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Month Index: November, 1994

From:     Michael Sandy <mehawk@?????.?????.com>
Date:     Mon, 7 Nov 94 13:10 PST
Subject:  Re: Groundlings and Spelljammers
Interesting world, but there are a number of things which really hammer

1)  River systems?  There is no mention of river systems.  Since most of
the continents are fairly flat, how possible are large scale irrigation
canals, ones that can carry barges?  Medieval europe had a lot of water
powered mills, some left over from Roman aqueduct systems.  Can I assume
significant public works projects of this nature?

2)  The continents are too far apart.  Long haul trade in the Indian Ocean
took 2-3 months from Arabia to Malaysia, when the trade winds blew west,
and 2-3 months going the other way, with several months out of the year
where you basically sat in port and waited for the monsoons to stop.

3)  London to India took a year, although that was in a fast sailing vessal,
when the East India Company was operating there.  That is about as long
a sea voyage as you could get on Earth, and you have continents twice as
far away.   Unless there is a chain of islands connecting them, how was
contact established between them?

A few questions:  How exclusive control can the Spelljammer get on long
haul trade?  Do Giant Albatrosses carry piddling 7th level mages with
Polymorph Other and an imagination?  Is the court wizard well enough traveled
to cast Teleport Without Error to useful places?  Does the wizard have
an apprentice or is he on full time Spelljammer duty?  Considering his contract,
I expect him to insist on a large amount of research time.

How established is the merchant class in the kingdom?  Could the king
grant them a charter?  Float a loan?  With a Spelljammer as collateral
and profit potential the Bankers of medieval Europe would jump on the chance
to get a measly 10% of the profits, if they could get a good deal.

To really make money off a Spelljammer, you need luxury goods.  To get
luxury goods you need an established trade infrastructure, roads, canals,
etc...  That way, wheat can be shipped to the Dwarves in huge quantities,
enabling more of them to work on finely crafted implements instead of farming
the low fertility mountain valleys.

Without a trade infrastructure, the primary use of the Spelljammer is
military, including piracy.

Now:  You mentioned fairly high quantities of magic.  Does this mean that
a Spelljammer could be met a 5th/5th fighter Mage on a Pegasus, having
cast Invisibility 10' Radius, or two Invisibilities and Immunity to
Normal Missiles flies above the Spelljammer and fires arrows with a
Slightly Modified Explosive Runes spells, the Rune explodes on contact, instead
of on being read.

Or, a Cleric Mage casts silence, Flight, and Invisibility, and strafes the
deck with a wand of Lightning Bolts.

Or is high magic:
The Scry Net reports enemy activity in the northeast county.  Courier Mage
teleports there with the Kingdom Armory, including wands of magic missile,
fireball, etc...  Rings of all occassion.  Low maintenance firepower,
easily redeployed.

"High Magic"  doesn't mean much if military theory is still back in the dark
ages of massed spearmen.  Horse archers who fight in dispersed patterns.
Sieges with good trenchwork within spell range of the walls.  But heavy
cavalry charges are strictly for fighting the barbarians.

If magic is used on a strategic level, coordinating troops, deploying
special reinforcements, etc... a campaign based on a single Spelljammer
will get in trouble.

Here, at a minimum, is the security needed for the ship, all day, all year:
Protection from Scrying, or at least, detection thereof.
Detect invisible, inaudible attackers.
Onboard weaponry of sort to deal with creatures immune to normal weaponry,
to prevent a repeat of how the King took the ship.
Checks of crew for magical influence, replacement by doppleganger, or
isolation of crew during visits to uncontrolled ports of call.

A Cube of Force would be good.  With a Cube of Force _I'd_ do fairly risky
things with the ship.

A spelljammer would help enormously in subduing barbarian tribes.  Build a
few castles as bolt holes in case of insurrection, maintain contact by
magic, passenger pigeons or whatever, and threaten to raid their women
and children if they attack kingdom colonials.  If they take their women with them on
with them on raids, or only do raids close to their homes, it is still easy
to mount punitive raids.  If you are squeamish about Realpolitique, what
are you doing roleplaying at the kingdom level?

Oh yeah, never leave the ship in one place for longer than it takes a mage
to memorize spells, unless you have protection from teleport there.

A lot of the tricks you can do with a Spelljammer you can do with a
prodigious expenditure of spells and time.  You can have the greatest
wizard in the world, but if you have to protect major capitol assets
from higher than 5th level mages who have all the time in the world to
prepare and cast preparatory spells, you may become overcommitted.

On the bright side, until you have enemies of sufficient sort that they
are willing to send highly trained individuals on possible suicide runs,
you are in good shape.

Michael Sandy

Previous Message: Bouncebomb (repost)
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Month Index: November, 1994

SubjectFromDate (UTC)
Groundlings and Spelljammers    RJPugh@???.com    07 Nov 1994 19:06:52
Re: Groundlings and Spelljammers    Michael Sandy    07 Nov 1994 21:10:00
Groundlings and Spelljammers    RJPugh@???.com    08 Nov 1994 01:16:08
Re: Groundlings and Spelljammers    Michael Bauser    08 Nov 1994 05:31:36
Re: Groundlings and Spelljammers    Michael Sandy    08 Nov 1994 07:02:00
Re: Groundlings and Spelljammers    Michael Sandy    09 Nov 1994 08:18:00

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