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    Urpriest's Avatar

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    Default Gaming in the wastes of Barsoom

    I just saw John Carter, which rekindled the (partly ironic but mostly genuine) love I have for Burroughs' Barsoom setting. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's basically the origin of the "on a desert world, scantily clad men fight with hand-to-hand weapons over even more scantily clad women amongst vaguely roman cultures with lots of six-legged aliens" archetype. One of the cornerstones of sci-fi, in other words.

    It also feels like a really rich and detailed world to play an RPG in. So my questions for the knowledgeable folks of this forum, in particular those who forgot or mercifully chose to ignore my maus guard thread...

    1. Are there any published settings/systems for Barsoom?

    2. What systems would be good for modeling it?

    Here are what I think a good Barsoom system would require:
    • Over-the-top action. Earthmen easily jump ten feet in the air because of Mars's lower gravity, and even the weakest of the natives tend to be what 300 thought Spartans were. Also, the author of the Barsoom books was also the creator of Tarzan.
    • Room for lots of interesting races/species/setting secrets. It should be possible to brew up new organisms with quirky traits to sic on the party, or to become their allies.
    • If the system is crunchier, it shouldn't make it painful to run a game with limited armor, or occasional airship combat (airships are mostly hang-glider-esque and don't seem to take much training).
    • Lots of replayability: the guy wrote an absurd number of books, if you have the taste of a 1930's pulp reader then the system shouldn't slow you down.
    • Relatively light consequences, even if the stakes feel high. If possible, incentive to leave enemies for dead when they're not. In general, characters should be able to take a beating and shrug it off.
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    Mark Hall's Avatar

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    Default Re: Gaming in the wastes of Barsoom

    In many ways, Dark Sun was TSRs Barsoom game. Instead of Tharks, insert Thri-kreen.
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    Urpriest's Avatar

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    Default Re: Gaming in the wastes of Barsoom

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    In many ways, Dark Sun was TSRs Barsoom game. Instead of Tharks, insert Thri-kreen.
    Dark Sun is an excellent fit for the setting, as you say, since it's pretty clearly modeled off it. It doesn't really get the pulpy feel though. I don't think anyone in the Carterverse would starve onscreen, and the whole concept of an offworlder coming in with a message of hope is exactly why Dark Sun doesn't allow offworlders.
    Lord Raziere herd I like Blasphemy, so Urpriest Exalted as a Malefactor

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Gaming in the wastes of Barsoom

    There's a Savage Worlds Mars book that borrows heavily from Barsoom. Also, if you're interested in older D&D/AD&D, there's a blogger who is working on a retro-clone supplement called Warriors of the Red Planet.
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    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: Gaming in the wastes of Barsoom

    The recent Pathfinder supplement, Distant Worlds, has this - it's basically the rest of Golarion's solar system with a Mars and Venus expy.

    There was also a d20 Barsoom thing at one point, IIRC, but not sure who made it.

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    Urpriest's Avatar

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    Default Re: Gaming in the wastes of Barsoom

    Savage Worlds sounds like a pretty good system for this sort of thing, and I love the idea of Pathfinder making a Mars supplement. Cool stuff.
    Lord Raziere herd I like Blasphemy, so Urpriest Exalted as a Malefactor

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    Default Re: Gaming in the wastes of Barsoom

    May I suggest Feng Shui? It's been forever since I've played, but It's got the fast paced action down, and while core is set in modern hong kong, they have other settings built in. Some are futuristic and some are pretty primitive, iirc. Bonus for being easy to learn, imo.
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    Default Re: Gaming in the wastes of Barsoom

    Adventure! would probably be good for this, if you can find a copy.

    GURPS might work, but you'd need the 'cinematic' options - that game can be pretty lethal for unarmored fighters when played realistically.
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    Default Re: Gaming in the wastes of Barsoom

    Actually, D&D was originally modeled, in some part, on the Barsoom novels and designed somewhat to emulate them. More so in the early editions (think 0-ed D&D) than later. Could definately still be used to do it with no trouble.
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    potatocubed's Avatar

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    Default Re: Gaming in the wastes of Barsoom

    If you had the time, you might be able to knock 7th Sea into something that resembles Barsoom - the basic mechanics allow for over-the-top physicality, dramatic-but-not-lethal combat, and not wearing armour is the default assumption of the game. There are rules for regular ships, but no airships.

    But it would take some work to excise all the swashbucklyness and replace it with Barsoominess. You'd have to come up with a handful of weapon schools, for starters.
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