Monday, January 7, 2013

The Problem with Mapping Barsoom

I have been trying for a while now to create a decent map of Barsoom. Consulting various sources, taking notes from the books, looking at the many other homemade maps available online. One thing becomes rapidly clear. There is no definitive map of Barsoom. Contradiction after contradiction abounds. Even the books seem inconsistant - though it is harder to tell with words compared to actual pictures.

Time is running short and it looks like I'm going to have to just pick what I like best aesthetically  and create a map that works best for a semi-sandbox style game to flesh out the Barsoom-inspired Mars campaign section of the book.

Here are just a few examples of Mars maps floating about the interwebs.

One of the better maps came in the John Carter Warlord of Mars boardgame/wargame by SPI:

Another one I like is from the almost-RPG John Carter Adventure Handbook published by Heritage models:

But, of all the various maps of Mars out there, by far one of the worst is the one in the ill-fated Warlord of Mars published by TSR - which was quickly rescinded for copyright violation:

This is a very interesting topic, worthy of several posts, so I'm sure I'll have more to say about it in the coming days as I finish up the version of this map for WotRP.

Discuss this on the WotRP forum, where I'll be posting more details and images.


  1. Interesting how widely they vary. So it appears that Burroughs wasn't quite the map fiend that Tolkien was.

    Out of curiosity, is it useful (or of interest) to go off any actual Mars globe or surface images?

  2. the map they made for the film was pretty good I felt. There are some newer maps . . .

    interestingly I find that the first one on the list is the best. In my experience locations tend to be placed relative to each other . . . almost the exact same way each time, but how they are overlaid on mars is another story.

    I suggest placing Kamtol (the great rift valley) over the valles marinaris, and then placing all other locations relative too it.

    ad a bunch of fanonical locations, and explanations, to fill out the rest of the discrepancies. It doesnt have to be accurate . . . just fun.

    that is the route the filmmakers took with their map.

    which I might add . . . I have printed, and on my wall :I

  3. I can't wait to get my hands on the finished product! WANT THIS GAME!

  4. Waiting for news of this promsing game...

  5. Have you looked at Burroughs' map, as reproduced in An Atlas of Fantasy?

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  7. See these maps and more at the source in

  8. I want to point out that the second map shown above was done by me before we had any topographic maps to go by, and before ERB's own Barsoom map had been published in the Mirage Press ATLAS OF FANTASY. I am currently working on a revision that will incorporate ERB's map, the NASA topographic map, and Percival Lowell's maps between 1894 and 1909.

    J. G. Huckenpöhler

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  10. I guess the game died before it was even born... That is sad.

    1. I also was disappointed this project was unfinished... you may wish to cut and paste my data from JasoomianDreams blog

    2. Stinks, man. Looked soooo good. Does anyone have confirmation that the thing is totally dead? I know it doesn't look good for its continued existence, but you never know...

  11. I've never really been much of a Burroughs fan

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