SJA3 Crystal Spheres at DriveThruRPG!

Traveling the space lanes is risky and mysterious, and danger comes in many forms. The rescue of a tiny ship from pirate attackers leads to the discovery of a monumental, supernatural evil. Nothing is ever routine in space.

Crystal Spheres takes player characters through four unique crystal spheres to battle a powerful force of darkness. Player Characters will find themselves fighting not just for their lives, but the fate of an entire solar system and its millions of inhabitants.

“Crystal Spheres” is an adventure for the AD&D Spelljammer campaign setting. The Spelljammer boxed set is required to play. This 64-page adventure will easily adapt to any campaign world.

*****

Product History

SJA3: “Crystal Spheres” (1990), by J. Paul LaFountain, is the third Spelljammer adventure. It was released in October 1990.

Continuing the “SJA” Series. “Crystal Spheres” continues the Spelljammer adventures. It’s an epic adventure, as was found in SJA1: “Wildspace” (1990): a sphere’s sun is on the verge of being snuffed out, and the players must save it.

Adventuring Tropes. “Crystal Spheres” lies on the line between the adventuring tropes of the ’80s and ’90s. It contains lots of random encounters and mapped locations. However, it also features events that drive players along a path to confront the problems of the underlying storyline.

Expanding Wildspace. True to its name, “Crystal Spheres” does a great job of providing good reasons to adventure across Wildspace from one sphere to another. Along the way it details four new crystal spheres: Herospace (which is for heroic adventures only, with 9 planets divided by alignment); Faeriespace (which is one gigantic community); Greatspace (which is an elder sphere focused on nobility and honor); and Darkspace (which is a sunless, shadowy void).

Unfortunately, one of the problems with Spelljammer was that it never brought together its many spheres into a coherent setting. The Spelljammerboxed set (1989) focused on the Radiant Triangle of Greyhawk, Krynn, and the Realms, but then the six Spelljammer adventures barely touched on those areas. Similarly, the worlds of Darkspace, Faeriespace, Greatspace, and Herospace would never be heard from again.

(Though TSR never created a larger Spelljammer setting, some fans have taken the next step, compiling all the spheres of Wildspace into a cohesive whole.)

“Crystal Spheres” also includes a beautiful chart comparing the sizes of the many spelljamming vessels revealed to date — including the Hummingbird from this very adventure.

About the Creators. LaFountain did a scattering of TSR work in the early ’90s. This was his premiere freelance work; he’d later contribute to MC8: “Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix” (1991), SJR3: “Dungeon Master’s Screen” (1991), and some supplements for the Buck Rogers XXVC RPG.

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 shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

Book Review: Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson

Dorsai! (Childe Cycle, #1)Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No modern reader will seek this book out unless someone tells them they should. So I’m telling you, you should. I only knew about this book because I’m a genuine article geek and I have listened to filk music that was written about it. When I saw a dusty, archaic copy in an old bookstore that was closing, I snapped it up. No regrets.

A reader of sci-fi will start reading this book and recognize the essential plot of Frank Herbert’s classic Dune. Which might make you shake your head at plagiarism; except that this book was published five years before Dune was. So if there was plagiarism, it was the other way around. It’s also one of the foundational books of military science fiction, though no one will ever tell you that when they list sources. I think that’s a crying shame.

Dickson has a deceptive sort of writing style. Others have criticized it as being terribly simple. And it is, but if that’s all you think of it, that tells me you didn’t get it. Dickson’s prose is an elegant masterpiece of minimalism. Reading him is like appreciating a classical Japanese painting. He does nothing that is of no use. He manages to tell the story in perhaps a third of the word-count of Dune, and nothing is missed and there’s not a single moment of boredom. Dickson displays a wide-ranging intuitive grasp of politics, war and philosophy, and the interplay between the three. Also, it’s damn good space opera.

Modern readers may find it a little irritating that, as with most books of the time period, the purpose of the women in the story seems to be to improve the men. But that was a standard of the time and I would urge you not to allow that to ruin your enjoyment of a great story.

Other than that I’m not telling you a thing. Go read it.

View all my reviews

Ideas for Adapting Spelljammer for 5th Edition

Here’s a really neat way of making Spelljamming work for 5th Edition, combining elements of classic Spelljammer, Shadow of the Spider Moon, and Dragonstar.  Sounds great!  Thanks, Cosmonomicon!