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"18th C. swashbuckling on Mars or in Mu?" Topic

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6,375 hits since 25 Sep 2012
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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abdul666lw Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 4:22 a.m. PST

(or 1745 – Maurice de Saxe on Mars
TMP link )
Hooked to 18th C. wargaming by C. Grant's 'The War Game' I also read much SF, so like to toy with ideas about combining both. Not 'high tech' Starship Trooper type SF, the technologies would be far too unbalanced. But *Barsoomian sword and planet*: cloudships and radium rifles notwithstanding John Carter (or Dray Prescott) live typical swashbuckling adventures, where swordplay is as prominent as in 'The 3 Musketeers' (to be perfectly honest, images of Dejah Thoris link may have be influential).

But I like Lace Wars tactics and mid-18th C. wargaming *as they are* and don't wish to end playing VSF or Weird World War I with figurines in tricorne: how to suppress any excessive butterfly effect?


For traditional contraptions (steamtanks…), it suffices to keep them barely less inefficient than their historical models: Puckle's machine gun, Cugnot's fardier link, Jouffroy's pyroscaphe link… (which does not prevent them to be fully efficient a century later, by early Victorian times). An enlightened ruler of the Age of Reason with a fascination for mechanics may have prototypes built, but if on the battlefield they turn more often than not to be expensive embarrassments they'll not widespread, leaving tabletop tactics and outcomes unaffected.

The difficulty is mostly with functional air vehicles, who would immediately change the nature of warfare, specially at sea or during sieges -not to speak of the impact at off-table level.
Aether ships allowing interplanetary travel but for some reason not functional within the atmosphere (requiring balloons to take-off, deflated and used as hang gliding 'wings' for re-entry ?) would not affect ground (or sea) warfare,


but on the other hand the image of eye-candy models of skyships with baroque rococo decoration is tempting. Thus a 'butterfly net' is required.

A possibility is to have them functional on Mars but not on Earth? Suppose 'cosmic waves' -a fossil radiation from the center of the galaxy- with 'interesting' properties, but repulsed by the solar wind. Additionally several layers of the upper atmosphere (ozone layer, ionosphere ?), the Van Allen radiation belt… absorb them. But on Mars the solar winds are weaker (square of distance) and the structure of upper atmosphere and magnetosphere may be different, allowing the cosmic waves to reach the ground. Billions of years of bombardment by the cosmic waves transmuted part of an element (magnesium?) into *cavorium*, this odd metal the salts of which form cavorite. Cavorium absorbs the energy of the cosmic waves, gaining strong antigravitational properties; excess of absorbed energy is re-emitted in a form that with suitable techniques can be used as a source of power.
Now cavorite is nowhere abundant enough to be exploited as an ore, but fortunately there is the *Lightwood plant*. Requiring cavorium as a cofactor for some essential enzymatic reactions it grows only on soil (relatively) rich in cavorite, but its main interest is that it accumulates cavorium in its lignified cell walls, just like some plants accumulate selenium and many grasses accumulate silicium. The habit of the plant is quite peculiar, with high trunks, thick primary and secondary branches and a multitude of long, thin tertiary branches and stalks looking like lianes standing upright without support; very numerous but small leaves, not to catch the wind too much.. Only the trunk and major branches can be worked into planks, but the thinner ramifications can be worked into a laminated plywood with similar properties. The thinnest parts can be macerated like flax, then the fibers spun into thread. These singles can be combined in yarn: with specific surface treatment such string conducts the energy of the cosmic waves, naked and winded around solenoid fashion an already moving piece it transmits to it this power (thus 4 – 6 'oarsmen' are enough to power a large airship). It can also, mixed with other threads, be woven into a cosmic waves-absorbing fabric, used for balloons envelopes.
Thus on Mars we can have those magnificent *cloudships* link


-though to make them looking more '18th C. compatible' I'd prefer to have a balloon(s) complementing the antigrav effect of the hull:

from link or

from link rather than simply

from link
To increase their 'alien' look the planks of the hull and desk could be of irregular shape, jigsaw puzzle pieces-like or at least as stones in Aztecs walls.
Note that, without keel and efficient rudder, to change direction an airship needs two (sets of) propellers working at different speed (and the sails of sky galleons are a mechanical silliness).

Once on Mars Earthlings will start using lightwood technology, but so far would have built only rather modest aircrafts,


gunboat-sized at most. Hull gondola-shaped (from the side) with rococo decoration (from 1/44 or smaller models of 17th C. ships or galleys?), the balloon closer in shape to a sphere than on the Martian models. Maybe using the Da Vinci airscrew

for a change?

Thus your Lace Wars expeditionary forces can meet Martians.


Given the weird Barsoomian biology, several sentient humanoid species can coexist, the almost perfectly human Martians of John Carter (Bronze Age, Tin Man, some Raging Heroes… miniatures, as well as 'classical' ersatz, e.g. converted Elves TMP link or Tékuméli TMP link) and the (Not?)S1889 Martians of Parroom Station and (less inspirational imho) RAFM, and possible ersatz such as Privateer Press Skorne link and (highly converted) Reaper Andromedans link. And also the even less 'human' Martians of Red Planet Miniatures: link

supposing an extreme sexual dimorphism link as in Burroughs' Opar link, the equally hooved Raging Heroes Preying Mantis link

could be added as their female warriors.

But, is interplanetary travel absolutely needed for such a Lace Wars Barsoomian campaign?
Not at all
And here 'Pirates' gamers may be interested.
YouTube link
Before the expeditions of Cook and La Perouse much of the Pacific Ocean were still unexplored, leaving ample room for a small continent to be discovered (btw Pellucidar-like continents 'at the Earth's core' raise too many difficult questions about temperature, ventilation and chiefly photosynthesis). Right above it a geostationary (actually, anchored in a tectonic plate by some geomagnetic phenomenon and following any drift) "hole" in the ozone layer, ionosphere, Van Allen radiation belt… The (part of) this 7th continent just below the hole receives the same cosmic waves bombardment as the surface of Mars (almost, but anyway we did not quantify it, did we?): thus here also there is cavorite, a type of Lightwood plant… The 'cloudships' technology exists and is functional here -and here only, everywhere else on Earth cavorium does not receive enough cosmic waves, lightwood does not even balance its own weight. A nice 'butterfly net'!

The setting will offer the same possibilities as Barsoom, with only visual differences.
The examples of Australia and the most remote islands in the Pacific Ocean show that no part of Earth is biologically isolated: hence, even if the cosmic waves have some mutagenic effects, inputs from the 'general biosphere' have prevented the weird Barsoomian evolution, the emergence of vertebrates with 3, 4 or more pairs of limbs for instance (btw, why are the 'human' Martians the only vertebrates with only 2 pairs of limbs? Odd….). Instead, as in any 'Lost World', coexists a sampling of paleofaunas from the Jurassic to the Pleistocene, with dinosaurs from various periods, great flightless birds and giant 'therium' mammals from the Cenozoic, sabretooth tigers, woolly mammoths and rhinos… Also, if wished, local races of modern species, diminutive (1/72) or giant (1/43) forms of elephant, '1.5 humps' camels (like african x bactrian hybrids), primitive ponies (zebras painted with an uniform coat color?)…. Now, being tetrapods, Banthas link (with less tale-telling riders) are acceptable -more than on Barsoom, actually- as would other 'fantasy' vertebrates with only two pairs of limbs


potentially including tamed warbeasts link
[but, while manticores are tetrapods, traditional dragons, just like angels, demons, succubi, centaurs… are hexapods and would be ruled out]
Then while tetrapods Godzilla or even King Kong are probably too… fatal encounters.
Giants worms on the other hand, of 'Tremors' if not 'Dune' size, cannot be excluded.

In the same way, sentient humanoids are likely to be (early isolated, at most) members of Homo sapiens. The only 'Martian' figurines fitting the description are the 'Barsoomian' ones -the intimate difference between them, because of their Monotreme nature , and 'true' humans never appear on 28mm miniatures!). On the other hand any 'Lost World' worthy of the name is the home of cave girls in fur bikinis , a golden excuse to field warbands of Shadowforge 'Tribals'




and Maidenhead 'Babes that time forgot' link


(though anyone having watched at cat- or dogfight knowns a rider would be the very first victim of the encounter…)
and Black Amazons TMP link who here may well have an orange skin…
For sure the galant 18th C. French soldiery would like to meet, and ally with, them!

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP25 Sep 2012 4:45 a.m. PST

Or Mu could be a Barsoomian Colony.

Parts of the interior of the Americas could be a Lost World. Yellowsone's 'supervolcano' area can be a huge crater walled valley with different flora/fauna/people.

The interior of the Moon could be a Hollow World.

18C. Pellucidar would work as well as Antarctica beyond the Icewall. Or Greenland.

The Gray Ghost25 Sep 2012 4:53 a.m. PST

who makes these?


Gaying25 Sep 2012 5:20 a.m. PST

Excellent figures – new venture

wminsing Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 5:47 a.m. PST

I would definitely take the 'lost continent' route for a Lace Wars version of VSF (LWSF?), as it fits in well with how that period viewed the world- there was was still plenty of 'terra incognita' out there!

While the term 'Mu' didn't get invented until later, a big continent in the middle of the Pacific would serve well enough.

Caveman and prehistoric mega-fauna to fight, weird lost civilizations to conquer or plunder, rumors will probably start that gold nuggets are just lying on the ground for an early gold rush, Mongols from Kublai Khan's fleet might have washed up there, toss in a little Call of Cthulhu if you like, a ton of possibilities!

OR, as was pointed out, western North America or deep central Africa was also very much unknown at this point to Europeans. You could drop the same idea into an area heavily isolated by high mountains or the like.


wminsing Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 5:52 a.m. PST

Also, if you want to restrict airships to that location, maybe it's based on some strange mineral is magnetically repelled from the Earth's crust, but the right conditions only exist due to some odd geology on Lost Continent? IE, fly too far away and the effect vanishes and the airship crashes?

Hmmm, I'm starting to like this idea more and more!


Frederick Supporting Member of TMP25 Sep 2012 6:35 a.m. PST

You have given this a lot of thought, mon ami – great ideas and it certainly gives much more scope for my SYW armies!

abdul666lw Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 7:15 a.m. PST

For a 'Lost civilization' of pre-gunpowder level, unfortunately, the excellent Tékumel minis (vaguely Meso-American with a twist) previously manufactured by Eureka are just beginning to be re-issued


The Freebooter "('jungle / island') Amazons" are interesting, but the range is as yet limited


A few ranges offer *few*female minis with a Meso-American vibe"
Calvalcade Wargames link


Zenit (33mm; not as good and too much hair)


= link

but with an impressive warbeast


Dave Crowell25 Sep 2012 7:48 a.m. PST

First of all, don't over think it. It is a genre depending on the unlikely in every respect.

That said, I favour a "lost world" as being more in keeping with C18. It could be a continent, archipelago, hollow earth, beyond a barrier mountain range or ice sheets, etc.

As for airships, hot air balloons are period. If you keep airship technology in it's infancy flight should be possible without overwhelming the world. It also provides a nice means of limiting access to your lost world. Air may be the only practical way in and out.

Hot air balloons are mostly at the mercy of the winds in direction and speed of flight. Sustained flight requires a means of heating more air. If air ships lag about a century behind sea ships that should do it.

I definitely like the idea. C18 usually brings to mind clockwork etc, but no reason not to go in a more swashbuckling direction and add flight.

jpattern225 Sep 2012 8:06 a.m. PST

The old Citadel Amazons would also fit in very well. They pop up on Ebay fairly often, and usually go for $5 USD or less apiece. link


(Pic from Frothers. Not my paint jobs – I wish!)

abdul666lw Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 9:02 a.m. PST

Shadowforge link also nice have 'pseudo-Egyptian' (Light Temple)



and pseudo-Greek (Dark Temple)


(& 'Dyonisian')


Of course Eureka itself offers a rich range of Amazons:

For males, most of Crocodile Games Asar are human (but so 'historical Egyptian' looking it may be an embarrassment)

abdul666lw Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 9:09 a.m. PST

First of all, don't over think it. It is a genre depending on the unlikely in every respect.

Of course!
Yet each of us has his (no many 'her' among us, unfortunately) own limitations when it comes to the 'willing suspension of disbelief': I confess to be… worried by the question of photosynthesis in 'hollow earth'. Chemosynthesis (as around hydrothermal vents) works only in water and with a radius of a few feet: it could not support a rich ecosystem old fart

Indeed the tricorne era can be propitious to swashbuckling, remember 'Brotherhood of the Wolf'



skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP25 Sep 2012 10:13 a.m. PST

Airships work well for roleplaying, the dirigible types too vulnerable for battle-use them for supply and transport.

Lost Continents-make the rivers wide and deep so the Frigates can get a ways inland.

Tekumel figures with wheelocks would be nice! War Machine figures could work also.

Prestor John with the Lost Races would be a good connection to make.

If you add airships, aerial creatures like Gors' Tarns would be interesting.

Designing a Expeditionary Fleet and Army to land and explore/conquer and exploit the Lost continent. After its discovery, a Personage could be given a 'Writ Of Empire In Order To Acquire And Merge Lost And Ancient Lands For The Purpose Of Enlightenment And To Make The World (fill in country)'. You now have a campaign. And a basis for roleplaying.

Don't forget Big Bugs-Natures' Panzers.

Jeroen72 Inactive Member25 Sep 2012 1:46 p.m. PST

You really have too much free time sir ;))

Dave Crowell25 Sep 2012 4:22 p.m. PST

Many Hollow Earth stories posit a blazing core that provides light and heat. Although they don't really answer the question of why gravity pulls towards the crust and not the core.

Writ of Empire provides a good motivation.

Grelber25 Sep 2012 6:00 p.m. PST

A lot of really good thoughts in the initial post and some of the follow-ons. I'm sitting here thinking I have pirates, and cavemen, and giant birds and maybe I could do this and it would be great fun!

abdul666lw Inactive Member26 Sep 2012 4:14 a.m. PST

To 'simplify' I suppose that 'Lemuria' is a misunderstanding by European sailors of 'Lemur', meaning 'inhabitant of Mu', in the dying words of a shipwrecked 'Lemurian Robinson Crusoe' grin But for long a few know better and search for Mu YouTube link evil grin
A search fraught with dangers, in the same area are Skull Island


an island inhabited by sentient dinos TMP link
and of course R'lyeh.
But then, why would the Great Old Ones have ignored Mars?

Whom / what do you believe those tentacled Martian entities worship?

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2012 5:39 a.m. PST

Martian worship? I would rip-off the Tekumel gods/cohorts/aspects, Empire of the Petal Throne is so rich, as is Talislanta.

Instead of Cthulhu why not the Primordial ones?

abdul666lw Inactive Member26 Sep 2012 7:40 a.m. PST

Martian worship? I would rip-off the Tékumel gods/cohorts/aspects

For the most 'human' Martians, corresponding to the Red Martians of Barsoom, yes, it would fit very well. The Tsolyani pantheon is 'credible', well organized and structured and at the same time somehow 'alien' with the opposition stability / change and the cohorts assisting the gods. Very appropriate for Martians so similar to Man than cross-breeding is -rather unexpectedly!- possible, but yet with 'a difference'. Imagine John Carter's surprise when for the first time some part of his anatomy met Dejah Thoris' eggshell laying apparatus evil grin

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2012 9:36 p.m. PST

There could be a bio-interface moduke for that, Barsoom could have advanced Biotech. The Temple of Dlamelish could have…accessories.

Barsoomians could get other benefits when they invade Earth just for being closer to the sun.

And you could have Bonnie and Clyde kidnap Dejah Thoris the IVth.

abdul666lw Inactive Member27 Sep 2012 4:05 a.m. PST

For sure Tékumel priests could pass for Red Martians ones, or members of the Justified and Ancient Priesthood of Mu-Mu land

Wishing for a priestess of Dlamélish – sure she'd be a top seller appearing in many not-Tékumeli settings!



freecloud Inactive Member30 Sep 2012 2:03 p.m. PST

Well my project has been the Dark Lost Continent (or is it Lost dark Contionent) with a force ruled by She Who Must Be Obeyed (Reaper figure)


She of course has a Maiden Guard to protect her, I used Foundry naked female African warriors, but am somewhat entranced by these plastic Amazons from Wargames factory


What I really want are some babes to put on my Velociraptors though – those cavegirls fit the bill, but I don't want the Dinos, I have my own..

abdul666lw Inactive Member30 Sep 2012 9:20 p.m. PST

The Maidenhead riders can be ordered separately.

freecloud Inactive Member01 Oct 2012 3:13 a.m. PST

Great – will try to get some – incidentally, have you een this – de Saxe's own drawings as figures?



abdul666lw Inactive Member01 Oct 2012 3:59 a.m. PST

De Saxe's Legion: unfortunately the fellow who launched the project and was keeping it afloat by himself 'dropped' it and disappeared from the web more than 2 years ago: certainly for extremely dramatic personal reasons.

Did anyone hear about the fate of the 'greens' and pre-series castings?

abdul666lw Inactive Member02 Oct 2012 6:08 a.m. PST

Airships work well for roleplaying, the dirigible types too vulnerable for battle-use them for supply and transport.
Their great vulnerability is precisely what I like in balloons, their role is restricted.
Note that they are specially vulnerable from above, but you can use an (artificial but convenient) convention implying that all flyers are at the same altitude, rules remaining quite similar to 'naval' ones (aerial dogfight is a game by itself). I'd prefer to have the role of airships as limited as that of sea / lake ships or river boats in *amphibious* games.


If you add airships, aerial creatures like Gors' Tarns would be interesting.
I specially fear the 'butterfly effect' of efficient, swift flying humanoids or flying mounts (Dray Prescott also rides giant birds in the sky of Kregen under the suns of Scorpio link). A wooden ship is a potential fire ship, think what creatures as weak as Tékumel Hlaka link

but carrying firepots could do to a 18th C. fleet without any risk of retaliation? In the 'Temeraire' series link the impact of Napoleonic Dragons is underestimated (and besides being hexapod vertebrates they come from Barsoom wink).

To survive ships would have to be armored like the Korean 'Turtle'

That's also why I'm worried by an excessive presence of Pterosaurs in Dinotopian wargaming TMP link grin

I like 18th C. wargaming as it is, so don't want to have 'logically' to eventually play Weird World War I or even Weird Viet Nam War with soldiers in tricorne: initial *caution* about the 'logical' consequences of the novelties added to 'spice' the game is in order.

abdul666lw Inactive Member02 Oct 2012 6:45 a.m. PST

WF plastic Amazons


TMP link
they make good Cythereans (Venusians), so indeed…
Could not an early isolated branch of Homo sapiens have an orange skin? I'd go as far as suggesting a mottled skin link -obvious on males only, anyway.

In the old days packs of Aztec backbanners with wickerwork (?) support were available, to give them a more… exotic look.

Alternatively I know of an interesting attempt to use them to 'feminize' WF Lace Wars male soldiers (sepoys, here?) TMP link

abdul666lw Inactive Member04 Oct 2012 10:39 p.m. PST

Great minds think alike, or is a new fashion gaining popularity? While the Wessex Games '1812 – Napoleon on Mars' project is under development AB One Games launches 'Napoleon and the Armies of Mars' TMP link (the two approaches are obviously very different, including in simulated type of warfare: Wellington in India on Barsoom for Wessex Games, 'Wellsian' Martians with huge war machines for AB One; an interesting diversity.

abdul666lw Inactive Member06 Oct 2012 9:47 a.m. PST


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