Saturday, September 30, 2017

OSR Commentary - Barsoomian Echoes In Original Dungeons & Dragons Campaigns & Adventures

Strap in, grab your short sword,long sword, dagger, & radium pistol as we make an astral projected journey back in time to 1977 with a merry Marvel excursion of Barsoomian goodness and old school adventure!

Cover scan taken from the awesome Giant Sized Marvel Blog

There are years in your life that you remember forever & for me it was '77 & '78. Not only was it the year that 'Star Wars' premiered but it was one of the golden ages of Marvel comics. Marvel kept coming out with some fantastic comics & during the Seventies they were looking for that sci fi market key. John Carter Warlord of Mars was special! For me as a kid the series hit all of the Edgar Rice Burroughs notes!

"John Carter, Warlord of Mars is a comics series published from 1977 by American company Marvel Comics. Created by Marv Wolfman (writer) and Gil Kane (penciller), it was based on the Barsoom series of Edgar Rice Burroughs and featured the eponymous character." The very next week I went to the local book shop that had really well displayed Edgar Rice Burroughs Michael Whelan paperbacks on display. But my uncle chided me because he had my Dad's full paperback run from when they were younger. I still collected the Whalen covers though. Now back to the Marvel Warlord of Mars, there was something very dynamic and well done about them. They fit in with the times & were pretty faithful to the books(mostly). Like all kids we were Star Wars crazy & my uncle channeled this into getting us kids to read anything science or science fiction related. As for myself I channeled it into anything related to this stuff from comics to original Dungeons & Dragons was far game. For campaigning on Barsoom the Marvel comics were a perfect fit because of the time period the series to place during in the ERB novels.

This page taken from the awesome Marooned on Mars blog here

"The entire series (with few exceptions) takes place between the third and fourth paragraphs of chapter 27 of Burroughs' novel A Princess of Mars."  This basically meant that PC's were going to come right in the background of those events as the Warlord made his rise onto power on Barsoom. We kids were bugging my adopted uncle to run us through Barsoom all through the year but we had to play the current campaign. It wasn't until the next year in '78 when we saw another film that would change my life that he got the idea for a campaign. Warlords of Atlantis was directed by Kevin Connor and co-starring Peter Gilmore, Shane Rimmer, Cyd Charisse, Daniel Massey, Lea Brodie and John Ratzenberger. From the same production team that made "The Land That Time Forgot", "At the Earth's Core", "The People that Time Forgot", and "Arabian Adventure". I watched everyone of these films and ate them up with a spoon.  These sorts of films make excellent adventure fodder especially for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

My uncle planned an island hopping campaign with our Original Dungeons & Dragons PC's. There had been a fire in the sky and our boat was wrecked by the streaking horror that howled through the clouds. The next morning we found ourselves on a beach with none of our equipment surrounded by six armed Green Martian warriors with strange metal antenna sticking out of their heads! Our treasure was gone and we were placed in a dungeon and had to escape. We came across and killed a group of telepathic elite Martian big brained leaders. My wizard was killed by a vicious calot pack allowing the party to escape. The invasive Martians became regular foes in our campaign world according to the scat notes that I've got from that time. But the important point here was the fact that my uncle used the Barsoomians as an invasive and invading species in our world. Martians scouting parties  began to show up with regularity. For modern & retroclone systems this style of gaming can be fun until the players catch on. The campaigns must have over arching goals end points this was something that would become more evident in the second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons prepackaged campaign world era.

To this day I blame James Ward's article 'Deserted Cities of Mars' from 'The Strategic Review Volume 1 issue #3 from 1975. Which I know for a fact that my uncle owned because I've still got my copy. We did the island hopping campaign for quite awhile in the Bermuda Triangle. Here's where the valuable lesson of setting vs substance was learned. If the dungeon master wants introduce a monster or setting element the 'monster of the week' format allows one to take on an issue by issue adventure style. I wasn't until much later on that I would go on to develop my own style of this type of dungeon mastering. Original Dungeons & Dragons encouraged this. Note that this was years before 'Isle of Dread' would appear in 1981. Don't forget to keep those dice rolling & I hope you make your saves this weekend kids!

This blog entry is for entertainment & educational purposes only. It is not an attempt to violate the trademarks & copyrights of Marvel Comics nor the original writers nor artists of such comics. John Carter Warlord of Mars belongs to its trade mark and copy right holders this blog entry is not an attempt to violate those holdings. Original Dungeons and Dragons is owned by Wizards of the Coast and this is not an attempt to violate that copy write or trade mark. All commentary and opinions belong to Dark Corner Productions@2017                  

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