Well, Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown are out there is some time. Unfortunately, I was moving out at the beginning of this month and wasn’t able to read these two great (and unique) books as fast as I wished (although I already knew Carcosa from its original booklet format as “Supplement V: Carcosa”). I briefly elaborated on both products, in their PDF formats, over here, in case you’re curious.
The only additional thing I have to say about the physical (dead-tree) versions of the books (and the bonus maps) is that they’re gorgeous and fit perfectly their respectively settings; while also raising the stakes for production value regarding OSR material. As I already said, I now have really high expectations with The Monolith From Beyond Space and Time.
So, instead of wasting your time with yet at another review, I prefer to direct you to reviews far better than anything I could possibly write: Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown. Regarding the later, even though I don’t agree with Grognardia’s issues*, James, as usual, describes accurately the book’s good and bad parts.
While this isn’t a review, this doesn’t mean that I can’t recommend both Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown – and I do recommend them… A LOT! Actually, I do this as a moral obligation (albeit a dark and twisted one). Both books inspire that which I believe all RPG products should do: they ignite the imagination. They make me want to be a better Referee/Gamemaster. You may find Carcosa’s sorcery offending or Isle of the Unknown silly or absurd, but both are beautiful books that provide tons of inspirations. In fact, see them as books of ideas. You don’t have to use them as written (or even as settings), but I guarantee you that a reading through any of them will give you game new and unique hooks, encounters and even campaigns. As an example, from the original Carcosa supplement I created a small sandbox arc to my Chronicles of the Seventh Moon game (The Valley of the Soulless, briefly mentioned here) that is still one of my player’s favorite adventures.
* My disagreement here is based purely on taste. I rather prefer a book full of weirdness, phantasmagoria and the bizarre (even if occasionally gonzo, like a certain flying kangaroo) than a sourcebook detailing yet another (pseudo-) medieval setting. It’s amazingly easy to fill the mundane parts of a setting (and there a lot of RPG books that do that very well); while it’s hard to find truly innovating fantasy scenarios (and bestiaries).