[Let’s Study: John Carter of Mars] Part 6: Setting Chapters

I’ll be switching a bit to a different take on things here in this installment as we’re covering several setting chapters. Rather than regurgitate everything here, I’ll be sharing my impressions on each the section as a whole.

For those keeping track, the setting chapters include:

  • The History of Barsoom
  • The Green Hordes
  • The Red Kingdoms
  • Okar and Beyond
  • Beyond Barsoom

When I reviewed the Conan RPG from Modiphius, I mentioned that the setting was worth the price of admission. It was an absolutely complete take on Robert E. Howard’s world and populated with the kind of detail that could fuel years worth of campaigning with exquisite detail.

The amount of detail in this book isn’t quite the level of scholarly worth that Conan is, but as with the streamlined 2d20 rules used in the game, that’s okay. Because honestly, John Carter’s entire genre is all about falling in love with the mysteries and discoveries of an enigmatic new planet.

There are some key parts however that I highly advise people to pay attention to. The Life on Barsoom section in particular is very important as it goes through the basics of Barsoomian society, religion, technology and all these other aspects that will help a GM relay the tone and feel of a Barsoom setting in a way that is authentic to the source material.

Beyond this, each of the sections relays a key society in Barsoom, outlining their unique cultures and habits, and perhaps more importantly call out the key locations and NPCs that players might find themselves interacting with.

The last chapter, Beyond Barsoom feels like a “nice to have” sort of chapter, detailing the other planets in the solar system and what heroes might be on them. Edgar Rice Burroughs was prone to name dropping some of his other work in a Burroughs-verse of sorts so this is acceptable. Who knows, maybe player characters might find themselves adventuring in Pellucidar, or fighting alongside Carson Napier in Venus.


Overall it’s a solid setting chapter, with a lot of the big names and spaces filled out, but plenty of spaces between to set your adventures. In some ways I’d encourage GMs running John Carter to go all out and run it like a sandbox setting. Let your players loose and see what they’ll do to Barsoom, the setting is begging for movers and shakers like them to get their hands dirty!

Next up, we’ll check out the GMing chapters and wrap up this series with a review!

If you’d like to check out the game, you can get it in PDF over a DriveThruRPG!

Physical copies are best ordered through the Modiphius Webstore, where you can find everything including some splendid miniatures you can use!

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