for a nasty surprise (not to mention a huge hole in their hull).

Mage Shot -- Cannon ammo, this comes in two forms: Warp Shot, which actually warps the wood of the ship on impact (thus rendering it unsafe for water landings), and Shrapnel Shot, which is basically anti-personnel grenades.

Lyre of the Spheres -- This magical instrument takes the guesswork out of leaving the sphere and entering the phlogiston. Non-bards can use it to locate the nearest existing portal leading out of the crystals shell. Bards can use it to create a brand new portal in the crystal shell.

Elmarin Cannon Call -- Elmarin are wildspace critters that look and act like intelligent fireballs. They flit around setting rigging on fire and generally making nuisances of themselves. Elmarin Cannon Call are cannonballs that will summon 1d10 elmarin upon impact with a ship's hull. (It doesn't say how hard you have to hit the hull, so be careful moving them around!)

Magical Armaments -- This is just a list of how much it would cost to acquire magical versions of mundane spelljammer ship weapons (e.g. a +2 Medium Ballista would run you 12,000 gp, a +3 Heavy Catapult would cost you 40,000 gp, and so on.)


Final analysis: Some neat stuff here, some "meh" stuff here. I like the Masthead of Durability the most, personally. The Antennae of Triangulation seems like it really ought to be a Gnomish invention.
 
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Davies

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The nation of Wa in distant Kara-Tur is the only nation that uses these items. They are theoretically worth 3000gp, but they're also a state secret so any member of the Wa nation (Wanites? Waonians?) who actually sold one would be guilty of high treason.
Since Wa is an ersatz Japan, I suspect Wajin is the correct term.
 

Dalillama

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So let's modify this item a little bit to say that it leaves enough dissolved minerals in the water to make it safe to drink in normal quantities.
Don't be silly. You get those when you cut it half and half with the strongest available liquor and add a jigger of lime juice.
 

DarkMoc

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Mage Shot -- Cannon ammo, this comes in two forms: Warp Shot, which actually warps the wood of the ship on impact (thus rendering it unsafe for water landings), and Shrapnel Shot, which is basically anti-personnel grenades.
Dragon #159 had a different version of Mage Shot, which was a hollow sphere that a potion could be poured into that would affect the struck ship, although some are enchanted with spells that don't match known potions. The three Mage Shot in the article are Shatter Shot, Skunk Shot, and Termite Shot. All of them are sized for light catapults.

War Captain's Companion adds Snow Shot, Dust Shot, and Ring Shot.
 
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