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Agemegos 06-28-2011 01:39 AM

Mars 1917
 
I have an idea for a campaign, which needs a little kicking into shape.

The idea is that the PCs are [Australian] soldiers on the Western Front in December 1917: exhausted, disillusioned, alienated, and jaded by two and a half years of the industrial butchery of infantry combat in WWI. They are caught in the effect of an experimental weird-science weapon, which tears other men apart, but which fortunately transports them bodily to another world. (Where they arrive in the midst of piles of Flanders mud, pieces of weapons and kit, and body parts of other men who have been only partly caught in the beam.)

In keeping with contemporary tradition (E R Burroughs, especially Master Mind of Mars) the other world is Mars, a desiccating, dying, dusty world, home to a decadent culture. I'm torn between using Schiaparelli's map and laying a bit of water on a modern relief map of Mars. Likewise in keeping with tradition, I intend to make the Martians comfortably human enough for romantic motivations &c.

The idea is to make the culture of Mars pretty violent, but romantically, dashingly, heroically so—in contrast with the ghastly impersonal violence of trench warfare. The PCs will get to swash their bucklers, and to feel as they do so that they are fighting bad men who deserve to die. Do I need an establishing sequence in France to make the contrast?

Decadent Mars is basically sword and sandal, with a strong dash of sensawunda provided by relict TL10 or TL11 bits and pieces, both High Tech and Bio-Tech. This will be indistinguishable from magic at the start of the campaign, but I want the PCs gradually drawn in to the plots and intrigues of a nearly-immortal caste of engineers who, though they no long have access to the industrial base to use the stuff, at least know what it does, and can use it effectively, even repair it using cannibalised parts.

Relict tech, especially lethal weapons, is rare enough that the PC's SMLEs, Webleys, and Mills bombs will give them an advantage in early encounters. But running out of ammunition will force them to take on local weapons and kit, and then they will gradually accumulate heroic outfits of relict stuff. Bio-tech relics, at least such of them as are self-reproducing, will be more common than hard tech ones, but less inclined to be weapons. There will certainly be improbably-useful plants: battery bushes and gobsmackingly useful medicinal berries.

Initially the PCs won't speak [ the | any ] Martian language. I am thinking of putting them in circumstances that will force a long overland march with a Martian or party of Martians, perhaps fleeing pursuit along a canal choked with desert sand, with the spires of lost cities sticking up out of it. Give them a few weeks to pick up enough lingo to get by. I'm thinking that the PCs might get placed to rescue a beautiful Engineer from the machinations of his or her enemies without realising what is going on, and that he or she might guide them and accept their escort in a flight of a thousand miles or so: teaching them Language and showing them survival tricks unknown even to most Martians. That should get them to arrive on the littoral plains with enough lingo to get by.

Can I run a campaign in which the PCs are the allies and champions of an NPC wizard who is striving to regain her throne? Or won't players cope with playing the second fiddle? Can I make ally/champion a first-string position without making the wizard unattractively weak?

What relict bio-tech ought to be available? What ultra-tech?

sn0wball 06-28-2011 04:55 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202006)
Can I run a campaign in which the PCs are the allies and champions of an NPC wizard who is striving to regain her throne? Or won't players cope with playing the second fiddle? Can I make ally/champion a first-string position without making the wizard unattractively weak?

Generally, I donīt see why not. Campaigns in which PCs run errands or solve quests for powerful NPCs are commonplace, after all. In your case, that is in a campaign of displacing PC groups into radically strange environments, it might be hard to create enough motivation for them to actually do so, e.g. railroad them into your intended campaign framework. Either the NPC is established in a convincingly positive way and his opponent in a negative way, which would still leave the PCs the freedom to simply wander way to do other things, or they have but no choice to join one fraction, because their very survival is at stake. Can you count on the players cooperation if you present them the obviously intended way for the camapign to go ?

By the way, Wizard ? Is this another term for the old engineer caste or where does magic come in ?

Quote:

What ultra-tech?
Apart from Burroughs, do you know Moorcocks Kane Of Old Mars series, an homage to the former ? From these books I remember a nice gadet, a kind of autofac, which simply produces plastic parts to the specifications of the operator, which in turn allows the main character to do all kinds of interesting engineering feats, without being too powerful, since it is plastic, after all (no guns, no combustion engines, for example).

jeff_wilson 06-28-2011 05:35 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202006)
The idea is to make the culture of Mars pretty violent, but romantically, dashingly, heroically so—in contrast with the ghastly impersonal violence of trench warfare. The PCs will get to swash their bucklers, and to feel as they do so that they are fighting bad men who deserve to die. Do I need an establishing sequence in France to make the contrast?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, to underline the contrast, I would try to arrange things so that a mixed party gets sent, probably from the midst of a melee. If the party can adjust to changing circumstances and put behind their prejudices, instead of finishing off the Huns who are just as uprooted and isolated as they are, they can present a stronger front against the Martians. It might help them along if Hans and Franz see that they are now alone with triple their number of Australieners, drop their weapons, and, remembering the Christmas Truces, fall to their knees and attempt to sing "O Tannenbaum" and "Waltzing Matilda". If either is allowed to live, they can fill out the party as bearers and if trusted with weapons can wield battleaxes improvised from shovels.

Or they can fight it out amongst themselves, and take the consequences of carrying their war to this strange new yet ancient place.

The Colonel 06-28-2011 06:02 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
If whoever was operating the teleport gun was sufficiently trigger happy you could even introduce several factions of humans - the player faction (mixed) and one or more competing factions who are determined to carry on the war - perhaps a German faction determined to finish the battle and eliminate the entire allied presence and an Allied faction lead by someone determined to colonise Mars. Thus as well as the Martians the players can bang heads with other humans - who probably regard them as traitors - and the diplomatic chaos they create with Martians whose first encounters with humans were with dangerous fanatics.

isf 06-28-2011 07:12 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
This past weekend, my group just started making characters for a Steampunk Mars game set in 1889. I'm basing it on Stirling's "The Court of the Crimson Kings" as much as "A Princess of Mars".

I have the Martian tech mostly be TL 4 with remnants of Biotech and Psitech. Most of the biotech is food, medical, and construction related with poisons and drugs (delivered via dart guns) being the primary weaponized biotech. Living gasbags make the ever-popular AH zeppelins possible. The psitech is rare and is mostly odd energy weapons and some communication devices.

Have you decided upon the political structure(s) on Mars? Stirling has the major city on Mars based around the Tharsis area (which gets some cloud formation in real life) with the Grand Canal around it. The Martian ruling Dynasty is tens of thousands of years old. I liked the idea that the Martians are old and refined in ways that have no direct earthly counterpart but in decline along with their planet (I'd actually model them on ancient Egypt in many ways; like the idea of Ma'at).

I haven't came up with reasons for the Martians to have never developed (or developed and lost) space travel given that Earth has discovered various ways of using ether-based space travel. I may use the same as Stirling and have them be very retarded in physics.

I would definitely limits any advanced manufacturing except for biotech (plants, animals, chemicals). Why do the immortal engineers no longer have access to an industrial base? I'm thinking about using a war between Mars and the former planet that is now an asteroid belt to account for a great decline (it made a marginal situation tip over into being unsustainable with resources and psychic ability both being nearly used up). What is stopping them from gradually rebuilding an industrial base, even if a small one?

whswhs 06-28-2011 07:24 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Have you encountered S. M. Stirling's In the Courts of the Crimson Kings? It seems quite apropos to your premise; its Mars has an ancient civilization with extremely advanced biotech that largely makes sense by current scientific standards, and with complex political intrigues in a decadent and corrupt planetary empire. I think you would find things in it worth borrowing.

Bill Stoddard

The Colonel 06-28-2011 08:37 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by isf (Post 1202099)
I haven't came up with reasons for the Martians to have never developed (or developed and lost) space travel given that Earth has discovered various ways of using ether-based space travel. I may use the same as Stirling and have them be very retarded in physics.

How about:
There is no FTL ... teleportation on the other hand or stargate style technology does work. The martians used to use it before they collapsed but no longer do (this is possibly the PCs route home if they can find and re-start a long lost gate) - the disruptor weapon that sent them to Mars uses the same physics for a different purpose (unless they were trying to pull a "Messines Ridge" by teleporting away a big chunk of the front line). The Martian collapse was partly triggered by some massive malfunction of the gate network - or of its power source.

Fred Brackin 06-28-2011 08:42 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202006)
Relict tech, especially lethal weapons, is rare enough that the PC's SMLEs, Webleys, and Mills bombs will give them an advantage in early encounters. But running out of ammunition will force them to take on local weapons and kit, . ?

An interesting item of realism is that experienced WWI trench warriors are likely to already have melee weapons and experience with them.

The militaries of the day did significantly more bayonet training than more modern forces though according to All Quiet on the Western Front when the Germans went over the top they used grenades and sharpened shovels (probably Two-handed Axe/Mace) instead.

There were a lot of "trench knives" both factory made and field expedient and a number of other things (spiked clubs and such) that look like they were made in a prison workshop.

If the Martians engage in stand up sword fights one of rhe long WWI rifles with bayonet isn't that bad a spear (though very heavy comapred to a real one).

Anaraxes 06-28-2011 09:07 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Do I need an establishing sequence in France to make the contrast?
Yes, absolutely. If this is a theme, it also probably needs to make an appearance later. Perhaps the bad guys have their own Engineer whose conquest involves introducing the industrial butchery style of warfare, displacing the romantic sort. The PCs know exactly where that leads, and are motivated to stop it.

(The American Civil War also had this disenchantment with the Byronic romance of war. In this case, you want to preserve the romance. But perhaps there's some imagery or atmosphere to be drawn from there.)

Quote:

It might help them along if Hans and Franz see that they are now alone with triple their number of Australieners
Interesting. This can also mean that they learn Martian together as their common tongue, which seems to me to help reinforce the "industrial war bad, band of heroes good" theme. Plus it gives you a bit of suspense -- is Franz really trustworthy?

quarkstomper 06-28-2011 10:54 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Arg! I want to run this campaign! Or play in it! Unfortunately, I don't have a group right now that would be a good fit for it.

Maybe I could do something like it as a one-shot convention game.

vitruvian 06-28-2011 11:06 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by The Colonel (Post 1202163)
How about:
There is no FTL ... teleportation on the other hand or stargate style technology does work.

There's no need for FTL to visit planets in the same solar system.

Ze'Manel Cunha 06-28-2011 11:15 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202006)
Can I run a campaign in which the PCs are the allies and champions of an NPC wizard who is striving to regain her throne? Or won't players cope with playing the second fiddle? Can I make ally/champion a first-string position without making the wizard unattractively weak?

Should be fine, though you may consider having an NPC, or one of the PCs being a POW who came through earlier as part of the guinea pigs when the initial experiment was run, who has picked up some of the language and can serve as an intermediary translator.

A new language can be picked up in a few weeks of immersion by those truly motivated, but being in a group of people who speak your own language both significantly reduces that motivation and the immersion.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202006)
What relict bio-tech ought to be available?

Medical leeches, these buggers not only mend flesh back together, but they'll go in and do more substantial repairs like cementing bones, splicing ligaments and veins, eating tumors, etc.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202006)
What ultra-tech?

Radios, ultra-lights, floating solar powered balloon observation posts, sand tricycles, can all be designed for longevity.

And possibly hand held computer tablets, with translation software to help with the language issue...

SonofJohn 06-28-2011 11:26 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
In my oppinion there is no greater blessing for ANZAC outfit than a (very) british commander....

Comunication with the germans shouldnt be a big problem, many germans speak a little english or french, maybe one of the australians has german accenstors.
Otherwise I recall a from the "The Malay Archipelago" that a german and english resortet to malay as a comon tounge.

An alternative way of learning the languages would be let them be catched and sold as slaves. The Princess could be a prisoner/hostage, too. One day the PCs hear from her the words "If you want to be free comewith me!".

downer 06-28-2011 12:53 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
If you want the players to hook up with the "Wizard" you could hint that the Martians used to know a way to travel to other planets, and have the Wizard offer to take them back as payment for their services. Maybe the fellow turns out to be a bad egg himself in the end, who wants to develop a similar weapon to the one that brought the characters to Mars. Thus creating the interesting dilemma of whether the characters let him continue, so they can return home, abandoning the Martians to his tyranny, or stop him, losing their way home in the process.

RyanW 06-28-2011 04:55 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by downer (Post 1202304)
If you want the players to hook up with the "Wizard" you could hint that the Martians used to know a way to travel to other planets, and have the Wizard offer to take them back as payment for their services.

My thought was that the Martians once had a teleport network that is now just one of the many relics. Unknown to even its inventors, the "weapon" is actually a teleporter, but it didn't have the range to reach any other teleporters during the tests and just blew stuff up instead. By the time of the first combat trial, Mars and Earth had moved just close enough to make a connection (I believe Mars was at opposition early in 1916 and 1918). Unless they want to stay a couple of years, they only have until the Earth and Mars move away from each other again to:

a) get access to one of the teleporters that has the power to reach Earth
b) figure out how to connect to the Earth teleporter
c) come up with an explanation for the sudden appearance of Australians at a German secret weapon site

Agemegos 06-28-2011 06:28 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sn0wball (Post 1202050)
By the way, Wizard ? Is this another term for the old engineer caste or where does magic come in ?

Sorry, that is just me being meta. Structurally and thematically, Mars is a fantasy setting, re-skinned with sci-fi rationalisations. The engineer caste are practically speaking magicians.

Quote:

Originally Posted by isf (Post 1202099)
Have you decided upon the political structure(s) on Mars?

Balkansised into city-states, with a few modest empires, barbarian lands, and large areas of absolute desert.

Quote:

Why do the immortal engineers no longer have access to an industrial base?
It was destroyed long ago, in warfare over dwindling resources.

Quote:

What is stopping them from gradually rebuilding an industrial base, even if a small one?
Minimum scale. You can't do very high tech except on a very large scale, because sophisticated manufactures have a very large number of distinct components that require specialised manufacturing.

Continual warfare.

Corruption. The governments are nearly all self-serving, and there is no reliable rule of law.

Lack of co-ordination. The balkansisation of the polity means that there are no efficient courts to enforce contracts or other mechanism to co-ordinate far-flung plants into collaborative manufacturing.

Lack of transport infrastructure.

Inadequate educated workforce.

Resource exhaustion.

Quote:

Originally Posted by whswhs (Post 1202103)
Have you encountered S. M. Stirling's In the Courts of the Crimson Kings? It seems quite apropos to your premise; its Mars has an ancient civilization with extremely advanced biotech that largely makes sense by current scientific standards, and with complex political intrigues in a decadent and corrupt planetary empire. I think you would find things in it worth borrowing.

isf mentioned it too. I'll find and read it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SonofJohn (Post 1202249)
In my oppinion there is no greater blessing for ANZAC outfit than a (very) british commander....

Fortunately we had our own officers all the way up to division level by December 1917. {In May 1918 Birdwood got promoted, the Australian Corps got an Australian corps commander (Monash), its casualty rate plummetted and its effectiveness jumped.}

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin (Post 1202165)
An interesting item of realism is that experienced WWI trench warriors are likely to already have melee weapons and experience with them.

The militaries of the day did significantly more bayonet training than more modern forces though according to All Quiet on the Western Front when the Germans went over the top they used grenades and sharpened shovels (probably Two-handed Axe/Mace) instead.

There were a lot of "trench knives" both factory made and field expedient and a number of other things (spiked clubs and such) that look like they were made in a prison workshop.

If the Martians engage in stand up sword fights one of rhe long WWI rifles with bayonet isn't that bad a spear (though very heavy comapred to a real one).

Indeed. The Australian bayonet of the time was famous (a 17" sword-bayonet), and the Australians notably fond of using it. There was even a cavalry charge against machineguns by a brigade of Australian mounted infantry armed with bayonets. Successful, too. Moreover, the Australian War Memorial has an absolutely gruesome collection of expedient trench knives and raiding clubs, which are everything you say. WWI trench-fighting veterans will certainly be able to hold their own in hand-to-hand, especially against smaller, weaker Martians.

Nosforontu 06-28-2011 07:11 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
One thing to watch out for is for the players/characters not adjusting well to the genre change. World War 1 trench veterans are very likely to have a very different idea of warfare than decadent romantic warriors. They may take and retain a very pragmatic orientation throughout the campaign and work very hard to be able to retain their weapon advantages. Possibly training up locals "the proper way".

Agemegos 06-28-2011 07:23 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nosforontu (Post 1202545)
One thing to watch out for is for the players/characters not adjusting well to the genre change. World War 1 trench veterans are very likely to have a very different idea of warfare than decadent romantic warriors. They may take and retain a very pragmatic orientation throughout the campaign and work very hard to be able to retain their weapon advantages. Possibly training up locals "the proper way".

For sure. I will definitely need the players to be on board with the "exhausted and horrified by modern war" premise.

isf 06-28-2011 09:26 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
I'd also recommend deciding what superscience is possible, either earthly or Martian; particularly if any of the PC's have and tech/science skills.

Are you allowing any gadgeteers?

Are the Martians familiar with the idea of factories or large scale production? If so, are there any goods that are mass produced or is it all artisan work?

I am thinking about having the Martians in my game be the remnants of a fallen transhuman society. I'm still trying to decide what their memetic environment is like; particularly in contrast to the typical earthly ideas.

Agemegos 06-28-2011 11:19 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by isf (Post 1202605)
I'd also recommend deciding what superscience is possible, either earthly or Martian; particularly if any of the PC's have and tech/science skills.

Definitely. One of the main purposes of starting this thread was to get others' advice on that.

Quote:

Are you allowing any gadgeteers?
I think not, not as PCs, anyway.

Realistically speaking, characters from Earth will be four tech levels behind the pace, and have to learn whole new sciences before they can modify TL10 relict stuff. And I don't want to get into discussions about what can and what can't be done with it.

Quote:

Are the Martians familiar with the idea of factories or large scale production? If so, are there any goods that are mass produced or is it all artisan work?
Long ago they must have been. But not any more. It is all agriculture with fabulous crops and artisan work. A Renaissance economy, I think. But with epoxy bushes, kevlar flax, battery trees, etc. etc.

Quote:

I am thinking about having the Martians in my game be the remnants of a fallen transhuman society. I'm still trying to decide what their memetic environment is like; particularly in contrast to the typical earthly ideas.
Memeplexes are presumably adapted to a particular social and technological environment. In a markedly divergent environment they will become unstable, and might undergo bizarre developments.

Figleaf23 06-29-2011 06:23 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202006)
... In keeping with contemporary tradition (E R Burroughs, especially Master Mind of Mars) the other world is Mars, a desiccating, dying, dusty world, home to a decadent culture. I'm torn between using Schiaparelli's map and laying a bit of water on a modern relief map of Mars. ...

Great idea for a campaign. I would suggest the latter map -- real Mars is an amazing landscape.

The Colonel 06-29-2011 08:29 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Figleaf23 (Post 1202773)
Great idea for a campaign. I would suggest the latter map -- real Mars is an amazing landscape.

Is it possible to load a genuine map of Mars into one of these mapping programmes and get it to add water?

Anaraxes 06-29-2011 09:25 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
I don't know about the usual campaign map-creation tools, but I have seen the occasional web page that lets you set a sea level for Mars... here's one. Importing the results as anything other than a bitmap might be difficult, though.

Figleaf23 06-29-2011 10:58 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by The Colonel (Post 1202845)
Is it possible to load a genuine map of Mars into one of these mapping programmes and get it to add water?

I don't know. I have an extremely well detailed colorized relief map of Mars in a book (I'll cite it in an edit later today).

Captain-Captain 06-29-2011 11:17 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
I'd make it clear that your PCs profit with your wizard running things with them as powers behind the throne. The Wizard has the correct genetic code to activate the excalibur equivelent item justifying the Crown etc. They themselves see how tradition and law constrain the soverign but not her pink and brown skinned allies from beyond.

Seaking of beyond, condider a second set of arrivals of Austrian troops if onl to mix Australians with Austrians and drive Martian linguists nuts. ;)

Including the crazy sign painter mit der short mustache und hatred of the Semites is not required, just mean enough to merit consideration.

tratclif 06-29-2011 12:33 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
My copy of GURPS Mars has gone wandering, but the Dying Mars chapter has a sketch map of a canal system overlaying real-world Martian geography, character templates for half-a-dozen subspecies of humanoid Martians, and brief write-ups of three different Martian cultures (mercantile Mariner Valley, the Acidalian Theocracy spread across the dry seabed of the Boreal Ocean, and an insular kingdom in the Hellas basin.

Agemegos 06-29-2011 04:43 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tratclif (Post 1202992)
My copy of GURPS Mars has gone wandering, but the Dying Mars chapter has a sketch map of a canal system overlaying real-world Martian geography, character templates for half-a-dozen subspecies of humanoid Martians, and brief write-ups of three different Martian cultures (mercantile Mariner Valley, the Acidalian Theocracy spread across the dry seabed of the Boreal Ocean, and an insular kingdom in the Hellas basin.

My copy is right here, and though in general I consider it an excellent product, those bits are not exactly what I want for this campaign. I am a fussy world-builder, and as usual I will re-work any world before running stuff set in it.

Apache 06-29-2011 05:48 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
You could pick up a copy of Space:1889 (either the original version from Heliograph or the new release by Savage Worlds) and use the maps there.

Is very easy to add seas to their map of Mars.

Figleaf23 06-29-2011 06:24 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
A Traveller's Guide to Mars: The Mysterious Landscapes of the Red Planet, by William K Hartmann (copyright 2003), Workman Publishing, NY.

ISBN 0-7611-2606-6

The map is a fold-out composite of images derived from the Mars Global Surveyor Laser Altimetry done from 1997-2000.

EDIT-It's a great book, but I just found the map available online here.

lwcamp 06-29-2011 07:08 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202006)
What ultra-tech?

Giant walking tripods with heat rays, of course.

Luke

lwcamp 06-29-2011 07:13 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202642)
Definitely. One of the main purposes of starting this thread was to get others' advice on that.

If the players end up liking their guns more than the ultra-tech ray gun gizmos, they might enjoy a duplicator - put a .303 ball cartridge in one of the chambers, some brass, lead, and organic material in the other chamber (with a bit of mercury to duplicate the primer), turn the crank for a while, and the machine glows with weird energies, spits out sparks and then opens up to reveal another .303 ball cartridge.

Luke

Polydamas 06-29-2011 08:14 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202642)
Definitely. One of the main purposes of starting this thread was to get others' advice on that.

One decision you would have to make is whether computer technology followed the path it did in our world. I can see lots of mundane TL 9-10 things, like portable computers, AIs, or satellites, being prized relics.

Eccentric AIs could be fun. Either they were written by decadent people, or they need a certain amount of skilled software maintenance which isn't available, or the hardware is damaged, or living through all those devastating wars and the loss of things they were supposed to be managing broke them. The decadent Martian commoners could debate whether they are thinking machines or trapped souls. (It would probably be good not to make it clear that everything is 'mundane' technology or superscience ... we tend to be too blase about marvelous technology today).

The L. Sprague de Camp essay on planetary romances which he wrote while planning the Krishna stories might be worth reading.

SonofJohn 06-30-2011 01:46 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lwcamp (Post 1203251)
If the players end up liking their guns more than the ultra-tech ray gun gizmos, they might enjoy a duplicator - put a .303 ball cartridge in one of the chambers, some brass, lead, and organic material in the other chamber (with a bit of mercury to duplicate the primer), turn the crank for a while, and the machine glows with weird energies, spits out sparks and then opens up to reveal another .303 ball cartridge.

Luke

Maybe there some kind of intuitive Technicians like in the 90ts game outcast ... who basicly can built things by the feeling of it and there for supply ammo. The Toth in "A Martian Odysse" has al so a nice Handgun, a glass needler driven by varpor, i totally suggest that storry for inspiration.

Figleaf23 06-30-2011 07:35 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1202006)
Do I need an establishing sequence in France to make the contrast?

Definitely. In fact, if your players won't rebel, lead them to believe the whole campaign is about WWI, and surprise them with the fateful encounter.


Quote:

... I want the PCs gradually drawn in to the plots and intrigues of a nearly-immortal caste ...
Julian May's 'Pleistocene' novels are a possible example of how such intrigue can be rolled out.

Perssek 06-30-2011 09:14 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Man, this campaign concept is AWESOME. I'm already thinking of doing it as a sequel of one of my old - Vietnamesque - campaigns.

Agemegos 06-30-2011 05:51 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Figleaf23 (Post 1203492)
Definitely. In fact, if your players won't rebel, lead them to believe the whole campaign is about WWI, and surprise them with the fateful encounter.

After a few bad experiences both sides of the screen, I have gone off "bait-and-switch" campaigns completely. I might not say what the switch is going to be, but I always make it clear there is going to be one. Besides, I'm not in a position to dictate to any players that they play what I offer, and I don't think I'd get a quorum for a campaign of straight infantry combat on the Western front. I'd miss out on the players who want to swash their bucklers on Dying Mars, and disappoint the players who want to slog through mud and lead up the ridge at Messines.

Perssek 06-30-2011 11:19 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1203881)
After a few bad experiences both sides of the screen, I have gone off "bait-and-switch" campaigns completely. I might not say what the switch is going to be, but I always make it clear there is going to be one. Besides, I'm not in a position to dictate to any players that they play what I offer, and I don't think I'd get a quorum for a campaign of straight infantry combat on the Western front. I'd miss out on the players who want to swash their bucklers on Dying Mars, and disappoint the players who want to slog through mud and lead up the ridge at Messines.

Yeah, been there, done that. Nowadays I always annouce there's going to be a catch at the campaign, and that some "extra" may be involved, so they can have a headstart in their expectations.

Lancewholelot 07-01-2011 09:00 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by RyanW (Post 1202473)
My thought was that the Martians once had a teleport network that is now just one of the many relics. Unknown to even its inventors, the "weapon" is actually a teleporter, but it didn't have the range to reach any other teleporters during the tests and just blew stuff up instead. By the time of the first combat trial, Mars and Earth had moved just close enough to make a connection (I believe Mars was at opposition early in 1916 and 1918). Unless they want to stay a couple of years, they only have until the Earth and Mars move away from each other again to:

a) get access to one of the teleporters that has the power to reach Earth
b) figure out how to connect to the Earth teleporter
c) come up with an explanation for the sudden appearance of Australians at a German secret weapon site

You might be interested in the Grim Tales adventure source book, Slavelords of Cydonia. It involves teleporting the PC's from Earth to Mars via a relic teleport network that requires an exotic fuel. The campaign is very bare on adventure details, relying on experienced GM's to flesh it out, but it gives three campaign hooks each for the archaic, modern, and post-apocalyptic eras of earth. Also, it features mindflayer/headcrabs among its lurking menaces to both worlds!

That book, along with a wealth of others, has set me to spending a lot of late hours dreaming up my own sword and planet campaign. Set around 1875, it will send a mix of Brits and Americans on a expedition up the Amazon and into the interior of Peru in search of some missing company men (Heart of Darkness style). No social nor wealth advantages/disadvantages allowed! They will mean little, as this trip into the wilds goes deep.

RyanW 07-01-2011 09:50 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lancewholelot (Post 1204605)
You might be interested in the Grim Tales adventure source book, Slavelords of Cydonia. It involves teleporting the PC's from Earth to Mars via just such a relic teleport network.

I hate it when people steal my ideas before I have them.

fredtheobviouspseudonym 07-01-2011 10:11 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lwcamp (Post 1203251)
If the players end up liking their guns more than the ultra-tech ray gun gizmos, they might enjoy a duplicator - put a .303 ball cartridge in one of the chambers, some brass, lead, and organic material in the other chamber (with a bit of mercury to duplicate the primer), turn the crank for a while, and the machine glows with weird energies, spits out sparks and then opens up to reveal another .303 ball cartridge. Luke

May not need all the handwavium -- remember that the original loading for the .303 ball was compressed black powder. The bullet might be problematic but during WWI the French did make bullets out of solid bronze (the famous Balle D).

The toughest thing would be to make the primers (assuming you're reloading the original cases).

Using the duplicator gizmo to duplicate primers would probably be easier than using it to duplicate the entire cartridge.

Just for yucks, you could have the duplica-gizmo be semi-intelligent -- it keeps insisting on "improvements" in the cartridge design. Such as an individual safety on each cartridge ("just rotate the rim 45 degrees before firing -- oh, and if you leave it too long the safety will re-set itself." Or -- "I improved on that remarkably crude stuff -- whatchamacallit, "cordite" -- the new propellant is a high explosive and will produce about three times the muzzle energy." The Aussies will notice when the first SMLE goes boom . . !)

IrishRover 07-03-2011 10:24 PM

Map of Mars with water added...
 
This site: http://www.worlddreambank.org/P/PLANETS.HTM
has a map of Mars with water and teraforming added, done as realisticly as the author could manage. It also has some other excellent worlds--some other earths for infinite worlds, Venus terraformed, and some very well thought out other worlds.

Agemegos 07-03-2011 10:31 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
I'd like to get his map without his names on it.

Figleaf23 07-04-2011 09:18 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1205670)
I'd like to get his map without his names on it.

Looking at it, it seems to me like you could just use the one I linked and consider everything coloured blue to be water.

johndallman 07-04-2011 10:02 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by RyanW (Post 1202473)
I believe Mars was at opposition early in 1916 and 1918.

Oppositions were on 10-feb-1916 and 15-mar-1918. The German weird-science weapon ... doesn't feel satisfactory, somehow. Emulating the way the transportation happens in A Princess of Mars, where John Carter is overcome by smoke in an Native American medicine-woman's cave might be more satisfactory; this is science-fantasy and pretending it's science fiction feels to me like spoiling the tone. Having your troops take refuge in a museum with prehistoric artifacts, which is then set on fire by shelling could allow the emulation, while leaving open the possibility that it's all some kind of hallucination.

Fred Brackin 07-04-2011 10:13 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by johndallman (Post 1205855)
Oppositions were on 10-feb-1916 and 15-mar-1918. The German weird-science weapon ... doesn't feel satisfactory, somehow. Emulating the way the transportation happens in A Princess of Mars, where John Carter is overcome by smoke in an Native American medicine-woman's cave might be more satisfactory; this is science-fantasy and pretending it's science fiction feels to me like spoiling the tone. Having your troops take refuge in a museum with prehistoric artifacts, which is then set on fire by shelling could allow the emulation, while leaving open the possibility that it's all some kind of hallucination.

Ulysees Paxton had no such paraphenalia involved, but then his case clearly happened when he was dying and thus his transportation was purely spiritual.

A stong circle or a faerie ring might seem more naturalistic than a museum.

Johnny1A.2 07-04-2011 01:45 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Figleaf23 (Post 1202773)
Great idea for a campaign. I would suggest the latter map -- real Mars is an amazing landscape.

True...but not really well-suited to the planetary-romance version of Mars, IMHO. For this purpose I'd go with the Lowell/Schiaparelli map. If you want canals, for ex, drawing water southward on Real Mars means that you're sending it uphill in most directions. That implies some serious pumping technology and strains WSOD in a 'decaying Mars' setting.

In a decaying Mars setting, if you want the canals you probably also want the remaining civilization to be mostly in the old ocean beds, the land is lower and it would be easier to move the water that way, and air pressures would be higher, too, and it would likely be warmer. But if you insist on Real Mars, your ocean beds are either inconveniently far north or confined to isolated holes like Hellas.

I think the GURPS Mars setting had the right idea, though with the idea that ice gets melted by geothermal energy, since that would last far longer than most other forms of energy. You probably also want to assume somewhat more extensive water-ice caps at the poles, to provide more liquid (and partially address Wallace's devastating engineering analysis of the canal concept). I do wonder if you could have a stable 'core' of dry ice at each pole, with an extensive fringe and cap of water ice around it, that would give a nice bit of 'exotic' extreme environment in an otherwise near-Earthlike world.

Some other suggestions/thoughts:

I have a 'dying-Mars analogue' world in my own Orichalcum Universe, and I addressed the question of evaporation by plagiari- (ah, paying homage) to Tatooine in Star Wars (itself Golden Age Mars in disguise, of course). I have mechanical 'vaporator' machines lining the canal pathways and the fertile strips, using Old Tech to condense water out of the air and drop it back into the canal system. (I assume the ancients built canals instead of pipelines because they require less mainteance and provide water transport).

The ancients on my verison of Dying Mars left behind maintenance robots that work to maintain their constructions, they are harmless (usually) until messed with...

Mars' low mass/gravity means that atmosphere tends to bleed off and water photodisassociate. Your ancients may have left some kind of shield or screen in place above the atmosphere that prevents this, holding in the precious water. The machines generating it could be hidden (probably in many places) across Mars.

Now, your Engineers would want to maintain those, of course, in the long-term they're critical to Mars' survival. But! If they do break down, or get destroyed, or looted for parts...the effect won't matter on a daily-life level for centuries or millennia or more! So you've got conflicting interets, and it might be hard to convince someone to risk her/her life for the sake of something that won't matter for 10,000 years...

Johnny1A.2 07-04-2011 01:48 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Brackin (Post 1205862)
Ulysees Paxton had no such paraphenalia involved, but then his case clearly happened when he was dying and thus his transportation was purely spiritual.

A stong circle or a faerie ring might seem more naturalistic than a museum.

Or alternatively, the ancient Martians might have visited Terra in their glory days, and left behind teleport stations that can still work when Earth and Mars are close enough and Conditions Are Right. Instead of a German weapons test, maybe the Germans are digging into a Martian site they've discovered somewhere, and the Australians are there as part of an attack by the Entente to stop whatever the Germans are doing.

Which means if they manage to teleport back, you have an excuse to drop them anywhere there might still be an underground machine working, literally anywhere on Earth...

The Colonel 07-04-2011 02:24 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 (Post 1205944)
Or alternatively, the ancient Martians might have visited Terra in their glory days, and left behind teleport stations that can still work when Earth and Mars are close enough and Conditions Are Right. Instead of a German weapons test, maybe the Germans are digging into a Martian site they've discovered somewhere, and the Australians are there as part of an attack by the Entente to stop whatever the Germans are doing.

Which means if they manage to teleport back, you have an excuse to drop them anywhere there might still be an underground machine working, literally anywhere on Earth...

How about a mining operation like the Messines Ridge ones? The mine and countermine break into the sealed facility and start fighting for control, at which point someone sets it off...

Agemegos 07-04-2011 05:53 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by The Colonel (Post 1205961)
How about a mining operation like the Messines Ridge ones? The mine and countermine break into the sealed facility and start fighting for control, at which point someone sets it off...

Good idea. The Tunnelling Companies deserve more recognition for the contribution they made to the 1st AIF.

Johnny1A.2 07-05-2011 12:01 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 1206034)
Good idea. The Tunnelling Companies deserve more recognition for the contribution they made to the 1st AIF.

Here's a suggestion based on the teleporation system idea.

If we assume that Venus is also 'Golden Age', i.e. hot, jungle-ocean, etc, then the teleporter gives you a plot hook. Suppose that Mars was once girded by a teleporation network, but it requires transmitters and receivers to work, you can't jump just anywhere, you have to jump from one station to another working station, and the machinery has to be working on each end. If you know how to use it, you can jump from any station to any station in range, though, and on a given world that's all of them. Assume the system works at the speed of light.

OK, suppose at their their height, the ancient Martians established jump stations on Earth and Venus, using robotic ships. Then they could jump from Mars to Earth and back when the planets were close enough, at much higher than usual energy cost. Mars and Venus never get close enough for a straight jump, but the Martians explorers could jump to Earth, wait for Earth and Venus to get close, and then jump from Earth to Venus, and back.

This means that Venus was also accessible from Mars, but only by using Earth as a relay station.

So under those conditions, the explorers would probably set up a base on Earth, one big base, and subsidiary jump stations to explore Earth with, and from their big Earth base they'd send further missions on to Venus, where they'd also have one big city/base and subsidiary jump stations.

This opens up future possibilities. If and when your party gets back to Earth, they might want to track down and find the ancient major base/city, it might be quite elaborate (maybe with lots of relic tech). This could happen during the interwar years, a cliffhangers adventure, complete with the requisite Great War veterans for PCs. And of course there's Venus awaiting on the other side of the jump network...

If very many of the Earthside jump sites still work, and your heroes can figure out how to work them, they can circle the world faster than the fastest airliner, too. But some of them may not be working now, and some may be guarded by something, and some may be malfunctioning...

Apache 07-05-2011 12:08 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
The Martians probably had lunar bases (on Earth's Moon as well as their own 2 satellites).

Unless there was something already there, of course.

:)

Johnny1A.2 07-05-2011 12:17 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Apache (Post 1206196)
The Martians probably had lunar bases (on Earth's Moon as well as their own 2 satellites).

Unless there was something already there, of course.

:)

True, the same automated ships could have put jump stations on the Moon, too.

Regarding Phobos and Deimos, it's likely enough that the ancient Martians would have put something interesting on them...

Their big, main base for Earth would probably be on Earth proper, though, where there's a viable biosphere and atmosphere. Much easier to manage and much more pleasant.

The question would be 'where'? The Germans probably would not discover the main base, it would make better story sense for them to have found one of the subsidiary stations. So the main base could be in some remote, dangerous, exotic part of the world, some place exotic even by the standards of the men who ended up on Mars...

The teleport system I describe could have gotten the Martians all the way to Mercury by stepping-stone method, but reaching outward past the asteroids would be a bitch, Mars never gets all that close to Jupiter, and the orbital periods of the asteroids aren't helpful.\

Maybe that's What Happened. The Martians were building a super-duper jump station that could send a party to Callisto or Ganymede. Their robot ships had built the receiving base, but when they turned it on it Blew Up Good and wrecked Mars.

The Colonel 07-05-2011 02:58 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 (Post 1206198)
Regarding Phobos and Deimos, it's likely enough that the ancient Martians would have put something interesting on them...

<snip>

Maybe that's What Happened. The Martians were building a super-duper jump station that could send a party to Callisto or Ganymede. Their robot ships had built the receiving base, but when they turned it on it Blew Up Good and wrecked Mars.

Phobos and Deimos were once one, rather larger moon but a big chunk of it got teleported to Ganymede and the feedback wrecked large quantities of Martian tech - perhaps Earth was shadowed by Mars and so the "E"MP was attenuated enough that Martian tech on Earth survived.

Martians could then, potentially, be ancient astronauts if you feel like pushing contact that far back - the surviving members of the Earth transfer station, who as far as they knew were all that remained of their civilisation, put some effort into developing the protohumans but perhaps had too small a gene pool and died out.

So what happened to the colonists on Venus? Once your PCs have worked out the background, that may be a self-hooking adventure...

dcarson 07-05-2011 05:03 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
The Himalayas for the main station. The air pressure and temperature are more homelike for them. Can even throw in Shangri-La for a later adventure. Are yeti Martian apes?

Figleaf23 07-05-2011 06:01 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 (Post 1205942)
True...but not really well-suited to the planetary-romance version of Mars, IMHO. For this purpose I'd go with the Lowell/Schiaparelli map. If you want canals, for ex, drawing water southward on Real Mars means that you're sending it uphill in most directions. That implies some serious pumping technology and strains WSOD in a 'decaying Mars' setting.


Water would 'start' already uphill/south through the evaporation/precipitation cycle, and then drain down/northward through channels and aquifers (mostly below the resolution scale of the maps we're looking at here).

The Colonel 07-05-2011 01:49 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dcarson (Post 1206266)
Are yeti Martian apes?

Are they Martians?

Agemegos 07-19-2011 08:09 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by isf (Post 1202099)
This past weekend, my group just started making characters for a Steampunk Mars game set in 1889. I'm basing it on Stirling's "The Court of the Crimson Kings" as much as "A Princess of Mars".

I got The Courts of the Crimson Kings through the inter-library loans service, and have just finished it. I enjoyed it a great deal. Thank you for recommending it to me.

Johnny1A.2 07-19-2011 08:37 PM

Re: Mars 1917
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by The Colonel (Post 1206245)
Martians could then, potentially, be ancient astronauts if you feel like pushing contact that far back - the surviving members of the Earth transfer station, who as far as they knew were all that remained of their civilisation, put some effort into developing the protohumans but perhaps had too small a gene pool and died out.

Interesting idea. The OP did mention that the Martians are human enough for sexual/romantic ties to develop between them and Terrans. If we're cross-fertile, then some modern Terrans might have Martian blood, and that might be a factor in whether the jump stations work or not.

That is, the still-operation jump stations won't switch on for a Terran unless he knows how to turn them on the manual way, or if he has some Martian ancestry, in which case the machine may kick in on its own. There might be other subtle advantages and disadvantages to Martian ancestry, too, as plot hooks.

For ex, if as somebody suggested Yeti (and Bigfoot and its ilk) are Martian creatures or biomachines, someone with Martian ancestry might be ignored by them while a pureblood Terran might be in grave danger.

It probably shouldn't be at all obvious, at first, why some people can use the jump stations and some can't, or why some could control the yeti and others can't. A mystery to be solved.

acrosome 07-22-2011 10:16 AM

Re: Mars 1917
 
If you want some really neat maps of Mars go to the USGS website and search for map I-2782. There are actually two maps, and they are very detailed and can be dowloaded as PDFs for free. Then you can use Photoshop or Gimp to add an ocean at whatever contour you like.

Ah, here it is:

http://pubs.usgs.gov/imap/i2782/

There are a lot of quadrangle maps of Mars, too.

(I'm kind of a Mars fanboy.)


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