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Suggested Reading from Kipling: Mandalay The Young British Soldier Fuzzy Wuzzy The White Man's Burden

Non-Kipling Vitae Lampada

Space 1879
In the almost mythical past of Mars, before the dawn of their recorded history, the last seas dried up. A race known as the Architects had planned for this day, or so legend tells. If these prehistoric myths and recently unearthed artifacts tell the truth, these fore-bearers of the Martian races bent all their skill and willpower upon one of the greatest series of civic works ever imagined, on this world or any other. By some happy chance, the polar ice caps of Mars were unaffected by what came to be known as The Drying. For the better part of four hundred years, these Architects constructed an unbelievably vast series of canals across the face of Mars. What science, machinery, magic or technology was used, no records show clearly, and no legend tells, but this much is clear: The vast ice caps were reduced, and the canals were filled. In time, the Architects faded away into the mists of legend. But their greatest legacy was the life giving gift of the Canals. The Canals intersect in a great many places. In a dozen locations, a great many of the mightiest canals all come together. In these most fertile crossroads did civilizations arise and societies take rot. In time, mighty city-states grew, spreading their influence, technology and trade along the canals. For several millenia, Mars knew prosperity and relative peace. Wars were waged over trade routes, economic concessions and minor border disputes, rather than conquest, expansion or any of the total wars of earth. For years beyond count, things remained much as they had always been. Until the coming of the Great Upheaval. Previously unsuspected tectonic activity was soon to shatter a peaceful world. An undiscovered string of volcanoes erupted in a vast chain of destruction, covering what some scientists belive to be up to a quarter of the surface of mars with fire, soot, lava and ash. The great canals were broken in a thousand places, their life sustaining waters flowing into the dust only to be drunk by the red sands. Many other canals were poisoned by the fumes of eruptions. The loss of so many canal sections and vital locks and dams stifled trade and travel. The three great city states of the South survived relatively unscathed. Protected by mountain ranges and distance from the calamity, and in no small part, a certain ruthlessness, the Kings of the South took drastic action to preserve their realms. In an unparalleled act of destruction, these Kings cut the canals flowing From the north, and damming the canals flowing To the north. The Southern League remained a bastion of civilization, trade and culture during the centuries of upheaval that followed.

The loose confederation of Northern fortress-cities found itself in an untenable position. Its sky choked with ash, the majority of its waters fouled, and cut off altogether from the South. Their crops failed and millions starved or died in the wars that followed. The descendents of the survivors now inhabit a barren wasteland. Local potentates control smal cities, while tribal warbands preyed on the weak and warred constantly against the remaining cities. The feral tribes of the great deserts, long held a bay by the Northern fortress-cities, once again descended on the rich lands of the South, stopping short of the great Tarsten mountains to feast upon the fallen corpses of the Northern cities and enjoy the spoils denied to them for a thousand years. The are that is most easily thought of as the Eastern 'continent,' from when there had still been oceans instead of dried sea beds and salt flats, was almost utterly destroyed. Scattered survivors pick over the ruins of once proud cities. Tales about of sacrifice, cannibalism, and much much darker practices about, even though no expedition has ever returned intact. Or in any shape to be interviewed. The arbitrarily defined Western 'continent' is something of a mystery for the time being. During the Great Upheaval, a shifting of tectonic plates occurred, and a great continental divide now separates the Western lands nearly from pole to pole. With the surrounding canals shattered and drained away or dried up, and a thousand miles of desolate wasteland separating the known Western cities from any other centers of habitation, trade, travel or even exploration has become nearly impossible, and the natives have deemed any such effort a waste of time. Before the Great Upheaval, at the height of their power, the City-States of Mars were at a level of technological sophistication akin to that of late Renaissance/early modern Europe. Pumps, the wheel, muzzle-loading gunpowder weapons, almost exactly akin to 16th-17th century earth... With one remarkable exception. Liftwood. A tree native to Mars with the remarkable quality of being lighter than air. The complex organic compounds found in the wood has been found to produce what Earth-scientists have dubbed Conragravitational Effects. Skiffs and frigates, barques and light flyers would criss-cross the skies of Mars, be they pleasure barges, warbirds, or any other number of vessels. However, liftwood is Extremely temperamental. All attempts to grow it on Earth have failed, and all laboratory attempts to replicate its' properties have produced no results. And when the skies of Mars darkened with ash, climatological change wreaked Havoc on the forests grown by the cities and remaining civilizations. A few scattered groves survived, guarded jealously by the rulers of the cities. The sky-fleets of these nations are shrunken to pale shadows of themselves, but are still sufficient that even a few skiffs are often enough to turn the tide of a battle. Rumors persist of great surviving forrests in the hinterlands or especially on the 'Lost continents' of the Eastern and Western realms. Those known groves of Liftwood trees Not held by governments are generally in the hands of bandits and pirates, whose access to sky-craft makes them a Far greater threat than they could ever have dreamt of being. Despite three hundred years of post-upheaval history, the battles and poison skies, the famines and plagues and Warlords, nothing could have compared to the arrival of the Earthmen.

The Races of Mars

There are two main races or species of sentient beings on Mars. The Green martians are generally tribal and warlike, existing in a state of Barbarism. They average 8 feet tall and are bi-pedal, although they possess two sets of arms. In terms of inspiration, they are akin to the Tharks of the Barsoom series. Warlike and xenophobic, they have a strict code of honor that has no pity for the weak but respects only the strong. The Red Martians are humanoid in the extreme, so close to human-standard physiology that scientists on earth are still baffled, though instead of Iron in their blood they have copper, giving their blood a greenish tint. Generally civilized in the remaining city states and enclaves of civilization, three hundred years of hardship have given this once idyllic people an extremely harsh outlook on outsiders and change.

Earth in 1879

I think the reason the group comes together is because these individuals have all been contacted by the British Association for the Advancement of Science. They oversee numerous affiliations dedicated to pushing the frontiers of science, including the famous Royal Geographic Society. Less known is the last chapter founded, Section X, or the Explorers Society. This branch devotes itself to exploring the fringe mysteries of science, the secrets of the past, and exposing conspiratorial occult cabals in the name of science.

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