For every exquisite fantasy setting, there’s a cohort of fans who just wish for a bit more science fiction. After all, if you have aliens, spaceships, and interstellar aberrations, what’s not to love about the setting? All too often, though, Dungeon Masters are put in the unenviable position of needing to build the structure for these rules themselves, doing their best to construct rules, settings, and character options that bring the science fiction elements to life. These DMs can rejoice now, as D&D 5e has introduced Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, a collection of resources. There are a total of three books, a DM’s screen, a storage sleeve, and a map, which work in concert to bring all of the new systems to life. The Spelljammer books include a new players’ reference called Astral Adventurer’s Guide, a new monster manual called Boo’s Astral Managerie, and the adventure titled Light of Xaryxis. The package comes in two bundles with different art, but they include the same content. Let’s break down what you can find in each reference.
Astral Adventurer’s Guide
This tome is designed to give players all new options for creating space-faring heroes. With new backgrounds, feats, races, locations, and rules for traversing space, there’s a lot to unpack. Players can use the entire tome, or stick to the first chapter if they aren’t going to be Spelljamming.
There’s a lot in the character options section of this reference. Starting with two new backgrounds, Astral Drifter and Wildspacer, players can now design characters who are denizens of the vast territories of space, including the Astral Sea and the Wildspace. Next are the updated rules for character creation that add flexibility to the rules presented in the Player’s Handbook. The last part of the first chapter is packed with six new races: Astral Elf, Autognome, Giff, Hadozee, Plasmoid, and Thri-kreen. These options grant players more “alien” characters, along with new racial abilities that give any setting more diversity.
The second section is titled “Astral Adventuring” and explains the many new rules for navigating, fishing, fighting, and living in space. Because Spelljaming ships are fit for combat and come in many varieties, there are 16 unique Spelljaming ships depicted, complete with weapons, floorplans, speed, cargo space, crew size, and even purchase cost. After all, if you’re going to traverse the Astral Sea, you might want to do it in style, with economy, or with evasive capabilities in mind.
The third section of the book is titled “The Rock of Bral,” and is a complete-ish guide for players and DMs to learn about the setting of the same name. While this section explains a great many things, not everything on the (included) maps is detailed, leaving room for DMs and players to flesh the world out to their liking.
The last notable feature is the removable map of The Rock of Bral. One side depicts the Topside, or the top plane of the asteroid. Here you will find the urban developments including a city, theater, library, arena, and various markets. The other side of the map is the Underside, primarily featuring farmland and more natural landscapes. But for visitors to The Rock of Bral, it would be wise to remember that maps tell very few stories, and there is much to learn by visiting these places directly.
Boo’s Astral Menagerie
The Menagerie is a 64-page reference similar to the Monster Manual core rulebook. There are 72 unique stat blocks, along with encounter charts to roll on if you need inspiration, and rules for turning any creature in the Monster Manual into an Astral Variant of that creature. The kinds of creatures you can find include Miniature Giant Space Hamsters, like the legendary Boo; Dohwar, the penguinfolk fey merchants; Dragons, including Lunar and Solar variants; and my personal favorite, Murder Comets. For a more heavenly experience, there are many new Celestial creatures, and for a more hellish vibe, new monstrosities and aberrations abound.
Dungeon Master’s Screen
Unlike most DM screens, the Spelljammer: Adventures in Space DM screen has new material on all four panels. This reflects the fact that there are many new rules and systems to keep track of. Thankfully, with the aid of the DM screen, most critical information is still at the DM’s fingertips, ready to spur the adventure into a whole new realm of intrigue, combat, and power.
Light of Xaryxis
This adventure starts at level 5, and can take place in any D&D setting. Players who have never traveled the void of space will get introductions to ideas like Spacejamming—the piloting of a spaceship—alien and astral creatures, and even travel to the near-mythical city on The Rock of Bral. This adventure will progress characters to 9th level upon completing it, and includes challenges for every type of player character. This means there’s something for everyone to do, whether it’s practicing diplomacy, smashing in heads, or navigating the streets of foreign cities or the magical pathways of the Wildspace.
The Alternate Art Option
There is, as usual, a limited edition of this resource with an alternative art cover for each book, and alternate art on the sleeve and DM’s screen. For the Astral Adventurer’s Guide, instead of featuring a nautiloid, the cover features a Giff wearing a monocle and smoking a pipe on the front, with crossed pistols on the back. On Boo’s Astral Menagerie, instead of showing Minsc and Boo flying through Wildspace, the front cover is a stylized Boo, and the back features a cosmic horror. For Light of Xaryxis, instead of featuring Prince Xeleth, the front cover features Princess Xedalli on the front, and the symbol of the Xaryxian Empire is featured in a stylized frame on the back. There’s even an alternate art version of the Dungeon Master’s screen featuring a slightly simpler design showcasing Spelljamming ships and a few of the new creatures. Finally, the sleeve features each of the three cover characters together: Boo, a Giff, and Princess Xedalli.
The Spelljammer: Adventures in Space three-book resource includes new character options, settings, monsters, an adventure, and a new Dungeon Master’s screen. There’s a default art option and an alternate art option, which is typically only available at your Friendly Local Game Store, but sometimes can be found on Amazon. These four references allow players to build out-of-this-world characters while giving the DM the necessary tools to move their adventures off-world and into the previously unknown places of the universe. Notably, all three books are needed to play together, and they are not available for individual sale. The bundle makes an exceptional purchase, or gift, for anyone who wants more science fiction in their fantasy setting for Dungeons and Dragons.