Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Carcosa Review

So I was able to acquire a hard copy of Carcosa and give it a look through in all of its Sci-fi, Post-Apocalyptic, Cthulhoid and Dinosaurian glory.

First off the book itself.   It is a pretty nice hard cover,  sleek smooth cover and nice sturdy paper and binding. I am thankfully able to still call Neoclassical Geek Revival the nicest looking book to sit unused on your game shelf, but Carcosa is defiantly the second nicest on my shelf at the moment.

The interior art is nice, its black and white line art with evocative weird images are quite well done and definitely add to the feel of the book.

The dark arts section is very dark and not for the feint of heart, even though it does have a clinical method of talking about things at most points. I don't know if that is better or worse. These are the type of rituals where if they were the default magic, you would very much understand why Witch Hunters are the good guys in stories.  This is the mindset people have about "Witchcraft" when they talk about the need to gather the pitchforks and protect the community, and it does a good job making you want to play characters who would join in.  Its not a vague "Magic is unnatural and/or wrong, even though it is so useful and saves lives. just take our word for it and hate wizards too!" it is "Magic requires that,  let me get you a torch".   Though I do have one beef with it,  looking through them, I noticed more than a few dark rituals that only a male sorcerer could cast (which is fine, I don't expect magic, especially THAT kind of magic to be PC or used by one),  but I didn't notice any that only women could cast.  Seems like a bit of a lost opportunity for horror.  Another note about the magic,  is many of the rituals are very tied to not just the concept of the setting (different colours of men) but also the specific map (referencing specific hexes needed as locations, and specific items only found in some hexes).  This could be re-skinned (different locations,  replace say "Jale Men" with "Elf" and "Ulfire Men" with Gnomes) if you want to keep that Cthulhu Mythos style magic in a different setting.  It does a very good job evoking what a ritual that costs 5 SAN means instead of being an abstract number, a resource to deplete.  It digs into some of the things I was digging into earlier about real evil VS cartoon evil.

I got to admit,  the 1950's sci-fi robots crammed in there,  just irks me.  It totally fits with the gonzo setting, where cavemen ride dinosaurs (who are specifically described as usually being mutant dinosaurs with laser eyes, fire breath or other mutations),  but my personal aesthetic doesn't care for them (at least not right now). That is primarily an art thing however,  which is an easy 10 second fix,  just describe them different to your players.

If any of this sort of thing seems interesting buy the book.  If you want a nice looking book for your great grandchildren to find in 80 years without context and think you a monster,  buy this book.  If you believe in supporting small publishers willing to take this kind of risk to not just rehash the same stuff and try something new?  Buy this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment