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Old 07-03-2011, 02:16 PM   #1
isf
 
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Default Dying Mars variant

I'm starting a campaign inspired by ERB's Barsoom, SM Stirling's "In the Court of the Crimson Kings" and GDW's Space:1889. The primary divergences from the real world are:
1) the ether theory of physics is true; allowing early spaceflight
2) Mars (cold and dry) and Venus (hot and wet) are both inhabitable
3) Psychic power exist (rare on earth, common on Mars)

The British Empire and Germany are the two nations with the highest presence off world. The first interplanetary trip was to the moon in 1880. Mars was first visited in 1885 by the British.

The two forms of ether propulsion are Ether Sails and Ether Screws. Ether Spaceships are primarily powered by Solar Boilers.

The players are all part of an American expedition funded by a group on investors (including Thomas Edison) to explore an ancient abandoned city on Mars looking for both scientific knowledge and valuable artifacts. There are approximately 30 people on the expedition; divided into three groups, warriors, scientists and support staff.

The Martians are an ancient civilization; fundamentally the same political/social system for the past 30,000 years. They had progressed to a TL 4+6 society based on Biotech and Psitech but most of their natural resources were exhausted long before the modern era. Martians appear to be a human, but do not produce fertile offspring. They are adapted to the colder and drier martian environment and are long lived and resistant to disease. Many Martians are psychic (usually telepathy and ESP) but few are as powerful as they once were. Their relic tech is mostly biotech (which is more sustainable) and little psitech is produced these days.
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Old 07-03-2011, 07:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: Dying Mars variant

Sounds fairly similar to a campaign I had been planning for a while. While I've never really settled on my aliens, I figured the Martians would be only vaguely humanoid, but remarkably familiar in culture once you get past the cosmetic differences. By comparison, Venusians would seem more humanoid but less human.
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The players are all part of an American expedition funded by a group on investors (including Thomas Edison) to explore an ancient abandoned city on Mars looking for both scientific knowledge and valuable artifacts.
If I were you I would make Westinghouse the primary backer. Mostly so that you can throw in whatever weird tech you want, wave your arms around, and say "Nicola Tesla."
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Old 07-03-2011, 07:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: Dying Mars variant

Do you have GURPS Steampunk? It's 3/e, but it has a campaign world, Etheria, that's a tribute to Space 1889.

I ran a modified Space 1889 campaign years ago, before writing GURPS Steampunk, in fact—modified by having low-end superheroes as PCs. In fact I have nearly complete campaign notes as a Word file; private message me with an e-mail address if you'd like to see a copy.

(I never did anything specific with it, but a minor tweak I was happy with was the Martians having chromium-based rather than iron-based blood, which gave them their distinctive yellow coloration.)

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Old 07-03-2011, 08:50 PM   #4
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Default Re: Dying Mars variant

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Sounds fairly similar to a campaign I had been planning for a while. While I've never really settled on my aliens, I figured the Martians would be only vaguely humanoid, but remarkably familiar in culture once you get past the cosmetic differences. By comparison, Venusians would seem more humanoid but less human.
The Green Martians will be non-human; I am still trying to decide on how.

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If I were you I would make Westinghouse the primary backer. Mostly so that you can throw in whatever weird tech you want, wave your arms around, and say "Nicola Tesla."
I may use the Tesla/Westinghouse expedition as a rival; playing with the Edison/Tesla rivalry.
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Old 07-03-2011, 08:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: Dying Mars variant

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Do you have GURPS Steampunk? It's 3/e, but it has a campaign world, Etheria, that's a tribute to Space 1889.
Yes, I've got both Steampunk and Steamtech. I liked Etheria but I wanted a little more Barsoom and Crimson Kings in it.

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(I never did anything specific with it, but a minor tweak I was happy with was the Martians having chromium-based rather than iron-based blood, which gave them their distinctive yellow coloration.)
I may use this for the Green martians.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:01 PM   #6
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I may use this for the Green martians.
With green, copper would be more likely, or magnesium (which I think is the analog of iron in the chlorophyll molecule).

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Old 07-03-2011, 09:44 PM   #7
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With green, copper would be more likely, or magnesium (which I think is the analog of iron in the chlorophyll molecule).
That's right. Chlorophyll and haem are somewhat similar molecules, with iron giving haem its characteristic red colour, and magnesium taking the analogous place in chlorophyll, resulting in green.

Chromium compounds give a startling range of colours, partly because chromium is kind-of stable in a wide range of oxidation states. Chromium (II) is the one you would need in a close haemoglobin analog, and that tends to be not-all-that-stable-really and bright blue. The yellow pigments are mostly chromates, I think, with chromium in the (VI) oxidation state where it is chemically very unlike iron or magnesium (electron accepting rather than electron donating).

However, if you are in a world where the existence of the luminiferous aether somehow allows spaceships to take off from Earth's surface without monstrous rocketry, no-one is going to quibble much over the details of chemistry. And if they did, you could simply tell them that this chromate-rich respiratory pigment was only a functional analogue of haemoglobin, not a chemical analogue.
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Old 07-03-2011, 10:07 PM   #8
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I may use this for the Green martians.
Seriously guys, are we bright red?
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Old 07-03-2011, 10:16 PM   #9
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The players are all part of an American expedition funded by a group on investors (including Thomas Edison) to explore an ancient abandoned city on Mars looking for both scientific knowledge and valuable artifacts. There are approximately 30 people on the expedition; divided into three groups, warriors, scientists and support staff.
Given your background assumptions, it would be likely that at least one of your American team would be a Secret Service agent or maybe from Army Intelligence, the possibility of the British and Germans gaining a huge advantage from old Martian tech would be on the minds of some people in Washington D.C.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:12 AM   #10
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Seriously guys, are we bright red?
Well, if I've taken niacin recently. . . .
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