Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Getting A More Lovecraftian Campaign Spin On Leigh Brackett's 'Shadow Over Mars'

Rick Urquhart was going to conquer the turmoil-ridden planet of Mars. He was penniless and unknown, but there could be no doubt that he would rule the Red Planet-the ancient Martian mystic had made the prophecy, there was no way fate could cheat him of his prize.. "

When we begin looking into the lovely work of the far future of  the Terran Exploitation Company within the bounds of Startling Stories v11n02 [1944-Fall]'s Leigh Brackett's Shadow over Mars. Three things become evident. The Terran Exploitation Company are complete & utter bastards exploiting the ancient Martian races. This corporation is running absolutely scared & they have no idea of the extent of the Martian race's artifcial nature. All of this goes back to my original AS&SH campaign notes from Thursday, August 3, 2017 here on the blog. 

You can download
& read 'The Shadow Over Mars' Right Over Here. 

This one of Brackett's first Martian novels & you can see the plight of the Martians likened to the American Indians in the United States West. Brackett would go on to write a ton of Pulp Westerns. Brackett's Shadow over Mars brings home the fact that there's been race after race that goes back eons on the Red Planet. Her Martians fit John Carter into a pocket of the Martian royalty. Brackett's Martians are thieves, wizards, warriors, & the alleyway runners of an exploited planet. And their fighting for their very existence. 
Mars exploits the hard bitten bastards as her saviors making it a perfect canvas for a party of adventurers. Especially those of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The Hyperboreans have their own part to play in the transformation of the solar system. 
The Terran Exploitation Company seems almost like the 'Company' of the classic 70's film Alien. Out to exploit the conquered planet at any means necessary but Mars has other plans. At some far distant point in the future of Old Earth the Hyperboreans returned according to Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborea cycle & his Zothique cycles.

The humans of 'Shadow Over Mars' are solidly within the sleazy vein of Martian stories, the grungy New Town section with its stripper Venusian girls, 3-D cinemas, and various drug parlors are the perfect metaphor of the Earthman's coming to Mars.  The Terran Exploitation Company knows that their time is almost up & they are scrambling to get all they can outta of Mars as fast as possible. They are perfect rpg fodder to use Night Owl Workshop's Colonial Troopers to stand in as their forces. Mars is not going to give up all of its secrets easily. 

The Terran Exploitation Company knows that when the stars are right then Clark Ashon Smith's  Vulthoom  an alien 'god' (plant like) is going to awaken & then every Terran on Mars is deep trouble. They want to keep the peace with the current crop of Martians but when the new cycle begins they figure they can retreat back to Earth. But can they really?! 

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