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Q&A: John Carter of Mars RPG

Picture courtesy of Chris Birch

Pulp Pulpit

We had a conversation with Chris Birch, a spokesperson for Modiphius Entertainment LTD., about the company's forthcoming John Carter of Mars tabletop roleplaying game. The game is based on the landmark sword-and-planet character created by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs and introduced in magazine serials in the early 1910s'.

How long has this game been in development? What initiated the decision to adapt it? I have always loved the John Carter stories, collecting the individual novels as a kid from my grandfather’s book shop, then discovering a whole set in an old comic store when I moved to london in the 90’s. Growing up on a diet of classic 70’s sci-fi novels the science-romance style was something I was very familiar with so when we met the people who run the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate it was a fantastic opportunity to create a really authentic John Carter of Mars game. It’s taken roughly a year to develop and we’re not in a rush, the rules are currently in play testing and we’re about to unveil some sculpts of the main heroes.

When will it be released? We are aiming for a spring Kickstarter but I want to have as much of the book completed by then along with plenty of the figures. This would mean an Autumn/Fall release 2017.

Who worked on the game? Jack Norris is the lead writer who has worked on Fantasy Age, Marvel Heroic, Mutants & Masterminds, plus Benn Beaton (our rules editor) who worked on Dust Adventures, Mutant Chronicles, Infinity and Conan.

What expansions are planned? There will be campaigns which take players on fascinating adventures across Barsoom (editorial note: the fictional native name for Mars), plus books which delve in to more detail about different aspects of life on Barsoom. There is also a boardgame and line of miniatures coming which extends the experience.

Can you describe the mechanics? The systems uses an elegant version of the 2d20 rules system called Momentum. Essentially you add two attributes together and try to roll under on 2 twenty sided dice, with each dice being a possible success of failure. You can choose which attributes are used based on how you want to attempt the task - allowing for example Dejah Thoris to attack some guards with her commanding voice, perhaps causing them to break and run or John Carter to dextrously jump amongst them and swing about with his sword. Additional dice can be purchased by increase a pool of Threat (which the GM uses to add drama) and this allows further successes to be generated. Successes or ‘Momentum’ are spent to achieve cinematic results devised by the players. The Barsoom, Tarzan and Pellucidar novels exist in the sane universe along with a few standalone Burroughs novels like The Mad King. Will there be expansions extending beyond the scope if the Martian series? We will be referring to them in the text as it’s part of the universe but there’s no plans yet for expansions for these.

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