Ahem. Anyway, yeah, Spelljammer.
There are three things that I find interesting about Spelljammer.
The Grand List of Things That Are Interesting about Spelljammer
- It taps into that very compelling subgenre of fantasy that is sometimes called "Sword and Planet" ("Science fantasy" is both boring and inaccurate), and which swirls, vortex-like, around a certain Michael Moorcock. We all know about the connections between Hawkwind (the ur space rockers) and that author, but it goes much deeper than that - just about every Eternal Champion incarnation has some sort of space-going element to it. And since the Eternal Champion is just about the most interesting fantasy series ever written (if not the best, always the most interesting) that makes Spelljammer interesting too - brilliance through association. That's not even to mention Edgar Rice Burroughs.
- Don't even get me started on the picaresque. The thesis that D&D is a picaresque seems compelling to me and you don't get a better setting for that than riding through the phlogiston on a star sailing ship, landing on random planets and meeting space orcs. You just don't.
- There are not one, not two, but three subgenres of Spelljammer game which you can explore. (There are more than that actually, but let's look at the main three.
- Horror Spelljammer. In space no one can hear you scream. In the phlogiston, people might hear you scream as the pack of githyanki pirates begin to eviscerate you with astral cleavers, but seeing as those people are likely to be illithids and neogi, you can forget being home in time for dinner. Spelljammer has a potential like no other setting (except Planescape, natch) for existential terror: in the big bad prime material plane there is only murder and pain.
- Traveller Spelljammer. Roll up a sector of crystal spheres on a hex map and go off a-trading with the
Zhodaniscro in a combination of (arguably) the two greatest role playing games of all time. Just be careful of those space elves waiting in that asteroid belt.
- Trad Spelljammer. The background music is Hawkwind, The Mars Volta, Pink Floyd, Monster Magnet, Klaatu, Ziggy Stardust, and weird Daft-Punk-esque French synth pop; the flavour art is stills from Ulysses 31 and Thundercats, the illithids are dressed like Marc Bolan. It's so naff that it has gone beyond naff into cool again. It's Spelljammer how God intended it, and it is really, really great.
When people talk about imaginative 2nd edition era settings they tend to bring up Dark Sun and Planescape the most, but if you ask me Spelljammer gives them both a serious run for their money. Buy it, play it, love it.