Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Swords of Mars: Mars, Part 3

Technology on Mars

Mars is iron-poor, at least in ore form, having expended much of its old resources. Ironically, iron oxide is common in the soil of Mars, and the Terran Trade Corporation makes much of its wealth dredging the drylands and converting iron oxide into iron to send back to Terra.Thus iron and steel are highly prized. Instead of iron,

Martians are able to treat the hide of the Hraa, a ox-like reptilian draft-beast with a thick hide, with special chemical treatments that make it a bit harder than bronze and able to hold an edge. Iron is highly valued, and treated as magic weapon or armor with a value of +1 to +3.

Except for the rare ancient artifact, Martians do not use much technology beyond late medieval, early renaissance. Gunpowder is unknown on Mars, and firearms only exist as Terran weapons introduced to Mars. Terran firearms are energy weapons, and greatly valued. Fuel cells for Terran energy weapons are even more valued.

Terran ray weapons will harm creatures hurt only by magical weapons and creatures who are gaseous or insubstantial.

One unique Martian Technology is the Airship. Airships look much like standard earth sea vessels with particularly deep keels They gain their motive power from sails, but their lift comes from harnessing magical crystals of Orichalcum. Skilled pilots are rare and priceless, as are the Orichalcum orbs– killing a pilot or destroying an orb is greatly frowned upon. Airships are not common, and a mark of great power in a city state. They are mostly used for military purposes, while trade is done by caravan or canal barge. Martian airships are inferior to Terran flyers.

Magic

Magic is a unique property of the Martian people, and one the TTC hopes to understand, replicate, and profit from. The Martian people, however, say that magic is a gift from the Ten Gods, or perhaps from the spirit of Mars herself. Terran science only knows that the rituals of magic allow magicians to channel energy from other planes of existence through strongly ritualized elements. Why this should work is unknown. How it works is unknown, but what is known is that it does for Martians, much to the consternation of Terrans.

Ancient Artifacts

Ancient artifacts from the pre-cataclysm Martians are extremely durable, but very rare. The engines that melt ice for the canals and the canals themselves are notable examples. However, other types of technology also exist. Most of these are singular artifacts, frequently specific to a location or function. A few, however, are portable and usable by adventurers. The most common of these artifacts are the “eyes”. These are golfball-sized spheres with an aperture on one side and a stud or button on the other. Operating the controls will cause a charged and functioning eye to fire a beam or ray from the aperture. Each eye has a different function, which must be discovered through use. These essentially function as wands.

Another portable ancient technology are crystal devices, usually rods or orbs. These channel energy and function as staffs.