I recently started a discussion asking about suggestions for prepared towns that were complete enough to be useful while being generic enough to see use in most situations. A few hours into the responses and someone suggested Carse.
Wow, I could remember CARSE! I remember seeing it on game store shelves – it has a cream or yellowish cover and always came in a plastic bag. I never bought it, though I considered it many times. Anyhow, it made me wonder what had become of Midkemia Press (the company that produced it) so I started searching with Google.
And I was surprised to see Midkemia Press still in existence! Wow, they were converting their products over to digital (i.e. PDF with JPG images) and Carse was available for $5. Heck yes! I ponied up $9 and got Carse bundled with their CITIES ENCOUNTERS source book.
The products were mailed to me and I was a bit surprised – Steve Abrams, one of the original authors, had taken the high-road in conversions and had really cleaned up the source. As a result, the text is super crisp and clearly more than just an OCR attempt.
The PDF is 94 pages long, with the first 66 pages being dedicated to the City of Carse. Every building on the map – and there are lots of them – has a note or entry. Some are undetailed (i.e. RESIDENCE with no further information), but most have several sentences of descriptive text.
There are gobs of loosely hinted at adventure hooks, taverns to carouse, things to buy and discover, and in general it is a comfortable, well-considered fantasy burg that should be easy and effective to add to any adventure or campaign. It also has a sizable portion of the community living outside the the city walls, another nod towards realistic design which I like.
The product comes with a large image that once was the map which was placed out where players could see it. It is not annotated. The descriptive text also contains portions of the map and so the GM can navigate the town privately. With electronic products, this perhaps makes a bit less sense these days, but it does lead to the town being neatly segmented in pieces that make finding an indexed item fairly quick.
I’ll eventually be converting Carse over to Fantasy Grounds and, for me at least, this will completely flatten out the problem of locating the text for a building. Because I will be doing this, it makes me doubly appreciative of the cleaned up text since it will copy and paste without the typical OCR errors.
Did Carse survive the test of time? Absolutely! For $5, it is a steal – adding a town to a campaign for the price of a Big Mac is a crazy good deal.