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ReydeAmarillo

Yig and Sebek and Nacha oh my! No so "great" ones?

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ReydeAmarillo

So are some of the GOO's really so great? 

Some (as in the title, plus Y'Golonac & Summanus) seem relatively weak and  Terra-centric focused (snakes, spiders, crocodiles etc) to be real cosmic powers. Seems to me to be a little more like Bashet and cats. Maybe, given the Elder Gods equal weakness (in CoC anyway) , these so called GOO's are more "fallen" EG's or Unique Individuals? 

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klecser

The "definitions" have always been murky.  Fans create significance within a Canon.

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yronimoswhateley

I guess it's bound to happen when you've got a sort of open-source "Mythos" started by an author who left it all VERY open-ended and secondary to painting a certain mood in words, and then added to by a couple authors who "get it", a couple authors who almost "get it", and a bunch of authors who never quite got it but, more often than not, tried hard and meant well.

 

For my part, I don't usually use some of those duller "great old ones" - I'm more likely to invent my own or promote an alien NPC into that position from the ranks of, say, Elder Things or Shoggoths or even pre-historic proto-human wizards and such.

 

To their credit, these weaker "Great Oldies" actually have something going for them, in game terms, in an RPG where (for example) Great Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Yog-Sothoth, and Shub-Niggurath are impractically powerful:  these weak-sauce Old Ones are a little more "fun-sized", as Shimmin Beg put it in the wonderful blog series on trying to bring some of the more interesting GOOs down to a scale where investigators can interact with them and survive....
 

Spoiler


 


 

 

These smaller, weaker (and - yes - sometimes goofier) GOOs (like Y'Golonac, Summanus, Yig, Sebek, Atlach-Nacha, Chaugnar-Faugn, etc.) are just about "fun-sized" already, making them more useful for the game than their more "realistic", "faithful", and powerful Lovecraftian cousins.

 

I guess the trick is to work out a compromise:  something that has the Cool Factor that some of the best (but most powerful) Lovecraftian GOOs have, but with stats more in line with something that investigators might be reasonably expected to defeat.  Add to that a sort of figurative fun-sized "hat" for the GOO to wear that gives them something more interesting to do in a story than just eat Planet Earth's face the moment they're summoned, and, I think, you'll have the perfect combination of cool, fun, useful, and interesting that a game element should add to the game....

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Travern

The Great Old Ones are only as "great" as they need to be for the purposes of a given story or scenario—and you can feel free to put your own spin on a GOO, making them more or less powerful as you see fit, or ignore them entirely (ditto the Derlethian Elder Gods).  To paraphrase Emerson, "A foolish consistency is the unspeakable horror of deranged minds."

 

Check out the variant interpretations of GOOs in Trail of Cthulhu's "Gods and Titans" section.  Kenneth Hite does a brilliant job of brainstorming them in ToC*.

 

* Incidentally, Trail of Cthulhu is currently on sale at DriveThruRPG (Yoggie affiliate link).

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DrMonster

Don't forget about the Hoofed Thing and the Thing on the Rooftop

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rylehNC

Don't listen to 'em Yig, you'll always be great.

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RogerBW
13 hours ago, DrMonster said:

Don't forget about the Hoofed Thing and the Thing on the Rooftop

 

Or the Eight Hoofed Things on the Rooftop?

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johnmcfloss

I tend to struggle more with things that step Up from the likes of Yig - Yig's a personal, deal-with-the-devil setup, a personal, understandable and underestimating corruption (and tends to lend itself well to terms like Evil, and while that's debatably Lovecraftian, it's a useful hook to work off). They have motivations, that the players can at least appreciate, if not Understand (like Nyarlethotep, I suppose).

(Admitedly, some of the best stuff I've ever GMed was a party who cast Speak With Yig, so I'm biased)

 

It's things like Ithaqua that I've never got my hands around - Primal Forces Given Form, End-Of-The-World threats, that currently exist, and wander, and yet pass generally unnoticed.

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eternalchampion

I think it is a general quality of the Great Old Ones that they appear earth-centric and rather smaller in scope than the Outer Gods. Maybe they were once mortal beings that have somehow “ascended” to that status.

 

If you want to retain the cosmic dimension on them, maybe we could say that these beings represent archetypes. So, not only fire or darkness, but also lizards are something of a cosmic archetype and snake-like creatures with similar poisonous qualities as earth’s lizards or Serpent people might be found in another part of the multiverse. In that sense, it is not the human psyche that dictates these archetypes, but it is the great old ones, these archetypes that have also formed human psyche (yet the humans do not know that and they think they are all so important and created foe a purpose, and so on and so forth…)

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yronimoswhateley
8 hours ago, johnmcfloss said:

I tend to struggle more with things that step Up from the likes of Yig - Yig's a personal, deal-with-the-devil setup, a personal, understandable and underestimating corruption (and tends to lend itself well to terms like Evil, and while that's debatably Lovecraftian, it's a useful hook to work off). They have motivations, that the players can at least appreciate, if not Understand (like Nyarlethotep, I suppose).

(Admitedly, some of the best stuff I've ever GMed was a party who cast Speak With Yig, so I'm biased)

 

It's things like Ithaqua that I've never got my hands around - Primal Forces Given Form, End-Of-The-World threats, that currently exist, and wander, and yet pass generally unnoticed.

 

There you go - that's what I meant by a "hat" for the Great Old One to "wear" that should ideally be more interesting than Eating the Face of the whole world:  what a good Great Old One needs is a clear enough motive and/or modus operandi to follow that Keepers have something good to latch onto and work with, and players can recognize as something distinct in flavor enough that they aren't facing just one generic tentacle monster after another. 

  • That's almost certainly one reason why Nyarlathotep in his thousand forms  is a fairly popular (and predictable) go-to GOO:  Nyarlathotep's Black Man of Witchcraft sell-your-soul and make-a-twisted-deal "hat" is familiar and easy to work with - it's a classic.
  • The King In Yellow is another popular GOO:  the weird and surreal corruption is recognizable and easy to work with.
  • Father Dagon's fishy, fish-themed, fish-man miscegenation thing is easy to grasp.
  • The creepy-and-weird-sex thing of Y'Golonac stands out.
  • Eihort has a zombie thing going on.
  • Cthulhu just kind of dreams, and seems to have a water-thing going on, but that's a start, at least.

The Big Three are kind of vague:

  • Yog-Sothoth does a cosmic wisdom, gate-lock-key, coterminous-with-time-and-space thing, which is vaguely useful for a wizards and time/space travel thing.  "The Dunwich Horror" gives us some excuse to toss in another miscegenation "hat", too, which is more useful.
  • Shub-Niggurath has picked up a fertility thing, I guess as an extension of the black-goat-of-the-woods-with-a-thousand-young association, which is a bit useful for Folk Horror purposes.
  • Azathoth does a nuclear chaos thing, and that's something, I suppose.

Then you start getting into really, really vague and, perhaps, "not-so-great" territory:

  • Yig does the snake thing; snakes are creepy, at least, and it's something to latch onto.
  • Atlach-Nacha does a spider thing, and spiders are creepy, and that, too, is something to work with.
  • Sebek is an import from mythology that does a crocodile thing, and, well, crocodiles aren't exactly snakes or fish, so it's a different hat from Yig's or Dagon's, right?
  • Bast is an import from mythology that does a cat thing, and... Dreamlands... cats... something.....
  • Summanus is a mythology import that, you know, does that... Summanus thing... it's really popular, really.
  • Nodens is a mythology import that... well, he's no fan of Nyarlathotep, he kind of hangs out with Nightgaunts, and  he's a hunter and lord of an abyss, so there's a good, clear, strong, coherent hat for him to wear....
  • Nug and Yeb are twin blasphemies; twins are creepy and being twins is their thing, which explains how popular these guys are!
  • Yibb-Tstll hangs out with Nightgaunts (stepping on poor Nodens' toes, and he doesn't have many to step on!), and wears the ever-popular Sticky Black Blood hat...

Then, there's a couple of my pet favorite "not-so-great" options:

  • Bugg-Shash had only that funny name, and the "Drowner" hat.  Yay!  Thanks to a make-over from the good folks in the Yog-Sothoth.Com discussion forums, however, Bugg-Shash's name got tied in with the Bogeyman, earning him a whole cult of the "bogey-men" or "bag men" who sneak around by night, carrying children off for sacrifice in a big black bag, while that "Drowner" hat got expanded into a cool little mythos involving a sub-class of parasitic Great Old Ones who are useful to summon because they could theoretically weaken stronger Great Old Ones enough to almost make it tempting to summon an Azathoth or Yog-Sothoth, if you're crazy enough to try to infect a powerful Great Old One with a parasitic disease in hopes of enslaving it!  THAT plot is destined to end well, and, of course, the way that summoning a cosmic parasite is destined to backfire in ghastly ways on the summoner is fuel enough for horror scenarios, while the temptation of weakening those more powerful GOOs is enough of a plot point for a cult to get the Bugg-Shash party started!
  • Mordiggian began life only as a god of the ghouls in far-future Zothique - the same ghouls who otherwise seem to show no inclination toward worshiping anything in Lovecraft's stories.  So, Mordiggian has the ghoul hat, and ghouls are kind of creepy.  Mordiggian, through the YSDC make-over process, seems to be evolving a bit:  Mordiggian has been (semi-arbitrarily) given the "avatars" of Ishtar as depicted in the cannibal slasher movie "Blood Feast" (in which a cultist slasher kills a series of victims who will be used to serve a cannibal "Egyptian Feast" - the likes of which have not been seen in five THOUSAND years!), and Stephen King's The Worm that Doth Corrupt which hangs out underground with vampires and, to my reckoning, the weird cult of the "crawling ones" from Lovecraft's "The Festival".  Mordiggian's "hat" now looks something like an underground cult of undead, maggoty, flesh-eating wizards who enjoy nasty and desperate varieties of eternal, subterranean half-life bestowed by worship of Mordiggian....
  • Camazotz the Bat-Demon, an import from Mayan mythology who makes an appearance in a single scenario from The Mysteries of Meso-America where it began its mythos life as a demon associated with bat-creatures, and could have persisted with wearing a basic bat-themed hat (bats are creepy, and that's... something....) Fortunately, through the YSDC make-over process, Camazotz evolved into a lord over a shadowy and ghostly lost pre-human city of horror, Xibalba, a place of crumbling ruins and twisting streets and alleys in the eternal darkness of the Astral Void, ruled by a cult of twelve Nightgaunt "bat-demons" and the disembodied specters of their ghostly followers, who honor their lord Camazotz in blood by playing a grisly ball game spectator sport in the courts of Xibalba using the severed heads of sacrificial victims as the gruesome "ball"....

 

I'm sure that Bast is a cool cat to hang out with, but Camazotz?  I really want to see what happens when some investigators go off exploring that ruined city on the Astral Plane, and try to rescue some poor soul who got carried off to that hellish place by those bat-demons, and returned to tell the tale after narrowly escaping with their heads from the silent ghosts of Xibalba who had gathered en masse to see a spectacular game of investigator's head-ball!

 

I think, just as Travern suggests, that all the "not-so-great" Great Old Ones really need is just a little "TLC" from fans to expand on their Great Old Hats just a little, and give them some material for storytellers to work with.  The Not-So-Great Old Ones just needs a couple extra things to raise them above that not-so-great mediocrity, into a position of interest: 

  • An evocative and weird location...
  • A creepy and colourful cult...
  • A couple interesting monsters to hang out with the cult, if only as background, thematic elements....
  • Something that adds texture to a basic theme (those animal-themes can really use a bit of texture!  Bast and Sebek, I'm looking at YOU!)
  • Something interesting for the cultists or GOO itself to do that will put the GOO, its cult, is monster minions, or its sacrifices onto the investigators' radar in an interesting way....
  • ...and that's just what I could think of, but I'm sure there's some other things that haven't occurred to me!  What would you add?

In other words, what Call of Cthulhu needs is NOT a god of something, and certainly NOT a god with good RPG stats - it needs a god that interesting things happen around, because it has a colourful cult with interesting and attention-getting things to do, creepy places to do it in, and/or creepy monsters to help do those things with.....

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ReydeAmarillo

I was thinking of bringing Sebek into a London Gaslight campaign. We know he sponsors crocodiles and is apotropaic as regards them. He also acts as a preserver and protector of mummies. 

I was thinking reanimated mummies roaming the British Museum, Egyptian cult members smuggling crocodiles onboard ship to the Thames and then guiding them into the sewers, willing cult sacrifices (or enemies charmed and) climbing into the crocodile pen in London Zoo. 

And priests wearing crocodile masks, except (as Bloch's original Sebek story ) some don't need a mask!!! Maybe these are humanoid crocodiles " Chosen of Sebek"? 

Adapting the "Night of the Jackals" scenario (from the Gaslight 3rd edition), maybe these mummies are of high priests who are just on defensive autopilot until undergoing a reviving ceremony to enable them to conduct some greater ceremony to bring the Black Pharaoh to summon Azathoth in the very middle of London!!!!!! 

 

 

 

 

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yronimoswhateley

Could be!  I'm reminded now of the Lovecraft (and Houdini) story "Under the Pyramids" (AKA "Entombed with the Pharaohs"), with its weird revelations of vast, silent processions of hybrid mummies living in some vast, secret catacomb on the brink of an abyss hidden somewhere beneath the defaced Sphinx, where even darker secrets lay entombed far from the light of day....  I rather like the idea of a secret cabal of hybrid mummy cultists lurking in underground London, sneaking up into London's art and history museums by night for sinister purposes....  Maybe the cult is still recruiting to this day, with initiation into the cult's deeper mysteries requiring the victim to be mummified alive in some monstrous form....

 

Lovecraft created one or two little Egyptian-themed mythologies that one might draw from, between the great (and perhaps under-used) possibilities of the story "Nyarlathotep", wicked King Kephron and the Ghoul-Queen Nitocris ("The Outsider" and "Under the Pyramids"), and the Black Pharaoh Nephren-Ka ("The Outsider" and "The Haunter of the Dark")....  Plenty of great stuff exists to draw from in this respect, just waiting to be re-assembled in some novel and provocative way....

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rylehNC

It could always be that the presence of these animal entities influenced terrestrial evolution along their own lines.

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johnmcfloss
18 minutes ago, rylehNC said:

It could always be that the presence of these animal entities influenced terrestrial evolution along their own lines.

 

I'd be tempted to favour the idea that our descriptions for Mythos entities tends to be trying to push something incomprehensible into comprehensible terms - Bast isn't really anything cat-like in terms of features or temperament, but for whatever reason, her presence tends to attract them, and as our nearest point of reference, this influences the way her description is given.

Or we just mentally fill in the gaps of her appearance we can't comprehend with whatever's nearby, in this case, cats.

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