“Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” Session 8 — Fighting to get home

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 8, Jason E.R.‘s last planetary romance game (for now), which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 20 May 2013:

Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” (Tē-sis ē Bâr-süm) pulp miniseries, usingSavage Worlds,” as of spring 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, 18 March 1943:” Dear Mother, things had gone from bad to worse for the crew and passengers of the “Lucy Goosey.” Not only were we stranded on Barsoom, which author Edgar Rice Burroughs had identified as the planet Mars, but we had also gone back 1 million years in our hunt for mad scientist Zylor Bar [Zī-lōr Bâr], also known as Thuran Gan.

Zylor Bar had kidnapped U.S.O. entertainer Lucy McIntyre and Kal Kirad [Kal Kē-Rad], a Lotharian jedwar [ĵed-dwr, or admiral]. We took harnesses from insectoid magongi [ma-gân-gē] at the Tasor (Té-zōr, “sun tower” or lighthouse) in the city-state of Horz [Ōr-is] and used them to teleport to the Morbus Island.

Unfortunately, we got a hostile reception from Zylor Bar’s guards, and only Jasoomians [Ĵâ-süm; Earth folk] Capt. William “Rip” Rohrer, Betsy “Blaze” Harper, and I remained free. We had gotten off the tower at the island’s summit, thanks to a pterodactyl-like Gwar [gwr], but our landing in the jungle wasn’t very gentle.

Whelan's Barsoom
Michael Wheelan’s Barsoom

 

Meanwhile — as we later learned — our friends were being held in a dungeon. Onetime boxer Beauregard “Bo” Jennings struggled get one arm free of his manacles, while scout Kar Dalan sized up the opposition.

Feline masenas [mâ-sēn-â] Olera Gala and “Blinky” were rendered unconscious by Le Um Lo [Lē Üm Lō], the aged “embalmer” also kidnapped from Horz. Our Barsoomian allies, Van-tija [Van-tē -ĵâ] and Kal Kirad, were also captives.

After some debate, Rip, Blaze, and I decided to teleport back to the Tasor in Horz for reinforcements. We had two spare harnesses with small crystals taken from darseen, chameleon-like animals similar to the masena. The captain and the Amazonian athlete hoped to get soldiers, but we didn’t know whom we could trust.

Instead, we ran to the academy of biologist Ro Tan Bim [Rō Tan Bim]. I was uncomfortable with his eugenics experiments, which included creating a race of “First Born” from Bo’s blood sample, but the orovar [ōr-ō-vâr, or scientist] tried to be helpful.

Ro Tan Bim took us to mentalist Lum Tar O [Lüm Târ Ō], who could help us locate our friends. This geezer claimed he could summon an army whenever we needed it, but we just thought he was crazy. He wanted to examine red man Kar Dalan’s “ordered mind” in return for his aid.

We used the harnesses to return to the tower on Morbus Island, but our foes appeared to be bugging out. We encountered few guards, and as we descended the ramp, we found that our companions had broken free.

Bo had grabbed and smashed a guard, and Rip had attacked the sentry watching Le Um Lo. The old man was happy to be reunited with colleagues Ro Tan Bim and Lum Tar O.

We were distressed to learn that “Blinky” had been beheaded. Olera admitted that the seenar [sēn-âr], the rare stone that powered Zylor Bar’s teleportation and time-travel devices, came from masenas. No wonder the darseen organs powered his guards’ harnesses!

Most of their activity seemed to be down by the harbor village, but Lum Tar O sensed that Zylor Bar himself was teleporting between the astronomical observatory and the “Dusar” [Dü-zâr, or “northern fish”], a ship with anachronistic Barsoomian technology.

Since we had a limited number of harnesses, Kar and Blaze made for a rookery to seize another Gwar. Capt. Rohrer and I took point to guard the scientists. Olera turned invisible, and Bo and Van-tija followed as we made hops to the observatory. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Kal Kirad wandered off.

Blaze and Kar Dalan defeated two Thermad [ŧür-mad] sentries and decided to share a flying steed. The white Martians were the ancestors of the Therns [ŧür-en], who in our time were a hidden minority in comparison with the four-armed, green Tharks or strangely attractive red Barsoomians.

My squad arrived at the observatory, where the main telescope was trained on Thuria, Olera’s home moon. Van-tija explained that travel between Barsoom and Thuria involved “dimensional compression” and that even if the Dusar could fly, it could not get there without compensating for mass.

Parts of the rotating telescope were missing, and we saw no sign of Zylor Bar. We decided to head down to the harbor, no doubt confusing Blaze and Kar, who watched us from the sky. I called in our marker with the orovar. Ro Tan Bim began meditating, and Lum Tar O created an army of 50 shadowy archers through astral projection to give us some cover.

Kar Dalan directed his and Blaze’s Gwar into the Dusar‘s mainsail, as the rest of us raced to the ship. Rip dodged a blow and killed one of Thuran Gan’s goons. I was not so lucky, and I got stunned.

Bo bobbed and weaved his way across the docks, even as Lum Tar O warned us that Zylor Bar was still jaunting between the ships and the observatory. Ro Tan Bim successfully summoned a silian [sil-ē-an], a huge sea monster that destroyed the Therns’ smaller vessels.

Olera recognized Hor Kai Lan [Ōr Kī Lan], the jedwar or warlord who had betrayed Horz by worshipping the false goddess Issus (our own Lucy, as set up by Zylor Bar). His brother Kam Han Tor [Kam An Tōr], the prince who designed the Dusar, was also on the island.

Bo grabbed me and pulled me onto the Dusar, even as the silian approached. The behemoth was distracted by the Gwars, including the one ridden by Kar and Blaze. Rip and Olera found the Dusar‘s staterooms empty, and the ship began splitting in half!

Zylor Bar had Lucy and was piloting a large modern Barsoomian flyer or teezar [tē-zâr] from the hold, even as the silian crashed into the Dusar. Bo hit my harness so that I could join Van-tija ashore. The brave boxer then climbed onto the teezar, toward a hatch, as Rip landed on its cockpit.

The silian clipped the flyer, and Zylor Bar took a seenar and Lucy and teleported out. Rip took a gamble and let go, falling away from the teezar and then teleporting into the pilot’s seat. Go, Cap’n!

Olera, Van-tija, Kal Kirad, and I ran toward a large hangar, where we heard another vehicle firing up. Kar and Blaze managed to get back to the ground, while Bo and Rip also evaded the silian and came about toward the hangar.

We found another flyer, apparently designed to travel to Thuria. One-eyed Olera raced ahead, still furious about “Blinky’s” demise. Kal Kirad and I drew swords and followed. Olera pounced on Zylor Bar, and they both teleported away.

Kal made sure that Lucy was OK, and I grabbed the seenar. We followed Olera and Zylor back to the observatory, where the masena had pinned the Thern with her claws. I ordered Zylor to surrender, but Kal skewered the mad scientist.

While I would have preferred to get Zylor Bar’s help to get back to Earth in our own time, I can’t say I was broken up by his slaying. Kal Kirad sealed his reputation as the greatest swordsman of his time, and we had stopped the menace from Morbus.

Kar Dalan observed that Van-tija and the three orovar had disappeared, and we guessed that they went to Thuria to begin the populating of that moon, as well as the creation of some of Barsoom’s later races.

Lucy announced her intention to stay with Kal Kirad, with whom she had fallen in love. Rip asked her to leave us the clues in the mines near Raxar to help restore the timeline. We could use the seenar to travel through time or space, but since we didn’t know how to get to Earth, getting back to the 20th century would have to do.

Bo, Kar, Olera, Rip, Blaze, and I activated the seenar. We voyaged back to Raxar in our own time. Only three months had passed, and the red wastes of Mars were as we had left them. The “Lucy Goosey” had even been fixed! However, the gem was burned out, and we still have to find a way home.

We returned to the mines, where this time, we found a projection of Lucy and Kal Kirad. She said they had found a way to duplicate technology to tap into the Tenth Ray of Mars. They and Carla Rizena had found the secret of longevity and a way to get to Africa [see “She: A History of Adventure“]. Lucy said she hoped to see us again.

In the vault, we also found a burned-out cluster of darseen crystals in place of a seenar. My friends and I have now fought battles across worlds and eons and lived, so I guess we can wait a little longer to get back to the war in Europe….

Jason, I enjoyed your miniseries, and I look forward to whatever you might run later this year! Our face-to-face groups are about to begin a series of one-shots alternating with my “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign on Monday nights through the summer. Be seeing you….

“Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” Session 7 — Taking the fight to the enemy

Fellow role-players, here are Jason’s and my notes for Session 7 of his pulp science fiction game, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 6 May 2013:

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” (Tē-sis ē Bâr-süm) planetary romance miniseries, usingSavage Worlds,” as of spring 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
Barsoomian beasts
Creatures of Barsoom

>>”From the correspondence of Joseph Kanaki, 16 January 1943:” Dear Mother, I’m not sure if being at our wits’ end or being overwhelmed and split up is worse. Let me take a deep breath and step back for a moment.

We had pursued U.S.O. entertainer Lucy McIntyre and her kidnapper, mad scientist Zylor Bar (Zī-l&# 333;r Bâr, also known as Thuran Gan), into Barsoom of about 1 million years ago, when Mars wasn’t the dying world the crew and passengers of the “Lucy Goosey” had first found ourselves on. Instead, we found a lush planet with yet more intrigue.

We had followed pilgrims worshipping the false goddess Issus — Zylor Bar’s plan for Lucy — to the city-state of Horz, which was populated by white Martians or Thermad [ŧür-mad].

Shortly after the wedding of jeddak (king) No Var Kim [Nō Vōr Kim] to Lotharian princess Sohna, we had circulated a rumor about a seenar, a rare gem used to power Zylor Bar’s time machine and our only way back home to Earth.

Unfortunately, that resulted in the capture of Kal Kirad [Kal Kē-Rad], a red-haired Lotharian jedwar [ĵed-dwr, or admiral] and friend of Kam Han Tor [Kam An Tōr], a prince whom we knew was a secret follower of Issus. Our masena scout Olera Gala determined that predatory magongi [ma-gân-gē], likely trained by Zylor Bar, had taken him.

That meant he was somewhere nearby. Capt. William “Rip” Rohrer and scout Kar Dalan went to the academy of mentalist Lum Tar O [Lüm Târ Ō]. They later reported seeing strange things such as acolytes staring at bowls of fruit and creating replicas that lasted only a short time before vanishing.

The senior orovar [ōr-ō-vâr], or scholars of Horz, reassured Rip and Kar that he was not in league with the superstitious followers of Issus or Zylor Bar. Lim Tar O also said that he could not detect any trace of Kal Kirad’s mind in the city.

Beauregard “Bo” Jennings and I visited the academy of biologist Ro Tan Bim [Rō Tan Bim] to learn more about the magongi. We followed a ramp down to a secret laboratory, where we saw skinless humanoids being grown in vats!

Ro Tan Bim was surprised to see us, and we managed to conceal our disgust. We’ve heard that the Nazis are also pursuing eugenics, and Bo and I would have no place in such plans.

The scientist — I’m beginning to think they’re all mad — happily told us of his plans for artificial life, or the “First Born,” which we realized were the later Barsoomian race and derived from his samples of Bo’s blood.

We had to pick our battles, so Bo asked Ro Tan Bim about the magongi. He said they were arboreal, insect-like creatures organized into clans — similar to the Kaldane who bred the skeletal Rykors. Apparently, these beasts liked to hunt humans and darseen, small chameleon-like animals like the masena.

Ro Tan Bim noted that the nocturnal magongi were indigenous to Morbus Island, about two weeks’ sail across the Kalksus [Kal-ix-is] and Throxus [Ŧür-âx-is] oceans. I knew that the Dusar [Dü-zâr, or “northern fish”], an advanced ship whose design Zylor Bar had influenced so that he could later steal it, would somehow be involved.

The naturalists used to send students to the islands’ five settlements for one-year stints, but shipping had recently been disrupted. We made a hasty retreat and regrouped with our companions.

None of us wanted to visit “the Embalmer,” Le Um Lo [Lē Üm Lō] yet, so we’d have to do more detective work closer to Horz. At my recommendation, one-eyed Olera tracked the magongi. Their scent led us to the Tasor (Té-zōr, “sun tower” or lighthouse).

We quietly climbed the long ramp. Betsy “Blaze” Harper and Bo readied their guns as Rip and I crept among 14 sleeping magongi. Olera went invisible, and red-skinned Kar drew his blade.

It was only a matter of time before some woke up, and we noticed that the magongi were wearing “modern” Barsoomian harnesses with small crystals similar to the seenar. With his Jasoomian (Earthling) strength, Bo snapped the neck of one foe, as I pinned another with a sword.

Amazonian Blaze shot another magongi, shaking it, and Kar swiftly skewered another. The creatures attacked Rip and me, and two teleported away using their harnesses. Fortunately, Rip was able to hold off the oncoming horde.

Olera experimented with the buttons on the harness of a fallen magongi as I tried to get my head back in the game. Blaze dropped another, and Bo smashed one of the goon’s heads into a wall. Olera used her claws, and Kar maneuvered.

Blaze showed off her marksmanship, picking off two of our opponents, and Rip and I dropped two more. Before the survivors could regroup, we grabbed the harnesses from some of the corpses and pushed buttons in unison.

We found ourselves at the bottom of the ramp, but Van-tija [Van-tē -ĵâ], a dark-skinned “First Born,” and mutated masena “Blinky” were gone from where we had left them to keep watch. We tried pressing more buttons and teleported to a tower atop a mountain in the middle of some ocean!

Two pterodactyls, which Kar called malagor [mal-â-gōr] but were known at this time as “Gwar” [gwr], stood in front of us. Each had an armed Thern, or White Martian, rider, and more armored soldiers approached. Bo tried jumping over the bird-like monster, but it grabbed him in its massive beak.

The other rider spurred his mount to take off, and Kar used his harness to teleport in front of the guards. He wasn’t too happy when they hit him with numbing staffs. Blaze followed Rip’s lead and yelled that we should try to get control of a Gar.

I leaped into the saddle of the one holding Bo and exchanged punches with its rider. Olera also jumped in to help, and the beast released Bo. Blaze shot one Thern, but another grabbed Olera, paralyzing her.

Things went from bad to worse, as two mooks stunned Bo, and Rip got hit after killing just one of an approaching army. Kar finished off another guard with his sword and slayed one of the Gwar riders or Gwarthans [gwr-ŧan].

Blaze joined me in the saddle and finished off the rider. I told her to take control of the reins as we tried to rescue Rip, who was now surrounded by Thern troops. We swung around, and I saw that Bo, Olera, Kar, Van-tija, and Blinky were being taken away.

We were over a forested island; I could make out an observatory and the Dusar in port, so we were somehow at Morbus Island. It was tantalizing and frustrating to be so close to Zylor Bar’s stronghold and so far from defeating him and returning home.

The extra weight forced Blaze to drop me and Rip in the trees. We three Jasoomians were still free, but most of our company had been captured. We weren’t sure whether we should try to sneak into the enemy camp to rescue our friends or teleport back to Horz for reinforcements first….

“Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” Session 6 — Chasing leads

Fellow role-players, here are Jason’s and my notes for Session 6 of his pulp space opera game, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 29 April 2013:

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” (Tē-sis ē Bâr-süm) planetary romance miniseries, usingSavage Worlds,” as of spring 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, 13 January 1943:” Dear Mother, I’m taking another moment to jot down my thoughts about our recent misadventures, even if it seems ever less likely that you’ll see this. The crew and passengers of the “Lucy Goosey” had traveled (inadvertently) from Mussolini’s Italy to the strange world of Barsoom, which author Edgar Rice Burroughs identified as Mars.

While trying to find our way home, we got entangled in local affairs and found ourselves in an alternate timeline. To fix that, we journeyed 1 million years into the past to find the mad scientist Zylor Bar and U.S.O. entertainer Lucy McIntyre.

I know — it sounds crazy, like we’ve seen too many foo fighters or inhaled some poison gas. For all I know, that’s what actually happened. If you’re still reading this, you’re probably confused or laughing. I would too, but being stuck in a red jungle makes me want to cry or hit something.

In the then-village of Kiptang, we had witnessed what appeared to be a tent revival led by Zylor Bar (also known as Thuran Gan) and Lucy. Unlike the Barsoom we had first arrived on, the people were all Caucasian-looking Therns [ŧür-en], or more accurately white Martians or Thermad [ŧür-mad], rather than four-armed green Tharks or statuesque red folk.

While we crept through the scarlet grass to see where the procession went, scout Olera Gala noted that she detected no scent of Zylor or Lucy. I asked some of the villagers who were putting away ropes and pulleys what they were doing. They said that they have been re-enacting the sacred arrival for the past three (Martian) years.

Even though our quarry turned out to be imposters, Capt. Billy “Rip” Rohrer decided to follow the pilgrims of the White Hand (thern literally means “White Five/Hand”) to the city-state of Hors, about two days’ hike away.

We grabbed some native clothing and tried to blend in as best we could. Betsy “Blaze” Harper, with her fair skin and red hair, had the easiest time, but red-skinned Kar Dalan and Negro Beauregard “Bo” Jennings had to cover up or hang back.

Van-tija, who had once served Thuran Gan, stuck close to Bo, and Olera and poor “Blinky,” a fellow masena, stayed invisible. Rip’s short blond hair raised some questions, but he passed it off as the result of losing a bet.

About halfway between Kiptang and Hors, we stopped at the town of Modjel [Mō-ĵel]. The gate rolled open, and the cultists of Issus recoiled as fierce warrior Hor Kai Lan [Ōr Kī Lan] rode forth to greet them. He surprised everyone by removing a wig and loudly proclaiming his faith in Issus — the false god whom Zylor Bar was setting up Lucy to be.

As the assembled soldiers began saluting, it was strange to Kar and Olera but all too familiar to those of us fighting the Axis. No world deserves fanatical armies led by charismatic and unscrupulous men. We resolved to head immediately to Hors.

The prosperous Thern city was on the coast of a great ocean Throxeus [Ŧür-âx-is], another anomaly on Barsoom. While the people, architecture, and customs changed more slowly there than on Earth, the flora and fauna were nearly unrecognizable. Then again, 1 million years ago, our ancestors had yet to be civilized.

Old Mars
Ancient Barsoom

At Bo’s urging, we stopped at the academy of Ro Tan Bim [Rō Tan Bim]. We learned that No Vor Kim [Nō Vōr Kim], the jeddak (king), had set a price on Zylor Bar’s head. So our friend must have moved on. Still, it was worth learning as much as we could in the first city we had seen in a while.

Blaze posed as a princess of Lothar, a distant realm, to obtain an audience with the jeddak. Olera shadowed her invisibly. Unfortunately, it didn’t go very well, because Blaze’s impertinent questions about “the heretic” were taken amiss on the eve of a royal wedding, and she was thrown out of the palace.

Kar later joined Olera in sneaking around the Tasor (Té-zōr, “sun tower” or lighthouse), following newcomer general or jedwar [ĵed-dwr] Hor Kai Lan and his friend, the prince Kam Han Tor [Kam An Tōr]. Somehow, Hor Kai Lan had managed to conceal his conversion from Hors’ rulers.

The rest of us went to the wharf, where two sailing ships arrived from Lothar. We beheld the lovely Princess Sohna [Sōn-â], the bride to be, as well as red-headed Kal Kirad [Kal Kē-Rad], who was apparently also friends with Kam Han Tor. Blaze presented herself as “Phainara [Fī- nâr-â], an expatriate subject of jeddak Volan Div [Vōl-an Div].

After spending a night trying to scrounge up supplies, get some rest, and avoid notice, we attended the wedding ceremony. A Lotharian priest invoked sun/banth deity Komal [Kō-mal]. Clearly, the cult of Issus was not in favor here.

Three aged Orovar (ōr-ō-vâr, “revolutionary scientists,” or scholars) — mentalist Lum Tar O [Lüm Târ Ō], embalmer Le Um Lo [Lē Üm Lō], and naturalist Ro Tan Bim — also offered words of support, and No Var Kim and Sohna were married. As the crowd dispersed, Rip approached Hor Kai Lan, and Bo, as “Nolat,” chatted with curious Ro Tan Bim.

We learned that Kam Han Tor had designed a wondrous ship for Hor Kai Lan, which was then “stolen” by followers of Issus. No doubt, Zylor Bar had found a way to influence both Kam and Hor for the design and destination of the Dusar [Dü-zâr, or “northern fish”], which resembled the flying vessels we had encountered in Barsoom’s future/present.

Olera and Kar went to the city’s outskirts, both to keep watch for cultists and to enjoy the (for them) lush nature. As night fell, the monocular masena smelled magongi [ma-gân-gē], hunters native to her moon of Thuria [Ŧür-ē-â]. Kar saw a disturbance at one camp of pilgrims and told the rest of about it in the morning. The survivors told us that they were hunting for a gem.

Meanwhile, Bo and Van-tija went to Ro Tan Bim’s academy to see if they could learn more that could help us. We knew that both Zylor Bar and we needed an intact seenar (a rare gem that scintillates with “ten rays of the spectrum”) to travel through time. In addition, Kar recalled that we had heard a story about Kal Kirad eventually slaying Zylor Bar in another timeline.

Taking the low road, Rip and I went to some bars to loosen the tongues of sailors with liquor. We heard tales about silians (sil-ē-an, sea monsters), how the Dusar vanished, and how Kal Kirad was once — and might still be — a lover of Sohna.

“Phainara” and “Nolat” talked with Lotharian Zarith Ness [Zâr-iŧ Nes]. Blaze seemed to catch the eye of Hor Kai Lan, while Bo learned that Kal Kirad and Kam Han Tor had been the commanders of rival fleets until a duel turned them to friends.

We regrouped and hatched a plan to draw Zylor Bar out. By starting a rumor that a seenar had been found and was in the city, we could lure the time meddler from wherever he was, no matter how far away.

Bo and Blaze wanted to reveal our presence, but Olera and I preferred to keep the element of surprise as long as possible, especially since we were weaker than the Masena.

Capt. Rohrer and I returned to the bars to share our tale. Blaze talked with some Lotharians, while Bo and Van-tija returned to the academy. We soon heard that Ro Tan Bim offered a reward for the strange stone, and Bo and Blaze spread the rumor that Kal Kirad was thinking of giving the rare gem to Sohna.

I realized too late that Kal Kirad was in danger, and we raced back to the palace. Sure enough, he was gone, and Olera and Kor later found traces of Magongi, who may have teleported in or dropped down from the Dusar.

Bo and Rip followed Ro Tan Bim, who met with Lum Tar O. Blaze went to the harbor, where she met with Zarith Ness. A swift ship was preparing to leave, so “Phainara” warned the city guard, who detained and searched it.

They didn’t find Kal Kirad, and we knew that Zylor Bar’s henchmen were close. Now, we had to rescue not only Lucy, but also Kal….

“Barsoomian Adventures” Sessions 4 and 5 — alternate timeline

Fellow role-players, here are notes from our fourth and fifth sessions, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 18 March and 1 April 2013:

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” (Tē-sis ē Bâr-süm) pulp planetary romance miniseries, usingSavage Worlds,” as of spring 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
Perils of Barsoom
Barsoomian dangers

>>[Historical records] “4 January 1944:” The group quickly suspected that this was an alternate Barsoom, one where history had been altered radically. Noticing a group of white-skinned warriors retreating, the Jasoomians of the party leaped with their earthly muscles to intercept.

Instead of a peaceful introduction, the Jasoomians landed in the middle of a firefight between the morgor {m’R g’R} and the soldiers. A fierce battle ensued; Blaze suffered a horrific injury from a morgor plasma rifle, but luckily the Barsoomian medical paste healed her very quickly.

All the morgor died, and all but one of the soldiers. He introduced himself as “Than 4722515,” a soldier bred on Jasoom and stationed here on Barsoom to repel the morgor invasion of the solar system. He didn’t understand any of our complex questions about reality and time travel — he suggested that the group accompany him to Horz to talk with a Van (Barsoomian for Priest). Blaze grabbed a working morgor plasma rifle.

In Horz, the Thans were reassembling their forces. The group met the local Vans (513, 675, 926), who, according to Kar Dalan and Van-tija, resembled therns. The Thans and Vans dared not utter the sacred name of Issus, instead referring to her as Aysha [É-ša], which means “The Forbidden One”. Van 513 showed his medallion, which projected a visual image of Lucy dressed in an ancient Barsoomian costume.

The Vans told the group about the coming of Issus 1 million years ago and the founding of Kiptang. Zylor Bar was well known as a historical villain. Once Issus’ herald, soothsayer and high priest, Zylor Bar had the gift of prophecy and held council with powerful leaders of the time to discuss an ambitious plan that spanned a million years. Apparently, he then betrayed Issus and was killed by Issus’ champion, Kar Kilad.

Van 513 led them to the museum at Horz to the exhibit of Zylor Bar, which still contained his notes and the time machine behind thick glass! After fruitlessly hacking and shooting at the glass, Blaze finally used the remaining fuel in the plasma rifle to melt a hole. The air rushed into the vacuum, disturbing the silence of a million years. The group decided that Bo and Van-tija would stay behind to pore through the notes to discover a way to repair the machine.

The rest commandeered 2-person fliers or kozar [kō-zâr] and headed for Raxar in search of Knack. The group discovered that the city of Raxar did not exist — in its place was a large field, with two sets of tracks leading north, both tracks eventually converging, implying that the travelers were companions.

Olera noted that the second set of tracks was made by a masena. Kar Dalan reminded them that the mines of Emar Radtai were located to the north of the city in the foothills.

Nearing the mine, Olera noticed that an invisible vessel was following them. Sensing this, the ship released its skin of prismatic magnetic sand (which appear to have been bending the light) and attempted to flee. Rip pulled an Immelmann turn and blasted the morgor scout vessel out of the sky.

The group was met at the mine’s entrance by a host of Kors or miners. The overseer Kors (5814481, 5793207, 5943392) explained that their friend had volunteered to enter the mines to investigate the disappearance of several miners over the past two cycles (approximately two weeks).

Skeptical, the team nevertheless agreed to enter the mine as well. They came upon the wounded mutated masena in the passageways. Next, they saw the unconscious Knack, webbed up as captives of horrific, blind digging creatures, the rykor [rī-kōr]. At the same time, creatures began to enter the mines: morgor, greb {g’R ‘B} (morgor tracker hounds) and syhar {S ‘R} (morgor war hounds). Although the group vanquished the rykors, the vast numbers of morgor seemed insurmountable.

Strangely, none of the morgor or their hounds attacked the group. A morgor captain whistled for his forces, stated that the mines were now under the control of the morgor and that they would return with the right equipment. The morgor collapsed the mine entrance, leaving the reunited group in the back of the mine….

Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars
Barsoom

>>”From the correspondence of Joseph Kanaki, 8 January 1943:” I’m not exactly sure of the date anymore. I had gotten separated from the rest of the crew of the “Lucy Goosey.” Yes, we’re still on Barsoom, as the locals call this version of Mars. I should say, “versions,” since Zylor Bar’s infernal machine had thrown us into an alternate timeline, where the red planet was still lush with vegetation.

If you think this is confusing, just imagine how we felt. The city of Raxar had vanished, and the mutated masena (cyclopean, cat-like Martian) from Padzok was still with me. I made my way to an encampment, which turned out to be a mining outpost (the source of Emar Radtai’s wealth on the other Barsoom). I learned that the red folk had been wiped out and that Barsoom had been repopulated by Jasoomian (Earthling) slaves. What had Zylor Bar done?

While I couldn’t quite pass for a native, I offered my services in the hope of learning more about my surroundings. After all, I’d need more allies than a former lab rat if I was to find my companions and get home. Nearly everything we’ve encountered here is hostile, beautiful but deadly, or both.

The miners gave some sob story about missing miners, so I thought about volunteering but opted to make for the city of Kiptang instead. Well, I must have been knocked out, because I don’t remember what happened when I turned my back.

When I awakened sometime later, “Blinky” the hapless masena and I were bound in giant spider webs. What tortures or monsters would we face next? Fortunately, the rest of my merry band found and fought their way to me.

“Bo” Jennings had fled Hors, a city populated with Vans (priests) and Thans (warriors). The city was besieged by the shriveled morgor. With Bo was the clever Van-tija, former aide to Thuran Gan, a.k.a. the Thern mad scientist Zylor Bar.

Van-tija was angry that Zylor Bar had picked Lucy McIntyre to pose as the goddess Issus in the distant past, rewriting history — don’t ask me, I don’t come up with these cockamamie ideas. At least she made herself useful by studying the notes for rebuilding the time machine.

Kar Dalan tersely explained where and when we were. The red scout and the Amazonian “Blaze” Harper have been exchanging lingering glances, but I don’t want to think about that right now.

Olera Gala, another masena but not mute like “Blinky,” identified the cracked power source for the device as a seenar [sēn-âr]. Of course, the stones were rare. Capt. “Rip” Rohrer got us back on task — the morgors had collapsed the exit, so we’d have to find another way out of the mines before they returned.

We delved deeper until we came to a large intersection. In the center of the chamber was a control panel with three buttons. There were three tracks leading out, two with two-person mine cars, and one with a four-passenger car.

After some debate, we tried pushing each of the buttons, which apparently fueled the vehicles, sent them down the tracks, and then recalled them. The cabin of the four-passenger one filled with a strange fluid. Rip and I took one of the two-seaters for a look.

We came to a disused cell with an ancient timekeeping device, but we couldn’t read the many dials and numbers. I shuddered at spotting yet more webs. We rolled back and shared our findings.

The other two-seater led Capt. Rohrer and me to a spherical chamber with a strange column in the center. It looked broken, but we could tell that the top and bottom somehow fit together. I think this area was some sort of refinery.

Brave Kar and impatient Blaze took the larger car down to what they described as a larger chamber with a possible exit. It turns out they didn’t have to hold their breath — the goo that had enveloped them allowed them to breathe as they descended through rock and water.

Bo and Van-tija rejoined us, having slipped by the morgar army assembling outside the mine. Olera and Blinky smelled their hounds, so we took turns in the four-seater and descended to the lower level.

We followed artificially lit passages to a row of mechanical humanoids standing behind more buttons. Beyond them was a room with seven alcoves, and we soon realized that each robot was like a key.

When I pushed a button, my body slumped to the stone floor. As I opened my eyes, I saw from the perspective of one of the robots! Blaze followed suit, but she got two robots stuck in the arcing electricity of one of the doorways. I had to hop to help free them.

We also learned that if a robot was affected, we’d wake up back in our own bodies. After some trial and error, we matched up the automata with their corresponding buttons. My hopping android enabled me to avoid the lightning and push one button.

Bo dove into a deep pool to push one button with a blast of air, while Kar used a long bar to move aside barbed wires from another. Rip took control of a flying robot to ascend a vertical shaft. Blaze’s strong construct lifted a stone blocking one button.

Olera and Van-tija reluctantly entered robots to extend a metallic arm through a tapering passage and rapidly push a segmented set of buttons, respectively.

When we pushed the buttons simultaneously, a large spherical chamber similar to the one we had encountered previously opened up. The column or pillar at its center came apart, but nothing else apparently happened.

Unfortunately, six morgor commandos led by a giant representative of that horrible race, Gorgum {g’R g’M} caught up to us. We didn’t know how to get out of our robotic forms, and they had already tied up our Earthling bodies and Blinky. Rip and I dove into the emaciated menaces, knocking several down. Capt. Rohrer’s robot was melted, but he returned to his own body.

Bo blasted one at short range with a burst of compressed air, and Olera and Blinky turned invisible and freed Rip. Kar smacked some of the morgor until his robot was destroyed. Blaze wandered toward the pillar, and Van-tija went to a control panel and returned to her own body.

We returned to the control room, where more of Gorgum’s morgor troops waited. They assigned us numbers. The general gave us one zode (two hours) to find a seenar. Smooth-talking Bo got permission to go out to his hidden flyer to retrieve some “mining equipment” — actually, the inert time-travel device.

Scrambling for a lead and an escape route, we went back to the first spherical chamber. Now that we knew how to operate the pillar/piston, we activated it. We found writing in English from Lucy giving a date: “Oct. 12, 9,996,539 B.C.E.” This must be where, or rather when, Zylor Bar took her.

We quietly raced to the old clock, as the morgor ignored us. We eliminated the remaining rykors and destroyed the spider-like hatchlings.

Under Kar and Olera’s watchful gaze, Van-tija reset the clock, which had been counting down to a date three days hence. We saw a floating image (hologram) of Lucy, but it dissolved into static and sputtered out. A vault then opened, revealing an intact seenar on a pedestal!

Apparently, Zylor Bar’s machine could travel through space or time, but each trip through the latter consumed one gem. We transported ourselves through space just outside of Kiptang, which was being sun bombed by the morgor. Relieved to be free of the morgor in the mines, we then plunged back in time, nearly 1 million years.

If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to undo the damage caused to the past, restoring Barsoom to a dry but somewhat free planet and returning to Earth to fight the Axis. But to do this, we have to stop Zylor Bar without killing him.

Kiptang was little more than a village, surrounded by tents. Kar noted that it looked like a religious revival, and Olera invisibly scouted ahead. Rip and Blaze wanted to charge in, but Bo and I realized that we were outnumbered.

Olera returned and confirmed that Zylor Bar appeared to be in the village square, presenting Lucy as the divine Issus and holding a version of the device. We had to rescue her from his shackles or mental control, but first, we had to find a way to get close. Rip grabbed some period clothing, and we prepared to follow Zylor Bar and Lucy as they headed toward the nearest ancient Barsoomian city….

As always, feel free to add any details I’ve missed as you post notes for the past two sessions. I look forward to continuing our adventures later this month! -Gene