Fort Grant and the Arizona Territory

The novel starts out with a framing device of John Carter's tomb and ERB himself inheriting his property and manuscript of the strange story. I'm not sure how well that fits into an adventure. Maybe it will be worth it to illustrate Carter's home and tomb and tie it into the adventure. But I'd prefer to start with Arizona.

The first map is the Ft. Grant area of the Arizona territory in the late 1800's. Edgar Rice Burroughs was stationed there (really) for 10 months and had some adventures like hunting the notorious Apache Kid. Billy the Kid was also active in the era a couple decades earlier, so it gives some historical context. This was the time of cattle rustlers, outlaws, Apache raids, and prospectors still mining for gold.

To adapt the novel it seemed a good idea to start the adventure out as a western, like the book does. This could be a good intro for players who know nothing of the ERB Mars books as it can seem like a traditional old west game that escalates into a weird martian adventure.

Players create characters as gunfighters, gamblers, scouts, pony soldiers, etc. All basic Fighting Men. It wouldn't be too hard to lure them to the cave. Stories of gold. Chasing a bounty. Investigating the weird-acting priest of the local missionary, who is actually a Thurn in disguise, who keeps visiting the cave.

I have more thoughts on the cave for the next post.

An interesting detail is that the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope is near that area. This could make for some interesting tie ins with strange technology and the Vatican's awareness of it. Maybe that interests me because I've read some fascinating conspiratorial theories about the telescope there, it also happens to be on a place considered sacred by the natives.

Discuss your thoughts and ideas here:


Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Apache Kid

Map of Fort Grant area

The Adventures of Captain Carter and the Princess of Mars

From time to time the Disney John Carter movie pops up in a conversation and I get to thinking about how it was bungled. Their marketing department said we can't call it a Princess of Mars because boys won't go see a movie with princess in the title, and girls won't go see a movie with Mars in the title.


A Princess of Mars is a perfectly good and catchy title. But, if we're going to play this game let's find a title that can have some legs to it. Something you can really turn into a franchise. Because clearly John Carter is a terrible title.

If I'd been head of marketing my proposal would have been The Adventures of Captain Carter and the Princess of Mars. Hey, it works for Indiana Jones.

Speaking of A Princess of Mars, lets convert the novel into an OSR adventure!

We do have a politically correct problem here though. Because what exactly is he a captain of? Yeah, a confederate officer. Uh, oh. At the time ERB wrote Under the Moons of Mars it was a generation whose parents, or grandparents, had fought in the Civil War. They didn't see the losers of that war as the reprehensible monsters we do today. They were soldiers who fought with honor. And if you listen to any interviews with the actual soldiers it's pretty clear they didn't really understand that they were fighting to protect a wealthy slave-owning class. They thought they were defending their home states. Fortunately you can go to YouTube and search for civil war soldier interview and hear them for yourselves.

This is the start of a design diary for converting A Princess of Mars into a Warriors of the Red Planet adventure.

I started this project years ago as a sort of high level concept back in October of 2017. Since then it has been on the back burner slowly simmering, as many of my projects do. This is a period of research and development where reference and ideas are collected. Then development really heats up when it becomes my current project.

You might notice a little sidebar of projects here in development, and this Princess of Mars adventure is the next up.

The first step was writing a detailed outline of the book. Figuring out all the locations so rough maps can be drawn and areas fleshed out. The biggest question was whether or not Captain Carter is going to be in the adventure. This is a huge decision I may leave up to the GM. The worst thing would be for John Carter to drive the adventure and the players to just tag along. They need to have the starring role. So my solution is to create a timeline of events and situations, then leave it up to the players what to do as these things happen.

There is a bookend device in the book with Captain Carter's 'death' and his tomb, and his adventures gold mining in Arizona and encountering hostile native Americans. This will be in the adventure, just not required. The players may just start on Barsoom as natives, or possibly Jasoomians somehow on Barsoom. I think these details will need to be up to the GM and players, but the information will be provided.

I've been working on this adventure for Warriors of the Red Planet for some time, but now it has moved to the forefront of my OSR projects and design work is heating up.

Would anyone be interested in me posting a regular design diary here?

Here is how I've broken the adventure down:

1. Introduction and Background
2. Adapting this novel to an adventure
3. Chapter by Chapter of the novel with summaries of each
4. Roster of all the major characters
5. Maps of all the locations
6. Appendices
7. Bibliography
8. OGL

The first challenge was making it for a party of adventurers instead of one man. And whether or not John Carter is a character in the adventure, and if he is how to not have him overshadow the party actions.

Also, taking a sandbox approach to each location. Starting with Arizona white mountains region, Fort Grant, Apache camps, and The Cave.

So this is the kick off. Your thoughts are welcome.

Hero Forge

Hero Forge is an online tool for creating your own miniatures to be used in your favorite RPG, boardgame, or war game.

Using this tool I created a classic adventuring party: Dwarf fighter, Elf Sorceress, Halfling Burglar, and a Human Paladin.

The tools comprise of pre-made parts: body types like female elf or dwarf male. Helmet, armor, weapon. And you can use a pre-made pose or adjust the pose yourself. Which is what I chose to do. It has quite a large selection and you can create some really unique characters. The materials are limited you can get plastic, steel, or bronze. They come in a solid color. There are also a good selection of bases to choose from such as a skull, a 6-sided die, a disk, and so on.

I found the tool to be quite user friendly. While I do have quite a bit of experience at 3d modeling, I don't think it required any special knowledge.

While I went for the fantasy set it also has some other genres like sci-fi, though with a much more limited set of options for those.

The figures took a while to arrive, about 6 weeks, part of that may be the disruption in the supply chain with the current situation. Also they are pretty expensive when compared to off-the-shelf figures you can get at your local game store, starting at $19.99US for basic plastic. The scale looks a bit larger than typical 28mm figures. They are nicely detailed and pretty sharp and come with a coat of primer. the sprues have been removed though you might want to do a little extra sanding on rough edges. If you look carefully under a magnifying glass you can see the lines from the 3d printing. The printing is done by Shapeways which is probably the largest consumer supplier of 3d printed objects.

Old School Stat Blocks

One of those (too many) projects that have been simmering on the back burner in the Dungeoneering test kitchen are Encounter Cards. A deck of cards to go with the Beasties books would make it easier for the DM to use during play. One of the challenges is condensing the information into a usable stat block. A perusal of various formats in the early books and modules shows little conformity or standardization. Here are a few gleaned from LBB and others:

Book 2 Monsters & Treasure: (#APP, AC, Move, HD, % in Lair, Treasure Type)

Greyhawk/Blackmoor: (#APP, AC, Move, HD, # Att, Damage, % in Lair, Treasure Type)

Monster & Treasure Assortment Set 1-3: (#APP, HP, #AT, Attack Level, AC, Saving Throw, Special Abilities, Treasure)

Village of Hommlet original cover (HP, AC, HD, Move, #ATT)

Descent into the Depths original cover (AC, Move, HD, #Att, Damage, Size)

Holmes Basic (Move, HD, AC, Treasure Type, Align, Attacks, Damage)

And its not like any of these were actually standardized. Much of the time all they cared about was Hit Points and what Treasure they might have.

Here are some later ones. This is a 2nd edition stat block from Dungeon magazine:

 Not bad, all the important info in a logical order, clearly laid out.

Then there is this dumpster fire of a stat block from 3rd edition from Dungeon magazine:

And this isn't even one of the really bad ones. No wonder players started getting frustrated with 3rd edition and all the clutter that accumulated. I don't think 4th edition made it any better.

With this info, here is a Stat Block boiled down for ease of use and essential information. The front of the card, as you can see, would be a full color illustration of a Beastie, and a description card that would come with the deck.

What do you think? Does this work for you?

Frigid Sietch of Jilanger the Arid Trickster

In the outer reaches of the Arouka desert, Jilanger the notorious outlaw and trickster occupies a hidden sietch with his band of marauders.

A bookmark adventure for 2-5 players of 4th-6th level.


Making of:

Patrons receive a high resolution PDF of this, and an actual bookmark.