Mars game: Fate rolls, and an example of an encounter.

‘Fate rolls’ will be the standard way of rolling dice in the ‘choose your own adventure’ parts of the game.

The player always rolls an 8-sided dice. However, before rolling, they can spend Luck points if they have them. Each Luck point allows the player to roll an extra dice. The player takes the best single roll rather than adding them up.

Following is an example of an encounter. As you’ll see, there is (hopefully) not one single best choice. Rather, the best choice should depend on the game state at the time. This will, hopefully, increase re-playability – you can’t learn all the right choices to make.

The paragraph numbers aren’t as they’ll be in the game. In the real game they’ll be spread throughout the ‘Events’ section of the rules.

1. A Bedouin caravan crosses your path. You may

  • Ask them for directions – turn to 2.
  • Trade with them – turn to 3.
  • If you have any followers left, you could ask the Bedouin to take them to safety – turn to 4.

2. The Bedouin are happy to give you directions. Make a Fate Roll.

  • 1,2 – gain 1 haad.
  • 3,4 – gain 2 haads.
  • 5,6 – gain 3 haads.
  • 7,8 – gain 4 haads.

You thank them and go on your way. Turn to 6.

3. The Bedouin will buy food from you, paying you 2 shells for a single unit of food.

They will sell you food at a cost of 3 shells per ration.

They will buy jezails from you for [normal cost].

They will sell you jezails at [1 more than cost].

They will not buy or sell any other item.

They will not alter their buying price, but you can try to convince them to sell you food and/or jezails at a lower price. If you want to do this, turn to 5.

Otherwise, trade if you want to, and then turn to 6.

4. Make a Fate Roll.

If the result is under or equal to your followers’ current Morale, they refuse to go. Touched by their loyalty, you may add 2 to your Willpower (to a maximum of 8).

If the result is over your followers’ Morale, half of them (rounded up) do decide to go. Lose that number of followers.

Whatever the result, turn to 6.

5. Make a Fate Roll.

If the result is 8, you become frustrated by the drawn-out haggling and leave without making any trade. Turn to 6.

If the result is less than 8 but higher than your current Willpower, the Bedouin will not alter their price. Cross off a day, and return to 3 (you can attempt to bargain again if you wish).

If the result is equal to or less than your current Willpower, you convince them to lower their price. They will now buy food from you, paying you 2 shells for a single unit of food.

They will sell you food at a cost of 2 shells per ration.

They will buy jezails from you for [normal cost].

They will sell you jezails at [normal cost].

Trade if you want, then turn to 6.

6. [The encounter having concluded, the player continues with rest of the adventure]

Mars game: The Bedouin.

The British colony with its capital at Syrtis Major imported thousands of ‘indentured labourers’ – often little more than slaves. A number of Bedouin were brought to assist expeditions into the desert, but they found it relatively easy to escape. They were joined by some Africans, Indians and others, so that the Bedouin of Mars are not entirely Arabic in origin.

The Bedouin’s religion is a mixture of Islam with various folk traditions. A distinctive feature is that their priesthood, called Reverend Mothers, are entirely female.

They identify strongly with the ancient Israelites, whose escape from captivity and wandering in the desert resemble their own history. They associate the Promised Land with fanciful stories of Earth, towards which they face in prayer (no doubt they originally conceived of this as facing towards Mecca; but the name of that city has been lost to them).

Mars game: rolling.

In d6 Shooters version 3, rolling a 3 means ‘Info/Support’, whereas in the first two versions it means ‘Prospect’ (ie finding Gold).

I want to use both. This means that I have to use d8s instead of d6s.

The numbers for my game will be as follows:

  1. Move 1 haad.
  2. Move 2 haads.
  3. Find shells (equivalent to Gold).
  4. Hunt.
  5. Info.
  6. Luck.
  7. Heat.
  8. Possible attack.

Some comments:

  • Having a currency doesn’t fit the theme of Barsoom. Edgar Rice Burroughs doesn’t seem at all interested in the economy of his people (although the Green Martians are meant to be a communist dystopia), or even in the stock adventure plot of having a great treasure that motivates characters. However having something to trade creates the possibility of interesting decisions. In any case, ‘my’ Red Martians are closer to Native Americans, and several groups of Native Americans did use shells as trade goods.
  • In d6 Shooters, 1 in 3 results are bad (heat and being attacked). In this version, only 1 in 4 results are bad. Also, the distinction between red and white dice in d6 Shooters seems a bit ‘fiddly’ to me. My solution to both is to have unlimited re-rolls, provided the player rolls at least 3 dice at a time, but all 7s or 8s lock, not just red dice on the first roll. The requirement to have at least 3 dice rolled at a time is to stop people rolling 1 dice at a time and turns taking too long.
  • Hunger will be much less harsh than in d6 Shooters. Lack of food is likely to only result in lowered Morale and/or Willpower.
  • The effect of heat will be taking the number of dice that show a 7, and adding the result of a new roll on a d8 (the player will be able to spend a Luck point to re-roll this d8). Results will include lowered Morale and/or Willpower, lost Food, or lost Followers.

Mars game: Food, luck, ammo, combats.

I think the requirement to gather food in d6 Shooters is quite harsh. In my experience it ends with most of your Posse dying or leaving (it’s not clear what’s meant to be happening in the fiction of the game). So I’ve decided to make it much less punishing.

I’ll probably reduce the requirement (1 Food per person) – or the amount you gather, which is effectively the same thing – and also the result of not having enough food: perhaps you start by losing Morale, and only start losing people when you’re completely out of food.

In d6 Shooters 4s represent ‘luck’, and you can only use them on the turn you roll them. I’m thinking of having a pool of luck points, which you can use at any time. I’m also planning on having more uses for them in Events. For example, you might be able to re-do certain rolls at the cost of a luck point.

I’m not planning on having Ammo, but your character’s Willpower will have a similar function (ie you can sacrifice it to add to your ability in a single combat). You might also be able to sacrifice luck, but this is likely to be less efficient – perhaps 2 Luck points do the same as 1 Willpower.

Morale will have a role in combat: your followers might refuse to fight in certain circumstances.