There are a number of reasons to hold Spelljammer as something ‘special’. The primary of these should certainly be the originality of the setting, but for a lover of the history of RPGs, there is something much more fundamentally intriguing about this product to me.
Produced by TSR in 1989 and written by Jeff Grubb, this is what I would consider the final product of TSR’s ‘Golden Era’. Some might argue that moniker belongs to the Forgotten Realms, but that is a bit too early, and Dark Sun a bit too late.
Spelljammer, however, falls perfectly in the wheelhouse of AD&D’s 2nd Edition, and is the last boxed set product to have artwork exclusively by two of the founding members of the 1980s TSR ‘pit’.
Certainly, the work of Jim Holloway, which might be truly classified as freelance by this time, doesn’t take away from the fact that he was still an integral part of that core of artists brought in between 1981 and 1983.
There is also some artistic intrigue in this game because of the addition of Jeff Easley’s seminal piece of cover art. It is the only piece that isn’t done by Holloway, and Jim actually does two booklet covers on the interior that could both have been used for the games cover is so desired by the AD. However, somewhere along the line, I’m convinced that someone at TSR decided against using Holloway as the cover artist and instead had a cover shot recast by Easley who was still working in-house as the final holdover of that old guard.
Whatever the case, this is a stellar [no pun intended] campaign setting that features the same rather comical genius of Holloway set to the backdrop of the unexplored universe. It also contains maps by David ‘Diesel’ LaForce which adds another bit of nostalgic ‘umph’ to the collection.
In all, I love this game, and I love this boxed set, I just wish that Holloway got more credit for the work he put in than he actually did.
Artistic Rating: 4 [out of 5]