The Cosmonomicon: Spelljammer + Dragonstar + 5th Edition D&D

Another post on some cool Spelljammer stuff I found the web a while ago. Jordan Short over at The Mox Boarding House has written up a cool mashup of Spelljammer with Dragonstar, and given advice on how to run it in 5th edition. It strips down a lot of the stuff blogging down both Spelljammer and Dragonstar, mostly edition-specific rules that neither are really enhanced by, and makes a pretty cool setting out of it, known as The Cosmonomicon.

For those that don’t know:

Spelljammer was a 1st and 2nd edition AD&D setting that took D&D into space, and let you fly ships from one campaign setting to the next using magically enchanted boats. It never really caught on, due to how strange it was, and, likely, due to a lot of rules and bookkeeping related to the flying ships and spellcasting in space. Mostly though, I think it was how strange it was, an odd mashup of swashbuckling, D&D and planar travel. There was also a Shadows of the Spider Moon article in Polyhedron magazine that attempted to update things to 3rd edition with a new setting.

Dragonstar was one of the setting that came out in the rush of 3rd party products after the OGL came out and was mostly lost in the rush (The company killing Living Dragonstar didn’t help.) It added a lot of Science Fiction elements to D&D, and made the players trying to exist on the edges of the Draconic Empire, right after a red dragon took the throne and has begun sending out his orc legions and drow secret police. This gives a very Star Wars + D&D type vibe that I find really cool.

The Cosmonomicon takes the Dragon Empire from Dragonstar, some setting bits from Shadows of the Spider Moon, removes the technology from Dragonstar and replaces it with Spelljammer’s flying ships. It doesn’t have all the details from Spelljammer (no crystal spheres or such), but I think that enhances things and removes a lot of the unnecessary complications. He also gives some useful details for playing in the setting in 5th edition.

I encourage you to check this setting out and enjoy: I think I’ll be borrowing some of this if I ever run a Spelljammer game. As a note to my readers: these posts on Spelljammer material are being shared to Wildspace: The Spelljammer Fanzine, which is something you should check out.

Until next time, stay geeky

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for pointing this out!

    • Welcome: I really like Spelljammer, and it seems to be making a fan comeback after years of a dying mailing list and rarely updated

  2. For me it’s a bit like Planscape: great to read, even greater to let your imagination soar… but even after nearly 30 years of gamemastering it seems just damn demanding to master.

    Honestly… I would say it scares me a bit to give it a try. Even though – after dropping 5e for my typical fantasy campaign because of several issues I do have with the system – maybe the new edition of D&D is jsut the right one for a a dash into the spelljammer space.

    Thx for pointing this one out!

    • Glad you like it! Let me know if you give it a try, and sorry it took me so long to approve your comment.

  3. I’m a fellow Canuck AND a fellow Spelljammer fan! Bam! Certainly various elements of Spelljammer mechanics can– and maybe should– be tinkered with and seasoned to taste. Those that gave up on the setting because they didn’t like crystal spheres, giff, or giant space hamsters missed the boat; it’s so easy to do a bit of a make over and you have such a great vehicle for endless adventures linking any and all settings under the sun.

    I read over some Dragonstar material and was rather underwhelmed. The only thing that strikes me as salvageable is the concept of a draconic empire.

    I’m sold on the idea of fusing the Planescape and Spelljammer multiverses together as Loki on Obsidian Portal has done. Those campaign journals his players have wrote are better than published novels!

    Glad I found your blog! Cheers!

    • I never liked Planescape. Too high level, too many gods and powerful demons and things. I always thought gods and demons should be basically myths, stuff you heard about or saw in statues in temples but could never be encountered. Spelljammer was a cool way to do planes that someone of any level could do, the everyman’s planar travel. Also, it avoided a lot of the messy concepts like infinite planes.

      I didn’t actually read most of the Dragonstar stuff in detail, just some preview articles. I thought the concepts of Spellware, blending SF and D&D and the draconic empires and such all seemed useful, but I can’t speak to the execution.

      • Yeah, the planes present a lot of issues. I don’t like the idea of “infinite planes” as it makes things generally unmanageable and random. I was thinking using a cosmology that addresses that somehow. Still thinking.

        Preserving the flavour of the age of sail whilst traveling between worlds cannot be beat. Hopefully I can get a campaign going in the near future.

        • I liked a lot of the setting bits, but the rules always felt very old school, weird stuff written on the back of former stuff, bleh to me. For example, all the rules involving contacting gods in other spheres.

          I’d be very interested in reading what you do with it; if you want to write it up I’d be more then happy to host it here if you don’t blog, or put you in touch with the people behind the Wildspace Fanzine blog.

          Oh, and where in Canada are you? I’m in Vancouver these days, though from Ontario.

  4. I have most of my re-engineered Spelljammer material split between a Word doc and Evernote, and really should get on with polishing it up and making a slick PDF. Content includes my take on crystal spheres and the phlogiston, portals, the greater universe, etc, in addition to tweaks to physics and mechanics, such as helms, sails, gravity, ship to ship combat, and so on. Developing a much wider range of interplanetary phenomena was also a goal of mine in terms of the wildspace environment, drawn mostly from my amateur astronomy interests. That said, it’s all fantasy and not a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid, something I’m not really interested in. There is some steampunk type elements present in low quantities, but not detracting from the “age of sail” theme. So that’s the preview I suppose!

    You are kind to offer assistance hosting this dog’s breakfast! I have no idea when I might get down to the serious business of finishing it up however, but I’ll keep in touch on it for sure. I was thinking I might like to start a blog, but don’t know a thing about it!

    I live in Spruce Grove, Alberta (just outside Edmonton), but I work east of Lloydminster on the Saskatchewan side.

    • Cool, I’ve got a lot of family near Calgary, and some up in Edmonton.

      Actually, you know a better place to host it? would be a good permanent home. That said, I’d love to read it over, and what you describe sounds really cool.

  5. I’m the original author of the Cosmonomicon post at the Mox website. When they redid their website my posts, including this one, were removed. I retained ownership of the articles I wrote for them and have been reposting some of them including recently reposting the Cosmonomicon article.

    • Thank you for letting me know! I’ve updated the link. Sorry it took so long to do this, I really don’t blog that much anymore.

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