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Why Play a Four-Armed Green Martian?

Hullo, folks,

Had a good one-shot session of John Carter of Mars RPG on Sunday, with both players playing Thark characters. And something came up about Green Martians…

Can a green Martian, with a weapon in each of their four arms make four attacks in a combat round? The answer, from two sources at Modiphius who know, is “No.” They can make three attacks in a round - a Conflict action, a second Conflict action through the use of a Luck point, and a Counterstrike - but to actually do so effectively would require a Talent of at least Grade 4.

So my player asks, “then what’s the point of playing a green Martian with four arms?”

So how would you answer that question, given the player’s obvious (combat) reason for playing the green Martian, Thark or other horde?


It seems like an absurd question to me. What’s the point of playing any type of character?

I mean, think about it, if a green Martian could make 4 attacks in a round because they have 4 arms, your player would be asking “what’s the point of playing anything BUT a green Martian?”

The point is to have a fun, exciting adventure playing a green Martian. That’s the point of playing a green Martian.


Because you look at a picture of one and say “woah man that’s awesome!”

Because you see it as easy justification for some talents that reduce the cost of a swift action or reduce the difficulty when having 4 arms would help you do an extra thing." Custom talents are all subject to Narrator approval and your Narrator might set a story-reason bar that all talents need to meet.

4 arms not having some min-maxy benefit isn’t any different than being human not having min-maxy super strength built in. You still have to spend talents and you might or might not choose to spend the minimum of your starting talents on things representing your human strength.


Because they can reach things on high shelves and open pickle jars.


Two pickle jars at once!


I would say they ( green martians ) can carry more weapons at the ready and won’t have to root around for them in holsters or backpacks when needed ( Especially if a complication is rolled and the GM interprets the weapon/ gear as being broken/out of ammo/etc. They could also be given lesser difficulty in climbing tasks or work tasks by the GM. GM can also tweak up the damage rating of their melee attacks which represent the number of available arms that can strike an opponent.

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Having a weapon in each arm means they have to disarm you more to actually reduce you to unarmed.

A nice GM might allow having multiple weapons readied as a temporary trait, making it easier to hit (they don’t know which is coming) or defend (something’s already in the way)…


Hullo, Isaac,

That’s exactly the argument that I used with her on this point, but she ended up dismissing that argument as well.

It struck me that she chooses her characters in games due to a given race or species combat potential, and when the four-armed green Martian couldn’t do what she wanted, she dismissed that and moved on to another character.

That, of course, is not what Barsoom is all about.



Hullo, Werlynn,

That is the best reason I’ve heard on this subject so far. :slight_smile:


Hullo, Katowice,

That would be an even better reason :rofl: but I would argue at least two or even three pickle jars! hehehe



Well i’m not a nice gm when it come to power gaming so i never try to compensate when power gamer throw a tantrum. I they choose to play a thark because they first thought is “nice it’s gonna give me an advantage” instead of the proper “wow they look cool”. They are in need of reeducation and as a gm it’s your sacred duty to show them the way !


Ah, the accusation of BadWrongFun

The GM’s job isn’t reeducation - it’s enabling good story and good game, in whichever proportion the group as a whole prefers. and providing suitable challenges for them. If that includes using the species trait “Green Martian” as grounds for a +1 to opponent’s TN to hit or -1 to own TN to hit… that’s a group-level decision to be made. Plus, if it applies for PC Greens, it applies for NPC greens.

If the group as a whole likes munchkining, that’s fine… so long as they aren’t at your table.

If the group as a whole doesn’t, that’s fine, too… neither way is inherently wrong, neither way is inherently bad; they are inherently incompatible, but not inherently bad.


Ahhh the “there is not better way to play the game”.
Well I simply don’t agree, if I ran my games the way the players want it to be played I consider that I’m not doing my job right. My job is to coax them toward increasingly better social and narrative experience. Which is the very point of playing pen and paper rpg. I’ve been playing and GMing for 15 years and do you know how many time a power gaming attitude brought something interesting or meaningful to a session? Zero. In 15 years.
And this isn’t contempt for this kind of player because I used to be one and even today I have to restrain myself from optimising too much, or from trying to cheese my way out of a situation, etc.
Should a GM adapt the rules to provide a better experience to his players? Sure, but you’ll have an hard time convincing me that a player discarding a species because it doesn’t provide a mechanical advantage fall under this purview.

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Hullo, CoolRockSkii,

Interesting observations about green Martians…

While they can carry more weapons in hand and at the ready (so to speak), negating the Complication(s) you mention strikes me as a bad idea at times.

The climbing task would definitely be a good example here, with a reduction in Difficulty by 1 or 2. However, the work tasks would depend on the type of work and whether a Talent would be more suitable.

Tweaking the damage rating they can do is definitely something that would come under a Talent, in my opinion, and would make the green Martian much more dangerous than they already are.

Still, like I said, interesting observations but very game mechanics oriented in a lot of ways.


Hullo, Aramis,

The key to remember with the multiple weapons readied as a temporary trait making it easier to hit or defend is that in both cases, that would be a dice action (hence Conflict action). To me, these would both be Talent aspects, perhaps a Grade 2 or Grade 3 Talent.


Hullo, Chronic,

Addressing your first post here in the thread, all I have to say is that gamers come in all forms - the roleplayer, the dice roller, the power gamer, and so forth - as I’m sure you’re already aware. It is not the GM’s, in this case the Narrator’s, job to re-educate the players, it is the Narrator’s job to ensure that the players and the Narrator have a good, enjoyable time playing the game. You know, Rule #1.

Insofar as your second post in reply to aramis… All I will say is that when it comes to power gamers, the trick for the GM is just that. They’ll tend to be one-trick ponies, but be unsuitable for other game situations. And with the John Carter of Mars RPG, it’s not so much about the violence and never was, as it’s about making friends, the ways in which different cultures can have things in common or learn new things and work together.

As for dismissing a species because it doesn’t provide a mechanical advantage, there are lots of reasons for doing so, but a power gamer might do so for exactly that reason.

As usual with these things, ymmv.

That’s all I have to say here on the subject. :slight_smile:


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You can reeducate your players and having fu together! Thank god both aren’t mutually exclusive ! And there is indeed many ways to play and many types of stories that can be told. For example heavily guided stories versus open world setting, or dungeon diving full of encounter versus political intrigues. Very different styles, none superior to the other imo. Buy i do think they are positive and negative behavior of play and that positive behavior should be promoted. Power gaming is at best not contributing much to collaborative experience, and at worse very disruptive. And while the players are more than welcome to share experiences, provide advices et promote good plays, the gm is in prime position as the final arbiter to do it. For example i’m actualy acting as a gm in a 5e d&d campaign, and one of my player has limited experience and the few games he’s played before were monster bashing with limited narration in between. After a the 3rd or 4th session in our campaign he told me he didn’t wanted to continue, he had a bad session, no combat, and he had no idea how to participate to the social event occuring while the other players went ham, roleplaying as crazy. First i admit freely my responsability, i should have found a way to include him, pushing him to interact more etc, i didn’t and it’s on me. After the session i took almost 2 hours discussing with him, trying to understand what he liked and dislike, (phone is about to shut down, will finish this post later).

My default reply would follow others who aren’t interested in power gamers, and would encourage folks to play what they want and not what gives an extra advantage in the game.

Also, I have two arms yet am not ambidextrous. What’s to make me believe that a Thark could operate all four arms independently at the same time to get four attacks?


That’s actually an awesome answer.


That’s a good starting point for a beginning character. As the character develops, they could “buy” a slot to use for their third arm, and again for their fourth arm. Either is a good place for a shield, too.

Heck, two conflict actions is a great start! then when you add counter-strike for the third arm, and shield for the fourth arm, you are now going places!