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Independent Game Forums => Adept Press => Topic started by: rabindranath72 on October 01, 2008, 03:57:53 AM



Title: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: rabindranath72 on October 01, 2008, 03:57:53 AM
Slightly related, this might be an interesting campaign for Sorcerer & Sword:

http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=32059



Title: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Finarvyn on January 03, 2009, 08:59:35 PM
Slightly related, this might be an interesting campaign for Sorcerer & Sword:

http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=32059
I recently picked up this book, and yes it does seem like it has some Sorcerer potential. It's a tough and gritty fantasy world, more like Howard than Tolkien.

Rabindranath, have you tried this, or are you simply speculating?


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 04, 2009, 06:55:11 AM
The above were split from [Sorcerer] Hyborian Age as a S&S setting (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=26610.0). I recently purchased it so will follow up here soon.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Valamir on January 05, 2009, 09:23:07 AM
I had occassion to flip through this book last week.  I found it...wierd.  And, for my tastes, pointlessly so.

The world is populated by people of different colors.  I don't mean different colors like our world...I mean crayola colors.  There are Purple Men, and Green Men, and Orange Men, and Rasberry Sherbert Men...ok, I made that last one up, but there are like a dozen different colored people.  Fortuneately the book goes to some length to assure us that these different men cannot interbreed, so thankfully there won't be any Mauve or Chartruese men running around.

And apparently getting high on Lotus is a major preoccupation of these people because, slim as the book is, several pages are dedicated to describing the various magical effects of different colors of Lotus...yes, like men, Lotus comes in a whole bunch of different colors.

And while they're all high on Lotus they sacrifice virgins and try to summon the dark eldritch magics of the Cthulhu-esque gods.  I didn't study the list of rituals...perhaps the gods come in a rainbow of fruit flavors too.

And then there are aliens and lists of alien tech.  Now the image of wielding a sword in one hand and a laser blaster in the other isn't all that wierd.  What is wierd is that the alien ray guns do different damage depending on what color you are.  Yep, you can get the ray gun that does 2d6 damage...+1d6 vs Purple Men.  Near as I can tell, there's a different kind of gun for each type of man you might want to shoot.

Even way back when I was 10 and playing Old School D&D my group would have looked at this and said...wha...?


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on January 05, 2009, 04:33:02 PM
Strangely enough, everything I hear of this product seems really fun and colorful to me. Usually D&D stuff seems bland and pointlessly weird, but those colored mankins, say? They're cool for me, I could see all sorts of weird fantasy scenarios in a game like that. Even aliens seem like a fine counter-point to the Cthulhoid gods when the setting doesn't apparently have the usual everything goes D&D style. Ancient inhuman creatures who bred colored men as arcane material, Cthulhoid gods and aliens make for a remarkably consistent and ambitiously different fantasy setting, it seems to me. I've bought into the setting without even seeing the product.

It'll be interesting to see somebody proficient take a stab at a review - if I had a habit of buying rpg stuff without immediate intent to play, I'd get this one instantly.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: James_Nostack on January 06, 2009, 04:07:21 PM
Ralph, Carcosa only makes sense in the cultural context of the Old Skool D&D "renaissance" going on, on the web, which is ostensibly about appreciating the design priorities prevalent during the early days of the hobby.  Several games have been created in this vein, including Encounter Critical (http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/encounter-critical.htm), Mutant Future (http://www.goblinoidgames.com/mutantfuture.htm).  Some very good discussions of this stuff can be found at Grognardia (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/), Jeff's Gameblog (http://jrients.blogspot.com/), and, as an example of this stuff in use, World of Thool (http://worldofthool.blogspot.com/).

There's been a lot written in this little community about the literary influences on D&D, which extends from various High Fantasy writers (Dunsany, MacDonald) through the Pulp Guys (Howard, Lieber) to Horror (Lovecraft) to the writers of Weird Fantasy.  There's been an equal emphasis on some of the satanic edginess that used to give the game some cred among the Black Metal crowd back in the day, before the game got all censored in the 2e days. 

Thus, as a matter of genre, Carcosa sets out to be an extremely bare-bones Setting, with virtually no Color or Situation, and a fetishistic appreciation of random d100 charts.  In terms of content, Carcosa is an attempt to create a thoroughly non-Tolkien-ized version of Dungeons & Dragons, as far into Pulp and Horror as the rule set allows, with a strong emphasis on all the demonic sacrifice stuff that freaked people way-the-fuck-out in the early 80's.  (The hysterical negative reaction to Carcosa among gamers in 2008 is extremely interesting to me, but surely off-topic.)

I think Carcosa is a flawed product, in large part because the most horrifically transgressive thing the author can conceive of is human sacrifice, and because it's not at all clear how the OD&D mechanics (dungeon delving, quick highly-abstracted combat) supports the Pulp & Horror experience.  But the setting would actually make a pretty nifty spin for Sword & Sorcerer

I believe the author wrote that he was inspired by Sword & Sorcerer, but had never read Sorcerer's core rules nor played the game.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: greyorm on January 06, 2009, 08:44:44 PM
From what I've read of it, sexual assault and drug-use are included as transgressive acts as well. I'm rather jazzed to learn about the magic lotus stuff, being that I've had a rough draft of the same idea written up for 3E for some time.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on January 07, 2009, 01:16:54 PM
I need to buy this in order to have a more educated opinion, but the author's notes about his D&D game (http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=669133#p669133) imply that he uses a sorcerous ritual structure that almost exactly mirrors the rituals in Sorcerer.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: James_Nostack on January 07, 2009, 07:36:36 PM
Yes, it does.  There are the same six rituals, all of which (except the banishment-analogue) involve rituals requiring human sacrifice and/or rape, described clinically in the text.  As an example,

Quote from: Geoffrey McKinney
The Ninety-Six Chants of the Leprous One: This ritual takes a little over three hours to complete. Thirteen Yellow (non-virgin) females of at least 60 years old are the required sacrifices. The sorcerer must slay each by smothering her with a bag made from the leathery bark of a particular mutant tree in the Mutated Forest. Also required is a chain at least 12í long and at least 1,000 years old. Upon the ritualís completion the Leprous Dweller Below will be bound to the sorcererís will for seven days.

This sort of content doesn't bother me much at all, but it's not to everyone's taste.  These rituals are described in a way as to interact with the Carcosa race and class list, the bestiary, and the map, and is well-done overall, but does remove some of the spontaneity of creating this stuff at the table.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 08, 2009, 09:44:01 AM
Just in case anyone was considering it ...

There's already been a weary, predictable, and nauseatingly pious outcry (well, a couple voices, merely loud and repetitive) about whether the Carcosa book is offensive, permissible, should-be-banned, immoral, or whatever the fuck.

No one's gone there yet here, but pre-emptively, let's not.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Valamir on January 08, 2009, 01:20:31 PM
The content of the rituals doesn't bother me at all.  But I would be interested in a discussion as to their purpose.

In the grand scheme of "what am I going to fill up my page count with", I don't see the logic of using that much space on that sort of content.  Logically it would seem to me that anyone interested in this sort of thing already has the background to invent their own grotesque hoops to jump through; or just give one or two as examples to set the desired tone.  Given all the other things that could have been expanded upon about the setting...choosing this over all else seems strange to my mind.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: James_Nostack on January 08, 2009, 04:45:04 PM
Ralph, the short answer is that different gaming sub-cultures prefer different amounts of Setting/Color/Situation.  Many of the Forge designers and players, for example, have no use for "Campaign Settings" that take up hundreds of pages.  But for the tight-knit Original D&D community even the dozen or so pages of setting common in Forge games is considered excessive.  So, for this group, Carcosa's minimalistic setting is, if anything, too intrusive, a break from the setting-less OD&D Supplements like Greyhawk and Blackmoor

But the longer answer is that the Rituals are actually a little bit like adventure-seeds or Situation.  That ritual I cited below, for example, links characters to the Mutant Forest, a chain forged in an earlier age of the world, a village of folks whose grandmothers have been kidnapped, and of course, a ghastly creature from beyond the stars.  Along with anybody who's already gotten word of ritual and seeks to co-opt or prevent it.

In a way, it's a bit like Charnel Gods, where the Summoning ritual is presumed to include some kind of Dungeons & Dragons style quest, subsumed into a single roll.  But, since Carcosa is a Dungeons & Dragons supplement, you get a bunch of Lovecraft-meets-Lindsay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyage_to_Arcturus) style adventure prompts.

Overall, I'm probably in close agreement to you, but that's because I'm not really the intended audience, which is a small group of people who are totally committed to exploring and explicating the earliest version of Dungeons & Dragons and playing in a manner reminiscent of whatever was going on in the hobby circa 1974. 



Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: greyorm on January 08, 2009, 05:37:11 PM
In the grand scheme of "what am I going to fill up my page count with", I don't see the logic of using that much space on that sort of content.  Logically it would seem to me that anyone interested in this sort of thing already has the background to invent their own grotesque hoops to jump through; or just give one or two as examples to set the desired tone. Given all the other things that could have been expanded upon about the setting...choosing this over all else seems strange to my mind.

I'm going to disagree with James. It's D&D, Ralph, old school. This isn't "make that stuff up yourself" territory. Old school D&D is folks who want (or make) rules and descriptions for all the things that might possibly happen in the game: if bloody sacrifices to elder gods are an option, they want them described so they're being done "right" in play (hence, the on-going success and publication of Dragon, and things like write-ups of rules for orgies). If something exists -- if some specifically named action can be taken -- then it must be described in the rules.

I think, though, the best answer is: er, ask the writer?


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 08, 2009, 05:55:34 PM
Hey, hold on a minute. I am seeing this discussion tank because no one can tell what it's about.

Ralph, it kind of hinges on you. If you are asking how this supplement fits into the D&D zone, historically or otherwise, then people can answer. But if you're saying that to you, and in your experience, it doesn't, then such answers will seem like arguing with you or telling you that you're wrong or limited or something. The proper response on my or others' part in that case is, "Yes, I see how it would be weird."

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: James_Nostack on January 08, 2009, 07:25:36 PM
In an attempt to be useful: a One Sheet,

Carcosa
Tone - Cthulhu meets Conan.

Humanity - Moral Progress, maybe.... (I always falter at this step, because it seems to me that in every sorcerer game I've ever read about, the humanity defintion works out to Compassion in practice.  But that might just be me).  At Zero Humanity, you devolve into a shambling ape-creature, a brutish madman knowing only the simple pleasures of fornication and cannibalism.

Lore - knowledge of the inter-dimensional sciences which shatter Time and Space

Sorcerers - proto-scientists, "natural philosophers," historians, scavengers, laboratory assistants, failed experiments

Demons - the reality behind our illusions of progress and civilization.

Rituals - bloody spectacles of genocidal human sacrifice and rapine, whatever atrocities make you think our species is better off dead.



Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Valamir on January 09, 2009, 11:04:57 AM
Actually Ron, James's answer was right on target for what I was looking for.  Raven's might be too, although I saw that behavior more in the AD&D 2E crowd than in my OD&D days.  But then back when I was playing OD&D I was too young to be cognizant of the larger scene.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: greyorm on January 09, 2009, 02:28:20 PM
Actually Ron, James's answer was right on target for what I was looking for.  Raven's might be too, although I saw that behavior more in the AD&D 2E crowd than in my OD&D days.  But then back when I was playing OD&D I was too young to be cognizant of the larger scene.

Hrm. It might be a matter of which decade/timeframe we each played OD&D in. Mine was the late 80's, early 90's, at which time 2nd Edition was coming out, and the tail end of 1st edition certainly had the attitude I mentioned (what with things like Unearthed Arcana and various Wilderness and Dungeon guides), though the early Dragon always had wild rule extensions (like the orgy article). I don't know what timeframe you and James might be viewing it from (and as you state, locale certainly had an affect).


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: James_Nostack on January 09, 2009, 04:52:59 PM
Raven: regardless of whether these guys are right or wrong about what OD&D was "really" like in 1974, the real issue is that a particular group of dudes in 2008 have identified a particular mode of play, and Carcosa is a product of those design sensibilities.  Based on about a year's study of these guys, I think Carcosa manages to be pretty representative of some of the best stuff they can do for those priorities. 

If anything, I think the book is a little too randomization-happy, but it's designed in part to be a Rules Supplement in the tradition of Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry, Gods Demigods & Heroes, etc.  So you've got a new method of rolling hit points (the LBB's didn't really make it clear how hit points were to be determined, and alternate hit-point methods are a meme in this crowd), a new magic system, a randomized monster-generator, and so forth.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: greyorm on January 09, 2009, 11:49:56 PM
That's a very sensible way to look at it.

BTW, I apologize if it seemed like I was trying to argue what D&D was "really" like in any given time period. I would consider that a stupid claim to argue about for a number of reasons, some of which have been touched on, and so I'm very sorry if it sounded like that was where I was coming from.

(I'm far more interested in taking a look at the various expressions of "what this thing was" among various disparate play-groups and how those interacted to form a perception of "the scene" during any given time period among any given group. I don't believe that's a good subject-direction for this particular thread, though.)


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 10, 2009, 09:25:51 AM
James, I'd really, really like a quick list of links, with some minimal orienting information, to gain a better understanding of the New Old Skool (let's not make this a term). Sean (Calithema) is active there too, so maybe he can help. I have the first three issues of Fight On!, but the lack of discussion context and the aggravating tendency to use only usernames makes it hard to get into, besides appreciating the fun, which is easy.

I have also corresponded with Geof McKinney, the author of Carcosa, and maybe if we get a substantial topic going in this thread, he can join in.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on January 10, 2009, 10:26:11 AM
I hope you don't mind me jumping on the tasks of providing a guide to the Old School Renaissance, as they like to be called. Outside of the Forge, my infant's crib, so to speak, the OSR is my favorite RPG community on the Internet.

James Maliszewski's Grognardia (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/) is by far the best weblog to read on the topic. His 4-part review of Carcosa was level-headed and well done. (Part 1 (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/11/review-carcosa-part-1-of-4.html), 2 (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/11/review-carcosa-part-2-of-4.html), 3 (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/11/review-carcosa-part-3-of-4.html), and 4 (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/11/review-carcosa-part-4-of-4.html))

The other major OSR weblog I read is Lamentations of the Flame Princess (http://lotfp.blogspot.com/) which can be more inflammatory, but is good. Both weblogs have a serious set of links to follow to see more of the community.

I find the best description of the dungeon part of D&D to be found at Philotomy's "The Dungeon as a Mythic Underworld." (http://www.philotomy.com/#dungeon) The viewpoint here isn't universal in the community, but I think it explains a lot of the love of OD&D and its recent set of "retro-clones."

I'd be amiss not to include a link to the Dragonsfoot forums (http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/) or "A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming" (http://www.lulu.com/content/3019374), the movement's major treatise.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: James_Nostack on January 10, 2009, 11:13:45 AM
Clinton's hit the major places: I'd throw in The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope (http://poleandrope.blogspot.com/) and Sham's Grog & Blog (http://shamsgrog.blogspot.com/) among the blog sites, in addition to the aforementioned Jeff's Gameblog (http://jrients.blogspot.com/) and Grognardia--Rients and Malizewski are both pretty insightful, with Rients favoring a more "Wahoo!" style of gaming (and writing) and Malizewski favoring a more mannered approach to "Gygaxian Naturalism."

The most active discussion forum for OD&D specifically appears to be Original D&D Discussion (http://odd74.proboards76.com/index.cgi?), though there's a lot of bleed-over into Dragonsfoot, which is far more ecumenical with respect to "early edition" D&D play. 

Of course, none of this Internet-based discussion makes any dang sense without the Three Little Brown Books (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=28306&it=1) which are available in PDF for pennies.  It's a fascinatingly unplayable game, just on the sane side of complete gibberish (possibly because we've lost contact with the 1970's war-gaming culture which gave birth to it).  But considering that this is D&D's "indie press" years, I think it should be of some interest to RPG designers. 

But as to Carcosa and Sorcerer & Sword...

Demon: Scrying Glass of the Old Ones
Type: Object
Telltale: A hundred pound chunk of obsidian... its center appears to swirl with an even deeper blackness

* Perception (user): Great Old Ones' location
* Perception + Ranged (Great Old One): user's location
* Hint
* Taint (d): user

Stamina: 4
Will: 5
Lore: 4
Power: 5

Desire: Knowledge
Need: To be used within total, stygian darkness


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: James_Nostack on January 10, 2009, 11:42:51 AM
Oh shoot, I totally forgot something else that's pretty germane to the Forge crowd: these guys are publishing their own "retro-clones" of D&D, usually under some kind of Creative Commons or OGL type of deal, so that they can publish their own adventures and other supplements without running afoul of Wizards' intellectual property rights.

I don't really pay close attention to this, because I'm not a publisher or designer, but I think there's...

* Swords & Wizardry (http://www.swordsandwizardry.com/) - "open" version of the 1974 rules
* Microlite74 (http://www.retroroleplaying.com/files/microlite74.pdf) - "open" verison of the 1974 rules
* Mutant Future (http://www.goblinoidgames.com/mutantfuture.htm) - "open" version of Gamma World
* Labyrinth Lord (http://www.goblinoidgames.com/labyrinthlord.htm) - "open" version of the Basic Sets from late 70's / early 80's
* Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game (http://www.basicfantasy.org/main.html) - "open" version of Basic Sets from late 70's / early 80's

All of these versions are pretty faithful to the originals, but they contain either design "fixes" to recurring problems in OD&D (how to run combat, how often you roll hit points, how to create an Elf PC), or else deliberately changed other elements so as to avoid possible litigation. 

Naturally these "retro-clones" don't contain too much innovative RPG design because they're meant to imitate, as slavishly as possible, a game already published--but in principle they're a ground floor for people to create a bunch of innovative adventures/modules/Situations, whatever they're called.  I'm not sure this part of the plan has really come to fruition, but I do like Eldritch Weirdness (http://www.lulu.com/content/2791099), a list of very strange Jack Vance-flavored spells, quite a bit.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: greyorm on January 10, 2009, 01:36:31 PM
There's also
* OSRIC (http://www.knights-n-knaves.com/osric/)
* Mazes & Minotaurs (http://storygame.free.fr/MAZES.htm)
* Castles & Crusades (http://www.trolllord.com/cnc/index.html)
* Encounter Critical (http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/encounter-critical.htm)

OSRIC is a 1e clone, so I'm only including it for completeness, and C&C is a pastiche of various editions with a solid old school foundation/feel. M&M is interesting in that it starts with a "1972" version (the original D&D) and also has an expanded and streamlined "1987" version (1e) called Revised Mazes & Minotaurs. Like M&M, EC is another alternate history "inside joke", but I know little about it at this point (I only recently discovered it, but I've been aware of the others for quite some time).

All of these have active lists and/or Yahoo! groups and such where the members communicate.

There's also The Red Box Hack (http://redboxhack.blogspot.com/) and Vincent's own Storming the Wizard's Tower (http://www.lumpley.com/storming/), both of which are individuated as attempts to re-do Red Box D&D that go beyond the purist revivalism of (most of) the above endeavors and twist things up (and I think Donjon also counts here, spiritually at the very least). But we know about these efforts.

On the whole, the revivalist scene is a really vibrant and interesting movement with perhaps surprising variety, given the fact we're talking about multiple faithful recreations of another product; though, just like the larger RPG culture, there are places I won't go inside of it--for example, unlike Clinton I find absolutely nothing of value in the one of the blogs he mentions).

However, complete disclosure: I was actively involved only some years ago--AFAIK the list I used to participate in has long since gone the way of dust or possibly moved to Dragonsfoot--and I've basically been an intermittent sideline lurker since.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: robertsconley on January 11, 2009, 10:30:25 AM
Naturally these "retro-clones" don't contain too much innovative RPG design because they're meant to imitate, as slavishly as possible, a game already published--but in principle they're a ground floor for people to create a bunch of innovative adventures/modules/Situations, whatever they're called.  I'm not sure this part of the plan has really come to fruition, but I do like Eldritch Weirdness (http://www.lulu.com/content/2791099), a list of very strange Jack Vance-flavored spells, quite a bit.

The essential problem for fans of older editions of Dungeons and Dragons is that their game is out of print. They don't get new material for their games, they have a hard time finding new players as the years go by. While the release of original rules in PDF form helps, people still like to have physical books in hand, Also the largest number of fans for any RPG still comes from people browsing in stores. If players of older edition want to expand their base they need to address these issues.

Castle and Crusades was one of the first. People dissatisfied with it's approach went on to crease other version of older games. Today we have a wide range of "retro-clones" that you and use to made NEW material. For example for fans of the 1974 rules can turn to Swords & Wizardry, B/X (Basic D&D/ Expert D&D) edition fans can turn to Labyrinth Lords, AD&D fans have OSRIC. The fundamental reason that these retro-clones can exist is that the Open Gaming License has made the terms needed for these games available.

Dragonsfoot (http://www.dragonsfoot.org)has produced a series of high quality non-commercial modules and supplements for older editions. But in recent years many commercial release have been created. Fight On! is a quarterly magazine devoted to original D&D (http://www.fightonmagazine.com/),  Eldritch Weirdness mentioned in a previous post is another. I myself have had Points of Light (http://www.goodman-games.com/4380preview.html) published by  Goodman Games. Points of Light is suitable for any edition of D&D. It contains four settings designed for a sandbox style fantasy campaign.

Now the base estabilshed the Old School community is now moving beyond just rehashing old material. We are now using the rules and concept to make new material that hasn't been seen before.



Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 11, 2009, 11:58:09 AM
Hi Robert, and welcome!

I don't know if you've seen my essay from a few years ago, "A Hard Look at Dungeons & Dragons," linked in the Articles section (top right of any Forge page). I wrote about how any play of anything called Dungeons & Dragons in the mid-late 1970s was, effectively, inventing role-playing on-site. Furthermore, when I say "anything called," I mean that every group was working from a hodge-podge of materials, no one of which, and no combination of which, actually explained or showed how to play.

There were a lot of good things about that situation, and although it was necessarily transitory, a lot of what became concrete ("industry standard," quotes very much intended in the derogatory) in published games between 1987 and 1997 was, in my view, not worth even a fraction of the original potential. I think the Old School Renaissance is celebrating the rather crazed and wonderful potential of role-playing by revisiting those times.

And yet, it's not a mere re-visitation, as you say. For one thing, there is no single thing to re-visit. Whether it's dressed up as "Gygaxian" or "traditional" or whatever label one wants, the fact is, publishing back then was at best a kaleidoscope and at worst a mess (even at the worst, a glorious mess), and play back then was a local construction of whatever pieces one had. So I think it's not a return based on dogmatic re-creation (even if some people today feel and think as if it were), it's kind of a return to the primordial soup using those tropes, with the eventual result being a resurrection of creativity.

Looking at my essay again, I discovered a point which was left out, which is to say, something no one would notice but me. What I wanted to convey by describing the transition in role-playing from (say) 1980 to 1984 in my life was not discarding of a flawed thing, but sadness at the passing of its zest and replacement by comparatively humdrum consumerism. I don't think I managed to convey that point well enough, and I hope members of the Old School Renaissance who read that essay can be convinced that's where I was coming from. So what's going on with them (any views I might have of any particular product or claim aside), is right in line with what was in my gut as I wrote it.

As I wrote above, I have the Fight On! issues, and I'm liking them a lot. As far as I'm concerned, the Old School Renaissance is a great thing.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: robertsconley on January 11, 2009, 03:45:10 PM
Hi Robert, and welcome!

Thanks and Good to be here


I mean that every group was working from a hodge-podge of materials, no one of which, and no combination of which, actually explained or showed how to play.

While writing Points of Light, I had to keep four broad and overlapping "traditions'  in the current old school market in mind. The first is the original 1974 Rules + Supplements, the second AD&D, the third the B/X rules, and last Castles and Crusades. Luckily my product is such that stat blocks are not a big part of it. (look at the preview to see what I mean). However if I was writing a more stat heavy product then I would definitely have to decide which of the four I am targeting.

For example in Issue #3 of Fight-On! I wrote a setting designed as a map to add onto the Wilderlands of High Fantasy (by Judges Guild, Necromancer Games). I deliberately wrote the Wild North using the 1974 rules + supplements in mind. There is a completely original side in how I used  Russian Myth creating the background. However there are a strong tide of OD&D running through the locales I detailed. For example just about every magic sword has a bit of intelligence or powers associated with it. This is due to the fact when use the random treasure tables magic sword tend to be just that.

There were a lot of good things about that situation, and although it was necessarily transitory, a lot of what became concrete ("industry standard," quotes very much intended in the derogatory) in published games between 1987 and 1997 was, in my view, not worth even a fraction of the original potential.

In my opinion the flexibility of RPGs has a dark side in that a author can easily choose to focus on one aspect to the detriment to others. By the late 80s a lot of what you could do with RPGs had been discovered and people started pushing it to extremes. OK let's detail a WHOLE WORLD. OK lets have a combat system that gives the exact depth in inches of that stab room. Let's detail the Dark Reaver Clan unto the 13th generation and so on.

I created a light background for all four settings in my Points of Lights product so if a referee wants to combine them they could. I had to resist going beyond a certain point as it would be really easy just to go on about the dark god Sarrath, or prattle on about The Bright Empire. The primary purpose of Points of Lights wasn't to show off my literacy skill at creating a secondary world. It was to make four settings that could drop into any referee running a D&D style fantasy campaign.

I think the Old School Renaissance is celebrating the rather crazed and wonderful potential of role-playing by revisiting those times.

Fight On! has been quite enjoyable in that regard. There been a wide range of material presented some straight foward treatment of fantasy to other that are really "out" there. A great deal of fun to read. The enthusiasm and diversity was one of the reason I wrote for the the magazine and will continue to do so.

As I wrote above, I have the Fight On! issues, and I'm liking them a lot. As far as I'm concerned, the Old School Renaissance is a great thing.

Around 1980, switched to running a sandbox fantasy campaign using the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. Since then I continued that campaign and the sandbox style through a variety of rule systems (Fantasy Hero, GURPS, etc). I always felt a bit of an odd duck because of the mega settings like Forgotten Realm and later the rise of the Adventure Path. It good to have a market that can use the sandbox material I am creating.

Enjoy
Rob Conley


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: James_Nostack on January 11, 2009, 08:55:23 PM
Because a couple of guys from the Old Skool D&D crowd are looking at "us" while we're looking at "them," (ignoring the fact that there's probably a decent amount of overlap in the margins), I just wanted to point out that the goal of the Forge is to promote the design and publication of creator-owned RPG's.  Everything else is secondary.  Sometimes that fact gets lost on the Internet.

Which is to say, if you want playtesters, or someone to bounce ideas off, or some practical suggestions about publication models from people who have done this stuff themselves, or to connect with an artist, or work out some convention stuff - that's exactly what the Forge was built for.  You can use all these features without having to give a tinker's damn about "RPG theory" or whatever Internet hullabaloo is making the rounds this month.

If you want to write your own game (or game supplement, or whatever), and get it to a bunch of people, the Forge was built to be useful for you, should you ever feel like dropping by and talking about your project.


Title: Re: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)
Post by: Calithena on March 04, 2009, 08:44:08 AM
Hey guys,

As a member of both communities I'm happy to discuss issues with folks. I currently help publish Fight On! magazine, which I think played a significant role in spreading the 'old school renaissance' label and growing the current community. The label isn't important though.

Carcosa is a usable gaming product with some really nice color (crayola people aside, though that does create a certain alien sensibility for me personally). Mearls pointed out that the extensive ritual descriptions don't just provide magic spells, they also tie the magic into the setting - a design feature that has some precedent for example in Reve: the Dream Ouroboros but is generallly under-utilized in RPGs. Mechanically Carcosan sorcerers are just fighters who can do rituals and in that sense Sorcerer might actually handle baseline characters better (with the naive sorcerer vs. trained distinction). I would consider Carcosa for a Sorcerer setting - I think it could work very well.