Thursday, January 8, 2009

Influence: John Carter of Mars

(The third installment of my three-part series on what's currently influencing my interpretation of Ronn McCarrick's Baenrahl setting.)


Sweeping vistas! Exotic cultures! Violent battles and fierce swordplay!

This is the stuff of swashbuckling adventure!

When I started thinking about Baenrahl and the idea of "Dark Swashbuckling," I kept coming back to the adventures of John Carter on the planet Barsoom (Mars). He carried a sword, and thousands fell before it! He wielded a pistol, and his aim was true! He leapt into the fray, and his actions were nothing but cinematic!

Many of the images that come into my head when I think of Baenrahl are inspired by these pulp novels. Here are some examples of what flashes through my mind:

  • An unarmored warrior leaping to attack with a curved saber in his hand.
  • An adventurer hiding behind some rocks, pistol in hand, as hundreds of soldiers bear down on his position.
  • Swashbucklers of many species leaping from one flying ship to another, swords and pistols at the ready.

John Carter by Mark Schultz

I've gamed with Ronn for over 20 years. Two specific things stand out as the coolest things that he's done in a game, and one of them was the flying ships of Larethon (and their controls). I definitely want to include flying ships such as these, and very similar to the ones in Barsoom.

Adding flying ships can unbalance a fantasy campaign, as can firearms. But both of these existed in Baenrahl, and both will be in my vision of the setting. They may, however, be more prominent.

Overall, the influence comes from pulp-fantasy of it all: armor is irrelevant, firearms and swords are virtually equal, and enemy minions fall to the heroes as though wheat before a scythe.

I definitely want that feel!

And once the heroes rise a bit in level, the simple villains, the soldiers of the Urathear, shouldn't stand a chance against the flashing blades of the heroes.

This will likely involve some rules tweaking, but it will be worth it!

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