Saturday, 8 July 2017

Mapping Carcosa part deux

The experiment to map out a Carcosa-style environment continues... with a look back at what has happened so far. So in the spirit of all TV shows at the moment:

"Previously, on 'Mapping Carcosa'... (FX: bell-like theme tune)"
Current map showing settlements with individuals and groups that may belong to them
Well, the area of the Ulfire Men is pretty interesting I think. I didn't put things there on purpose - it just happened that I'd put two encounters in one hex and they both turned up as villages of Ulfire Men, and it happened that one of the encounters in the hex next door was also a village of Ulfire Men. The middle and north-eastern village were - co-incidentally - ruled by Chaotic Sorcerers, and again co-incidentally I generated the same 'cultural quirk' for them - the uniform with the red stripe. All just random determinations.

So, there's definitely something going on there. 800 Ulfire Man is a decent population, about 55% of population the region. If they were united (especially by a gaggle of Chaotic Sorcerers) they'd probably overcome most opposition in the area. Perhaps that's why there are so many settlements on water (1/2 of castles and 2/5 of villages) - because the Ulfire Men rule the land in that eastern portion. Another way to look at this is every non-Ulfire settlement bar one is on water (3/4), no Ulfire settlement is, and of land-based settlements, 3/4 are of Ulfire Men. Ulfire Men avoid water; pretty much everyone else favours it. However (perhaps luckily for the others), the Ulfire Men are not united.

Two things may have happened to a posited 'Unified Ulfire Culture' in that area; either a Neutral Fighter has taken Village 17 from a Chaotic Sorcerer, or the Chaotic Sorcerers in 16 and 23 have recently taken over and are building a power-bloc. Either way, it looks like war between different Ulfire factions. Even the idea that the Neutral-led Ulfire Men have a communal toilet might hint at a militarisation of the village under the threat of the Chaotic Uniformed Sorcerers.

If I was the ruler of the Black Men, or the Orange Men, or maybe especially the Lawful ruler of the Jale Men, I'd be trying to make sure the Chaotic Sorcerers didn't take that last Ulfire village.

If on the other hand I was part of the Sorcerous cult that has supplied the leaders and ideology of Village 16 and Village 23, I'd be trying to not only conquer the last 'free' Ulfire territory, I'd also be trying to destabilise other local settlements. I might be particularly concerned about the Black Men village to the north - perhaps I'd get Black Men to bring me Mummy Brains to increase my power, or maybe, I'd give them Mummy Brains to take back home in a bid to destroy their village from within...

Moving Forward

I have a big bad hex-map with 200 hexes on it (about the size of 7 Gloucestershires or Athens-es). That, of course, is not divisible by 3. But, given that my 3-hex squares are very slightly bigger than the 10-mile hexes they're supposed to be mimicking, I'm not really bothered. I'll have 2 encounters over 2 squares and not worry about it. My version of Carcosa will probably still be slightly-less-densely-populated with encounters than the official version, on a comparison of encounters per square mile covered.

2/3 of 200 is therefore more like 2/3 of 198, plus 2. I think that is 134 encounters (therefore mimicking 134/2 or 67 10-mile hexes), of which I so far have listed 26. I also have a couple of things I've found that I'm going to slot into the space - I'm going to put Bernie the Flumph's Vaults of Man and Joesky the Dungeon Brawler's Carcosa adventure into the map as locations in specific places (the Vaults of Man implies a mountainous location for a start so that will be prioritised for a mountain area), as well as a few locations I've been working on recently. I haven't found much material from other sources - the Carcosan Grimoire aside, which has a set of procedures for settlement generation - but there are some things I think will work in a Carcosa-style setting: I'm going to be going over Chris R's Carcosa blog very carefully, and some of Michael Prescott's material from I think might work nicely.

One thing I want to do is try and keep a Carcosa-y feel while re-skinning monsters from other sources. So my 'Space Aliens' are technologically-minded yes, short yes, and grey-skinned; but I suspect that they will be a bit weaker than a standard human fighter (about HD1-1, for example); they will have good vision for seeing in darkness but will likely have a penalty for fighting in full daylight (I expect this will be -1 to hit), and they will scare easily.

Some things will, and some things will not, be like standard Carcosa. I really like the idea of using Treants as huge carnivorous plants. Pretty sure there'll be at least a few dotted around 'my' Carcosa. In fact one of them I think will be part of a locale I'm working on. On the other hand, I don't think getting rid of Thieves as a class as a class makes much sense. Sure, Thieves' Guilds (something I don't really use anyway) don't make much sense in a world without significant urbanism, but I'm happy to divorce 'skill-set' from 'cultural construct'. Essentially, not everyone is 'hard'. Some people are faster or more nimble or more sneaky (because if they can't intimidate other people, they have to be more devious to get what they want). I don't think that will change in Carcosa. I think even in a setting that's less 'feudal' and more 'heroic' (and I use that word advisedly) than the norm for elf-games, one characterised by low-intensity conflict between villages and petty warlords, some people will have sneaking, hiding and sleight-of-hand skills. Think of them as spies, assassins or explorers if you like, and justify their existence as being people who loot ancient and alien sites or got their training from sorcerous or militaristic cults who sometimes need a sneaky skill-set, but I think there's scope for such skills in Carcosa. My version, at least.

One thing I don't understand, but am happy to run with while I work out a justification, is the prevalence of castles and citadels (2/7 in the test area). To me this implies small settlements subsidiary to somewhere else. So, for example:

Encounter 7:
Citadel of 82 Yellow Men led by "the Brilliant Illumination," a Neutral 6th-level Fighter.

This implies to me that  somewhere close by there is a settlement (or group of settlements) of Yellow Men that has sent them as an organised force, rather than a settler community - there are no children or elderly there, it's a military establishment. How do 'young Yellow recruits' come and take up duties in the citadel? Of course, they could just be bandits, taken over a ruin or fortified a site for themselves, but it's difficult to see how they could sustain themselves, especially if Carcosan species of humans are not inter-fertile. If it is to be anything other than a brief occupation of Yellow Men, there needs to be some support network in place to prevent such places being obliterated by more-powerful neighbours before help could arrive from nearby Yellow settlements. Or, perhaps it's more like a 'military order', and there's a known network of Yellow settlements across a much wider area that sends recruits to the 'Citadel of the Order of the Brilliant Illumination'. Or perhaps I need to deconstruct the entries and move the descriptor 'Yellow':

Encounter 7:
Citadel of 82 Men led by "the Brilliant Illumination," a Neutral 6th-level Yellow Fighter.

If the Citadel was open to all Men (possibly except Bone Men, see the Carcosan Grimoire) then it could be self-sustaining easily as recruits could come from any of the villages in the region. I'll have to think about whether I deconstruct the generated results though, it looks a bit like cheating (OK, I'm the sort of person who, when presented with a system immediately goes 'yeah? But what if you do it like this?'... but on the other hand, I set up a system and I'm not going to subvert it just because I can't immediately explain the results. Best to try and find a justification before abandoning the system I think).

Perhaps there's information that could be gleaned from distinguishing between 'village, castle, citadel and monastery (I haven't yet generated a monastery)' in the listings. I've been thinking that 'castle' and 'citadel' are synonyms but there's no reason for them to be so. In English usage 'citadel' is used to mean 'castle-in-a-city' and that's not really appropriate, unless every Citadel generated has an unmentioned settlement outside it. It carries connotations of a central or final fortification, probably on a hill unless it's a metaphorical citadel (of faith or something), where you retreat to when all else has failed - the last impregnable fortress.

But I'm going to use 'Citadel' to mean 'wooden fort on a hill', I think, a stockaded camp of non-settlers (bandits or 'soldiers' whatever that mean in this context). 'Castle' will imply 'stone construction of 1-6 towers (and connecting walls if number of towers >1)' and could be either an ancient ruin or a relatively-recently built construction. 'Monastery' (if I ever get one), which really means something like 'place of those who are separate', will mean 'walled settlement inhabited for educational or devotional purposes' - they will have some defences but not like castles. Their ideology will depend on the generation of their leader - leaders can Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic, and classed as Fighters or Sorcerers. A monastery commanded by a Lawful Fighter implies something very different to a monastery led by a Chaotic Sorcerer, so that's a place to start with determining the character of the place. I might need to determine the monastery's age and/or construction material too. Say, d8 a table something like this:

1 - less than 10 years, wood
2 - 10-50 years, mixed wood and stone
3 - 50-100 years, stone
4 - 100-200 years, stone
5 - 200-300 years, stone
6 - 300-500 years, stone
7 - 500-1000 years, stone
8 - more than 1000 years, crystal or other exotic material

- where 'wood' and 'stone' can be replaced with any suitable local materials (eg the most easily-obtained relatively-tough building material is the carapaces of giant arthropods, that might be a substitute for wood).

That all seems a reasonable workaround I think. 

Now I'll start applying some of that in another area to work up. I have 6 or 7 more areas the same size as the region I've already detailed, but I will experiment with alternative generations in other areas - in a future post...

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