Outer Monstrosities

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Outer Monstrosities, AKA Outer Monsters, 'Outer Monstrocities' [sic], The Beast, The Hog

Origin: The concept as used here first appears in William Hope Hodgson's "The Hog" and other stories, but was apparently borrowed from more occult sources, perhaps John Dee?


"Things are hunting me now — the things that devour and dissolve — but I know how to elude them. It is you they will get, as they got the servants.... If you had moved, they would have been at you long ago. Don't worry, they won't hurt you. They didn't hurt the servants — it was seeing that made the poor devils scream so! My pets are not pretty, for they come out of places where aesthetic standards are — very different. Disintegration is quite painless, I assure you — but I want you to see them. I almost saw them, but I knew how to stop...."
H.P. Lovecraft, "From Beyond (fiction)"

The Hog is one of those million-mile-long clouds of "nebulosity" lying in the Outer Circle, and I had, psychically, that dreadful soiled feeling which the healthy human always experiences when he comes too closely in contact with certain Outer Monstrosities.
William Hope Hodgson, "The Hog"

The Outer Monstrosities are a race of astral, aetherial, nebulous, predatory psychic forces and intelligences, made from different states of matter than that which humans are familiar with, which swim the eerie "Outer Circle" beyond the Earth, occasionally plunging down into the depths of Earth's more familiar material world, through weaknesses in Earth's psychic defenses, to sate their alien lusts and hungers for psychic human entity. The Outer Monsters are vast and, perhaps, formless in any sense we are familiar with - or alternatively hold a form that is too terrible for material man to behold and remain sane, with the most detailed descriptions of these monstrosities gathered from sketchy impressions left upon terrified and maddened voyagers into the Astral Plane where it borders upon the Outer Circle where these monstrosities thrive.

These entities pose a terrible threat to Earthly life in general, but to the physical and psychic essence of astral travelers and psycically vulnerable human beings in general, with potential effects on material victims ranging from severe psychological and astral/spiritual attacks that might result in madness or catatonia resulting from damage to the mind or astral body, to physical attacks resulting in physical corruption or material destruction and complete disintegration.

Standing between Earth's ordinary material plane and the Outer Circles of these Monstrosities are Earth's psychic or astral defenses, built in distant prehistory by strange, distant, ascended masters of the Astral Plane for their own inscrutable but seemingly benevolent purposes, defenses that have eroded but are still sparsely patrolled and defended by these "Ab-human Priests of Raaee" when called upon with the proper incantations and rituals to do so, though the defenses continue to erode, and the Priests grow increasingly distant and forgetful; in time, it will be the responsibility of humanity alone to rebuild and maintain these defenses....

Heresies and Controversies

  • The "Outer Monstrosities" are probably the astral forms of a familiar race to "Mythos" scholars, probably corresponding with more familiar Lovecraftian entities, such as Dholes, Servitor of the Outer Gods, Star-Spawn of Cthulhu, Formless Spawn of Tsathoggua, Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, disembodied Great Race of Yith, etc., as vast, malignant, hideous alien entities made from different forms of matter which wait outside of the Earth for their opportunity to break through to the material world with disastrous consequences for humanity. Hodgson's predatory psychic entities in the form of "million-mile clouds" of darkness swimming in a rarefied sphere of aetherial/astral ionized plasma in space beyond the Earth lends a slightly different texture to the more standard "Lovecraftian" slimy tentacle monster theme more popularly used in RPG.
  • Compare/contrast also with Frank Belknap Long's Hounds of Tindalos; where the Outer Monstrosities differ from earthly life in consisting of a different state of matter, the Hounds differ in being formed from a different shape of matter or space - angular vs. curved; the entities are very similar in effect, and might be interchangeable in principal (perhaps the differences in fundamental explanation for the alien state of their matter is the result of a scientific error by an unreliable narrator?)
  • Hodgson seems to have been working with a balanced "good vs. evil" concept of his universe, in which the malignant forces of the Outer Monstrosities are balanced against the benevolent forces of the "Raaee", which apparently correspond roughly with Derleth's "Elder Gods"; this balance might be taken at face value, but need not be reality: perhaps the Raaee and their "ab-human" priests are not so benevolent after all, but are equally malignant beings whose goals just happen to seem similar and helpful to mankind. After all, the Raaee might as easily represent the disembodied minds of the Great Race of Yith, tending Earth like a garden in preparation for that day when humanity at last goes extinct, to be replaced by a race that will inherit the Earth only to have their bodies stolen by the Great Race in a mass invasion: the Raaee may seem to respond to human pleas for help with results that seem benevolent to humans, yet have their own ulterior motives that do not necessarily have the long-term good of humanity in mind!

Keeper Notes

Associated Mythos Elements

  • race: Elemental spirits, such as the Aeiirii and Saiitii, which appear to be lesser cousins to the Outer Monstrosities
  • race: compare to the Hounds of Tindalos
  • tome: Sigsand Manuscript and its variations and contents (including the Saaamaaa Ritual)
  • location: the Other Side (Astral Plane), where human beings are most likely to encounter the Outer Monstrosities before they break through to the Material Plane
  • artifact: Tillinghast Resonator, which may reveal the presence of these beings, or even attract them
  • cult: Carnacki Institute, a seemingly benevolent cult of supernatural detectives and "ghost-finders" who serve as some of humanity's few watchmen against the outer darkness of the universe.
  • cult: Ab-human Priests of Raaee, which apparently stand in opposition to the Monstrosities
  • Raaee, or Elder Gods, which are apparently in opposition to the Monstrosities, but even more remote and forgetful than their priests
  • cult: the Crowley Project, which has allegedly made occasional bargains with the Outer Monstrosities, in exchange for sometimes monstrous sacrifices

Additional Quotes and References

The Hog is one of those million-mile-long clouds of "nebulosity" lying in the Outer Circle, and I had, psychically, that dreadful soiled feeling which the healthy human always experiences when he comes too closely in contact with certain Outer Monstrosities.

We have an earth-sphere of solid matter and 'round about that sphere there lies a ring of gases the constituents of which enter largely into all life, as we understand life - that is, air. But this is not the only circle of gas which is floating round us. There are, as I have been forced to conclude, larger and more attenuated "gas" belts lying, zone on zone, far up and around this planet, and presumably others, of course. These compose what I have called the inner circles. They are surrounded in turn by a circle or belt of what I have called, for want of a better word, "emanations", an extremely light gas - or, shall I say, 'aether' - which I have named the Psychic or Outer Circle, and which can not lie less than a hundred thousand miles off the earth, spinning not with the earth but in the opposite direction, with a thickness which I have presumed to be anything between five and ten million miles. I have reason to believe that the spinning of the Outer Circle is disturbed from time to time through causes which are quite unknown to me, but which I believe are based in physical phenomena.

Now, the Outer Circle is the psychic circle, yet it is also physical. To illustrate what I mean I must again instance electricity, and say that just as electricity discovered itself to us as something quite different from any of our previous conceptions of matter, so is the Psychic or Outer Circle different from any of our previous conceptions of matter. Yet it is nonetheless physical in its origin, and, in the sense that electricity is physical, the Outer or Psychic Circle is physical in its constituents. Speaking pictorially it is, physically, to the Inner Circle what the Inner Circle is to the upper strata of the air, and what the air is to the waters and the waters to the solid world.

I suggest that these million-mile-long clouds of monstrosity which float in the Psychic or Outer Circle are bred of the elements of that circle. They are tremendous psychic forces, bred out of its elements just as an octopus or shark is bred out of the sea, or a tiger or any other physical force is bred out of the elements of its earth-and-air surroundings. The Psychic or Outer Circle which, though so attenuated that I may crudely presume it to be approximate to our conception of aether, yet contains all the elements for the production of certain phases of force and intelligence. And so it seems to me we have the conception of a huge psychic world, bred out of the physical, lying far outside of this world and completely encompassing it and 'breeding' - if I may use the term - its own psychic forces and intelligences, monstrous and otherwise, just as this world produces its own physical forces and intelligences - beings, animals, insects, etc. - monstrous and otherwise.

'The monstrosities of the Outer Circle are malignant in a psychic way towards all that we consider most desirable, just in the same way a shark or a tiger may be considered malignant, in a physical way, to all that we consider desirable. They are predatory - as all positive force is predatory. They have desires regarding us which are incredibly more dreadful to our minds when comprehended than an intelligent sheep would consider our desires towards its own carcass. They plunder and destroy to satisfy lusts and hungers exactly as other forms of existence plunder and destroy to satisfy their lusts and hungers. And the desire of these monsters is chiefly, if not always, for the psychic entity of the human. It is because of this that I term those nebulous psychic forces and intelligences the Outer Monsters....
— paraphrased from William Hope Hodgson, "The Hog"