Dungeons & Dragons: 6 Best Spelljammer Ship Upgrades

If your Dungeons & Dragons table hasn't set off for Wild Space, you're seriously missing out! The new monsters to contend with, allies to make, and places to explore are nearly endless. And, best of all, your table gets to take this journey on the deck of a genuine Spelljammer vessel, which, hopefully, Dungeon Masters have been gracious enough to make players the owners of. This endeavor provides new and exciting ways to spend gold, customizing the ship with all the flashiest accessories and decking it out with powerful upgrades.

In the previous supplement "Ghosts of Saltmarsh," a section of the book titled "Superior Ship Upgrades" provided Dungeon Masters with unique add-ons for the heroes' pirate ships. Now, with the Spelljammer supplement fully integrated, these upgrades can find a new life, flavored as curious oddities from the far corners of Wild Space. Let's see which ones are worth your money.

6/6 Reinforced Hull

A straightforward upgrade, the Reinforced Hull doubles your Spelljammer ships hit point maximum. This implementation describes using superior materials and a clever rework of the ship's design to reduce impact. Dungeon Masters may consider an upgrade like this only possible in the hands of an expert engineer, maybe even using the NPC to introduce players into the world of upgrading their ship and what's required.

Most ship stat blocks begin with a large health pool and a damage threshold preventing small attacks from reducing the ship's health. Of course, the number of health scales with the typical amount of damage that a ballista or mangonel can dish out. And you'd best believe that there are even more vicious attacks on Spelljammers' ships (Giff Bombard's, we're looking at you). Needless to say, you'll need all the health you can get, and this upgrade is the perfect solution.

5/6 Defiant Sails

Described as a coating of mithral enchanted with abjuration magic, this sail upgrade causes all ranged attacks against your ship or anyone on it to roll with disadvantage. Yet be warned, if an attacker makes it onto your boat, this effect no longer applies. You may rule that this enchantment only extends from beyond your Spelljammers Air Envelope, not inside it, meaning a ship entering your Envelope is not affected. Also, before you ask, most Spelljammer vessels still come outfitted with sails or an equivalent like the Flying Fish's fins, but this upgrade could apply to any part you decide fits the context.

Mithril is challenging to find, coveted canonically by dwarven kin as the superior metal alternative to steel and the base component in crafting adamantine through metallurgy. If the group wants to purchase something this valuable outright, they should be prepared to drop a hefty amount of gold. The suggested upgrade price is 15,000 gold, which seems fitting for this particular job. However, they could also score an upgrade like this for helping out a notable dwarven clan, perhaps living on The Citadel, one of Toril's asteroids, a noteworthy port of call for its dense dwarven population.

4/6 Smuggler's Banner

Worn as a flag somewhere on the ship (which, yes, even a ship as alien-looking as a Nautiloid is illustrated as having a place for a flag), this banner bears a heavy aura of illusion magic that cannot be dispelled. When an individual views the flag, they see it as a faction they consider friendly. Multiple viewers can see it as different things, which may cause more problems, depending on how cruel a Dungeon Master feels. But this upgrade shines in its ability to, every 2d6 days, teleport the entire ship and all friendly crew aboard up to three miles at the will of the Captain (although the Spelljammer seems to fit this ability better flavor-wise). Oh yeah, and anyone hostile on the ship when it teleports is left behind. In "Ghosts of Saltmarsh," that meant you were stranded in open water, but in "Spelljammer," that means you're holding your breath — good luck!

Let's be honest; most Spelljammer campaigns are, at the very least, going to dip into a bit of piracy. Why wouldn't you? The Astral Sea is fraught with Githyanki and literal killer clowns who would sooner see you dead and your ship stripped for parts than let you sail away because of a successful persuasion check. But alliances? Now that's stronger than the word of any "party face," and that's precisely what the Smuggler's Banner affords you: a chance for all these various factions to ask questions first and shoot later.

3/6 Dragon Sails

Scales from a dragon are woven into the sail or fin, granting the ship resistance against a particular damage type that coincides with the kind of dragon whose scales were used. The damage resistances are either Acid, Lighting, Fire, or Cold, as the scales can be procured from a chromatic or metallic flight member. On top of this, the ship will also benefit from a +3 boost to its armor class. Remember, Spelljamming vessels rely heavily on the attacks of spellcasters, so elemental resistance is a good investment.

Since this upgrade only requires dragon scales and doesn't specify how many (though it has to be a pretty good quantity), this could be a unique reward for a dragon-related quest. You could take this opportunity to utilize the two new draconic types in Spelljammer, the Lunar and Solar dragons, perhaps ruling that the Lunar dragons' scales resist Cold damage while the Solar dragons' scales resist Fire. Just be mindful that Solar Dragons aren't interested in bothering anybody, and Lunar dragons live in empty moons, raring for a fight.

2/6 Death Vessel

Plenty of Spelljammer vessels have a spooky aesthetic; the nautiloids give off major Lovecraftian vibes, and the Nightspiders are spider-shaped spaceships filled with Neogi's and Umberhulks (yikes). But if you feel like your overall design isn't striking fear into the hearts of all who witness you as you'd hoped, it's time to enchant your Spelljammer vessel with the dark energies of the Shadowfell. Once the ritual is complete, you've got yourself a Death Vessel, and now, at the player's command, anyone on board or within 200 feet of the ship must succeed on a Wisdom Save or be frightened of the ship for one minute.

This upgrade is meant to ward off anyone trying to pick on you. And if anyone is trying to mess with you after you've been to the Shadowfell and back just for home improvement supplies, they've got it coming. But considering this upgrade is being applied to a spaceship, not a naval vessel, it makes the "frightened" condition much deadlier. Anyone frightened must use their entire movement each turn to escape the source of their fear, which means your ship now sends any boarders racing directly off the side and willingly into the vacuum of space to flee you.

1/6 Living Vessel

Sometimes it's not enough to have dragon scales woven into your sails or a hull made from the finest materials money can buy. Let's be honest; the Spelljammer vessel is as essential to a space-fairing adventuring party as each player at the table. The book describes that this upgrade must be conducted under the jurisdiction of a master eladrin shipwright in the Feywild, but the result is a living, breathing ship. However, challenge yourself to change what plane and race is the master shipwright to accommodate different vessel types. With the Living Vessel superior upgrade, your ship will gain a +2 bonus to all Consitution checks and saves, as well as healing 10 HP every minute.

You may already be saying to yourself, "but there's already a Living Ship in the Spelljammer supplement," and you'd be correct, but that ship's benefits work much differently than this upgrade. Specifically, a Living Ship utilizes a treant for its beneficial effects, which include a boat healing extra health every Long Rest and a fresh Air Envelope. Also, a Living Ship can lose its treant companion, rendering it far less unique; a Living Vessel is forever. It's also fun to imagine that a Scorpion Ship with this upgrade now becomes a literal space scorpion that you fly around on (a Dungeon Master may pump the breaks on that one).

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