Carnage is an extensible, arena-style combat game between mutant warriors. At one point, it seems to be set on Earth; at another, it seems to be set in another dimension. The characters in Carnage may appear human at first, but as they begin to fight they undergo strange and powerful changes, transforming into savage fighting machines. Some grow bigger, some form fangs or claws, and others become faster or stronger.

But Carnage is not your usual role-playing game. It is designed to allow quick character creation and fast-paced combat. More importantly, the entire game is designed around a standard deck of playing cards.

Carnage is a stand-alone system; that is, there is no need to buy any other books or supplies -- beyond a standard deck of playing cards -- to fully enjoy playing the game. If you wish, however, the basic rules contained herein can be expanded to provide detailed play in a variety of settings. These expansions -- called modules -- are explained in more detail in the Expansion Modules section.

While characters created for the basic Carnage game might seem little more than mindless killers, remember that you may role-play a character as you see fit. For you see, there is a purpose to the fighting. The inhabitants of the world of Carnage are engaged in a continuous struggle to fight their way through the Tournaments, hoping to one day reach the pinnacle of achievement by being crowned a Champion!

Role-playing with cards?

Carnage is a game that does not use dice. Instead, it relies on a standard deck of playing cards consisting of the typical 52 suit cards and two Jokers. All aspects of the game, from creation to combat, are determined by cards drawn from that deck.

Unlike other card-based role-playing games, Carnage does not require the special "collectors" cards that can cost a player hundreds of dollars. Any ordinary deck of playing cards will work! Once play begins, it is desirable for each player to have his or her own deck of cards, though Carnage will work just fine with a single deck.

Except where explicitly mentioned otherwise, the game deck of cards should be exhausted before being reshuffled. This means creating separate piles of cards for a Draw Pile (face down) and a Discarde Pile (face up). Cards that are currently in use are also placed face-up on the playing surface.

A closing note about using playing cards: in general, the value of a card in Carnage is its "face" value, as follows: