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Do Deep Ones at a Fancy Dress Party Cause Sanity Loss?

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Is sanity lost because the Deep Ones look like a horrible mockery of the human form? Or is the sanity loss due to the sudden understanding of the awful implications of the existence of such a species?

If say Deep ones turned up to a halloween party or fancy dress party, would everyone scream and take damage to their sanity, or would the other party guests compliment the Deep Ones on their awesome costumes?

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I debated something like this with Matt and Paul recently on an episode of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, although relating to shoggoths. It makes sense to me that the circumstances under which you encounter a Mythos entity would impact how shocking you find it. Seeing a Deep One swimming around in an aquarium, for example, might be unsettling, but I can't imagine it being sanity-blasting. Being pursued through unlit sea caves by a mob of Deep Ones, catching hideous glimpses by torchlight as they close in would be terrifying. Encountering a hybrid that shares a family resemblance to you would be even worse.

The fancy dress party sounds like an even more special case, as it would be easy to rationalise the Deep One's appearance as normal in that context. Maybe the SAN loss could come later when you realise they wear no mask.

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3 hours ago, EricW said:

If say Deep ones turned up to a halloween party or fancy dress party, would everyone scream and take damage to their sanity, or would the other party guests compliment the Deep Ones on their awesome costumes?

It would either be really interesting or mind shatteringly ugly. :P

Anyways, I think that seeing a deep one in any circumstance would be scary or terrifying but not enough to break your mind. It would be like seeing bigfoot, and no matter how scary big foot is, no one lost their minds over it.

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Which begs the question:

Why does seeing Bigfoot or the Wolf Man cost you SAN but catching a glimpse of Chewbacca in a seedy bar doesn't?  He's packin' heat, they aren't.  Why could thousands of tourists view the Creature From the Black Lagoon at Ocean World without freaking out in "Return of the Creature" (and the gal in "Shape of Water" even makes out with the equivalent) but Deep Ones are horrifying?  What have they got that Abe Sapiens hasn't got?  Why is Dracula terrifying but Babylon 5's Londo Mollari (who has the same fangs, pale skin, weird eyes, black formal wear, and a really bad haircut) is just this guy, you know?  Personally, I'd have pulled out the ash stakes and garlic as soon as he came through the airlock, intergalactic treaties be darned!

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26 minutes ago, seneschal said:

Which begs the question:

Why does seeing Bigfoot or the Wolf Man cost you SAN but catching a glimpse of Chewbacca in a seedy bar doesn't?  He's packin' heat, they aren't.  Why could thousands of tourists view the Creature From the Black Lagoon at Ocean World without freaking out in "Return of the Creature" (and the gal in "Shape of Water" even makes out with the equivalent) but Deep Ones are horrifying?  What have they got that Abe Sapiens hasn't got?  Why is Dracula terrifying but Babylon 5's Londo Mollari (who has the same fangs, pale skin, weird eyes, black formal wear, and a really bad haircut) is just this guy, you know?  Personally, I'd have pulled out the ash stakes and garlic as soon as he came through the airlock, intergalactic treaties be darned!

I think you're referring to the modern jaded POV.   😉

Nothing's shocking anymore.  Nobody loses SAN.

 

Oh, Dread Cthulhu has surfaced in the Atlantic?  Errr... drop a bunkerbuster nuke on him.  Pity about the environment thereabouts (but DC was probably pretty toxic anyhow, so... even-steven?).

 

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8 hours ago, seneschal said:

Which begs the question:

Why does seeing Bigfoot or the Wolf Man cost you SAN but catching a glimpse of Chewbacca in a seedy bar doesn't?  He's packin' heat, they aren't.  Why could thousands of tourists view the Creature From the Black Lagoon at Ocean World without freaking out in "Return of the Creature" (and the gal in "Shape of Water" even makes out with the equivalent) but Deep Ones are horrifying?  What have they got that Abe Sapiens hasn't got?  Why is Dracula terrifying but Babylon 5's Londo Mollari (who has the same fangs, pale skin, weird eyes, black formal wear, and a really bad haircut) is just this guy, you know?  Personally, I'd have pulled out the ash stakes and garlic as soon as he came through the airlock, intergalactic treaties be darned!

Interesting choice of example, since Londo is a servitor of the series' equivalent of the Old Ones, and Garibaldi points out the Centauri's kinship to batrachians. 

Weird, man, weird 🧟‍♂️

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Sanity loss for encountering monsters is not only based on sight but includes their very presence, smell, aura, and so on - and how your character 'feels' around them. I.e. looking away won't save you. It's being in the presence of something not human / alien  - instinctively (at first, until you become used to it) there's a recoiling or sense of something not right (in your world sense) - something from beyond your understanding or world is stood in front of you. You make a SAN roll - you succeed, zero loss, so it feels a little strange but you are unaffected. You fail the roll, you comprehend the reality and it affects you.

 

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On 2/4/2020 at 5:53 AM, EricW said:

If say Deep ones turned up to a halloween party or fancy dress party, would everyone scream and take damage to their sanity, or would the other party guests compliment the Deep Ones on their awesome costumes?

I would be tempted to use the "Becoming a Believer" rules (Keeper Rulebook, p. 179) for this scenario; people might be able to put off the psychological impact by telling themselves it's just a costume, but the bill will fall due at some point or other.

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On 2/4/2020 at 9:53 PM, EricW said:

If say Deep ones turned up to a halloween party or fancy dress party, would everyone scream and take damage to their sanity, or would the other party guests compliment the Deep Ones on their awesome costumes?

Everyone would scream, because Deep Ones smell pretty bad, in a way that Halloween costumes tend not to.  It's a visceral, atavistic stench that awakens primordial loathing and makes human skin crawl.  

Edited by Darius West

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20 hours ago, g33k said:

I think you're referring to the modern jaded POV.   😉

Nothing's shocking anymore.  Nobody loses SAN.

Or more accurately a non-Lovecratian POV. To Lovecraft a glimspe of Chewie probably would cost SAN. 

I suspect that as far as Lovecraft was cocerned seeing Deep Ones would cause SAN loss becuase they are something that humans would inimically find unnatural. The circumstances  might conuse the cuase somewhat but probably not the effect. People would probably get a bad vibe and feel that "something was wrong with those people over there" but not know quite what. Similar to how the not quite turned Deep Ones and other offspring of Mythos beings tend to be unnerving.

SAN loss here might be more gradual at first but I think that, from Lovecraft's view, the fact that these creatures exist in front of us is enough.

Now another question is "Should such things cause SAN loss?". I suspect that realistically not-or else mankind will go postal if we ever do encounter some sort of extraterrestrial intelligence.I think that if Deep Ones did exist and mankind found out about them we'd quickly learn to overcome any shock and "deal" with them. Just how we deal with them and what options we had is another matter. 

But I think if we are going to stay true to the Mythos as Lovecraft presented it, then the universe is just far stranger than we can handle, and whenever we get a peek at it's underpinnings it exposes our "reality: as a sham. So I think the SAN loss is less becuase of the Deep Ones themselves, but that seeing them peels off the lid we have nailed down over all the subconscious stuff we deep down know to be true. Like how we probably all hear Cthulhu dreaming but that most of us can subconsciously ignore it. 

 

The weird thing is that SAN in CoC, from a clinical perspective  isn't SAN at all but more of a mass delusion humanity uses to avoid a reality that we cannot cope with. The mad cultists are more sane, since they at least acknowledge the reality of things, while the so called sane people are in denial.

 

 

 

Edited by Atgxtg
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To be fair, folks (NPCs) in the Creature movies did scream and run when he was roaming around loose rather than safely chained in his enclosure.  Context matters.  Abe Sapens is freaky but perhaps a bit less so while politely asking you to turn the page of the book he's reading from the other side of his thick glass aquarium.

And the first thing biblical angels always say to the people they are sent to is, "Don't be afraid."  Never mind that I'm glowing like a neon sign and demonstrating a total disruption of the natural order.  Quit screaming and banging your head against the wall;  God has a message for you.  It's amazing that so many Bible characters manage to talk back to them.

(Spoilers!)  The discussion reminds me of a movie I recently re-watched, "The Last Starfighter."  Its protagonist encounters all sorts of inhuman goings on by beings he never suspected existed and he does express various degrees of unease, shock and terror.  But the confrontations are played for laughs and he never totally loses it despite being an ordinary high schooler rather than a typical movie action hero.  Think about this happening to you either in real life or to your character in a CoC game:  You're kidnapped and taken off planet by a fast talking stranger who proves to be inhuman, dumped into boot camp at an alien military base where no one speaks your language, introduced to fellow recruits consisting of assorted aggressive unearthly creatures, threatened by an alien dictator whose giant image appears in your midst Wizard of Oz style, encounter a robotic duplicate of yourself when you manage to make it home, then are stalked by foul-smelling, shape-shifting monster assassins sent directly to your house by said dictator.  And we haven't gotten to the climax of the movie yet.  How many SAN rolls would you have to make, and would the odds against your passing them be cumulative?  Or would you reach a point of outrage overload where you'd roll your eyes and say, "Oh why not?  It isn't any crazier than anything else that's happened today."

Contrast Starfighter's relatively fast-paced peril to the slow-burn creepiness experienced by "Dark Shadows" governess Victoria Winters.  She takes an out-of-state job at an isolated, ill-lit mansion where the townsfolk immediately warn her off, her employers and co-workers treat her with suspicion, and her young (and possibly crazy) charge hates her on sight.  Locked doors open and close on their own, her belongings are gone through despite her locking her bedroom, nighttime sobbing echos loudly from empty rooms, the basement (and the heavily padlocked door therein) are declared off-limits after the fact, and everyone around her seems to be keeping secrets when they aren't actively lying to her.  Oh, and several people are all too eager to tell her about the unfortunate fates of previous nannies.  How many SAN rolls are required here, or does the fact that you decide to keep the job mean you're nuts already?

 

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Yeah. I think the whole sanity thing has been blown out of proportion since the entire genre has been based on how an already unstable H.P. Lovecraft viewed things that most of us would quickly get over like aliens, quantum physics, or even a neighbor from a foreign country as cosmically horrifying.

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21 hours ago, Darius West said:

Everyone would scream, because Deep Ones smell pretty bad, in a way that Halloween costumes tend not to.  It's a visceral, atavistic stench that awakens primordial loathing and makes human skin crawl.  

Lynx anti-perspirant gets everywhere 

(Tindalos advises me that in the USA this is Ax) 

Edited by Ali the Helering
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13 hours ago, Old Man Henerson said:

Yeah. I think the whole sanity thing has been blown out of proportion since the entire genre has been based on how an already unstable H.P. Lovecraft viewed things that most of us would quickly get over like aliens, quantum physics, or even a neighbor from a foreign country as cosmically horrifying.

Yes, mostly-except that it is a lnychpin for the whole Mythos. Take that away and it just isn't the same thing and has an entirely different feel to it. That's also why any attempt to rationalize it or mix it with some other setting basically fails, as doing so would usually mean throwing out most of the paranoid xenophobia that underlies it.

 

For instance, just consider how something like the original Justice League would look from a Cthulhu Mythos POV. You have two incredible powerful aliens running around, along with a woman from some hidden island who worship old gods, The ruler of a civilization that sunk beneath he waves long ago and has problems with the surface people, a man who was granted a powerful ring by a race of aliens, another man given inhuman powers of speed through chemicals and an accident, and some guy who seeks to avenger the murder or his parents by dressing up like a bat (a costume similar to some portrayals of Camazotz, which I'm sure Lovecraft would play up on), hanging around in caves, and riding around a big scary city and night beating up other weirdos. Normal people walking the streets would be driven insane by a glimpse of such "unnatural and otherwordly" beings. Because that is how Lovecraft would present them. 

Trying to look at it logical with "well, THIS doesn't bother people today, or in THAT movie or TV show"  missing the point. Things bother people in the Mythos because the Mythos is built upon the belief that the universe is filled with things that mankind cannot accept or comprehend. Most of the things used for comparison come from setting where people can adapt to accept just about anything. So any sort of mix or crossover requires a paradigm shift , invalidating one worldview or the other.  

 

Ultimately a GM either needs to decide to accept the Mythos perspective and SAN loss, despite how silly and irrational it is in situations liek the one presented by the OP, or reject it, and run a game where the fundamentals of the Mythos are wrong. I think any attempt to rationalize it and integrate it with another setting is almost guaranteed to fall apart. I think that is also one reason why franchises that have touched upon the Mythos have generally done so sparingly, tucking in into the fringes somewhere, so that it doesn't get looked at too closely. 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes, mostly-except that it is a lnychpin for the whole Mythos. Take that away and it just isn't the same thing and has an entirely different feel to it. That's also why any attempt to rationalize it or mix it with some other setting basically fails, as doing so would usually mean throwing out most of the paranoid xenophobia that underlies it.

 

For instance, just consider how something like the original Justice League would look from a Cthulhu Mythos POV. You have two incredible powerful aliens running around, along with a woman from some hidden island who worship old gods, The ruler of a civilization that sunk beneath he waves long ago and has problems with the surface people, a man who was granted a powerful ring by a race of aliens, another man given inhuman powers of speed through chemicals and an accident, and some guy who seeks to avenger the murder or his parents by dressing up like a bat (a costume similar to some portrayals of Camazotz, which I'm sure Lovecraft would play up on), hanging around in caves, and riding around a big scary city and night beating up other weirdos. Normal people walking the streets would be driven insane by a glimpse of such "unnatural and otherwordly" beings. Because that is how Lovecraft would present them. 

Trying to look at it logical with "well, THIS doesn't bother people today, or in THAT movie or TV show"  missing the point. Things bother people in the Mythos because the Mythos is built upon the belief that the universe is filled with things that mankind cannot accept or comprehend. Most of the things used for comparison come from setting where people can adapt to accept just about anything. So any sort of mix or crossover requires a paradigm shift , invalidating one worldview or the other.  

 

Ultimately a GM either needs to decide to accept the Mythos perspective and SAN loss, despite how silly and irrational it is in situations liek the one presented by the OP, or reject it, and run a game where the fundamentals of the Mythos are wrong. I think any attempt to rationalize it and integrate it with another setting is almost guaranteed to fall apart. I think that is also one reason why franchises that have touched upon the Mythos have generally done so sparingly, tucking in into the fringes somewhere, so that it doesn't get looked at too closely. 

 

 

First off, Who or what is Camazotz? I have only ever heard that name come from A Winkle in Time, and that was a planet's name. Anyways, that was a good lovecraftian description of the justice league. :)

Second off, you are right. It really does take away from the mythos when you try to rationalize it or adapt it to other settings. In the end, Lovecraft is just not my sort of thing, although I do enjoy his weird monsters and I do try to emulate some of the cosmic fear they produce in my books and games, just not to the extent that the heroes drop dead upon seeing them. To each his own however! :)

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55 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

Mayan bat deity, assuming this to be a genuine query, given the availability of Google..... 🦇

No, no.  DuckDuckGo!  You don't want those bat cultists tracking your investigations.

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7 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

For instance, just consider how something like the original Justice League would look from a Cthulhu Mythos POV. You have two incredible powerful aliens running around, along with a woman from some hidden island who worship old gods, The ruler of a civilization that sunk beneath he waves long ago and has problems with the surface people, a man who was granted a powerful ring by a race of aliens, another man given inhuman powers of speed through chemicals and an accident, and some guy who seeks to avenger the murder or his parents by dressing up like a bat (a costume similar to some portrayals of Camazotz, which I'm sure Lovecraft would play up on), hanging around in caves, and riding around a big scary city and night beating up other weirdos. Normal people walking the streets would be driven insane by a glimpse of such "unnatural and otherwordly" beings. Because that is how Lovecraft would present them.

That does it!  You must direct the next Justice League movie.

Just because you're paranoid and xenophobic doesn't mean They are not out to get you!  

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36 minutes ago, seneschal said:

That does it!  You must direct the next Justice League movie.

LOL! But seriously, if you want to come up with some odd but interesting adventure and story ideas just take something you know and look at it from the viewpoint of another setting that you know which is very different. For instance the last Lengendary  Godzilla film basically re-imagined the kaiju as if they were  al mythical monsters and beings, and linked to  any actually legendary creatures they could. Just imagine Godzilla/Gojira as Lovecraft's  Dagon and it shifts both franchises.

36 minutes ago, seneschal said:

Just because you're paranoid and xenophobic doesn't mean They are not out to get you!  

The'd like you to think that!

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I think there might be multiple approach /camps...

On one hand, for the pure horror lover... One is not really scared much nowadays.. but slowly losing control of your character could provide a fun simulation and minigame...

A different kind of horror lover could argue that slowly discovering that there are entity with a magical and technological might far beyond our grasp, with an hostile ethic and also both so far, yet so close in some way might be naturally scary enough.. and then there are... stupid people (cultist) who try to bring them here? That's scary enough, no need for SAN...
The only frustrating part here.. is that they will never come.. otherwise the game will end...

And finally, without being into horror at all, a menagerie of cold uncaring (or downright destructive) godlike creature that have a vague interaction with the world can provide an interesting background for adventures. Regardless one is into horror or not.

Ultimately it's your game, you play what you want! :P 

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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5 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

I think there might be multiple approach /camps...

Certainly, it's just that the reasons why we get "contradictory evidence" is that different sources uses different approaches to things.

Quote

On one hand, for the pure horror lover... One is not really scared much nowadays.

OH, I think that hasn't really gone away -it's just cinematic horror is meant to entertain, more that really scare. People liked to be scared, but only to a point. And in an RPG it's tougher to pull off, as most of what makes horror scary isn't really available. GMs are mostly running a group of friends in a well lit, safe environment who know knowing is going to happen. 

Quote

The only frustrating part here.. is that they will never come.. otherwise the game will end...

Actually they could come. One thing that can help with a horror campaign is to throw out the requirement that the campaign world go on. If failure and the end of the world become actual options things get scary again. A GM can always start up another game if the PCs fail to save the world.  I mean it's an option - and probably one worth mentioning even if the GM doesn't intent to use it.

Edited by Atgxtg
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7 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

 

The only frustrating part here.. is that they will never come.. otherwise the game will end.

Try The Night Land as one possible setting, or innumerable post-alien invasion survivors-huddled-&-hidden amongst the ruins novels. 👽🤖👿👾

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