The Crown of the Stars - A Spelljammer 5e Tale
The Spelljammer is a legendary ship which looks like a gigantic manta ray, and houses an entire city on its back. All spacefarers (people who live in wildspace) have heard of the Spelljammer but very few have ever seen it themselves. It is this ship that gives its name to “spelljamming”, “spelljamming helms” and anything else connected with spelljamming. The ship has been reported to have been seen in countless galaxies for as long as records go back. Even some groundlings (people who live on planets that have very little or no commerce with spelljamming communities) have legends about it. There are hundreds of conflicting legends about this ship, and a mythology has developed about the ship that is similar to the legends surrounding The Flying Dutchman.
As a living thing (although it does not consume any matter, it does absorb heat and light through its ventral (or under) side and uses them to produce air and food for its inhabitants), the Spelljammer has a complex life cycle and means of procreation. Normally the ship has no captain and wanders the cosmos seemingly aimlessly. When the Spelljammer has a captain, obtained through another complex process, it will create Smalljammers (miniature versions of the Spelljammer) that go forth as its spawn. Apparently there can only be one Spelljammer at any one time. One Smalljammer will mature into a full Spelljammer ship if its predecessor is ever destroyed.
The laws of reason break down around the Spelljammer. It is the largest self-powered ship in the universe, and has attracted a large body of myth around itself. No one knows its origin or its purpose. According to the sages, there is no reason why the Spelljammer should exist.
Of course, there are larger things than the Spelljammer in the many galaxies within known space. Asteroid bases are larger, but cannot move under their own power or attain the high ship’s rating of the Spelljammer. There are living things, such as celestial dragons, that aspire to the size of this ship. Still, the Spelljammer dwarfs any of these things, since it is obviously a made thing. It’s made up of both organic and inert material, and its towers and citadels were fashioned by some being’s hands.
The Spelljammer legend grows with each passing year, fueled by rumor and gossip. It is said that a single man can pilot the ship, that at the Spelljammer’s heart rests a device like a crown of stars that allows the user to command the ship. It is said the ship is the plaything of an elder god, a toy sent out to sow discord in the universe. Some say the Spelljammer is a test set up by the gods of good (alternately, by the gods of evil), as something that may be attained at some time by their faithful.
The Spelljammer has been sighted in many galaxies, and attempts have been made to land on it. Often battles between conflicting factions over possession of the Spelljammer ensue when the ship appears in a system. Reports of the Spelljammer’s destruction have surfaced several times in myth, but it has always reappeared after a time. There may be multiple Spelljammers, but no man has seen more than one at the same time.
The Spelljammer’s motive force is a mystery. Nothing that big should be able to move that fast. Accounts of speed do not seem to consider the level or abilities of its captain, which breaks the rules for spelljamming, The ship is an enigma.
The ship’s weaponry is believed to have been accumulated over a period of centuries as various legendary individuals and nations have taken control of the Spelljammer. In one tale, the ship was owned by the illithids. In another story it was the site of the last conference of beholders. In a third, it was the death machine of the unhuman nations. Yet each time it has reappeared, unmanned and uncontrolled.
The Spelljammer contains the debris of half a hundred conquerors, in some cases their ships and helms, as well as their treasure. Wise (or short-sighted) adventurers have often landed on the Spelljammer to take that which others have brought there, as opposed to trying to take control of the ship.
The Spelljammer is rumored to be filled with a variety of monsters and creations. Whether these creatures are natives to the ship or denizens from other lands taken by the ship is unknown.