Tuesday, April 20, 2010

RPG adventure: Canal Priests of Mars

If you are a fan of role-playing games or just want to read a clever 64-page RPG adventure, check out Canal Priests of Mars (1990, 2000), an original Game Designers' Workshop publication designed by Marcus L. Rowland and reprinted by Heliograph Inc. of Somerville, Mass. An epic four-chapter adventure that uses the RPG rules of the legendary Space: 1889 adventure, Canal Priests of Mars opens with a holy mission in London, embarks aboard the luxurious Princess Alexandra ether liner, and concludes with a terrific crash on the Red Planet. Here’s a promotional piece:

When a high priest of the Canal Priests dies, a complex astrological formula based on the time of his death indicates when and where his successor will be born. The lesser priests must locate the successor and educate him in his duties. When assassins from a rival cult kill the high priest, it should be a simple matter to locate the new candidate. But the portents make no sense -- the positions of the stars and planets at the time of the old priest's death indicate the new high priest will be born in the skies.

Canal Priests of Mars, one of the PCs has an unexpected heritage: the high priesthood of the Canal Priests of Mars. Being a high priest is not all chocolates and soft cushions. Every job has restrictions, and the high priest is not without obligations. Still, the lucky character can look forward to the fawning adulation of thousands of converts -- once the news gets out, the cult can begin recruiting members again. Of course, this is exactly what some people don't want...

I downloaded Canal Priests of Mars from DriveThruRPG (free 64-page pdf with registration; free 8-page pdf preview w/o registration) and was not disappointed. After a little difficulty understanding the first few pages, which detail the cult of the Canal Priests of Mars, it was smooth sailing! Although I only read about a third of the adventure, the book is full of sharp illustrations, portraits of the main characters, deck plans of the Princess Alexandra, maps, and more. I felt like I was reading one of those old Infocom game manuals. You know, Zork II, Deadline, Planetfall, etc. Great stuff!

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