Monsters of the void

Spelljammer module review

gaming modules rpg 5e scifi dnd

With the release of Spelljammer for D&D 5th Edition, I decided to break out the second AD&D Spelljammer module Skulls & Crossbows. I'm looking at it particularly with quick conversion in mind, but also for story and general usefulness. Chapter 4 is entitled "Monsters of the void," consisting of just two adventures, one called "Billy Bones" and the other "Parasite!"

Billy Bones

Here's a fun idea. An evil magicuser has devised a way to pack a skeleton into a sort of mine. He throws these skeleton mines into Wildspace around his hideout. When a mine collides with the air envelope of a passing ship, it drops to the deck (or underside, depending on its heading), reforms into a undead humanoid, and attacks the crew.

That is, incidentally, the only idea in this adventure. What I've just described is the adventure. A skeleton mine drops onto the PC's deck and attacks. There's nothing else.


In the second and final adventure of Chapter 4, the PCs encounter a ship with a dead crew. Investigation of the ship reveals some kind of space madness was involved. Just as soon as the PCs find this out, they're attacked by the ship's capuchin monkey, which had been hiding in the cargo hold.

This attack allows a monster called a death shade to transfer its energy over to 1 player character. It's not quite a possession, nor is it quite a curse, but it makes the PC prone to fits of rage. What that means and when it strikes is left vague. Mechanically, it's labelled as an infestation, and only a limited wish or wish can remove it.

I love a good curse, honestly, but by "a good curse" I mean something well defined. Were I to use this infestation, I'd assign a roll or a saving throw to it, and define a trigger. When does the PC fly into a rage, and also why is that a bad thing? Barbarian rage is a mechanical benefit.

Also, I don't permit PvP (Player vs. Player) in my games, and I have absolutely no interest in enforcing one PC flying into a murderous rage against the other PCs.

I guess I'd probably institute something about stress or conflict triggering a potential loss of anger management. This could become problematic during a simple shopping trip when you decide to barter for a lower price, or during your disguise or stealth attempt to get past the enemy guards. Roll a DC-something-er-other Wisdom save and see what happens.

Penultimate chapter

This was the penultimate chapter, and I have to admit it was pretty drab. Some nice ideas for some adventure complications, but not really that much of an adventure. What feels like an adventure is either left entirely unexplored (as in the magic user who created the skeleton mines) or feels a heck of a lot like several past adventures (ship with a dead crew.)

Skull & Crossbows cover copyright by Wizards of the Coast, used under the fan content policy.

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