“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 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….