“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….