by Ramanan Sivaranjan on May 10, 2014
I also wrote this up some time ago for a Carcosa campaign I may never run. Jeff Rients suggested 20 questions about your campaign setting that would provide just enough backstory that your players could figure out what’s up without needing some crazy info-dump they’ll just tune out anyways.
What is the deal with my cleric’s religion?
There are no clerics. Problem solved!
There isn’t much proper religion to speak of in the world of Carcosa. Some people worship the Old Ones and their spawn, others ancient technology. No one is worshiping otherworldly benevolent beings. There are certainly no centralized religious organizations.
Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Characters begin in the town of Invak. One can find most standard equipment for sale in the town in a large shop run by “the Infinite Keeper”. The Brown Men village of Jahar to the South may have other items that are trickier to track down. Trade caravans run between the two towns.
Where can we go to get plate mail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
You are unlikely to find anyone in the region who knows how to produce plate mail, let alone the metal you would need to produce it. “The Ocean of Humility” in Invak may be able to fashion something out of leather. Most people have little idea how to fashion useful armour that fits people, let alone monsters.
Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
The most evil of all the Purple Men, “the Icon of Judgment,” is known throughout the land for his mastery of sorcery. He rules a small village protected by advanced weaponry and battle armoured soldiers. The Old Ones yield to his will.
Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
You know of no greater soldier than “the Swift and Silent Beginning,” the leader of the Bone Men village Invak.
Who is the richest person in the land?
“The Icon of Judgment” is said to possess vast amounts of wealth.
Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Nowhere. Sorcery is only used for evil and wickedness.
Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
The desert lotuses can heal the sick and dying. Of course, they can also kill you.
Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
There are no traditional magic-users, and sorcerers are definitely not forming guilds: they are two busy harvesting each other for fuel for their spells.
Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
“The Falling Flower” is a Desert Lotus Apothcary who lives in the village of Invak. He operates a small stall in the ex-slaves quarter of the town. He may be addicted to the lotuses he sells.
The nearest sage you know of is “He of the Air,” who lives in Jahar.
Where can I hire mercenaries?
The town of Invak maintains an informal standing milita. Most of the men and women in the town have served. For a little money it won’t be hard to find people willing to have an adventure.
Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Most people consider magic wicked. You are best to hide any sorcerous tendencies you may have. On the other hand, no villagers are likely to complain about a person carrying a weapon: it’s rough out there.
Which way to the nearest tavern?
This Way to Death in Invak serves fermented drinks and is the place to go for all sorts of shadiness.
What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
A large spherical hunter-killer robot stalks the wastes around Invak at night. No one knows who created it or for what purpose, but it has been stealing away men and women for as long as anyone can remember. Few have encountered the machine and lived to share their tales.
“The Swift and Silent Beginning” will pay for proof of any killed slaver or spawn.
Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
Occasionally a town and its leader may get bold and try to expand their reach or power: this rarely ends well for anyone involved. There are currently no large scale wars of note.
How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
A castle of Orange Men to the North run a gladiatorial arena of sorts: there are no prizes and the winners of the games are fed to the Spawn of Shub-Niggurath the Orange Men worship as a god.
Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
Maybe, but they are secret.
What is there to eat around here?
In Invak people subsist off the meats and eggs of the various lizards that make their home in the wastes, along with mushrooms and all sorts of strange roots. There is nothing good to eat anywhere.
Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
The Elder Signs, rune inscribed stones that keep the Old Ones at bay, would probably be quite handy.
Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
Few creatures are interested hoarding treasure on Carcosa besides the various races of Men. Of course, it’s not clear what anyone actually does with their piles of gold and jewels: Carcosa is a crap hole world with nothing good to buy.