Get Your Ass to Mars
Characters venturing into the Martian back country need to outfit themselves for extreme weather, dust storms, and other natural hazards. Equipment malfunctions, failure to come prepared, or being left to die of exposure (a favorite form of execution with some crime syndicates) can leave characters at risk from numerous environmental conditions.
Carbon Dioxide Atmosphere
The Martian atmosphere is not yet breathable to biomorphs. Without the proper gear or implants, such characters will suffer asphyxiation (p. 194, EP). Characters with enhanced respiration bioware can breathe without assistance.
Despite terraforming, Martian surface temperatures fluctuate between –50 C (–60 F, 220 K) and 10 C (50 F, 280 K) on average, though it can get significantly colder (to –80 or even –100 C) during the winter, at the poles, and at high altitudes. The average temperature is best described as “freezing.”
Biomorph characters without proper cold weather gear suffer a –10 modifier on all tests after 1 Action Turn of exposure. After 3 Action Turns, exposed characters will begin taking damage. The exact amount of damage to apply is up to the gamemaster, though somewhere between 1 and 5 DV per minute is recommended, more for extremely cold conditions, such as being outdoors on Olympus Mons.
A number of factors should be taken into account, such as the season and whether characters have sufficient protection. Vacsuits, cold weather gear, vacuum sealing bioware, or temperature tolerance bioware with warm clothing are enough to protect biomorphs in most standard conditions. Synthmorphs, bots, and vehicles are typically unaffected by Martian temperature ranges.
High altitude areas on Mars, such as volcanic calderas, have extremely low atmospheric pressure. While not quite a vacuum, operating in this environment is extremely Uncomfortable and strenuous for biomorphs not in vacsuits. Depending upon altitude, characters suffering from low pressure take a –10 to –30 penalty (gamemaster’s discretion) on all tests.
Severe dust storms are accompanied by driving winds. Air travel is inadvisable (apply up to a –30 modifier on Pilot Tests, plus the effects of poor visibility). Ground traffic on unenclosed surface roads or in open country should also suffer a penalty between –10 and –30 for winds and poor visibility. Dust storms may completely disrupt some forms of communication, such as tightbeam laser transmissions. At the gamemaster’s discretion, abrasive sands flung by the winds at high speeds may be damaging to exposed biomorphs (1d10 ÷ 2 DV) and may also cause breathing difficulties for characters who breathe the Martian atmosphere.