What I’d Like to See Published

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Credit to The SpellJammer Blog at WordPress.com (seems to be abandoned)

I know, I know. Many people have already created a conversion to SpellJammer in 5e. There’s Nerdarchy, the WorstDM, and the D&D wiki. What I want to see is what Mike Mearls and the crew at WOTC come up with.

As a person that likes older games, it may seem odd that I want it in 5e. I think I really want to see the art. Selfishly, I’ve also found that I can retro anything 5e back to The Black Hack fairly easily. I don’t know why.

D20SpelljammerDungeon92

I own this issue of Polyhedron, but it seemed to change everything too much. The Storykeepers were cool, but the whole effort felt off somehow. I promise that it wasn’t due to the missing space hamsters. The reason was that Spelljammer was no longer the void that connected all the game worlds. It was its own setting. Each race had its own planet.( Granted, I thought it was very clever in how certain races developed their outlook on life.) There was no mention of the crystal spheres.

Maybe the reason was that I wasn’t a true d20 player that was comfortable with feats and prestige classes. Anything that said “requires x feat” would make my eyes glaze over.

Shift of Gears

James Spahn once told me that he created White Star because of his love for Spelljammer. I love White Star and had a group for several months chasing ancient aliens, strange AIs, and a ship named Beyonce. I made my own classes based on Dune, the Fifth Element and the Algebraist. A great game that is loads of fun. I even introduced a friend to RPGs through White Star.

White Star, however, is straight-up space opera. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it to be anything like Spelljammer. It shouldn’t have been that hard, but I couldn’t separate the implied setting from the game. (My shortcoming, not James’). Returning to my central theme, what I want to see published is something like Calidar and Wyrmstone, with the interconnectedness of Spelljammer. Throw in a dash of Space 1889, too.

Do You Have Enough Links?

No, not yet.

Calidar uses magical oil for propulsion, but also features solar sails. Wyrmstone uses crystals formed in dragon bones to hop between worlds. Space 1889 uses liftwood and ether screws. Spelljammers, of course, used great artifact-like thrones. Thinking through these possibilities leads me to one question:

What if there were magical and non-magical ways to fly in fantasy space?

Let’s just say that there are areas of the void where magic works normally, magic doesn’t work at all, and magic works unreliably. Resources in a non-magic area would be highly prized in magical areas because their ships couldn’t reach it. Although non-magical ships can travel anywhere, magical ships have the overwhelming advantage of increasing velocity near-instantly. This keeps force in the different areas from attacking each other in their respective homeworlds.

With a variety of different ships and means of travel, our adventurers would be famous for using many of them.

Spelljammer Obviously Wasn’t Kitchen Sink Enough for You

Bear with me, I’m getting to it.

What I really want to see published is a rule light-ish system that feels like Spelljammer. Rules light means that you don’t worry about facing in ship combat. Rules light-ish means that there are player options that are just a bit fiddly.

Making a ship would be similar to the steps in this post that balance cost, mass, and thrust to make a ship. I’d have to include rules for solar sails.

Combat would be similar to White Star, which is to say similar to personal combat. If someone were to use, say the Black Hack, combat could be the same as both use damage reduction to represent the affect of using shields.

Classes would include the standard fantasy ones, plus a couple different pilot types.

The ships would not be allowed to be any form of galleon or Ship of the Line. Dragon Skeletons, sounds great. Ancient tree with a massive crystalline heart, bring it on. Small wooden diamond-shaped ship that explores the outer reaches of known worlds, awesome.

More than that, though, there would need to be the Crystalline Spheres or something similar. There would need to be settings to connect. Maybe Basic Fantasy’s Glain Campaign? Dolemwood? The world of Slumbering Ursine Dunes? (You gotta have space bears.) Anomalous Subsurface Environment?

Conclusion

Maybe I just near the potential to go to these places. After all, that is what Spelljammer really represented for me. The players never went to my Space 1889 sphere or my John Carpenter of Mars sphere or my Battletech sphere. They did make it to one of my fantasy worlds along with Dragonlance, Greyhawk, and the Forgotten Realms.

This leads me back to 5e Spelljammer. Maybe the reason it won’t work right now is that there is only the Forgotten Realms right now. Without a 5e Greyhawk, Eberron, Dragonlance, or other world, a 5e Spelljammer would be missing the most important thing.

The only way to truly escape to another place.

What I Would Like to be Playing Now

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Taking a cue from S. John Ross’ Google+ post, I plan to be flexible with the RPG a Day questions from time to time.

I would like to be playing TSR’s Marvel Super Hero game again. While working on The Red Concordant, I re-discovered my love for this game. I only played it once in college, but I’ll never forget it. I would like to say that I was a master of the rules, but I wasn’t. Fact is that I floundered my way through our adventure. I was the tank of the group relishing in spending Karma points to obliterate cars, chunks of buildings, and alien robots. You see, I didn’t need to spend the points, but I wanted to have the highest success possible. My dream was to be have Shift-Eleventy Billion Endurance to take down cosmic threats like Ego, the sentient planet.

If I were to play again, I would be a magic wielding character. In studying the magic system again, I noticed that even the weakest wizard would have guaranteed spell effects. One example is Alteration – Appearance. With this spell, you could also change your face and appearance to be someone else with a similar face and build. Anything beyond this required a roll. I read this to mean that I could change my hair color, add a small scar, change clothes, and/or freckles and not require a roll. I figure that it is the easiest way to maintain a secret identity. I cast Alteration – Appearance as a means to get into costume. Presto! I change my hair, add a birthmark, and change eye color to keep from being easily recognized in my normal form.

As I improved my magical abilities, my costume would become more wild. It would require a roll, but if my character has really improved, it shouldn’t be too difficult to change height, have freakishly blue skin, scales, and/or a tail.

Yes, I use and/or frequently.

Maybe I could transform into Mogo one day and challenge Ego to a duel…

Anyway, I would love to play this classic game again. There is a facebook group that loves the game. I believe they play online on Mondays. (Need to check.) As I can’t do Mondays right now, so playing will have to remain a dream.

Wait Five Minutes

Another game that I’d love to play is Microscope. I would really love to play this game. I read history and love many of Turtedove’s alternate histories. I know almost nothing about this game except that you and a bunch of friends make an epic history thousands of years long. The part of me that loves the next big shiny would seldom get tired of generating multiple epics.

This is the Flexible Part

What I’d really like to do is play both of these games. If Marvel can have mutants from Ancient Egypt, I can have an epic history with the rise and fall of supers. Who knows what the other players would generate. A primitive supers society falls to the dinosaurs? Neanderthals had mental psi powers that could counter supers making it so that modern humans with some Neanderthal DNA are collected together in an underground school to learn to fight supervillans? Magic is a force that rises and falls to meet the threat of mutants? Would there be any mutants at all?

Once the world is defined throughout history, generating characters to fit into this history becomes easier. This magic wielding person? She would fit in the world’s Middle Ages where magic ran high and an organized college of wizards hunted so-called monsters. A tank? A dinosaur killer fighting to keep an ancient civilization from destruction. Modern times could have just about anyone with teams of Neanderthal descendants, regular humans with super-tech, cosmic enemies that unite the various factions of supers, etc.

So my short answer is that I would like to play two games. Microscope to set up playing FASERIP.

Excuse me while I go read the books again.

Epilogue

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I would probably use Zak’s house rule to use 3d20 instead of the resolution chart. Don’t get me wrong, I love the chart. It’s art! However, as I get older, I really enjoy hearing the rolling of dice for everything.

Until next time, true believers…