Warfare and Medicine [Cavaliers of Mars]

Cavaliers of Mars, Open Development

Image of a Martian City

The City of Vance

Return now to dying Mars in its last great age, with the latest installment of “The Apprentice’s Tale,” our exploration of the red world through the eyes of an itinerant young woman.

Here are links to the previous installments:

Warfare

My master was not alone in living by the sword. Indeed, he was slower to draw it in anger than many of those he associated with. In this world, everything of value must be protected with force, whether by fending off desert raiders and canal pirates, or marching across the desert to defend an oasis town. While we are not by nature murderous, we are often driven to violence to protect what is ours and take what we need from others.

Most warfare is conducted at little greater than arms’ length. Knives and spearpoints are made from bone. When I was fifteen, I offended the honor of a young gentleman. Or, rather, I refused both his advances and his demands for my food. Ringed by his friends, we fought a traditional duel. I slew him. After all, I was hungrier. But afterwards, I retched for hours.

We left town under something of a cloud, but when we next reached civilization, my master gave me my first steel dagger. Metal weapons are valuable indeed, for quality steel comes only from Surtur or the forges of far Deimos.

Our most common firearm is the flintlaser, which is slow to reload but deadly and reliable. My master insisted that I carry at least one flintlaser ready to fire at all times, a practice I have not abandoned.

Many sorts of beast are employed as cavalry mounts. Flying terros and their landbound cousins, the ostoros, are difficult to tame but highly prized. My master was a peculiar breed of cutthroat, a cavalier who could ride all manner of beast. Cavaliers keep their methods close to their chests, but more than one has found employment training the army of a city-state or hill-tribe in the mastery of a particular mount. I learned riding from my master as I grew to womanhood and we spent more and more time on the road. Someday, I think, I shall teach another, provided the world lives that long.

Illium and Zodiac both possess flying ships, based upon a secret anti-gravity element. When I was fifteen, my master and I were caught in a bombardment by Illium’s forces. We spent the entire night lying flat on the floor, hoping that no bombs would fall upon the hovel we had commandeered. I didn’t sleep a wink, between the explosions outside and the cooling body of the homeowner lying next to me.

The capability to unleash such horrors make most cities afraid to challenge Illium or Zodiac on the field of battle. Fortunately for the rest of us, the long enmity between the two states prevents either from reaching too far.

Wars between the city states are sudden and short. At nineteen, I fought alongside my master in one of Vance’s mercenary companies. In that year as a soldier, I probably learned as much of the world as I did in the entire six previous. When the war ended, we were once again unemployed, and took to guarding caravans for a while. Truthfully, we rarely had to draw steel. Most of the bandits were people we had fought beside in the war.

Still, from time to time, we were forced to kill former comrades. He never told me aloud, but I believe that is why we soon left the caravans to seek our fortunes in the lost places.

Medicine

The other reason we left guard duty was that I took a nasty cut to my sword arm. My master always told me that he needed me to watch his back. By the time I was 21 this was actually true, and I needed a good arm to do it.

Our physicians are well educated in anatomy, and skilled at the ugly art of surgery. Like most drugs, their anesthetics are dangerously strong, and difficult to dose safely. However, they are well-known and widely available, provided the physician’s price can be met.

My cut was treated with a peculiar gum derived from trees in the canyon-forest of Wyeth. Wyeth gum is antiseptic, and firms quickly when applied to a wound. It acts as a coagulant, stopping bleeding, yet is porous enough to allow drainage. Wounds treated this way heal quickly and leave only light scars. My arm recovered swiftly, though it still aches from time to time.

If a wounded person is treated quickly enough, they can often return to at least light physical labor within hours. I have heard soldiers boast that with a vial of Wyeth gum and a pitcher of liquor, they can fight until the end of days.

Next: Our story concludes in the Lost Places!

  11 comments for “Warfare and Medicine [Cavaliers of Mars]

  1. Yossarian
    November 6, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    I love the idea of a great renaissance before what’s effectively the end of the world. Swashbuckle today for tomorrow the water might dry up. Forever.

    I read the Lies of Locke Lamora a few years ago, and I’m currently on the sequel, so I’m in a mindset where my gaming ideas are pretty Errol Flynn lately; I’m *very* excited to see this get published, especially after reading the quickstart.

    • Rose Bailey
      November 8, 2014 at 7:46 am

      Thank you!

  2. Foebk
    November 6, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Flying ships!
    Nice touch on the healing gum, I don’t think swashbuckling should be about spending month recuperating from wounds, that is if you live through the fights.
    I’m still very exited and should read novels around such themes pretty soon.

    • Rose Bailey
      November 7, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Try Arturo Perez-Reverte’s Captain Alatriste novels, for the hard-boiled swashbuckling, or Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, for the dashing rogues. Neither are on Mars, but they’re both strong inspirations on this game.

  3. blackheartz
    November 6, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Another great update!! These posts have changed my attitude toward this game from indifferent to excited. Good job!!

    • Rose Bailey
      November 7, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Thank you!

  4. Felipe
    November 6, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Didn’t expect flying ships at all!
    And are flintlasers literally laser weapons?

    • Rose Bailey
      November 7, 2014 at 10:56 am

      They’re like flintlocks, in that they ignite a small charge by striking flint. The difference is that the charge in turn ignites photonic sand which, focused through a lense at the front of the gun, produces an intense laser blast. Reliable, deadly, slow to reload.

  5. tau neutrino
    November 7, 2014 at 1:25 am

    To be honest, the impression given here is the opposite of swashbuckling.

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