May 7, 2011

The Warlord’s Own

michael whelan_edgar burroughs_the chessmen of mars_med

The Warlord's Own is the usual nickname for the 121st Umak of the Heliumite Army, recently reformed and reorganized as John Carter's personal bodyguard and special missions unit. Many of the heroes from the canon are numbered among its officers, or hold honorary commissions in the regiment (this gives a perfect chance for the GM to bring in these personages as "guest stars").

The 121st is the very first multi-racial unit on all Barsoom, intended by Carter to be a showcase of the idea That the peoples of Mars can get coexist in peace. While The majority is composed of red men from the Heliumite Empire, there are utans contributed by the allied states (at least one from each state) - including the Green horde of Thark and Firstborn of Dor, and a single utan from frozen Okar. As neither Horz nor Lothar have responded to (cautious) diplomatic overtures, no Orovar contingent exists Yet though there are a few individual Orovars enlisted (they serve in the Heliumite contingent).

Each contingent serves in its own utans, there are no mixed Utans - Carter is being cautious, and should it come to a fight units of the same kind fight better - but for individual missions men may be drawn from several different Utans of different races.

Aside from the Heliumites, all the men of the regiment were handpicked by the jed or jeddak of their home state for this assignment; they are all "on loan" to Helium from their home state. All the officers from dwar and up were personally screened by John Carter, first in an interview and then in a friendly sword match; in fact one of the main duties of the Officers from panthan and up is to take turns as John Carter's sparring partner in his daily practice sesssion.

Assignment to the regiment is very prestigious, though of course it remains a bit awkward for some of the non-Red members. Any Red Man serving in the 121st will be regarded as special, and can expect to be popular at balls and highly sought after as mates by Heliumite women.

As for the non-Reds, specially the Tharks, both they and Heliumite society are still getting used to each other and there are still occasional difficulties. However their prestige was firmly established when at a grand reception at Tardos Mors' palace Dejah Thoris graciously danced with Tars Tarkas and then Xodar; it was the talk of Helium for weeks!

Since of course Dejah Thoris is THE fashion-setter of Helium, some of the bolder Heliumite noblewomen have been leading the way in bringing the foreigners of the 121st into society at large.

Characters from the Series

  • Tars Tarkas - holds honorary commission as Jedwar
  • Xodar - no commission, but his kinsman Dator
  • Xandros is Dwar of the Firstborn utan
  • Tan Hadron - Odwar, regiment CO
  • Ptor Fak - Teedwar (staff officer), scientific
  • Advisor and resident artificer (don't call him Q!)
  • Jad Han - Dwar
  • Thuvan Dinh - honorary commission as Jedwar
  • Kulan Tith - holds honorary commission as Jedwar

Missions and Enemies
The main, official mission of the 121st Umak is to be John Carter's personal honor guard/ bodyguard; units take turns guarding the Warlord's palace and family members, while other units and individuals are detached from time to time to guard or escort the Warlord's guests, visiting foreign Jeddaks and other high dignitaries.

Units are also sent on "friendship" tours to allied cities, and accompany Heliumite envoys on "first contact" missions to peoples who have never had relations with Helium before. As befitting the most elite military unit on Barsoom, one of their main tasks on these diplomatic tours is of course to give exhibitions in swordsmanship and other fighting disciplines. These expeditions often also include scientists, and the officers and men are expected to help bring back as much information to Helium as possible.

The unification of Barsoom is a slow and bumpy process, and there are of course many who oppose it. No one dares open war against Helium now, but this merely increases the amount and intensity of skullduggery going on. There are plots to kill or abduct personages from the courts of Helium and allied states, plots to usurp thrones, plots to create terrible new secret weapons, plots to discredit the Warlord or his friends, and so on and so on.

There is also a secret war raging in the back streets of Barsoom's cities: true to his word, John Carter is following up on his vow to stamp out the assassin guilds of Mars and The 121st are his front line. The 121st has standing orders to investigate all cases involving the assassins, find the culprits, and execute them on the spot; while the assassin guilds, no less well-informed, are also always after the members of the umak.

Outside of Helium and Hastor, any member of the Warlord's Own had better be prepared to fight for his life at any time, even off-duty.


  1. Nice insights into post-Burroughs stories Barsoom.

  2. Thanks! Am really looking forward to the Princess of Mars movie. Hope it'll rekindle interest in a Barsoom rpg.


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