Monday, October 29, 2018

Horrible Beautiful Wonder: Gods and Dreams

So I recently bought Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition and have been on a bit of a Lovecraft kick. Specifically an "un-Lovecrafted Lovecraft" kick, as I am a lover of that weird little subgenre. (My previous post is evidence enough of that. I do still need to get around to reading The Ballad of Black Tom and Winter Tide.)

So here we go.

General Setting Notions

  • Early modern accounts of the Mythos were heavily skewed according to the recorders' racial and cultural biases and are not properly indicative of the reality.
  • The existence of the Mythos is common knowledge and has been for most of the last century. Knowledge prior to the modern period was scattered and  even more incomplete.
  • Sorcerers and those who understand how magic works are rare.
  • Earth sits at a hyperspatial junction point, which at one time made it a common stopping point for interstellar empires and a popular pilgrimage destination for the Great Old Ones. With the passing of ages, the collapse of empires, and the shifting of hyperspace currents, it has been reduced to a backwater in the outer reaches of Mi-Go territory, inhabited by those who are unable to leave for brighter and better places. It's Cosmic Rust Belt.

The Outer Gods

The exact number and nature of the Outer Gods is contested. The most common structure used in modern Mythos faiths is the trinitarian model, as follows:
  • Azathoth (Azoth, Thoth, Ein Sof) - Primordial creative force. Centerpoint of the cosmos.
  • Yog-Sothoth ('Umr at-Tawil, Kefitzat Haderech, Tay al-Ard) - Time, space, physical laws.
  • Shub-Niggurath (Pan, Magna Mater) - Life, death, growth, violence, biological imperative.
There is further contention over whether the Servitors of the Outer Gods are spawn of these gods, a pre-existing species that has joined or been pressed into their service, or constructs. Manifestations of the Outer Gods are extremely rare (making comparison difficult) and only confirmed spawn seen on Earth are the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath.

The Crawling Chaos (referred to by occultists as Isfethotep) is considered the soul, messenger, and nightmare of the Outer Gods. It regularly invests itself within the affairs of the lesser inhabitants of the universe, for reasons unknown and towards outcomes mostly negative. The Crawling Chaos has been recorded taking thousands of different manifestations, to the point of working at cross-purposes. It has been seen within the Dreamlands.

Hastur remains resistant to study.

Peoples of the Mythos

Each species listed here is given a "Human Interaction Rating"
  • + = Positive interaction is possible
  • * = Interaction is unlikely, unsought, impossible, or otherwise rare
  • X = Negative interaction likely.

SpeciesHIRGreat Old OneOriginNotes
Humans+Y'golonac (*)Earth (Human)Very young primate species. Capable of entering the Dreamlands.
Deep Ones+Dagon & Hydra (*)Earth (Cambrian)Genetic chimeras. Mixed relations with humanity.
Ghouls+N/AEarth (Human-Derived)Undead carnivore-scavengers. Generally retain memories of life prior to change.
Ghasts*N/AEarth (Hominid)Ape-equivalent intelligence. Some varieties domesticated by K'n-Yani.
K'n-Yani+N/AEarth (Human)Subterranean North American people. Well-versed in occult science.
Mi-Go+N/AAlien Possess interstellar empire. Will trade technology for rare minerals. Brain canisters.
Tcho-Tcho+N/AEarth (Human)Human worshipers of Chaugnar Faugn. Cannibalistic funeral rites.
Elder Things+N/AAlienCollapsed interstellar empire. Few remain on Earth. Status of colony worlds unknown.
Serpent PeopleXYigEarth (Carboniferous)Minor Mesozoic empire concurrent with Mi-Go, Yithians, Star Spawn.
Voormis*N/AEarth (Hominid)Extinct(?) Hyperboreans. Worshiped Tsathoggua. Enemies of Gnoph-Keh.
Yithans+N/AAlien (Mind), Earth (Body)Cross-time information trade. Potential for tech and bio samples stored in stasis.
Flying PolypsXGhatanothoa (?)Alien Trapped in subterranean prison-cities. Few remain. Contact unsuccessful.
Star Spawn*CthulhuAlienCurrently in stasis beneath R'lyeh with their patron.
Fire VampiresXCthughaAlienNo communication yet made, but Great Old One indicates intelligence of some sort.
CthoniansXShudde M'ell???Most pressing danger to Earth life at this point in time.
Sand Dwellers*N/AEarth (Hominid)Incredibly good at staying hidden: no real information available.
ShoggothXUbbo-SathlaEarth (Proterozoic)Some have been re-domesticated by Deep Ones. Shoggoth Lords have plans.
Spiders of Leng*Atlach-NachaDreamlandsOccasional conflict with Tcho-Tcho on Leng margins.
Formless Spawn*TsathogguaCreated by Patron (?)Uncertain as to whether it is the originating species or an attempt at recreation.
Nightgaunt*Yibb-TstllDreamlandsAppear occasionally in the waking world. Non-communicative. Means of transport.
Rat-Thing+N/AEarth (Occult)Initially created by sorcerous means, now a self-sustained population.
Gnoph-KehXIthaqua (?)Earth (?) Hominid (?)Dying race. Global warming accelerating the process. Not happy.
ShanXN/AAlienBrain parasites fleeing destruction of homeworld. Possible client or rival of the Mi-Go.
Miri Nigri*N/AEarth (Human-Derived)Failed attempt at adoption of humans by Chaugnar Faugn. Extinct (?)
Cats+BastEarthCan easily access the Dreamlands. Human domestication project on schedule.

* - These entities are in the process of ascent to Great Old One.
? - These entities have not been conclusively linked to the listed species

The Great Old Ones

A Great Old One is a priest of the Outer Gods. (Whether an ascendant individual of a species or born of the collected consciousness, scholars are uncertain)

Earth is unusual in both the number of Great Old Ones present there (It is hypothesized that the hyperspace disruption that cut off most exit routes was very sudden, stranding them on the planet), and the number of orphaned Old Ones i.e. those that do not have an attendant species. Orphan Old Ones will generally attempt to adopt a new species as their servants or create new ones. Their original species are presumed to be extinct, having died off either in obscurity on Earth, or elsewhere in the cosmos.

Known orphan Old Ones include:
  • Tsathoggua - Attempted to recreate its species through Formless Spawn and adopt the Voormis.
  • Chaugnar Faugn - Has attempted and failed to adopt the Miri Nigri and Tcho-Tcho.
  • Eihort - Seeks humans as incubators for spawn, is at least partially successful.
  • Glaaki - Servants zombified by its spines rarely survive more than a few decades.
Among modern religious practices, Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, and Chaugnar Faugn are the most commonly revered Old Ones among humans. The ongoing apparent ascendance of Y'golonac is a matter of great concern among practical metaphysicians, considering the being's legendary cruelty and the power it will gain over the species as it achieves its mantle of priesthood.

The Dreamlands

A matter of great curiosity among scholars for the following points.
  • It seems that humanity (and their house cats and derivatives) are among some of the only creatures in the known cosmos capable of entering this realm. Aliens such as the Mi-Go and Elder Things are never seen there.
  • Even though the Great Old Ones communicate primarily through dreams, they and their attendant species are never seen within it. It has been hypothesized that Old Ones possess their own dreamscapes, and then may send message rippling across the "surface" of the Dreamlands to their chosen targets.
  • Surprisingly comprehensible manifestations of the Crawling Chaos have been witnessed.
  • Other planets possess their own Dreamlands, travel between them is possible.
  • It is possible for a human mind to emigrate to the Dreamlands, leaving their body dead.
  • Two Old Ones and their attendant species have been found in the Dreamlands. How they got there and whether they are natives of the Dreamlands or the Waking World is undetermined.
Esoteric institutes around the world are offering massive stipends for skilled dreamers to act as researchers.

Where We Are Now

The human response to their new place in the universe is a fractured one (surprising no one), but an understandable one. It has been very, very human.

The reactionary wave that grew in the wake of the Mythos still has the world in its death grip. The repressions have been ugly, but it is becoming more and more clear that the current cannot be fought against. Change will upseat the old orders, and none to soon: the mistakes of the twentieth century have been repeated in the twenty-first, the Mythos often just an excuse to act upon old hates.

One would be tempted to think of the zeitgeist as one of despair, but it has become one of humility. Humanity has been put in its place in the universe, and for those who can withstand the pain of having all your egoist assumptions torn away, there is a certain peace of mind to be found. The world is not about us. For those who realize it (there are too few who do, but the ranks keep growing) the Great Old Ones have freed mankind from our self-imposed myopia. It is not as some of the old cults said, that humans would be made above good and evil, but it is instead a moment of clarity of our place in the universe and our relations with others.


  1. Happy Halloween, y'all. Be good to each other. Watch out for those skeletons.

  2. The TRUE skeleton was inside you all along! *inspirational music plays*

    Love this setting.

  3. yess
    this is my favourite kind of fantasy AND of sci-fi