Carcosa

edited April 2012 in Story Games
Carcosa by Geoffrey McKinney. 2nd Ed published by James Edward Raggi.

Read it? What do you think?

Comments

  • The dice system presented is one of those insane things I can't imagine ever using. I really like the content most of the way through it. I haven't finished reading it.
  • I like it a lot, especially the layout and book design ;)

    The setting is great and has just the right amount of different elements for a constrained, specific campaign. Most rpg settings are not useful for me because they're choked with excess detail that I cannot connect to any practical play procedure, but not so with Carcosa: what is there is highly relevant. The bits I don't like (the dice conventions, mostly) are easily ignored. My only major complaint is that in Geoffrey's stead I would have organized the encounter material differently: as it is, many of the hex encounters are more appropriately random encounters, and the book does not comment upon regional features as much as it could. This is purely a "I could have done better" type complaint, though - perhaps I will some day, and meanwhile I have the luxury of adding whatever I see fit to the impressive foundation of Carcosa.

    I haven't had a chance to use Carcosa on play yet, but it does lurk in the background: when characters do planar travel they might stumble on Carcosa by accident, and just last session there was at one point a goodly 15% chance that the history of the game setting would be erased by snakemen and replaced with Carcosa. So it does carry its weight in our campaign, if only as a lurking meme around the edges.
  • edited April 2012
    Aesthetically I think it's incredibly beautiful. The artwork is evocative and the layout is terrific.

    I actually like the dice system - it is pretty fruity, but it seems like it would be entertaining and unpredictable. The content itself is really interesting; this may be a me thing but reading it I get a weird psychedelic vibe, like some of the acid-drenched sci-fi/fantasy work in Heavy Metal magazine back in the 70's and 80's. I want to run it solely to capture that at the game table.
  • I don't care about the new rules. I love the artwork and it's very helpful to give my players at least a basic idea of the setting.

    It feels to me like the (brain)child of Ralph Bakshi, Kevin Siembieda and Jack Kirby (yeah, it was a threesome).

    As for the setting it makes me want to play it with another game : Barbarians of Lemuria, Cartoon Action Hour, Two Fisted Tales... Something that will let me play in full gonzo mode.

    Player : "What's the game about ?"
    Me : "Go find alien weapons to nuke Cthulhu's ass"
    Player :"While riding a dinosaur ?"
    Me : "Yup"
    Player :"Ok I'm in"
  • It's full of great ideas for a full on Golden Age Science Fantasy pulp action game. However it is also sexist and features people doing nasty things to children. As such, I'm not going near, even if it does look great and has very well done cross-referencing.
  • Posted By: GB SteveHowever it is also sexist and features people doing nasty things to children.
    I don't want to deny the sentiment, but to remark on the facts, the Carcosa text itself is not sexist that I can see. It does describe some implicitly sexist societies and/or cosmology, though, if that's what you meant. I felt it necessary to make the distinction because calling the book "sexist" sounds like the author or the book advocates a sexist ideology, which it does not.

    The child abuse complaint is solid, that is indeed something the book features. Also, other types of violence and human degradation. Definitely a pretty grim vision overall. Not a background I would choose for wish-fulfillment fantasy.
  • interesting content, especially like the random spawn and tech tables and the village leader names.

    Too much ritual slaughter; I would replace ninety something percent of the race/gender/age specific human sacrifice with other spell triggers/ components.
  • edited April 2012
    Posted By: Eero TuovinenPosted By: GB SteveHowever it is also sexist and features people doing nasty things to children.
    I don't want to deny the sentiment, but to remark on the facts, theCarcosatext itself is not sexist that I can see. It does describe some implicitly sexist societies and/or cosmology, though, if that's what you meant. I felt it necessary to make the distinction because calling the book "sexist" sounds like the author or the book advocates a sexist ideology, which it does not.

    The child abuse complaint is solid, that is indeed something the book features. Also, other types of violence and human degradation. Definitely a pretty grim vision overall. Not a background I would choose for wish-fulfillment fantasy.The book is not sexist and just because a cultural product features people doing bad things to children doesn't mean it advocates that or is in any way problematic.

    Anyone suggesting that the sexual violence in Carcosa is intended as part of wish-fulfilment fantasy (or that such fantasies are the main reason one would choose to play in a setting where everything is horrible) has a deeply deeply conservative view of what RPGs are about.

    While people who have triggers concerning sexual violence should definitely stay away from Carcosa, suggesting the existence of these themes in it makes the book somehow sexist or misogynistic is some Tipper Gore shit.
  • Sorry to interrupt the conversation,

    I have not played Carcosa, but I feel that it draws the same parallel as Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne,

    Necrophilia; Infanticide; Bestiality; Slavery; Elitism; and Sexism, et al.

    I *want* these things in a game, I like playing the guy with a sword that solves ethical dilemmas with brutal justice.

    If there was no racism, Martin L King and Nelson Mandela would be shopkeepers, because they fight against the inequity and inhumanity (yes I used that word) present in society it allowed them to show their greatness and charismatic leadership. The speeches these men have reduced me to tears, they inspire billions of people, literally billions to better themselves, their community and the entire world.

    When I play a RP I want to be able to fight (not necessarily combat either) and champion the right causes.

    Without any of the worst aspects of humanity we would play RP by drawing pictures of ponies, not meeting challenges such as social engagement to challenge leadership of the unjust tyrants, and lots of games center around personally confronting brutal treatment.

    You just have to think about what happens in 3rd world nations like Sudan to understand the implications of monsters, and you know what they are not grey like in our world, they are pure white, and pitch dark, actual other-world monsters.

    I do not want these things on our Earth, but that is the very reason I want them in a game, to discuss and reason (even if my characters do not) the motivations and implications of such actions.

    And that means as a DM I include these things, I know the maturity of players, I have DM'd with preschool children, and they can understand these concepts, they are not hard to comprehend. They are hard to live with.

    Though I use very simple and plain language, and never "describe" an action such as sexual assault. It is a highly subjective matter. You can just call them "bad" slavers if you want, but everyone knows what you mean, they are killers. You can say the troupe encounter a woman assaulted and abused with torn clothes, and mature players know that she would have just been raped, but that is totally different to glorifying these actions by focusing on the negative.

    Try to focus on the positives!

    Sorry for the rant and interruption but I thought that there was a very clear reason why these motifs and actions occur in a fantasy game, we all want to be heroes. And we do that by overcoming evil.

    Cheers,
    :) Snake_Eyes
  • Carcosa is pure metal, and hits the sweet spot for old school Sword & Sorcery for me.

    You've got a fantastic world, which is gritty at the human level. Societies are corrupt, but the wilds are dangerous. The Old Ones will come back and destroy everything! Crashed alien ships! Cities full of fantastic technologies! Vile sorcery (as it should be), and bizarre mutations!

    I am not "sold" on using D&D for it (whatever edition), I think I lean more towards Sorcerer & Sword, Heroquest, or (if I dedicate time to it) Burning Wheel. Thats part of why I love the book, its brimming with flavor and I don't feel I'm ignoring a significant chunk of the text by hacking it to another system.
  • edited April 2012
    Justin ran a one-shot of it using LOTFP a little while back. I really liked the setting (what got conveyed in play, anyway: I haven't read the book), and once I pick up LotFP it'll definitely be my second purchase. I'd love to give it a shot using LotFP, but like Justin, I think Sorcerer & Sword would be awesome for Carcosa.
  • edited April 2012
    Posted By: Zak SPosted By: Eero TuovinenPosted By: GB SteveHowever it is also sexist and features people doing nasty things to children.
    Anyone suggesting that the sexual violence in Carcosa is intended as part of wish-fulfilment fantasy (or that such fantasies are the main reason one would choose to play in a setting whereeverything is horrible) has a deeply deeply conservative view of what RPGs are about.

    While people who have triggers concerning sexual violence should definitely stay away from Carcosa, suggesting the existence of these themes in it makes the book somehow sexist or misogynistic is some Tipper Gore shit.Yeah, yeah. I wrote Fourpenny Touch about dead Victorian prostitutes so discuss a bit more before you accuse. I suggest we put Carcosa to the Anna Kreider test.
  • edited April 2012
    Posted By: GB StevePosted By: Zak SPosted By: Eero TuovinenPosted By: GB SteveHowever it is also sexist and features people doing nasty things to children.
    Anyone suggesting that the sexual violence in Carcosa is intended as part of wish-fulfilment fantasy (or that such fantasies are the main reason one would choose to play in a setting whereeverything is horrible) has a deeply deeply conservative view of what RPGs are about.

    While people who have triggers concerning sexual violence should definitely stay away from Carcosa, suggesting the existence of these themes in it makes the book somehow sexist or misogynistic is some Tipper Gore shit.Yeah, yeah. I wrote Fourpenny Touch about dead Victorian prostitutes so discuss a bit more before you accuse. I suggest we put Carcosa to the Anna Kreider test.Is the Anna Krieder test the test where we ask which of these quotes belongs to Anna Krieder and which belong to Phyllis Schlafly?

    A) "That being said, harem anime is pathetic and disgusting. Fetish anime ditto. Hentai anime ditto. "

    B) "Is there ANY reason for us to see Imrijka’s (far left) hugely inflated sphere boobs? No."

    C) (after the following exchange)
    Zak: "You said: "Do I want Hyun Tae Kim to stop making art now and forever? No "But you say you're "against" it. What then are you suggesting he himself actually do? Or that other people do about it?Are you just saying he should keep making it and people should just keep complaining about it until he's unpopular?"

    Another interlocutor: ""I won't presume to speak for Wundergeek, but here's my own thoughts on the question of how to deal with people who like this stuff.It's really an issue of context, in my mind. Under some contexts, what they're doing is clearly unproblematic (eg. the BDSM subculture, which from my understanding is very concerned about issues of consent and meta-consent despite the lack of consent being a turn-on), and under some contexts, it clearly is (eg. the jerk who really doesn't care whether partners are hurt or not, as long as there aren't legal repercussions).It's really impossible to say which group the people who like HTK's artwork fall under, so we can only roll our eyes at their bad taste.HTK himself, on the other hand, is much easier to condemn, because his choice to aim his artwork at an audience composed largely of young males whose lust for compromised female bodies is not anchored by a strong foundation of respect for women's meta-level wishes implies that he doesn't see a need for context in the first place.What should be done about it seems to follow naturally from the idea of context — kick it out of the mainstream, where it's likely to be misinterpreted, and allow it to be provided in spaces where the necessary context is known and agreed upon. That's probably still not ideal for its fans, but the level of harm that could be done by it seems smaller than the level of harm done by the perpetuation of consent brinksmanship."

    Her: "Yes. That"


    D) All of the above to Kreider.

    ___

    What she knows about people who aren't her could fit between a thumb and a thumbnail. If she's the standard then my whole group is "disgusting" for appearing in pornography, my girlfriend is "disgusting" for appearing in photos with her completely inflated (but real) sphere boobs gratuitously exposed (and enjoying hentai), and I should be 'condemned' (like Hyun Tae Kim) for making my paintings and/or attempting to distribute them anywhere other than in some little "safe" community.

    Someone who basically doesn't admit my friends' right to exist and would deny me my means of livelihood should not be the standard for anything.
  • You're remarkably het up about this.
  • Posted By: GB SteveYou're remarkably het up about this.
    Oh hells yeah I am. Are you in love? Have you ever had someone elevated to dork celebrity status for ragging on the kind of person you are in love with? Do you make art? How often have you had to defend your art from someone who said it sitting there on a wall "hurt" people? This is way more near and dear to my black little heart than descending AC or Save or Die mechanics.
  • edited April 2012
    To echo Eero, this is very similar to the Dogs in the Vineyard and Poison'd situation. People call Dogs "that game where you play Mormons and shoot gay people!" like it's supposed to be a whish fulfilment fantasy that celebrates Mormonism while what you actually do in the game is realize how terrible it all is. Or Poison'd which everyone knows as "the game where you necrorape a boy's esophagus" and they make the link between playing that person and wanting to be that person. Nobody thinks Anthony Hopkins is a monster because he played Lecter or that Orwell was a totalitarian, right?

    Now, I don't know Carcosa enough to judge which side of the line it falls on or if it's actually offensive or anything, but there's a clear line between a certain society or structure or morality existing in a game/work of fiction and endorsing that line of thought.

    From what I do know of Carcosa I don't find it problematic. I also find the setting compelling, vibrant and inspiring. I don't care for the dice mechanics in the least.


    EDIT: One could always pull the argument that 1984 can be used as a blueprint for creating a real dystopia but then we're entering into "ban everything" territory.
  • edited April 2012
    Posted By: Zak SPosted By: GB SteveYou're remarkably het up about this.
    Oh hells yeah I am. Are you in love? Have you ever had someone elevated to dork celebrity status for ragging on the kind of person you are in love with? Do you make art? How often have you had to defend your art from someone who said it sitting there on a wall "hurt" people? This is way more near and dear to my black little heart than descending AC or Save or Die mechanics.But it does make it difficult to discuss when you're shouting at me.

    I don't have a copy of Carcosa although I did have an opportunity to read it at a friend's last month. Pretty much all the violence, sexual or otherwise was directed at woman and children, most of the representations of women were naked or near naked. I thought it was a shame that this was standing between me and what otherwise has many fine ideas. I didn't think it necessary to disempower all the women in the setting. I mentioned Anna because I thought it would be useful to have at least one woman contributing to the discussion on sexism. I wasn't aware of your views in that regard.
  • edited April 2012
    But it does make it difficult to discuss when you're shouting at me.
    Who's shouting? I am asking non-rhetorical questions quickly.

    Pretty much all the violence, sexual or otherwise was directed at woman and children,
    Do you want to have a conversation about whether that is actually evidence that the work "is sexist"?

    most of the representations of women were naked or near naked.
    Do you want to have a question about whether this is actually evidence that the work "is sexist"?

    I didn't think it necessary to disempower all the women in the setting.
    "All the women in the setting"? I think you mean "all the women in the book". (If that's even true. The early version I have has no pictures and rarely refers to humans of either sex.)

    I mentioned Anna because I thought it would be useful to have at least one woman contributing to the discussion on sexism. I wasn't aware of your views in that regard.
    Also--I hope--you weren't aware of her extraodinarily conservative views on the role of art and how audiences receive it. Otherwise I can only assume you actually subscribe to these views which would suggest your ideas about Carcosa are unsurprising and there's no real need to unpack them.
  • I don't think it's useful for me to carry on with this.
  • edited April 2012
    Posted By: GB Steve Pretty much all the violence, sexual or otherwise was directed at woman and children

    There are tons of men getting melted, eaten up, impaled, disemboweled, crushed, etc. in the artwork, and in the text many of the rituals specify men as the required victims. Yes, there are a significant number of rituals involving women and children that are detailed in the text, but "pretty much all" is way off. No children are shown being killed in the art, and only two pics of women as sacrifice victims (one of those being a big co-ed pile).
  • edited April 2012
    Posted By: GB SteveI don't think it's useful for me to carry on with this.
    Replace "me" with "anyone".
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