"I can aid you," she said, "and you will need all the aid available when they awaken." "Some of them will awake in Korus," I replied smiling. She caught the meaning of my words, and the cruelty of her answering smile horrified me. One is not astonished by cruelty in a hideous face, but when it touches the features of a goddess whose fine-chiselled lineaments might more fittingly portray love and beauty, the contrast is appalling. Quickly I released her. "Give me a revolver," she whispered. "I can use that upon those your sword does not silence in time." I did as she bid. Then I turned toward the distasteful work that lay before me. This was no time for fine compunctions, nor for a chivalry that these cruel demons would neither appreciate nor reciprocate. Stealthily I approached the nearest sleeper. When he awoke he was well on his journey to the bosom of Korus. His piercing shriek as consciousness returned to him came faintly up to us from the black depths beneath. The second awoke as I touched him, and, though I succeeded in hurling him from the cruiser's deck, his wild cry of alarm brought the remaining pirates to their feet. There were five of them. As they arose the girl's revolver spoke in sharp staccato and one sank back to the deck again to rise no more. The others rushed madly upon me with drawn swords. The girl evidently dared not fire for fear of wounding me, but I saw her sneak stealthily and cat-like toward the flank of the attackers. Then they were on me." (GM VII)
"I ceased my efforts to climb across the gunwale. Instead I took a firm grasp upon the rail with my left hand and drew my dagger. I should at least die as I had lived--fighting. . . Thurid was beside her now--pushing past to reach me first, and then what happened happened so quickly that it was all over before I could realize the truth of it. Phaidor's slim hand shot out to close upon the black's dagger wrist. Her right hand went high with its gleaming blade. "That for Matai Shang!" she cried, and she buried her blade deep in the dator's breast. "That for the wrong you would have done Dejah Thoris!" and again the sharp steel sank into the bloody flesh. "And that, and that, and that!" she shrieked, "for John Carter, Prince of Helium," and with each word her sharp point pierced the vile heart of the great villain. Then, with a vindictive shove she cast the carcass of the First Born from the deck to fall in awful silence after the body of his victim. I had been so paralyzed by surprise that I had made no move to reach the deck during the awe-inspiring scene which I had just witnessed, and now I was to be still further amazed by her next act, for Phaidor extended her hand to me and assisted me to the deck, where I stood gazing at her in unconcealed and stupefied wonderment. A wan smile touched her lips--it was not the cruel and haughty smile of the goddess with which I was familiar. (WM XV)
The aerial navies of Barsoom are the force that gives the Red Martians superiority in warfare against the other races. The battleship is the principal warship upon the Red Planet. Proudly displayed on the bow of all warships is the nation’s identifying device or insignia. While the hulls of scientific or merchant vessels are painted grey. “Upon each battleship there are five ten-man cruisers, and ten five-man scouts, and a hundred one-man scouts." (GM XIX)
Smaller and swifter warships such as cruiser or destroyers are used for patrol or convey duty. “If we are high enough our keel plates will protect us from rifle fire. . . . The swifter craft are seldom equipped with large buoyancy tanks, since the added bulk of them tends to reduce a vessel's speed. . . . Our speed must have approximated two hundred miles an hour, for Martian fliers are swift, so that at most we were in the shaft not over forty seconds.” (GM XIII)
Naval crew are referred to as sailors or thans. A lieutenant or padwar is the lowest rank of naval officer and sometimes will command a ten-man cruiser. A captain or dwar is the rank required to lead either a 100 man cruiser or a destroyer. A battleship is controlled by an odwar or commander, while a fleet (some as large as 100 battleships) is under the direction of a warlord or jedwar.
“My fellow prisoner was Kantos Kan, a padwar (lieutenant) in the navy of Helium. He had been a member of the ill-fated expedition which had fallen into the hands of the Tharks at the time of Dejah Thoris' capture, and he briefly related the events which followed the defeat of the (twenty) battleships. … Thirty days after the capture of Dejah Thoris, or about the time of our coming to Thark, his vessel had reached Helium with about ten survivors of the original crew of seven hundred officers and men. Immediately seven great fleets, each of one hundred mighty war ships, had been dispatched to search for Dejah Thoris, and from these vessels two thousand smaller craft had been kept out continuously in futile search for the missing princess." (PM XIX)
Soldiers salute by placing both palms forward above their head. Advancement in rank for officers and crew is thru merit and courage. \Warfare, is too omnipresent upon the Red Planet for politics and wealth to have a major roll in career progression. Naval crews of the Red Martian are disciplined, virtuous and merciless. “Upon Barsoom, quarter is neither asked nor given, and each dead man means so much more of the waning resources of this dying planet to be divided amongst those who survive.” (GM VII)
A naval battle upon Barsoom is a most spectacular sight to behold; however there is “an extremely pathetic side to the surrender of these mighty fliers, the result of an age-old custom which demanded that surrender should be signalized by the voluntary plunging to earth of the commander of the vanquished vessel. One after another the brave fellows, holding their colors high above their heads, leaped from the towering bows of their mighty craft to an awful death.” (PM XXVI)
“On the morning of the second day we raised the great fleet of transports and their consorts at the first flood of dawn, and soon were near enough to exchange signals (by flags). I may mention here that radio-aerograms are seldom if ever used in war time, or for the transmission of secret dispatches at any time, for as often as one nation discovers a new cipher, or invents a new instrument for wireless purposes its neighbours bend every effort until they are able to intercept and translate the messages. For so long a time has this gone on that practically every possibility of wireless communication has been exhausted and no nation dares transmit dispatches of importance in this way.” (PM XIX)
At its zenith, the fleet of Helium is about 7000 battleships and capital ships and at least 1000 transports. Each transport can carry 250 Green Troopers or 750 Red Troopers or 2000 Red Infantry.
The navy of Ptarth has 4,000 battleships. The navy of Dusar has 5,000 battleships. The navy of Zodanga has 3,000 battleships. The navy of Gathol has 500 battleships. Protected by a forest of towering trees, the nation of Kaol requires no navy.
The Fleet of the therns is 2000 battleships. while the elite black pirate armada is 1000 capital ships.
I have never been a fan of feats, yet I maintain that skills ARE old school. What is NOT consistent with classical gaming is munchkin character builds and complex formulas to calculate one’s proficiency or rank in a skill. Two examples . . .
This fine argument from Mystic Mogul posted on 17 Sep 2010. . .
"First up is the idea that Skill Challenges are new to fourth edition. Nonsense! We've been struggling with them for years--let's look at a example from the 2nd edition Player's Handbook.A
" ' A freak wave sweeps Fiera (an elf) overboard during the night. Fortunately, she can swim and knows that land is nearby. Bravely, she sets out through calm water. Her Constitution score is 16. After 14 hours of steady swimming, she makes out an island on the horizon. Two hours later she is closer, but still has some way to go. During the next hour (her 17th in the water), her Constitution drops to 15 (her attack penalty is -17!) and she must make a Constitution check. A 12 is rolled--she passes. In the last hour, the 18th, the seas become rough. Her Constitution is now 13 (the DM ruled that the heavy seas made her lose 2 points of Constitution this hour), and the DM decides she must pass an extra Constitution check to reach shore. She rolls a 5 and flops onto shore, exhausted. ' ”
Traveller, the Role Playing game was first published in 1977. Note that game's heavy dependence on skill usage.
Now, that we established that skills are consistent with classical game play. Why should we include them . . .
The elegant use of a skill system allows seamless customization of characters without having to propagate an endless series of new character classes. No need for a ranger class, just have you fighter select tracking and stealth as skills. No need for a sage class, just have your mage acquire scroll craft and archaic knowledge.
The use of a skill system provides value for the non-fighters and those characters who lack spell casting abilities; i.e., a thief with climb skill is going to have a much higher degree of expertise or rank than an equal level fighter or priest who also has climb skill.
Long gone are those days of endless time and four television channels when you had hours upon hours to design and craft your own unique dungeons and adventurers. The use of a skill system is a great time saver for the modern, adult game master who has significant work, familial and social commitments.
A skill system (and ascending armor class) makes your rules compatible with the most popular game system of all time (OGL, v.3.X, and Pathfinder). The GM can now scavenge a plethora of free or darn near free adventures from the net, E-bay or Amazon for hiser weekly game. An OGL compatible game allows a resourceful GM to more rapidly prepare stories, maps, plot hooks and stat blocks.
“Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler” Attributed to Albert Einstein
“She advanced all defenseless and unarmed upon the snarling banths. When quite close to them she spoke a single Martian word in low but peremptory tones. Like lightning the great beasts wheeled upon her, and I looked to see her torn to pieces before I could reach her side, but instead the creatures slunk to her feet like puppies that expected a merited whipping. Again she spoke to them, but in tones so low I could not catch the words, and then started toward the opposite chamber with six mighty monsters trailing at heel. One by one she sent them through the secret panel into the room beyond, and when the last had passed from the chamber where we stood in wide-eyed amazement, she turned and smiled.” (GM, IV)
Again he caught her roughly to him, dragging her towards his couch. "If you will not be my queen," he said, "you shall be my slave." "Neither!" cried the girl. As she spoke the single word there was a quick move of her right hand; Tario, releasing her, staggered back, both hands pressed to his side. At the same instant the room filled with bowmen, and then the jeddak of Lothar sank senseless to the marble floor. At the instant that he lost consciousness the bowmen were about to release their arrows into Thuvia's heart. Involuntarily she gave a single cry for help, though she knew that not even Carthoris of Helium could save her now. Then she closed her eyes and waited for the end. No slender shafts pierced her tender side. She raised her lids to see what stayed the hand of her executioners. The room was empty save for herself and the still form of the jeddak of Lothar lying at her feet, a little pool of crimson staining the white marble of the floor beside him. Tario was unconscious. (TMM VIII)
From Pliny 9:67 “The sea ram commits its ravages like a wary robber; at one time it will lurk in the shadow of some large vessel that is lying out to sea, and wait for anyone tempted to swim. While at another, it will raise its head from the surface of the sea and survey the fisherman’s boats, and then slyly swim towards them and sink them.”
In ancient times the orca or killer whale was also called the sea ram, because the white blotches on its skull resemble horns from a distance. Recall that killer whales are so named, because they used to eat people. With the invention of gun powder and steel hull ships these intelligent mammals made a truce with mankind and no longer hunt us. Of all the marine animals, the orca has best mastered public relations and is the darling of the modern public.
This is a blog about classic role playing games and the Barsoomian novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs . . . have a look around, you may find something you enjoy !
My original sword & planet roleplay gaming is filed under RP
Those interested in barsoom should head over to the Glossary
INTV…... +1 ATTK…. +3/ one bite & +3/ two claws DMGE…….2d6 & d6 each AC…….…. 7  HD……… 4d8 Fort..….... +1 Will…….... +1 Move….…. 9”
"The banth is a fierce beast of prey that roams the low hills surrounding the dead seas of ancient Mars. Like nearly all Martian animals it is almost hairless, having only a great bristly mane about its thick neck. Its long lithe body is supported by ten powerful legs, its enormous jaws are equipped, like those of the calot or Martian hound, with several rows of long needle-like fangs; its mouth protruding to a point far back of its tiny ears while its enormous protruding eyes of green add the last touch of terror to its awful aspect. As it crept toward me it lashed its powerful tail against its yellow sides." (GM, VIII, p.34)
Before a banth springs to the attack, it emits a terrifying roar requiring all within 6” to save versus fear (DC 13) or be stunned for one round. Banths are nocturnal hunters (infravision) and are encountered in groups of d6. They accumulate no treasure or loot. Frequently banths can be startled by bright lights or loud noises.
“Human flesh is the food most craved by the fierce Barsoomian lion, whose great carcass and giant sinews require enormous quantities of meat to sustain them.” (TMM, V, p.48)
buy these excellent miniatures
Figures painted by Thomas Nelson on facebook
@ Midwest Miniature Guy
'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.