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July 15, 2012 / Wythe

Where is Carcosa?

Where do we find “Carcosa” (concept, site, events, inhabitants, tech) on earth, or on our particular erath (the desertified/desecrated future earth)?

Bierce intends his ambiguous Carcosa to occupy a position on a future earth—a Rip Van Winkle city—but most interpreters today place it on an earthlike exoplanet. (The current definitive interpretation is Geoffrey McKinney’s.)

In 100 Million Years, “Carcosa” as a site of weird/Lovecraftian/paleopunk action could be in one or more locations; it could be distributed from the beginning or following the fragmentation of some Carcosa state/stratum within the essentially missing 100 million years of history that apophatically define the game.

But where are these various colored men and their ruins of Snake Man and alien technology hiding? Wouldn’t they stick out? How to integrate one’s own unique ideas with another set in a way that preserves the essence and playfulness of both…

  1. The West – Humans in the mantid-/fomori-dominated West may have lost civilization but preserved a grim independence, in scattered pockets. Here, the Carcosan men have to face not only aliens and shoggoths, but also the mantid slavers.
  2. “Lemuria” (large island far south of Pala) – Isolated, distant, this island, purposefully left under-thought, could house all of “Carcosa” and allow for relatively easy integration into any campaign on Pala.
  3. Luna – All we know about Luna and her inhabitants comes from a few lists and are psychedelic maps. Perhaps the Far Side or a forgotten plateau on the Near Side provides an undisturbed site for Carcosan anti-culture to have developed.
  4. Tsune – The other moon, never terraformed… by the Tephnians. Isn’t it possible the Snake Men and or aliens flew here 5000 years ago and seeded the misshapen sickle-rock with life, somehow setting up analogs for atmosphere, protective ozone, foodbase, gravity—perhaps even the very beginnings (hugely misinterpreted) of culture?
  5. Asmaar, the Unsea – Pala is huge and underpopulated. Isn’t it possible that a fairly large group of posthumans have simply remained hidden, far below or atop an isolated plateau in the middle of the vast central desert? These Carcosans would be much “drier” than the ones in McKinney’s opus, but similarly savage.
  6. Northwest Latura – Beyond the desert, at the edge of the oxygen-poisoned Nusea, perhaps there is a band of inhabitable forest where Carcosan men dwell, hunted by megafauna and aliens—and by incursions of Laturan imperial forces searching for archaetech, or for “sorcerers” (untrained hell scientists)…

I alluded to this earlier, but I find the most interesting solution to be that “Carcosa” is spread across all of these options. If the PCs were to somehow “hunt down” Carcosa and her inhabitants, I would perhaps roll twice and distribute the action across the ruined earth.

And I’d throw in these guys, whom I’ve been calling the Plague Church:

This image is not by me but is tremendously scary. #LoveIt. Makes me think of Carcosa immediately, of ritual murder… #Shudder.

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