Dragon Dreams

TSR’s Concordance of Arcane Space took Physics and threw it out the window. This article kicks Physics right out of town with a stern warning never to set foot in these here parts again. Think about that before implementing these rules in your campaign.

Hastily Embroidered Copyright Information

Spelljammer and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons are trademarks of TSR, Inc. Concordance of Arcane Space, and Lorebook of the Void are creations of Jeff Grub and many others at TSR, Inc. Dragon Dreams is the creation of Jerry Stratton.

Truly Fantastic Space Travel for Fantasy Gaming

Right there in the foreword, it says it…

“You can get out of the atmosphere on the back of a roc.”

From then on, the subject is rarely mentioned, and where it is mentioned, the rules are inconsistent at best.

Concordance of Arcane Space, pages 7 and 11

A creature will exhaust the air in its personal envelope in 2d10 turns.

A single, human-sized body drags along with it enough air to last 2-20 turns… Larger-than-man-size creatures (ogres and giants, for example) drag along enough air to last twice as long (4-40 turns).

Lorebook of the Void, pages 8, 61 and 62

…the storm giant can leave the atmosphere of a planet with enough air for 2-20 rounds…

…most draconian species do not travel well in space. They may survive for 2-20 rounds once they leave the atmosphere, as normal creatures, but this will not allow them to fly any farther than a very close moon.

A saddle on the back of a charmed dragon… they will have a long voyage to the nearest moon (say, 3-18 days, being kind).

The one consistent thread through each treatment of flying creatures in space is that wildspace travel can only occur with spelljammers.

Rubbish. If you believe that, I’ve got this rainbow bridge I’d like to sell you. And if you order before midnight I’ll throw in a video of Heavy Metal absolutely free.

Fantasy flying creatures can fly to other planets. At least, they can in my world. And now they can in yours. All you need is a little imagination and no respect for the laws of science.

Who can do it?

First, who can do this? What creatures can escape their planet’s gravity well? For Earth-like planets, any flying creature with three or more hit dice or levels. Yes, this includes your fifth level wizard with her Fly spell. For other size planets, it takes more power. For more guidelines on what spells will get characters into wildspace, see SpellSurfing in WildSpace.

Hit Dice required to escape Gravity Wells
Planet SizeHit Dice
A1 hit point
B1/2 HD
C1 HD/Level
D2 HD/Levels
E3 HD/Levels
F4 HD/Levels
G5 HD/Levels
H6 HD/Levels
I7 HD/Levels
J8 HD/Levels

How Fast Can They Do It?

Non spelljammer fliers use their normal (flight) movement rate as their speed, in millions of miles per day. To determine how many turns it takes to escape or enter a planet’s gravity well, take the number of turns required for spelljammers, on page 51 of The Concordance of Arcane Space, and multiply by 100. Divide this by the creature’s (flight) movement rate and you have the number of turns necessary to escape a body’s gravity well, or to land on a planet of that size. Creatures that can move straight up and down, including Maneuverability Class A creatures, divide the number of turns by 3.

Thus, an Owl Dragon, which has a flying movement of 24, can enter an Earth-class planet (Class E) in a little under 17 turns.

Creatures can come in (but not leave) faster if they wish, but for each turn they reduce the landing time by, they take 1d6 of damage. The problem is that their personal gravity well needs to align itself with the planet’s gravity well. If they come in too fast, the gravity wells get out of sync. Very much like “the bends”, a re-alignment that is forced too quickly is damaging; at extreme levels, this damage manifests openly as extreme heat or even fire.

How do they breathe?

Owners of gravity planes carry a larger amount of personal atmosphere with them if they enter wildspace under their own power.

Air Guidelines
Creature Size Personal Air Air Used Air Envelope
Tiny d10/2 Turns 1 1/2
Small d10 Turns 2 2
Man 2d10 Turns 4 8
Large 4d10 Turns 8 8 per foot
Huge 8d10 Turns 16 32 per foot
Gargantuan 16d10 Turns 32 128 per foot

Air Envelope is the amount of air in the creature’s envelope if the creature enters wildspace under its own power; otherwise, the air in its envelope is the standard Personal Air pocket for its size. Large creatures and above have a variable envelope depending on their length in feet. The length to be used is the longest measurement of their body. This is a guideline, however, and you may have to adjudicate some odd creatures that are very long but thin, or very round, etc.

Air Used gives how much of the air envelope the various sizes of creatures use, per day. When the air envelope is used up, the air quality goes to foul. Air quality goes from foul to deadly in the same amount of time it took to get to foul.

How many passengers can a flier’s envelope support?

That’s what the Air Used and the Air Envelope stats are for. Air Envelope is the amount of air the creature carries in its envelope. Air Used is the amount of an envelope that creature uses up per day.

Let’s use Nelson the red dragon as an example. Nelson is Huge, so his standard envelope when flying into space is 32 per foot. He is 45 feet long, so he has an air envelope of 1440—enough air to last 90 days before becoming fouled and another 90 days before becoming deadly. He is carrying, however, 4 Humans (Man sized), 2 Hobbits (Small Size) and 1 Pixie (Tiny). Add up the Air Used for each passenger and Nelson.

Men4 each16
Hobbits2 each4

The total for all the passengers and Nelson is 37. Divide Nelson’s Air Envelope of 1440 by that, and you get a result of 39 days. Nelson’s air envelope will become fouled 39 days after leaving the planet’s gravity well. It will become deadly in 39 more days.

Another example—Noel the Ranger is flying his trusty Pegasus Sevril to Mars. Sevril has an air envelope of 8 per foot, since Pegasi are Large. Sevril is 8 feet long, so she carries an air envelope of 64. Adding up the Air Used of Sevril (8) and Noel (4) gives 12. Dividing 64 by 12 gives them 5.3 days of air.

Mars is currently 190 million miles from the Earth/Moon system. Noel and Sevril are taking off from the moon. The moon is a Size D body. It takes a spelljammer 3 turns to get off a size D planet, so multiply 3 by 100, and divide by 48 (Sevril’s movement rate), for 7 turns. At that point, Sevril is moving 48 million miles per day, so it takes practically 4 days to reach the edge of Mars’ gravity well. Mars is a Size E body, which normally takes 4 turns to land on. Four times 100, divided by 48, results in 9, so it takes Sevril 9 more turns to land.

Space, the Final Drag Strip

With all these creatures able to fly from planet to planet, why aren’t there burger joints every few million miles between here and Jupiter? The answer will depend on your campaign: maybe there are. But the chances are there just aren’t going to be that many people traveling. Galloping (what spelljammers call flying under animal power) is very dangerous.

In the Pegasus example above, Noel had to know that Mars was a planet. If they had reached Mars and discovered that Mars was a bright red jewel 15 feet across, with no atmosphere, they would have died. It would have taken another 4 days to travel back to Earth, and Sevril didn’t have enough air for that. Simply put, most creatures have no idea that they would want to travel into space, or even that they can. Until this knowledge exists, they’re simply not going to try.

Galloping in Wildspace: Travel Times to Moon, Mars, and Venus, from Earth
GriffonSemiL304 hrs, 20 min1.7-7.8 days.9-5.4 days9 days
HarpyLowM1512 hrs, 30 min3.3-15.6 days1.7-10.7 days2 days
PegasusAverageL482 hrs, 50 min1.1-4.9 days.53-3.4 days8 days
PerytonAverageM216 hrs, 10 min2.4-11.1 days1.2-7.6 days2 days
RocAnimalL304 hrs, 20 min1.7-7.8 days.9-5.4 days20 days
SylphsExceptionalM363 hrs, 50 min1.4-6.5 days.7-4.5 days2 days
WyvernLowL245 hrs, 20 min2.1-9.8 days1.1-6.7 days15 days
GargoyleLowM1512 hrs, 30 min3.3-15.6 days1.7-10.7 days2 days
Owl DragonHighL245 hrs, 20 min2.1-9.8 days1.1-6.7 days50 days

SpellSurfing in WildSpace

Spellsurfing is a term used to describe traveling through wildspace with normal spells, rather than channelling the magical energy through a spelljammer helm. The third level spell Fly has already been mentioned, but there are others that will work.

Levitate2see Levitations, below
Fly9/189 ascending, 18 out of gravity
Phantom Steed48Must be 14th level
Polymorph Otheras animalsee Polymorphs, below
Polymorph Selfas animalsee Polymorphs, below
Teleport100see The Speed of Magic
Limited Wishsee Wishes, below
Reverse Gravitysee Levitations, below
Teleport w/o Error100see The Speed of Magic
Shape Changeas animalsee Polymorphs, below
Wishsee Wishes, below
Air Walk1/2 creature’ssee Levitations, below
Transport v. Plants100see The Speed of Magic
Chariot of Sustarre48the stylin’ way to go
Windwalk60see Windwalk, below
Levitations, such as Levitate, Reverse Gravity, and Air Walk, can only be used to travel to the edge of a planet’s (or vessel’s) gravity well. After that point, the spell is unable to bring the character any further, into wildspace.
Surprisingly, Wind Walk will work as long as there is an atmosphere, and this includes the personal atmosphere brought into wildspace.
Polymorph Other, Polymorph Self, and Shape Change work as long as the creature being polymorphed is of the correct hit dice or level to escape the planet’s gravity well. This means that a 4th level fighter could be polymorphed into a sparrow, and then fly out of the gravity well, even though true sparrows are unable to do this. Note that the atmospheric envelope brought with the character is the envelope appropriate to the new size, so even though the fighter could, as a sparrow, escape Earth’s well, he probably wouldn’t have enough air to get anywhere except the moon.
Depending on how they are worded, a Wish or a Limited Wish should be able to allow teleportation to other celestial bodies, or the ability to fly to other celestial bodies. This will all depend on how you, as Dungeon Master, use and view wishes in your campaign.

The Speed of Magic

How fast is magic? No, not how fast can you cast it, but how long does it take the magic to leave the spellcaster and arrive at the target?

Don’t know? Okay, here’s another one: why do all spelljamming ships, regardless of size or ship rating, travel at the same speed?

One more: What moves a spelljammer?

Well, magic, you reply. Magic channeled through a spelljamming helm of some kind.


And that’s why all spelljammers, from ancient furnace-powered hulks to the legendary SpellJammer itself, travel at the same speed.

Because magic always travels at the same speed. First level magic, ninth level magic, it all moves at the same speed—100,000,000 miles per day, or 1160 miles per second. It’s just that its so fast, it hasn’t ever been noticed before. Even teleporting to the other side of the planet, in the case of the largest Type E world, will take less than 10 seconds. Without digital watches, who is going to time it?

But teleporting to Mars at its furthest point from Earth will take 2.33 days—about the same time it takes a spelljamming vessel. It’ll be a little less, since the teleporter doesn’t need to spend time escaping the current planet’s gravity well and entering the new planet’s well.

Spells such as Clairvoyance and Clairaudience are doubly restricted. In the situation of Mars, above, it takes 2.33 days for the magic to reach Mars, and then another 2.33 days for the magic to return! By this time, the spell’s duration has expired. I rule that the magic searches out it’s caster, which will require another roll (see below) to see if it finds the caster.

With spells that can span wildspace, there is another problem. Normally, spellcasting goes from one point to another point, each fixed in relation to the other. Magic between planets (teleportation, clairvoyance, etc) is between two points that are moving with respect to each other. Familiarity with the destination is downgraded one point because of that. Spells that are normally automatic use the table on page 172 of the Player’s Handbook, under the Wizard spell, Teleport, at the Very Familiar row.

Unless it is dimensional or planar in origin (such as the new second level Priest spell, Contact Home Power), spells cannot span beyond the crystal sphere of the WildSpace they are cast in.