Dungeons and Dragons Spelljammer: Adventures In Space is releasing in just a few short days, with a trifecta of adventure, setting, and monster books set to fully revitalise a peculiar DnD world that definitely needed some more time in the suns.
It’s fair to say that we at Wargamer are pretty excited about it, as the space fantasy classic DnD setting of Spelljammer really hasn’t had any major new content to speak of in a couple decades. While you’ll have to wait till next week to read our Spelljammer review, everything we’ve seen so far, from space clowns to proud hippofolk, looks fab. We have high hopes that Spelljammer: Adventures in Space is set to continue the streak of colourful, joyous DnD books started off by Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel.
In general, Wizards of the Coast has a pretty good recent track record when it comes to reviving classic DnD settings, and it certainly seems like a new pastime for the company. 5e Ravenloft was great; we can’t see the new Spelljammer being a total flop; and Dragonlance is scheduled for later this year.
It seems unlikely that after Dragonlance, WotC will just call it a day – not when there are so many brilliant, already thoroughly developed worlds just sitting on the shelves, gathering dust, waiting for a revival.
Since the people at Wizards are bound to keep flipping through the history books for content to spruce up and send out with a fresh lick of paint, we thought it might be helpful to give them a few pointers. These are the classic DnD settings WotC should bring back after Spelljammer.
With its strange creatures and their even stranger philosophies, the setting of Planescape and its central city of Sigil stand apart from the rest of DnD as something experimental, punk, and dare I say artsy. From expanding the system of DnD planes (plus providing an easy way to travel between them), to inventing the Tiefling race, a lot of what we now find in DnD 5e got its start in Planescape.
There are plenty of reasons to bring back Planescape, beyond the fact that it’s a fascinating setting that does something not found anywhere else in DnD right now. For starters, multiverses are very in right now. Well, sort of. Admittedly, Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was mediocre at best, and personally I’m starting to think the MCU is on a ticking clock, but multiverses are still, y’know, in the zeitgeist. And, hey, that Everything, Always, All Over the Place movie was good shit.
The only slight trouble is that a brief description of Planescape – a bunch of worlds for you to travel between, full of strange and interesting folk and threats – looks identical to a brief description of Spelljammer. In fact, Planescape was devised as a replacement to the older setting as it was being phased out by TSR. If Planescape were to come out next, what’s the point of chartering a ship and sailing through the astral sea if you could just pop through a portal instead?
At first glance, it seems like Planescape and Spelljammer might clash too much for Planescape to get a return anytime soon, but perhaps those clever Wizards can find a way to make them complement each other instead.
As we all seem to be hurtling towards our very own apocalypse right now, with the UK officially in a drought and the US a bit on fire, there’s hardly been a better time to bring back Dark Sun and the Burnt World of Athas. True, this setting isn’t quite so far in the past as some, getting a release in 4th edition, but it offers a very different take on the traditional DnD races, as well as a dark, sombre, post-apocalyptic tone that the rest of 5e DnD kind of lacks.
We can’t have every DnD game being a fun romp from tavern to tavern, picking up heaps of treasure on the way – sometimes you’re more in the mood for the kind of game where you have to stab someone over a piece of scrap metal.
On the other hand, this sun-baked setting where almost everyone is struggling to survive, while squabbling over the last few scraps of valuable resources, lorded over by mega-rich sorcerers who care nothing for the plight of everyday folk because they’re too busy trying to turn into dragons, might feel a bit too real these days.
Throwing this one out there as a bit of a rogue choice. Ghostwalk is a pocket-sized setting, centred around a single city, Manifest, which was built at the entrance to the underworld. As well as a neat, cohesive gothic aesthetic, and a lot of undead fun, the smaller scale of Ghostwalk would make it an ideal setting for a beginner DM’s first campaign.
The headline feature of Ghostwalk also seems ideal for newbies, as it handily deals with something that, while some players enjoy it, can be a stumbling block for newcomers: player character death. When a PC dies in Ghostwalk, they can come back right away as a ghost, and there’s all kinds of additional rules for floating around in spectral form. New spells, new classes, the works. Bring back Ghostwalk; I want to haunt someone in DnD!