Thought you’d seen it all when you met the neogi? Threw up your hands in horror at the sight of space barnacles? Well. . . get ready for the giant space hamsters, the symbionts, and lots of other wild and weird Spelljammer campaign monsters!
In this product are some of the most fantastic creatures ever seen ( or not seen, as the case may be), in wildspace or out of it. Yes, there really are giant space hamsters lurking in these pages, as well as whole new races ready for the DM to launch into a Spelljammer campaign. Once again, there are 64 pages of new beasties for your playing enjoyment, 5-hole punched and ready for insertion in your Monstrous Compendium binder. Plus, the great full-color divider pages with identification tabs make it easier to organize your critters.
MC7: “Monstrous Compendium Spelljammer Appendix” (1990), edited by Jeff Grubb, is the seventh of the looseleaf Monstrous Compendiums. It was published in August 1990.
Origins. By the ’90s, an increasing number of D&D projects were being produced by freelancers, which made the “Spelljammer Appendix” unusual: it was instead the cooperative creation of over 20 people at TSR, representing a variety of different departmentsb. The introduction humorously claims:
“But most of all, they were attracted by the idea that the money that would normally be spent for freelance design would go into the Party Fund, so we could throw a few bashes that were more than a bathtub full of soda and some cheese logs.”
Continuing the Spelljammer Line. The Spelljammer line kicked off with Spelljammer: Adventures in Space (1989) in October 1989. A few adventures and a sourcebook followed in 1990. The “Monstrous Compendium” was then the fifth supplement for the line.
Prior to the release of the “Spelljammer Appendix”, SJR1: “Lost Ships” (1990), SJA1: “Wildspace” (1990), and SJA2: “Skulls & Crossbows” (1990) had each included a few monsters, but more were needed to fill the weird and wacky corners of Wildspace. This made “Spelljammer Appendix” a welcome release.
It’s somewhat surprising that it took a full year for the “Spelljammer Appendix” to appear. Grubb would integrate a monster manual much more tightly into his next release: Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (1992) was followed by the line’s second release, MC13: “Monstrous Compendium Al-Qadim Appendix” (1992), just two months later
Continuing the Monstrous Compendiums. The first two Monstrous Compendiums (1989) were generic monster manuals, but beginning with MC3: “Monstrous Compendium Volume Three: Forgotten Realms Appendix” (1989), the rest were setting specific. MC3 through MC6 focused on the Forgotten Realms, Krynn, Greyhawk, and Kara-Tur, so the “Spelljammer Appendix” was the first Compendium to detail the monsters of one of the many new campaign worlds that TSR would release in the 2e era (1989-2000). Monstrous Compendiums for other new settings like Al-Qadim, Dark Sun, Planescape, and Ravenloft would follow.
Monsters of Note. The “Spelljammer Appendix” is mostly filled with weird, wacky, and delightful monsters that had never been seen before and have never been seen since. Some of them are quite delightful, such as Harold Johnson’s mirrored fractine and Blake Mobley’s empty armor suit called the zodar. Others are Wildspace variants of standard monsters, such as Roger Moore’s furnace golem, William W. Connors’ radiant golem, and Dale Donovan’s spacesea giant.
The monster that was best integrated into Wildspace may have been Douglas Niles’ hadozee, a “deck ape” who later showed up in CGR1: The Complete Spacefarer’s Handbook (1992). However, there’s no doubt that the most famous monster in the “Spelljammer Appendix” is Roger E. Moore’s giant space hamster. This monster had been revealed by the design of the gnome spelljammer ship, which looks like it has a paddlewheel. There’s no air in Wildspace, so Grubb was asked what purpose the paddlewheel had. He quickly replied that the paddlewheels were “giant hamster wheels”. Moore thought the answer hilarious, and so designed the giant space hamster for the “Spelljammer Appendix”. Years later, a “miniature giant space hamster” called Boo appeared in the Baldur’s Gate (1998) video game.
Harold Johnson’s beholder-kin had the best legs of any monsters in this book. The beholder director, examiner, lensman, overseer, and watcher appeared in a few other books over the years, including Black Spine (1994), I, Tyrant (1996), and Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations(2005). Only a couple of other monsters from the “Spelljammer Appendix” made the jump to 3e, including William W. Connor’s clockwork horrors, which reappeared in Monster Manual II (2002), and those deck apes, who made an appearance in Stormwrack (2005).
About the Creators. Grubb was the creator of Spelljammer, but he would work on just one more book before leaving the line behind: The Legend of Spelljammer (1991).
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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