Kartos of Pakku (StevenR) - Adaptable Explorer
Jaxti Jarr (Tammy) - Canny Scientist
Padan 1 (Late), Teean 1, Ord 1
As the servant girl, Jwa, returns with some refreshments, Dwar Selmm Jakka asks the player characters what they have been told about their assignment so far.
Padan -3: Jaxti Jarr is summoned to the office of Lara Jhoris, the Guild Mistress of the Institute of Science in the city of Saradin. Jaxti is impressed with the splendour of the office, and the massive collection of written works, and after the two share refreshments and engage in a bit of banter, Lara Jhoris gets to the point. Jaxti is being sent on a scientific expedition that is being sent from Pakku in 2 padans. The institute will be paying for her commercial airship transport to Pakku the next padan. She is to meet in Pakku with Korvis Than, a Zodangan scientist, there. She will learn more about the assignment from him. Lara tells her to make what arrangements she needs to, though she tells Jaxti in answer to her question that she doesn’t know now long the assignment will be.
Meanwhile, in Pakku, Kartos of Pakku is asked to come visit noted scientist and explorer Alme Sarr. Upon his arrival at Sarr’s home, he is escorted into the explorer’s office. Sarr tells Kartos that there is an exploratory mission that offers itself, departing from Pakku in three padans. He suggests that Kartos would be perfect for the job, and tells him that he is to meet with Zodangan scientist Korvis Than the next evening, where is will be able to learn more. Kartos asks why Sarr thought of him for the mission, and the scientist/explorer says that he seems to have the right skill set for the job. Kartos thanks him for his time and for thinking of him, and departs.
Padan -2: At the appointed time, Kartos arrives at the mansion of Korvis Than on the outskirts of Pakku. It is obviously the home of a diplomat and envoy, its wealth being somewhat ostentatious and with a bit of a martial flavour to it. On arriving, Kartos is met at the door by a manservant, Halm, and when he introduces himself Halm takes him straight to a “small” antechamber that is filled with the Zodangan’s weaponry and other assorted gifts and items he’s received hanging on the walls, decorating several tables, and in bookcases and tapestries. He’s impressed. A servant, Jadd, enters and says that they are waiting on another invitee, and that in the meantime, he offers Kartos some refreshment. The explorer accepts some water.
Shortly thereafter, Jaxti Jarr arrives at the mansion by personal flier, somewhat tired still from the trip to Pakku from Saradin. As she walks towards the extravagant mansion, she wonders about the security in place but doesn’t see anything obvious. At the main entrance, she is surprised and astonished by what at first appear to be two large pillars, but realizes they are ancient robots of some sort, well covered in patina, facing away from the entrance itself, and standing around 7 sofads tall. She is so occupied with the robots that she fails to hear the door open. The manservant Halm greets her, and takes her to the antechamber where Kartos of Pakku is already waiting.
The two talk about matters after introducing themselves to one another, and it is obvious that Jaxti is sizing up Kartos. (Perhaps finding him somewhat wanting?) She tells him about herself, but he is somewhat secretive and doesn’t reveal that much. They are curious as to why they’ve been asked to the Zodangan scientist’s home, and Jaxti expresses some concern with all the martial items and feel of the place on display. She walks around, looking at some of the wondrous items on display, and wonders what sort of diplomat he can be given the martial nature of the place. Halm interrupts them, but before he can speak, Korvis Than enters the room.
Than is a somewhat tall (for a red Martian) man with very dark skin but muscular and physically fit. Jaxti notices that he’s wearing a radium pistol attached to his harness, which bears the livery of Zodanga and something else that she presumes is a scientific symbol from his home city as well. They sit, Korvis Than behind a large, ornate desk, and after exchanging pleasantries, the Zodangan envoy gets down to business.
Korvis Than informs the characters that a set of ruins was unearthed by a Barsoomian sandstorm some 3 ords ago, in the buffer zone between the Principality of Karakh and the Baltan Confederacy. The ruined city of Tharsis lies some 2,100 haads from Johor of the Principality and some 1,400 haads from Jacca in the Confederacy. Jaxti and Kartos recall that Johor was founded by Principality dissidents who settled at the closest range to the Baltan Confederacy but still being part of the Principality. It is known as a central trading post with the red Nomad tribes. By contrast, Jacca is said to be a veritable thieves den where anything on Barsoom can be found for a price and has a famed slave market. Kartos adds that the area where the ruins are is also part of the territory claimed by the Thoxx horde of green Martians. When asked whether other expeditions have been to Tharsis, Korvis says that he was one of the team of (independent) diplomats who negotiated a deal between the Principality and the Confederacy to share what’s found in Tharsis and observe the peace while there. That took 3 years to negotiate, but Kartos feels there’s more that Korvis Than isn’t saying. Korvis Than tells the characters they have the rest of the evening and the early part of next morning to prepare and make their arrangements. They are to board their transport at the Pakku airship docks, at Berth 22, the next day around mid-morning. With that, Korvis Than dismisses them.
Padan 1 (Early evening): Back on board the Hantaas, Dwar Jakka asks if the player characters have any other questions that he can answer. When asked, he tells Kartos and Jaxti that the Hantaas will remain at a high altitude, hopefully out of surveillance range of other parties that might be interested in the ruins of Tharsis. He says that he’ll provide them with hand mirror communications equipment, adding that the altitude being maintained will also allow for bringing the radium cannons to bear on matters if necessary. Jaxti says she knew about the forward cannon, but Jakka surprises her when he tells her they also have an aft cannon on the Hantaas. Opening the map case that he brought with him, he shows them the hand-drawn map of Tharsis made by the explorer Val Drys. Kartos recalls that Drys is an eccentric, brilliant, famous explorer who was born in the Confederacy but now dwells in the Principality. Jakka tells them that he was the lone survivor of an expedition that came back from Tharsis - but that his mind was broken. Both Kartos and Jaxti examine the map at Dwar Jakka’s invitation, but there is no scale and the map drawing is crude. Jaxti points out the pillar that seems in the heart of the ruins. Since Val Drys emphasized the pillar or statue, perhaps it has some importance...
The Ruins of Tharsis map
Dwar Jakka mentions again the presence of the Thoxx, since it is likely they have made their presence felt in the ruins of Tharsis the last three ords. He asks if they want a capable swordsman to accompany them, but both Kartos and Jaxti veto that, since there’s obviously some reason why a small party was desired in the first place. Looking at the map, Jakka asks them if they have a particular place where they’d like to put down at or near the ruins, but Kartos says they’ll wait to pick a landing spot when they get closer to the ruins so they can see the actual lay of the land.
The next few padans pass uneventfully, the player characters and the crew of the Hantaas eager to spot the ruins and see the lay of the land. Late on the afternoon of the fourth padan, Freeia finds Kartos and Jaxti in their quarters and tells them that they can see the ruins pretty close now, but still in the distance. Both Kartos and Jaxti go up on deck, approaching Dwar Jakka, who gestures ahead of the airship. Kartos peers ahead with his field glasses, but can’t make out any detail at this distance still - though he sees a light of some sort emanating from the ruins. Whatever it is must be very bright to be seen this far away. Jaxti borrows his field glasses, and see the light as well but doesn’t sense any form of movement. She spots what might be four-armed figures in the direction of the hills, and she and Kartos both comment on “green Martians” at the same time. [She spends 3 Momentum to ask questions here.] She also says that she can see some wreckage in the northwest part of the ruins but can’t make out clearly what it is. Dwar Jakka tells them that there’s still some zodes of travel to reach the ruins, so they had best get some rest. The Hantaas continues to fly on during the night.
Padan 5: The player characters awake around mid-morning, and learn that they are approaching the ruined city of Tharsis. After their morning ablutions and a quick breakfast, they go on deck, Kartos remembering to bring his field glasses. The two see that the majority of the crew not engaged in their duties are looking at the ruins of Tharsis, which are still in the distance. They talk for a few moments with Dwar Jakka, and then concentrate on seeing what they can of the ruins ahead of them. They wait somewhat longer as the Hantaas gets closer to the ruins, though still at the high elevation, not talking, just observing.
After a while, both characters see that the ruins of Tharsis are much larger than they had expected, though they cannot make out too many specific details at this distance. Kartos uses his field glasses [and spends a Threat], and can make out the pillar in the centre of the city ruins though he does not see any light at all. He estimates the ruins are roughly the size of perhaps Holl or even Karakh itself, but can’t be certain. There is some movement that he can make out, but nothing that stands out. The riverbed is revealed as canals, though long since dried up. He can see there are quite a few intact, or semi-intact, structures. Jaxti borrows his field glasses, and is able to see quite a lot [she spends 2 Threat and 1 Momentum, and generates 6 Momentum!]: she sees movement in the ruins, that she claims are banths, and spots another furtive movement near a building that might be a white ape. Looking to the northwest, she sees what is indeed wreckage at the edge of the ruins, and believes it to be a downed flier! Turning her attention to the hills, she sees what looks like a sea of green on the side of the hills near the ruins - a green Martian horde. Kartos suggests that this is the Thoxx, the dominant horde in this part of Barsoom, and highly intelligent. He tells the Dwar what he has seen, and Jakka is not all that happy about this. As the Hantaas comes within range of the city ruins, they also find themselves in range of the green Martian weapons! As the Dwar and his padwar, Samja, take evasive maneuvers the ship is struck once and then again. The Hantaas tries several maneuvers, but the green Martians are getting the range, and eventually two shots cause Dwar Jakka to take dangerous evasive maneuvers that cause several crew members, including Jaxti, to nearly go overboard.
As the Dwar starts to move the Hantaas to higher elevation and slightly away from the ruins, a barrage of radium rifle shots from the green Martians damage one of the 8th ray projectors and storage tanks. The Hantaas lists dangerously, and one of the crew starts to go overboard. Jaxti heroically goes to the edge of the rail and reaches out and barely manages to grasp the falling man’s hand [she spends 2 Momentum and a Threat, but rolls 3 successes and a Complication]; however, the yawing of the airship causes her to start to tip over the edge of the railing even while gripping the crewman! Seeing what’s about to happen, Kartos risks his life and manages to grab Jaxti before she and the crewman go overboard [he spends 1 Threat, 2 Momentum and a Luck point], and by sheer strength of will pulls them back onto the Hantaas, which slowly starts to right herself and head for open air. The crewman, Ferd, thanks them both for rescuing him, as he wasn’t really to meet Issus just yet. Jaxti merely nods in Kartos’s direction, acknowledging his efforts as well. Radium shots from below continue to be fired, but miss the airship (though some narrowly).
Once the Hantaas reaches altitude out of range of the green Martians, the wobbly vessel is evaluated by two of the crew. Kartos and Jaxti are nearby when Samja reports to the Dwar that one of the storage tanks for the 8th ray is leaking badly, impinging on the ray device to support part of the airship. Hence the wobble, and the listing of the vessel to starboard. Jaxti surprises herself, when Dwar Jakka asks for knowledgeable volunteers willing to go over the side and under the airship at this altitude and with the fierce winds to repair the damage, and she does so. [Her Talent to Fix It makes her the logical candidate.] She admits to never having done anything like this before, but Freeia re-assures her that she’ll be quite safe. With a descent rope and a safety line attached to her, Jaxti goes over the side, swaying in the strong wind [she spends a Momentum], and makes her descent. Using the equilibrimotor she’s been given, she moves under the hull and finds the damage a bit more extensive than expected. She starts work [spending a Luck and a Momentum] and manages to finish within 1-1/2 zodes. As she rises back to the deck of the Hantaas, she can feel the airship stabilizing somewhat and the lift of the vessel becoming steady.
Once on the deck of the airship, Jaxti receives the thanks of Dwar Jakka and the rest of the crew of the Hantaas for her hard work. She doesn’t say much, but does admit that it was exhilarating but that it’s not something she wants to do on a regular basis. Jakka tells her and Kartos that after she’s cleaned herself up and recovered somewhat, he’d like to see the two of them in his cabin. They need to reevaluate matters and discuss things.
Sunday's game session of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game campaign was a decent session of the game, had a little bit of everything, and gave the players and their characters some action and a bit of drama in the last hour of the game session. Both players were pretty pleased at the game session's conclusion, but there will be some discussion about whether to give the players an NPC fighter type (perhaps a panthan?) to aid in their endeavours in the ruins of Tharsis.
A fun session of the game and I'm looking forward to running the next Sunday session of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game campaign. However, Tammy is working the next two weekends, and she's not sure what August will bring yet work-wise, so I'm not sure when the next session will be!