Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Swords of Mars: Mars, part 1

Millenia ago, Mars was populous and lush, and Martian society was advanced scientifically and socially. However, a terrible disaster came to their world and nearly destroyed it, precipitated by the coming of terrible monsters from the stars, say the old legends. Mars barely survived. The ruling classes built the canals and tried to preserve what they could, but too much was lost, and Mars has since fallen into decline. Though Terrans almost always refer to the planet at Mars, the Martians refer to their world as Barruz.

The Wastes

The northern hemisphere of Mars is an arid lowland interrupted by patches of touch lichen-bed clinging to deep water. The great herbivores of the lowlands survive on the lichen; the great predators of the lowlands and the barbarian peoples of the lowlands thrive on the herbivores.

The Canal Cities

The arid highlands of the south are criss-crossed with canals that pump water melted from the ice caps to the remaining cities of Mars. The canals are narrow ribbons on life across the planet, where fields, forests, and even marshes survive, and which are used for trade using flat-bottomed barges.

The canal cities are independent city-states, led by a King who is usually some sort of warlord or general as well. Most are at war with each other or in some sort of conflict that goes back centuries. The populations of these cities are often decadent and out of touch with the past grandeur of Mars.

The Polar Ice Caps

Though the ancient machinery of the canals uses the ice caps as its source of water, the frozen lands to the north and south are considered taboo and dangerous by all Martians, even to outsiders like the Terrans.