In their physical appearance as in their behavior, High Martians are quite repulsive. They are short, compared to the other Martians, and have a stooped, apelike posture. Their coloring is much darker than that of the Hill Martians, and their hair is almost uniformaly black, growing thickly over their backs and shoulders. They have wing membranes, which they use for propulsion and steering (as their lifting gland provides the basic flight capability).
Like other Martians, their hands have only three fingers and a thumb. Their three-toed feet are grasping appendages very much like their hands.
Several High Martian family groups form a clan, under a single sky leader. A number of clans will band togæther under a king. The monarchy is usually hereditary in the more "advanced" tribes, but the most primitive High Martians are ruled by whoever can best all comers in single combat. The advanced tribes (such as those in the Astusapes Highlands) use lowland slaves to tend their liftwood groves (which, with brigandage, are their main source of income).
Of the three types of Martian, High Martians are least affected by civilization; they live in remote kraags and mountaintops, venturing out from time to time to capture slaves or to loot passing caravans. High Martians are like intelligent apes when compared to the Canal Martians, but with a difference: they can fly. High Martians (so called for their "altitude" rather than their accomplishments) never lost their lifting gland or its abiltity to carry them through the skies of Mars. Their behavior is bestial and barbaric in the extreme.
Although they can work in wood when they need to, the High Martians prefer to buy their ships from the Canal Martians, paying in liftwood. Their ships are exclusively screw galleys, and their turncranks are exclusively slaves, captured form caravans or from nomadic Hill Martian clans. Humans are often put to the crank when they cannot be ransomed.
High Martian dress consists of a loincloth. Warriors wear a leather harness to carry their equipment and often wear items taken forcibly from their enemies as records of the combats. Bracelets, anklets, rings and necklaces of crudely beaten gold set with gemstones, silk ribbons, animal bones, teeth and hair, spent brass cartridge cases, scissors and other booty have all been seen as decoration.
The above illustration and text are from the Space: 1889 rule book.
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Space:1889 is Frank Chadwick's registered trademark for his game of Victorian Era space-faring. He has granted permission for the use of the background of Space:1889 for the stories presented here. All text, illustrations, photographs and design are © 2000-2007 Dan Thompson, except where otherwise noted.