10 min read

Thar she glows! Learn how to speak like a Spelljammer

Title image showing a Gith pirate with the title "how to talk like a Spelljammer"
“Thar she glows!”

Captain Ahab, Gith captain of the ship Starry Night on sighting the eye-glow of a Kindori

Ahoy there Groundlings!

Perhaps you are planning a Spelljammer campaign, about to join one as a player, or maybe your ship has already set sail into Wildspace? If so, you have come to the right place to learn how to speak like a Spelljammer.

Read on for astro-nautical-inspired slang, words, and turns of phrase that you can incorporate into your Spelljammer roleplaying… arrrrr!

A picture of a spelljamming ship in wildspace

Captain, Crew, and other people

Whether you are a Groundling or Starborn, you will need to learn the lingo to describe your new crew mates!

Term / Phrase Description
Groundling / Dirtbound Someone with no spacefaring experience (Spelljammers equivalent of a landlubber).
Starborn One who is born in Wild Space
Starfarer / Jammer One who works or adventures in space
Spelljammer / Phlogistronaut / Helmsmaster / Coxswain A magic user who uses a Spelljamming Helm to fly a Spelljammer
Skipper / Master / Cap’n The captain of a ship (usually a separate role to the Spelljammer)
Crack Crew A crew who has ventured outside their own planetary system
Green Crew A crew who has not yet ventured outside their own planetary system
Greenie or Greenhorn Inexperienced person on their first Wildspace voyage
Grockle A slightly derogatory term used to address a traveller from a far-away land
Hamstermancer Someone who has domesticated (and usually rides) a Giant Space Hamster
Chainmen A term for slavers
Freebooter / Swashbuckler Pirates never call themselves pirates, and instead, use one of these preferred terms
Privateer A specialised pirate acting as a free agent who serves as a mercenary

The creatures of space are known by many names - here are a few of them.

Term / Phrase Description
Snubbers A term for Githyanki
Astral Attercop / Eelspider Terms for Neogi
Atterbooter A Neogi pirate
Atter-tatter A derogatory term for a thief or someone who has stolen something
Spacegazer / Eye Tyrant Both are terms for Beholder
Slavemaker / Mindfarmer / Brain Leech Slang for Illithid / Mindflayer
Illisquid / Head Humper / Squidhead Derogatory terms for mindflayers
Big Blue Slang for Mercane (a race of spacefaring merchants)
Lighteye Slang for Kindori
Schoolmaster The largest Kindori in a pod, usually the dominant bull
Sucker A young calf Kindori
Kindorhalers Refers to those who hunt Kindori
Kindorileans Refers to those who ride domesticated Kindori, often having built structures on their backs
Thar she glows! Refers to a sighting of a Kindori, usually from the cone of light emitted from its central eye
A picture of a spelljamming ship in wildspace, with 2 Kindori in the background

Your Ship and the Astral Environment

There are various turns of phrase used to describe Wildspace and the environment being sailed through below.

Term / Phrase Description
The Breatheasy A word for the air envelope around a ship
Bubble Trouble / Breatheasy Breach When your air envelope has been compromised
Fishery An area in wildspace to be avoided, usually known to contain Scavvers
Star Wind The astral wind that powers the sails of Spelljammers
Wild Shards A term for asteroids
Gravstorm A patch of unpredictable gravity in space, sometimes mobile
Slinger / Hurler Terms meaning Mangonel (a type of ship weapon resembling a catapult)
Shooter A term meaning Baillista (ship weapon resembling a large crossbow)
Deepsea The space between planetary systems
Metrockolis A term for a city or settlement built on an Asteroid (e.g. Bral)
Plum-Pudding Voyage A term for a short or ‘tween seasons voyage into Wildspace.
Helmtech A term to describe the various types of Spelljamming Helm
Lifejammer A Spelljamming Helm that draws power from its wearer’s life force. Often used in slave ships.
Grav-line / Deckline The plane of gravity within an Air Envelope
The Silver Sea Refers to the Astral plane, an unending plane of silvery light

Anatomy of a ship

When you are running roleplay onboard a Spelljamming ship, build in some authenticity by referring to the various areas of the vessel by their correct names.

Term Description
Bow Front of the ship
Stern / Dungbie The rear of the ship
Port The left-hand side of the ship (When looking towards the bow)
Starboard The corresponding word for the right side of the ship
Abaft, or Aft Towards the back of the boat
Bilge The lowest decks of the ship, often filled with filth and slime.
Poop Deck The deck that is highest and farthest back (... and not the latrine!)
Binnacle The place where the compass is kept on the ship
Crow's Nest The place on the ship where the lookout stand is built
Head Is the toilet on board the ship
Jacob's Ladder The rope ladder used to climb aboard the ship
Rigging The lines and ropes for the sails
Captain A picture of Captain N'Ghathrod the mindflayer
Captain N'Ghathrod is coming to D&D (from MTG) in the upcoming Dungeon of the Mad Mage module

Things your angry Captain may shout at you!

Term / Phrase Description
Astropotamus Slang for a Giff
Flapper Slang for a Hadozee, referring to their wing-like flaps of skin used to glide
Star-eye Slang for an Astral Elf
Slimer / Snotling Slang for a Plasmoid
Bilge Bug Slang for a Thri-Kreen
Talking Spanner Slang for an Auto-Gnome
Bilge Hamster A derogatory term for pretty much anyone (Bilge is the lowest part of the ship and this refers to space hamsters who have strayed there amongst the refuse and slime)
Hamster Gangster A term used to put an insolent or vexatious person back in their place “Ye think yer tough as Kindori hide? Yer nothin’ but a hamster gangster!”
Heave ho, and put yer back into it, or ye’ll be eatin’ slumgullion for a week! Slumgullion is the blubberous refuse from processing Kindori carcasses
Arr, ye smell like ye've been bathing in bilge for weeks! A general insult.
Ye filthy scurvy scavver scallywag, put yer back into it! Scallywag is a mild insult, often used affectionately.
Ye rotten rapscallion! Rapscallion is another mild insult, to describe a mischievous person
Truly yer scabbier than a scavver’s scrotum! When the captain has lost their rag they will pull this onerous insult from the archives.
An asinine asteroid has more sense than ye! Used when someone has demonstrated incompetence
Have ye given yer brain to the squidheads? Another insult for incompetence or stupidity
I’ve seen prettier astral attercops than ye! A general insult
Ye hornswaggling atterbooter! An insult referring to someone as a Neogi pirate / term for a thief
Ye scurvy scavver! A general insult
Cleave him to the brisket! To cut across the chest, from one shoulder down to the lower abdomen
Give ‘em a giff's welcome Meaning to throw everything you have at them, especially artillery
Dead man tell no tales When telling the crew to leave no survivors
Scuttle the jammer! Order to sink a ship
Ye bilge-sucking blubber rubber! / Bilge sucker A general insult referring to the filthy slime at the very bottom of the ship (the Bilge).
Ye lily-livered lousy layabout! An insult for someone who displays cowardice and laziness
I’ll make ye dance the hempen jig! A threat of being hanged
Son of a spacegazer A derogatory term for someone you dislike
Savvy? Used when asking if someone understands or agrees
Ye've three sheets to the astral wind, no more grog for ye! Translates to: you are very drunk (one sheet is merry and four sheets means passed out). Grog = alcohol
Batten down the hatches, a gravstorm is brewing! Put everything away and tie everything down on the ship because a gravity storm is brewing
Give no quarter! Show no mercy!
Why do ye hang the jib laddy? We’re nearly to Bral and there’ll be plenty a fun fer all! Hang the jib is to frown or scowl
Feed ‘em to the scavvers! Order to throw someone overboard
You scurvy scavver bait! A general insult
Yer mother was a hamster! A common insult thrown about onboard Spelljamming ships

Exclamations and other turns of phrase

And finally... a selection of short exclamations fit for any starborn or greenie alike!

Term / Phrase Description
Aaarrrggghhh! An exclamation of disgust (not to be confused with ‘Arrrr!’ which is more accurately used to denote your piratey-ness)
Ahoy there, matey! / Ahoy, me hearties A greeting
Avast ye space grubs! Look over there / look at this
Cor blimey! An expression of surprise
Astral angels, give me strength! An expression of exasperation
Shiver me star-timbers! Usually denotes surprise or shock
Blow me down! Denotes surprise. Translates roughly to oh my God!
By the sacred light of the Kindori! A general exclamation
By the belly of Bral! A general exclamation
Umberlee’s underside! A general exclamation. Umberlee is the much-feared and chaotic evil god of the sea in Faerun
Procan’s beard! Procan is a lesser-known deity of the sea (from Ghosts of Saltmarsh)
By the blowhole of Deep Sashelas! Deep Sashelas is an Elven god of the sea on Faerun, often manifesting as a dolphin
Sacred Selune! Selune is the Faerun god of the moon and the night sky
By the Machinations of the Moonmaiden! Referring to Selune or any other of the deities of the sky and stars.
Plenty more Scavvers in the Astral Sea Meaning “it’s not over yet”
He went a-dancing with Jack Ketch Translates to he was hanged
They're Scavver bait Someone made to walk the plank, or other dying Jammer to be thrown overboard
Get me a clap of thunder! Get me a strong alcoholic drink

General advice on roleplaying in Spelljammer

There are a number of tropes you can utilise when roleplaying in a Spelljammer campaign, whether it's for your player or a DM playing an NPC.

We've covered a lot of pirate-themed ideas above, but if you prefer a more refined character, another trope to model your character on is a 17th century explorer. These upper class naval toffs would use some of the phrases below:

  1. Greeting: Good Morrow! / How now? / How do you fare? What cheer?
  2. Excuse me: Pray pardon me!
  3. Excellent!: Huzzah!
  4. Goodbye: God bye to you / Fare thee well / Pray remember me
  5. Addressing someone (in place of Mr / Mrs): My Goodman / My Goodlady

For this role, talk slowly and with a posh, even slightly condescending English accent whilst keeping your body language clipped and contained.

If neither of these fit the bill, then there are plenty of other tropes to consider, whether it's Viking raiders, rich merchants, or exotic travellers, the beauty of Spelljammer is that you can literally come from anywhere!

I hope you have found this useful and in the meantime, happy Spelljamming!

May the wildspace lie clear and smooth before you. May a gentle astral breeze forever fill your sails. May the starshine warm your face, and kindness warm your soul.


Get every token you will need to play Light of Xaryxis - part 1!
A Review of the first Spelljammer Academy Adventure: Orientation
Spoiler alert! This article discusses the new Spelljammer adventures from WotC in detail, so any player cadets reading this may want to turn their ships now before we head into the depths of Wildspace spoiler territory. TL;DR; In a rush? This article covers 4 key tips for DMs running
A Review of Spelljammer Academy: Trial by Fire
A review of the second Spelljammer Academy adventure, “Trial by Fire”, tips for DMs running the module plus a sweet FREE map of the Squid ship.
A Review of Spelljammer Academy: Realmspace Sortie
A review of the third Spelljammer Academy adventure, “Realmspace Sortie”, tips for DMs running the module plus a sweet FREE map of the Tyrant ship.
A Review of Spelljammer Academy: Behold H’Catha
The final instalment of Spelljammer Academy is here and so is my final play test review of this series (after a bit of summer fun delaying my write up!). Spoiler alert! This article discusses the new Spelljammer adventure from WotC in detail, so any player cadets reading this may want


Get every token you will need to play Light of Xaryxis - part 1!
Take me there!
PLAYING SPELLJAMMER ON ROLL20? 🔥🔥Get every token needed to play LoX here!
Every token for LoX Part 1 here