Sunday, February 9, 2020

Tribes of Carcosa - a PBeM game concept

A concept I don't have the time or resources to develop... but which sounds very cool to me.

This is a play-by-e-mail (PBeM) strategy game with roleplaying elements. It uses Carcosa as the basic setting, and adds in the tribe management mechanics from Wolf-Packs & Winter Snow.

Fantastic Planet, 1973

Each player controls a "tribe" that lives on the doomed planet of Carcosa. "Tribe" in this case denotes a range of communities, and is used for the sake of convenience. Because an important feature of this game would be the diversity of these communities. Some are small and mobile, others are numerous but settled. Some are technologically advanced, others are in the stone age. Maybe some are space aliens, others are one of the many types of humans of Carcosa. Their resource base, social hierarchy (or the lack of hierarchy), their religion, their traditions are all different. These features are created using a mix of rules, random tables, and free-form descriptions.

Fortunately, there are many resources out there to aid the creation process.

For example, the amazing collections of the Hyadian Schism project are a great starting point. The zero level character generator could be taken as the base for a community/tribe generator.

Another inspiring resource is the blog of Will B., Rogues Repast, with lots of instantly gameable background materials for Carcosa. I love their Carcosan community generator.

Each round (which is probably a week in real-time, and represents a month of game-time), the player describes what the tribe does, using the work and role distribution mechanics from Wolf-Packs & Winter Snow, and also in general terms, interacting with whatever events they face or locations they have around them.

The Game Master describes the outcomes, and describes developments, triggers new events, rolls on random tables, etc. These can relate to the inner workings of the tribe (a new challenger for the role of the leader emerges; somebody commits a terrible crime - how do you judge and punish them?; crops are blighted), developments in nearby locations (the Monolith of the Unnamed Ones two hexes away is reactivated, what do you do?; a new tribe settles next to you) and so on.

Of course, this needs a lot of planning, and a lot of dedication and effort to maintain, even with a small number of players (6?). But the idea itself is alluring.


  1. This sounds super cool! I would definitely play if you were ever going to run it.

    I had somewhat similar ideas for a Carcosa campaign, except that the tribe management stuff would be in the background and serve as a motivator for the PCs to go out on adventures. I think that taking care of your tribe would add some emotional connection to a setting that otherwise might get unbearably grim.

    1. I agree!

      You can definitely use the tribe management from Wolf-Packs in-between sessions of a regular game, too. That's what it's originally made for.

  2. I think you should take this further, if only because I'd love to play in such a game.

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      Hex 0817
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