Carcosa Dreams

Games, Events, Madness


Where Once Was Alba

As we said during the summer, one of the opportunities that the Enforced Holiday has had on our efforts has been to give us a chance to have a long look at Alba, and – for the event we ran, and our experiences getting it into the world – what has worked, and what hasn’t.

We wanted to be able to announce today the new game, all the changes, and the new site with all those bits of information, but… well, it turns out 2021 hasn’t been much better for writing headspace than 2020 was, and most of the creative energy has been going towards nearer term things (The online collaborations with Bobbit Games, a number of other things that didn’t quite work out) or more solid things (Dead Air, mostly), so we’re not at the point of anything but the name, and the basic sketch of what we’re changing.

Alba Unchanged

The lore, history, background and tone of the world we’re fairly happy with. The mystical quasi-celtic setting, with echos of myth and fable from around these isles, is a comfortable spot to be writing in; so we’re not changing the world. We’re not even changing the name of this mythic land, it remains Alba. The counties of Alba remain, as do their themes and colours, the villages as islands of light in the shifting and unknowable fluctuations of the rest. Our guiding principles of Alban geography – you cannot map it, but you can understand it – remain firm.

Generally, we’re happy with the setting. We may make some tweaks to examples of spirits or wording of gods, but we’re pruning branches rather than shifting roots.

To Speak With Class

We’re renaming all the classes. While we’re not making any fundamental changes to what they’re for or what they do, the words we used came attached with some expectations and baggage that didn’t help us, and focused a single aspect of each class rather than their place in relation to each other. We’re going to make more explicit the mirrors and relations between the classes, how they interrelate and how they clash. To take an example, the class formerly “Warrior” is more an agent of civilisation – be it battle, poetry, farming, building, crafting – than someone with a bronze sword. Hunters occupy that space for The Other Place, agents of spirituality, hunting, foraging. Druids and Shaman have similar mirroring roles, but the names we picked for the classes highlight one above any other, and it ended up guiding how they were perceived.

On top of this, some of the mechanics and economy of the class activities just didn’t pan out in play as we’d hoped.

And So On

A lot of this comes down to the vision in our intent not matching how we documented it, not making it obvious which parts of the setting could be flexed for group backgrounds and which bits were specific. The wiki is heavy on detail and light on guidance, and needs revision and reworking.

Stronger Hooks

So to the final point. While Covid-19 was the cause of a lot of our problems these last couple of years, we did cancel Alba events because of low ticket sales, which indicates we haven’t made a setting and system that grabs enough people to want to play. Given the option of anything else at all, people picked that, and the only response is to take a long hard look at what we’re doing, and change some of it.

These Times Come Around

So Alba is no more. It lives on in the name of the land, and the Albani and their stories persist. Things that happened at the event will still have happened, and we don’t expect major changes for any character or group, but we’re treating this as a reboot.

It’s called Hiraeth, and it’s not finished yet, but we’ll have more to say when it is.


We have an Alba event in April, though, and right now we don’t really have a system or setting for it, and if we’re going to reboot this thing, it needs a good hard and well-considered kick. So we’re doing one last Alba cancellation for old time’s sake. We’re keeping the site and booking, and we’ll probably run something in that spot (an Empire Player Event we’ll post about shortly. It’s the week after Easter weekend, how bad an idea could running an Empire event around Easter really be?).

We’d hoped to end this with the big announcement of the new website, the new class names, the brand new event coming Soon to a Site Near You! But this decade has not been kind so far. No more drip-feeding of information, we’ll be announcing the new site when it’s ready to be read. Maybe some fiction between now and then, as is our way.

So instead, we’ll end it with part of a piece about the word Hiraeth, by Val Bethnell:

Hiraeth – the link with the long-forgotten past, the language of the soul, the call from the inner self. Half forgotten – fraction remembered. It speaks from the rocks, from the earth, from the trees and in the waves. It’s always there.

Val Bethnell, BBC Wales 2003.