Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cartoon Carcosa

Leaving the (largely overstated) squickery aside, the core aesthetics of Carcosa owe nearly as much to Jack Kirby as they owe Howard or Lovecraft. If I heard you pitch a game that involved mighty-thewed barbarians killing Evil Sorcerers on a distant world filled with robots and mummies and dinosaurs and Space Alien technology, my first reaction would be to kiss you and my second reaction would be to start practicing my Thundarr impression as I rolled up a character named Grodd Wizard-Slayer. 

It's the B-movie aspect, the pulp Sci-Fi disguised as Heroic Fantasy that I love about Carcosa. I know it's ostensibly written as a horror game, with difficult moral choices built right in, and there is plenty in there to support that kind of game. But that’s not what I’m usually looking for in a game. I mean, I effin’ ADORE Call of Cthulhu, but there’s still a pizza and a six-pack on the table when I run it.  And while it’s fun to watch players fall into the occasional philosophical tight spot, wall to wall nihilism just ain’t my go-to style of game. 

On the other hand, riding a triceratops hell-for-leather into a field of soon-to-be-dead robots is totally my style of game. I’ll go one better: using robot blood to warpaint your Triceratops like the side of a mid-70’s conversion van is probably some form of apotheosis moment for me, gamewise.

Is that still Carcosa? Probably. I’ll ask myself that question again once I’ve gone a little further with this dumb idea. 

Note: the above text refers to the original, art-free paperback version of Carcosa. I have yet to invest in the newfangled LotFP version.


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  2. Does it's matter if it's Carcosa? I sounds like a great idea. Ride that triceratops wherever it leads. :)

  3. Carcosa is an example of the rare alchemy where something is so weirdly archetypical in a primeval yet novel fashion; definitely more than the sum of it's parts.

    Never mind the wildly different interpretations that folks have of it, it's a badass catalyst for lurid imaginings.

  4. One of the verification words "touchpo"


  5. the beauty of Carcosa is it's pretty much impossible to break it (since everything in it is already broken). In that respect it's more robust than its obvious ancestors - Barsoom, Leng, The Dying Earth... I hesitate to say Hyperborea because actually pretty much anything could be going on in one or another corner of that world.

    A while back I had an idea for alternative Car Wars (using ice-skating yachts, ornithopters, flying islands, shoggoths, whatever): robots riding triceratops would be totally welcome there... Carcosa could be the weird uncle transdimensional neighbour of Mad Max World. Maybe Thunderdome is actually a point of weakening of the veil, a place where carcosons can tunnel through.

  6. "I know it's ostensibly written as a horror game..."

    I think of Carcosa as equal parts fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, all mixed together and not compartmentalized.

  7. @Trey: Absolutely. I'm a little curious to see where this ends up myself.

    @Blair: It does have a certain, almost Art Brut quality to it. It's like he picked the coolest crayons in the box and went apeshit.

    @richard: Holy hell that's awesome. It's like Wacky Races on PCP. Plus, all the best hot rods run on high octane sorcerer blood.

    @Geoffrey: I chose that sentence poorly. I've heard people talk about it as if it were a horror game so much that it's probably infected my perception of it over time.

  8. My triceratops has a van spraypainted on the side.

  9. I have the new, art-full version and there's nothing in it that I've seen that would push against this at all, though it's likely your ride will be a mutated triceratops with, like, lazer-beam eyes and neon plumage.