Carcassay – Titan Rat City

By Joseph R. Lewis
Dungeon Age Adventures

The ancient world of Harth withers beneath its dying sun…but it’s not dead yet. Welcome to the strange and dangerous city of Carcassay, huddled below the skeleton of a titan rat, sprawling above the ruins of countless dead civilizations. This is where folk come to find wealth, power, revenge, secrets, oblivion… and everything in between.

This 120 page supplement details the shops and people in a city built around a GIANT rat skeleton, as well as three “dungeons” under it. It’s full of quirky people and treasure and the like. It’s also almost certainly not an adventure, in spite of the three dungeons.

So, weirdo city. Kind of? We’ll get to that statement later. This presents a city with a few quarters, the lands outside of it in the immediate vicinity, some sewers, and a few dungeon/underground areas. Let’s call it eight or so places in the city and another twenty or so outside, with as many underground again, roughly. This is presented in the typical Dungeon Age format of triple column with underlines, bolds, and section call outs, which all works very well for a terse format that is easy to reference during play. I can’t say enough good things about it; Lewis knows his format and knows how to use it. We’re getting about three shops/buildings a page, using this format, with a few exceptions for some of the more weird ones … which generally means the more faction-oriented of the sites.Cross-references are pretty good here, with decent references to other sites to help a DM out during play.

Lewis has a knack for terse and evocative writing. A pawn show is described as “A small shop crowded with dusty shelves laden with old assorted wares. A large woman reclines in the corner, petting an old hound.” A hound that barks out but has not much bite. And a woman that is described as “Large, bob, monocle. Slow, deliberate, precise. Wants to get away from this city. Fears religion.” That’s great! We get a little physical and a little mannerism, along with some goals and fears of hers to help the DM add some additional colour to the running her. The descriptions, especially of the people, are totally oriented to helping the DM riff on them during play. You can really get in to them and run them in an ad hoc manner, filling in things as you need to, with guidance from the designer, as you deal with the parties machinations. I can’t say enough about it. Another example could be Miss Ophelia: “Miss Ophelia (20),

amateur rat-catcher. Small, babyface. Awkward, shy. Loves animals. Loves killing animals. She’s complicated. Paid by the shop owners to keep the street clean of vermin.” Loves animals, loves killing animals … she’s complicated. GREAT! I don’t know how the fuck dude comes up with this shit but its very high fucking quality and occasional GOLD, like Miss Ohpelia. 

And it gies on like this, entry after entry, with most also having some small task that the party could accomplish. Some entries refer to others, with things like “sure would be nice if someone burnet down his new rivals inn … “ or some such. People wanting things and, in some way, having something to bargain with that DOESN’T feel just like a job board with posted rewards in the town square. Hows about a flash of 6000 year old absinthee or a Ossuary of 4d6 tiny skilver 

So far I have described the thing as buildings, individual things that you could putt out for your own cities, or perhaps in pairs the like in some cases. A few of them are weird enough, or idiosyncratic enough to this setting, that it’s going to be hard to pull out. But that’s general not the case.

The city, proper, though … well, we need a little more, I think.

It does feel more like the individual buildings are disconnected. The overarching themes, and even major factions don’t really come through very well. There is a VERY short section in front of each city section, a short paragraph, describing it roughy, n terms of sights and smells and so on. But, also, there’s no real VIBE of major factions at play, or themes, or so on. Sure, you’ve got the Corpse Lords in one section, but, also, they feel more than a little static. In fact, it pretty much ALL feels static. Like, hey, here’s something you could do with this business/person that I just described. Does that make sense? It’a a list of businesses with things that could happen to that business (which is great) but it lacks the feel of a larger scope than perhaps an individual business. Even the ones which cross business boundaries, like burn down Franks inn, are little more than that statement. But the overall VIBE of the city just isn’t there. The scope, of the interactivity, feels small.And this would extend to the dungeon areas. They don’t really feel connected, the rooms in each I mean, to each other. Here’s some rooms and here’s some dudes in those rooms and oh yeah they want the thing that those dudes in room 23 have. The sense of viscerallity of people wants and fears doesn’t really come through on these things. 

“Blackest Heart (appears to be a preserved human heart, the bearer can sense the emotions of any creature they can see).” Oh man, that’s a good fucking item … and this thing is thick with them!

So, not an adventure, even, I would assert, in spite of the three dungeons included. And not really a city, in the sense of machinations held together by people. It is a lot more individual building based, or even group based,without those crossing in others. Perfect for stealing from though. I love the place! The density of city places to steal from is VERY high.

This is $10 at DriveThru.The preview is nineteen pages. More than enough to get a sense of the place. CHeck out actual page ten from the preview for the “overview” of each city quarter.

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11 Responses to Carcassay – Titan Rat City

  1. Totally fair review!

    I created Carcassay to run a West Marches campaign for my players, because every week a different group of people showed up. So I just said, “You all are staying in the same inn, and each day some random collection of you guys head out into the city to seek your fortune.”

    I think it worked well. Each player latched on to a couple of NPCs and quests, and it was pretty easy to advance each of their stories when they showed up.


    • A Swordfish says:

      That’s really awesome.

    • Brandon says:

      That makes sense. I could see this working with a certain group of proactive players who really attach themselves on random NPCs. Especially if they were the chaotic kind inclined to burn down a rival business of the new favorite NPC they just met. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m the kind of player who would enjoy that unless I was playing a goblin or something.

      • That’s fair. But most of the NPC quests in the city involve finding things or people, solving business or personal problems, escorting, stealing items, etc. Very few of them are “do violence to someone”. Although, when players begin allying with various factions, the odds of violence with rival factions (knights, cultists, priests, etc.) goes up

  2. The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

    Help me out here..

    And a woman that is described as “Large, bob, monocle. Slow, deliberate, precise. Wants to get away from this city. Fears religion.”

    What does ‘bob’ mean?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I will be watching and would love to see your next city adventure

    JRL your format and writing really helps me as a dm and my players loved your dead god adventure. I also used your side quests to great effect in my sandbox

    I bought this and agree with Bryce. More connections would be great, even x loves y and hates z for npcs and factions add so much

    Swordfish Island does that really well

    Joseph i love your work

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