The primary method of moving through space is by Spelljamming, which converts magical energy into motive force. This is accomplished by the use of Spelljamming Helms.

The ship's motive power is given as Ship's Rating or SR.


Major and Minor HelmsEdit

Cost: 100,000gp (Minor), 250,000gp (Major)

Both major and minor helms work in the same way - by converting magical energy into movement. It allows the individual seated upon the helm to move large amounts of mass through space, by directly channeling spell energy into the helm. While this provides movement, it is primarily used to push the ship forward; maneuvering is primarily accomplished through use of the ship's sails and oars.

Because the motive power of the ship comes from the conversion of spell energy, only mages and clerics are able to power this type of helm. Additionally, powering the helm prohibits the mage from any spell use within a 24 hour period of powering the helm.

A minor helm will provide 1 point of Ship's Rating per three levels of experience of the mage. A major helm provides 1 point per two levels. An individual mage can power the helm for a period of up to 12 hours, after which the Ship's Rating drops by 1 point per hour of additional use.

The use of this type of helm does not prevent the mage from speaking and acting as normal. Many helmsmen describe a feeling akin to being submerged to the neck in warm water when they are using the helm, and the ability to see things as if he were standing on the deck.

A minor helm can move a ship up to 50 tons, while a major helm can move up to 100 tons. Both helms can move a minimum of 1 ton. Only one helm can be used at a time, but smart captains are advised to keep another helm onboard as backup.

Recent information has been uncovered that the Arcane do not build the Helms they sell. Rather, a living artifact, the Helm Maker or First Helm is responsible for the myriad of Helms sold by the Arcane. The various Helms grown from the First Helm's seeds serve as Arrays, sending stolen knowledge from Helm Pilots back to the parent. Whether the First Helm is malevolent or not may be debated, but it is personally responsible for the wars that resulted in the destruction of the Reigar homeworld. During the Master Stroke, Arcane removed the living artifact to another location where it continues to create its living children that steal knowledge from those sitting upon the Helms.

Thus far, Pump-furnace Helms and Death-type Helms (the latter created by the Neogi) are the only existing Helms that are not the Children (thus transmitters of knowledge) of First Helm.

Series HelmsEdit

Cost: 75,000gp (per linked helm)

These helms, invented by the Mindflayers, have been adapted for use by many other races with natural spell-like abilities. They resemble major and minor helms, but their primary difference is that they can be linked together, increasing their overall power, and can be used by non-mages, provided they have natural spell-like abilities available to them.

For each helm in the series that is currently being manned, the ship has a Ship's Rating of 1. Generally, series helms contain between three and five active helms at any one time.

Series helms can move a ship between 5 and 50 tons.

Pool HelmsEdit

Cost: 500,000gp (Mindflayers only)

Another development of the Mindflayers, the pool helm uses the natural life-pool of the mindflayers to power the ship, rather than the individual mindflayers themselves.

These helms have an automatic Ship's Rating of 5. It is not known, currently, what the maximum tonnage of ship that can be moved by this helm is, but rumors hold it to be 200 tons.


Cost: 300,000gp (Beholders only)

Despite their natural spell-like abilities, the Beholders do not use Series Helms to power their ships. Instead, the Beholders have come up with their own unique solution: the Orbus.

The Orbus is a living being that functions in a fashion similar to the Series Helms. For each Orbus onboard the Beholder ship, the Ship's Rating is 1, to a maximum of 5 Orbi at any one time.

A single Orbus can power a ship of up to 20 tons, two can power up to 40 tons and three or more can power a maximum of 60 tons.

There is some discussion that the Orbus could also be used by ships crewed by races other than the Beholders, but the Beholders would rather destroy their own Orbus than see them in the hands of other races.


Cost: 500,000gp (initially) + 100,000gp/year

Dwarves, long known for being one of the least-magical races in the void, power their ships through magical engines known as Forges. The Forge is found in a large foundry room, generally in the base of the ship, where Dwarves work around the clock, crafting and forging.

Instead of using magical energy to create motive force, the Forge uses the creative energy of the Dwarves working within it.

For every 100 dwarves working in the foundry, the ship has a Ship's Rating of 1, so generally speaking, the faster the ship, the more space it has given up to the Forge.

The Forge can power a ship with a minimum tonnage of 100 tons, and a maximum of 700 tons, although these are exceptionally rare.

Attempts to replicate this technology on ships of other races has failed miserably thus far.

As a side effect of the crafting and forging taking place in the foundry of ships powered by this type of helm, they are home to a huge amount of trade goods, and an even larger armoury.

Gnomish HelmsEdit

Cost: 50,000gp

As with so many things created by the Gnomes, by all logic, Gnomish helms should not be able to function, as they defy the very laws of nature. Of course, they work anyway, generally because the design includes a minor helm hidden away somewhere within.

As with most other Gnomish creations, they include an incredibly large number of moving parts, bells and whistles, that create much commotion, but do very little.

They are the object of scorn and ridicule among the larger spacer population, and often at the epicenter of some of the void's most legendary pranks.

Crown of StarsEdit

Cost: Unknown, but bound to be extremely high.

The Crown of Stars is a magical item that takes all of the abilities of the Minor Helm and puts them into an item that can be worn, allowing the helmsman to move around the ship normally. It does not have to be a crown, and may come in the form of any sort of magical item that is worn, with the exception of a ring.

The Crown can be used effectively up to a mile away from the ship, allowing the helmsman to command the vessel, even if he is not onboard. As a result, these items are much soughtafter by merchant captains who wish to use them to power a barge, instead of towing it.


Cost: 100,000gp

The furnace is an early form of spelljamming helm that still sees occassional use. Instead of taking magical energy directly from living beings, the Furnace takes it from magical items that are fed into it and subsequently destroyed.

Generally, for every 1,000xp an item is worth, the furnace will function for one week at Ship's Rating 2. This, naturally, can very quickly become an expensive way of powering a ship. Adding a second item simultaneously can increase the Ship's Rating to 3, but risks exploding the Furnace (25% chance), causing 10-100 points of damage in a 30ft radius.

Most Furnaces are found on ghost ships and crashed hulks. As a result of the fire of the furnace, they can be used only within Crystal Spheres. Used in the Phlogiston, they will explode, catastrophically. There is rumor that they may have been developed by the Arcane.


Cost: Priceless

The modern-day descendant of the Furnace, the Artifurnace is the ultimate development of the old Furnaces. These helms draw their power from a magical artifact, and each one is custom-made for the artifact it will use. Since artifacts are nearly eternal, the Artifurnace is as well.

Once installed the Artifurnace provides a Ship's Rating of 5. They are extremely rare, and extremely soughtafter, and if it becomes known that a particular ship carries one, that ship will be pursued by many who want to take the Artifurnace.


Cost: 80,000gp

Favored by the Neogi and other evil races of spacefarers, this type of spelljamming helm feeds off of the life energies of an individual within (who is, more often than not, there against their will).

Every day of operation sucks 1d8 hit points from the creature within, and requires a saving throw versus death. These hit points cannot be regenerated while the creature remains within the helm. A failed saving throw, or the reduction of hit points to zero kills the helmsman.

The Ship's Rating can be calculated by assuming that the creature within was a wizard using a minor helm, at that creature's current level. For example: a 6th level thief will operate as though he were a 6th level mage.

Death Helm (Deathjammer)Edit

Cost: 50,000

This rare spelljamming helm appears identical to all sorts of helms—that is, it may be a seat of any design or style. A death helm drains the lifeforce of the being using it to spelljam, precisely as a lifejammer does (draining 2d6 hit pints per day of operation).

It has one horrible refinement, however.

Any intelligent being sitting in the helm must save vs. Spell at -3, or be charmed (as the first level wizard spell charm person.) The powerful charm makes them intensely enjoy the feeling of spelljamming and regard the helm as a place of comfort and safety. Charmed helmsmen act normally in all respects, except that they resist attempts to remove them from the helm. Its magic prevents them from feeling any weakness or other ill effects as they waste away.

Spelljammers in a death helm have been known to fight comrades trying to remove them—soldiering on at the helm until they suddenly crumple and die as the last of their lifeforce is taken. Any being who successfully saves against the initial charm of a death helm senses something is wrong or dangerous about the seat, and will ever after mistrust it (+2 on all future saves against that particular helm's charm, not -3).

A death helm's charm does not extend beyond the seat itself, and is not detectable separate from the spelljamming power of the helm itself. In spelljamming performance, it is identical to a lifejammer, except that it can move spacecraft as a major helm.

The death helm is not a creation of the Arcane, and was likely invented by the Neogi as a more powerful analogue to the Lifejammer. The Xorn have discovered a way to operate these helms in series, moving their 300 ton stoneships while doing 4d6 damage to any creatures entering the helm instead of the usual 1d8, necessitating a large supply of captives to sacrifice for propulsion.

Pump HelmEdit

Cost: 600,000

The Pump is a spelljamming helm that must be fed material in order to create SR. The type of material placed in The Pump will determine the SR that this spelljamming engine generates (see the following table). Simply stated, one pound of material ( 10 coins or gems) can move a spelljamming ship of up to 100 tons for one hour. After that, absolutely nothing is left of the material placed in the helm. (If the fuel used was flesh, there is nothing left to resurrect.)

The Pump cannot digest magical items at all. Spell books, enchanted swords, and artifacts that are placed in The Pump are never metabolized. They are ejected from the ship after being in the helm for over 24 hours.

A particularly gruesome contraption, The Pump is a creation of the unhumans; basically for the goblins and goblinkin races. Since the latest Unhuman Wars began, The Pump has increased in potency as well as popularity. Now, every captain in the goblin fleets wants one for his ship.

Non-magical EnginesEdit

Cost: Varies, but approx. 10,000gp is common

Not every engine uses magic. There are other alternatives available, from chemical propellants to explosive mixtures ignited in a closed space.

Most non-magical engines are used in lifeboats, or as backups for the main helm of a ship to be used if the helm is disabled, or in dead magic areas.

The maximum Ship's Rating for any non-magical engine is never more than 1, and they cannot be used to lift off from celestial bodies larger than Class A.


War Captain's Companion

SJR1 Lost Ships

AD&D Adventures in Space

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