Cavaliers of Mars is out! Here’s a sample of some of the kinds of characters you can create and encounter on the sands and cities of Mars, in the form of two Careers and one of the Peoples.
Adepts are those skilled in the psychic arts. A few are prodigies, whose abilities develop naturally during their youths. Others are “gifted” after being struck with terrible illnesses or tragedies. Most, however, learn the arts through long and arduous study. Potential adepts are brought up as ascetics, earning the right to speak or to eat only by performing feats of right to speak or to eat only by performing feats of the mind.
While numerous orders attempt this training, true adepts are few and far between. Some orders, such as the Roundheads, combine psychic training with the mastery of mathematics or other sciences. Certainly, the results of these methods speak for themselves, as most Roundheads demonstrate uncanny mental powers. Others combine the arts with ecstatic religious experiences, believing that the alternation of deprivation and excess can stretch the boundaries of the mind.
Adepts are feared by common Martians, but not unduly so. The average Martian cannot guess at the powers of a psychic opponent, while he knows the adept’s estimation of him will be flawless. Adepts find employment as priests, advisors, and, in some unusual cases, courtesans.
Trappings: A faint crackle in the air, as if before a storm.
Hired killers take many forms on Mars. Some are elite warriors, able to best even the most dangerous of opponents in single combat. Others are more subtle, as adept at intrigue as poison. And many are simple butchers, blunt instruments moved into the right place at the right time.
Career assassins work for hire, and are usually found in the employ of one wealthy interest or another. In Vance, assassination is a common ploy in the politics of the merchant houses. There, political murder is considered primarily the crime of the patron, rather than the hand that wields the knife. In Ziggur, assassins pursue prey more vulnerable here than elsewhere, or find employment with the small, but dedicated, cells of revolutionaries.
A few assassins wander the desert paths, spending years tracking a single quarry, and striking them down at the most poetic possible moment.
Trappings: Poison, small blades, a disguise.
Other careers include: Astrologer, Cavalier, Courtesan, Entertainer, Fixer, Laborer, Merchant, Noble, Physician, Pilot, Priest, Scavenger, Scholar, Servant, Soldier, Thief
The Red Martians
Of all the Martians, the Reds are small, slow, and frail. It is amazing they have survived as well as they have considering all these weaknesses. Their strengths, though: Perseverance, intelligence, and wit clearly make up for all other lacks.
– Excerpts from Tiendle’s Anatomy of a Martian
An ambitious people full of passionate desires and reckless abandon, the Red Martians are the most numerous of the remaining people on Mars. They live along the canals in expansive city-states, and cling to life in dust-towns where the wells have all but dried up. Others travel well-worn caravan routes across the endless deserts. Their society is fractious, with many different governing bodies controlling one city or another, and those who travel between or live on the edges seek to find a niche to maintain a livelihood.
Red Martians claim to be the direct descendants of the First Martians, making them superior to both their distant relatives, the Roundheads, and the Pale Martians. They have long since abandoned the ruined cities of the First Martians, and leave those strange wonders to the Pale Martians. Both groups look upon the Red Martians with disdain for abandoning the wealth of knowledge and heritage remaining in the ruins of the First Martians.
Red Martians are not actually red, but instead range from tan to dark brown with a coppery undertone to their skin, and have hair that ranges from coppery to deep black, thin and wavy to thick and curly and sometimes even kinky. They have deep-set, expressive eyes and hard-edged, yet rounded, facial features.
Red Martians follow a multitude of different religions, tending to fall into whatever faith the prevailing city or culture they live near follows. The Reds have a strange phenomenon of developing mystery cults to one unknown technology or element or another. Some entire city-states are ruled by these cults. The most popular Red Martian religion is the Church of the Damsel Messiah.
Red Martian cities include Vance, Zodiac, Illium, and Chiaro, and they live alongside the Pale Martians in Surtur.
The People of the Labyrinth
The rumors are many and varied. Cannibal tribes run by a magical woman, people who can create water out of nothing, glowing plants and animals that give any who eat them mystical powers. I’m going to find out for myself what lies in the Labyrinth of Night once and for all.
– The last entry in the diary of Diokel, explorer
Soon after the First Martians disappeared, as the Red Martians made their way across the planet to settle cities, a group of voyagers made their way into the Wyeth Valley. They did not make contact with the Wyeth, but instead traveled far to the northernmost tip of the canyon, a place where the sun cannot reach, and found a wondrous landscape of luminous ?ora and fauna. They built a city there and lived in a perpetual twilight within the glowing cavern. As the years passed and the city became prosperous, trade between the Red Martians and the Wyeth ?ourished, despite the Wyeth’s misgivings about the Reds living so close to their homeland.
One night a bright light fell from the sky and all communication between the Red Martians in the Labyrinth of Night and those outside was shut off. Some claim the Reds in the Labyrinth all died that night and the city they built is a vast abandoned wasteland. Others claim the light was the landing of an alien creature from the amber star, Venus. Those who have traveled to the Labyrinth since then come back with wild stories. One described an indoctrinated people who devoutly worship alien gods under the sway of a Venusian witch-queen, who attempted to control her through magic before she made a daring escape. Another told a tale in which he discovered a nearly-abandoned city with a giant monolith in the center, one whose construction he could not determine and that was vastly different from even First Martian artifacts. Yet another told of barely surviving a strange tempest within the canyon and being nursed back to health by a Red female in a dark city lit to dazzling beauty with brightly glowing flowers and lichen. While not all stories and rumors about the area can be believed, most Martians are certain the Reds living in the city are still there in some form or another.
The Qans and Ozaks
They kill us, we kill them. It is a war older than any of us, and I’m not even sure why it’s going on. All I know, is that if I don’t do something first, it will be my body that’s burning in the field to keep the fungus at bay.
– Serenai, Clan Chieftain of the South Plains Ozaks
Long ago, on the plains of Cimmeria, reigned the great Qan Empire. At the height of the Qans’ power, they ruled over the Ozaks. The Ozaks were farmers and sometimes sellswords, but all their efforts went unwillingly towards the service of the Qans. The Qans did not even bother to grow their own food, instead taking what they needed from the Ozaks. The Ozaks sought ways to free themselves, and had even begun to organize a resistance when the presence of the purple fungus was frst noticed. No one really knows where the fungus came from, or how it first spread along the Cimmeria plains, but its presence gave the Ozaks the leverage they needed to rise up against the Qans.
The first reports of dead bodies rising from their graves sent cities all across the Cimmeria plains into a fearful frenzy. The Ozaks took advantage of the heightened state of paranoia and turned on their masters. Of course, those dead bodies also rose from the grave to eventually infect more people with the fungus. Soon the Qan blamed the Ozaks for the phenomenon and they declared war.
With most of the Qans’ infrastructure lost to the Ozaks, including food and grain stores, the Qans took to raiding Ozak camps to steal necessary supplies. And where the bloodshed went, the fungus followed. Within a single generation, the Cimmerian plains were covered in the fungus, and the Qan and Ozak survivors learned to compensate for the fungus. Still, to this day, when any of the remaining Qan or Ozak people meet one another, it ends in bloodshed, which only serves to feed the fungus.
The Ozak people have always been very practical, with roots in hard work and suffering for their people. All Ozaks train as warriors, as well as any other duty they may perform for their clan. When an Ozak is too old or injured to continue fighting, she retires to a monastery and devotes her life to religious callings.
Other Peoples of Mars include: The Roundheads, the Pale Martians, the Skarruts, the Wyeth, the Zaius