Thursday, March 26, 2015

WotRP - Exploring Your Own Red Planet

Its your Red Planet
One of the most important sections of the Warriors of the Red Planet is the "Playing the Game" section, starting on page 39. This is where we can delve into the heart of Sword & Planet gaming - the world you're gaming in. Rules for characters and combat are all well and good, but what often makes a campaign unique is its environment. A good table top RPG takes place predominantly in what we like to call the "Theater of the Mind", and years later, when you're bragging about the exploits of your 9th level Mentalist, its the images your GM evokes during play that make the adventures memorable.

A Weird & Wild Ride
Warriors of the Red Planet divides its attention into 3 primary locales: the Wilderness, the Underworld, and Urban Settings. In most Sword & Planet settings, the vast, untamed wilderness serves sort of the same purpose the Oceans serve in more traditional, Medieval Europe type games - its a vast emptiness, best traversed in ships (the aerial sort, in our case), with wild ports of call to stop in at, strange islands of vegetation and isolated enclaves, and beneath it all a dark Underworld of mystery and deadly hazards.

Warriors of the Red Planet encourages GMs to let the players stop and smell the roses at bit - not every interesting aspect of an adventure happens at the end of a sword. Make a big deal out the of the landmarks and oddities of the alien environment. Over there are towering spears of Violet crystal, their razor-sharp tips poking nearly a mile into the sky. Over here is the domed edifice of a lost civilization, its ancient machinery still sending throbs through the bedrock of the desolate wastelands.

When the Well is Dry
While plenty of inspiration for your Red Planet is to be found in the books of authors like Burroughs, Kline, and Moorcock, the true joy of Sword & Planet gaming is coming up with a world of your own. And for those times when the creative juice just aren't flowing the way you'd like them to, WotRP is packed with page after page of random tables to get your creative fires lit. From random encounter tables featuring more than 100 new monsters, to tables allowing you to generate names, ruins, adventure hooks, monuments, artifacts of Weird Science, flora, relics, settlements, vehicles, buildings, and the straight-up "unexplainable".

My Red Planet
For my own corner of the Red Planet, I came up with the Cerulean Rift - a mile-deep, two-hundred mile long rift in the surface of the planet. Getting there takes some doing - either hire or buy some expensive airship transportation, or risk the long and costly overland journey. The Rift itself is a microcosm of what the Red Planet used to be before its rise and fall - humid jungles, seeping swamps, and deadly cave complexes. It has its share of lost cities, wondrous ruins, and hidden treasures, and even its own fragile political structure. Built into the cliffs at one point, overlooking the rift floor, is a noble city - Thorium, capital of Nar Harak, the Red Warlord. From Thorium, adventurers can indulge in political intrigue, mount expeditions into the untamed wilderness of the rift floor, or venture into the unmapped mazes of the Underworld.


  1. Very nice. But is this game rules lite and fast to learn in terms of mechanics?

  2. Thorium? Nice... ;)

  3. Sounds good and I WANT IT!
    But the term "beta edition" stops me, because the postage is so high, that I would prefer to buy the final editon. Is there a chance to buy the PDFs anywhere? This would be so cool!

  4. Sounds very cool. The most attractive thing in WotRP seems to be the Wilderlands Relics and Ruins style lists for generating random encounters, adventure hooks, settlements, relics, etc.

    On your advice to check out Wilderlands I downloaded some cheap PDFs and as a general structure, they're great stuff. Back in the day, anything that didn't have TSR's high production values and brand didn't appeal to me. Now I find the structures of generating ideas and encounters are worth a lot more than good artwork without a lot of substance. Although, I love great artwork, too.

    Speaking of artwork, there was the animated flick "Fire and Ice" I just watched, and it came with a second DVD, "Painting With Fire," a documentary about Frank Frazetta's art and life. It gave me a much better appreciation for the man as a child prodigy- artist, and athlete. Since you're a fan of Frazetta, it's well worth checking out.

  5. I have to say I really enjoy this game and I think you guys knocked it out of the ballpark with this one. The format might seem small, but there is a LOT of creativity packed into that book that really explodes science fantasy gaming in a way I haven't seen any other OSR game do. I added a wee bit and a weird planet way out there and the game flows from there.

  6. Do you know if Thomas Denmark will be selling copies at Kublacon again this year?

  7. Just ordered my copy of WotRP from Lulu.

    This should be a nifty resource. Lulu wants to add $5 to get you your mail in 2-5 days, which doesn't sit well with me, since the U.S. mail shouldn't take that long to process a small book sized package, anyways. Lulu is claiming that normal mail (which I chose) will get me the book in 5-15 days. Sigh. It'll be worth it, though, in the end!

  8. @ Douglas Michel,

    I'm in the S.F. Bay Area, and haven't ever been to a convention. I looked online and saw that Kublacon is out by the S.F. Airport and runs something like $40.00 to attend.

    Any pointers on going to one of these conventions for parking, food, rush hour traffic jams, avoiding scams, etc?

    The roster of events looked to be all D&D related, and I didn't see much else. Did I just miss it, or does Kublacon have anything related to Runequest, Tunnels & Trolls, Traveller, or other old school games other than TSR/WotC?

  9. @ Randal Glyph - The rpg offerings are heavily weighted towards D&D and pathfinder, though there are a few old school hacks in there. The con is fairly evenly divided between RPG's and Tabletoptop/ board games although there is also a fairly healthy mini's offering also. Parking can be a challenge at that location, but the hyatt runs a free shuttle to SFO that runs every 20 mins. so you could catch the Bart out there and then grab the shuttle. I always bring a supply of powerbars and a drink bottle with me, 'cause hotel food is expensive, there are quite a few places to eat within walking distance.

  10. I'm starting to think "Beta" was a poor term to use lol - for the record, Warriors of the Red Planet is a complete and fully playable game. We just wanted to let players know that their input matters - while we may make little tweaks in the future, or release "special" editions, what you buy on Lulu is the game, and will never be obsolete. A good example of this is Swords & Wizardry, which WotRP has a lot in common with. Its been through a few "different" iterations, but the earliest released versions are pretty much the same as the latest, with a few tweaks.

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