Fellow role-players, here are Jason’s and my notes for Sessions 2 and 3 of his “Barsoomian Adventures” game, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on 18 February and 4 March 2013:
-“Sgt. Joe ‘Knack’ Kanaki” [Gene D.]-male Nisei Jasoomian (Japanese-American Terran human) tail gunner; two-fisted patriot who’s smarter than he looks
-“Beauregard ‘Bo’ Jennings” [Beruk A.]-male African-American Jasoomian, USO trumpet player, expatriate (NYC), former professional boxer and member of the French Foreign Legion
-“Kar Dalan (Kâr Dé-lan)” [Brian W.]-male aysismad (red Martian), an independent panthan (sellsword/scout) currently serving the nation of Raxar (Rax-âr)
-“Olera Gala” [Sara F.]-female Barsoomian masena (Thurian/Martian), one-eyed feline hunter and scout
-“Capt. Billy ‘Rip’ Rohrer” [Bruce K.]-male American Jasoomian pilot of the “Lucy Goosey,” a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber
-“Betsy ‘Blaze’ Harper” [Rich C.G.]-female American Jasoomian, fiery redhead, former Olympic hopeful, and aspiring actress on USO tour for exposure and patriotic duty, along with Carla Rizena and Lucy McIntyre
[From the correspondence of Joseph Kanaki] “30 December 1943:” Dear Mother, while this may seem like the rantings of a shell-shocked airman — and for all I know, they are — the past few days have reminded me of the very real difficulty of remaining honorable in combat.
As with my previous entries, in which I discussed how my B-17B bomber went far off-course, I don’t know if this will ever make it home or past the censors. Still, you were right that writing calms the nerves, especially after the “Lucy Goosey‘s” crew and passengers found ourselves marooned on some version of Mars, or Barsoom, instead of North Africa as planned.
Scouts Kar Dalan and Olera Gala had helped bring us to the city-state of Raxar. The surviving U.S. Air Force personnel and U.S.O. entertainers tried to acclimate to the customs of the aysismad, or red Martians. They all looked like magazine models or Hollywood stars, but they seemed otherwise human in anatomy and motivation.
Teedwar (Col.) Kal Dan, commander of the airship “Banzar,” helped Capt. Billy “Rip” Rohrer and me get some sword training. We had radio operator Sgt. Eugene “Pick” Lydic and waist gunners Sgts. Harry Houchins and Billy McMillan make repairs to our downed bird.
Unfortunately, we lost track of the other Jasoomians, or Earthlings. Sketchy Kar had warned us (in vain) to avoid local entanglements, and cyclopean cat Olera snuck off to snoop around.
Rip and I later learned that Beauregard “Bo” Jennings had gone into town, while Betsy “Blaze” Harper was also engaging in weapons training. Leave it to the performers to think that they’re in charge, just because we crash landed in a strange place.
At the laboratory of isvar (physicist) Thuran Gan, we saw the usual mad scientist array of devices with sparks, dials, and the like. Capt. Rohrer asked if he could help us get home. The older man — one of the few we’ve seen — said it could take about two weeks. Gan also agreed to look into providing folding dragonfly wings like those on the Martian craft.
We were interrupted by Kal Dan, who warned us that a member of our group had been poking her nose where it didn’t belong. Of course, Kal Dan had eyes only for Teeza, the daughter of the jed (king), Daris Nar.
As Rip and I left the palace, we were joined by Kar Dalan and Olera Gala. The masena (feline Martian) had just run into a servant carrying small metal cases. She snagged one, and it contained paste that we could use to disguise ourselves as red men. We asked Olera to see if she could find and follow that servant.
Speaking of servants, don’t get me or Bo started on the castes here. Just like on ancient Earth, Barsoom’s nobility is a mix of warriors and idle rich. Below them are wealthy merchants, then workers and entertainers. Farmers are below them, not that I’ve seen anything I’d recognize as a farm, with slaves at the bottom. Our fellow Earthlings have barely noticed, but they’re mostly white (more on that later).
Back at our quarters, sweet Lucy McIntyre confirmed that Carla Rizena had wandered off. We found Carla mooning over Kan Baniv, another scientist and the nephew of Vobia, the jeda (queen). The prince of Toonol [Tün-ōl] seemed relieved when we arrived, but Carla said she’d answer only to Bo. Rip might have offended the local custom of visha when he touched her arm.
Even though most of us had changed into Barsoomian clothing, if it could be called that, it wasn’t too hard for Rip to track Bo by asking people on the dusty streets. No, he wasn’t gambling on Yano. We found ourselves at the gem-encrusted mansion of Emar Radtai, a mine operator interested in Daria, another princess of Mars.
Bo had met Van-tija [Van-tē -ĵâ] and Nolat [Nō Lat], two First Born or Negroes of Barsoom. Van-tija was widowed by the infamous Jasoomian hero John Carter, and Nolat was a dator, or prince, of Kamtol, exiled after being defeated in a duel by Carter. Great, more people who hate Earthmen.
The First Born were on their way to an audience with Daris Nar and Vobia to negotiate on behalf of Irek Rad [Ir-ek Rad], an arms merchant. Not only was Emar going to help finance the jed of Raxar’s purchases, but he was also interested in Daria.
Kar Dalan knew of Rad by reputation back in his home of Manataj, and he warned us that we must try to stop the profiteer from fomenting conflict among Tunol, Phundahl [Füń-âl], and Helium. I wanted nothing to do with Barsoomian feuds, but Bo and Rip were more than happy to jump in for fortune (coins in pi) and glory.
Bo started to bargain for waste gems from Emar’s mines, and Kal Dan summoned us back to the palace. Since Rip had sworn fealty to Daris Nar, Kal Dan assigned us to accompany Nolat and Van-tija to verify a cache of weapons in some other lost city. We departed immediately on a 10-person flyer or teezar [tē-zâr].
Kar Dalan directed Rip from the bow, while I kept watch aft. Bo played his horn, briefly intriguing Van-tija. Olera quietly told us that the servant and containers led back to Thuran Gan. Was someone besides us trying to pretend to be a red man, or was he merely obtaining supplies for us to blend in?
After a zode (2.7 hours), we approached Padzok [Pad-zâk], a small extinct volcano. On its rusty slopes sat ruins very similar to those we had first crashed into on this planet. Rip set us down in a courtyard, and aristocrat Van-tija and guard Nolat led the way.
Cautious Kar Dalan and bold Rip followed, as did curious Bo and stealthy Olera, followed by javelin-toting Blaze and yours truly. As we entered a mostly intact building, large white apes blocked our exit. I knew it was a trap, but we needed to know the arms merchant’s intentions. We found some sort of greenhouse, with colorful plants, like you’d see in an aquarium.
The chamber was lit by a harsh bulb, and a bald, white-skinned woman approached, with a hideously mutated messina on a chain leash. Olera wasn’t happy. The pale woman identified herself as morvar (biologist) Zallia [Zal-ē-â], the daughter of Thuran Gan, who was actually a Thern [ŧür-en] named Zylor Bar [Zī-l&# 333;r Bâr].
We realized the purpose for his makeup cases, and Zallia asked Van-tija and Nolat why they were early. They explained that they had to move up their plans because of our arrival. Zallia gave a monologue about her father’s plans to rule Barsoom and invade Jasoom, but we just wanted to fight our way out.
Amazonian Blaze hurled a javelin at Zalia, who summoned three huge insect-like monsters. I pulled out my Colt 1911 and shot at one that Kar Dalan identified as a ghek [gek] or enlarged wood beetle. Survival expert Kar Dalan engaged the sept [seţ], or root grub, but missed.
Again ignoring local protocol, Rip leapt toward Zalia, wounding her. Bo tried to grapple sword-wielding Nolat, and Olera Gala used her camouflage ability to surreptitiously attack Van-tija. Zalia and the mutant masena fell back as Rip pressed his attacks.
I maneuvered around a shrub and shot at the wood beetle. Unfortunately, I must have hit some sort of gas sac, because I was briefly overcome by fumes. When I managed to regain consciousness, I could see that my companions had continued the battle.
A huge scarab or moak [mō-ak] had waded in, knocking Olera aside. Zalia had grazed Rip with a “radium” or irtay [ir-té] bullet, and Kar Dalan had slashed at the beetle. Van-tija tried to disengage, but Bo tripped his opponent.
The scarab bit Olera, but Kar Dalan slew the wood beetle. Bo and the root grub traded blows, and Rip killed Zalia. The scarab again hit Olera, and Van-tija cut Bo with her blade. Blaze dropped the woman just as I reopened my eyes.
Bo injured the gargantuan grub and dodged its many arms, as Kar Dalan struck Nolat, who explained that he had fallen out with Irek Rad. Olera missed with her claws, and Rip killed the grub with a Barsoomian bullet. Blaze and I narrowly missed our targets.
Once again, Bo proved that his boxing talents weren’t all behind him, and Olera, Rip, and Blaze helped him finish off the scarab. Unfortunately, the white apes had destroyed our flyer, and Zalia and Nolat couldn’t answer any more questions.
We found more rooms with supplies, as well as pens holding other misshapen beasts, once a dog-like reptilian calot [kal-ât] and an ulcio. Kar Dalan put them out of their misery, and Olera released the pitiful masena. Bo grabbed whatever notes we could find, for later translation.
Things got even uglier when we debated what to do with uncsonscious Van-tija. Capt. Rohrer, Blaze, and Olera wanted to kill her rather than have her tell Thuran Gan about what we had done. Then he’d stop helping us to get home.
Kar Dalan pointed out that executing an unarmed prisoner was murder and that he would have to be left behind rather than be a party to such dishonor. I added that we could still get information out of Van-tija and use her as a bargaining chip. Bo argued that we had to stop Zylor Bar from invading our world, even if he’s one of the few who knew how to get there.
We managed to calm down long enough to find a sleek flyer belonging to the First Born and Thern spies. We took Van-tija and returned to the academy at Raxar, dreading a confrontation with Thuran Gan/Zylor Bar. Whom would the local authorities support, us outworlders or him?
Instead, we faced a whole new set of headaches: madvar (anthropologist) Vora met us after we landed. She said that Lucy and Thuran Gan were missing, and the jed wanted us to find them….
>[Historical Records] “1 January 1944:” The true impact of Vora’s news was settling in. Thuran Gan, Lucy and now, we learned, Carla were all missing.
Kan Baniv stormed in, distraught and animated. He informed the Jasoomians that the jed [king] Daris Nar had summoned them to court. Taking Van-tija, the group went to an almost empty throne room.
Off to the side on a raised platform was the infamous Irek Rad delivering the conclusion to what we can assume was a lengthy speech. “And here are the villains now, led by the notorious renegade and convicted criminal, U-Ban of Manataj.”
Daris Nar conceded the point, but reminded everyone that a panthan [pan-ŧan] abandoned his old life and the past did not carry forward. Daris Nar asked his dwar, Rip Rohrer, to give his version of events.
Irek Rad claimed that the Jasoomians instigated the conflict, killing his employees and breaking the traditions of Barsoom by attacking and killing a woman (Zallia); he also claimed to have photographic evidence (moving picture cameras were installed at Padzok).
Daris Nar announced that this required more review and commanded that the Jasoomians remain in the Academy in the meantime. Rip’s request to investigate the disappearance of Thuran Gan was met with a compromise: Kal Dan would be at the Jasoomian’ s disposal to conduct any activities.
The Jasoomians returned to the Academy to review the televised evidence, search Thuran Gan’s room and talk to Kal Dan. The broadcast was recorded without sound, so it was very ambiguous and appeared to show that the Jasoomians attacked first. It also showed the death of Zallia by the hand of Rip.
Thuran Gan’s room confirmed everyone’ s suspicions, the tenthy ray device was missing, along with key notes. Strangely, the pimalia [pē-mâ-l&# 275;-â] paste containers were still there, and used by the Jasoomians to disguise themselves.
Olera Gala picked up the scent of Lucy and Carla, discovering the open courtyard where the trail ended; internal security cameras showed Thuran Gan and armed men escorting the two girls onto a five-man flier and speeding away.
Kal Dan was sent on a wild goose chase, and Knack was asked to guard the “Loosey Goosey” while the Jasoomians headed to Padvok on the speedy First Born flier. Evading the city patrols quite easily, Rip piloted the craft to the southeast, while trusting Van-tija to navigate back to the volcano stronghold.
At Padzok, the Jasoomians viewed a battle in progress: dozens of feral white apes or athurth [â-ŧür-i&# 359;] were swarming four green warriors near the entrance to the secret chamber of Zallia.
Rip positioned the flier above the fray. Kar Dalan, Bo and Rip leapt/rappelled down with grapples to engage the fierce four-armed brutes. Olera guarded Van-tija as Blaze opened fire on the roiling mass of ape flesh.
Kar Dalan provided needed cover for the green men, while Bo and Rip dispatched apes left and right with well-placed shots, spattering the area with fresh blood as the radium bullets exploded on impact.
A white ape managed to jump from a high balcony onto the flier, gripping the railing of the vessel. After failing to claw the creature, Olera resorted to a bloodcurdling roar, and much to everyone’ s surprise — including the white ape — frightened the white ape into releasing his grip and tumbling to his death.
The ladies on the flier moved to a more secure location and descended. Everyone made for the small opening, which only allowed two people at a time.
Eventually, everyone was safe inside, the only casualty being a green man warrior. The leader of the green men introduced himself as Harkan Thul [Âr-kan Ŧül], a jed of Zarquad. He explained that he and his retinue were sent here by his jeddak, Vorquas Vorith [Vōr-kws Vōr-i&# 359;] to investigate why a promised cache of weapons from Irek Rad were not delivered.
Blaze and Olera noted that Van-tija had slipped away. She was quickly found frantically searching Zallia’s notes, explaining that she was very curious as to where Zylor Bar was hiding. She showed them the map of a dead city called Kiptang [Kē-ţ aŋ], which none of the Barsoomians had heard of.
Olera led the green men on a treasure-seeking quest while the team searched for and found the secret passage to the cache of weapons deep in the volcano’ s cone. Inside were many firearms and two fliers: a 10-man or teezar [tē-zâr] and a gigantic cruiser or tanzar [tan-zâr] which is built for a crew of 100-200.
The Jasoomians used their earthly muscles to load everything (including the small flier) into the cruiser. Flying the colors of Raxar, Rip cautiously piloted the immense airship out of the volcano. They contacted Vora, who has been covering for the AWOL Jasoomians.
A knowledgeable historian, Vora transmitted the location of Kiptang, a small dead city north of Horz [Ōr-is]. The group sped towards Zarquad to drop off the green men and then onto Raxar.
The Raxar military ordered the cruiser to halt. Kal Dan broke in on a private radio frequency and told them to flee immediately. The group boarded the ten-man flier just as two battleships converged on the cruiser. The ancient flier was surprisingly swift and tore across the dead sea bottoms toward the dead city of Kiptang.
At Kiptang, the group spotted Thuran Gan’s flier moored near an immense temple complex. Before they could come up with a subtle strategy, they noticed another flier with the banners of Raxar and the Science Academy and the skulking figure of a red man entering the temple. It was Kan Baniv! Vora must have told him about Kiptang…
The group sneaked into the temple entrance which featured a colossal statue of Issus [Is-is], once revered as the goddess of Life and Death on Barsoom, but exposed as a wicked, ancient First Born woman by John Carter.
At the far end of the crumbling temple was Thuran Gan/Zylor Bar toting a weapon connected to the tenth ray machine. Flanking him were the bound and gagged Lucy and Carla. Kan Baniv was cautiously edging his way toward the Thern scientist, when Zylor Bar exclaimed, “I have no quarrel with you, Kan Baniv. And I have no need of the woman Carla. Take her and leave. That is my offer.”
Kan agreed, and Zylor Bar released Carla, who ran to Kan. Their embrace was interrupted by Zylor Bar’s mad cackling, “It’s a pity you never went to Padzok, Baniv. Most unfortunate.” He then fired the strange weapon at the two, dissolving them in a play of light.
Olera turned invisible and sneaked down the edge of the chamber. Kar Dalan headed toward the statue, trying to keep out of sight. The three Jasoomians leaped towards Zylor Bar, covering about half the distance when Bar opened up on them with the strange weapon. A cone of energy shot out and they disappeared into nothingness…
Luckily, the Earthling trio found themselves outside of the city of Kiptang and raced to the gates. Meanwhile, Van-tija ran toward the statue screaming, “No, I was to be Issus. You promised. That was the plan! I was to be Issus!”
Kar Dalan decided on a rash, but bold strategy. He aimed his radium pistol at the tenth ray machine and fired. The machine sparked and fizzled, forcing Zylor Bar to hover over it, panicked. “No, too soon, I haven’t set it right.”
A pulse wave emanated from the machine as Zylor Bar and Lucy disappeared. Kar Dalan and Olera shielded their eyes and found that the temple had changed. It was no longer ruined. And the face of Issus had transformed itself into Lucy.
The Jasoomians witnessed the same pulse wave and found themselves at the gates of a city under siege. Strange alien craft were bombarding the defenses of a contingent of soldiers armed with radium machine guns. Kar Dalan and Olera quickly realized they weren’t alone when four soldiers warned them that the morgors were coming.
Out of the dark passageways, skeletal figures emerged with large weapons strapped to their bodies. Their cadaverous skin was like parchment stretched over angular bones. The Jasoomians arrived to witness the quick battle as the white-skinned soldiers were melted away by some kind of morgor plasma rifle, but the soldiers (and Rip) managed to take out four of the skeletal warriors.
Cornered, the group did not take hostile action since it appeared that the morgors were only targeting the soldiers. One of the morgors twisted a dial on his belt and spoke in Barsoomian to Rip: “Unknown Jasoomian. What is your designation?” Rip replied. “We are here to help you.” This apparently satisfied and the morgors left the temple.
The group, confused and shocked, hovered near the entrance to the temple under bombardment. Then they noticed the smell of moisture in the air and clouds were floating across a blue sky. Something was very wrong….