Saturday, March 19, 2016

In the Year 2525...

TSR's "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" 
game board

I have owned this game for a long time but have only rarely played it. What I really like about the board is the simplified orbital tracking of the Inner Planets. As a boardgame, I remember it being simplistic but OK. 

What I really want to do, however, is use the jpeg above in some sort of retro-sci/fi campaign. I don't need anything else from the game really. Just a map image to track moves on.

Recently an artist posted a map she had done of Mars, done in a Medieval mapping style. The contours were based on actual NASA data apparently. A low rez version can be seen below.

Cartography by Eleanor Lutz

If you get the original (Tabletop Whale), you will be able to zoom in and read the place names and contours. I probably will change the names to suit. The contours are in 1000 meter elevations. One thing I noticed quite quickly is that the 0 meter elevation is in the middle of the spread. My assumption is that this is where Sea Level would be if Mars had water. (Whether this comes from NASA or artistic license, or whether my assumption is flawed, I don't know).

Anyway, this directly "seeds" my campaign backstory. The planet Mars is in the very early stages of terraforming. Naturally this process will take many hundreds of years. The 0 meter contours mark the approximate assumed shoreline if all goes well. 

The process has currently advanced so that there is a breathable atmosphere, there are storms and water is beginning to fall and accumulate, and plants are beginning to grow. The air is still a bit thin though it is better at the lowest elevations. 

Most of the high population areas are on what will eventually be the sea floor. (ie. in the NW of the map, the blue-green areas being the lowest parts and the browns being the high points). These areas also get the most rain and benefit from the rivers that are starting to flow. This has also benefited the imported plant life, and perhaps some long dormant native species as well. 

The higher plateaus are still more like frontier areas. There are towns, of course, but they are further afield and are often in the shelter of craters. The High Plateaus are for mining and ranching operations mostly. Not only is water scarcer but the storms tend to be more dangerous as well. The air is thinner; at the highest elevations dangerously so. That is not likely to change for decades yet. The last danger is from the Mutants (or Muties, as the locals call them).

The early settlements had lots of problems with mutations. Probably due to being "forced" - that is, set up too soon after the terraforming started. Or perhaps due to unknown environmental elements. The debate goes back and forth and the scientists are conducting studies but the bottom line is that nobody knows for sure. 

Those afflicted were generally ostracized, if not killed or taken away for "research". Many fled to the high country and now there are bands of Mutants and even a few established communities. Nowadays attitudes towards the Muties are better than they were, and many reside in the low settlements where they recieve at least some treatment. Others, however, are quite wild and still considered dangerous. Some mutations take away the powers of reason so some are little more than ravenous beasts!

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