Smith's Martian cycle starts with a story many consider not part of the Mars cycle at all ;“The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis”Completed August 1931. First published in Weird Tales, May 1932. Next comes “The Dweller in the Gulf” Completed August 1932. First published in edited form as “Dweller in Martian Depths” in Wonder Stories, March 1933. Unedited version first published in The Abominations of Yondo, Arkham House 1960. Finally we get to “Vulthoom”Completed February 1933. First published in Weird Tales, September 1935.
This is an old and very dangerous world hoary with age, horror, and alien Lovecraftian gods dwelling in its underworld.
So then I started thinking about the Warriors of the Red Planet rpg, & I grabbed my copy of the book from the stacks & quickly started thumbing through it. I looked specifically at the mentalist PC class. The game book on the back has a blurb that caught my eye.And with use with other 'old school' retroclones. Hmm
If we look at the classes in Warriors of the Red Planet, Fighting Men, Scoundrels, Mentalists, & Scientists its easy to see their D&D equivalents. The Fighting Man is Fighter, Scoundrels are Thieves, Mentalists are clerics sort of, & Scientists are Magic Users or Wizards. So it would stand to reason that we could easily port the bare bones of the WRP's PC classes over to another game or a back bone system as I call it. In this case Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. In fact with a little bit of work because of the separation of race & class it wouldn't be too hard to take the races of Warriors of the Red Planet and use them as the base races for the classes of AS&SH. But why do this? One word Mars!
Since AS&SH take place in the far future then it might be simply a step away from the Hyperborea through the Borea Winds onto the world of Mars. But is this the Mars of pulp future or more specifically a post Colonial Mars of Burroughs, the Northwest Smith stories (1933–1936) by C. L. Moore & the Mars stories published between 1940 and 1964 by Leigh Brackett. This is a gritty, down, and dirty Mars with all of the trappings of sword & planet mixed with sword & sorcery.
This is a world that has seen cycles of empire for millions of years going all the way back to its Lovecraftian roots. "Brackett's The Sword of Rhiannon (1953) shows an oceanic Mars of the distant past, and comes close to pure fantasy."
The Mars of Clark Aston Smith lays below the surface in the underworld, sleeping and dreaming. It waits for the unwary & foolish stumble upon its secrets they wait in their low land caves and caverns waiting. Ancient cults, Martian alien organizations, and clans keep these ancient forbidden traditions alive. For running such a campaign a mix of the pulpy AS&SH monsters and WRP's creatures are suggested.
This is a world where mankind has made his mark & then stumbled into the fires of his own nuclear fall from grace. There are space ports here and there, a few human city states but the Martian races have re emerged on Mars from hidden valleys & scattered colonies across the face of Mars. There are ancient Lovecraftian horrors & gods that rule as they have for billions of years scattered in certain countries across the face of this world. This is world where the sword is king & you need to keep your radium side arm handy. Mutants, ancient evils, and worse await you in the red night.
The Works Of Clark Aston
Smith Can Be Read HERE
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