"Imagine, if you can, a bald-faced hornet of your earthly experience grown to the size of a prize Hereford bull, and you will have some faint conception of the ferocious appearance and awesome formidability of the winged monster that bore down upon me.
Frightful jaws in front and mighty, poisoned sting behind made my relatively puny long-sword seem a pitiful weapon of defense indeed. Nor could I hope to escape the lightning-like movements or hide from those myriad facet eyes which covered three-fourths of the hideous head, permitting the creature to see in all directions at one and the same time.
Even my powerful and ferocious Woola was as helpless as a kitten before that frightful thing. But to flee were useless, even had it ever been to my liking to turn my back upon a danger; so I stood my ground, Woola snarling at my side, my only hope to die as I had always lived—fighting.
The creature was upon us now, and at the instant there seemed to me a single slight chance for victory. If I could but remove the terrible menace of certain death hidden in the poison sacs that fed the sting the struggle would be less unequal.
At the thought I called to Woola to leap upon the creature's head and hang there, and as his mighty jaws closed upon that fiendish face, and glistening fangs buried themselves in the bone and cartilage and lower part of one of the huge eyes, I dived beneath the great body as the creature rose, dragging Woola from the ground, that it might bring its sting beneath and pierce the body of the thing hanging to its head.
To put myself in the path of that poison-laden lance was to court instant death, but it was the only way; and as the thing shot lightning-like toward me I swung my long-sword in a terrific cut that severed the deadly member close to the gorgeously marked body.
Then, like a battering-ram, one of the powerful hind legs caught me full in the chest and hurled me, half stunned and wholly winded, clear across the broad highway and into the underbrush of the jungle that fringes it.
Fortunately, I passed between the boles of trees; had I struck one of them I should have been badly injured, if not killed, so swiftly had I been catapulted by that enormous hind leg.
Dazed though I was, I stumbled to my feet and staggered back to Woola's assistance, to find his savage antagonist circling ten feet above the ground, beating madly at the clinging calot with all six powerful legs.
Even during my sudden flight through the air I had not once released my grip upon my long-sword, and now I ran beneath the two battling monsters, jabbing the winged terror repeatedly with its sharp point.
The thing might easily have risen out of my reach, but evidently it knew as little concerning retreat in the face of danger as either Woola or I, for it dropped quickly toward me, and before I could escape had grasped my shoulder between its powerful jaws.
Time and again the now useless stub of its giant sting struck futilely against my body, but the blows alone were almost as effective as the kick of a horse; so that when I say futilely, I refer only to the natural function of the disabled member—eventually the thing would have hammered me to a pulp. Nor was it far from accomplishing this when an interruption occurred that put an end forever to its hostilities.
From where I hung a few feet above the road I could see along the highway a few hundred yards to where it turned toward the east, and just as I had about given up all hope of escaping the perilous position in which I now was I saw a red warrior come into view from around the bend.
He was mounted on a splendid thoat, one of the smaller species used by red men, and in his hand was a wondrous long, light lance.
His mount was walking sedately when I first perceived them, but the instant that the red man's eyes fell upon us a word to the thoat brought the animal at full charge down upon us. The long lance of the warrior dipped toward us, and as thoat and rider hurtled beneath, the point passed through the body of our antagonist.
With a convulsive shudder the thing stiffened, the jaws relaxed, dropping me to the ground, and then, careening once in mid air, the creature plunged headforemost to the road, full upon Woola, who still clung tenaciously to its gory head.
By the time I had regained my feet the red man had turned and ridden back to us. Woola, finding his enemy inert and lifeless, released his hold at my command and wriggled from beneath the body that had covered him, and together we faced the warrior looking down upon us.
I started to thank the stranger for his timely assistance, but he cut me off peremptorily.
"Who are you," he asked, "who dare enter the land of Kaol and hunt in the royal forest of the jeddak?"
Then, as he noted my white skin through the coating of grime and blood that covered me, his eyes went wide and in an altered tone he whispered: "Can it be that you are a Holy Thern?"
I might have deceived the fellow for a time, as I had deceived others, but I had cast away the yellow wig and the holy diadem in the presence of Matai Shang, and I knew that it would not be long ere my new acquaintance discovered that I was no thern at all.
"I am not a thern," I replied, and then, flinging caution to the winds, I said: "I am John Carter, Prince of Helium, whose name may not be entirely unknown to you."
If his eyes had gone wide when he thought that I was a Holy Thern, they fairly popped now that he knew that I was John Carter. I grasped my long-sword more firmly as I spoke the words which I was sure would precipitate an attack, but to my surprise they precipitated nothing of the kind.
"John Carter, Prince of Helium," he repeated slowly, as though he could not quite grasp the truth of the statement. "John Carter, the mightiest warrior of Barsoom!"
And then he dismounted and placed his hand upon my shoulder after the manner of most friendly greeting upon Mars. "It is my duty, and it should be my pleasure, to kill you, John Carter," he said, "but always in my heart of hearts have I admired your prowess and believed in your sincerity the while I have questioned and disbelieved the therns and their religion. "It would mean my instant death were my heresy to be suspected in the court of Kulan Tith, but if I may serve you, Prince, you have but to command Torkar Bar, Dwar of the Kaolian Road."
Truth and honesty were writ large upon the warrior's noble countenance, so that I could not but have trusted him, enemy though he should have been. His title of Captain of the Kaolian Road explained his timely presence in the heart of the savage forest, for every highway upon Barsoom is patrolled by doughty warriors of the noble class, nor is there any service more honorable than this lonely and dangerous duty in the less frequented sections of the domains of the red men of Barsoom.
"Torkar Bar has already placed a great debt of gratitude upon my shoulders," I replied, pointing to the carcass of the creature from whose heart he was dragging his long spear. The red man smiled.
"It was fortunate that I came when I did," he said. "Only this poisoned spear pricking the very heart of a sith can kill it quickly enough to save its prey. In this section of Kaol we are all armed with a long sith spear, whose point is smeared with the poison of the creature it is intended to kill; no other virus acts so quickly upon the beast as its own.
"Look," he continued, drawing his dagger and making an incision in the carcass a foot above the root of the sting, from which he presently drew forth two sacs, each of which held fully a gallon of the deadly liquid.
"Thus we maintain our supply, though were it not for certain commercial uses to which the virus is put, it would scarcely be necessary to add to our present store, since the sith is almost extinct.
"Only occasionally do we now run upon one. Of old, however, Kaol was overrun with the frightful monsters that often came in herds of twenty or thirty, darting down from above into our cities and carrying away women, children, and even warriors."
Three doctors go hunting in the woods the week before Thanksgiving.
They hear rustling in the brush, the first doctor, the internist says “Looks like a turkey, walks like a turkey, goobles like a turkey, must be a turkey” . . . He shoots and he misses.
A short time later, they spot movement in the brush, the second doctor, the pathologist says “Brown feathers, red neck and fan-like tail feathers, must be a turkey” . . . He shoots and he misses.
About 10 minutes latter, they again hear rustling in the brush, the third doctor, the surgeon just fires away Blam. Blam. Blam and two birds drop dead. He looks at his friends and says “Guys, go check if those were turkeys.”
“How can earthly words describe it! It towered ten feet at the shoulder; had four legs on either side; a broad flat tail, larger at the tip then at the root, and which it held straight out when running; a gaping mouth which split its head from its snout to its long massive neck. “Like its master it was entirely devoid of hair, but was of a dark slate color and exceeding smooth and glossy. Its belly was white and its legs shaded from the slate of its shoulders and hips to a vivid yellow at the feet. The feet themselves were heavily padded and nailless, which fact also contributed to the noiseless of their approach, and, in common with a multiplicity of legs, is a characteristic feature of the fauna of Mars. . .and there are absolutely no hoofed animals in existence.” (PM, III)
“These creatures, which are known as thoats, are as dangerous and vicious as their masters, but when once subdued are sufficiently tractable for the purposes of the green Martians. Two of these animals had fallen to me from the warriors whose metal I wore, and in a short time I could handle them quite as well as the native warriors. The method was not at all complicated. If the thoats did not respond with sufficient celerity to the telepathic instructions of their riders they were dealt a terrific blow between the ears with the butt of a pistol, and if they showed fight this treatment was continued until the brutes either were subdued, or had unseated their riders. “In the latter case it became a life and death struggle between the man and the beast. If the former were quick enough with his pistol he might live to ride again, though upon some other beast; if not, his torn and mangled body was gathered up by his women and burned in accordance with Tharkian custom." (PM, XIII)
The Barsoomian mount is controlled by a wonderful telepathic/ empathic link without bit and bridle. The domesticated thoat of the red Martian is smaller (4hd, 1d6 damage, +3 Fort,, 2 Will, 12”) and has a much gentler temperament then those ridden by the green Martian warrior.
You can obtain excellent thoat miniatures from bronzeAgeMin.com
From the first D&D box set, the forward in the Men & Magic:
"These rules are strictly fantasy. Those wargamers who lack imagination, those who don't care for Burroughs' Martian adventures where John Carter is groping through black pits, who feel no thrill upon reading Howard's Conan saga, who do not enjoy the de Camp & Pratt fantasies or Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser pitting their swords against evil sorceries will not be likely to find DUNGEONS and DRAGONS to their taste. But those whose imaginations know no bounds will find that these rules are the answer to their prayers. With this last bit of advice we invite you to read on as enjoy a 'world' where the fantastic is fact and magic really works!" E. Gary Gygax, 1 November 1973 Tactical Studies Rules Editor, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
No work of fan fiction or classic table top roleplaying is possible without the willing and active suspension of disbelief by the participants. Rather then endlessly debate the canonical sections of books I – V clearly quoted herein, it is best for the players and GM to expand upon the uncharted or unexplored areas of Barsoom.
“I might indeed be in some, to me, unknown corner of Mars, and this was very possible since during my ten years' residence upon the planet I had explored but a comparatively tiny area of its vast expanse.” (Gods of Mars, Chapter I).
Built into the hull of a flier are buoyancy tanks which contain the eighth Barsoomian ray or the ray of propulsion. This ray is “constantly streaming from the planet constituting a force of repulsion to gravity which when confined is able to lift enormous weights from the surface of the ground. It is this ray that enabled them to so perfect aviation such that battleships far outweighing anything on Earth sail as gracefully and lightly through the thin air of Barsoom as a toy balloon in the heavy atmosphere of Earth.” (PM, XXI) Altering the concentration of the eighth ray in the flier’s buoyancy tanks allows the craft to vary altitude; however, the Red Planet’s thin atmosphere makes heights in excess of five haads (1000 ads or 2 miles) suicidal.
Noiseless engines with concentrated, highly flammable, fuel power the propellers that drive these vehicles to speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. The flier is steered either by using large rudders or by varying the relative performance of the propellers. Each modern flier is equipped with the “ordinary Martian Air compass, which, when set for a destination, will remain constantly fixed thereon, making it only necessary to keep a vessel’s bow always in the direction of the compass to reach any point upon Barsoom by the shortest route .” (TMM, II)
The scout flier (not pictured above) is the smallest and fastest of all fliers. “The body of the one-man air craft is about sixteen feet long, two feet wide and three inches thick, tapering to a point on each end. The driver sits on top of the plane upon a seat constructed over the small, noiseless radium engine which propels it.” (PM, XXI). It is capable of exceeding speeds of 150 miles per hour. The scout flier is utilized in scouting, patrolling, and relaying messages.
Does anyone know where I can obtain good miniatures to represent Martian fliers?
The ulsio is a small omnivore weighing between 20 and 40 lbs with fiery eyes (PM XVII, infra vision). It hunts in packs of d8; however, this wily rodent will only attacks if it gains (3 in 6 chance) surprise or if it outnumbers man-size foes 3 to 1.
“The Martian rat is a fierce and unlovely thing. It is many-legged and hairless, its hide resembling that of a new born mouse in repulsiveness. In size and weight it is comparable to a large Airedale terrier. Its eyes are small and close set, and almost hidden in deep fleshy apertures. But its most ferocious and repulsive feature is its jaws, the entire boney structure of which protrudes several inches beyond the flesh, revealing five sharp, spade-like teeth.in the upper jaw and the same number of teeth in the lower, the whole suggesting the appearance of a rotting face from which much of the flesh has sloughed away . .. Its only weapons are its jaws since its broad splay feet are armed with blunt talons. With its protruding jaws it excavates its winding burrows and with its broad feet it pushes dirt behind. To keep the jaws from his flesh then was Turan’s only concern and this he succeeded in doing until chance gave him a hold upon the creature’s throat. After that the end was a matter of moments. Rising at last he flung the lifeless thing from him with a shudder of disgust.” (CM, XII)
The ulsio is a scavenger and collector of shiny objects. There is a 33% chance of finding these creatures in their lair, where there will be d6 bp and d4 sp per rat encountered. Also there is a 1% chance per ulsio of finding a small magic item or relic (d10) such as a
(6-7) stone or jewelry,
(8-9) ring or
You can obtain excellent ULSIO miniatures by contacting David @ BronzeAgeMin.com
IMAGE is from Frazetta
Incredibly strong, the white ape is “hairless except for an enormous shock of bristly hair upon its head . . . The thing which more resembled our earthly men than it did the Martians I had seen, held me pinioned to the ground with one foot, while it jabbered and gesticulated at some answering creature behind me. The other, which was evidently its mate, soon came toward us, bearing a mighty stone cudgel with which it evidently intended to brain me. . . The creatures were about ten to fifteen feet tall, standing erect, and had like the green Martian, an intermediary set of arms or legs, midway between the upper and lower limbs. Their eyes were close together and non-protruding; their ears were high set, but more laterally located than those of the Martians, while their snouts and teeth were striking like those of our African gorilla.” (PM,V - VI)
White apes are accomplished hunters that are skilled at climbing and infiltration. Stalking the sun-bleached ancient cities of the dead sea bottoms, by day or night, they are encountered alone or in pairs and are the only monster upon Barsoom that can arouse fear in the hearts of the green Martian. White ape herds are also found in the forests of the Valley Dor. They are cunning adversaries and will retreat if an opponent is too well armed or too numerous.
White apes are a primitive species that neither build shelters nor make fires, but they do have a rudimentary language. They use crude tools, but are incapable of using almost all human weapons that they find; although they may defer their paw attacks and wield a cudgel at +8 to hit, inflicting 3d6 damage. There are rare isolated tribes of white apes that have reached TL I in development.
They usually do not accumulate possessions that would be valuable to people; but often the discarded weapons and equipment of their prey are found when encountered in their lair (1 in 6 chance). The typical white ape lair contains d12 coins, d6 daggers, d4 short-swords, and one useful small item such as a compass or a watch. One percent of the weapons found will be enchanted or magical and a white ape lair will always contain one master work weapon (mtwk =10 x cost, +1 to hit, no damage bonus) of a type selected by the GM.
Daring performers have used these monsters to entertain audiences, but white apes are incapable of full domestication and are always dangerous.
You can obtain these excellent WHITE APE miniatures @ BronzeAgeMin.com
IMAGE FROMS Dynamite Comics & Frank Cho
'Jasoom' is the title given to our Earth by the Martians of Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels.
This blog serves as a forum to discuss CLASSIC pen-n-paper, role playing games. Featured herein are pages from the author's pnp game written and copyrighted in 1990. RED PLANET was based upon ERB's Barsoom novels that are now within the Public Domain . . .
PM = A Princess of Mars GM = The Gods of Mars WM = The Warlord of Mars TMM = Thuvia, Maid of Mars CM = The Chessmen of Mars MM = Mastermind of Mars
This blog is a product of fan fiction. Most artwork on this site is the sole property of the respective artist or copyright holder and reproduced here out of admiration or respect. Much of this art work and more is available at Damon Orellz excellent blog, The ART of BARSOOM. If your artwork appears on this site, and you want it taken down, send me a comment.
“I know that you are interested and that you believe, and I know that the world, too, is interested, though they will not believe for many years; yes, for many ages, since they cannot understand. Earth men have not yet progressed to a point where they can comprehend the things that I have written.”
Forward to The Gods of Mars by E.R.B.