Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Carcosa's Thirteen Races of Man

The psychotronic and savage world of Carcosa is home to 13 races of Man, all of various colors (three of which are quite alien). Geoffrey McKinney’s Carcosa leaves the details of 13 races of Man mostly undefined. There are no mechanical differences between the races. Their cultures, traditions, and physiologies are left to the individual GMs.


Hacking Carcosa to other game systems has been an ongoing pet project of mine. The two game systems I’m most interested in converting Carcosa to are Fate and Barbarians of Lemuria. To properly use aspects and stunts in Fate, and to properly assign boons and flaws in BoL (or, at least, the way I want to do it), we need to have more information about these races.


Thankfully, that kind of stuff is fun to write.


Red Men
The Red Men of Carcosa have lean lanky builds with high foreheads and long legs. Their skin tone ranges from bright scarlet, to dusky rust, to dark crimson. Their hair tends to be several shades darker than their skin, approaching almost-black in crimson-skinned individuals. Their limbs and faces are often decorated with shimmering, geometric tattoos made from ink distilled from golden fire-cacti.


Red Man tribes live as wandering bands in the great desert wastes of Carcosa. They make no permanent settlements but follow the migration of the great stegosaurus herds they hunt. Red Men have a great resistance to heat and sun, and require only half the water of other Men. Due to their nomadic lifestyle, Red Men encounter a greater variety of Carcosan Men than other colors, very often in semi-peaceful trade. As such, the language of the Red Men has become a kind of “common tongue” for the Men of Carcosa.  


The Red men have a complicated and multi-layered system of ancestor worship. A Red Man believes the spirits of all his ancestors for the last seven generations reside within his body, and that the spirits of his ancestors’ ancestors reside within their spirit bodies, and so on and so forth. Red Men often wear the elaborately decorated skins of their ancestors as clothing. This often takes the form of sturdy and surprisingly artistic leather armor.

Yellow Men
The skin of the Yellow Men ranges from a bright lemon color to a sickly, diseased hue like old parchment. Their hair usually matches their skin tone, but takes on a metallic, golden sheen as they age. Their eyes are like beads of amber with no visible pupils or irises. Their ears come to leaf-like points. While not especially tall or short, Yellow Men to be heavy-set and gain weight easily. Unlike all other races of Carcosan Man, Yellow Women do not lay eggs, but birth their young live.


Yellow Men are the only race of Man that makes common use of watercraft. Yellow men are accomplished sailors, and often attack coastal settlements. They are feared sea raiders, and their great, fungus-hulled, wing-masted ships are visions of terror to other Men of Carcosa. Yellow Men build their villages in protected quays in small archipelagos.


With their inauspicious color and their affinity for seas and lakes, many suspect that the Yellow Men are somehow connected to Hastur (The King in Yellow). These suspicions are not unfounded. Indeed, many Yellow Men believe they are descended from the Unnamable One. More than one Yellow warlord has taken the title “The Yellow King.” None have died peacefully or well.

Purple Women
The Purple Women of Carcosa are an all-female race. The skin tone of these amazons ranges from dusky lavender to deep plumb. They are tall and athletic, and their lips and gums are black, as is their blood. Purple Women must mate with other races in order to procreate. Children from these unions are always Purple Women. The clothing, gear, and armor of Purple Women are often decorated with the bones or teeth of their mothers and grandmothers.


Purple Women live in the rolling hills and valleys of Carcosa, where they herd and breed various breeds of dinosaur. These dinosaurs are used as mounts or beasts of burden, and Purple Women are expert dino-wranglers. Raptors, triceratops, and ankylosaurs are especially favored. The Infinite War Queen of Stars is said to have rode a laser-breathing tyrannosaurus. Purple villages are usually protected by earthen walls and ruled by the most proficient warrior.


Purple Women live in fear of their ancestors’ angry ghosts. Their religious rituals and sacrifices are designed to appease these spirits. “Grandmother Ghosts” still long for battle, even after death. By wearing the bones of their ancestors into combat, the Purple Women hope to satisfy these spirits’ bloodlust.

Black Men
The Black Men of Carcosa are tall and powerfully built. A six-foot-tall Black Man is considered short by his peers, and many stand well over seven-feet-tall, approaching eight. Their skin is jet black, ranging from glossy like onyx to matte like charcoal. The eyes of a Black Man are like orbs of onyx with white or purple pupils. Their teeth are dark gray and their blood is silver. Their bodies, both male and female, are utterly hairless.


Black Men prefer to make their settlements in mountains. They inhabit caves or build small keeps of unmortared stone. Such keeps often use tamed giant scorpions as guards.


Black Men revere and worship thunderstorms, and call themselves “Children of The Violent Skies” in their own tongue. Initiate shamans are lashed to tall poles on storm battered mountain peaks and left there until they are struck by lighting. If they survive, they are considered to be blessed by the Storms Favor. Their scorched bodies and lightning-addled brains give them the gifts of prophecy.

White Men
The subterranean White Men of Carcosa are small and wiry. Few White Men ever reach the height of five feet, and their stooped posture makes them appear even smaller. Despite this, they are quick and agile. A White Man has long, dexterous hands with six four-knuckled fingers on each. White Men have large eyes, easily twice the size of a normal Man’s, that rarely blink and see well in the dark. Their skin is a dull white like chalk, but is often marred with dirt and scars. Their this hair tends towards a pale bone-yellow tint.


White Men make their homes in tunnels and caverns deep underground where light rarely shines. Sometimes these are natural caverns, sometimes they are dug by monsterous worms, sometimes they are excavated by White Men and their slaves. Many White men are supernaturally fearful of the open sky. The stars and sun terrify them.


White Men revere the great worms of Carcosa. Though they do not worship them, they respect the worms’ tenacity, hunger, and industry. As a rite of adulthood, a White Man places 40 flesh-gnawing maggots on his skin, allowing the creatures to chew spiraling scars and patterns across his skin. It is said that a grub-shaman can read a White Man’s future in these scars.

Orange Men
Carcosa’s Orange Men have sharp, angular features with prominent bone structures and knobby joints. There is little variance in their coloration, and most are a uniform candy-corn-orange. Their hair is the same shade as their skin, and facial hair is unknown among them. Orange men all share a strange, familial resemblance to each other, and other races tend to have trouble telling one Orange Man from another.


Orange Men have a weird affinity for Space Aliens and their technology. They display an almost instinctive ability for salvaging and using alien devices. Most Orange communities make their homes in the ruins of old, abandoned alien facilities or even crashed flying saucers. Some Orange Man settlements willing ally themselves with the Space Aliens, pledging their loyalty, service, and genetic stock to the aliens in exchange for protection, tutoring, and augmentation.


Orange Men revere no gods, but often worship some unfathomable piece of alien machinery. More than one Orange tribe has dedicated itself to an insane super-computer or atomic super-weapon. Some monastic gnostic sects of Orange Men revere the very concept of “knowledge” itself. The Orange language is composed of monosyllabic words that each have a mathematical value.


Blue Men
The Blue Men are widely considered the most beautiful of the races of Carcosa. They are uniformly healthy and attractive and retain their vitality well into old age. Blue Men show the greatest variety in skin tone of all the races of men. Light sky blue, rich turquoise, electric cyan, dusty slate, to deep indigo can all be found among the cities of the blue men. Hair, skin, and eye color are usually all different hues. A not-uncommon genetic mutation sometimes causes Blue men to be born with white, orange, green, or purple hair. These individuals are believed to be destined for greatness or infamy.


Blue Men are strict carnivores and have trouble digesting plant matter. Their teeth are all sharp and predatory, and Blue Men take great pride in their care. Blue courtship and sex is a violent affair. Both males and females count their lovers by the bite scars they leave hidden on their flesh.


Blue Men are the only race of Man to build large cities, sometimes housing over a thousand blue men and slaves. These are dangerous, decadent settlements of tiered manses and narcotic gardens, where the pleasures of Blue Men and Women is all-important. These cities are maintained by slaves, either broken into submission or drugged into supplication. Small armies of brain-washed slave-soldiers protect their Blue Man overlords.


Blue Men worship no gods, spirits, or monsters. Indeed they find the entire idea distasteful.

Green Men
The Green Men live in the deep, steamy jungles of Carcosa. They are androgynous hermaphrodites, possessing the sexual organs and characteristics of both males and females. Their skin tone ranges from a dark pine green, to avocado, to an almost neon lime. The skin of most Green Men is mottled with multiple shades, giving them a kind of natural camouflage in their jungle homes.


Green Men make their homes on platforms high in the branches of mighty jungle trees. Larger villages may actually carve out homes and spaces inside the trunks of huge, ancient trees. These villages are only accessible by rope ladders or elaborate and secret climbing paths that twist from branch to branch.


The Green Men venerate a number of animal totems, especially insects. In addition to each individual’s personal totem, each village reveres a communal totem, which gives the tribe its name. In combat, Green Men often wear masks and mantles that depict their totem creature. Thanks to their jungle homes, Green Men are one of the few races that have regular access to wood for their crafts.

Brown Men
Brown Men are stocky and barrel-chested with thick limbs and strong hands. The skins of young Brown Men are light brown, only a little darker than brown paper. Their skin darkens as they age, eventually becoming a deep mahogany in late adulthood. Brown Men have yellow, goat-like eyes with square pupils.


Brown Men make their secluded villages in cold fens and marshes. These villages are usually unwalled, but guarded by numerous watchtowers with sharp-eyed scouts. Brown settlements are lead by the tribe’s greatest hunter. This distinction is made once a year by a tribunal and vote of all the village warriors and hunters. They are the only race of Men that knows how to forge steel. Brown Men have also developed crude form of black powder explosive crafted from charcoal and the rennet of Fen-Shugs, dangerous semi-mineral ogre-like beasts that haunt the cold marshlands. Brown Men use a style of primitive matchlock musket that fires a stone or crystal slug.


Brown Men have a proud oral tradition and revere a wide variety of culture heroes and legendary ancestors. Brown Man children are usually named after some past village hero whose feats their parents hope they emulate. Brown men are famous for being blunt and honest, almost to the point of rudeness. Lying is almost unknown to them. Sentences in the sing-song language of the Brown Men are structured as phonetic palindromes, which does not translate well to other languages.

Bone Men
Bone Men have transparent skin, flesh, viscera, and blood. Only their bones are opaque and visible. They are utterly hairless. The flesh of sick or very old Bone Men sometimes takes a yellowish cast, giving them a weird topaz look. Bone Men are vain, and tend to shun all but the most essential of clothing, to better show off their lovely bones. Some Bone Men will undergo painfully invasive deep-flesh tattooing to carve and decorate their bones.


Bone Men live in swamps and bogs where other races of Men dare not go. Mud and dirt does not stick to their weird, transparent flesh, and Bone Men remain remarkably clean even in the worst quagmire. Bone Man villages consist of low, round-topped houses raised over the ground on stilts. Such villages are rarely walled, but often protected by labyrinthine moats, channels full of tamed eels, and tar traps.


Bone Men are shunned and mistrusted by the other races of men. A Bone Man changes his name every morning, when he wakes up, dedicating himself to whatever he hopes to accomplish that day. This constant shifting of names does not help endear them to other Men. Bone shamans collect noxious swamp gas in thin bladders, which they then inhale to create prophetic hallucinations.

Jale Men
Jale Men are tall--usually well over six-feet tall--but thin, with mannerisms uncomfortably reminiscent of mantises or stick-insects. Their eyes are lusterless orbs of cosmic darkness. They are utterly genderless, and the very concept is alien to them. At irregular times in their life, a Jale Man will grow a crystalline cyst within their abdominal cavity. When the cyst grows to the size of coin, the Jale Man cuts the cyst out of their torso, usually with a special ritual knife. Within the gem-like Jale-colored cyst, one can see the black, tadpole-like Jale embryo, like a fly in amber. The embryo can remain suspended like this indefinitely. If the crystal cyst is placed into the living body another Man--either orally, surgically, or otherwise--the cyst dissolves, and the embryo awakens and rapidly grows, devouring its host from the inside out. Less than five minutes later, an adolescent Jale Man busts out of its hosts ruptured body.


Jale Men have a disturbing affinity for sorcery, psionics, and the alien science of the Serpent Men. Given their unnatural reproductive practices, it is widely believed that the Jale Men artificial creatures, created wholly by the Serpent Men. Tribes of Jale Men seem subconsciously drawn to Serpent Man ruins, and most Jale communities settle in ancient citadels and temples.


Jale Men revere snakes, honoring them for their cunning, wisdom, and mastery of alchemy and poisons. Given their predilection for sorcery, it should not be surprising that many Jale men devote themselves to the Great Old Ones and other alien gods.

Dolm Men
Dolm Men are squat but powerfully built, and rarely stand much taller than five feet. Their teeth are flat and blunt, and they have no visible ears. Each hand has three fingers and two thumbs, one on each side of the palm. Almost all Dolm Men are male. Each community has but one female, a massive and bloated “queen” who is mother to all the males of tribe. The Dolm Queen has no mate, instead producing her children through strange parthenogenesis. Dolm men have functional sex organs, but given the nature of Dolm Queens, no one is sure why.


Dolm Men make their villages in the fungal forests of carcosa. They build homes in the hollow trunks of massive toadstools and other fungi, trusting in the natural poisons to ward off most predators and foes. The manse of the Dolm Queen is always in the center of the village, where her best and most capable sons guard and attend to her needs. Due to their close association with fungal toxins, Dolm Men are especially resistant to poisons and narcotics of all sorts.


Dolm Men worship no gods or spirits, instead focusing all their devotion onto their queen and their community. The Queen can live for centuries and serves as a living goddess, dispensing her wisdom and guidance in return for her son’s devotion and obsequience. Dolm Men are ritual cannibals. When one of their brothers die, they tribe cooks and devours his flesh, so he will live on through them.

Ulfire Men
Ulfire Men vary drastically in size depending on their gender. Females remain small and stocky, rarely standing much over four feet tall, while the lean males stand over six feet. Both genders sport think, mane-like hair, but are otherwise hairless. Jale Men ritually etch their skin with acid, recording their achievements and failures with hieroglyphic scars so they will not be forgotten. Ulfire Men do not have blood. The flesh their shimmering skin has been compared to plant matter.


Ulfire Men make their homes in the icy wastes and cold northern climes of Carcosa. Their sprawling, communal houses are surrounded by protective walls of stone or ice and guarded by razorbirds. No matter where they are built, Ulfire villages always have a clear view of the great open sky. Ulfire settlements are led by a counsel of tribal elders who have proven themselves through a life of wise deeds.


Ulfire men are famed for their knowledge of astrology and divination. They have made great studies of the stars and planets and can predict how the dread heavens will influence the life of a man and his descendants for generations to come. Ulfire men do not generally worship entities, but instead revere the stars and the fates the influence. The worship of Ithaqua has always been a popular heresy among the Ulfire Men.

3 comments:

  1. I like this. Would be an interesting side project to do a race write-up for D&D 5e with small mechanical differences using these write-ups.

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    1. That thought occurred to me, too, but I haven't had much time to devote to it yet.

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