A monster on the verge of eating an adventurer.


A Carcosan Western

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on November 18, 2016

Tagged: carcosa osr motu western

Trey wrote about Westerns, and it reminded me of this half finished blog post I had written about my (now on hiatus) Carcosa game.

I had pitched the D&D campaign as Masters of the Universe crossed with Carcosa. Looking back at it now, i’m not sure that’s what I was ever really running. It was often goofy and light hearted, which I like, but without all the Masters of the Universe overtones I was hoping to inject. What I had been running, in hindsight, was a Western. Perhaps this is coloured by my reading a Blood Meridian, but it feels like the line between post apocalypse science fiction and the Wild West is quite fine. You have lawlessness, violence, and a collapse of societal norms and obligations in both. My players spend their time wandering a dangerous wilderness, visiting towns with their own rules of law. They go on missions escorting caravans, and hunt slavers for bounty.

Because I am so chronically underprepared, I went with XP for gold as the means of gaining levels. Rather than simply giving people XP for killing slavers directly, I gave my players gold in the form of a bounty in their home base. The end result is they travel the wastes cutting off heads to prove they have killed a vile Jale slaver. Gruesome, no doubt, but it’s all sort of abstract in the game. No one really dwells on the fact they are carting around a big bag of heads. After reading McCarthy’s book it feels far more dark and grizzly. It’s easy to project one story on top of the other.

Westerns are one of my favourite genres of film, but they aren’t what I had intended to run. When I pick up my Carcosa game again I need to think harder about what themes and tropes made Masters of the Universe the show it was. Also, I need to run a D&D game again.


Masters of the Universe Morality

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on October 13, 2015

Tagged: motu carcosa

Thanks to the hard working people at Wikipedia we have the following life lessons from He-Man:

  1. Man-at-Arms tells viewers they’ll all make mistakes, but to “try, try again” and remain confident.
  2. Orko tells viewers some strangers are dangerous, so never accept gifts from or talk to any.
  3. Man-at-Arms tells viewers He-Man’s brain helped more than his muscles in that problem, and that brains can and should be exercised.
  4. He-Man tells viewers to be cautious, whether or not a public safety official is around.
  5. Teela tells viewers caring adoptive parents deserve the same love caring biological parents get.
  6. Man-at-Arms tells viewers to first consider whether any practical jokes they play on friends may cause accidental serious injury.
  7. Orko tells viewers animals should not be treated as tools, but with kindness and respect.
  8. He-Man tells viewers drugs can not make their problems go away, and will often cause more.
  9. Teela tells viewers to admit their mistakes rather than lying to cover them up.
  10. Teela tells viewers they should question everything that does not seem right, but “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.
  11. Teela tells viewers they should obey their parents, who have their best interests at heart when disallowing fun things.
  12. Teela tell viewers to check with a doctor before physical exercise, and to start off slow.
  13. He-Man tells viewers courage is not so much about braving danger as it is about sticking to personal principles in times of temptation.
  14. Orko tells viewers to not eat any strange fruit they find, no matter how alluring, as it might be poisonous.
  15. Adam tells viewers to share big problems with someone who cares, rather than feeling ashamed to ask for help.
  16. Adam tells viewers money can make others act nicely toward them, but it can not buy a true friend.
  17. Zodac tells viewers to protect their ecosystem from wasteful and dangerous pollution.
  18. He-Man reminds viewers what Prince Adam said after “Daimar the Demon”; if a problem is too much, ask for help from someone you trust.
  19. He-Man tell viewers attention seeking attracts a bad kind of attention, while being polite and helpful makes people like you.
  20. Teela tells viewers music can help them feel better, and suggests singing, humming or whistling when sad.
  21. Teela tells viewers they may get away with a bad deed for a while, but it will eventually be punished.
  22. Teela tells viewers cooperation makes a job easier, and by respecting others’ contrary opinions, they may learn something.
  23. Man-at-Arms tell viewers to resist the impulse to do something their wiser parent says is dangerous.
  24. Orko tells viewers to appreciate the greatest magic of all during their daily life, which is life itself.
  25. He-Man tell viewers anyone can change their bad habits, and the first step is telling themselves, “I can.”
  26. Orko tells viewers parental love is the strongest love there is, and suggests telling their parents “I love you”.
  27. Orko tells viewers to have three meals each day, and to not overeat.
  28. He-Man tells viewers books are a viable entertainment alternative to television.
  29. Man-at-Arms tells viewers they owe much to the adventurers through history, bravely facing unknown dangers so we may follow safely.
  30. Sorceress tells viewers they all have the Starchild’s invisible power to bring people together; it is called love and is invoked through being kind and gentle.
  31. Teela tells viewers to respect trees along with all life, and be a happier person for it.
  32. Orko tells viewers to avoid heavy eating or exercise before sleep, which should be at the same time each day.
  33. Zodac tells viewers it is just as important to know when to use great power as when to not.
  34. Orko tells viewers to admit their mistakes and deal with them, rather than run away.
  35. He-Man tells viewers to enjoy nature, but to leave things where they are.
  36. He-Man tell viewers of the Magna Carta, which they praise as the first step toward social equality, or “the way it should be”.
  37. Man tells viewers that while headbutting walls and doors looks like fun, it is actually quite dangerous.
  38. Adam tells viewers to stay out of abandoned buildings, where they could be hurt or trapped.
  39. Orko tell viewers repetition and rehearsal are key to remembering things like lines.
  40. Man-At-Arms tell viewers to honor their promises, to say what they mean and mean what they say.
  41. Orko tells viewers they do not need talent or possessions, they are special just for being themselves and real friends will know it.
  42. Teela tells viewers nightmares are no more real than fairy tales, and suggests talking about them with someone.
  43. He-Man tells viewers museums are storehouses of knowledge, and knowledge is a power more precious than gold or jewels.
  44. Teela tells viewers fear is a common and natural warning of danger, and to heed it without shame or guilt.
  45. Man-at-Arms tell viewers that accepting responsibility can instantly turn a boy to a man.
  46. He-Man tells viewers not to blindly follow orders from leaders who may be irresponsibly selfish, but consider what is right and wrong for themselves.
  47. Man-at-Arms tells viewers to judge people on their behaviour, not their appearance.
  48. Man-at-Arms tells viewers to accept and learn from their mistakes, rather than beat themselves up about them.
  49. Orko tells viewers carelessness is dangerous, and to “play it safe”.
  50. He-Man tells viewers to not let the spirit of competition lead to injuries or anger in games, and to “play it safe”.
  51. Teela tells viewers beauty is skin deep, that ugly people are often the “most beautiful to know” and those who look beautiful can be ugly inside.
  52. He-Man tells viewers a symbol like a sword can’t make a leader, but intelligence, respect for others and an unselfish desire to do good can.
  53. Adam tells viewers historical figures were once real people, like them.
  54. He-Man tells viewers the threat of drowning is very real, and to never swim alone.
  55. He-Man tells viewers it takes more courage to not fight when someone calls them a coward.
  56. Orko tells viewers to not boast when playing games, to be a good winner and a good loser.
  57. He-Man tells viewers everybody deserves a second chance, but if they keep getting into trouble, they might not be worth keeping around.
  58. Teela tells viewers than being calm and reasonable during arguments, rather than angry, is the best way to solve a problem.
  59. Teela tells viewers their parents are their best friends, since they help and care through illness and other bad times.
  60. Orko tells viewers to not fear others for looking different, but to appreciate their thoughts and actions.
  61. Adam tell viewers to not discriminate by race or religion, rather by actions.
  62. Orko tell viewers patience can keep them from rushing into trouble.
  63. Teela tells viewers to accept responsibility for their mistakes, and not shift the blame onto others.
  64. again tell viewers “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.
  65. Teela tell viewers the “Golden Rule” of treating others the way you’d like them to treat you.
  66. Orko tells viewers to ask for help with their problems, rather than just feeling sorry for themselves.
  67. Orko tell viewers there are vast quantities and varieties of entertainment and information in books.
  68. He-Man tells viewers to help their fellow humans when they see a problem too big for one alone.
  69. Teela tell viewers that, while human progress will inevitably destroy many trees, it is important to leave some areas of wilderness for everyone to enjoy.
  70. Fisto tells viewers to lend a hand when they see others struggling with a task, and to not be too proud to ask for the same.
  71. Teela tell viewers meeting responsibilities for a workload breeds dependability, the “first step to becoming a winner”.
  72. Orko tells viewers to not discount old people, who often have much wisdom to combine with the vitality of youth, resulting in a better time for everyone.
  73. He-Man tells viewers everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves a second chance (as he did in “The Golden Discs of Knowledge”).
  74. He-Man tells viewers treating an animal with respect and kindness is far more fun than forcing it to fight.
  75. Man tell viewers to keep calm in arguments with friends, lest they say something hurtful they’ll later regret.
  76. Man-at-Arms tell viewers the best and quickest way to end a battle is an act of compassion, not of revenge.
  77. Teela tells viewers to not “let a few bad apples spoil the bunch”; that is, not blame or judge a group of people for an individual member’s actions.
  78. Man-At-Arms tell viewers play is just as important as work, but to always consider the safety rules of any game.
  79. Cringer tell viewers to trust their instincts, whether feeling fear or courage.
  80. Teela tell viewers a good idea can come from an unexpected place, so to keep an open mind.
  81. He-Man tells viewers fears which might be called phobias can often be healthy and normal deterrents from dangers like fire, water or heights.
  82. Adam tells viewers accepting a dare is oten a foolish path to trouble, and they should do what they feel is right, regardless of peer pressure.
  83. Orko tells viewers a lie not only hurts others, but themselves; lying to cover lies and forgetting which were already told makes a small lie into a big one.
  84. Adam tells viewers cooperation can make a tedious or impossible task much easier and even fun.
  85. Teela tells viewers to let those who’ve been kind and helpful to them know how much that means.
  86. Squinch tells viewers their maximum level of ability isn’t as important as their effort to work at that level.
  87. Teela tells viewers to consider the victim’s safety and feelings before playing a practical joke.
  88. Orko tells viewers to not take a rumor about someone at face value, and ask for their side of the story before judging.
  89. Teela tells viewers to not jump to conclusions; a somewhat bird-like creature lands on her shoulder and repeats this twice.
  90. Man-At-Arms tells viewers not to touch or especially ingest anything labeled with a face like Skeletor’s; just like Skeletor, they spell bad news.
  91. He-Man tells viewers books are the closest thing they have to a working time machine, while holding three fiction books: Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn and The Time Machine.
  92. Orko tells viewers those with living grandparents are especially lucky.
  93. Orko tell viewers if they practice hard at anything they want to do well, the results will eventually surprise them.
  94. Orko tell viewers revenge just leads to more revenge, and to forgive rather than continue the cycle.
  95. He-Man tells viewers to treat envy not with theft, but by asking politely to share; they might even make a friend.
  96. Orko tell viewers their parents punish them to teach right from wrong, not because they like it.
  97. Man-At-Arms tells viewers imagination and intelligence are more wonderful than physical strength, and to exercise their brains along with their muscles.
  98. Man-At-Arms tells viewers to listen to their conscience, and if they’re still confused after that, ask someone they trust.
  99. Adam tells viewers to not gamble with things that aren’t theirs.
  100. Man-at-Arms tells viewers to not feel bad for failure, as long as they did the best job they could do.
  101. Orko tells viewers not to make up stories or exaggerate, lest nobody trust even their true stories.
  102. Man-At-Arms tells viewers to generally be safe, and specifically, to wear a seat belt and not play with fire.
  103. Man-At-Arms tells viewers there is no such thing as absolute good or evil in any group. Orko suggests judging people on their actions, more than appearance or even words.
  104. Teela tells viewers drugs can make them sick, dead or dangerous, and to check with someone they love before taking any.
  105. Teela tells viewers there’s often no time to think about helping a friend, they just have to do it; it may come back to them in an unexpected reward.
  106. Man-At-Arms tells viewers to be good winners, showing mercy and respect to defeated opponents.
  107. He-Man tells viewers of the unstoppable progression of time and its effect of change.
  108. Man-At-Arms tells viewers to resist gluttony and greed.
  109. Orko tell viewers sometimes fairy tales come true. The king says acting beautiful matters more than looking ugly.
  110. Orko tells viewers to leave potentially dangerous practical jokes to the pros, like him.
  111. Marlena tells viewers helping others helps themselves, by making them feel good.
  112. Orko tell viewers not to exaggerate in anecdotes, as it can lead to wildly inaccurate gossip and difficulty in discerning truth.
  113. Man-At-Arms tells viewers that people with different abilities can combine them into an ability greater than the sum of its parts, and this can make many jobs much easier.
  114. Teela tells viewers to be careful when running or climbing, and that it’s more important to get somewhere at all than get there fast.
  115. Adam tells viewers it’s fun to lose and to pretend, but that there’s a line between make-believe and outright lying they shouldn’t cross.
  116. Orko tell viewers not to take gifts from strangers, or keep any secrets they ask you to keep from parents.
  117. Teela tells viewers violence isn’t the best answer to any problem, as it only causes more problems.
  118. He-Man tells viewers doing chores keeps a house running smoothly, even if they seem pointless or boring.
  119. Man-At-Arms tells viewers they can’t win if they don’t try, so to keep persisting even when it looks hopeless.
  120. Ricky tells viewers that having an genuine interest in something makes it seem less like work.
  121. Man-At-Arms tells viewers to weigh out all the evidence and consider the sources before jumping to conclusions.

There are 124 episodes of He-Man, sadly three were missing lessons. I was planning on concluding my session re-caps with words of wisdom from He-Man.


16 More Encounters for Carcosa

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on April 21, 2013

Tagged: carcosa lotfp osr homebrew motu

Continuing with the theme of my last random encounters for Carcosa, here are an additional set of weird encounters for your PCs to stumble upon.

d16 Encounter
1 A Green Man cyborg (AC 18, MV 60’, HD 6, Lawful) leads a battalion of 3-12 soldiers armed with an assortment of Alien weaponry. The cyborg will repair any Alien technology Lawful PCs may possess, and will attack any PCs who make their allegiance to the forces of Chaos known. He is searching for his adopted daughter.
2 Citadel of 98 Red Men led by “The Ram”, a Lawful 4th-level Fighter. “The Ram” is a behemoth of a man, never seen without his indestructible helmet.
3 Spawn of Shub-Niggurath (AC 14, MV 120, HD 6, Multiple Alignments [intelligent]): An Orange humanoid with a smooth hide and 3 heads. One head is humanoid (and Lawful), one head is robotic (and Neutral) and the last head is bestial (and Chaotic). When first encountered, or whenever the creature is under stress, roll a d6 to see which head is currently in control of the beast: 1-2 - the humanoid; 3-4 - the robot; 5-6 the monster.
4 A Jale Man Sorcerer (AC 16, MV 120’, HD 8, Neutral) wearing a Red breast plate sits on a giant Cthulhu shaped throne, alone at the lowest levels of the Cavern of the Time Lords. He may share his knowledge of Carcosa with those who seek him out.
5 Spawn of Shub-Niggurath (AC 14, MV 120’ / 160’ [Flying], HD 6, Neutral [intelligent]): A Brown avioid with a feathered hide and a toothed mouth. There is a 4 in 6 chance that when encountered the beast will be in flight.
6 A squat Purple Man Sorcerer (AC 12, MV 90’ / 120’ [Flying], HD 2, Lawful) in flowing robes and an over sized hat is in the process of botching the ritual The Glyphs of the Ebon Lake.
7 1 Sabertooth Tiger (intelligent).
8 A Blue Man (AC 16, MV 120’, HD 2, Lawful) with a cybernetic augmentation that allows him to extend his head several meters above his body is surveying the wilderness. He is armed with a bright yellow mace and can not be surprised.
9 A damaged Alien vehicle, with 4 tank treads instead of wheels. Characters with an intelligence of 16 or more may attempt to repair the machine, with a cumulative chance of 10% per week of succeeding. (i.e after ten weeks the tank will be repaired.) It is large enough to comfortably transport 12 men.
10 Village of 366 Brown Men ruled by “the Silver Fist,” a Lawful 6th-level Fighter. The Silver Fist rides into battle on cybernetic horses and wields a mysterious purple sword.
11 A foreboding grey castle sits empty save for its custodian, an Orange Woman 18th-level Sorcerer. The castle is circumscribed by a bottomless chasm. A single bridge leads to its imposing doors shaped in the visage of a skull. The sorcerer will not leave the castle, and is immortal and invulnerable while within its walls. She will aid all those who actively seek to defend Carcosa from the forces of Chaos.
12 What appears to be a simple rock is in fact The Starseed, a source of unlimited power. At any given time there are at least 1-6 high level sorcerers actively searching for the artifact.
13 A White Woman (AC 14, MV 120’, HD 4, Lawful) is locked in battle with a Deep One. She fights with a large wooden staff and is searching for her mother.
14 1 Orange Mastodon. The beast may shoot acid from its trunk 3 times a day.
15 A beautiful young woman, an astronaut from Earth, lays wounded in a recently crashed spacecraft. The ship is damaged beyond repair.
16 Village of 130 Dolm Men ruled by “The Master of the Universe,” a 1st Level Fighter. He wields a magic sword in battle: on command the sword grants +20 HD, and the saving throws of a 20th level Fighter. Only those chosen by the powers of the Grey Castle may hold aloft the magic sword.

16 Encounters on Carcosa

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on October 20, 2012

Tagged: carcosa lotfp osr homebrew motu

In How Brightly Coloured Should Carcosa Be? Richard Guy discusses the relationship between He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Carcosa. It’s probably one of the most enjoyable things i’ve read since getting back into gaming.

With that in mind, here are 16 new hex descriptions for your Carcosa game.

1D16Hex Description
1An Orange Man 1 dressed in furs hunts a band of mutant men. He is armed with a whip and accompanied by 2-12 giant beasts and dinosaurs; these creatures are under his complete control.
2Spawn of Shub-Niggurath (AC 18, MV 120, HD 3, Chaotic): a blue arachnoid with two red eyes and a toothed mouth. It currently entangled in a grappling hook and 100' of rope. An orange laser pistol can be found in its belly.
31 Deep One.
4Village of 278 Yellow Men ruled by “the Evil Queen,” a Chaotic 9-th Level Sorcerer.
5A humanoid robot (AC 16, MV 90', HD 4, Chaotic) guards the remains of a crashed alien spaceship. He is armed with a sword and a laser pistol. His 3 large eyes rotate about his head. He can not be surprised and will react with hostility to all who approach.
6A Blue Man Cyborg with a metal jaw and a robotic hook arm (AC 18, MV 90', HD 4, Chaotic) commands a group of 6-36 Blue Men bandits armed with bone weapons. The bandits demand the players hand over any metal items in their possession, which their leader will proceed to eat. The Cyborg earns +1 to hit for each piece of metal he consumes; this effect lasts one day. (When encountered he has a 0-3 bonus to hit.) His hunger for metal can not be satiated.
7A hulking Blue Man (AC 15, MV 120', HD 6, Chaotic) with unusual red hair wields a cursed two handed sword. (This character wields the sword one handed, carrying a shield in the other.) Any character possessing the sword is compelled to eradicate all white men from the world; with each white man they kill their hair turns a darker shade of red. The sword is -1 to hit, but +3 to hit vs. White Men.
8Monastery of 56 Brown Men ruled by “the Golden Hand,” a Chaotic 5-th Level Fighter.
9Village of 156 Green Men ruled by "the Dragon," a 4th-level Sorcerer. The Sorcerer's research has left him disfigured: he has the scales and tail of a lizard, and is cold blooded.
10Spawn of Shub-Niggurath (AC 18, MV 90' / 120' [swimming], HD 3, Neutral [intelligent]): an orange anthropoid with scaly skin, two yellow eyes, and a toothed mouth. One of its arms is an oversized claw. In its other hand it carries a green mace.
11A large bird of prey stalks the players. After 1-3 hours it will turn and fly off into the distance. The bird does not attempt to hide its presence.
12A disfigured two-headed mutant man lays face down in the ground. His body is half purple & half blue. Characters who investigate the body must make a Save vs. Death Ray each turn or suffer a random mutation.
13A Purple Man hangs limp from a tree. He is pierced head to toe by spikes. Two tridents lay near his lifeless body.
1412 Black Men led by a putrid smelling Sorcerer (AC 18, MV 120', HD 3, Chaotic) are in the middle of casting Manifestation of the Putrescent Stench. The Sorcerer is armed with a laser pistol and wears a bright orange alien space suit.
154 Snake Men attempt to repair a time machine. The Snake Men and their collection of high-tech gadgetry are incomprehensible to characters with an intelligence score less than 18.
16A massive snake shaped citadel coils around the peaks of a craggy mountain. Within 22 Bone Man are led by a Chaotic 16th-level Sorcerer. He is planning the total conquest of Carcosa.