RPGs That Time Forgot... Wildspace

Tag Line: none (for 4 to 6 characters of 6th to 8th level)
Makers: TSR Inc. for AD&D 2nd Edition's Spelljammer setting

What is it?
The first adventure module for AD&D's Spelljammer setting, which basically crosses the usual fantasy tropes with space opera. The adventure provides a jumping on point for characters already evolving in the World of Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms, providing a way to keep adventuring in the space lanes after it's over. The story features what is billed as the largest dungeon ever, a hollowed out giant asteroid with massive rooms that are worlds unto themselves... but there may be more to it than that. 64 pages.

Neat Stuff
-For those who love cross-genre (and I do), Spelljammer is a pretty cool idea, surprising well integrated to the AD&D universe, and in fact connecting the various worlds together. The fantasy physics are fun, the "aliens" well cast (Mind Flayers and Beholders definitely have that B-movie vibe), and the ship designs are nice and varied.
-The adventure starts with an anchor dropping from the sky, a dramatic introduction for already established characters.
-It's epic. Not only do the PCs deal with a whole new universe, the ending is HUGE and important.
-The full-color map that comes with Wildspace does an excellent job of presenting the asteroid in three dimensions. An industrious GM with a scanner could even recreate the giant rooms as cardboard "dice".
-I like how each section of the adventure includes Staging notes to get the atmosphere right, and Troubleshooting for when the characters do the less expected. When the sandbox is that big, you should be expecting it.

Bad Stuff
-The art. Aside from some nice looking covers, Spelljammer had flat, boring art and layouts across the line, especially compared to its cousins, Ravenloft and Planescape, and their incredibly evocative artwork and design. Actually dull enough to reduce my interest in the setting considerably.
-The mystery of the "Hive" is presented in a series of murals, described but not pictured. When I played it, I had to create the murals myself (pretty sketchily, I admit). Such a integral part of the plot should have been pictured on the gatefold.
-The title. You do not go into Wildspace in this adventure (which is the space between solar systems).

"The Hive asteroid measures about ten miles in diameter. The chambers inside, though, total about 300 square miles in area!"

How I've used it
Because of its cross-genre element, I converted and used it for a Dream Park game. I cut it down a little, because I don't like my DP scenarios to go over two sessions, using the chambers I liked best, and simply putting them where the characters were choosing to go before the "countdown" made things happen and locked the other rooms. The NPCs were easy to characterize thanks to the animal traits mentioned in their descriptions, and the game offered various types of challenges, from battles to puzzles to mysteries. Even getting up that anchor had to be figured out. All Dream Park games need to introduce their "rules" very early on, and Wildspace does this. So as an introduction to the setting, it works quite well.

In conclusion
Though there's nothing wrong with starting 1st level characters in Spelljammer, there's a lot to be said for opening up the world later. Start small, local, etc., and then this bloody big anchor falls from the sky and blows your mind. Wildspace not only offers a sound introduction, but a ship and crew the PCs can inherit if they want to keep adventuring (even part-time) in the expanded world of Spelljammer.

Anyone else ever play it or run it?

More reviews that time forgot


Donny_the_DM said...

Spelljammer was the SHIT!

I hope it makes a comeback...it didn't make a whole lot of sense, but that just made it more enjoyable!

IT got me into playing Dragonstar which is similar, a fantasy space opera, but spelljammers were inferred to be only used by low-tech worlds that couldn't afford real high-tech.

Thanks for the nostalgia :)


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