[D&D] Carcosa

Started by Kevin Vito, April 08, 2012, 10:57:35 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Kevin Vito

Four friends of mine were kind enough to drive for two hours through Korean traffic to get this game. I think it was worth it. Everybody had a lot of fun.

We played in the Carcosa setting using the Moldvay Basic boxed set and the Rules Cyclopedia, though we did have an AD&D character ported in from another campaign.

Wade's Character: Aloon, the Cream-Colored
The AD&D character in question is a monk transported to Carcosa John-Carter-of-Mars style via botched summoning. Wade has used this same character in every edition of D&D he's ever played. I allowed him to bring the character into this campaign as I thought he would a nice fish-out-of-water perspective to the game. His special abilities to speak with animals (dinosaurs in this case) and close his mind off from psionic attacks came in handy (he ended up with three pet velociraptors). His inability to speak the common Carcosan language of 'Babel' made for a neat complication until he was able to acquire a universal translator from a museum. Spoke in an old man voice inspired by an episode of 'Adventure Time'.

Pete's Character: The Black Wallet
Aloon was summoned into the world by a chaotic ulfire-skinned Carcosan sorcerer named "Black Wallet". Pete seemed quite enthusiastic about his character, but seemed a bit disappointed by the end by his lack of "magical things" to play with. Carcosan sorcerers don't get spells like normal D&D magic-users; they get rituals relating to summoning or banishing the great old ones. I did let him take 'general kills' from the Rules Cyclopedia. He ended up as a linguist and developed his character as an affluent scholar over the course of the game. He made it his goal to learn the cream-man's language, as well as the language of space-aliens (he took 'detect magic' as a skill, found a piece of alien hardware, and spent the rest of the game looking for technological relics.)
Had a 'Flintstones' apartment. Washed blood off using an elephant-trunk shower.

Adam's Character: Green Jewel the Flabber"
We also had a "Brother of the Skull" from the Carcosan Grimoire. I had Adam roll up four level 0 men (just names and six abilities. 3d6 in order, by the way) for initiation into the order. First the four initiates had to subject each other to psychological torments until one of them committed suicide. The other three would eat his flesh for a +1 bonus to intelligence, wisdom, or charisma. Then the three men had to fight each other with their bare fists until one of them died. The remaining two would eat his flesh for a +1 bonus to strength, dexterity, or constitution. Both remaining men would then be admitted into the order. One would become the player character, the other would become his rival, for only one could rise through the ranks of the brotherhood and become immortal. Everybody seemed to like this. It made for a great back story and it introduced Adam to the values of Carcosan society.
We ended "Green Jewel the Flabber". A charismatic "spoony bard" of a brother. Later on he picked up a needle-rifle with a night-vision scope. He turned into quite the sniper.

Micah's Character: Mamodese the Bull"
Then we have "Mamodese the Bull", a lawful fighter of the orange men based on the hoplites. Micah took no general skills, and only a spear, cuirass, shield for his gear. He developed his character into a shrewd business man and a slaver. Tried to become partial owner of the "cream colored man" Aloon. He tried to buy combat eunuchs, but could not afford them. He did buy a white female slave to use as bait to lure monsters. She came in handy against the spawn of Shub-Niggurath and against the mutant at the end.

We spent a lot longer on character creation than I would have liked, but it got people into the world.
The thirteen races of man and their snake man creators seemed genuinely shocking for the players. "This game is so racist! Was this written in the thirties?"
Alignment was a little weird for them since they were accustomed to the 3x3 grid thing, but they really got into it.
If I could do it all over again though, I would not use the general skills options from Rules Cyclopedia. I would just stick with ability checks. I'm glad we didn't use weapon mastery. It would have slowed things down too much.

The first couple hours of the game was a dark comedy of manners. The players were getting used to the setting, and the characters were exploring the city of "cave town". The monk was summoned into the world, ran screaming from the makeshift summoning circle Black Wallet made in his apartment (he sacrificed eight middle-aged women of his own race for this ritual, and used a strange alien device that everybody forgot about).
He was found by the other two characters (Green Jewel and his body-guard Mamodese) and immediately enslaved and brought to the museum for examination. Black Wallet (the town linguist) was called in to try and decipher the cream man's language and decided to demand his summoned creature back. The party went to the chief/castellan's cave to settle the legal dispute.
There was a lot of pantomiming and "ooga booga" speak up until the monk got his translation collar. There were a lot of askance reactions to Carcosan culture and morals at first, but over time the players got used to it and found delight in casual depravity. The goofy elements ("Like Jetsons meets the Flintstones... or like the Herculoids and Thundarr the Barbarian!") made a great contrast and kept the gave from getting too serious.

After taking a break for food, it was decided that the slave would have a chance to earn his freedom: slay a Spawn of Shub-Niggurath (as fun as the role-playing was, the players were asking about combat.)
They bought equipment, a couple of extra dinosaurs (a couple of mounts and some smaller dinosaurs that counted as guard dogs) and a juicy white slave for bait.
They found the beast late at night; a transparent amoeboid with six eyes, skulking around the ruins of an old snake-man temple.
We used the funky Carcosan dice mechanic. The players found this to be really weird, I found it to be a bit cumbersome, but we all got into it after a while.
We rolled a d10 to determine what die (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12) we would use for hit dice and weapon dice.
The eight hit-die monster ended up with d4 hit dice (all rolled low) while the monk got a d12 weapon die for his spear. He got a natural 20 and killed the monster in one hit. Damn.
"I've seen this before. We call it a gelatinous ooze where we come from." -Aloon
After finding an alien artifact hidden under the sacrificial altar (the night vision scope) the party took the monster's eyes back to town. The monk earned his freedom. The party earned some gold (split more or less equally. Mamodese got a little extra due to a prior agreement between him and and Green Jewel) and  free item (a chromium short sword with a telescopic hilt made from alien technology. The sword could extend to become a spear or a pike.)

The group went back out to kill some mutants hiding out in the nearby caves.

They ran into some giant spiders along the way. That fight was fun, but way too easy. I should have turned the spider's victims into mummies so the party would have some melee opponents (the spiders spent most of the time on the ceiling of their cave shooting webs from above.) Green Jewel put one to sleep with a poisoned needle. Mamodese threw his shield "Captain America style". I'm disappointed that the party didn't try to take the spider's venom glands or do anything with the rusty helmet.

They got to the caves late at night and decided to start with cave 'G' as it was guarded by a hulking brute of a mutant. They drew the pitiful out using the white slave as bait, then stabbed it repeatedly with their pole arms. I should have given the thing more attacks each round. One three die attack (with d4's though) just wasn't cutting it, and the 4+1 hit dice got hacked off pretty quick with four men plus three dinosaurs attacking it each round.

The six jale men inside the caves were much more of a challenge.
"Oh shit! There's six of them?!" -Pete
Six d12 hit dice and six d10 attacks. Now that's more like it. They managed to hurt a dinosaur.
Still, the party dispatched the mob pretty quickly. Our anti-heroes mowed them down as they were attempting to flee, taking no prisoners.

We decided to call it a night after that, as it was getting late and the players had a long drive home ahead of them.

Wade thanked me for introducing me to the setting. Micah compared the setting to Warhammer, stating that there was a sense of dark humor he enjoyed. Pete expressed his disappointment that he didn't get enough magic to play around with. He was really expecting to summon random demons in every battle. Adam enjoyed character creation, but wished that his character could have been more effective.
I'll keep that in mind for next time.

I don't feel that there was enough tension in the last half of the session. I think I gave out too much treasure and didn't ramp up the difficulty enough. The only PC deaths in the session happened during Adam's character creation.

Still, there was a lot of laughter and a lot of horror. I'd call it a success.