GameJoy: GM Advice: Spelljammer but it’s 2022 (Part 2)

In part one of this blog series I detailed the PC’s in my impromptu Spelljammer campaign who’d be adventuring across wild space. To be honest, updating and adapting the rules of Spelljammer using D&D 5e and Weird on the Waves took longer than expected. It lives as a collection of pen scribbles on sticky notes at the moment.

So while I work at writing them down as a blog post, I thought I’d share the space setting I came up with for my players to adventure in, as well as the premise of their first adventure together.

Enter the Aphelion Vale

Light years away from the known spaces of the material plane is a crystal sphere containing a large nebula with a wide trinary stellar system. The main star is the size of earth’s, which oscillates with its smaller twin. 12 small planetoids orbit these stars at odd rotations and angles. Very few of them are habitable to human-like life. Far from it orbits two much smaller stars, around which is a large oort cloud and a single planetoid wreathed in shadow.

All these bodies are suffused in a colorful nebulae, filled with elemental motes, asteroid fields, and prowling ships.

This crystal sphere is incredibly distant and far from the hustle and bustle of the spheres where most adventures take place. As such, humans are a rarity, and far realm creatures are more common.

There is one spelljammer city, as well as a field of little prince planets that are home to halflings. Most other species and cultures survive on stations or on ships, moving from place to place. It is a land of scavengers, pirates, and ruffians.

But, it is also a place of tremendous beauty and incredible riches for those who are canny, clever, and cutthroat.

Noteworthy Locales in the Aphelion Vale

  • Wayhome, Spelljammer City. Orbiting in a lazy path around the main star of the Aphelion Vale is a small city built on the back of a tremendous spelljamming ship. It’s roughly the size of a luxury cruise liner, but nowhere near as opulent. Wayhome is a refuge for the sphere’s lost and desperate souls looking to escape the harshness of wildspace. It’s a bright light of safety and protection, and those who rule it often employ adventuring sorts to protect and supply it.
  • The Glittering Badlands. A bright and shiny debris field filled with all manner of things: asteroids, tiny planetoids, the wrecks of spelljammers, stealthy pirate vessels, and spaceborne monsters of all shapes and sizes. The Glittering Badlands holds the promise of great riches, but also great risk. Few ships and crews ever return from them. Rumours suggest that crews of predatory goblins stalk the badlands, ambushing any ship that enters, while others believe it to be a confluence of living spells that call this part of the Vale their home.
  • Petitopolis, Halfling Lands. A collection of ‘Little Prince’ style planetoids that a large community of halflings call home among the stars. These small planets are protected by a great guardian spirit, the true identity of which few other than the halflings know. Some believe that it’s an ancient copper dragon, but that’s just folklore. Any who bring good tidings and promise to behave are welcomed into Petitopolis with open arms.
  • Githyanki Stardock. A hollowed out asteroid that a warband of Githyanki calls home. From here they venture into the Vale looking for ships to plunder or Mindflayer nautiloids to attack. The githyanki wage a never ending war against their enemies, the illithids, but they’ll settle for taking you and your ship captive.
  • Neogi Slave Market Asteroid. A wicked place where the spider-like Neogi sell and purchase slaves. Those who meet with a terrible fate among the stars often end up here in bondage. Unscrupulous types may seek out the Neogi for information and specialized weapons. These evil creatures have dominated much of wildspace, and their council can prove useful.
  • The Loveless Fields. An elemental crossing, where elemental plane motes seep out from their native planes into the system. Rogue elementals, efreeti, genies, water weirds, and strange golems can be found here. It’s a perilous place to adventure in but the rewards and riches make it worth it.