Thursday, July 21, 2016

Using Carcosa, Dungeon Crawl Classics, & Mythology To Building A Sword & Planet Old School Sandbox Campaign

So I've been talking  with my buddy Steve who does a ton of long haul trucking and Dungeon Crawl Classics. He wanted me to help him out with getting his newest DCC campaign off the ground but there's already a complication! Its the Geoffrey McKinney AD&D Carcosa adventures and we're going to dive into how to get this material to work together with his DCC campaign.

I got a phone call yesterday from my buddy Steve whose perplexed with an awful case of gamer OCD over the Geoffrey McKinney's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Carcosa modules which were announced a week ago. The problem is that he's running Dungeon Crawl Classics and there's so much good OSR material coming out. Sigh. Alright let's look into getting a whole bunch of desperate adventurer types to Carcosa. The Carcosa adventures are a sandbox campaign setting  and hex crawl  they don't have PC levels on them. The setting is also geared for gonzo Lovecraftian adventuring and so your not going to break the setting by introducing DCC style characters.

So let's actually go back to 2014 and dig out from the recesses of gaming Crawljammer by Moon Dice Games. Its one of those wonderful DCC fanzines that inspired me to get into the DCC game myself. It is gonzo space opera cum sword & planet setting that emulates all of the tropes from the ray gun age of science fiction & science fantasy. You can easily have your DCC characters picked up by a Carcosian flying saucer and captured or do a prison break out for the classic DCC PC's. Crawljammer brings some very interesting options to the table for the game and easily for  Carcosa for that matter.
  • New races of aliens, new PC classes, and lots of other DCC goodness comes into play. 
  • There is also new magical and technological devices that can be incorporated into Carcosa. A new relice or item in an alien treasure vault or other place might easily be found by adventurers. Finding power cells or ammo might not be so ease. This means even more adventure hooks.
  • A bunch of minor god powers like GARUN, GOD OF SCIENTIFIC SLAUGHTER,ARS-ELEETA, GODDESS OF TECHNOLOGY,etc. all of which could easily have minor shrines and places of worship on Carcosa but it should be remembered that the Old Ones always have the power over Carcosa. 
  • The deadly nature of the setting is a perfect addition onto the DCC gaming ethos.

Now I know that I'm going be taking some real heat about the fact that the conversion of DCC and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is a bear for some folks. So last night I ran across the  DCC Monster Helper (PDF) by Jeremy Deram .Basically a  one-page document  that can be used to help quickly convert old-fashioned D&D/AD&D monsters to be used with DCC. Jeremy Deram has made my DCC gaming much easier over the last year or so. 
But let's say that you need to get your waste landers from Crawling Under A Broken Moon's setting over to Carcosa? Well that's pretty simple, once again those space aliens from Carcosa might be picking up mutants for study experimentation or worse. The aliens  most likely are given the nature of those bastards on Carcosa and have been raiding 'Merica for years. The alien prison break idea could even be turned into a character funnel for DCC on Carcosa.

Look I'm not done yet folks, last night I'm sitting up at four A.M. and I'm reading this great little article about the differences between Marvel Mythology vs. Norse Mythology. 
How will you deal with the vast polar opposites of these two cultural icons? Well don't, one is a mythology of incredible cultural complexity and the other is an alien god set of  pop culture creations. The fact is that both pantheons have been feeding of the beliefs of mortals for years and clashing in the heavens leading too epic warfare or at least they have in my campaigns. The debris of these conflicts might be found in the wastelands of Crawling or on Carcosa. This give the DM even more fodder for hex crawl encounters. But what about the levels of PC's? Well these are hex crawls and the disparaging of encounter levels is to be expected.

No that's not the only option or two on the table, a recent O5R review by Rpg Pundit put something very interesting on the table. 
Yes I'm going to mention  "Alpha Blue", writen by "Venger As'nas Satanis" again and in reference with Carcosa.

One of the parts that really struck me was this bit of review material,"Now, the good: even if you take out all the tables related to eye-rolling benny-hill type naughtiness, this book comes with TONS of spectacular random-tables that could be of use for any number of sci-fi games.  The setting itself, divorced of the excessive sleaze, is very interesting, and a GM who wanted to could ignore the nudge-nudge wink-wink schoolboy salaciousness and you'd be left with a great premise for a sci-fi campaign.
Ultimately, whether or not Alpha Blue will be worth buying for you will depend on how much you want to either engage with the smarm or surgically reduce it; and whether you will be interested in playing with the house system or doing your own work to adapt it to another system (OSR, for example).  If you're already running a sci-fi game (or planning to), and your game has a 1970s-style softer sci-fi feel to it along the lines of old Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica or Buck Rogers, you could use the setting material and random tables to enhance your game."
I've ignored some of the sleaze & naughtiness more then a couple of times I've run Alpha Blue with Carcosa and the various tables make some superior PC backgrounds for castaways on the planet  and for various NPC adventurers that players have encountered in the past. Alpha Blue's tables and bits can easily be used with DCC.

Now all of the above can easily be converted back into the OD&D Lamentations of the Flame Princess version of Carcosa with a bit of fifth grade math. The free Lamentations of the Flame Princess Referee book even includes conversion notes for OSRIC which give a good solid base line for the AD&D Carcosa adventures.

So remember to keep those dice rolling!

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