3 ways to introduce Spelljammer into your ongoing 5e campaign
With the arrival of Spelljammer, many DMs are excited to take their campaigns into the great beyond. But what if you love your current campaign and don’t want to start a new one? There are many ways to introduce Spelljammer into existing games. Here are three ideas to make that transition feel natural:
This one works great for any campaign level. The party comes across a wrecked spelljamming ship. It may be a recent crash or sitting undiscovered for years. Perhaps they even watched the ship crash! Choose what works best for your campaign. (Yes, Spelljammers do crash!)
Near the crash site, the PCs might discover the bodies of some bizarre people, such as a hadoze, giff, thri-kreen, or plasmoid. Another idea is for the ship’s autognome to have survived the crash. He could assist the party in a limited way, having suffered damage so he remembers only bits and pieces.
The ship is not in great shape but it is repairable. Your PCs can use their arcana and tool set proficiencies to eventually get the vessel back into working order. This allows you to slowly introduce the concept of flying ships and interplanetary travel.
Death From Above
While your party is traveling on an ordinary sea-going ship, pirates overtake them. These pirates come from the sky and are made up of a strange mix of peoples. The sailing ship is set ablaze and the PCs are given the choice to die or join the pirate crew.
This option works best for lower-level campaigns, before the party is too tough for the pirates to dominate. Once aboard the pirate crew, the PCs can be introduced to the workings of a Spelljammer and given nominal roles to play. They could also become the ship’s salvage team. As salvagers, they would be the ones who have to explore any derelict vessels or wrecks that come across their path. They might also be sent on supply runs or other minor missions that would allow the party to remain part of the crew while having their own independent adventures.
Protect Their Investment
This method works well for high-level characters with lots of money. The party members will hold a significant interest in a shipping company. Here are a few options for how they came to own this asset:
It could be a gift from someone powerful whom they helped.
It could be a reward that they earn from a noble.
It could be something you present to them in game as a way to invest their gold.
Or it might be that an underling who was managing their money decided on their own to invest in a shipping company.
Regardless of how they came into possession of their company shares, they are now called upon to protect that investment. The company has a new ship, a spelljammer they recently acquired. It has an inexperienced captain and crew. They have been promised huge profits if they can establish a regular trade route with a world beyond the stars. The party members will be along for that first round trip. Of course, you will throw lots of space adventures in their path.