Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Savage Worlds: MARS - 50% off Sale - One Week Left

By Derek B, the Savage Duck

All of the Adamant Entertainment MARS line is 50% off at

A few weeks back, DriveThruRPG advertised MARS March Sales Month in their weekly newsletter. We at the Troll are fans of Victorian Era Pulp Roleplaying and MARS is in the same ballpark. It is fully the pulp setting we expected it to be.

MARS came to my attention in 2009 along with the announcements of Savage SPACE:1889 Red Sands. All things pulp and Victorian were coming back into our gaming consciousness. MARS fit this well.

If you participated in the January 2010 Gamers Helping Hati $20 bundle you were pleasantly surprised with getting the full MARS pdf in that bundle. My first impressions are below. This won't be a full review but enough of one to get a good idea. It's also more of a prompting to not miss a bargain.  The prices are extremely compelling. $7.48 for the Source book and $2.50 each for the 30+ page adventures are worth it.

A free download of Adamant's MARS Character Sheet is here.
Also some great cover art for screen savers are found here.
There's also a d20 Free Preview found here.

First Impressions Mini-Reviews
MARS Savage Worlds Edition Sourcebook - Sword and Planet: A Savage Setting of Planetary Romance
Pages: 180
Price: $7.48 on sale ($14.95 regularly) in .pdf format
Required: SWEX or SWD

The core book is a nice stand in for Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom Novels. There is a clear disclaimer that this is an original setting not based on any single author or setting. That being said, the appeal is obviously to those of us who want to bring a John Carter or two to life. Red Martians, Green Martians, and White Apes are all there except they are all two-armed. No four armed Tars Tarkus here but it feels much the same. A new addition and nightmare is the Grey Men of Mars. Essentially, ancient giant octopoid looking creatures that once were able to travel the galaxy. Expect them to be a mysterious and nasty force to recon with.

Characters are given 10 extra points in creation to encourage taking various swashbuckling edges and martial combat skills. This game is about the archetypes that epitomize the Planetary Romance genre. Jump in and swing a sword. There are radium pistols, rifles, and guns as well as the dreaded Grey Men's heat rays. The action is clearly about the heroic swinging of swords and you can't swing swords without airships. Sky-Tyrant of MARS revolves around such ships (below).

For GMs, the last 4 chapters provide lots of useful goodies.  There's a nice intro to the history and terms of the Planetary Romance genre. Also, a good guide to creating adventures, a bare bones random adventure generator (fun), Beasts of Mars, a five part Plot Point Campaign: Slavers of Mars, other Adventure Seeds, and some Encounter Tables.

Art: Excellent. Frazetta's influence is felt throughout and I like it. See the adventure covers below and I bet you'll agree.

There is a tremendous amount of work here and the goal of recreating the Planetary Romance setting for Mars is well done. In my opinion, the only missing element is a pullout or separate printout for a player's guide.

The Adventures
The following Adventures are all by Adamant Entertainment for their MARS Savage World Edition and are currently Silver Best Sellers on The fun here for me was just reading the adventures. The Pregenerated Characters, NPCs, and creatures are well developed and you are advised to use them directly or as guides. You can jump straight into a well-developed setting and story in very short order.

The Sky-Tyrant of MARS

By Umberto Pignatelli, Adamant Entertainment
Price: $2.50 on sale ($5 otherwise) in .pdf
Pages: 34

Blurb: A deadly menace from the desert, a race against the clock to save a whole city! Will your heroes be brave enough to recover the Heart of Azhur Idhal before all is lost? Can they face the threat of the Sky-Tyrant of Mars?

Review note: I'm a sucker for airships, chariot races, and lots of combat! The variety of encounters is extensive and fun. PCs jump directly into a chariot race, might be time to use the new SWD chase rules. This appeared to be the easier of the 3 to jump into.

Blood Legacy of MARS

By H.M. 'Dain' Lybarger
Price: $2.50 on sale ($5 otherwise) in .pdf
Pages: 31

Blurb:  When an impoverished noble discovers a royal birthmark on a wastrel poet and playwright, he immediately knows what it means:  It means that he has a way back into Baltan high society, coat-tailing on the mysterious Prince's fame as deposed Royalty!  Unfortunately for this patron of the arts, there are political forces who would see his protégé dead -- and other political forces who would use him as a figurehead for a Royalist Counter-revolution! Enter the player-characters, as friends or associates of the poet or his patron, caught in a web of intrigue, assassination, and violence:  the dangers of the Blood Legacy of Mars!

Review Note: There is an extensive Dramatis Personae section and a relationship chart to help the GM keep all the details in this sweeping 31 page drama. It feels like a Pulp Space Opera. The GM really needs to study this one so they can give it all the twists, turns, and drama it deserves. 7 pages of Characters, NPCs, and Creatures give the adventure the detail for an adventure that can stretch for week. The adventure takes place over months or possibly years of game time.

Sell-Swords of MARS

By H.M. 'Dain' Lybarger
Price: $2.50 on sale ($5 otherwise) in .pdf
Pages: 39

Blurb: The heroes are mercenaries, seeking work among the lesser independent cities of Mars.  When an attack dams up the only canal of the city of Pi-Ramesh, the city's young Queen hires these Sell-Swords of Mars to come to her aid as the city's lifeblood dries up.   Can the heroes stop the onslaught of a seemingly unstoppable enemy, and save the weakened city?

Review Note: The PCs become the saviors for hire and confront the monstrous Grey Men and their metal machines of death.  This is an epic battle adventure. Airships and Martian walkers, radium bombs and heat rays, and armies on the march. 5 pages of encounter tables, vehicular weapons, orders of battle, an extensive Dramatis Personae, Bestiary, much needed Unit Cards, and adventure flow charts all assist the GM in managing this epic!

Final Word
I appreciate the amount of work that went into this setting and how it brings the late-Victorian Planetary Romance adventures to life.. The adventures reviewed here and the others Adamant has published doubles the amount of content. For me, $14.98 gets me the core setting and these three adventures.  Quite a bargain. I enjoyed reading the adventures. And, I have a ready made alien setting for my group to which they 'accidentally' get transported into and wake up. The Sale ends March 31st!

Keep it Savage!

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