Science, literature, art and architecture are in some of their departments further advanced upon Barsoom than upon Earth, a remarkable thing when one considers the constant battle for survival which is the most marked characteristic of life on the planet. Not only are they waging a continual battle against nature, which is slowly diminishing their already scant atmosphere, but from birth to death they are constantly faced by the stern necessity of defending themselves against enemy nations of their own race and the great hordes of roving green warriors of the dead sea bottom; while within the walls of their own cities are countless professional assassins, whose calling is so well recognized that in some localities they are organized into guilds. The reason for this is quite simple – almost all technology is the product of ancient minds. Until recently, which may be described as a scientific renaissance on Barsoom, innovation had been at a standstill. The advent of John Carter acted as an additional catalyst.
Barsoomians do not recognize any separation between the theoretical and applied sciences; scientists both research and experiment. There are five major branches of scientific endeavor (in descending order of abstraction):
• “Imaginary Science” or povar [pō-vâr]: the study of mathematics, philosophy and logic.
• “Ray Science” or isvar [is-vâr]: the study of energy, physics and chemistry. This includes the technology of radium or irtay [ir-té] and the eighth and ninth rays.
• “Planet Science” or soomvar [süm-vâr]: The study of Barsoom’s meteorology, geology and metallurgy. The red nations dispatch research fliers to chart air currents and to check atmospheric pressure.
• “Life Science” or morvar [mōr-vâr]: the study of biology, biochemistry and medicine.
• “Man Science” or madvar [mad-vâr]: the study of sociology, psychology and history.
The numbers are base ten:
ay [é] = one
ko [kō] = two
il [il] = three
tor [tōr] = four
en [en] = five
dan [dan] = six
ov [âv] = seven
bar [bâr] = eight
thor [ŧōr] = nine
tee [tē] = ten
teeay [tē-é] = eleven
teeko [tē-kō] = twelve, etc.
kotee [kō-tē] = twenty
iltee [il-tē] = thirty, etc.
tan [tan] = hundred
dar [dâr] = thousand
mak [mak] = ten thousand
dur [dür] = million
The seenar [sēn-âr], the one priceless jewel on Barsoom, “scintillated nine different and distinct rays; the seven primary colors of our earthly prism and the two rays which are unknown upon Earth”. The two rays unknown to humans, the eighth and ninth rays, are beyond the visible spectrum. Harnessing the power of these two rays was a major achievement for Barsoomian science. The words for the seven primary colors are based on the numbers and the root word for energy and life, is [is]:
aysis [é-sis] = red, the first ray
kosis [kō-sis] = orange, the second ray
iliss [il-is] = yellow, the third ray
toris [tōr-is] = green, the fourth ray
eniss [en-is] = blue, the fifth ray
danis [dan-is] = indigo, the sixth ray
ovis [âv-is] = violet, the seventh ray
baris [bâr-is] = the eighth ray, also known as the ray of propulsion. This frequency of light can be harnessed to propel airships through the sky.
thoris [ŧōr-is] = the ninth ray; also known as the ray of creation. This frequency of light can be isolated and released to create breathable air.
The neutral colors have their own words:
kil [kil] = black
thur [ŧür] = white
The measurement of time is based on the orbit of Barsoom around the sun. This year or ord [ōr-id] is broken down into the following units:
1 ord [ōr-id] = 10 teeans
1 teean [tē-an] = 10 ans
1 an [an] = 6 or 7 padans (varies)
Thus, the year is 668.6 padans long (or in Earth time, 687 days). Note that the cycle or an [an] is a key measurement of time for religious calendars. The day or padan [pad-an] is broken down into the following units:
1 padan [pad-an] = 10 zodes = 24.62 hours
1 zode [zōd] = 50 xats = 2.47 hours
1 xat [zat] = 4 taks = 2.95 minutes
1 tak [tak] = 50 tals = 44.25 seconds
1 tal [tal] = .885 seconds
The measurement of distance is based on the circumference of Barsoom at the equator or polodona [pō-lō-dō-nâ]. This circumference or soomad [süm-ad] is broken down into the following units:
1 soomad [süm-ad] = 360 karads = 13,263 miles
1 karad [kâr-ad] = 100 haads = 36.84 miles
1 haad [â-ad] = 200 ads = 1,945.15 feet
1 ad [ad] = 10 sofads = 9.73 feet
1 sofad [sōf-ad] = 10 sofs = 11.67 inches
1 sof [sōf] = 1.17 inches
Thus, 2.71 haads is equivalent to an Earthly mile.
Bulky armor is not traditionally worn on Barsoom – it is hot and constraining. The added weight is a burden when water must be carefully rationed. Against radium weaponry, it is mostly useless and has faded from use.
fonar [fō-nâr]: The battle harness worn by fighting men does confer some protection. It has places for the standard complement of weaponry, pouches containing ammunition, fire-starting devices and a collapsible boarding hook. Though the primary purpose of the hook is to lower oneself from the deck of one airship to another, in practice, the hook is used in countless ways and numerous emergencies, such as climbing.
Weight: 6, Armor +1, Parry +1
The small cup shield used to parry during combat by the yellow men.
Weight: 8, Armor +0, Parry + 1
nas [nas]: A helmet which is a rarity on Barsoom. Still used by the remnants of the Orovars. The therns and people of Manator wear ornamented headbands that echo this ancient practice.
Weight: 3, Armor +2 (Head Only), Parry 0
“No male or female Martian is ever voluntarily without a weapon of destruction.” PM/4
All Barsoomian weapons are made of noncorrosive metal and may last for millennia. In the case of firearms, this is fortunate, since almost all rifles and pistols are heirlooms, antiques from the forgotten age when the white race ruled Barsoom. Although John Carter observed the women of the green tribes fashioning radium ammunition, he incorrectly assumed that the green men crafted their own firearms. A savage green warrior can barely fix a broken rifle, let alone understand the complex electronics required to construct a wireless finder and sighter.
adjat [ad-ĵat]: The long Barsoomian radium rifle is made from forthur alloy stocked with sorapus wood. Like all firearms on Barsoom, it uses small caliber radium bullets which only explode upon exposure to the sun’s rays. When fitted with electronic scopes, the rifle’s theoretical range is over 200 miles. However, it is generally employed at more reasonable distances.
Range 24/48/96, Dmg 2d10 (Daylight, else 2d8), RoF 1, Weight 10, Shots 15, Min Str d6, AP 4 (Daylight, else AP 1)
ahzo [â-zō]: The great spear of the green men; a 40-foot metal-shod staff tipped with a narrow leaf-shaped blade.
Dmg Str + d8, Weight 10, Min Str d8, AP 2 (Mounted Only)
dak [dak]: A long, slim dagger.
Dmg Str + d4, Weight 1
jat [ĵat]: The Barsoomian radium pistol is heavy for its size. Like all firearms on Barsoom, it uses small caliber radium bullets which only explode upon exposure to the sun’s rays.
Range 12/24/48, Dmg 2d8 (Daylight, else 2d6-1), RoF 1, Weight 5, Shots 8, Min Str d6, AP 4 (Daylight, else AP 1)
padtar [pad-târ]: The Barsoomian short sword. Usually paired with a long sword, except for the black and yellow men who use a curved variant as a primary weapon.
Dmg Str + d6, Weight 4
sag [sag]: A one-handed, short-handled war-axe or hatchet.
Dmg Str + d4, Weight 1, Min Str d6
tar [târ]: The Barsoomian long sword or rapier; the most common weapon on the planet. Although long, straight and needle-like, it does have a narrow flat side.
Dmg Str + d6, Weight 5, Min Str d6, Parry +1
thak [ŧak]: The long bow. Used extensively on Barsoom prior to the invention of radium weaponry.
Range 12/24/48, Dmg 2d6, RoF 1, Weight 3, Shots -, Min Str d6
zo [zō]: A metal-shod spear.
Dmg Str + d6, Weight 5, Min Str d6, Parry + 1
Coins are unpolished, dull-colored and oval; paper money only exists as promissory notes between individuals to be redeemed twice yearly on days of reckoning. If a man cannot pay his debts, the government does and the man must work the fields or mines to pay the debt off. Currency is based on the smallest coin, the bronze pi [pē]:
1 gold tanpi [tan-pē] = 10 teepi
1 silver teepi [tē-pē] = 10 pi
1 pi [pē] = roughly equivalent of a 1944 U.S. penny
Unless immediately fatal/mortal, most wounds can be healed.
kysab [kī-sab]: This artificial stimulant can be used during or after battle by someone with the Healing skill. They add +2 to Spirit rolls to recover from being Shaken.
Materials and Technology
ersite [ir-is]: A sedimentary stone used in fabricating benches and tables; ERB added “ite”
erthur [ir-ŧür]: white marble
forandus [fōr-ań-is]: The hardest and lightest of metals known to Barsoomians. It is used in the making of wall panels.
forthur [fōr-ŧür]: A white, light, impenetrable alloy used largely in the construction of weaponry and aircraft. Often translated into English as “aluminum steel” or “carborundum aluminium”.
kor [kōr]: The “canals” or artificial waterways dug by the ancients which bring water from the poles to the farmlands. They measure 45 haads (around 16-17 miles) across. The water is collected in immense underground reservoirs at either pole from the melting ice caps, and pumped through long conduits to the various populated centers. The water does not flood the soil, but is delivered via small tubes to the roots directly. They are bordered by rich farmlands or “cultivated districts”, groves of tall trees, farm houses and stables. The farm houses are on columns and can be raised at night or for emergencies out of harm’s way. Farm labor is supplied by convicts, prisoners of war, delinquent debtors and bachelors who are too poor to pay the “celibate tax” imposed by the red nations to encourage the raising of children. A broad highway parallels them and at regular intervals, crosses over a low bridge. The canals are patrolled by red troops. “At the intersection of our crossroad with the wide, white turnpike which cuts each cultivated district longitudinally at its exact center.”
kuljoog [kül-ĵüg]: The “obstruction evader” invented by Carthoris. A visible device switches the mechanism on or off. The instrument itself is below deck, geared both to the steering apparatus and the control levers. It is a radium generator diffusing radioactivity in all directions to a distance of 30 ads from the flier. Should this enveloping force be interrupted in any direction a delicate instrument immediately detects the irregularity, imparts an impulse to a magnetic device which in turn actuates the steering mechanism, diverting the bow of the flier away from the obstacle until the craft’s radioactivity sphere is no longer in contact with the obstruction, then she falls once more into her normal course. Should the disturbance approach from the rear, as in case of a faster-moving craft overhauling, the mechanism actuates the speed control as well as the steering gear, and the flier shoots ahead and either up or down, as the oncoming vessel is upon a lower or higher plane than herself. In aggravated cases, that is when the obstructions are many, or of such a nature as to deflect the bow more than forty-five degrees in any direction, or when the craft has reached its destination and dropped to within a hundred yards of the ground, the mechanism brings her to a full stop, at the same time sounding a loud alarm which will instantly awaken the pilot.
ptangman [ţaŋ-man]: The great atmosphere factory of Helium is a huge building (four square miles, 200 ft. high) that contains the machinery which produces that artificial atmosphere that sustains life on Barsoom. It was conceived and built by the red men. The secret of the entire process hinges on the use of the ninth ray. There is always sufficient reserve of the ninth ray to maintain the atmosphere for a thousand years. The only fear is that an accident might befall the pumping apparatus: a battery of twenty redundant radium pumps. The walls are 150 ft. thick and the roof is made of shatter-proof glass. It has only one entrance, composed of three doors, each twenty feet thick, controlled by a series of thought waves as encryption. Two red men maintain the facility in half-year shifts. There is a smaller plant in the northern province of Marentina that supplies air to the domed polar cities of Okar.
urtith [ür-tiŧ]: The “destination control compass” invented by Carthoris – a combination autopilot and global positioning system. Set its pointer upon any spot on Barsoom; open the throttle and then lie down and go to sleep. An airship equipped with this device will carry its pilot to the specified destination, drop within a hundred yards or so of the ground and stop, while an alarm awakens the crew.
“The sky was black with naval vessels and private and public pleasure craft, flying long streamers of gay-colored silks, and banners and flags of odd and picturesque design.” PM/21
Like on Earth, naval battles were once fought upon vast expanses of ocean. The mighty seas of Barsoom have long since evaporated. In the absence of water upon which to sail, Barsoomians harness the power of the eighth ray of propulsion to sail upon light among the clouds in gravity-defying airships, known as fliers or zar [zâr]. Airship design evokes the shape of extinct fish that once swam in the oceans. Specialized solar panels capture the eighth ray, transferring it to buoyancy reservoirs for lift and noiseless radium engines to impel the craft. All airships possess searchlights and a compass or tith [tiŧ], but only those allied with Helium have the destination control compass or the obstruction evader. Military airships are armed with radium cannons, rapid-fire radium guns and bomb batteries.
Fliers are kept in hangars on the tops of buildings; the tallest reserved for inter-city travel. Military craft on the roof of barracks are guarded and require authority (dwar or higher rank) or written permits to take out. Great merchant and passenger vessels ply back and forth between the cities of red men. Airships fly pennons and banners to proclaim their status as warships, peaceful envoys, merchant freighters, scientific vessels, passenger liners or pleasure craft. They are also often painted with insignias of city-states or noble houses. Airships have horns for signaling alarms and battle orders. Though they come in many shapes, there are eight basic sizes of fliers:
ayzar [é-zâr]: A one-man flier primarily used for scouting and personal use. Its body is sixteen feet long and two feet wide, tapering to a point at the ends. It is equipped with a small toolkit for emergency repairs. At full throttle, it can reach a velocity of 1,100 haads per zode (166 mph). The fliers of Helium have experimented with a new design that doubles that speed by incorporating an accumulator inside its hull; the details are jealously guarded. At these speeds, pilots must use the safety straps and wear cowls to protect from the rush of the wind.
kozar [kō-zâr]: A two-man flier primarily used for long-range scouting.
enzar [en-zâr]: A five-man flier primarily used for city patrols.
teezar [tē-zâr]: A light or scout cruiser with a crew of 10-15. It is the most popular size for pleasure craft.
enteezar [en-tē-zâr]: A destroyer with a crew of around 50.
tanzar [tan-zâr]: A cruiser with a crew of 100-200.
darzar [dâr-zâr]: A battleship with a crew of around 1,000. They bristle with big guns.
makzar [mak-zâr]: A dreadnought with a crew of close to 10,000. These vessels serve as airship carriers, literally floating hangars for vast battle groups. With lighter armaments (and no bomb batteries), this size vessel is used as a transport for infantry and cavalry.
tinnar [tin-nâr]: Technically not an airship, the “equilibrimotor” is a one-man flying harness. A special belt equipped to process the eighth ray with sufficient strength to propel a person through the air. Small, adjustable wings provide maneuverability.
“By now the ships of Helium had opened fire and shells were exploding about the leading ships of the Jaharian fleet—shells so nicely timed that they can be set to explode at any point up to the extreme range of the gun that discharges them. It takes nice gunnery to synchronize the timing with the target.” FMM/15
angith [aŋ-iŧ]: An incendiary bomb. A standard bomb rack occupies 1 hardpoint, delivers 1 bomb per round and stores 6 bombs.
Range dropped, Dmg 6d10, RoF and Shots based on delivery system, Weight 30, AP 4, Large Burst Template
Tinth [Tin-iŧ]: The “Flying Death”. A seeking torpedo invented by Phor Tak. When launched it will follow and make contact with the object to which it has been attuned and explode.
rasjat [ras-ĵat]: The rapid-fire radium gun.
Range 24/48/96, Dmg 2d10 (Daylight, else 2d8), RoF 3, Weight 32, Shots 150, AP 2
karjat [kâr-ĵat]: The radium cannon. Green men have perfected their own version of this for ground artillery.
Range 40/80/160, Dmg 4d8 (Daylight, else 3d6), RoF 1, Weight 18, Shots 5, AP 4, Medium Burst Template (daylight Only)
falis [fal-is]: The disintegrating ray invented by Phor Tak. three types of rays; one would disintegrate metal, another would disintegrate wood and the third would disintegrate human flesh. Can be protected by blue paint It projects an invisible ray, the vibrations of which effect such a change in the constitution of metals as to cause them to disintegrate. these rays change the polarity of the protons in metallic substances, releasing the whole mass as free electrons. I have also heard the theory expounded that Phor Tak, in his investigation, discovered that the fundamental principle underlying time, matter and space are identical, and that what the rays projected from his rifle really accomplish is to translate any mass of metal upon which it is directed into the most elementary constituents of space.
In addition to riding beasts, Barsoomians possess ground transportation vehicles. In the arctic nations of the north, the “flier” or zar [zâr] is a wheeled motor vehicle with tires filled with the eighth ray. It possesses just enough power to bounce and turn its way around. The red men have “ground fliers” or zaras [zâr-as] too. Wealthy Barsoomians own slaves to drive. For the greater part they skim along the surface, soaring gracefully into the air at times to pass over a slower-going driver ahead, or at intersections, where the north and south traffic has the right of way and the east and west must rise above it.
Helium has a mass transportation system in the form of pneumatic tubes or malmanjat [mal-man-ĵat] that connect Greater and Lesser Helium. The conical-nosed projectiles for this giant air gun measure one ad (9.75 feet). At stations, attendants open and close the arched lids to assist passengers in and out of the upholstered cabins; the rider sets the desired location on the nose before entering. The projectiles move in slow procession on a grooved track to the appropriate tube where it whizzes off to its location.
The green men employ brightly-colored chariots. They have enormous, broad tires and are pulled by zitidars driven by goads.
“What forbidden magic is this?" FMM/13