Spelljammer Monstrous Compendium Appendix (1990)

Rounding out this week with both Spelljammer Monstrous Compendium appendices.

First, this features two of my favorite Spelljammer paintings on the color divider cards, both by Brom. I often wonder how different Spelljammer would have been with Brom helming the aesthetic design the way he did for Dark Sun.

A lot of the monsters follow the equation “what if D&D Monster X, but in space.” Others focus on synthesizing ideas from science fiction into the fantasy space setting. There are a lot of planetoids with faces (the one pictured is an Astereater – I kid you not). It is maybe redundant to point out after that last sentence, but I see a lot of Jack Kirby influence, too.

As with a lot of Monstrous Compendium appendices keyed to specialized settings, I have never found a use for any of these monsters in my own campaigns. They sort of illustrate design problems for the Spelljammer setting, too – while many are cool, none of them have a clear use to me the same way that devils and demons do in Planescape. If I wanted to run Spelljammer tomorrow, none of these monsters inspire a plain way of how to do so.

On the plus side, it does have stats for the Giant Space Hamster of the Tinker Gnomes, a concept I still find hilarious in a Monty Python-esque way. And without them, we would never have Minsc’s famous miniature giant space hamster, Boo, in the Baldur’s Gate series.

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