Saturday, November 22, 2008

So I finally got myself a copy.

Smarter dudes than I have already covered Geoffrey McKinney's Supplement V: Carcosa at length, which affords me the luxury of only hitting a few random bullet points.
  • Wow! This thing packs in oodles of imagination! I'd rank Carcosa right up there with Adventure Games Journal #1 and Encounter Critical in terms of setting fire to my brain and putting me on edge to want to play. I'm definitely putting Carcosa on my Medieval Rim sector map, in an otherwise ignored corner of space where horrible things can happen because the planet is so remote from the main lines of galactic civilization.
  • The random raygun charts are even better than that old Pegasus article from Ken St. Andre.
  • I can totally sympathize with the folks put off by the dreadful ritual descriptions. Personally, I find slasher flicks to be unsettling to the point that I pretty much don't watch them. But I'm not in a big hurry to condemn the people who make or enjoy them.
  • That being said, you know what I like most about the rituals? As a player I could go around slaying sorcerers like there's no tomorrow and feel as morally justified as Captain America socking Hitler in the jaw. Seriously, your average Carcosa sorcerer is just about the worst goddamn son of a bitch you're likely to encounter in a game of D&D. I can work with that.
  • The city of Carcosa is left as an undefined dot on the map, forcing the referee to figure out what to do with it. That's awesome.
  • I totally see what the wonky dice rules are attempting to do and I don't disagree with the design goal, but I just think there's got to be a more elegant way of making life more unpredictable than constantly altering the size of the hit dice and damage dice.
  • The sandbox section is fantastic. As I was reading the random Spawn of Shub-Niggurath charts in the monster section I was thinking "Man, someone just needs to roll up ten or twenty of these critters and share 'em on the net." Then I get to the hexmap key and hidden all over the map are a bunch of already pre-generated Spawn. Cool!
  • The only thing I would have liked to see added to the sandbox section is a d20 or d100 chart full of random ideas for taking a village or castle and giving it a unique spin. I just might write such a chart myself. I don't have any other plans for tomorrow's blog post.
  • I'm going to go out on a limb here and disagree with the esteemed James Maliszewski on one point. He concludes that Carcosa doesn't really line up with the original Supplements I through IV. James will no doubt set me straight if I'm incorrectly reading him, but here's the specific section of his lengthy four part review with which I quibble:
    In form, Carcosa has much more in common with 2e era boxed campaign settings than with OD&D supplements. Not only does it actually present a setting, something no OD&D supplement does, but it also replaces large chunks of the OD&D rules rather than merely providing additional options from which to choose.
    I just don't see it that way. Like the other OD&D Supps I see a whole bunch of stuff I can waive or adopt as I see fit, using the whole to make a specifically Carcosan game or swiping bits to add chrome to another set-up. And frankly I don't see how a book with random robot charts and mummy brains ends up anywhere in the same neighborhood as 2e. Maybe James has read different 2e boxed sets than I have. I'll admit to steering clear of a whole crapload of second edition. But more to the point, I just don't see that great of a difference between the Egg of Coot, Tharizdun, and the evils of Carcosa. And the crashed alien spaceships fit in right along with the City of the Gods and the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. Hell, I could probably get a whole 'nother post out of comparing Carcosa to Arduin.
  • Carcosa is much more what I had in mind when I bought that copy of Chaosium's Dreamlands all those years ago.