In January 2021 we presented the all-new John Carter of Mars Bundle featuring the 2d20-based John Carter of Mars RPG from Modiphius Entertainment based on the Martian planetary romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Explore the wonders of Barsoom (Mars) as pilots, warriors, scientists, or one of the terrifying green Tharks. Create you own Barsoomian adventurers, or take on the great journeys as John Carter himself, Dejah Thoris, Tars Tarkas, Thuvia of Ptarth, Carthoris of Helium, and the other heroes and heroines of the books. Experience a dying world of dry ocean beds where giant four-armed barbarians rule, of crumbling cities home to an advanced but decaying civilization, of strange beasts and savage combat, where love, honor, and loyalty become the stuff of adventure under the hurtling moons of Mars.
A Princess of Mars was first published (as Under the Moons of Mars) in The All-Story (1912). The 2012 Disney feature film John Carter marked the centenary of the character’s first appearance. John Carter is an army officer who survives the American Civil War only to find himself transported to a fantastic version of Mars called Barsoom. “In 11 books Burroughs takes the reader all around the Red Planet (and even to Jupiter), while the action and excitement never let up,” says the official Burroughs Estate website. “Take a trip down the sacred River Iss to the Valley Dor at Barsoom’s south pole, but be warned — you might wind up the meal for a flesh-eating plant man. Visit the city of Manator, where the citizens play chess with live pieces to the death. Pay your respects to Ras Thavas, the Master Mind of Mars, who will be happy to transplant your brain into the body of your choice, or maybe into the body of a giant ape. Rescue princesses from impenetrable fortresses, gallop across the sea bottoms of Barsoom astride your eight-legged thoat, or race through the thin air of Mars aboard your antigravity flyer.”
Funded in a popular January 2018 Kickstarter campaign, the John Carter RPG uses “Momentum,” a streamlined pulp-action version of the 2d20 system used in other games such as Conan, Infinity, Mutant Chronicles, and Star Trek Adventures. The Momentum system cuts way down on descriptive status effects and weapon qualities. Momentum Characters have six attributes, used as the Target numbers of all tests. There are no skills. You define broad Talents, skipping granular details that aren’t important in describing the ultra-competent characters of Barsoom. If you’re a talented scientist, you have a Talent that describes how you use science: Maybe you make discoveries after hours of painstaking research, or perhaps your best leaps of intuition happen under fire. Your Talent indicates how you relate to the activity. There’s a chapter of example Talents to choose, reword, and combine. Once you understand how to do a skill test and choose how Talents describe your character, you’re ready to go.
In his April 2019 Geek Native review, Andrew Girdwood highlighted one fun aspect of this approach: “Your PCs won’t be slowed down by small events. Even NPCs are so perfect they could, if the world wasn’t so harsh, live to 1,000. An excellent example of this is the rules for Minions. Smaller baddies count as Minions and don’t need stats of their own. It is assumed the heroes will beat them. They, at most, can add 1 Threat to the scene. The rules govern how many Minions our highly competent, body-perfect heroes can dispatch each round. That 1 Threat is something a proper villain, a real menace, can use. […]
“So, if we’ve got hugely capable heroes by default what is there to challenge them? Momentum is the stat that defines the style of play in John Carter.” To improve their odds on a die roll, players need Momentum points, which are earned when they try risky actions or define failure consequences. “One success leads to another in this dangerous red world, but it is up to the players and their heroics to try and kickstart that cycle. Sitting back to wait for events to happen to you is to invite a loss of Momentum, and you do not want that. […] It’s easy to see your tabletop pack of alien survivors engaged in the very sort of high-octane improbable action that also suits Edgar Rice Burroughs’ pulp classics.”
There were three titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $43) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the complete full-color 288-page John Carter of Mars core rulebook, the Narrator’s Screen & Kit, and the Barsoom and Korad Map & Travel Guide with beautiful full-color maps.
Those who paid more than the threshold (average) price also got our entire Bonus Collection with six more titles worth an additional $75, including the Phantoms of Mars Campaign Guide; three “Era” supplements that permit campaigns at three different times in the novels’ eventful history (Dotar Sojat Era, Jeddak of Jeddaks Era, and Prince of Helium Era); and two print-and-cut decks of beautiful full-color artwork: the Landscapes and Locations Deck and the Characters and Tokens Deck.
Ten percent of each purchase of this John Carter offer (after gateway fees) went to the charity designated by Chris Birch of Modiphius Entertainment, Vision Rescue. In Mumbai, India, Vision Rescue feeds and educates slum children and their parents to free them from exploitation and live with dignity.