This blog entry picks right up where yesterday's left off & we dive into another Martian ecology with an OSR twist or two.
Leigh Brackett's Black Amazon of Mars wraps up the Stark triliogy of stories. Stark, as an "Earthman out of Mercury" sits in the Martian setting like the Old Western hero of a typical Orientalist yarn: he's violent and morally upright, and he's confronted with exotic beauty and spooky mysteries. And could in many respects be considered an aspect of the Eternal Champion of Michael Moorcock fame.
All of this kicks off with a Martian thief & Stark's partner having stolen the artifact of
Humanity vs the old races in this case Elves from Lofp
The notations of colonial Mars & colonial based conflicts in Dungeons & Dragons style games isn't racist its adventure & campaign driven. The racial motivated battles are not race driven their driven by resources of a campaign. he Man with No Tribe and the Warrior Queen of Kushat are the new hero champions. The losers in this conflict are the 'shining ones' & the same goes for the
Conflict is good in old school & OSR games, because it allows us as both DM's & players to explore issues from the safety of dice & sanity. Within the bounds of games we see pig faced orcs as servants of the 'other' & the existence of the shining ones is no different. Their very alien presence is immical to mankind & the aliens have an agenda of taking back Mars regardless of genocide . This contrasts with the Melniboné empire. Make no mistake the Melniboné empire is utterly evil & decident in its treatment of humanity within the Elric mythos. Yes there are indivdual examples of Melibonean champions but on the whole. Humanity are late comers to the scene. A fact that the Pan Tangians emulate their former Melibonean benefactors. This irony isn't lost on many readers & players of the Stormbringer rpg.
And Leigh Brackett isn't a comfortable writer folks & even though the tales are set on Mars they contrast quite nicely with the plots of a great many peoples through out our Earth. Leigh Brackett's Mars seems very much in the same vein as her mentor's C.L.Moore's solar system. A silent frontier that was set out & up in Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles waiting for mankind. But mankind is the tresspasser on very ancient legacies. And in many ways the 'shining ones' remind me very much in the same ways that the enemies & ancient sorcerous legacies of the Young Kingdoms. Many of the Elric book's monsters would be right at home among the red & raw sands of Brackett or C.L. Moore's worlds. In many ways many of the conventions of the Sword & Planet vs Sword & Sorcery literature remain. But this is a form & function of the genre & not a take away.
But my question becomes will the amulet & sword of the old warrior king keep the 'shining ones' at bay forever?! Perhaps not.
There are many, many, questions about Leigh Brackett's Mars still in the back of my mind. But that's another blog entry.