Saturday, February 11, 2017

Commentary On Ass Kicking Warrior Women of The Old Mars Setting

Diane thanks for the email & that's a great question, 'How do you place more women warriors on an 'Old Mars' setting & make them credible for players?' 'And are there real world historical examples of these?' Yes, and yes to both questions. Since Jeddaks,queens, and other royals of Mars exist in the classic science fantasy of Edgar Rice Burroughs, C.L. Moore, & Leigh Brackett its not a hard stretch to place classic historical female warriors within these fictional bounds. "The Dahomey Amazons or N'Nonmiton of  which means "our mothers" in Fon, were a Fon all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey in the present-day Republic of Benin which lasted until the end of the 19th century. They were so named by Western observers and historians due to their similarity to the semi-mythical Amazons of ancient Anatolia and the Black Sea", at least according to their wiki entry. 
They served as some of the inspiration for Lamentations of the Flame Princess's World of The Lost which features a wide variety of warrior women with similar skill sets by Rafael Chandler. Now I've written extensively about this source book before. Basically your dealing with women warriors who are not only competent but agile, lightly armed, & used to killing within their environment. Africa proving to be one of the inspirations of Edgar Rice Burroughs for not only Tarzan but Barsoom as well. Africa was one of the last great unexplored frontiers well into the '20s to Western eyes.
But what does this have to do with 'Old Mars' as a setting? Quite a bit because your dealing with race & class separated in both Warriors of the Red Planet & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  So this means that your going  to be dealing with Amazons within the bounds of 'Old Mars' as a human nation of adventurers cycling through the Human & Martian city states, smaller kingdoms, even the po dunk Western style settlements ala C.L. Moore.  There is a lot to pull from from using World of the Lost from robotic horrors, to energy weapons and more for an 'Old Mars' campaign. I digress.

So what does this have to do with 'Old Mars'? Well pulling from Edgar Rice Burroughs one of his later efforts shows a completely different side to those Martian princesses in 'A Fighting Man of Mars'. Since its Frank Frazetta's birth a couple of days ago here's the Doubleday 1973 cover of  The Master Mind of Mars & A  Fighting Man of Mars. I'll cover The Master Mind of Mars another day. Wiki has a really good break down of two of the essential Barsoom books.

These two novels are intertwined," The story-teller is Ulysses Paxton, protagonist of the previous novel, The Master Mind of Mars, but this story is not about him; rather, it is the tale of Tan Hadron of Hastor, a lowly, poor padwar (a low-ranking officer) who is in love with the beautiful, haughty Sanoma Tora, daughter of Tor Hatan, a minor but rich noble. As he is only a padwar, Sanoma spurns him. Then Sanoma Tora is kidnapped.
As Tan Hadron crosses Mars ("Barsoom", as Burroughs calls it) searching for Sanoma Tora, he encounters some of Barsoom's most ferocious beasts: huge, many-armed, flesh-eating white apes, gigantic spiders, and the insane cannibals of U-Gor. He also meets the mad scientist Phor Tak, who cackles "Heigh-oo!" and is crazed with the desire for revenge.
The initial simplicity of Burroughs' well-worn pursuit plot is elaborated by Hadron's rescue of an escaped slave, Tavia, from a band of six-limbed green Tharks, en route to the city of Jahar where Hadron believes Sanoma Tora has been taken. Tavia is an atypical Burroughs heroine; depicted as self-reliant and competent with weapons, witty and intelligent, she compares favorably for both reader and Hadron with beautiful but shallow Sanoma Tora, who ultimately shows herself unworthy of the virtuous hero. With the addition of Nur An, a disaffected Jaharian warrior, and another escaped woman slave, Phao, Hadron's quest becomes more collaborative than Burroughs' usual, although Tavia, in an unsurprising plot development, is revealed to be a princess at the end"
Its really Tavia that's important; "Tavia is an atypical Burroughs heroine; depicted as self-reliant and competent with weapons, witty and intelligent." Burroughs Martian women are not your typical bubble headed heroines or the usual 'Sword & Sorcery' 'damsels in distress' in fact these ladies are bound to be mercenaries & adventurers within their own rights. Many of the games I run Martian ladies are some of the most blood thirst & dangerous  adversaries player's PC can run across. Leigh Brackett's 'The Sword of Rhiannon' has a number of female Martian queens and royals running around in the background of a lush million year plus setting of Mars ancient past.

So what does this have to do with the Amazon power blocks on old Mars? Well, if we're looking at Hyperborean races intermingling through the Boreas Winds onto 'Old Mars' then your looking at Amazon warriors, adventurers, wizards, clerics, outlaws, and others making their way into the social structure of outlaw nations, thieves guilds, thieves quarters, anywhere that they can assimilate into the fringe elements that adventurers are drawn to. They're going to exploit the 'patriarchal controlled' decedent royal houses, and play them for all their worth. So are Martian women adventurers & Hyperborean lady adventurers going to get along? I think that you could see some mixed parties but I also don't think either group is going to see the other for anything other then competition in the wastelands pure and simple.

Lady adventurers are probably found in every single quarter of 'Old Mars' having run my fair share of  Warriors of the Red Planet, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, and even Dark Albion. Players love lady warriors as PC's. When you get into the wastelands of the archaic pulp origin of 'Old Mars' doesn't dictate the origin point of your adventurers.
In fact I'd be remiss for not mentioning Dark Albion's great section on women adventurers which had some nice ideas for using real historic lady warriors as a guide for that world's fantastic fantasy setting that's grounded in real  world history. Some of those ideas might work in other games enhancing play.

The tropes & ideas of pulp writers  of the past should be explored & to some extent exploited by OSR players & dungeon masters. There are plenty of ways of break molds & stereo types of the past with some imagination & creativity. Edgar Rice Burroughs, C.L. Moore, & Leigh Brackett were some of the trail blazers for many other writers who followed in their foot steps. We're only playing in the shadows of those who came before us.
Note that this is for personal use only and is not an attempt to violate the copyright or trademark of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea nor the Warriors of the Red Planet rpg systems
Note that neither Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea nor the Warriors of the Red Planet rpg systems is anyway responsible for the content or materials of Swords & Stitchery.

Ideas, items, names, adventure ideas, opinions to follow are the copyright & trademark of the author & Dark Corner Productions

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.