Christmas Games 2010 – Savage Mars RPG

Courtesy RPG Geek

The Game:  Mars: A Savage Setting of Planetary Romance

The System: Savage Worlds RPG

The Setting: This item is a Savage Worlds RPG sourcebook for a Swords & Planets setting.  It draws heavily on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series and HG Wells’ War of the Worlds.  It is not either one of those, but rather draws upon those works to create a unique setting.

The Appearance: Full-size hardcover.  Cover art is subdued but evocative of the setting.  All interior content is black & white.  Interior art is all-out pulp with swashbuckling males in loincloth or little armor and buxom females, some without clothes!

The Content: There is alot of material stuffed into the 192 pages:

  • Part One: Mars is much of the background.  A map is included but the greyscale used makes interpretation difficult.  Download the full-color version from the Adamant Entertainment website (part of the pdf version).
  • Part Two: Characters helps you generate your Martian characters in the Savage Worlds system.
  • Part Three: Gear is the obligatory equipment lists (get your Radium Gun here!).
  • Part Four:  Setting Rules is where the changes to the standard rules are detailed.  Most importantly, Wild Card characters cannot die but are incapacitated.  Actually, they can be killed but it requires a finishing move against an incapacitated victim.
  • Part Five: Gamemastering is hints to running a Sword & Planet genre game but also includes a Random Adventure Generator.
  • Part Six: Beast of Mars not only includes a Beastiary but also a “Marsifier” that assists the GM in making just about any beast into a Martian version!
  • Part Seven: Slavers of Mars is a five-part Plot Point campaign that is useful for ideas on how a Sword & Planet adventure may go.
  • Part Eight: Encounters includes easy tables and pre-generated NPC’s for use.
  • Throughout the book there are short stories to help set the mood.

The Verdict: Mars is a comprehensive product that presents a Sword & Planet setting about as completely as one will ever find.  Adventures are easy to produce based on this material.  There are not many changes to the basic Savage Worlds rules making it easy to introduce to new groups.

That said, to play a Swords & Planets setting you really need the right group.  Frankly speaking you probably need all males.  Let’s face it, the source materials itself (especially Barsoom) is sexist.  I am sure you can get around this issue but doing so likely loses the core of Sword & Planet genre.

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