Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Cydonian Chronicles

There's a whole bunch of fun stuff floatin' around about controversial images on Mars. I say 'controversial' only because conspiracy theorists want it that way. Officially, NASA, the JPL, even the ESA are pretty cut and dry about it, it's just rocks people. There are large sects that go way above and beyond, taking that whole "the brain sees what you want it to see", you think a face on Mars is something? They've got "proof" of dolphins, whales, turtles, and felines...for realz. I make light of it, but usually I'm the biggest sucker for these kind of things, especially space-related things. I also think of plausibility, and to myself, are a sphinx-like monument and few pyramids on Mars plausible, heh, sure, why not?

But, blah, blah, blah, as much as I'd love to sink my teeth into a vast, trans-planetary, martian/mesoamerican legacy, this is a geek blog, not a nut blog. How can we use all of this as a jumping off platform for a fun little sci-fi campaign? Obviously it'd be easier (and more in-depth) to use a role playing game as your medium, but you could do a miniatures game, although I think you'd have to really stretch the info quite a bit. Obviously, a system like d20 Modern would work great. It's super-flexible, and it's got plenty of supplements where you could throw in just about anything you can think of. I also like it because it's simple enough to make games quick and accessible, but offers as much bite as you can handle if you want something intricate and complex. I guess if you wanted all of the complexity, with none of the fun, you could always go with GURPS, but since ole Steve dissed the Lego game we devised a few years back, well, I'm not the biggest fan, heh. There's probably a dozen other solid systems to use, those are just the first two that comes to mind, and I'd do it in d20 Modern anyway without looking around too much. Everything we've run with that system has been a blast.

You can start with the above pic taken by one of our Rovers. Sure, somehow that pic leake dot the public, but have a bit more 'off camera'. This could be your first antagonist, or something less malign. A few high-res stills could flesh it out, literally. I'd also throw in some camera footage taken of it moving through the rocks. I don't know if I'd go so far as to have it attack the Rover, or anything quite so mundane, maybe have it at least investigate it, you know, sniff around a bit. Since the surface of Mars isn't the most hospitable, I'd have most of the guts of the adventure underground. Our feller up top could be someone who escaped something down below and in desperation went topside. Maybe they were exiled from their society, who knows. Maybe the subject was escaping captors or enslavers, setting you up with a true bad guy your players could tangle with. Whatever the case, you've got a critter running around on Mars...if you don't have a team already there, you may wanna check it out.

Last year, the orbiting surveyor satellite took some interesting pics that can only be determined as cave entrances that lead under Mars. Now, in real life, this is a big deal for us. We will be able to get all kinds of geologic samples from deep underground that the surface won't hold. In an rpg, this is where the action will heat up. Here's where we get into the vast underground complexes that would lead to all kinds of adventures. I don't know how far-flung I'd make the technology, maybe just slightly more than the tech level on Earth at the time. I mean, if they were super-advanced, they wouldn't be stuck underground now would they? I'd even go as far as having a second or third age of peoples living down there with leftover and bygone technology; generators with lifespans lasting for eons, inherited by relative newcomers. They may not understand it all, they might only be able to fix stuff occasionally, but they're the ones inhabiting a found civilization. Obviously they're not gonna be friendly to 'aliens' stopping by and disrupting the peace. Even better, you could just find vast empty vaults and remnants of what use to be. Maybe have some astral maps or markers showing where they went. The bottom line would be that what was once Mars is long dead, but there are clues where its inhabitants fled to. The BBC's got a decent little write-up on the caves as well. You couldn't ask for a better locale to use as your backdrop.

Ah, the beautiful panorama of the Plains of Cydonia. This dang Martian "face" has just gotta be a part of the campaign! There's plenty of other lumpy hills and such in the vicinity too, so here's where you stick your pyramids and sphinx. These are the ruins of the original Martians, and will be where the heroes find the nifty clues, jaw-dropping revelations, and the like. Heck, throw in a moon buggy chase and firefight for the sheer fun of it. They don't even have to be fighting aliens, think of a rival space agency or government. You could even do some type of delusional psychosis, temporary of course, due to the long term journey it would have taken to get there in the first place. I always liked the idea of planetary alignments, so I think I'd have to throw in some kind of portals or junctures or whatever that link Mars, Earth, and Venus. I might throw in Mercury and our Moon for the heck of it as well.

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