Thursday, July 02, 2009

Episode 21

The Nemesis Games web site is up at! If you want to know more about the semi-secret MMO project I've been babbling about, go there and sign up for an account on our forum. Cuz from this point on, if I have stuff to say about that I'll mostly be saying it there.

My air conditioning is on the fritz again, just in time for the 4th of July weekend. Funny how my pal, Mister God, arranges these things for maximum annoyance. Or is it just me? Yeah. Just me. And punctuated equilibrium.

My renewed fascination with the Barsoom novels, written beginning in 1917 by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs, continues unabated. I just discovered that the entire series is available to read online (I'd thought it was just the first 5 books, on Project Gutenberg). You can (and SHOULD) find 'em here:

So great is my fascination that I'm hard at work, in my copious free time, preparing to run a Barsoom RPG for my gaming group using my Pocket Universe RPG rules. It's been fun doing the research to accurately model Barsoomian telepathy (wow, is it WEAK!), coming up with wierd science invention rules, writing up Barsoomian equipment lists, figuring out how to handle Mars' lower gravity, and working up a map of the planet.

Burroughs left only a single, not very detailed map of Barsoom's two hemispheres:

And now, thanks to the wonders of modern science, we have quite detailed maps of the actual surface of Mars:

So Burroughs fans have been hard at work, trying to make the two things mesh. With, in my humble opinion, poor results:

What's the problem, you ask? Well, for starters, the darker areas on that map are the Martian lowlands. The creator of this map has placed the ruined city of Thark - clearly described as being at the edge of a 'dry sea bottom', out in the middle of the frickin' Martian *highlands*.

But hey, the fans have done their best. The problem is that Burroughs had no idea whatsoever what the real surface of Mars was like.

Or did he?

Tune in next time when I reveal the startling truth! Seriously.

-Jeff Dee

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