From: Kent Lerch <100716.2601@??????????.com> Date: 21 Oct 96 06:06:44 EDT Subject: Re: Salvage laws.
Greetings, dear list members. I'd like to give a few suggestions as to the matter mentioned in message 1964 of Terry Hawkins: "Has anyone come up with a simple and game-balanced set of salvage rules/laws for SJ. It seems that if PC's find a ship with even 50% damage with a minor helm and sell it at port for even 50% of its remaining value, they are still going to make a killing. Many SJ players/DMs' agree that the prices for helms are a *bit* high. Does anyone have a more reasonable price listing for a sphere with common access to Spelljamming ships. One suggestion I have heard is to set the value of helms at 10% of listed book price. This seems a little more reasonable when you consider that mages and priests of sufficent level can cast spells to create (temporary) helms. In general, what is to keep a party from becoming TOO rich for the campaign is they have a few encounters with pirates or scor that are using ships with helms." It seems to me that this is the old Dragon Hoard dilemma revisited. Generally there are three main solutions: Adversaries, the market and the law. Ad 1: As to adversaries not much needs to be said: whoever finds a treasure has to see to it that he will be able to enjoy his profits at the end of the day. So even if your PCs get the listed 100 000 Gold Pieces for the salvaged helm, there will be many, many people out there willing to relieve them of the burden of carrying around such a pile of money (which amounts to a TON of Gold if you calculate 1 GP = 10 grams as suggested in the PHB; historically it was closer to 5 grams per gold coin, pretty uniformly everawhere in Europe in the middle ages; quite a lot of weight still). Robbers, thieves and tax collectors abound. And the PCs will usually be strangers in a strange land, making them the top target on anybodies' list. Ad 2: The market will also help to get a grip on this problem. Will there be any buyers for the goods at this price? And even if there are, what will a massive influx of money do to the value of money (cf. the massive inflation the Spanish gold and silver imports from Sout America caused). The PCs will either not be able to sell their helms, have to sell them at a price way below the price given in the box, or get devalued money for it. A good "official" guideline is given in the SJ adventure "The Sea of Sorrows" in Dungeon 36, where the PCs can salvage nearly a dozen ships and/or helms from a sargasso. They may sell the ships and helms right where they found them, in Pirtelspace, at a somewhat reduced price. This price is actually quite a good price, as the goods are in high demand in Pirtelspace. If they fret and mumble "but this is not the price listed in the Spelljammer box", they are in for an even bigger surprise when they reach Refuge: the Arcane offer even less for their goods, since they had a lot of salvaged ships come in recently. Unfortunately I can't give you the rates suggested in the scenario, since I haven't got my Dungeons at hand; but maybe someone is willing to check it up. Ad 3: This is my favourite. Usually PCs assume that as soon they got their hands on something, it is theirs. Dead wrong. Quote from Baker, An Introduction to English Legal History, p. 438: "Certain categories of lost property belonged to the Crown by the royal prerogative ... The best known instance is treasure trove. Gold and silver artefacts, coin or bullion .. belong to the Crown unless and until the true owner makes good his claim; and they may be seized into the queen's hands by a coroner. Wreck of sea belonged to the crown unless the owner claimed the goods within a year and a day. The rhetorical Elizabethan explanation for this ancient rule was that it compensated the queen for her expensive naval obligations." As you see there are two parties to be reckoned with: the authorities and the former owners. Maybe there is such a thing as serial numbers for helms (in the form of wizard marks and such). There will definitively be something like a ships' register. If the PCs haven't got any documents proving that they are the owners, this will be the last they have seen of their salvaged ship. Whether it will go to the former owners or to the crown will most probably not be of major interest to the PCs. Another thing to consider are the prize laws, if the PCs tooks the ship off some nasties in combat, scro, pirates, you name it. Again, they will enjoy their gains only if they are either a ship of war, fighting for the Elven Imperial Navy or such, or bear a letter of marque recognized by the local authorities of the port where they want to sell their prize. If they are not, the ship is considered droit of the crown, and the above-mentioned rule is used. Maybe they get some reward for their good deed, but this is not obligatory. If they are a ship of war or a privateer, the captured ship is considered droit of admiralty and seized by the authorities as prize. The PCs will then get a share of the prize money (only a share, not all!), but only after all the relevant facts of capture and ownership have been ascertained by a prize court - and this means a lengthy trial, which will take away months of the PCs time ... Of course they may settle for a lesser amount of money if they waive their claims ... ; ) Just a few ideas out of the huge fundus of nasty tricks with which the law can provide evil-minded DMs. If anyone is interested in more details of prize law and such, just send me a mail and I'll reply in private, as I don't want to bore the list with legal stuff. Kent
|Re: Salvage laws.||Kevin Scardino|
|Salvage laws.||Kent Lerch|