|Images of Carcosa|
Source: Black Stars Beckon, pg(s). 5-6
Carcosa is a living, alien city located on a nameless, highly magical planet (which is also sometimes called Carcosa as well) in a solar system far across the Dark Tapestry from Golarion. The planet is the home of the Great Old One Hastur, also known as the King in Yellow, who dwells by the monstrous Lake of Hali. When the light of Carcosa's star shines in another planet's night sky, Hastur's power on that planet grows stronger. Carcosa seeks ever to expand by absorbing cities and societies from other worlds and fuel Hastur's apotheosis.
The earliest references to the original Carcosa described it as a city that had been abandoned and crumbling since before time. It sat unreachable to the people of Alar and Yhtill, the centres of civilisation on the nameless world, since these cities were founded. Carcosa appeared across Lake Hali when the twin black suns sank into the lake; it and the King in Yellow, its mysterious immortal ruler, dominated the folklore of both cities. It is suggested by some scholars that Carcosa was Hastur's home before his imprisonment.
When the people of Alar attacked Carcosa to harness its power against Yhtill, the entire city and its inhabitants vanished without a trace. Time passed, and eventually, the Pallid Mask came to Yhtill so Hastur could call upon the Yellow Sign to have Carcosa consume it as well, and reshaped Carcosa into an instrument of his release and apotheosis into an Outer God. Alar infused Carcosa with militarism, while Yhtill granted it with beauty and decadence.
Carcosa is located on a Golarion-sized planet which does not differ significantly in terms of gravity, although nexuses sometimes retain many properties of their original worlds. It has two pitch-black suns, visible only as a pale yellow outline, which provide a modicum of heat and light. Looking into them is safe for the eyes, but risks headaches, nausea, bad dreams, or the attention of Hastur. Stars are visible on the sky of Carcosa during both day and night. At sunset, the suns seem to fall into Lake Hali.
Carcosa is an unimaginably vast patchwork of the cities that it has subsumed across the Material Plane over the eons; each individual piece is called a nexus. Known nexuses include:
- The flying polyp city dubbed Neruzavin by Upianshe
- The Azlanti city Aevan-Vhor
- Bohlvarai, the ruins of an elder thing city taken over by rebel shoggoths
- The Rue d'Auseil, a section of the city called Paris from Earth
- A hazy reflection of the Ustalavic town Thrushmoor
- An underwater city made from seashells and coral, filled with undead remnants of its former citizens
- A technologically advanced city full of skyscrapers made from metal, glass, and plastic, inhabited by various robots and aliens, as well as non-natives armed with technologically advanced tools
Tall structures in any nexus often appear to be behind the planet's moons. Sections of Carcosa can, like a mirage, always be seen across or upon Lake Hali no matter the distance.
Carcosa is a monstrous, living city which sustains on civilisation itself and can connect to cities across the Material Plane, at which point Carcosa feeds upon the city's zeitgeist, spreads madness among its residents, transports both across space, and draws them into Carcosa. When Carcosa reaches an apex size, Hastur will ascend from Lake Hali and become an Outer God, at which point Carcosa and all who dwell there are consumed and absorbed by Hastur.
These connections are forged via a complex ritual, usually disguised within a piece of performance art, notably the theatrical play The King in Yellow, which is believed to be transmitted directly by Hastur to unwitting authors who never realise that the work is not really theirs. The ritual is so potent that many of those exposed to the play are simply driven mad or transported directly to Carcosa before they can perform it.
Another way in which Carcosa can grow is through the Great Old One Xhamen-Dor, who soars through space looking for a new planet to seed, siphons psychic energy, and transmits it to Carcosa. While less efficient than the former method, it can affect planets whose inhabitants are not civilised and urbanised enough for the ritual; it is not dependent on subtlety; and it is not prone to self-sabotage in the way that The King in Yellow can simply drive readers mad.
To be in or look upon the image of Carcosa is to know its name, automatically and inexplicably.
The first denizen of Carcosa is Cassilda, the former queen of Yhtill, who escaped being enslaved by Hastur and acquired a lesser form of immortality when her city was consumed. Inhuman denizens stalk Carcosa's streets and are spawned in its shadows, notably the flying polyps from primordial Neruzavin and Thrushmoor, who became loyal servants of Hastur.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
- The name and description of Carcosa derive from the real-world short story "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" by Ambrose Bierce and the anthology The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. More information on the place can be found in these stories.
- James Jacobs. (2011). Cults of the Dark Tapestry. Wake of the Watcher, p. 65. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-311-8
- Dennis Baker et al. (2013). Bestiary 4, p. 141. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-575-4
- Jim Groves. (2017). Black Stars Beckon. Black Stars Beckon, p. 5. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-919-6
- Jim Groves. (2017). Black Stars Beckon. Black Stars Beckon, p. 7. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-919-6
- Jim Groves. (2017). NPC Gallery. Black Stars Beckon, p. 65. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-919-6
- James Jacobs. (2016). Hastur, the King in Yellow. The Thrushmoor Terror, p. 69. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-892-2
- Jim Groves. (2017). Black Stars Beckon. Black Stars Beckon, p. 6. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-919-6
- Benjamin Bruck, Jim Groves, and James Jacobs. (2017). Bestiary. Black Stars Beckon, p. 83. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-919-6
- James Jacobs. (2017). Continuing the Campaign. Black Stars Beckon, p. 72. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-919-6
- Carcosa (fictional location) on Wikipedia