Carnival Row


  • Pitcrew

    So, the idea was bounced around in another thread about a MU based on the Amazon series Carnival Row; all about fae and humans in a fantasy Edwardian England. I'm sure that interested parties are working on adaptations using Changeling (Dreaming or Lost), but apparently, there's an official free RPG from Monte Cook using the Cypher System.

    https://nerdist.com/article/carnival-row-rpg-download-free/


  • Pitcrew

    @Runescryer Just because my OCD makes it really hard to let misstatements sit, this isn't an RPG. It is a supplement for an RPG. You will need a copy of the Cypher system to play it.

    Unfortunately I'm not an enormous fan of the Cypher system. While I love a lot of the aspect of what MC has written (I think the setting for the Strange is incredible and would play the Hell out of a Strange MU*) the system feels a bit too stripped down for me.


  • Pitcrew

    @The-Sands Understandable, and I understand about the precision aspect.


  • Admin

    I'm a fan of the show for sure. But as with other similar interesting settings the question when it comes to making a game out of them is what players would be doing. What would a game be about? What are PCs going to be involved in?


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel Well, there's lots of intriguing possibilities. Including the fact that there's 2 whole other continents besides Tir-Na-Noc and the one the Burgue is on.Other potential cities to be based in. Lots of faction (Constabulary, Black Raven, the Hidden One cult of the Fauns. You can also frame any interesting historical issue of the Edwardian period into the game; the Faeries, at least, are an obvious expy for the Irish at the time, so toss in some Fenians and'the Irish Question' in that context. Also, the conflict between the Burgue and the Pact (a little more Spanish-Inquisition-y human group on the same continent).

    So, the answer is: really, anything that makes a fantasy version of that time period interesting.


  • Pitcrew

    I'm so down


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in Carnival Row:

    But as with other similar interesting settings the question when it comes to making a game out of them is what players would be doing.

    @Runescryer already hit a lot of the highlights. You've also got people trying to build political power, people trying to build up a mercantile business, people trying to survive with the Wolf's Curse, and soldiers dealing with PTSD.

    I don't need a game to tell me what my character should be doing. I mean, sure, that's fine when I'm playing on a tabletop and there's only one ref and he needs to keep the group moving in at least a somewhat unified direction, but for a MU* setting all I need is the opportunity to be able to do things, and Carnival Row seems to have that in spades.


  • Admin

    @The-Sands said in Carnival Row:

    I don't need a game to tell me what my character should be doing. I mean, sure, that's fine when I'm playing on a tabletop and there's only one ref and he needs to keep the group moving in at least a somewhat unified direction, but for a MU* setting all I need is the opportunity to be able to do things, and Carnival Row seems to have that in spades.

    You might not but most people definitely and absolutely do. What matters - a lot - to many players isn't the big picture cool stuff, the costumes, the high-end politics or the atmosphere.

    The roadblock for a lot of folks is what to do when they log on. Sure, they're a cool faerie explorer in a London-esque city ripe with racial tensions but that's besides the point; what is Jane the Faerie specifically, that one character, going to be doing when she hits the grid?

    Go to a bar? Sure, okay - so what are people at that bar going to talk about? Are there factions for her to join and who's recruiting? What are they going to ask her to do? What other factions does she have to fear, or hate, or want to ally herself with? What can she work towards, is there a power progression?

    Settings like Carnival Row are super cool but if we're brainstorming about making a game set in that world then these are questions that need answering. Some folks are self-starters who can make it up as they go along - others, many others, need to see some playable paths in the road ahead, and they should better lead to some interesting destinations.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in Carnival Row:

    self-starters who can make it up as they go along

    This itself is "what can I do when I log in?" It may be exactly what the game is there for or that sort of thing may be actively discouraged to avoid theme going in odd directions. (See games that have had zombie Apocalypse beach parties with DJs and cupcakes or Pirates of the Caribbean mango rum drinking ocean raiders for example)


  • Pitcrew

    Also, Monte Cook Games is pretty harsh when it comes to allowing their systems and games to be MUs. You'd have to be pretty sneaky about it.



  • Advice: Don't make a Carnival Row MU.

    It's a setting where some of the major themes are:

    • Refugee/Poverty Caste
    • Racism
    • Brothel as a social hub
    • One ruling faction keeping the other faction down by means of racism

    All of this is stuff the greater MU community is into. /sarcasm

    History has shown that prostitution and poverty/oppressed caste rarely go well in MU, and racism (even fictitious racism) has a very high likelihood in resulting in OOC issues, upset players, etc.

    Just make an alt-reality WoD changeling set in a gaslamp setting, instead. Trust me.



  • @Ghost

    I think you can easily do it by limiting concepts to the oppressed side.



  • Brothel as social hub is a bonus.



  • @Ganymede said in Carnival Row:

    @Ghost

    I think you can easily do it by limiting concepts to the oppressed side.

    Perhaps! I'll never say never, but taking a step back I see games where even remotely racist characters are considered poor sport on behalf of the player. We just had a large discussion as to whether or not it's okay for players to make Nazi characters. There's a lot of "Racism isn't fun, oppression isnt fun, I want my game experience to be fun", and I dont think that you can have Carnival Row be Carnival Row without some of these elements.

    Carnival Row focuses on a group of 2nd class citizen fae living in a ghetto, where the ruling class of people often call them racist slurs, deny them benefits, oppress them through police beatings, wealthy human employers try to Weinstein them, and as depicted on the show one of the few places where things are pretty chill is a brothel where they still have to deal with discrimination and rely sometimes on racist humans wanting to bang a pix to keep fed.

    I'm not saying that it would become a repeat of the Standford Prison Experiment or anything, but I am saying that if you're shooting for making this accurate to the show's setting and feel, it would definitely scrape plenty of no-go points with mushers.

    Yanno what? On second thought? Go for it.

    If a Carnival Row game could effectively be played with enough players separating IC from OOC to be OKAY with roleplaying the above mentioned stuff, I may just return to mushing, but while I know a number of players who would be able to do this just fine (you being one of them) I still think this hobby has about the same success rate as a MLB pitcher's batting average with these elements.


  • Pitcrew

    @Ghost I have not seen the TV show so I may be misinterpreting your post, but it seems like you solve these issues by focusing on the fae characters. So it is not another PC that is oppressing yours or acting racist and no one has any excuse to allow that to bleed OOC.

    On the contrary, it would be you and a group of your friends fighting the machine, which, if you take a glance at my past characters has always been a concept that's interested me.



  • @Lisse24 said in Carnival Row:

    @Ghost I have not seen the TV show so I may be misinterpreting your post, but it seems like you solve these issues by focusing on the fae characters. So it is not another PC that is oppressing yours or acting racist and no one has any excuse to allow that to bleed OOC.

    On the contrary, it would be you and a group of your friends fighting the machine, which, if you take a glance at my past characters has always been a concept that's interested me.

    That could be a fix, as @Ganymede mentioned. People are more keen to roleplay oppressed characters so long as it's not left to the players to be the ones who are plying said racism/oppression.

    (am I going to however? Yes.)

    HOWEVVVVER, technically NPCs are still written and guided by the hands of people, even if staff, and they'd need to be very controlled about how it's applied. Then again, the setting isn't entirely fae-focused. The TV show focuses on plenty of "non-fae" characters, and those characters being friends, lovers, allies help sell the "civil rights" features of the setting.

    I'm not saying that it's impossible by any means; I'm just saying that it would be very tricky to execute and/or maintain in a way that keeps the setting intact as an identifiable "Carnival Row" game.


  • Pitcrew

    @Ghost Believe, I've been thinking about all those aspects you've mentioned and how they can derail things. At the same time, keeping it Fae-centric only would deny some of the really well-done 'redemption' arc stories that people can come up with.

    So, just some further thoughts....

    1. Keep the setting, ditch the main characters. I'm a firm believer of letting the players be the prime movers of a game's story. And if everything is being done by a small number of FC's, which is a necessity for a TV/Movie series, you get player squabbles over 'first come' FC's, others 'not playing the character right', idle times, and so on.

    2. Limit human characters to 1 or 2 per player, and you have to have a fae character before creating a human, then 3 fae characters before you can app a second human. That maintains the fae/human interactions, but limits the amount of human focus in favor of the Fae.

    3. Very strict rules regarding OOC language and conduct. As in, no use of 'modern' slurs, period; no use of setting slurs outside of the grid; alongside the standard Wheaton's Law prevailing rule. Yes, there will be those that complain about 'free speech' and 'oppressive rules'; in my mind they're free to go elsewhere. Building a game means building a community; building a community means agreeing to a certain set of shared social behaviors.


  • Pitcrew

    @Ghost said in Carnival Row:

    People are more keen to roleplay oppressed characters so long as it's not left to the players to be the ones who are plying said racism/oppression.

    So are you going to say that no one can play a human? Because those (in general) are the one's plying the racism/oppression. That seems like it would immediately cut out anyone wanting to be in the 'constable' faction (since I can't recall seeing any non-humans among their ranks). Are you saying that all humans PCs must be enlightened and view the non-humans as equal? What about playing non-humans like Mr. Agreus who seem to have some pretty strong issues with humans (even as he strives to be accepted into human society). Is it 'ok' for them to be racists since they are the minority? And exactly how will my Mr. Agreus expy be able to seem like he's got valid reasons for his view of humans when every human PC he meets is genuinely nice and understanding as required by the Terms of Service?

    Yes, I do recognize that steps need to be taken to make sure that the IC and OOC lines don't get blurred (and because of the setting I think it is absolutely critical that everyone understand the rules being put in place to prevent that blurring) but I think saying that players can't engage in it at all is pretty much going to gut a lot of the setting.


  • Pitcrew

    I may have completely misunderstood this, mind, but it's been my impression that it isn't 'racism bad', it's 'RL racism your players have to deal with is bad'. People don't want to deal with the same crap they do in their real lives, generally. Pretendy racism is fine.

    So anti-FAE? OK for RP. Nazi? That's where folks' issue is. Nobody is actually a faerie trying to live in a human's world, so the oppression/racism/issues aren't the types of things that folks object to, when they do object.

    ETA: There is a wide gulf between 'this is something I/my parent/my grandparent/my friend had to live with/lives with every day' and fabricated situations/stories. Anti-fae slurs don't call the same things to mind. This sort of setting is a good, generally safe way to explore these harder topics, really. WITHOUT doing damage to real people who have had to deal with real situations.


  • Pitcrew

    @Sunny I think I just misunderstood what @Runescryer was saying. I see later on that they do talk about allowing slurs to be used ICly (I'm not sure I completely agree with all the restrictions imposed, but that's more to do with nailing down specifics than the general concept).


Log in to reply