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[Delta Green] The Cult of K'Tulu alive and kicking

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#1 Charlie_the_Cat_Pooka

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 05:35 PM

I love Delta Green, truly I do, always will. However, I never quite jibbed with the fact the opening book seemed more enamoured with the Mi-Go and Nyarlathotep versus Old Bat Wings. It was like, "The Cult of Cthulhu is extinct in the modern era." I was like,  O RLLY? The organization which is secretly indoctrinated into all levels of society and may be the secret influence behind Christianity and other religions is dead.

 

It was kind of funny saying that was a dated concept next to the Illuminati and UFOWatch.

 

:)

So, I was curious, if you were going to put K'Tulu's cult in the Delta Green setting, how would you do it?


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#2 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 03:16 AM

The first question is whether or not your players imagine a mountain walking or stumbling or a little plushie when you say, "Cthulhu."


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#3 Deodanth

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 06:46 AM

  O RLLY? The organization which is secretly indoctrinated into all levels of society and may be the secret influence behind Christianity and other religions is dead.

 

Quite convincing, when you put it that way... but where did you get these ideas?  The gist of HPL canon is that the Cthulhu cult resides mainly in scattered, primitive groups (in West Africa, Polynesia, Greenland, the West Indies, etc.) and has little or no foothold in Western civilization.  The fellows at Pagan Publishing extrapolated from this idea, making the assumption that the Cult would not fare well during the transition to the age of jet travel and the internet.  Further, the stars were almost-right in early 1925 but haven't been right since then.

 

More to the point, they/we needed in Delta Green a central premise that would tie together such diverse elements of modern conspiracy as UFOs, MKULTRA, Moon artifacts, USS Eldridge, HAARP, men in black, and so forth.  Hence the Mi-go visitation, instead of the cult of Cthulhu.  Oh, and don't forget decrepit Nazi sorcerers.

 

But of course it's your game and you can do what you want!  I'd start by asking whether the Mi-go would be pro or con waking up Great Cthulhu, and how they'd go about using humanity toward that purpose -- or, just write out the fuzzy fungi altogether. 

 

You could also use the Tcho-Tcho as your stock Cthulhu worshipers; connecting them, if you like, with the "undying leaders of the cult in the mountains of China."

 

I'd love to hear your own ideas  :) 



#4 hobbesgoblin

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 09:26 AM

The first question is whether or not your players imagine a mountain walking or stumbling or a little plushie when you say, "Cthulhu."

 

And there is the answer - Cthulhu Cults hiding in plain sight, selling plushies of their Tentacled Overlord to the unsuspecting masses.  Sooooooon, sooooooon...



#5 rylehNC

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 12:59 PM

And there is the answer - Cthulhu Cults hiding in plain sight, selling plushies of their Tentacled Overlord to the unsuspecting masses.  Sooooooon, sooooooon...

 

As Keeper I would then want a dramatically different concept of Cthulhu for when he actually arrives. 


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#6 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 08:04 PM

And there is the answer - Cthulhu Cults hiding in plain sight, selling plushies of their Tentacled Overlord to the unsuspecting masses.  Sooooooon, sooooooon...


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#7 Charlie_the_Cat_Pooka

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 10:12 PM

Quite convincing, when you put it that way... but where did you get these ideas?  The gist of HPL canon is that the Cthulhu cult resides mainly in scattered, primitive groups (in West Africa, Polynesia, Greenland, the West Indies, etc.) and has little or no foothold in Western civilization.  The fellows at Pagan Publishing extrapolated from this idea, making the assumption that the Cult would not fare well during the transition to the age of jet travel and the internet.  Further, the stars were almost-right in early 1925 but haven't been right since then.

 

I think it's a mistake to view the Cult of Cthulhu through that lens as the "degenerate cult living in the swamp" is just the group which Inspector Legrasse encounters. The cult is an onion which the first layers point at a religion which only "primitives" worship but as we go through the story we gradually come to the realization Cthulhu's worshipers are everywhere and of every layer of society.

In New York City, "hysterical Levantines" mob police; in California, a Theosophist colony dons white robes to await a "glorious fulfillment." Ultimately, the novel ends with Thurston not threatened by a bunch of wild-eyed degenerate backwoodsman but believing he's going to be tracked down and killed by what is obviously a global network.

Then again, I've always taken the Cult of Cthulhu to be a take-that at organized religion and Christianity in particular with The Dunwich Horror a similar religious parody. After all, the Cult of Cthulhu is a religion which worships a dead god of resurrection who will eventually arise to provide the faithful immortality and punish the unbelievers. The religion looks foreward to the end of humanity but is composed of all ethnicities, classes, and countries.

 

 

More to the point, they/we needed in Delta Green a central premise that would tie together such diverse elements of modern conspiracy as UFOs, MKULTRA, Moon artifacts, USS Eldridge, HAARP, men in black, and so forth.  Hence the Mi-go visitation, instead of the cult of Cthulhu.  Oh, and don't forget decrepit Nazi sorcerers.

 

Ultimately, it's a matter of taste but I find Cthulhu and his cultists to be the singularly coolest part of the Cthulhu Mythos. The ultimate religion of evil existing in plain sight and extraordinarily diverse in its followers. You can have a occult sect of sorcerers, a gigantic church, a rural farming community, Deep One-affected city, billionaires, or weird cultists all paying homage to the same deity and working together.

 

 

 

But of course it's your game and you can do what you want!  I'd start by asking whether the Mi-go would be pro or con waking up Great Cthulhu, and how they'd go about using humanity toward that purpose -- or, just write out the fuzzy fungi altogether. 

 

You could also use the Tcho-Tcho as your stock Cthulhu worshipers; connecting them, if you like, with the "undying leaders of the cult in the mountains of China."

 

I'd love to hear your own ideas  :)

 

Well, Delta Green indicated they considered it would be a terrible waste for humanity to be destroyed when the Great Old Ones woke up but I don't think they're stupid enough to try to directly oppose Old Bat Wings. As for the Tcho-Tcho I've always felt them to have only been useful in the D20 and updated version where they were a persecuted ethnic minority which had come to live in America with some strange habits.

 

It reminded me of an episode of Angel where they had a marriage where the groom's ex was to have his brain eaten but otherwise they were a nice bunch of demon-human hybrids.


The first question is whether or not your players imagine a mountain walking or stumbling or a little plushie when you say, "Cthulhu."

 

My players generally use Godzilla as the starting point for Cthulhu. A big huge kaiju who just happens to have massive psychic powers. Which is a fine monster to punch when you have the Justice League.

When you DON'T...

 

I also tend to think HP Lovecraft and his works didn't exist in the Cthulhuverse (or Robert Bloch had HPL's doppleganger killed in "The Haunter in the Dark") so there's no plushiethulhus.


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#8 DAR

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 10:17 PM

As has been discussed elsewhere, some of the basics of the Lovecraft-specific mythos are politically incorrect enough to be problematic for some modern players. There is also enough knowledge of the world (or supposed knowledge of the world) to make what was once distant, mysterious places far more mundane. If I was going to re-imagine the Cthulhu cult I'd either run really hard with the immortal leaders in China piece of lore, or ultimately re-imagine the Innsmouth taint into the modern age.

 

1- Deep-sea Drilling Platforms

2- Rich, private islands ripe of bacchanalia

3- Exploring the Dagon myth(s)

4- Two movies - Species and Splice

5- The Indian Ocean and Naga

6- The South China Sea

7- Rising Sea Levels and Climactic Change

 

I'd also certainly work more with Star Spawn and Greater Deep Ones (aka Black Cod Island) than with Cthulhu Himself - any GOO is pretty much overkill.

 

D.



#9 eternalchampion

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 10:12 AM

Very interesting ideas are presented here and also various aspects of the Cthulhu cult and Cthulhu Mythos in general.

 

Hi DAR, I would say that many of Love craft’s ideas concerning society are and were problematic, but why do you say this in this thread?

 

As I see it, I cannot imagine the Cthulhu cult being behind Christianity, or maybe also Islam and Buddhism and so on. That would be difficult. But there can be groups of Cthulhu worshipers hidden in greater religious groups and there can be many cults, small ones maybe or even a couple greater ones around the world. I would not see it as a conspiracy though, at least not a human one. All these worshipers are not necessarily interconnected, in clear knowledge of one another and pressing the same goals, but they could be connected in Cthulhu’s dreamscape. Great Cthulhu can be the central figure in a Mythos game while being fast asleep. He is asleep but dreams and his dreams reach far out to people open to them, and the dreams result in small religious like cults, philosophical or political groups, lone madmen and so on. It depends on the person that “accepts” the dreaming. So all these people and cults are actually connected without knowing it. One can say they have deep down a common dream, a dream of knowledge, of rebirth, of Apocalypse. All these people are effectively cultists, they might not know each other, but they do share the knowledge that they are not alone in the dark

So in the eyes of the investigators and of anyone looking there are many signs of connection, but it would be untraceable. All this seems like a ground for the Delta Green or the Laundry to come in and play.



#10 PXR5

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 12:15 PM

In my game the C'thulhu cult is low key. My take is that although the cult is wide spread it is fractured since the failure of a Mr Stanford in the '20s. Taking a cue from a Dreamlands scenario worship leads to degeneration and an inward perspective. Artists and poets being the most receptive of C'thulhu's dreaming but with little influence or working as individuals, not large groups.

 

The big players in my campaign are the Migo (MJ-12) doing their best to gather what they need before the stars are right manipulating certain governments to carry out their plans and The Brothers of the Yellow Sign working against the "Western Aggressor" with their strongholds in the Middle East, if you get what I mean... 

 

EDIT I'm in the lucky position to have been running a CoC campaign on and off for 35 years with the same group of players. The early 1920s games were mostly about Mr Squid Face and familiarity breeds contempt. The campaign moved forward through WWII and into the modern era so the main protagonists in our game needed to change.   


Edited by PXR5, 10 September 2016 - 12:38 PM.


#11 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 04:59 PM

I also tend to think HP Lovecraft and his works didn't exist in the Cthulhuverse (or Robert Bloch had HPL's doppleganger killed in "The Haunter in the Dark") so there's no plushiethulhus.

 

 

It doesn't really help with the fundamental question of whether or not your players will imagine a plushie or some unnamable horror when you say the syllable, 'Cthulhu.' I tend to think that the plushie, being itself a comprehendible object, pushes aside the lacuna of all the terrible possibilities of what Cthulhu is, to the detriment of actually using that specific entity. Bizarrely, you might want to just call it 'The Bloop' and rebuild the mythological revelations in TCoC up from that single datum...


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#12 DAR

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 08:49 PM

Very interesting ideas are presented here and also various aspects of the Cthulhu cult and Cthulhu Mythos in general.

 

Hi DAR, I would say that many of Love craft’s ideas concerning society are and were problematic, but why do you say this in this thread?

 

It is pretty basic, but some players may be highly turned off by the Yellow Peril theme of the "ancient Chinese leaders" (Tcho-Tcho, etc.) or somewhat incessant White Male privilege (and Burden) in Lovecraft's stories.I'm not particularly hung up on the idea that Lovecraft's ideas were problematic (I see him and them as a product of their times)  but using some of those themes can be iffy for some groups. Personally I prefer your version of the Cthulhu "Cult" in that that there are numerous (countless perhaps) and disparate groups and individuals all influenced by His dreams, but that they are far from connected or networked in any real or meaningful way.

 

In my own game, I take some of the tropes and invert them a bit. I have Fu Manchu and the Tcho-Tcho and run with the Yellow Peril, but Fu Manchu is virulently anti-Mythos and anti-Tcho-Tcho. The fears of miscegenation are there, but I focus more on the Dunwitch Horror and the Innsmouth taint aspect then the "half-bred, mongrel Third-World races" version that also crops up in Lovecraft (with hints that perhaps the ultimate solution is the Tsan-Chan breeding program). In fact I mine the idea that it is the "primitives"  who are often most aware of the Mythos and most effective and combatting and containing it (barely, much of the time - often via appeasement) while "the white races/cultures" are often the most easily corruptible (often through scientific curiosity and hubris). It runs the risk of being a bit Noble Savage-ish, but I just keep there from being anything too obviously 'noble' and instead focus on 'effective'.

 

Currently I trying to figure out how to tweak some of the classic campaigns into something more palatable (and playable).

 

D.



#13 Charlie_the_Cat_Pooka

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 09:17 PM

It doesn't really help with the fundamental question of whether or not your players will imagine a plushie or some unnamable horror when you say the syllable, 'Cthulhu.' I tend to think that the plushie, being itself a comprehendible object, pushes aside the lacuna of all the terrible possibilities of what Cthulhu is, to the detriment of actually using that specific entity. Bizarrely, you might want to just call it 'The Bloop' and rebuild the mythological revelations in TCoC up from that single datum...

 

I dunno, that would assume we're on the plushie side of thing versus thinking Cthulhu one of the most iconic terrifying monsters in fiction. Count Chocula does not mean I wouldn't love to run a game against Dracula. I think the idea that Cthulhu is somehow less terrifying because he's in plushie form misses the fact more players are interested in wanting to fight him and making him the center of campaigns than ever before.

 

It's why I was a bit disappointed in The Shadow of Yog-Sothoth as THE campaign to stop Cthulhu's rise was kind of weak-tea.


Edited by Charlie_the_Cat_Pooka, 10 September 2016 - 11:06 PM.

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#14 eternalchampion

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Posted 11 September 2016 - 02:34 PM

It is pretty basic, but some players may be highly turned off by the Yellow Peril theme of the "ancient Chinese leaders" (Tcho-Tcho, etc.) or somewhat incessant White Male privilege (and Burden) in Lovecraft's stories.I'm not particularly hung up on the idea that Lovecraft's ideas were problematic (I see him and them as a product of their times)  but using some of those themes can be iffy for some groups.

Thank you I see the point. One last comment I want to make on that. I believe Lovecraft was an extremely conservative and reactive person (but I do like his writings and even more his powerful imagination). His beliefs were not uncommon but in that same era vast movements concerning freedom and equality existed everywhere in the world. One can argue that HPL’s racist ideals were somewhat reflected in his work, but this is not the same with any CoC classic era scenario that describes social standards as they were. So I prefer to set a given scenario in its own historical context.

On the other hand Cthulhu was, is and will be; his dreams have nothing to do with history and social types. They are archetypical and always able to affect some persons and I would guess that they can make psychopaths, prophets, cult leaders, knowledge seekers, dreamers, just scared people and so on, out of them. Their reaction could depend on their social status too though, hence on their historical context, place and time.

I think some past eras seem more “black and white” to us. This can be because they are distant and we do not know many of the parameters of those past societies, but many times actually were like that. For example, what would be a Cthulhu cultist in the Dark Ages other than a devil worshiper, a witch. The solutions would be let’s get away from them, or let’s kill them; easy, end of story. The modern world as it is offers a rich variety of possibilities for a CoC game.



#15 Graham

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Posted 12 September 2016 - 01:49 AM

In my game the C'thulhu cult is low key. My take is that although the cult is wide spread it is fractured since the failure of a Mr Stanford in the '20s. Taking a cue from a Dreamlands scenario worship leads to degeneration and an inward perspective. Artists and poets being the most receptive of C'thulhu's dreaming but with little influence or working as individuals, not large groups.

 

Sounds a lot like the Ithaqua cult in Walker in the Wastes. As to the various discussions of how certain players react, this article (or more precisely the cartoon at the end) is well worth looking at, if only to provide a different perspective.

 

http://www.centerfor...to_indignation/


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#16 Charlie_the_Cat_Pooka

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Posted 12 September 2016 - 02:54 AM

Eh, my opinion on Lovecraft and racism is this:

 

1. Yes, Lovecraft was a big racist.

 

2. If I worried about people who had beliefs offensive to me, I'd never read anything before the 21st century.

 

One can love a person's writings while recognizing their author's flaws.


Edited by Charlie_the_Cat_Pooka, 12 September 2016 - 02:56 AM.

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#17 Deodanth

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Posted 12 September 2016 - 10:05 AM

In my game the C'thulhu cult is low key. My take is that although the cult is wide spread it is fractured since the failure of a Mr Stanford in the '20s. Taking a cue from a Dreamlands scenario worship leads to degeneration and an inward perspective. Artists and poets being the most receptive of C'thulhu's dreaming but with little influence or working as individuals, not large groups.

 

The big players in my campaign are the Migo (MJ-12) doing their best to gather what they need before the stars are right manipulating certain governments to carry out their plans and The Brothers of the Yellow Sign working against the "Western Aggressor" with their strongholds in the Middle East, if you get what I mean... 

 

This sums up my take on things too, and PXR5 has stated it better than I ever could.  :)

 

On the other hand Cthulhu was, is and will be; his dreams have nothing to do with history and social types. They are archetypical and always able to affect some persons and I would guess that they can make psychopaths, prophets, cult leaders, knowledge seekers, dreamers, just scared people and so on, out of them. Their reaction could depend on their social status too though, hence on their historical context, place and time.

 

Earlier I had weighed against adding anything to this discussion, but I think the following bears on the topic of what Cults of K'tulu looked like in 1925, and might look like in a modern setting:

1.  Whether or not you consider HPL a "racist," we can hopefully agree at least that his writing was informed by his background and cultural context.  

2.  HPL's protagonists are all Caucasian, and almost all Anglo-Saxon American males.  Of course he sees no reason to describe them as such, instead simply using class-suggestive verbage like "from an excellent family," "educated at _____," etc.  When describing anyone other than white folk, he uses more specific terms, now considered obsolete or inappropriate:  i.e. Chinaman, Esquimaux, Haytian, Levantine, Negro, mestizo, mulatto (to list those in "The Call of Cthulhu" alone).  So there is no doubt HPL makes distinctions about race, and again to my point:  these other people groups seem more prone than whites to worship Great Cthulhu.

3.  A notable exception is the young sculptor, Henry Wilcox, whose artistic sensitivity apparently makes him more receptive to GC's dreaming.  Other HPL protagonists with high artistic talent (Richard Pickman, Erich Zann) are similarly drawn to the Mythos more than the average "civilized" person.  Nonetheless these are solitary individuals, not inclined to join or form a cult.

 

4.  A number of White Americans do wind up in cults -- but notably those of Dagon and the Haunter of the Dark, not so much Cthulhu.



#18 DAR

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Posted 12 September 2016 - 06:07 PM

So, @Deodanth addresses what I was just about to respond to - the thread was started with the p[remise of translating the Lovecraft "Cult of Cthulhu" from a 1920's setting ( and genre piece) to a modern day setting (and genre piece). Personally I think that's what I think was brilliant in what Delta Green did, while it retained the elements of the Classic era, the new "big bads" were Nazi's, aliens (mi-go), and the military-industrial complex. It essentially sidestepped many of the "-ism" issues that can be spawned by merely lifting the elements (and associated tropes) of the classic era to the modern era. Even as the Delta Green universe expanded, it tended to stay away from the obvious "-isms" - there was Fate and the even at the end of the BRP-era Targets of Opportunity the "-isms" (when they were there) were largely subverted or consciously addressed

 

D.



#19 Travern

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Posted 12 September 2016 - 07:48 PM

HPL's protagonists are all Caucasian, and almost all Anglo-Saxon American males.  Of course he sees no reason to describe them as such, instead simply using class-suggestive verbage like "from an excellent family," "educated at _____," etc.  When describing anyone other than white folk, he uses more specific terms, now considered obsolete or inappropriate:  i.e. Chinaman, Esquimaux, Haytian, Levantine, Negro, mestizo, mulatto (to list those in "The Call of Cthulhu" alone).  So there is no doubt HPL makes distinctions about race, and again to my point:  these other people groups seem more prone than whites to worship Great Cthulhu.

 
While it's true the above are canonical groups that worship Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones, some even by name,"The Call of Cthulhu" definitely suggests additional ones that are to receptive their influence, even if the source is vaguer.  For example, among Prof. Angell's press clippings, there's a "despatch from California describes a theosophist colony as donning white robes en masse for some 'glorious fulfilment' which never arrives" (presumably European stock) and "the west of Ireland, too, is full of wild rumour and legendry" (though HPL's opinion of Celts isn't much better than other ethnic groups). While HPL's racialist views hold that some ethnicities are less civilized, if not downright more atavistic, than others, that's not the ultimate arbiter of susceptibility to the GOO's.
 
The chief division between those receptive to Cthulhu's call and those not is clearly between the rational types - e.g. "scientific men" or "New England’s traditional 'salt of the earth'" - and imaginative one - e.g. "artists and poets" in Western culture.  Since HPL's prejudices led him to believe there were fewer of the former in some groups, then his logic followed that they'd be more likely to join the Khlul'hloo cult.  In the civilized world, dreamers, like HPL, tended to follow solitary artistic careers or, melodramatically, go insane - and in HPL's story, Wilcox and an unnamed "architect with leanings toward theosophy and occultism" do both under the spell of the Call.

 

A modern Keeper needn't stick to this formula, however.  The horrific nature of the GOO's is that their corrupting influence on mankind is enduring and pervasive, almost omnipresent.  Although "dreamers" are predisposed to picking up the Call, not even the most rational person is wholly free from the signal.  Even among men of science, there were "scattered cases of uneasy but formless nocturnal impressions" when Cthulhu stirred in HPL's story.  Imagine CoC scenarios revolving around the rocket scientist-occultist Jack Parsons in the 40s and 50s or the electrical engineer-UFO cultist Ernest Norman in the 50s and 60s.  Maybe Parson's ideas about quantum magick could overlap with the apocalyptic psychic emanations of a Baphomet-like Cthulhu - "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" is really the GOOs' "new ways to shout and kill and revel".   Or perhaps 'Tulu could be the leader of the Nommo aliens from Sirius, whose city-sized UFO crashed in the Pacific but is keeping its crew in suspended animation while it sends out a telepathic coded signal to Norman.

 

In any case, there's plenty of creative mileage to be had from HPL's most famous nightmare for Delta Green and modern COC (and without ever having to touch on HPL's retrograde ideas about race).


Edited by Travern, 13 September 2016 - 01:08 PM.


#20 apophenia

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 03:38 AM

Something I hadn't thought about until I read this thread, and saw the mention of the Cthulhu cult as a network of disparate cults around the world - you could fairly easily make the Cult of Transcendence a Cthulhu cult. Most of the lower-tier cult organizations could be shifted in that direction relatively easily (or even left as they are), with the idea that at the apex, instead of the Crawling Chaos teaching mankind to be part of the mythos, it's Cthulhu. After all, he is the chief priest of the Great Old Ones - shouldn't he be leading people toward the true gods? 

 

Honestly, the change might be as subtle as replacing the book/avatar of Nyarlathotep with some means of directly communing with the dreams of Cthulhu; at the apex above the Transcended Masters is Cthulhu, leading them in his dreams. They don't seek to awaken him, but simply to become as he is. 







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