Groundlings have no idea, but any spelljamming adventurer worth his salt knows the universe is huge! Let Practical Planetology open new possibilities for your AD&D SPELLJAMMER campaign.
Herein find fifteen unique planets, exotic and mysterious, ripe for plunder or other less profitable adventures. Weigh anchor at the air world Alabeth, and float with marooned elves atop their massive holbags. Visit the mithril dragons of Radole who ride the hot thermals over lakes of molten tin. Endure the searing flames of the efreeti city on Ignia, or swim among the island necrocracies – nations of undead from a destroyed planet – on Charon.
These and other bizarre worlds of adventure await you in Practical Planetology, along with beasts native to them, eleven new monsters in all. All you’ll need is a ship, a helm, and a star to steer them by!
Practical Planetology contains material suitable for characters of any level.
SJR4: “Practical Planetology”, by Nigel Findley, is the fourth of the Spelljammer Reference books. It was released in July 1991.
Continuing the “SJR” Series. The first three “SJR” reference books were a pretty disparate collection. SJR1: “Lost Ships” (1990) was a motley collection of crunch and adventures, SJR2: “Realmspace” (1991) was a setting book connected one of TSR’s major planetside settings, and SJR3: “Spelljammer Dungeon Master’s Screen” (1991) was an accessory.
“Practical Planetology” was the line’s second setting reference (of a sort), and this would be the major type of accessory published through the “SJR” series in the future. However, rather than connecting Spelljammer to one of TSR’s planetside setting, like “Realmspace” did, “Practical Planetology” instead stayed entirely within the realms of Wildspace, detailing 15 different planets of all types.
Adventure Tropes. Each of the planets in “Practical Planetology” receives extensive detail and also comes complete with a set of adventure hooks. It’s an interesting variation on the much more tactical “Books of Lairs” that TSR was producing, expanded to a larger, strategic scale.
Expanding Wildspace. Previous to the publication of “Practical Planetology”, Spelljammer had focused on: the Radiant Triangle of Greyhawk, Krynn, and the Realms; the Rock of Bral; and one-off crystal spheres found in adventures. “Practical Planetology” could have been the book book that connected everything up.
But, as was continually the case throughout the Spelljammer line, that didn’t happen. Instead “Practical Planetology” was another toolkit, and GMs were told to use the various planets as they saw fit. Some of the planets here do reappear in the Spelljammer novels, particularly in The Broken Sphere (1993), also by Nigel Findley. However, they wouldn’t be seen again in the Spelljammer adventures and sourcebooks.
Monsters of Note. Alongside its 15 planets, “Practical Planetology” also contains lots of new monsters. A few are particularly notable.
The fiery azer make their first appearance since the Monster Manual II (1983), a decade previous. They would become more popular in D&D 3e (2000-2008) days
The mithril dragon makes its first and only appearance; it’s somewhat surprising that this popular metal hasn’t been used since.
Finally, the infamous tarrasque makes one of their half-dozen or so appearances in AD&D (1977-2000) days. In fact, there’s a planet that contains a few hundred tarrasque, making it the biggest get together ever for the otherwise unique entity.
Future History. SJR5: “Rock of Bral” (1992) is a nice companion to this book, because together they contain all of the major references to the unique locale of Wildspace.
Later on, Spelljammer got a proper book of lairs at the very end of the line in SJR8: “Space Lairs” (1993).
About the Creators. Findley was at the height of his freelancing career in 1991-1992. That same year he also wrote extensively for FASA, Mayfair, and West End Games, and contributed to a number of TSR lines, including Ravenloft and XXVc.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons – a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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