Dec 28, 2020

APoM Design Diary #20 - Gozava

Today I am starting up the A Princess of Mars Adventure Design Diary posts again. I worked with a  researcher to go through the source material and compile it all into game-useful data. Now I am referring to that data as I build out the adventure. Most of the development remaining is editing, art, and layout.

In this NPC update, Sola's mom Gozava, you can see an improved stat block which provides some useful game info for the GM to be able to quickly refer to. In the spirit of turning the adventure into a sandbox rather than a railroad Gozava's fate is yet to be decided, while in the book she was tortured to death. Perhaps the PC's save her from this cruel end?

Green Martian, 1st level Fighting Man
Armor Class: 10 [10]
Hit Dice: 1/6hp
Move: 120'
Attacks:  2x weapon attack or tusks (2d4)
Damage: 1d6 or 1d12
Save: F1
Morale: 5
Alignment: Neutral Good
XP Value: 100
Str: 10 (+0), Dex: 10 (+0), Con: 10 (+0), Wis: 13 (+1), Int: 10 (+0), Chr: 12 (+1)
Equipment: 2x shortsword, irradium pistol, ammo belt, dagger, domestic tool kit, female leather harness, sleeping furs, food pouch.
Special Abilities: Beast ESP, Minor Telepathy ; SD: Mind Blank

A green martian female in the retinue of the cruel Tal Hajus. Too small to breed by tribal standards (only 10ft tall), she was forbidden to mate as dictated by Thark custom. Slowly this fostered an aversion to the awful cruelties and loveless existence of her people and helped her nurture a shy sympathy towards others. She cares little for the barbaric ways of the greenmen. 

Thus it was that over 5 years ago, she entered into a fateful tryst with the chieftain Tars Tarkas and each unwittingly fell in love with the other. Together they quietly bore a forbidden egg completely outside tribal law, the penalty for which is death. While he was away on a years-long military campaign, Gozava secretly hatched their hidden egg alone, begetting a daughter upon whom she lavished affection - an occurrence so rare among the greenmen as to be unheard of in living memory. 

Knowing she could not keep the child hidden for long, Goziva conspired to mix her in with the other tribal younglings from that year’s incubator expedition. Though initially successful, the ruse was later uncovered by the ever-vigilant Sarkoja, though the child’s identity remained unknown. 

Betrayed, now Gozava is to be brought before cruel Tal Hajus to answer for her crimes. Without hope for mercy, she will likely be subjected to unspeakable tortures to force a confession.

  • Secret - Her forbidden lover is Tars Tarkas, himself a powerful chieftain, and their illicit daughter is Sola. Should this ever become known, all three of them will likely pay dearly.
  • Goal - To be reunited with her daughter and lover Tars Tarkas, and if not take her secret to her grave. If forced under duress - to preserve the lives of those dearest to her - she will lie and say she killed her own infant daughter rather than leave her to the mercy of Tal Hajus. 
  • Motivation - She abhors the cruelty of the green men and only wishes to live in peace.
  • Conflict - Her softer sentiments are considered decadent - a reason to demand she prove her worthiness to the tribe. Her being in the retinue of Tal Hajus means the punishment for her ‘misdeeds’ will likely be that much more severe.
  • Quirk - Enjoys walking alone into flowering hills to daydream of a better life.
  • Flaw - Her love for her daughter can be used against her. 

Discussion thread here.

Dec 17, 2020

Clyde Caldwell's Barsoom

In the September 1982 issue of Heavy Metal magazine, before he went on to fame and success at TSR, noted fantasy artist Clyde Caldwell did a series of Barsoom paintings. They are interesting both in their relative faithfulness to the books and their raciness. 

Dec 10, 2020

The Outlander

A US civil war veteran transported to mars, a kryptonian evacuated to earth, a college athlete accidentally rocketed to an alien planet. With strange super-human abilities manifested on their new world the Outlander is a classic trope and the topic of today's Dungeoneering.

Edgar Rice Burroughs arguably invented the super hero genre with his epic hero Captain John Carter of Virginia in the classic novel A Princess of Mars. Carter's adventures on Mars inspired generations of kids who would go on to become artists, writers, and even scientists like Carl Sagen, Isaac Asimov, Frank Frazetta, and Frank Herbert.

The concept that someone raised on a planet with certain conditions would exhibit unusual abilities when transported to a different planet with different conditions is a compelling one. Often explored in science fiction, the most common being someone from a heavier gravity being stronger. There is so much more potential in the concept. Here is the Outlander as a playable character race. Ideal for the Warriors of the Red Planet and Guardians roleplaying games:

Outlander Strangers of extraordinary ability from other worlds

When one who is born on another planet or dimension or from another time with different atmospherics, climate, knowledge, or gravity arrives on this world they inherently have unusual abilities far beyond what natives may have. On their world of origin they may have been little more than average, but on this world they are stronger, or can jump higher, or have incredible endurance, or even stranger abilities that seem superheroic. 

Despite their otherworldly origins, Outlanders adapt rapidly, being able to learn local customs and languages in a short time. Consequently, Outlanders may learn the local equivalent of Common within days of first hearing it, regardless of their Intelligence score. 

Many Outlanders find themselves looked upon with fascination as possible heroes or saviors, whose unexpected arrival means the status quo is about to change. Just as easily as they find allies, they are likely to encounter enemies in equal numbers.

Perhaps because journeys between worlds/times/dimensions are inherently hazardous, only the most resilient -- and fortunate -- Outlander survive. Members of this race gain a +4 bonus to saving throws. 

Owing to the unusual nature of their fighting styles, Outlanders gain a +1 bonus either to Armor Class or to hit and damage when fighting opponents unfamiliar with their ways. Which bonus the Outlander wishes to use must be declared before each combat begins and, should the opponent survive to face the character again, the bonus is nullified thereafter in the case of that particular foe.

Home World

These are just a few of the possible conditions of the Outlander’s home world and the abilities it confers to them on this world, choose one.

Heavier Gravity: Outlander is unusually strong, +1 Strength and can jump twice as high and far as normal.

Thinner Air: the Outlander has unusual endurance, +1 Constitution

Advanced Knowledge: the Outlander understands technology and can figure out strange gadgets or make their own with the proper time and resources, +1 Intelligence.

Aquatic: the Outlander is amphibious and can breath underwater and on land. And swim twice as fast as normal. They can hold their breath for unusually long periods, for no less than 2 hours plus their Constitution modifier.

Hotter: the Outlander from a hot world is nearly impervious to heat, taking half damage at most from fire or heat attacks, and usually being able to save for none.

Colder: the Outlander from a cold world is nearly impervious to cold, taking half damage at most from cold attacks, and usually being able to save for none. They are not susceptible to the further effects of cold, such as being frozen. 

Radiation: the Outlander was born on a planet with extremely high and unusual radiation. When they come to this world that lacks this radiation and bathed by the light of a different sun they gain unusual powers of flight, invulnerability, x-ray vision, even laser blasts from the eyes. As all of these combined are likely to unbalance a game, choose one of these options:

  • Flight (24”) with high maneuverability

  • Invulnerability: +2 natural AC, +2 hit points per level

  • X-Ray vision: able to see through most solids as normal, the GM determines what blocks this vision, usually heavy metals like lead.

  • Eye Lasers: roll to hit, inflicts 2-7 (1d6+1) damage. Can be used 3 times per day.

  • Super breath: can exhale a powerful gust of wind, in 15’ cone, targets must make a Dexterity check or be blown back 25’ cone, targets must make a Dexterity check or be blown back 10’ and fall down prone. Can be used no more than once per hour and when not fatigued.

I started a discussion thread on the ODD74 Forum here:

Inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs, American comics, and Robert Heinlein, and many other “Science Fantasy” books and movies. Loosely based on the Stranger by James Maliszewski

Dec 8, 2020

The Space Noble and the Space Princess

Alien kings, space monarchs, rulers of the known universe, decadent nobles of a highly advanced and technological civilization, and of course Space Princesses are staples of space operas, sci-fi sagas, and tales of strange worlds and other dimensions. The Warriors of the Red Planet roleplaying game provides the basics needed to run a Sword & Planet style interplanetary fantasy romance campaign using the classic OSR style rules. However if there was one class that was missing it was the Space Noble -- the aristocracy of the dying red planet. This supplement endeavors to fill that gap with a very playable royal character class, though its primary purpose is to describe the NPC’s that the player characters will encounter.

The Space Noble is designed to work with any science fiction or science fantasy OSR style RPG that is based on the original fantasy roleplaying game.