clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

D&D playtest could hint at a Spelljammer reboot

The latest Unearthed Arcana includes some very obscure races

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Cover art for the original Spelljammer features a stereotypical knight in orbit. Image: Wizards of the Coast
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

On Friday, Wizards of the Coast released new playtest materials for Dungeons & Dragons’ fifth edition. Titled Unearthed Arcana: Travelers of the Multiverse, it details six new playable races for D&D. Four of those races are closely associated with the beloved Spelljammer setting. The release could be the first big hint that the long-awaited Spelljammer reboot is on the way in 2022.

Spelljammer was originally released for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (also known as AD&D or second edition D&D) in 1989 by its original publisher, TSR. It effectively connects the many worlds of D&D, including Toril (The Forgotten Realms) and Krynn (Dragonlance), with a well-traveled network of interstellar trade routes. It allowed players to navigate space for the first time in D&D with exotic, open-decked starships reminiscent of the Age of Sail. Spelljammer also introduced a number of unique races, among them the autognome, giff, hadozee, and plasmoid. All four were included in Travelers of the Multiverse as playable races alongside the astral elf and the insectoid thri-kreen.

Hadozee are an apelike race with vestigial wings allowing them to float in the air, while plasmoids are an amorphous race not unlike giant amoeba. Both were introduced with Monstrous Compendium Spelljammer Appendix. Autognomes, as the name suggests, are sentient robots created in the image of small humanoids. Giff, on the other hand, are massive bipedal hippopotami. Those two races were introduced in Monstrous Compendium Spelljammer Appendix 2. Both books were published by TSR in 1990 and are still available for purchase on Dungeon Master’s Guild.

It’s not the first time that Spelljammer has been teased for fifth edition D&D. A Spelljammer ship appeared in a recent campaign titled Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage. Of course, there is no guarantee that Wizards will include these six races in any books at all, or that they’re not destined for another product entirely. What is notable, however, is the fact that all six races included in this playtest make use of the optional rules for character creation as detailed in Tasha’s Caldron of Everything. That’s the same set of rules used for the new races in The Wild Beyond The Witchlight, races which were also previewed in previous Unearthed Arcana playtest materials. If that same timeline holds true, we could see a new Spelljammer book by summer.

Wizards’ publishing calendar for 2022 is beginning to take shape. On Tuesday the company announced that it will be partnering with Critical Role for a full-length campaign book, titled Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep, due out in March 2022. Its next book, Fizban’s Treasurey of Dragons, will be released later this month on Oct. 26.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.