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A Bit of Barsoom


seneschal

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Since we've been discussing classic science fiction settings (and waiting with bated breath for Interplanetary), I thought I'd stat up a couple of my favorite sci-fi critters, re: Chessmen of Mars.

Kaldane

The kaldane are a Barsoomian race of burrowing social carnivorous arthropods who have achieved advanced intelligence at the expense of their physical capabilities. A typical specimen is a basketball-sized bluish-gray sphere with six spidery legs, sharp chelae, huge, black, round unblinking eyes, and a tiny mouth orifice. Kaldanes are excellent climbers and diggers but are physically weak and vulnerable, relying on their rykor “bodies” for transportation, labor and food. They regard this symbiotic relationship as the ideal union of pure mind and pure physical strength. Aside from accident or violent death, they are incredibly long-lived. They also don’t need to breathe.

Each kaldane nest is ruled by a hermaphrodite king who lays the eggs that produce warriors and workers. A typical nest will have several spare kings sealed away in case its current one perishes. Several nests are typically clustered near one another, each ruled by a separate king. They cooperate with one another generally, but the members of different nests may compete violently for scarce resources. Kaldane society is strictly hierarchical, run by the ruthlessly logical dictates of the king. While not a group mind, they do tend to think alike unless exposed to the individuality of other races. (Kings may order the execution of nest members “infected” by such disruptive ideas.) Despite their goal of creating a society of pure unsentimental mind, kaldanes appreciate beauty and are excellent engineers, architects and artists. Their society never developed music, however.

A typical nest consists of an opaque domed tower surrounded by walls, around which the kaldane plant the crops with which they feed their rykors. The walls protect the livestock at night, when they are helpless without their riders. The dome’s many prisms funnel light into the kaldane’s gorgeously paved tunnels deep underground. The higher-ranking nest members live in the deeper tunnels, and the deepest chambers are for food storage against the day Barsoom’s surface becomes unable to support life.

While kaldanes pride themselves on their lack of emotion, they experience the sensations of their rykor mounts while attached. They thus are able to experience pleasure, pain, fear, and lust. When not so distracted, their highly developed brains are capable of reading or controlling the minds of other creatures – abilities that are greater among higher-caste nest members.

Kaldanes are not expansionist or aggressive but they view humanoid visitors as inferior rykors – neither pure mind nor pure physical perfection. As such, adventurers will not be permitted to leave if captured. Instead, they’ll be fattened for the larder or used as breeding stock for the rykors.

STR (1D3) 2

CON (3D4) 8

SIZ (1D2) 1, 2

INT (4D6+10) 24

POW (3D6+10) 18

DEX (3D6+5) 16

APP (1D2) 1,2

Move: 4

Hit Points: 5

Armor: AP 1 (Leathery hide)

Attacks: Bite 55%, 3D4-1D6; Sword 45%, (variable)

Powers: Dark Vision, Mind Control, Telepathy

Skills: Climb 60%, Dodge 40%, Hide 30%, Jump 35%, Ride 40%; other skills vary by profession.

Rykor

Rykors are mindless quadrupeds barely able to feed themselves without kaldane assistance. They resemble handsome but headless male and female human bodies. The “stump” of a rykor’s neck contains its mouth and a neural knot that kaldane riders use to control the creatures. They are blind, deaf, and mute. Able only to crawl on their own, rykors become powerful, well-coordinated and agile when ridden. The kaldane use these “bodies” to construct and defend their nests, grow crops, and create artwork. Despite their utility, rykors are considered utterly disposable. When a mount becomes too old, sick, or weak to be useful, it is left outside the walls to be eaten by predators. The kaldane also fatten a certain number of rykors for their own meals.

STR (2D6+6)

CON (2D6+6)

SIZ (2D6+6)

INT 1

POW 1

DEX (2D6+6)

APP (1D4)

Move: 10

Hit Points: 13

Armor: None

Attacks: Per kaldane rider

Skills: None

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Nice seneschal.

What would you say appropriate SAN penalties would be?

Maybe 0/1D6 or 0/1D4

This prompted me to dig around in my old back-up DVDs for an adaption I did of John Carter during the BRP playtest. I just uploaded him to the files section.

Here is the link...

Now he just needs some green martians to fight and he's good to go.

Rod

Edited by threedeesix

Join my Mythras/RuneQuest 6: Classic Fantasy Yahoo Group at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/RQCF/info

"D100 - Exactly 5 times better than D20"

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I was going to do a Green Martian write-up but the whole SIZ thing puzzles me. Depending on which book you read, a typical insectoid warrior ranges from 15 to 18 feet tall, 180-216". That's double the height of the typical RuneQuest troll (8 feet) but less than half the height of a typical 48-foot-tall giant. I was hoping the Big Gold Book would have an extended SIZ chart but no such luck. And the SIZ levels don't expand consistently; some are 12 inches, others are 4 or 5. I couldn't find anything already written up online, although I have a copy of the experimental SIZ chart someone was working on for mecha purposes (which has weights but not dimensions). How would I calculate it?

Also, because Barsoom's gravity is less than Earth's, Green Martians are tall but not necessarily much stronger than a 6-foot human or Red Martian soldier. Otherwise, John Carter wouldn't have been able to one-punch them so easily. So they're double or triple the height of a man but comparatively fragile for their size (or SIZ). Many of the Mars novels treat them as mooks for all their bulk and fierceness. How would BRP handle that? :?

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... Many of the Mars novels treat them as mooks for all their bulk and fierceness. How would BRP handle that? :?

It's a (very) long time since I read any ERB, but I currently running The Savage North as a Heroic fantasy setting with BRP - and the PC's and major NPC's are using THP=SIZ+CON, but the rank and file spods are all THP=(SIZ+CON)/2 which works well for that sort of feel. For Barsoom I'd probably go further - Charles Green's excellent "mook" rules are IIRC summarised somwehere on this board, and are also in Dragon Lines ("Lesser Foes" in the combat chapter), and would work well for this sort of thing.

Stat Green Martians as traditional BRP creatures for when on needs one that will be a full character in the game (PC or NPC), but for cannon fodder, simply apply one's preferred version of mook rules.

Cheers,

Nick

Edited by NickMiddleton
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This prompted me to dig around in my old back-up DVDs for an adaption I did of John Carter during the BRP playtest. I just uploaded him to the files section.

Rod

Why the Barsoom books stopped focusing on John Carter after the first three novels:

John Carter: You are not going to the royal ball in that harness!

Tara of Helium: But it’s my body.

John Carter: Not until you’re 350.

Tara of Helium: Daaaaaad!

John Carter: Deja! Please come deal with your daughter.

;D

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  • 1 year later...

Since Interplanetary is delayed and the release date for the Disney movie draws nearer and nearer ...

Radium Gun

The radium gun is a long, musket-like weapon that fires explosive projectiles. Despite its size, the gun is constructed of a relatively lightweight alloy that enables the long-limbed Green Martians to use it as a sort of carbine. Edgar Rice Burroughs claimed the radium gun had an effective range of 200 miles. Since this is equivalent to firing a handgun in Tulsa and hitting a target in Oklahoma City (and Oklahoma is itself a dried-up seabed), the assertion is patently absurd. Burroughs’ claims about the radium gun’s magazine capacity are outrageous as well; an “accurate” write-up would make it a campaign-breaking super-weapon resulting in Total Party Kill for both the player-characters and their foes well before either side could possibly Spot the other. I’ve drawn up more reasonable game stats based upon existing missile weapons in the Big Gold Book.

Skill: Rifle

Base: 25%

Damage: 3D6/2 meters

Attacks: 1

Special: Knockback

Range: 400

Hands: 2H

HP: 10

Parry: No

STR/DEX: 7/5

Malfunction: 00

Ammo: 20

Value: Average

SIZ/Encumbrance: 3.5

SR: 1/SR

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Source: Edgar Rice Burroughs, "A Princess of Mars," 1912

Green Martian Warrior

What’s mean, olive-green, is 15-feet-tall, sports six limbs, and has long gleaming tusks? Why, a Green Martian warrior, of course! These vicious, insect-like, carnivorous humanoids inhabit the dry ocean beds and ancient abandoned cities of Barsoom by the tens of thousands, organized into nomadic tribes ruled by chieftains who win their positions by slaying the previous leader, either in open combat or by assassination. They lead a piratical existence, preying upon one another as well as the more civilized (and more human) Red Men of Mars. Brutal and remorseless, they laugh only at the suffering of others. They cease fighting only long enough to lay their eggs (hidden in remote incubation chambers to be hatched by the sun) and to later retrieve their young. Newborns are expected to fend for themselves.

Green Martians’ bodies are long and rangy; their intermediary limbs can function either as hands or feet and enable them to fight with more than one weapon when necessary. They have huge black eyes with red irises, tiny but mobile trumpet-like ears sticking out of their foreheads, and can smell water from miles away despite their lack of a protruding nose. They wear only heavy golden jewelry and leather harnesses to hold their assorted weapons. A Green Martian warrior is never unarmed, usually carrying a pair of swords and a dagger. When mounted, a warrior is also equipped with a lance twice as long as its wielder is tall and a radium gun. The latter is a long, musket-like firearm captured during battles with the Red Martians. Green Martians don’t manufacture radium guns and radium pistols, but they are crack shots with them.

Aside from his weapons, a Green Martian's most prized possession is his riding mount -- a dinosaurian quadruped known as a thoat. Warriors use no reins, controlling their beasts by telepathy so that all their hands are left free to fight with. The only other beast domesticated by the Green Men is the calot, a swift-running ten-legged crocodilian creature that serves them as a hunting dog. They enjoy few luxuries except for silks and furs seized in raids, which they use for bedding material.

Females are smaller and lighter in color than males and perform all the manual labor required by the tribe: training the young to fight, making and repairing weapons and harnesses, tanning hides and furs, gathering water and foodstuffs. However, females are fully capable of fighting should the tribe’s encampment be attacked.

STR (3D6) 10-11

CON (3D6) 10-11

SIZ (3D6+12) 22-23

INT (2D6+6) 13

POW (3D6) 10-11

DEX (3D6) 10-11

APP (2D6) 7-8

Move: 10

Hits: 17

Damage Bonus: +1D6

Armor: None

Attacks: Brawl 50%, 1D4+1D6+1D6; Dagger, Throwing 50%, 1D4+1D3; Grapple 50%, 1D4+1D6; Lance 55%, 1D8+1+1D6; Radium Gun 60%, 3D6/2 meters; Saber 55%, 1D8+1+1D6, Short Sword 555%, 1D6+1+1D6

Skills: Dodge 32%, Hide 25%, Listen 35%, Ride 50%, Spot 35%, Stealth 40%, Throw 50%, Tracking 35%

Mutations: Hands (major, two extra limbs, dual-use as arms or legs); Natural Weaponry (minor, tusks, +1D6 to Brawl); Metabolic Improvement (minor, long-lived, 1,000+ years if not killed in fanatical combat, but they’re usually killed in combat); Sensitivity (major, can “smell” water miles away)

Psychic Abilities: Telepathy

Edited by seneschal
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Calot

A swift, pony-sized predator with ten legs and frog-like maw crammed with teeth, the calot is kept by the Green Martians as a hunting and guard animal. Despite its natural ferocity, the calot is receptive to telepathic training and is loyal, obedient, and affectionate when domesticated. It will fight to the death to defend its master.

STR (3D6+12) 22-23

CON (2D6+6) 13

SIZ (3D6+12) 23

INT 5

POW (3D6) 10-11

DEX (2D6+6) 13

Move: 12

Hit Points: 18

Damage Bonus: +2D6

Armor: 1, muscle and hide

Attacks: Bite 40%, 1D10+2D6

Skills: Dodge 35%, Listen 75%, Sense 90%, Spot 60%, Track 50%

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On the other hand, given its weaker musculature because of Mars' lighter gravity, is the calot too strong? Burroughs described it as big as a pony, and it was strong enough to battle a white "ape," but it probably shouldn't be as strong as a horse given that Barsoomian creatures are weaker for their size than a similarly sized Earth creature would be. What do you all think?

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Since Interplanetary is delayed and the release date for the Disney movie draws nearer and nearer ...

Radium Gun

The radium gun is a long, musket-like weapon that fires explosive projectiles. Despite its size, the gun is constructed of a relatively lightweight alloy that enables the long-limbed Green Martians to use it as a sort of carbine. Edgar Rice Burroughs claimed the radium gun had an effective range of 200 miles. Since this is equivalent to firing a handgun in Tulsa and hitting a target in Oklahoma City (and Oklahoma is itself a dried-up seabed), the assertion is patently absurd. Burroughs’ claims about the radium gun’s magazine capacity are outrageous as well; an “accurate” write-up would make it a campaign-breaking super-weapon resulting in Total Party Kill for both the player-characters and their foes well before either side could possibly Spot the other. I’ve drawn up more reasonable game stats based upon existing missile weapons in the Big Gold Book.

Skill: Rifle

Base: 25%

Damage: 3D6/2 meters

Attacks: 1

Special: Knockback

Range: 400

Hands: 2H

HP: 10

Parry: No

STR/DEX: 7/5

Malfunction: 00

Ammo: 20

Value: Average

SIZ/Encumbrance: 3.5

SR: 1/SR

I dunno. On Mars, to have a range of 200 miles with a firing angle of 45-degrees, a ballistic projectile would need a muzzle velocity of of about 1100 m/s.

By comparison, the muzzle velocity of some .30-06 rifle is 3015 fps or 918.97 m/s.

Hell, firing a .30-06 rifle at a 45 degree angle on Mars will send a 10-gram (or any size, really, given enough energy) projectile 194011.82 meters. That's 194 kilometers.

Bullets go a lot farther in 0.38g.

You won't HIT anything, but if you fire it in the air at 45 degrees, it will come down 120+ miles away somewhere.

__________________

Christian Conkle

Blogs: Geek Rampage! - Swords of Cydoria - Exiled in Eris

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Well, everything on Barsoom is weaker than Earth equivalents. Is that taken into account across the board? IE, is every creature or race listed as weaker than its Earth counterpart? I would aim for consistency.

Personally, I would use earth averages for everything, then raise the characteristics of anything brought over from earth. For example, red martians should average 3D6 for STR. However, humans from earth would be modified. That way the system remains unchanged and you can use other BRP sources unmodified. Thats the way I figured it when doing up the stats for John Carter.

You don't want red martians with a 2D4 STR in a campaign where everyone is playing red martians.

Thats my 2 tanpi's worth,

Rod

Join my Mythras/RuneQuest 6: Classic Fantasy Yahoo Group at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/RQCF/info

"D100 - Exactly 5 times better than D20"

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As a slightly off topic note... there are some nice not-Barsoomian miniatures on the Tinman miniatures site.

If the critter on their home page is a Calot it looks to be of similar mass to a warhorse... just thinner all over... fragile if it wasn't for the lighter gravity.

Awesome, I collect everything JC and didn't know about these. You may also want to check out http://www.bronzeagemin.com/miniatures_html/32MM/SCI-FI/sci-fi28mm.htm

I have everything this guy has done and love them. A larger varity of poses.

I don't think I have a Calot yet so thanks again.

Rod

Join my Mythras/RuneQuest 6: Classic Fantasy Yahoo Group at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/RQCF/info

"D100 - Exactly 5 times better than D20"

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I dunno. On Mars, to have a range of 200 miles with a firing angle of 45-degrees, a ballistic projectile would need a muzzle velocity of of about 1100 m/s.

By comparison, the muzzle velocity of some .30-06 rifle is 3015 fps or 918.97 m/s.

Hell, firing a .30-06 rifle at a 45 degree angle on Mars will send a 10-gram (or any size, really, given enough energy) projectile 194011.82 meters. That's 194 kilometers.

Bullets go a lot farther in 0.38g.

You won't HIT anything, but if you fire it in the air at 45 degrees, it will come down 120+ miles away somewhere.

Good info to have. Thanks. Burroughs, however, insists that his Green Martian sharpshooters, using rangefinders and such, can actually hit a target at that range. Given that they are firing explosive projectiles, I suppose that a lobbed volley might do some random damage to a general area, but certainly not with the pinpoint accuracy he describes. Of course, all the battles in the books occur at much closer distances, so perhaps the point is moot.

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Personally, I would use earth averages for everything, then raise the characteristics of anything brought over from earth. For example, red martians should average 3D6 for STR. However, humans from earth would be modified. That way the system remains unchanged and you can use other BRP sources unmodified. Thats the way I figured it when doing up the stats for John Carter.

You don't want red martians with a 2D4 STR in a campaign where everyone is playing red martians.

Thats my 2 tanpi's worth,

Rod

Your approach may be the best. It'd be easier to adjust things for PC Earthlings than for an entire world of NPCs and critters. My Green Martian write-up assumes, based on John Carter's ability to one-punch them, that despite their size, they are no stronger than a 6-foot human. But that would give the 6-foot Red Martians the physiques of RuneQuest Ducks by comparison. My calot write-up, on the other hand, assumes that a calot is not as strong as a terrestrial horse but is stronger than a wolf.

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  • 3 years later...

 

Ulsio

Ulsios are ubiquitous, omnivorous scavengers that inhabit the ancient cellars and passages that underlie nearly all Barsoomian cities.  Growing about as large as a medium-sized dog, the creatures fill a niche similar to that of rats on Earth.  Like all Martian fauna, ulsios are hairless, leathery, and have multiple pairs of limbs.  Their wrinkled backswept faces are dominated by a set of ten forward-facing teeth that stick out like a set of sharp pincers.  They are quite aggressive but fortunately are usually solitary hunters (in the food-poor environment of the pits, their relatively large size and voracious appetite discourages pack tactics).  They are excellent diggers, and hatch their young in tunnels burrowed within and beneath the masonry.  They are hunted by other burrowing predators, including kaldanes, who find ulsio flesh delicious.  Their meat and hides have no commercial value.  Red Martian maintenance crews waste much time and money in vain efforts to control ulsio populations.

 

STR (2D6) 7

CON (3D6) 10-11

SIZ (1D6+1) 4-5

INT 3

POW (3D6) 10-11

DEX (4D6) 14

Move:  10

Hit Points:  8

Damage Bonus:  -1D6

Armor:  AP 1 (Leathery hide)

Attacks:  Bite 55%, 1D6

Skills:  Climb 50%, Dodge 30%, Hide 45%, Jump 35%, Sense 60%, Track 55%

Powers:  Dark Vision

 

Edited by seneschal
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Absolutely! An excellent addition, Seneschal. I'm reading as fast as I can in hopes of adding to your growing list!

Present home-port: home-brew BRP/OQ SRD variant; past ports-of-call: SB '81, RQIII '84, BGB '08, RQIV(Mythras) '12,  MW '15, and OQ '17

BGB BRP: 0 edition: 20/420; .pdf edition: 06/11/08; 1st edition: 06/13/08

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Thoat

These ill-tempered, eight-legged, vaguely sauropodian, creatures are the primary riding animal on Barsoom.  Herbivorous, they gain most of the moisture their large bodies need from the short yellow moss that covers much of the Martian surface.  Like terrestrial camels, thoats can endure long journeys without eating or drinking.  Their dorsal surfaces are dark gray while their legs and feet are yellow, enabling them to blend into the horizon.  Their broad padded feet make no noise.  Their wide, flat tails narrow where they meet the animals’ bodies but can still deliver powerful blows.  There are two primary species:  a larger variety standing 10 feet tall at the shoulder employed by the Green Martian tribes and a smaller, slightly better-natured breed ridden by the Red Martians.  Both Green and Red Martians control their mounts telepathically, a good thing since any attempt at fitting bit and bridle into a vicious thoat’s wide mouth would be a foolhardy undertaking.

STR (6D6+32) 57

CON (3D6+18) 28-29

SIZ (6D6+42) 63

INT 5

POW (2D6+6) 13

DEX (2D6+6) 13

Move: 12

Hit Points:  46

Damage Bonus:  +6D6

Armor:  6 (tough hide)

Attacks:  Bite 50%, 1D6; Tail Bash 30%, 1D6+1/2DB+Knockdown; Trample 45%, 2D6+DB

Skills:  Act Ornery 90%, Find Water 70%; Go Without Food and Water 80%

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Radium Gun

Skill: Rifle

Base: 25%

Damage: 3D6/2 meters

Seneschal,  

Help me understand the "...3D6/2 meters..." reference. I get the 3D6, but not the "/2 meters" :-)

Cheers,

Present home-port: home-brew BRP/OQ SRD variant; past ports-of-call: SB '81, RQIII '84, BGB '08, RQIV(Mythras) '12,  MW '15, and OQ '17

BGB BRP: 0 edition: 20/420; .pdf edition: 06/11/08; 1st edition: 06/13/08

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