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Month Index: November, 1994

From:     RJPugh@???.com
Date:     Mon, 7 Nov 1994 20:16:08 -0500
Subject:  Re: Groundlings and Spelljammers
Forwarded message from NSBOS0340@?????.?????.edu (zKharra Dom)


Michael Sandy brought up some interesting points:

> 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?

a. The continents are not "fairly flat", with the exception of the football.
   The crescent continent, in fact, is about 25% mountain.
b. Rivers travel north to south on the crescent continent; on the football
   continent there is little more than streams, but the halflings do not
   rely on more water than a small village community needs anyway.
c. In the human kingdoms, there are no public works of that nature at the

> 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.

a. The continents are not very far apart.  I forgot to show seasonal and
   climactic aspects of the world (silly me).  The problem with travel is
   that the continents do NOT bisect the planet as those on Earth do, and
   so just following a straight trade wind will miss the continent.  In
   addition, trade winds are not particularly powerful.
b. The result of this, of course, is vastly bloated travel times by sea.
   At times, a good flying carpet will get you somewhere faster ;).
c. Overland travel times on the crescent continent by boat, by the way,
   are generally measured in days: decent currents, but shallow water
   makes it slightly dangerous but very fast.

> 3)  London to India took a year, although that was in a fast sailing
> 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. Contact!  I forgot to mention this:
   The island continent is completely cut off from the other two.  There is
   not trade contact with it at the moment.
   The football continent is only marginally in contact with the crescent
   continent, and that was mostly due to the work of wizards.  Trade is
   slightly of interest at the moment, particularly due to the rare herbs
   and spices that can be gotten from the football (in return for metals,
   which are rarer on the football).

> A few questions:  How exclusive control can the Spelljammer get on long
> haul trade?

Uhm.. assuming that you are asking: Can the Spelljammer get Rights to long
   haul trade?

The answer to that is yes.  They can gets rights from the kingdom that now
has the Spelljammer!  Other kingdoms may or may not give rights to it, but
they also won't have much of a choice unless they can steal it or sabatoge

> Do Giant Albatrosses carry piddling 7th level mages with
> Polymorph Other and an imagination?

There is no giant albatross, and Polymorph Other would likely get an icy
reception, particularly if the albatross isn't actually mentally changed
that first day.  If it is, it will act like a normal albatross, and
probably eat the mage.  Bad idea, overall.

> Is the court wizard well enough traveled
> to cast Teleport Without Error to useful places?

To most of the other human kingdoms, yes.  The court wizard has not, to
date, seen the other continents or States.

> 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.

Whether he is on full time spelljammer duty or not is up to y'all.  There
are low level mages in the kingdom that can be drawn upon.

> 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
> to get a measly 10% of the profits, if they could get a good deal.

The middle merchant class is decently established, but is better established
in other kingdoms.  Land is not owned by the merchant class, for example,
although great deals of material goods might be.  There are probably about
four or five relatively powerful aristocrats with both money and birth,
who would be able to get a charter.  There are also two major wizards in
other kingdoms who are relatively rich, and may ask for a piece of the pie.

> 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
> the low fertility mountain valleys.

Depends on how you define luxury goods.  If you're defining it as "useless"
goods, such as jewelry, then there may be a problem.

On the other hand, what about selling steel to non-technological States?
Wood to swamp kobolds?  Spices, herbs, or anything else that isn't native
to an area?

The dwarf example, by the way, is excellent.

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

That's up to y'all, not me ;).

> 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.

No.  I said levels of magic "as indicated by the game system".  The game
system gives MUCH higher levels of magic than any mythology in the real
world.  A mage only needs a *9* intelligence (lower range of average) in
order to learn fairly powerful spells, for example.  Magic items are as
common as platinum (almost).  And so on.

Magic is not MORE copious than the system indicates, however.

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

Unfortunately, a spelljammer can easily outrun the Cleric, and the deck
will likely have several Clerics or mages on board.

> 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.

No.  The magic is applied realistically, but technology and modern concepts
are still "way back when".  Thus, there are no Mage Corporations, Scry Nets,
Dollar Bill Detections, and so on.

> "High Magic"  doesn't mean much if military theory is still back in the
> 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.

As a general rule, assume that a military of 300 men (large) can support
about 2-3 low level mages, and a kingdom can support about 1 powerful
mage if they're lucky enough to have one.

Assume that a single kingdom has about 30 magic items of varying power in
it, total.  About 50% of those items will be of the sword +2 variety or

FINAL: The rest of Michael Sandy's post involves the argument about
spelljamming itself.

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Next Message: Re: Groundlings and Spelljammers
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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