This is the quick and dirty version of the upcoming RPG based off the classic John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs--best known as the creator of Tarzan of the Apes. The series, while science fiction, is closer in spirit to heroic fantasy--square-jawed heroes rescuing beautiful maidens from bizarre monsters and villains is the name of the game here. The genre is Sword and Planet, which the precursor to the modern Space Opera. Although many roll their eyes over the notorious cinematic flop based on the series, the cultural influence of the books is notable.
Representatives of the Burroughs estate and a noted scholar with expertise on the author contributed to elements of the game's creation, according to the preface, and it appears to be a labor of love. The rules are relatively simple and attempt to reflect the Saturday matinee feel of the material.
As for the mechanics, this game follows Modiphius' two D20 system. Players combine two of their six attributes to roll two d20 against a target number based on the sum of the attribute paring. Each success under the weaker of the two attributes is doubled. The difficulty of the task determines the number of successes required. Various modifiers can increase the number of successes (external threats can be added to improve player rolls, for example-- an odd but interesting tit-for-tat touch) and a limited number of excess successes can be pooled and used to enhance future tests (this is referred to as momentum). While there are limits on the roles, they do reflect the bigger than life nature of the characters as is typical of the genre.
'Flags Over Mars', the short adventure that comes with this book, does its job, as well. Fans of the series will not be disappointed. Though we don't have the full rules for this game yet, it has a lot of potential. One good thing about the original series was that it crossed over with the Tarzan and Pellucidar books--the later was a hollow Earth setting. There is room for potential expansion with this game that could keep players occupied for a long time.
Read the full review at GeeksAGogo.com
[5 of 5 Stars!]