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Old Man Henerson

What if the mythos was not that powerful?

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Hi guys, I have had this idea for a long time now, and I have searched all over the internet, but I have never really found anyone talking about it.  What if the Mythos was not actually all it was made out to be? What if, while certainly powerful cosmic beings, the great old ones were not all powerful. What if all the talk the cultists make about the Elder gods being so powerful and invincible, was just that, all talk; cleverly designed to demoralize their enemies.

What do you guys think about this idea? Would it make a great game?

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It seems like you might be going at this backwards.  Don't ask can I, ask should I.  I can see plenty of ideas that might work with this premise, but the better way to think is "what story am I trying to tell that this helps".  For example if you want a story where someone has found a way to ascend Mayor of Sunnyville style then you may well want to tone them down somewhat.  Likewise if you want a World War C ploy where the humans fight the Old Ones.  But in most games I think it would harm the tone.

TLDR, maybe.  Why?

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I guess that I have never liked the pessimistic tone of Lovecraft. 😕 To me, things like Cthulhu represent the ultimate enemy to defeat , something to be feared for sure, but not to cower and shrink away from.

The monsters of Lovecraft are the ultimate darkness, and to uphold the light, even in the face of such overwhelming odds just speaks to me in such a profound way.

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In Robert E. Howard’s tales, the Mythos entities encountered are considerably less powerful than those in stories by others in Lovecraft’s circle.  For instance, superstition and incomprehension/misunderstanding rather than cosmic pessimism feature in his “Tale Black Stone” and “The Tower of the Elephant”.  Generally, his bold and brawny heroes can dispatch them with honest steel (no worrying about failed sanity with them).  One could brew up a BRP horror campaign around those stories instead of those by HPL, CAS, Bloch, Campbell, et al.

In any case, it sounds as though CoC’s Lovecraftian cosmic horror may not be quite to your taste, especially considering your forum handle ;)   Have you checked out The Esoterrorists or Monster of the Week?

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59 minutes ago, Travern said:

In Robert E. Howard’s tales, the Mythos entities encountered are considerably less powerful than those in stories by others in Lovecraft’s circle.  For instance, superstition and incomprehension/misunderstanding rather than cosmic pessimism feature in his “Tale Black Stone” and “The Tower of the Elephant”.  Generally, his bold and brawny heroes can dispatch them with honest steel (no worrying about failed sanity with them).  One could brew up a BRP horror campaign around those stories instead of those by HPL, CAS, Bloch, Campbell, et al.

In any case, it sounds as though CoC’s Lovecraftian cosmic horror may not be quite to your taste, especially considering your forum handle ;)   Have you checked out The Esoterrorists or Monster of the Week?

Yeah. Cthulhu is not for me, I was just curious if anyone else had thought of the same idea. Also, good job spotting my handle, 😉 I found that story absolutely hilarious, especially the irony of Henderson and co. doping a yacht onto of a meeting of Cthulhu worshipers. I much prefer how William Hope Hodgson portrayed the cosmic horrors in his book The Night Land, they were quite fearsome, but theoretically killable, and were actively fought against by the powers of good.

As for RPGs, I sprung for the Big Golden Book a few years ago, but I am only just getting around to trying to put something significant together. I liked the idea of having a simple set of rules that could be applied to any story I could imagine. Now, however, I am finding that such freedom comes at the cost of hand crafting most of monsters for my story.

 

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Are the Mythos creatures really that invincible? When I look at some of the deities in the rulebook, some are less impressive than others. Atlach-Nacha has 50 HP, 12 points of chitin and fur. Well, whatabout a bunch of veterans with Vickers machine guns and handgrenades vs the deity? Or why go to extremes, why not just a crazed miner with a case of dynamite?

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18 minutes ago, midwinter said:

Are the Mythos creatures really that invincible? When I look at some of the deities in the rulebook, some are less impressive than others. Atlach-Nacha has 50 HP, 12 points of chitin and fur. Well, whatabout a bunch of veterans with Vickers machine guns and handgrenades vs the deity? Or why go to extremes, why not just a crazed miner with a case of dynamite?

Or a senile old man looking for his lawn gnomes. 😉

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2 hours ago, Old Man Henerson said:

Yeah. Cthulhu is not for me, I was just curious if anyone else had thought of the same idea.

Yea, but in those circumstance it  is usually better to sprinkle the Mythos into  another game, rather than run CoC. 

2 hours ago, Old Man Henerson said:

 

Also, good job spotting my handle, 😉 I found that story absolutely hilarious, especially the irony of Henderson and co. doping a yacht onto of a meeting of Cthulhu worshipers. I much prefer how William Hope Hodgson portrayed the cosmic horrors in his book The Night Land, they were quite fearsome, but theoretically killable, and were actively fought against by the powers of good.

Most everyone who wrote Lovecraftian Horror other than Lovecraft tended to  brighten up the outlook a little.  That's not to  say it was raninbows an unicorns, just that it was less doom & gloom that Lovecraft's own works. 

2 hours ago, Old Man Henerson said:

As for RPGs, I sprung for the Big Golden Book a few years ago, but I am only just getting around to trying to put something significant together. I liked the idea of having a simple set of rules that could be applied to any story I could imagine. Now, however, I am finding that such freedom comes at the cost of hand crafting most of monsters for my story.

 BRP was created from RuneQuest so if you can get an old RQ2 or RQ3 Bestiary you can get a lot of creatures  for BRP. Even RQG  stats can port over. Many of us who  platy  BRP have RQ, Stormbringer,  CoC, etc. so we have  a lot of stats that will work in BRP.  Some might use a little fine tuning, but they are functional as written. So you can swipe some stuff it you want or need to.  MAybe customize an existing animal to make it a monster.

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1 hour ago, midwinter said:

Are the Mythos creatures really that invincible?

Depends on the crature

1 hour ago, midwinter said:

When I look at some of the deities in the rulebook, some are less impressive than others. 

Yup, but the ones that are impressive can be really impressive. Not to much the Investigators can do against a Shoggoth, let along Cthulhu himself. Generally speaking the weakest things in the game tend to be humans. Not many Mythos creatures are weaker than we are.

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12 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yea, but in those circumstance it  is usually better to sprinkle the Mythos into  another game, rather than run CoC. 

Most everyone who wrote Lovecraftian Horror other than Lovecraft tended to  brighten up the outlook a little.  That's not to  say it was raninbows an unicorns, just that it was less doom & gloom that Lovecraft's own works. 

Yeah. I have no plans running a Cthulhu game, I just wanted to see if any one else had ever thought of such a thought about the mythos.  I do like elements of the mythos though, as you  have seen in my posts, as I think that fighting beings like Cthulhu sounds like one of the most cool and epic battles one could have in an RPG.

12 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

BRP was created from RuneQuest so if you can get an old RQ2 or RQ3 Bestiary you can get a lot of creatures  for BRP. Even RQG  stats can port over. Many of us who  platy  BRP have RQ, Stormbringer,  CoC, etc. so we have  a lot of stats that will work in BRP.  Some might use a little fine tuning, but they are functional as written. So you can swipe some stuff it you want or need to.  MAybe customize an existing animal to make it a monster.

I have never thought of that before. I will have to look into those books some time. Thanks for the tip.

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5 hours ago, Old Man Henerson said:

Yeah. I have no plans running a Cthulhu game, I just wanted to see if any one else had ever thought of such a thought about the mythos.  I do like elements of the mythos though, as you  have seen in my posts, as I think that fighting beings like Cthulhu sounds like one of the most cool and epic battles one could have in an RPG.

Well bewfore there was a Call of Cthulhu RPG, Sandy Petersen wrote Gateway Bestiary, a supplement  for RQ2 with stats for alot of animals, dinosaurs, and monsters. It included a sampling of Cthulhu Myhos nasties as well. I don't kn ow if he had s tarted CoC yet, and took their stats from hsi notes, of it he just wanted to be able to add Mythos nasties  to  a RQ campaign. Either way, it certinaly gave peole the idea of adding mythos elements to a RQ game or a related one, like Stormbringer. 

5 hours ago, Old Man Henerson said:

I have never thought of that before. I will have to look into those books some time. Thanks for the tip.

A lot of animals  and creatures are the same or similar across multiple BRP games. For the most part a Lion is still a lion. Recently, animal s tats have been reduced a little, but not all that much and the values are usually close enough to  work and  compatible with whatever BRP system  you are using. And it is very easy to turn an animal into a monster by upping some attributes, increasing the armor, and/or adding some sort of special power or ability such as flight or fire breathing. But, it much easier not to have to rein vent the wheel. I'll also say that when it comes to stats for creatures  and a animals the SIZ table is your friend, since it will  give you the right ballpark to work in, and can help to stat things up in a consistent and relative manner.

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1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

Well bewfore there was a Call of Cthulhu RPG, Sandy Petersen wrote Gateway Bestiary, a supplement  for RQ2 with stats for alot of animals, dinosaurs, and monsters. It included a sampling of Cthulhu Myhos nasties as well. I don't kn ow if he had s tarted CoC yet, and took their stats from hsi notes, of it he just wanted to be able to add Mythos nasties  to  a RQ campaign. Either way, it certinaly gave peole the idea of adding mythos elements to a RQ game or a related one, like Stormbringer. 

I had heard of stuff like that a while ago. They even put Cthulhu into a old, D&D list of gods, though I think they got in trouble for it and had to remove him. 

1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

A lot of animals  and creatures are the same or similar across multiple BRP games. For the most part a Lion is still a lion. Recently, animal s tats have been reduced a little, but not all that much and the values are usually close enough to  work and  compatible with whatever BRP system  you are using. And it is very easy to turn an animal into a monster by upping some attributes, increasing the armor, and/or adding some sort of special power or ability such as flight or fire breathing. But, it much easier not to have to rein vent the wheel. I'll also say that when it comes to stats for creatures  and a animals the SIZ table is your friend, since it will  give you the right ballpark to work in, and can help to stat things up in a consistent and relative manner.

I actually just did that today or yesterday making a monster. I took most of the stats for a giant squid and modified it into a flying squid monster. Now that you mention it, I also remember reading a blurb somewhere in the Big Golden Book about how you could use the mutation powers to make a bunch of new monsters from existing animals.  Right now I am trying to make a creature by taking the stats from the ghost, and a while ago I transferred the Yellow mold from D&D bestiary into BRP stats. So from now on, I think I will try to modify animals and monsters to create my new set of monsters.

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It wasn't that the monsters were wimpier in Howard's tales but that his protagonists were quite a bit younger and manlier.  No aging academics or antiquarians for him!  "The Hoofed Thing" and "A Witch Shall Be Born" are good examples.  A bit of testosterone (or heroic skill points) is what your PCs need.  😉

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8 hours ago, Old Man Henerson said:

I had heard of stuff like that a while ago. They even put Cthulhu into a old, D&D list of gods, though I think they got in trouble for it and had to remove him. 

No. Not quite. What happened was that Chaosium and TSR both asked for and got permission to use both the Cthulhu Mythos and Elric in thier games. TSR released stats for such in their Deities & Demigods books, but later pulled them.This question was actually raised in one of the old issues of Different Worlds where someone asked Chaosium why the pulled that stuff from Deities & Demigods and  Gigi D'Arn responded that Chaosium didn't do it, and she had no idea why TSR did. So it was TSR's call.

It's been speculated that they probably didn't want to publish stats that might draw attention to Chasoium's Strombringer and Call of Cthulhu RPGSs.

 

 

 

8 hours ago, Old Man Henerson said:

I actually just did that today or yesterday making a monster. I took most of the stats for a giant squid and modified it into a flying squid monster. Now that you mention it, I also remember reading a blurb somewhere in the Big Golden Book about how you could use the mutation powers to make a bunch of new monsters from existing animals.  Right now I am trying to make a creature by taking the stats from the ghost, and a while ago I transferred the Yellow mold from D&D bestiary into BRP stats. So from now on, I think I will try to modify animals and monsters to create my new set of monsters.

Yup. Oh, and the cube square law helps too. Since the SIZ table is logarithmic this means that for every 3 points you add or subtract to SIZ you should probably add or subtract 2 points to STR and possibly CON. THat helps when making real world creatures based on other real world creature. 

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9 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

No. Not quite. What happened was that Chaosium and TSR both asked for and got permission to use both the Cthulhu Mythos and Elric in thier games. TSR released stats for such in their Deities & Demigods books, but later pulled them.This question was actually raised in one of the old issues of Different Worlds where someone asked Chaosium why the pulled that stuff from Deities & Demigods and  Gigi D'Arn responded that Chaosium didn't do it, and she had no idea why TSR did. So it was TSR's call.

It's been speculated that they probably didn't want to publish stats that might draw attention to Chasoium's Strombringer and Call of Cthulhu RPGSs.

Yeah. It would make sense not to advertise for your competition. Things have changed a lot though since then, now every one and their dog has Cthulhu running around in their game.

9 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yup. Oh, and the cube square law helps too. Since the SIZ table is logarithmic this means that for every 3 points you add or subtract to SIZ you should probably add or subtract 2 points to STR and possibly CON. THat helps when making real world creatures based on other real world creature. 

Thanks for the tip.  The SIZ chart in the book can be a bit hard to read at times, so this will be a lot of help in the future. Thanks a lot!👍

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56 minutes ago, Old Man Henerson said:

Don't worry, I will not disappoint. 😉

It's just, depending on how close to you there are.. they might think, "I wanted an horror tentacle thing, but I got something else, damn" 😮

But, at any rate, twits and surprises are usually good! :D 

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11 minutes ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

It's just, depending on how close to you there are.. they might think, "I wanted an horror tentacle thing, but I got something else, damn" 😮

But, at any rate, twits and surprises are usually good! :D 

Yeah. My PCs are good for anything, so there should not be too much trouble. I just need to finish up all my monsters, companions, bosses and bang out the plot so we can get started.

And Don't worry, there will be twists, lots of them. 😎

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If you want your players to have epic battles against giant monsters, it doesn't really matters what the monster is called, as much as how cool he looks and what its stats are. Just make him as powerful as needed to make the battle challenging while avoiding a TPK. Just note that naming the monster "Cthulhu" or "Nyarlathotep" or whatever might set the wrong expectations with some of your players, who might decide to just run away and avoid the fight altogether because in CoC you never fight those things face to face if you want to live -- so use those names with care (remember the players that they're playing DnD or whatever it is you're playing, and/or change the name a bit, like "Kethe-lhu" or something).

As for "Mythos that's not so tough" angle, yes it's been used somewhat in my games or in things like Delta Green. I don't know if you've seen "The Ninth Gate"? In that movie, the vast majority of the cultists dressed in robes, chanting "magic" stuff and so on, are actually just bored rich people who want an excuse to have sex orgies or to just feel like they know powerful things... only 1% actually have real power, and even then, it's... not quite that simple. Anyway, in some games, the PCs indeed have to get through a few layers of bullshit, fake gods, new age mumbo jambo, and other "cultists who talk big about their powers but don't really have much" before they uncover the real rotten core of Mythos-crazy priests (not that the outer layers are any less dangerous or rotten... in most cases we're talking cult organizations who prey on people and trap them in abusive financial/sexual/emotional relationships with gurus and the like, just like in the real world... but just without any magic or monster). This is really the basic structure of any "thriller" or "supernatural thriller" type story, where the protagonists peel away at various increasingly creep layers of a narrative or organization. For instance: Angel Heart, or True Detective season 1. However, this fits well the "slow burn investigation" scenario type, which may or may not be the type of scenario you want to play.

As for Mythos creatures not being that powerful, there are plenty that are dangerous but definitely killable. My players just head-shot-killed a Deep One last week in one roll.

 

Edited by lordabdul

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1 hour ago, Old Man Henerson said:

Yeah. It would make sense not to advertise for your competition.

Well that was more of a  shift  in TSR at the time.  It used to be t hat all  the gaming companies were run by gamers, and they were all friendly with each other and even eager to show off their  latest stuff to their fellow gamers, which usually mean  "the competition". When TSR transitioned from a some gamers, to a gaming  company and got all businesslike  things started to change, at least for bigger compnaies. You can s ee it in the old magazines. Dragon used to contain articles and ads from all sorts of other games and companies, but eventually it morphed into al almost exceuive in house  supprt mag. Same with White Wolf once Games  Workshop got big.

1 hour ago, Old Man Henerson said:

Things have changed a lot though since then, now every one and their dog has Cthulhu running around in their game.

Because I believe Cthulhu is in the public domain now, so  everyone can tap into it, provided they don't use someone else's game system (at least not verbatim).

1 hour ago, Old Man Henerson said:

Thanks for the tip.  The SIZ chart in the book can be a bit hard to read at times, so this will be a lot of help in the future. Thanks a lot!👍

There is an  older, better version of the SIZ table that not only gives values for more numbers, but doesn't have all the errors. I could put it on a spreadhseet. 

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On 11/24/2019 at 9:32 AM, lordabdul said:

If you want your players to have epic battles against giant monsters, it doesn't really matters what the monster is called, as much as how cool he looks and what its stats are. Just make him as powerful as needed to make the battle challenging while avoiding a TPK. Just note that naming the monster "Cthulhu" or "Nyarlathotep" or whatever might set the wrong expectations with some of your players, who might decide to just run away and avoid the fight altogether because in CoC you never fight those things face to face if you want to live -- so use those names with care (remember the players that they're playing DnD or whatever it is you're playing, and/or change the name a bit, like "Kethe-lhu" or something).

As for Mythos creatures not being that powerful, there are plenty that are dangerous but definitely killable. My players just head-shot-killed a Deep One last week in one roll.

At first, I wanted to include the mythos monsters like Cthulhu and others into my game I am working on, especialy since it was heavily inspired by the End Time monograph, but I decided against it as I thought it would be far more creative for me to make my own mythos beings.  The three main deities I have planed for the PCs to fight are still very much inspired by the mythos however, and are based on Cthulhu, The King in Yellow, and Nyarlathotep.  As for the scarryness of these beings, my players and I have never done anything remotely related to Cthulhu, and are rather lax on the seriousness of them, so we would be very okay with fighting them in a game.

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On 11/24/2019 at 9:52 AM, Atgxtg said:

Well that was more of a  shift  in TSR at the time.  It used to be t hat all  the gaming companies were run by gamers, and they were all friendly with each other and even eager to show off their  latest stuff to their fellow gamers, which usually mean  "the competition". When TSR transitioned from a some gamers, to a gaming  company and got all businesslike  things started to change, at least for bigger compnaies. You can s ee it in the old magazines. Dragon used to contain articles and ads from all sorts of other games and companies, but eventually it morphed into al almost exceuive in house  supprt mag. Same with White Wolf once Games  Workshop got big.

Because I believe Cthulhu is in the public domain now, so  everyone can tap into it, provided they don't use someone else's game system (at least not verbatim).

Interesting. I did not know any of that. To tell the truth, I have not really followed the development of RPGs That much. The more you know.

 

On 11/24/2019 at 9:52 AM, Atgxtg said:

There is an  older, better version of the SIZ table that not only gives values for more numbers, but doesn't have all the errors. I could put it on a spreadhseet. 

I would love that very much. Thank you.

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