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Month Index: October, 1994

From:     Joseph Delisle <jd@?????.net>
Date:     Fri, 28 Oct 1994 14:59:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:  Re: Groundlings using spelljammers
In a previous message, Michael Sandy said...

> 1)  Trade:  The value of a ship is a function of its cargo capacity and its
> round trip time.  For long haul journeys, which take sailing vessels _months_
> a SJ ship spends most of its time just loading and unloading its cargo as
> everything on the planet is less than a day away.  This puts a premium on
> fast loading and unloading capability.  So a sea going galley costs 30,000
> and a Galleon costs 50,000, a Hammership has a trade value of easily
> 30 times that for trading voyages of over a month.

	That's a good point, and it a spelljammer could be used for
trade. But to use them as a trading backbone is a bad idea. First, a
competitor could easily sabotage a spelljammer; each time it docks
it's vulnerable (same as any other ship). Also, there's the constant
reliance on a magic-wielder -- if your world has any non-magic areas,
the ship is hosed if it goes through. Third, there are simple
economics to consider. As supply goes up, demand is satisfied, and hte
price falls. Even if the price doesn't fall, how often can even the
king afford to pay 1,000 gp an ounce for imported beer?

> 2)  Colonies.  It is much easier to establish a colony if the homeland is
> only a short jaunt away.  Using Crystal balls or other magical communications
> a very small Spelljamming Navy could transport Heavy marines in very short
> time.  SJ ships not usable on defense, what idiocy!  I do not want to
> attack against aerial superiority, think WWI.  I have superior intelligence.

	You're right about the uses as a troop carrier, but there are
limitations. You have to have a spelljammer (and a fairly high level
magic-user) sitting idle "in case". It does no good if you've got a
great communications system, but no ships available (all involved in
transport). Also, there's the issue of simultaneous attacks; a
knowledgeable enemy attacks 2-3 of your outposts. So, now you have the
problem of multiple expen$ive spelljammers sitting idle 'just in
	Your WWI example fails when you think about the nature of most
spelljammers: unmaneuverable compared to most flyers, and they have
open decks. It's quite possible to to have flyers land on a
spelljammer and/or attack hte weaponsmen. Also, the spelljammer has to
slow down in order to drop troops (unless you paid the gold for
parachutes); can we say 'sitting duck'? Then there's the 'wall of
force' cast in midair...

> Think Napoleon's march on Moscow, the Cossacks appear behind your lines and
> screw up your resupply.  Any army column small enough not to have supply
> probelms can be dealt with by marines.

	Underground supply lines. Impractical in the real world, but
_could_ be done in a fantasy world, especially if there is a tunnel
system already created by dwarves/whatever. If you go through the
forests, spelljammers really shouldn't take action against them (Elven
Imperial Navy sees humans carpet bombing or dropping troops in elven
territory. 'Fun' ensues). Another way would be just disguise some of
hte elite troops as as merchants in a caravan during their overland
journey; once they arrive they just read the Dimensional Portal
scroll, and transport the army over. (On second thought, you jest need
to send a mid-level mage with the scroll.)

> 3)  Civil control.  You need to maintain a lot few troops, and in a central
> locations, if you can use them to piss on the sparks of rebellion before
> things get out of hand.  Further, _knowing_ you can use airborne troops
> will deter many revolutionaries from acting.

	True. But if the revolutionaries get control of certain areas,
spelljammers are useless; you can't bomb them, and the defender has
the advantage. Assuming you don't have the gold to rebuild the
city. If you do, nevermind.

> I envision SJ ships doing to small feudal holdings what large cannon did in
> our universe.  Any kin or would be king who buys them can squeeze out
> every opponent who doesn't until all surviving powers have them, if only
> for deterent value.

	Not necessarily. The merchants guild could boycott the kingdom
-- try getting goods when no one will sell to you. The mages guild
might object to their number being used as common ship-pilots. You
_don't_ tick off the mages guild if you want your kingdom to
last. "How could I cast the spell that caused the drought? I wasn't
even in this universe last month." The assasins and thieves guild,
faced with the possibilty of increased troop movements, starts making
things very difficult for the king. Blackmail, theft, and
assassination are all possibilities; a shared enemy helps make
	Also, there's economics to consider again. The first kingdom
spends 2 million gold pieces to buy a fleet of spelljammers, the
second spends 1.5 million gold pieces and buys the area that produces
the goods to be transported; #2 sells the product to #1 for 20 times
the normal cost. Who was smarter?

> A spelljammer with company of bandits could wreck the economy of any
> groundling nation that didn't have extensive magic, and if they have
> extensive magic, why don't they have Jammers?

	There are a lot of reasons why there would be no
spelljammers. Lack of activity in a system, or Arcane disapproval
would be two good reasons. Culture may play a large role; there may be
prejudices agaisnt flying, phobias, or religious restrictions. If
there are no birds, high mountain peaks, etc on a world, the _idea_ of
flight may never have occurred to the people. Then there are arial
hazards: mid-to-high atmosphere toxic clouds, dragons that don't take
too kindly to sharing thier skies with mammals, sky-type gods who do
not want unbelievers to be more powerful than the faithful, etc.
	Or perhaps the kingdoms can't afford 500,000-750,000 gold
pieces just one one ship. Let's face it -- that could pay for an
entire army. Considering the potential vulnerability of the ship (we
are assuming mid-to-high magic worlds, yes?), it's not a good

"You're waking from a very long dream,          | Joe Delisle
your eyes are focused on the fan on the ceiling,|    jd@?????.net
you realize you're a part of the machine.       | quote: "Terminal City",
Just a part of the machine."                    | Machines of Loving Grace

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Month Index: October, 1994

SubjectFromDate (UTC)
Groundlings using spelljammers    Martin Anthony Laxton    21 Oct 1994 01:49:11
Re: Groundlings using spelljammers    Joseph Delisle    21 Oct 1994 02:30:23
Re: Groundlings using spelljammers    Pascal Gaudette    21 Oct 1994 06:33:21
Re: Groundlings using spelljammers    Skreyn@???.com    21 Oct 1994 10:38:22
Re: Groundlings using spelljammers    Michael Sandy    21 Oct 1994 18:21:00
Re: Groundlings using spelljammers    Michael Sandy    21 Oct 1994 18:34:00
Re: Groundlings using spelljammers    brian gute    23 Oct 1994 21:11:31
Re: Groundlings using spelljammers    Joseph Delisle    28 Oct 1994 18:59:34
Re: Groundlings using spelljammers    Michael Sandy    02 Nov 1994 06:42:00

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