Thursday, September 12, 2019

Further OSR Commentary On The Free 'Old Mars' Downloads For Your Old School Campaigns

So I'm making some notes and doing some adjustments to my Old Mars material, this means cracking open one of my favorites by Leigh Brackett, Clark Ashton Smith, and C.L. Moore. Here's some thoughts and ideas for background on my next cycle of 'Old Mars' adventure setting material.

For me cracking open a copy of Sea Kings of Mars from Thrilling Wonder Stories v34n02 (1949 06) is pretty much like coming home. The thing is Mars has always been my favorite adventure location since I was a kid. The dead sea bottoms, the desert sands, & the places where John Carter would never be caught dead in are all true of Leigh Brackett's stories of Mars.

Download & Read Sea Kings of Mars Here

This is a rough & ready Mars of the Colonial era where the ancient past is intruding on and bursting into the reality of humanity's push into the solar system. There are connections here that Brackett makes with Atlantis, Lomar, and many of the other Lovecraft circle writer's creations. This isn't as small of a novella as it seems. There are connections, adventure hooks, ideas, and more if the DM is willing to put some time into the novel.
Leigh Brackett's Mars is far more clannish, dangerous, and in some cases alien then what we've seen in Edgar Rice Burroughs or is it? Barsoom has its own feel very similar to the samurai states of Japan on  Earth just before the incursion of the West. Brackett's Mars is the back alleys & shifting sands of clans thrown about by the coming of the humans. This is an old world that has seen far more then the violent more recent cycles of Earth. The ancient past isn't done with the present of Mars by a long shot. The ancient alien remains of Mars are still out in the hidden valleys, weird lost worlds, and in the interior world waiting for their chance to live & thrive again.
In this regard it reminds me of Clark Ashton Smith's Mars cycle, the humans have come to the dying world of Mars. The human see themselves playing tourists taking over from the ancient dying Martian race as they trade baubles in Igarth's 'old quarter'. But  'The Aihai' old beyond time and preserved by the machinations of the plant like Old One Vulthoom and its siblings. These novellas and stories represent not as different a Mars as one might think from Sea Kings.
Humans are the intruders here & they are colonizing and dabbling in places that have seen far older races to be sure. But is there enough room for E.R. Burroughs's multi colored races, Brackett's Martian races, & Clark Ashton Smith's? Yes from the perspective of looking at the plethora of Martian pulp stories I think that 'Old Mars' is a world that has seen its share of an incredible parade of races with room for more. The Green Martians of Edgar Rice Burroughs didn't stay when the planet went entirely extinct. They fled into the dark of space & continued to be employed out in the far flung corners of the universe.
The far future of Old Mars is going to a very rude awakening for the human population on the planet as the Martians come back with the vengeance of a millions swords and radium pistols. This gets into some of the ancient past implied by C.L. Moore's North West Smith stories.

The horrors of the past seem to leak into & ooze into the future because of the very nature of the Martian mythology. There's a promise of faded glory & future bloodshed just under surface of the Martian stories. This makes me wonder about the far future of this style of Mars is there far more that the Human government is worried about? I think so. The implications of the great push outward seems to have far more bubbling just below the surface. The 'Far Future Old Mars' might be a very alien place indeed highly dangerous and aggressive to human and near human beings. That's a blog post for another time. For the moment I'm organizing my notes and making some adjustments to my upcoming adventures!

This  post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any 
of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a 
private table top rpg campaign.  The writing, ideas, and opinions 
are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner 
productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes 

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