A monster on the verge of eating an adventurer.


20 Quick Questions for your Campaign Setting

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on May 10, 2014

Tagged: carcosa campaign mastersofcarcosa

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Who is the richest person in the land?

    “The Icon of Judgment” is said to possess vast amounts of wealth.

  7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?

    Nowhere. Sorcery is only used for evil and wickedness.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

    Maybe, but they are secret.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.


20 Quick Questions: Rules

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on May 05, 2014

Tagged: carcosa campaign mastersofcarcosa

I wrote this up some time ago for a Carcosa campaign I may never run. Brendan of Necropraxis suggested answering these questions as a way to help new players quickly get a sense of what’s up with your particular game of D&D. I haven’t ran a game since I was a little kid, but if I did it’d probably look like the sort of games I’ve been playing since I got back into old-school D&D.

  1. Ability scores generation method?

    3d6 in order, just like God intended.

  2. How are death and dying handled?

    If your hit points drop below or are equal to zero make a Save vs. Death Ray and Poison: success indicates your character is merely unconscious, completely incapacitated until they can get a full week of rest; failure indicates your character is oh-so dead. If you roll a natural 20 on your saving throw roll, your character not only survives, but is invigorated by his near death. In this case your character re-rolls their HP for the session.1

  3. What about raising the dead?

    The ancient snake-men may have had a ritual for raising the dead, though it is currently lost to the ages. Perhaps intrepid adventurers may uncover such a spell, though I am sure the costs to cast it would make death look like the better choice.

  4. How are replacement PCs handled?

    Roll up a new character and we will jam them into the game somehow. It’s handy to have henchmen for such a situation.

  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?

    Individual: roll a d6, high roll goes first, your dexterity score is used to break ties.

  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?

    Yes: a 1 is always a miss, a 20 is always a hit and you deal the maximum damage for the attack.

  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?

    Of course: helmets shall be splintered! 10% of hits that would damage a character will be to a character’s head. If the character is wearing a well made helmet it will shatter protecting them from the blow.

  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?

    Yes, targets would be chosen at random when firing into the fray.

  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?

    You will probably want to avoid some fights.

  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?

    Hells no: they are the worst.

  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?

    Yes, but hopefully that won’t feel stupid. What’s the point of a Save vs. Death Ray if you don’t have death rays in your game?

  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?

    Strictly! Bust out that spreadsheet, asshole.

  13. What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?

    Leveling happens during down time. There is no need for special training.

  14. What do I get experience for?

    Finding treasure, killing monsters and terrible people, freeing slaves, stopping sorcerers, exploring the wilderness and anything else I can think of.

  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?

    Description, mostly.

  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?

    Yes, the more the merrier. Morale is handled using the obscure rules hidden within OD&D. When a morale check is required roll a 2d6, adjusted by a retainers loyalty, the higher the roll the better.

  17. How do I identify magic items?

    Characters may encounter ancient magical snake-men artifacts, or the great technologies of the Primordial Ones or the Great Race. Chances are nobody in Carcosa will know what’s up.

  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?

    Sorry, no.

  19. Can I create magic items? When and how?

    It is possible, through some long lost terrible sorcerous ritual that’s probably not worth the trouble when you can just go hunting for laser guns.

  20. What about splitting the party?

    That never works out, right?

  1. The “Hulkamaniac” rule.