War Captain’s Companion

The War Captain’s Companion box set is perhaps the most delirious Spelljammer supplement. Billed as filling all your needs for space combat, it is packed with noodley rules to convert your perfectly fine fantasy space RPG into a turn-based strategy war game, if that is your thing. (You should probably know: it isn’t really my thing)

I might be more positively disposed to this box is mine had all the punch-out cardboard ships (I love bits!), but I have a love/hate relationship with D&D’s focus on tactical combat simulation. I love miniatures as much as the next RPG nerd, but lengthy combat session have always seemed to exhaust my group and grinds things down to a slow crawl. This sort of thing always struck me as for folks with more time and dedicated space than we ever had.

The rules are pretty much what you would expect if you have any experience with naval combat games. It is a little weird that rules for three-dimensional combat are optional rather than baked in, since, you know, space, but whatever. Someone out there needed D&D rules for semaphore, so I am glad they got them.

The real gem here is the Ship Recognition Guide, which details all the ships currently known in Spelljammer, and a good deal more. They range from cool to WTF, with a lot more traditional sci-fi influence than was previously present in the setting. I’ve included some of my favorites (all on the WTF end of the spectrum) in the last image. You can guess by looking at them who the crews consist of. In order: bards, gnomes, dwarves, penguin people (yes, penguin people), undead and space Egyptians (predating Stargate!). I still can’t decide if the fact that the ships directly reflect the nature of their crews is Spelljammer’s greatest strength or its greatest flaw.

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