Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

So Much Mars Series Coverage, You Won’t Be Able to Stand It!

Okay, I can’t take it anymore.

I mean, really. Literary criticism? Me? Yeah, right. Who’m I kiddin’? I wanna talk games, so here it is: over four thousand words on a nice moldy game that nobody cares about!

RETROSPECTIVE: Warriors of Mars by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume

Just feast yourself on that succulent gaming wonder!

Oh, but there is a literary connection here. Now, I know people are sick to death of three things right now. They don’t want to hear one darn thing more about consultancygate, the Hugo awards, or the significance of Edgar Rice Burroughs. But I’m going to wade into that last bit one more time anyway because this is important. (Also… I dropped the ball back when I covered Princess of Mars the first time around. Hey, what can I say? I was completely overwhelmed by the awesomeness of Dejah Thoris!)

But let’s get one thing straight here. Burroughs was hugely influential to Jerry Siegel, Ray Bradbury, James Cameron, George Lucas, Gary Gygax, and scads of other creators. He also, as Ryan Harvey says over at The Black Gate, “re-shaped popular fiction, helped change the United States into a nation of readers, and created the professional fiction writer.” The fact that Burroughs went from being a household name to becoming all but unknown in the past forty years is crazy. The fact that Burroughs is a prime inspiration for Superman, Star Wars, and Dungeons & Dragons is undeniably astonishing. People don’t know this stuff and if they could find out about it they would be shocked.

The fact that the gamers at the local game store don’t know and don’t care about Appendix N literature? Irrelevant. Tell me more about how ignorant people are…! Oh, you say, “Nobody but guys like James Maliszewski, Wayne Rossi, and Jeff Rients are at all influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs at the tabletop.” Horse hockey! If we’re playing role playing games at all, then we’re influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Even more so if we’re playing something with a planetary romance or a superhero theme. Just because we don’t have an explicit green cavalry charge in our game session doesn’t change the facts. We’re influenced by the man whether we appropriate his shticks directly or not.

If saying that’s “yellow journalism,” then hey… call me Jeffro Sinclair. ‘Cause I’m gonna keep sayin’ it!

Okay, I have to say it. James Maliszewski is a better writer than me. A lot of people are better writers than me. But how many of those better writers are doing an in-depth series on Appendix N? None! Heh. And hey… if I can’t emulate their cogency then I’ll quote them directly whenever they completely outdo me. They only make me that much more of an Appendix N Juggernaut! BWA-HA-HA!

Retrospective: Warriors of Mars (Grognardia) — “Though largely unknown today — to the point where the ignorant have suggested that the movie John Carter is ripping off the innumerable films inspired by Burroughs — the Barsoom novels were hugely influential for decades. They are, in many respects, the wellspring from which contemporary fantasy and science fiction flow, even if the debt both genres owe to these seminal books is often unacknowledged. Gary Gygax, though, was not shy in acknowledging the debt he owed to Burroughs. He mentioned his name in both OD&D and in Appendix N of his AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide and the Greyhawk campaign included at least one expedition to the red sands of Barsoom.”

I totally missed this bit about the miniatures rules’ background. Oh, and Thomas Denmark paid $364 for his copy back in 2011. The thing’s rare!

Warriors of Mars (Original Edition Fantasy) — “If you don’t know the history of this book it is really quite interesting. Gary and Brian put this together without permission from the Burroughs estate, and were almost immediately told to cease printing and selling these books when it was published. So I don’t think there are a whole lot of copies out there.”

Oh, and then there’s this bit on the forums, some other old school controversy that I’m not completely up on:

Dave’s influence in TSR’s Warriors of Mars? (Original D&D Discussion) “Combat round are listed as 1 minute for large scale battles but only 10 seconds for 1-to-1 battles.”

Did I miss anything else? Throw a link up in the comments. Let’s nail this sucker down. We got a lot of books to cover…!

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