Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rocket Ship X-M 1950 - A Science Fiction Sunday - Space Opera Encounter For Your Classic Science Fantasy Retro Clone

Rocketship X-M (1950) was the second of the American science fiction feature films of the space adventure genre begun in the post-war era, in 1950. It gets no respect today which is way too bad because its got a cracking plot that can be used for any number of old school science fiction, post apocalypse, or space opera games. 

Plot : 
Four men and a woman, all scientists, blast into space aboard the RXM (Rocketship Expedition Moon) on humanity's first expedition to the Moon. About halfway to their destination, the RXM's engines shut down because of a fuel problem. They solve it with a new fuel mixture, the engines reignite and the RXM tears off on a new direction, directly towards Mars. Regaining consciousness after a short burst of acceleration, the crew finds the ship has traveled about 50,000,000 miles. Mars is now only 50,000 miles away; this causes Dr. Karl Eckstrom to "pause and observe respectfully while something infinitely greater assumes control," which made everything work to guide them there.
The RXM passes through the alien atmosphere to land on the planet. There they find evidence of a once-powerful civilization, with evidence like an art-deco wall-hanging and a backdrop of a dynamo shaped building. A long time ago there has been a planetary nuclear war. They meet a modern descendant of the civilization: a mute woman with enormous black pupils. She is pursued by savage cavemen, other descendants, who attack the team by throwing boulders at them. Armed only with a rifle and revolver and one load of ammunition for each weapon, the astronauts hit no one and two of them are killed and one injured by the flying rocks. Their return voyage is only a partial success: the RXM makes it back to Earth orbit but doesn't have enough fuel to land. The surviving crew members contact their base by radio and pass on the information about Mars and the destruction of the civilization there. 

Our intrepid crew for this secret first manned spaceship launch consists of ship designer Dr. Exum Scientist 4th level (John Emery), navigator Floyd Graham Astronaut 4th level(Lloyd Bridges), engineer Major William Corrigan Scientist 3rd level  (Noah "Rockford's Dad" Beery, Jr.), some less important guy played by Hugh O'Brian Adventurer 2nd level, and brilliant female chemist Dr. Lisa Van Horn Scientist 3rd level (Osa Massen).
Rocket Ship X-M 

Rocket Ship X-M 
Hit Points: 55 
Crew: 5 
Drive: Atomic Fuel Mix 

This bullet shaped 80 foot long rocket, is bullet shaped with 4 tail fins hugging the sides. The hatch is part way up the side of the ship. A ladder reaches the ground. This style of craft is used mainly for inter system exploration & prospecting. A great craft for adventurers. 
The Trailer 
The Complete Movie  Is Within The Public Domain

The Martian  Ruins 
There is more then enough room here for a Dm to run just about anything. This is a perfect location for mega dungeons. The blasted out ruined landscape is perfect for setting up a Mutant Future style game. There are scores of deserted cities, weird buildings, & tribes of degenerate red men neanderthals. I can her you saying in the movie they encountered no monsters at all. Not a problem. They weren't there long enough really. Take your copy of  A Princess Of Mars add your favorite holocaust of atomic proporations & your ready to rock & roll. Or don't. You can do an X plorer's style game with little.

 Since a second expedition is planned the characters have a very cool story hook & adventure for this style of game. There's lots of potential with this world.  

Day Time Random Weird Wasteland Encounters 1d10 

  1. Sand Rays 2 hit points each 
  2. HG Wells Martian Scout Machines -Walkers 3 hit points 
  3. Martian Flyers # 1d6 3 hit points each. Heat rays 1d4 damage 200 ' range 
  4. Lizard Men riding hovercycles with hand flamers 2 hit points each 1d3 damage 40' range 
  5. Degenerate Red men neanderthals raiding party 4 hit points, spears 
  6. Psychic Death Storm Elemental 4 hit points 
  7. Damned Martian Soldiers ( undead, 3 hit points,22 century armor), hover tanks 
  8. Mockers of Order Outer Planar Demons 4 hit points 
  9. Giant Cloud Monster 3 hit points, Lighting attacks as the spell 
  10. Sail Barge Battle Ship - Floater 20 crew, martians 
Night Time Random Weird Wasteland Encounters 1d10 

  1. Degenerate Red men neanderthals raiding party 4 hit points, spears 20% of mutant powers 
  2. Mutant Plant Monsters Cloud 1d10 hit points, spore implantation attack 1d4 damage 
  3. Mutant Raiding party 1d10 hover cars, 1d4 hit points 40% mutant powers 
  4. Dust Demon 4 hit points, level drain attack 
  5. Veterans of The Psychic Wars - Recruiting & looking for a fire, food, etc
  6. Hallucination Dealer - Time Lost ,2 hit points 6 bodyguards, 3 hit points each 
  7. Night Wolves 3 hit points ~ wolves 1d10 # powers as per blink dogs 
  8. Damned Soldiers~ 3 hit points,# 1d10 on Nightmares armed with machine guns 1d4 damage 
  9. Sonic Attack UFOS 1d3 # ,3 hit points, sonic attack 1d4 
  10. Degenerate Red men neanderthals raiding party 4 hit points, spears 20% of mutant powers 


  1. Great overview and and game adaption of the material. I think your random charts often have more depth than the films that inspire them.

  2. Thanks Trey I've been looking for a way to really incorporate some of the ideas that were in the film into a game. The film is a "classic" of its era & paved the way for The Day The Earth Stood Still. I love the blank canvas of this setting though. The idea of a post apocalypse Mars is awesome. My current gaming group is there & I'm going to be filling in more details on this as time goes on. Thanks again for the comment & there will be more to come! Stay Tuned.

  3. You've really hit pay-dirt with this--and it's a great deal of fun to read your charts inspired by these classic movies. Your gaming group is very, very lucky! Keep up the amazing great work!

  4. GJ I don't think that they'd agree. Since you see their going to be subject to some very rough treatment in the next coming weeks. Errm I mean their characters are in for some rough treatment. Stay tuned there will be more coming up on the Actual Play Events very soon! Thanks for the comment & I'm very humbled actually


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