Sunday, November 8, 2020

Appendix VG: Carcosa

Here's one more post about Geoffrey McKinney's Carcosa that I've had on the back burner. In the style of some previous posts, I made an "Appendix N-style" list of inspirational material that heavily informs my personal conception of the setting. The twist is that these are all video games. Why?

  1. McKinney's Carcosa always felt very video gamey to me, and especially comparable to retro games, what with the bright colors, and the pseudo-random, almost-clashing elements, and the synthesis of fantastical imagery and computer technology, and the way the game relies on the players' imagination to fill in the blanks and flesh out the implied world.
  2. A lot of video games just happen to have elements that fit Carcosa very well, through either game mechanics, through characters and props and setting details, or through the tone or atmosphere created by art assets and music and such.
  3. Video games just fucking rule.
Some people look at Carcosa and see Masters of the Universe. I see sprites and polygons and hear chiptune music.

Full disclosure: I haven't played all of these myself. I don't necessarily even think all of these are good, per se. But I think every single one of these is both fascinating in its own right and an exemplar of the aesthetics, mood, tropes, and pure gonzo insanity most associated with McKinney's Carcosa in my mind. I hope something here piques your curiosity and sparks some cool ideas for your own games and imaginings, whether Carcosa-related or within even stranger realms.

Picture courtesy of

P.S. Much like Carcosa itself, "Age of Barbarian," "Produce," and the Japanese version of "The Legendary Axe II" include some nudity and/or sexual content that might be NSFW or upsetting to some people. I apologize if I neglected to warn about such content in any other games listed here.

Roll d66* for Inspiration for Your Next Game:

11. Age of Barbarian

12. Alien Storm

13. Another World/Out of This World

14. Ark: Survival Evolved

15. Axiom Verge

16. Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior/Death Sword - especially Barbarian II: The Dungeon of Drax

21. Blaster Master

22. Bloodborne

23. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

24. Cap'n Magneto

25. Chakan: The Forever Man

26. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

31. Far Cry Primal

32. Generations Lost

33. Golden Axe

34. The Guardian Legend

35. Horizon: Zero Dawn

36. Kenshi

41. The Legendary Axe - especially The Legendary Axe II

42. Metroid

43. Overwhelm

44. Peter Jackson's King Kong

45. Phantasy Star

46. Rubicon (all versions)

51. Rygar - especially the NES version

52. The Sacred Armour of Antiriad/Rad Warrior

53. Secret of Evermore

54. Secret Quest

55. The 7th Saga

56. Shadow of the Beast

61. Tongue of the Fatman/Mondu's Fight Palace/Slaughter Sport

62. Turok

63. Turrican

64. Weaponlord

65. Wizard of Wor

66. Zeno Clash

Extras - After you use an entry from the table above, cross it out and roll d88** on this table for a replacement entry:

11. Altered Beast
12. Alternate Reality: The City/The Dungeon
13. Barbarian and Obliterator (the Psygnosis series, not the Palace Software series mentioned above)
14. Battletoads
15. Berzerk (and Frenzy)
16. Blackthorne
17. BloodStorm (and Time Killers to some extent)
18. Brataccas
21. Captain Zzap/Flash Gordon
22. Conan: Hall of Volta
23. Conan: The Cimmerian
24. Dark Sun: Shattered Lands/Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager/Dark Sun Online: Crimson Sands
25. Drakkhen
26. Dyna Gear
27. Eldritch
28. El Viento/Earnest Evans/Anett Futatabi
31. Fester's Quest
32. Heart of Darkness
33. He-Man/Masters of the Universe
34. Hylics
35. Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road
36. Isolated Warrior
37. Joust
38. Karnov
41. Koudelka/Shadow Hearts
42. Krull
43. Kult: The Temple of Flying Saucers/Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess
44. Leander/Galahad
45. Last Armageddon (and After Armageddon Gaiden)
46. The Legacy: Realm of Terror
47. Marathon/Pathways Into Darkness
48. Metal Mutant
51. Might & Magic
52. Monuments of Mars
53. Mutant Chronicles: Doom Troopers
54. Oddworld
55. O.D.T.
56. Odyssey
57. Ork
58. Perihelion: The Prophecy
61. Produce (プロデュース)
62. Purple Saturn Day
63. Quake
64. Rastan/Rastan Saga
65. Robinson's Requiem and Deus
66. SaGa/Final Fantasy Legend
67. The Sinking City
68. Space Ace (and Dragon's Lair to some extent)
71. Space Funeral
72. Space Harrier
73. Spiderbot/Arac
74. Stargate
75. Stone Protectors
76. Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight
77. Strife
78. Sword of Sodan
81. Terrorpods
82. Ultima
83. Unreal
84. Vandyke
85. Vangers
86. Where Time Stood Still
87. Wizardry (especially Bane of the Cosmic Forge, Crusaders of the Dark Savant, and Wizardry 8)
88. Xexyz

Picture courtesy of

*If you're unfamiliar with d66 rolls, check out this Wikipedia entry...or better yet, check out Troika!

**This works just like a d66 roll, except with two d8s instead of d6s.


  1. This is a good list. Some of my favourites are on here.

    I know some people poo-poo the influence of computer games over tabletop rpgs -- probably because of D&D4 -- but I think there's some good things to be learned.

    I keep going back to -- but never finishing -- this idea of an rpg based on side-scrolling beat-em-ups. They all share this vaguely near-apocalyptic world where there is society, but it's so broken that there are gangs of mohawk thugs wandering around kidnapping people, wrestlers roam the streets, and all the crime bosses have machine guns. I think there's something interesting to be explored there, but I haven't got past the issue that rpgs tend to be quite bad at capturing martial arts.

    Anyway, digression. Sorry.

    1. Thanks! I knew you were a big Phantasy Star fan, at least. And please don't be sorry for digressing. I like digressions. It was a good digression.

      That beat-em-up RPG idea sounds awesome! There's definitely lots of material to mine there. If nothing else, I guess you could try to run it with that Street Fighter RPG that exists for some reason. :P

    2. The trick is to make combat interesting without having it bog everything down in detail. I probably need to do some heavy research into things like Streetfighter, Feng Shui, and probably Exalted, although the latter is probably an example of what I want to avoid.

      Anyway, thanks for indulging my digression!

    3. If you ran a beat-em-up RPG in which I were playing, I think these would be my most important criteria for enjoyment:
      1. Can I throw a barrel/box/boulder at a group of enemies to knock them down and do massive damage?
      2. Can I take down the bad guys effectively with sweet jump kicks?
      3. When I sock an enemy in the face, does it stun them so they just stand there dumbfounded while I deliver a cool combo to their stupid face, ending in an uppercut that shoots them comically high into the air?
      4. Can I eat food out of the trash to heal myself?

    4. Oddly enough, I was just thinking about (3) this morning, and (4) should be a feature of every game.

    5. Great minds think alike. That's why I can't be mad at you for fishing that entire roast turkey out of the garbage before I could get to it the other day. I respect your hustle.

    6. Hey, a street brawler's gotta eat.

  2. In case anyone doesn't want to deal with two separate tables and weird dice notation, here's a simple d100 table that includes all of the games above:

    01. Age of Barbarian
    02. Alien Storm
    03. Another World/Out of This World
    04. Ark: Survival Evolved
    05. Axiom Verge
    06. Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior/Death Sword - especially Barbarian II: The Dungeon of Drax
    07. Blaster Master
    08. Bloodborne
    09. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
    10. Cap'n Magneto
    11. Chakan: The Forever Man
    12. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
    13. Far Cry Primal
    14. Generations Lost
    15. Golden Axe
    16. The Guardian Legend
    17. Horizon: Zero Dawn
    18. Kenshi
    19. The Legendary Axe - especially The Legendary Axe II
    20. Metroid
    21. Overwhelm
    22. Peter Jackson's King Kong
    23. Phantasy Star
    24. Rubicon (all versions)
    25. Rygar - especially the NES version
    26. The Sacred Armour of Antiriad/Rad Warrior
    27. Secret of Evermore
    28. Secret Quest
    29. The 7th Saga
    30. Shadow of the Beast
    31. Tongue of the Fatman/Mondu's Fight Palace/Slaughter Sport
    32. Turok
    33. Turrican
    34. Weaponlord
    35. Wizard of Wor
    36. Zeno Clash
    37. Altered Beast
    38. Alternate Reality: The City/The Dungeon
    39. Barbarian and Obliterator (the Psygnosis series, not the Palace Software series mentioned above)
    40. Battletoads
    41. Berzerk (and Frenzy)
    42. Blackthorne
    43. BloodStorm (and Time Killers to some extent)
    44. Brataccas
    45. Captain Zzap/Flash Gordon
    46. Conan: Hall of Volta
    47. Conan: The Cimmerian
    48. Dark Sun: Shattered Lands/Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager/Dark Sun Online: Crimson Sands
    49. Drakkhen
    50. Dyna Gear
    51. Eldritch
    52. El Viento/Earnest Evans/Anett Futatabi
    53. Fester's Quest
    54. Heart of Darkness
    55. He-Man/Masters of the Universe
    56. Hylics
    57. Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road
    58. Isolated Warrior
    59. Joust
    60. Karnov
    61. Koudelka/Shadow Hearts
    62. Krull
    63. Kult: The Temple of Flying Saucers/Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess
    64. Leander/Galahad
    65. Last Armageddon (and After Armageddon Gaiden)
    66. The Legacy: Realm of Terror
    67. Marathon/Pathways Into Darkness
    68. Metal Mutant
    69. Might & Magic
    70. Monuments of Mars
    71. Mutant Chronicles: Doom Troopers
    72. Oddworld
    73. O.D.T.
    74. Odyssey
    75. Ork
    76. Perihelion: The Prophecy
    77. Produce
    78. Purple Saturn Day
    79. Quake
    80. Rastan/Rastan Saga
    81. Robinson's Requiem and Deus
    82. SaGa/Final Fantasy Legend
    83. The Sinking City
    84. Space Ace (and Dragon's Lair to some extent)
    85. Space Funeral
    86. Space Harrier
    87. Spiderbot/Arac
    88. Stargate
    89. Stone Protectors
    90. Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight
    91. Strife
    92. Sword of Sodan
    93. Terrorpods
    94. Ultima
    95. Unreal
    96. Vandyke
    97. Vangers
    98. Where Time Stood Still
    99. Wizardry (especially Bane of the Cosmic Forge, Crusaders of the Dark Savant, and Wizardry 8)
    00. Xexyz

    They're not in alphabetical order, but I guess that won't matter much if you roll randomly. :P

  3. Fantastic list, some of my favorites are here. Blackthorne, Out of this World, Metroid, Quake. Recently I purchased Quake from Steam but I found it that, sadly, it doesn't contain any music.

    It happened to need the original Quake game CD to play the music, but if I had that CD, why would I want to purchase the game again? Well, I ain't no hacker or programmer, but I googled how to solve it and after a few hours research, I was able to 1) download the music and 2) make the game think there's a CD in the CD room, and play the music.

    I never played the game with music, I knew Nine Inch Nails had made the music and finally I can! It's a creepy atmospheric soundtrack, it really unsettles me.

    1. I LOVE the first Quake, and I totally agree that it's dumb that they sell it without the music now. I'm glad you got the soundtrack working in-game. I recently had to do the same with Quake II, actually. Thankfully, there was a fan-made guide on the Steam forums that made it a pretty quick and easy process.

      Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the post! The particular favorites you named are also some of mine. I should also mention that anyone who likes Out of This World or Blackthorne should check out Flashback: The Quest For Identity if they haven't already.