Old Ideas for a Spelljammer clone
So these are ideas I had for a Spelljammer like game using either Fate or Swords and Wizardry. Though these don’t reflect my ideas for the B/X Spelljammer game I’ve been considering, they are still somewhat interesting, and likely to be exploited for ideas in whatever game I do eventually run.
Because Typographic ligatures are the new rock dots!
“The dusky skinned alchemist Dak looked over the bow of the Elens Fear, deep into the æther, as if simply wanting one would bring the current that would save their lives. Picking up a crew of cannibalistic pink men from the hollow world was a mistake, not replacing the ships ailing homunculus was a mistake, letting that good for nothing sla’ak Benjami con you into becoming his naturalist in the first place was just folly. Even if he could gather enough blood from the crew to perform the transmutation, he still wouldn’t have the proper ingredients for a new homunculus. All Dak could do was wait, and keep an eye on the crew, and hope a wind will blow them to some safe harbor before the Homunculus returns to his base elements, because none of them would live more than an hour trying to breathe æther…”
I’ve always been fond of spaceships, not the standard sci-fi kind (which also rock) but magically endowed spacefaring nautical vessels. I was always a little disappointed with some of the design decisions behind Spelljammer (the only game in this vein I was aware of). Spelljamming helms either mean a useless PC or a meaningless NPC, and there are too many concessions to the existing D&D material (which Spelljammer was intended to interlink).
So here are my ideas, presented as a list that I’ll flesh out when I get some people interested in running it:
- Space is filled with alchemically reactive Æther.
- A special type of Homunculus, called a dreamer, is made by combining pieces of many races to create a short, pointy eared, magically active human.
- Dreamers exist in a constant dream state, and the magical bits used in their construction allows the dream state to extend beyond their mind.
- With a dreamer bonded to the ship the æther surrounding the ship is breathable, and gravity works as expected.
- The galaxy is filled with fantastic planets, stars, and systems that don’t follow the laws of nature as we understand them.
- Lots of Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired planets, color-coded humans and non-human things. Bits of Vance, hints of Lovecraft.
- Ships float because of alchemically treated float-wood, ships sail on ætheric currents.
- Weird Magic, Lots of Alchemy, bio-transmuted body-mods.
- Likely Fate Core based, to play up the fantastic narrative elements. Atmosphere trumps crunch. It should feel like your playing a 70’s record cover.
- Alchemy uses Lore to figure out what to do, Resources to get the right stuff, and Crafts to create potions, powders, enchanted things, creatures, and so forth.
- The “Mother Worlds” are geographically divergent earth knockoffs with human-like inhabitants. They are major centers of trade and the source of the materials necessary to create a dreamer. Also why dreamers create earth like atmospheres and gravity.
- Earthling is an honorable title on most worlds with a spoken language. Generally attributed to a great prehistoric star faring civilization which disappeared long ago.
This would actually be alot of fun to flesh out fully, maybe after my jobhunt ends I can spend some time on it.
Legend holds that the 12 Mother-worlds once governed the galaxy in the Age of Earthling Heroes. In these times only the location of 7 Motherworlds is known, and only six of those are inhabited. Each of the Mother-worlds was made as much like the home world of the Earthlings as possible, with a single large moon, a stable sun, and a surface of continents and sea. Of the 12 the currently known worlds are:
Terra the Imperial
Earth the Rebellious
Gaia the Vain
Kishar the Holy
Cel the wild
Coaticue the Impenetrable
Yer Tanri the Dead
The people who live on the inhabited Mother-worlds mostly resemble the Earthling hero’s who’s bloodlines they share. There are four Mother-world races, and many more ethnic groups within those races. The races are as follows:
Terrans – The people of Terra founded an empire which at one time colonized Earth, naming it for the Earthling home world, and the more distant world of Gaia. War separated Earth from Terra, and practicality has given Gaia home rule as a subject of the Terran empire. The Terran Empire is in fact a coalition of Sultanates who’s rulers share power under the figurehead of an emperor. The ruling ethnicity of Terra are fair to swarthy skinned and have almond eyes and are the most widely known of Terra’s people, genetic drift on the Mother-world Colonies has resulted in Earthers being known for dark (almost black) skin and “Afro-textured hair“, and Gaians being known for fair skin and round eyes, but these are just broad trends, and the entire range of appearances is known on all three worlds.
Kisharans – Resembling petite Terrans with metalic skin tones, the people of Kishar enjoy “The Ageless Blessing of Kishar”. A Kisharan only ages to an apparent age of 23, then remaining so for another 60 years, and then aging slowly until their “death” between 108-120 years. When a Kisharan dies, and is not particularly mutilated, its body dissolves to reveal a multi-winged angelic form which ascends beyond the atmosphere of their world to take up residence in one of the many rings surrounding their sun, called the blessed choirs. These “Angels” seem mindless and without interest in mortal affairs, mouthing soundless songs and basking in the rays of their sun perpetually. The entire Kisharan population is concentrated on an equatorial band of small continents and large islands, with the non-equatorial regions remaining wild.
Cel – Cel is known for its Amazon kingdoms and its savage Ape-like men. On Cel the women resemble tall sturdily built Terran women, whereas the men resemble Homo habilis. On Cel only womankind has retained sapience, and through Alchemy they have even liberated themselves of the burdens associated with pregnancy and childbirth. On Cel a woman may chose to have an Alchemist-priestess transfer her unborn offspring to some surrogate beast (cattle, swine, and goats are common), this beast is protected and tended to on the temple grounds until the child is born. Male children are kept in the cities until puberty, at which time they are released near one of the Male bands. Girls are kept and raised in the ways of the women of Cel. Since regaining contact with Galactic society many of Cels women have sought out the intelligent men of other races, but the male children of such unions seem to retain the animal savagery of Cels men.
Coaticue – Little is known of Coaticue as a world, although the Coaticans are a major trade power in the field of luxury agricultural goods. The world safely remains a secret, as without the skills of a Coatican navigator one cannot get past the shell of free moving objects that surround the world. The tan skinned dark haired Coaticans leave their world in their signature clippers to trade from their second moon, a hollowed out sphere almost as large as their true “Mother-world moon”, it is on Coaticue that most of the Galaxies float-wood is grown.
Yer Tanri – is a dead world beneath a shattered moon. The moon forms a small cluster of large objects and a thin partial ring around the world, which is barren of all life with the exception of a few hideouts established by pirates over the years. These hideouts rely on external sources of food, and the services of a bonded Dreamer Homunculus to retain any kind of atmosphere.
The mother worlds are not the only inhabited worlds by any means, the galaxy is full of strange and wonderful worlds of almost every shape, size, and nature. The men of other worlds come in strange shapes, colors, and alien natures. I’ll cover a few of the more important worlds in another post, as well as some details about Ætherspace alchemy.