Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Alchemy, Appraise, BeastMaster, Climb, Craft



ALCHEMY is the skill of making potions, elixirs, oils or balms that have wondrous or magical effects that duplicate spells.   It is a routine (DC 10) alchemy check to identify the nature or contents of a bottle or flask as most potions are labeled in Barsoomian hieroglyphs.  Common examples and purchase price of potions are listed in parenthesis in the table.

In order to concoct a potion, a character needs the necessary material components and access to a proper (1000-4000gc) laboratory.  The GM will tell the PC how much time is required for manufacturing a potion, elixir or balm as well as availability and cost of components.  In general, DC is based on the power of product desired.


12    for 1st level (cure light wounds, remove fear; 50gc),
15       for 2nd level  (haste, spiritual weapon; 100gc),
18  for 3rd level (cure disease, water breathing; 250gc),
21  for 4th level (negate poison, remove curse, 500gc).

  “None of us had come through the conflict unscathed, but the marvelous, healing salves of Barsoom had sufficed, overnight to make us good as new.”   (WM VI)


APPRAISE skill is used to estimate the quality, craftsmanship and value of gemstones, jewelry, artwork, furniture and ornamental items that are ‘liberated.’    If the appraising character is using a magnifying glass (3gc, ½#), he gains  +2 circumstance bonus  on the die  roll.   

It takes a DC 10 appraise skill throw to ascertain the value of prized ores or weapons.  It takes a DC 12 appraise skill to estimate the value of gems.        It takes a DC 14 appraise skill to estimate the value of utensils or jewelry.  It takes a DC 16 appraise skill to estimate the value of paintings, artwork or antique furniture. 

When determining the success of appraise skill throws, the GM (not the player) rolls the die. A successful check means the character correctly estimated the item’s value.  If the character failed his appraise skill throw, the GM informs him that he is stumped (if exotic or rare item) and covertly rolls d20 then multiplies by 10% of item’s true value and gives the PC that ‘estimate.’

A DC 10 appraise skill will recognize a   gadget but will NOT identify the nature and power of the technology or magic.  Mere appraisal of certain items (swords, shields, rings) as magical or special is sufficient in many circumstances to allow usage, as these items often require no special procedure or command words to activate or deploy. Any fool can wield many enchanted weapons, just pick up and attack; however, the PC/ NPC must appreciate the item as a valuable item before he sets aside his familiar mundane weapons, tools or implements.



Beastmaster skill is used in the capturing, training, handling, feeding and breeding of the various domesticated and wild animals found upon the Red Planet. This skill does not allow the character to parley or converse with wild or feral beasts.

“In the course of a few days my thoats were the wonder of the entire community. They would follow me like dogs, rubbing their great snouts against my body in awkward evidence of affection, and respond to my every command with an alacrity and docility which caused the Martian warriors to ascribe to me the possession of some earthly power unknown on Mars.”          (PM XIII)

The time required (3- 8 weeks) to train an animal depends on the intelligence and disposition of the beast.  Obviously, herbivores are easier to train than predators (+4 DC) and insects are to be avoided!  Animals that have been befriended can be trained for a specific task or role:

9        for           pulling or hunting,
12       for       carrying or riding,
15  for            tracking or fighting,
18  for            guarding or performing.

            “While panthans are well paid, they are also great gamblers and notorious spenders, with the result that they are almost always without funds and often reduced to strange expedients for the gaining of livelihood between engagements; a fact which gives plausibility to our possession of a trained ape.”    (MM IX)

Trained animals or beasts may execute some tricks (DC 12); such as ‘post’, ‘fetch’, ‘down’, ‘heel’, ‘sak’ or ‘attack’; however, DC is increased by one for each point of damage that the animal has received.   

My experience with Woola determined me to attempt the experiment of kindness in my treatment of my thoats. First I taught them that they could not unseat me, and even rapped them sharply between the ears to impress upon them my authority and mastery. Then, by degrees, I won their confidence in much the same manner as I had adopted countless times with my many mundane mounts. I was ever a good hand with animals, and by inclination, as well as because it brought more lasting and satisfactory results, I was always kind and humane in my dealings with the lower orders. I could take a human life, if necessary, with far less compunction than that of a poor, unreasoning, irresponsible brute.”                                (PM XIII)



CLIMB skill is used to traverse vertical or rough surfaces.  Climbing characters move at slow pace; however, possession of a climber’s kit (50gp, 5#) grants a +2 circumstance bonus.
With a successful climb check, you may ascend, descend or move sideways 1d6” per action (p.26).       A tie result implies the climber has dropped something, but has successfully moved. If character rolls a natural ‘1’, or fails a climb skill check by 10 or more, he falls (damage from falling is dN per ad fallen, where N is the character’s size score, p.3)   

DC                 Example

 9           elaborate building or ship’s rigging 
12          ruins, mountain, beanstalk, tree
15          wall of dungeon or fortress
20          brick wall or inclined cliff
  25     polished or smooth surface

 +5                   if surface is wet or slimy                    


“Martians are at best but poor climbers.  Upon the entire surface of that ancient planet I never before seen a hill or mountain that exceeded four thousand feet in height above the dead sea bottoms, and as the ascent was usually gradual, nearly to their summits they presented but few opportunities for the practice of climbing.  Nor would the Martians embraced the opportunities as might present themselves, for they could always find a circuitous root about the base of any eminence, and these roads they preferred and followed in preference to the shorter but more arduous ways.”                 (GM II)


CRAFT skill represents a variety of vocations or trades such (d12) as blacksmith, bowyer, carpenter, farmer, mason, miner, merchant, potter, shepherd, tailor, teamster, or vitner.  Craft skill is specific for the chosen occupation or trade.  There is usually no cross relevance; i.e, skill as a wood worker (carpenter) does not apply to traveling in wagons (teamster).

            Craft skill is often used in game situations where characters would like to repair or construct something.  The assigned DC is based upon the tools at hand and the scale of the desired project.  A laborer earns 1sc a day for his toil, while a character with craft skill earns 2-4 sc per 4 zode work day.

            Black pirates may substitute cross-train if they happen to acquire the Craft skill as  “it is criminal for a First Born to labour or invent.”        (GM XIII).

Artwork from
Thomas Yeates

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