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Month Index: November, 1994

From:     Michael Sandy <mehawk@?????.?????.com>
Date:     Wed, 2 Nov 94 18:59 PST
Subject:  Re: Groundlings using spelljammers (fwd)
I never said Spelljammers are invincible!  I never said Spelljammers are
invincible!  I never said Spelljammers are invincible!

Look, _sometimes_ the groundling empire that gets control of Spelljammers
is going to be an _NPC_ kingdom, not a Munchkin Player Character!!!!  You
can't warp the world however you want to rob player characters of the
profits of their brilliant ideas, but picking on NPC's is silly.

What I said was that a kingdom which acquires Spelljammers, especially if
they can buy more, will inevitably swallow smaller kingdoms or force
said kingdoms to band together.  Just like the invention of cannon did
away with every small political entity which couldn't afford cannon.

As to the teamsters union being pissed, I posted earlier that an increase in
load distance luxury trade is likely to promote interest and investment
in short distance bulk trade.  Remember, the larger political entities
that arise from dealing with Spelljammer trade will have an interest in
promoting internal trade, canals, barges, roads, etc...  Thus, more things
are brought to the city, and the Spelljammer can pick and choose the best
products, sell them a continent away.  Thus, the best products get a continenta
wide market, enabling them to expand, in turn expanding the amount that can
be shipped.

You mention that kingdoms might sponsor saboteurs to destroy a rivals
Spelljammer when in port.  If you think that then I suppose it would've been
rational for British ships to burn French ships which happen to be in German
ports, even if they are at peace with Germany, (or even with France!)
A spelljammer is expensive, but to equip a legion of 10,000 men, Chain mail
and sword costs well over twice that, not including training and hire.

A spelljammer can do great things to an occupied city.  Think Stalingrad.
More importantly, if you have a Spelljammer in your nation, become a
religious believer in scouting, relay stations, semaphore stations and
the like.  Do you know how annoying it would be for raiders to encounter
heavy pikemen, _fresh_ pikemen, untired from forced marches, backed by
elite archers _everywhere_ along their route?

If the city was taken by treachery, or the disloyalty of its citizens,
razing it would serve a very Machiavellian purpose.

As for you silly statement that one Spelljammer could swamp the market,
haven't you just _proved_ how valuable the fleet is?  If I can handle
_all_ the long distance trade over a continent, I can afford to lower
prices.  A prosperous country of about a million can drink a lot of tea.
And they'll need sugar too!

As to barbarians and jiahds not being buyable off, what planet's history
are you familiar with?  Rome made a great practice of hiring barbarians to
fight each other, which lasted for centuries.  The tribes only prevailed
when they could present a unified front, unified, in fact, by opposition

Let us think of Crusades which came to grief over money.  Well, there was
the crusade which took a profitable side trip to sack Constantinople,
there were the ones which got bogged down running trade through the lands
they conquered instead of 'liberating' Jerusalem.

Now, if your goal is to arbitrarily restrict Spelljammers, you are going to
have to fiddle with their numbers.  As is, a Spelljammer is a single large
capital asset which costs comparitively little to maintain.  So, change
a few things to make it really unpleasant to use for a long priod of
time, like permanently draining magical power from the mage who powered
it, or frequent _expensive_ rituals required to renew its power.

Perhaps the ships' helms decay faster on planet.  But unless you fundamentally
change the book description of Spelljammers they are going to rapidly
change the structure of any groundling society they are introduced to, to
the great economic benefit of the Spelljammers.  Unless you posit several,
powerful, highly motivated, invisible secret societies whose sole purpose
is to thwart technology, er, Spelljammers, they will come to dominate
long haul trade.  Now you can have as many of these completely illogical
secret societies as you want, but gamers who like some consistency and
logic to the universe you've created will wonder why you have Spelljammers
at all in your universe, since you don't like what they do to groundling

In an earlier post I commented that an assassination would not change the
policy of a kingdom profitting greatly from trade.  I meant to say
militant expansionist  instead of military expansionists, but in some nations
the difference between the military and the merchants is so slight as to be
negligible.  Like the British empire.

I'd like to know how you'd think even a huge cult of assassins, oh, lets
call them "Thugees" would interfere in the slightest with the policy of a
nation making huge profits by exploiting them.  Remember what I said about
getting the best products from all over the continent?  After a few centuries
I will probably have the model for the best army in the world, the money to
equip it, and the luxuries to support an officer corps.  If I control the
luxuries I can hire many luxury loving mages, as long as I don't work them
too hard.  Since a lot of spell components require rare items from distant
locations made with rare craftsmenship, I hold all the cards needed to hire
them, to their profit and mine.

Now, there are a number of practical questions for a groundling nation who
is first on the block with a new toy.  Does he use it simply to augment
his current trading routes, buying through the same agents and, perhaps,
keeping secret how exactly he is shipping these goods?  This is a good course
until the crews are more familiar with ship's handling and aerial navigation.
Once you have good maps of the surrounding, oh, 500 miles, then I think you
can do some exploring, since you can find your way home from anywhere in that
500 mile radius.  First contact missions could be quite sensitve encounters,
especially if you must maintain the guise of a seagoing ship.  The great
Capitols are more likely to have the goods you need, and acquisitive
foreign ministers.  Setting up trading colonies which assemble stuff you
want when you want it while your ship is actually elsewhere, like the
European and Muslim trade colonies in India, China, and Japan, may be a
sufficient security precaution.  You may lose a few colonies to jealous
princes, but not so many as to cut off trade, unless they are extremely
powerful politically.  Of course, the more powerful they are, the better
trade prospects in terms of their having things you can sell.

The advantage of setting up trade colonies is so that you don't need to tie
down the ship for a long time looking for things to buy and sell, you
simply unload at the company warehouse, listen to your factor there describe
what would sell there, pick up you cargo and head to the next place on your
trade route.  Also, if the people you meet have nothing else to buy your
goods with, you can buy land, and start a plantation of goods you know will
sell somewhere.

Michael Sandy

Previous Message: Re: Groundlings using spelljammers (fwd)
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Month Index: November, 1994

SubjectFromDate (UTC)
Re: Groundlings using spelljammers (fwd)    Joseph Delisle    02 Nov 1994 21:22:39
Re: Groundlings using spelljammers (fwd)    Michael Sandy    03 Nov 1994 02:59:00

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