My Spelljammer setting and Alignment
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
Today I offer my players some clarity regarding the Spelljammer setting. I may have been around the concept for a long time but it can be unfamiliar. Add on morally ambiguous assignments and things can get overwhelming. I offer this as a starting point for Players in my Spelljammer setting games. The Player Characters may not know everything about everything but a little bit of background for the player should be helpful here. Note, that what you are about to read may be a departure from "canon" thought on some origins and the current state of affairs. I find canon in a system nearly 50 years old with hundreds if not thousands of contributors a bit hilarious of a concept to keep straight but a common ground starting point helps. Also, note I don't mess around with race/origins and biological essentialism. This is a fantasy world that generally avoids real-world issues regarding politics and culture. It isn't "important to the setting" or "for realism" to have race or origin as a requisite for alignment. People are good and bad and it has nothing to do about where they come from genetically or biologically and everything to do with their individual actions. In light of some recent controversy on the Hadozee before WotC updated the lore, I think it is important to touch on a few concepts. Problematic themes of older editions, will not sour my Spelljammer setting. It's the most open wild and cool setting ever and to have it tarnished with insensitive content is repugnant and incompatible with modern gaming sensibilities. It's 2022, we don't need to explore problematic themes because of "muh realism". Know better, do better.
A glance at Wildspace and my view of alignment:
Wildspace has been teeming with life for entire epochs. Different cultures have varied versions of "elders" and "creators," and many have turned to the stars to find the secrets of their history. The concept of wildspace and Astral plane travel is old hat for many and new for others. The cultures of Toril, for instance, are relative newcomers to the scene in the last 150 years or so.
Gith, Illithid, Thri-Kreen, and a group of Elves have been in space seemingly longer than the concept of time itself. Others sail the stars, including; Plasmoids, Hadozee, Giff, and many others too numerous to count. No single group is purely good or evil simply for their origin or genetics or who was "first" to Wildspace. It is a common understanding in Wildspace that folk good and bad come from all corners of time and space.
The Gith people are an excellent example as there are two very distinct cultures at work with one similar origin. The Githyanki are warlike and imperialist at heart, whereas the Githzeri are knowledge seekers and tend to avoid war and strife in pursuit of ancient knowledge. Same people in origin but two cultures with far different ambitions. Even so, individuals in either group could break the mold depending on their aspirations. (But Eric, that's not what the books say!) I know, I find alignment based on simple genetics and origin a problematic theme and cut it completely from my games. If that hurts your realism or desire I accept the reality that my table might not be the right place for you. We can still have bad folks, and great evil in the form of organizations the peoples of the worlds decide to participate in.
For a starting point, I classify alignment as Law, Balance, and Chaos alongside Good, Neutral, and Evil. Examples of organizations each listed below. I use a simple analogy of a puppy in distress.
GOOD - save the puppy.
NEUTRAL - let fate decide.
EVIL - destroy the puppy.
Good Lawful. - "Save the puppy because it's the law."
Good Balanced "This puppy is important to me, and I should save it."
Good Chaotic - "I don't care if interfering is illegal. It is right to save this puppy!"
Neutral Lawful - "This puppy is weak and helpless; saving it is required for balance."
Neutral Balance - "Puppy will figure it out on its own."
Neutral Chaos "Do I feel like saving this puppy today?"
Evil Lawful "This puppy is a threat to order; destroy it."
Evil Balance "If someone pays me, Ile destroy this puppy for them."
Evil Chaos "Do I feel like destroying this puppy today?"
Valkan's Legion, FSA
Organizations somewhere in the middle:
EIN, Gaspar's, POTS
Red Masks, Tenth Pit, Vodani Empire
A short History of the region:
We start Spelljammer on Toril, or the Rock of Bral. One doesn't need to be expert level in the lore of Forgotten Realms or the Spelljammer setting to play or have fun. It's space, it's huge and there is something for everyone.
Some folk were thrust onto the scene of Wildspace in their systems during a great war 150 years ago, it was large scale, and mass casualties on all sides occurred. The battle was spurred by the rulers of Vodanispace- a Wildspace system that took control of one system after another. The people of Vodanispace that were not warlike fled to other systems long before this great war, anyone who stayed behind made a choice to do so, a choice for evil.
When it became clear to the Elves of the Elven Imperial Navy (EIN) that this was a threat to their way of life on Toril and other planets, they fought back hard and recruited help from numerous systems to defeat the Vodani. The teamwork with other groups and systems is not typical for them, as the EIN for right or wrong believes they exist to be a security force for everyone's well-being and don't often take input from others on how to achieve it. Other organizations of the world are peripheral to them.
With help from different systems, The victory was had, but at high costs to both sides. The Vodani Empire is entirely wiped out, with only rumors of some of the ruling class having fled elsewhere; perhaps descendants continue life elsewhere. The EIN returned to their respective Wildspace systems, many retreating to Evermeet on Toril. Another group settled on Vodanispace to start anew.
The Region Today:
A small EIN fleet patrols some wildspace systems but is spread incredibly thin. There is a rumor that some groups have fractured off the EIN to create covert and upfront organizations with a more open mind on achieving peace and prosperity. These groups are referred to loosely as the FSA, Free Space Alliance but very little is known about its organization.
The rock of Bral is an independent area, much like a city-state. The EIN and other organizations have a footprint here, but Prince Andru rules supreme. Wildspacers looking for work, adventure, or trade congregate on the Rock of Bral. Thanks for reading, I hope that helps put you on the same sheet of music in regards to the setting and makes your actions and choices of what jobs to take or paths to go down in this very open setting more simple.