Mars is dying...

Mars is dying...

Not through fault or neglect or wicked reason, not even because of the Gods; though some would say this is so. Mars is dying because it is old.

For time beyond count, our world has floated with the orb of the sun god, basking in the everwarmth that it provides, the Martian brothers sailing around giving constant company.

The Ancients warned the death of Mars might be so. Long, long ago; before the Storm. It is said the Storm lasted for an age or more: I for one, do not believe this to be true even though the clan elders warn me against foolish words.

There are still some Ancient writings in the deep deserts for those who wish to learn and are willing to brave sandstorms and the creatures that live there. Most of our knowledge from before the Storm comes from stories told around the clan fires, told again and again, embellished ever so lightly with each clan teller so who knows what is true and what is not.

With each storm season, the Ancient houses and temples disappear and reappear so fast that is easy to loose them completely, Gods know how large their cites were or what final secrets they contain. Three whole clans have been lost searching for the chief city with no sign or call from them these long years past.

But now we have new troubles and concerns. The Earthers have come to Mars: to steal and pillage what they can and to take it away to their blue world. Curse them to the Gods! They have no right, no honour and no need to be here. Like parasites they come here destroying whatever they touch and leaving mayhem in their wake.

They must be sent back across the sky ocean to their blue world.

They must be stopped.

It must happen now!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

A word on Martian Askaris

Since the human colonists have brokered contact with the indigenous City Martian population there have been those few City Martians that have wanted to help the humans better themselves on Mars and a recent offshoot of this is the forming of several units of native askari.

These native troops see an advantage of being with the humans in the way that they are able to occasionally see off the ferocious Sky Martians; and with their technology, to possibly put the Sky Martians in their place once and for all. The City Martians have always been prayed upon by the Sky Martians for many centuries but now they feel that the time has come to assist the humans.

Not all City Martians feel the same way; indeed, there are some who would like nothing better than to see the humans return to their home in the heavens but the pro-human movement is becoming larger with the more frequent attacks by the Sky Martians helping to push the waverers over.

Not every Sky Dwelling Martian revolted against the Earther Great Powers during the uprising of 1889. Whether it be a simple blood feud between clans, or forward thinking individuals who looked on the Earthers as their future salvation many turned against their brethren and took up arms in favour of the Earthers. Although the humans have noted that it is best to keep the Sky and City Martians in separate units and in differing areas in case fighting breaks out between them. 

The British and the Japanese have been the first nations to fully utilise the natives into effective fighting units; Querns own Martian Rifles (British) and The Imperial Askari Corp (Japanese) being two units of note. Equipping the Martians is proving to be a slight problem due to the Martian physiology and so for the time being local costume is being worn and supplemented by human head gear and the occasional waistcoat or short jacket. Their fascination with Earth fashion, in particular hats, together with their intense need to retain their native appearance made them a curious sight to behold around New Victoria. They've adopted Earther weapons too, but again clung onto their fierce Martian fighting glaives and blades where they can. This does give the askari a haphazard appearance but they are proving their worth on campaign being utilised as scouting troops and flankers. The other point of note is that the Askari have started to have been given human names as the Martian language can be quite fierce on the throat, a turn of events that they seem to relish. 

Actual equipment is not in vast supply on Mars with normal supply runs from Earth sporadic at best and until the proper foundries and powder mills are set up and running properly the askari have to make do with whatever spare rifles are available; sometimes even primitive muskets have been brought into use.

As the struggles with the Sky Martians continue and the ranks of the askari swell it may turn out that these troops are put in 'front line' roles and even be given command of heavier equipment as and when it becomes available. But only time will tell...

Friday, 27 September 2013

Land caravans

Many trade route criss-cross Mars and these are plied by numerous caravans bringing trade and goods to those who need them and to those that don't. A caravan is always a welcome sight when spotted by a watch tower and it is becoming an ever increasing custom to send out riders to meet the caravan, as a sign of respect and to help protect them on the last part of their journey.

Each caravan is funded and provided by a merchant family with several of the larger families owning a good number of caravans, usually travelling along different routes so as not to saturate an area with the same supplies. This is also good economically as no one family has a monopoly in a particular area.

The caravans themselves consist of several, large sleds pulled by docile herd animals (a treatise on which later) and a good number of smaller sleds that comtain either precious cargos or members of the caravan themselves. Occasionally, an important family member will accompany the caravan on needed business exchanges. There are also several outriders that will scout ahead to see that the way is clear for the sleds and also to check for roving bands of Sky Martians. 

The sleds can be massive affairs of several levels but the typical sled is of the same style as canal barges, two levels with the lower used for heavy or bulky items.the sleds are quite low to the ground to help with the offloading and both sides can be lowered and act as ramps. Awnings are a common feature as it can get rather stifling in the red wastes and the coolness underneath can be a welcome respite. Some sleds are painted in the house colours of the merchant family who owns it and along with bright awnings the caravans can be a colourful sight.

Some families are starting to arm their sleds; or even have entire sleds, with ballistas in an attempt to dissuade the Sky Martian attacks. This only seems to happen for the smaller clans and lone skiffs out for a quick steal but every little helps in the trade heavy City Martian culture.

When a family member joins the caravan they are given much honour and their sled is generally the brightest. Depending on the owner, a caravan might take a bit longer than normal with a family member on board as they find it useful to spend time with the caravaneers to see what the lay of the land is in other towns and cities and to get a taste of the wider world. Quite often it will be a younger member joining the caravan to help with  being trained into the higher levels of the family but sometimes an older member will take the journey to see an old acquaintance. 

When evening comes and the days travel ends, the caravans form a circle with a large fire in the middle and the clan tellers tell tall tales of days past and of the times before the Great Storm. When two caravans meet, even during the day, they will stop and share the fire and stories and sometimes even goods if the trade seems worth it. The circle of caravans also act as protection against some of the beasts that occasionally wander the red wastes and would attack unwary travellers but a good fire and plenty of noise generally keeps them away. As the Sky Martians don't tend to attack at night only a light guard is set once the fire has died down and the City Martians can spread out their awnings at the sides of the caravans and have a full nights rest.

Once the caravan has reached its destination it is lead to a supply holding area where the incoming goods are checked off and a list of the caravans wants and needs is handed over for the residing merchant families assistants to scour the local market and obtain what is required. The goods brought are listed and distributed as and when amongst the local merchants and traders to either be sold to the local populace or another visiting caravan from another city. The stay can be several days as the caravan is resupplied and stocked up for its continuing journey. The longest caravan journeys can last for several months and cover numerous towns and cities but they are usually unfrequent and not the rule. A normal journey will take two/three weeks and include only one or two visits to different locales. 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

City Martian farmstead

City Martian farmsteads.

As mention previously, the city Martians have adapted well to the conditions of the red planet using underground aquifers to supply the subterranean irrigation network.

The farms usually consist of one or two family buildings that extend underground and allow limited access to the irrigation system and also help protect the occupants during fierce storms. There are also the crop fields that are protected by screens against the harsh Martian winds. Fortunately, these winds always seem to blow in the same general direction so the screens can be permanent structures.

The main crop is a hardy leaf covered 'vegetable' which looks like bark but once prepared for food it softens and becomes quite palatable. This crop is also bi annual and can be dry-stored for several months. This is useful as if a particular heavy storm season comes then a single yield can be wiped out.

There are also pens and corals for the beasts of burden (more of which later). Simple stakes from the Ous'kaah tree, a thin, straight plant from some of the smaller canyons that have a water supply. This wood isn't the strongest but the beasts are generally docile and easily led.

For the model a vertical card core was made and the angles worked out for the sloping sides. The tube is plastic with a hemisphere on the top and all the corners were blended with fine surface filler. The whole dwelling was coated in textured masonry paint and left to dry. The enclosure to the side was simply made using wooden skewers that were drilled into position with random spacings, there were then painted with a light wood colour and drybrushed.

The building was given a heavy drybrush of white with some pastel shading in the corners and the base was coated with sand, inked and then drybrushed to match the rest f the terrain. The awnings were the last addition and used skewers again with industrial hand towel for the material. The was given several washes of brown ink and drybrushed with a generic tan. 

The coral used the same skewer method and small bits of cork were added to give some height and interest. The awning was constructed in exactly the same way as the house.

The field used raised beds cut from 2mm card blended with filler and little holes were drilled to locate the plants. The plants themselves I've had for a long time and I don't actually know whence they came or what they are but at least I have found a use for them. Again, the awning utilised the same construction as before along with the base itself and there is enough room between the rows to allow figures to move freely.

Thank you for reading :-)