Thursday, February 28, 2013


Size (Sz) does matter!  Based on the virtue of their bulk, bigger characters will be more resistance to injury.  Size for a character or being is determined by race or species and measured on a scale from zero to nine.  Bigger characters also inflict more damage with natural weaponry.

                                    Table 1.3

 SIZE      Mass (#)               Examples
    0              < 1                      insect                              
    1           1    9                     sorak                
    2          10 -   49                ulsio              
    3          50 -  99                red Martian female    
    4        100 - 149              red Martian male
    5        150 - 249              black pirate, calot
    6        250 - 499             banth, green Martian female 
    7        500 - 999            green warrior, plant man
    8       1000- 2999         white ape, domestic thoat
    9       3000- 9999        apt, wild bull thoat

“While green Martians are immense, their bones are very large and they are muscled only in proportion to the gravitation they must overcome.  The result is they are less agile and less powerful, in proportion to their weight, than an Earth man, and I doubt that were one of them suddenly too be transported to Earth, he could lift his own weight from the ground.”    (PM, III)   

MASS is a measure of the weight as well as the bulk of an object.  An object might actually be relatively light (low weight) but because of its low density and shape might actually have a relatively large mass rating.  Since no Barsoomian measure of mass is described in the chronicles, in this game simulation, mass is measured in mass units (abbreviated #) being equivalent to a little more than 1 earthly pound (about o.5 kg).  

Image from Frank Cho

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

MONEY upon Barsoom

Money is used to purchase supplies, equipment, weapons and lodging.    The Red Planet’s monetary system is based upon oval coins whose value is determined by the weight of their metal.  Each silver coin is about the size of an American or Canadian quarter and weighs about five grams.  
  100 coins weighs one mass unit (1#);

 1 bronze coin = price of meal or loaf of bread
10 bronze coins = 1 silver coin or daily wage
10 silver coins (10sc) = 1 gold coin (1gc)

                “Paper money is issued by individuals as they require it and redeemed twice yearly.  If a man issues more than he can redeem, the government pays his creditors in full and the debtor works out the amount upon the farms or in the mines which are owned by the government.  This suits everybody fine except for the debtor as it has been a difficult thing to obtain sufficient voluntary labor to work the great isolated farm lands of Mars, stretching as they do like narrow ribbons from pole to pole, through wild stretches peopled by wild animals and wilder men.”         (PM, XX)

Individual nations and city-states often mint their own coins.  Foreign coins can be converted to acceptable tender for a modest fee (1-6%).  Adventurers beware; large amounts of foreign coin will often attract unwanted attention of law enforcement and/or the criminal element.

            “The public houses of Barsoom, I found vary little.  There is no privacy except for married couples.
            “Men without their wives are escorted to a large chamber, the floor of which is usually of white marble or heavy glass kept scrupulously clean.   Here are many small platforms for the guest’s sleeping silks and furs, and if he have none of his own, clean, fresh ones are provided at a nominal charge. 
            “Once a man’s belongings have been deposited upon one of these platforms he is a guest of the house, and that platform his own until he leaves.  No one will disturb or molest his belongings, as there are no thieves upon Mars. 
            “No meals are served in these houses, but generally a public eating place adjoins them.  Baths are connected with the sleeping chambers, and each guest is required to bathe daily or depart from the hotel.”
            (WM, X)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


technology is the application of science and manufacturing to produce durable goods and consumer products.  Technology allows a civilization to harness the forces of nature for energy.  A society that obtains superior technology will increase the wages and quality of life for its citizens. 

In game terms, technology is measured on a ordinal scale from one to ten (Roman Numerals) referred to as the tech level (TL).  The TL of the Red Planet does not run in a smooth or linear fashion as found in our Earth’s history.


                     Table 1.4


Level    AGE        Examples

    I       Stone                  prehistoric               
   II      Bronze               Greeks  & Romans
   III     Iron                  Vikings & Medieval
   IV     Golden              16– 18th century
   V      Sorrow                green tribes
  VI      Steam                19th   century         
  VII    Silver                 20th century          
 VIII    Modern             Heliumite Empire
   IX     Sci-Fiction        INVENTIONS       
         Sci-Fantasy          RELICS



 TL I = People live in caves or grass huts.  Fire is used for heat and cooking. Travel is on foot or by dugout canoes.   Tools and weapons are made from wood, stone and hide. This is the typical TL for castaways, tribesmen and inhabitants of the Barsoomian salt marshes. 

TL II =  People live in clay or stone buildings.  Wind is harnessed for simple sailing ships such as galleys and triremes.  Agriculture and writing is discovered.  Polytheistic religions are common.  Domestication of large animals allows cavalry as essential military units.  TL II was available during our Earth’s Peloponnesian Wars and the Old Testament.  

TL III = People live in wood homes, while public buildings are made from marble or granite.             Oil lamps are used for illumination.  The main ocean going vessel is the longboat or cog.  Stirrups, nails, locks, and simple machines are available.   Churches and wealthy estates have glass windows.    

TL IV = Development of reliable cannons has rendered conventional stone fortresses obsolete.     The printing press allows rapid exchange of news, information, and knowledge.   Windmills are used to grind grain.  Common people can afford glassware and china.  The telescope, sextant and cartography allow dependable navigation of the oceans and seas. Medicine becomes a true science and esoteric arts obtain an outstanding level of development.   Although muzzle-loading firearms are available, they are not reliable when damp; therefore, sailors still carry bows as crossbows as personal weaponry.

TL V = Peaceful society has collapsed; literature, architecture and science are neglected; however, medical skill is retained.  Manufacturing is limited and when present is limited to producing armaments; however, most weaponry is scavenged from the spoils of the battlefield.   Society is tribal and nomadic, requiring communities to travel to locations of the most favorable weather or game.    
TL VI = People live in brick or wooden homes, many with built-in gas furnaces and lamps.  Coal is burned to power steam engines giving rise to the locomotive and the steamship.  Iron is smelted to steel in an affordable and abundant manner.  The migration of people from the farms to urban areas is increased.   Use of interchangeable parts allows for the inexpensive production of weaponry; carbines and cap & ball revolvers are invented.

TL VII = People live in insulated homes, many with refrigerators, electric lights and central heating.     This era marks the production of simple, but serviceable fliers; however, regional trade is limited. The 8th and 9th rays are harnessed and the great atmosphere plant is completed. The radium revolver is invented. On earth, this era is known for mass production of crew-served weapons of war such as tanks, airplanes and battleships. 

TL VIII = The common worker can afford a vehicle and send his children to college.  Denizens of our Earth have cell phones, microwave ovens, fast food, robots, gene therapy, mobile computers, cloning and super-sonic air travel.

TL IX = Interplanetary travel becomes readily accessible and inter-stellar travel is available to powerful empires;  think blasters, lasers, cybernetics, tractor beams, warp drives, and androids.

TL X = “Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”    
 Arthur C. Clarke


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bronze versus Iron

In the ancient world, both iron and bronze were available; however, it was the Assyrians who first developed an ECONOMICALLY feasible method to extract iron ore from earth.

Genesis 4:22 “Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.

The historical transition of armies from iron to bronze weapons was economically driven , not because iron weapons of the day were superior, but far less expensive. It was better to outfit 5 soldiers with iron weapons and armor, then one soldier with bronze or masterwork weapons and armor.

“ quantity has a quality of its own.” Josef Stalin

Bronze weapons and armor are stronger, sharper and do not rust; however, bronze is brittle. Bronze chips it doesn’t bend; therefore, it must be ENTIRELY recast, it cannot be hammered back into its original shape if damaged.

1 Sam 14: A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.   He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of BRONZE weighing five thousand shekels (about 121 pounds); on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back.  His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its IRON point weighed six hundred shekels (about 14.5 lbs).”

Iron is more malleable than bronze. Iron bends or deforms , while bronze SHATTERS or CHIPS, therefore iron is more readily repaired or remolded. Bronze weapons required material components that were geographically isolated (aka the ‘tin isles’)

In the Roman army, an officer had a bronze sword or gladius, while infantry soldiers carried iron blades.

One final distinction, friction on iron can generate a spark, while bronze does not spark.