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How to incorporate the Cthulhu mythos into a Classic Fantasy game? Help wanted.


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And uses the money to buy a football club in England

That explains English football fans. :war:

More seriously...

I don't understand. My level 78 Cavalier/Illusionist/Monk and his Prismatic Dragon mount could take on an army of Cthulhus. Plenty Classic! :thumb:

I've played for years in an AD&D campaign where people in the countryside would worship ancient chthonic gods, ad it worked very well.

What would be excellent to see is a BRP-based fantasy world with Chaos gods and horrors lurking in every dark corner.

Oh, wait... RuneQuest Glorantha. :P

Gloranthan Classics Volume III: Cult Compendium: Start with Primal Chaos, Vivamort and Thanatar; and it all rapidly goes down-hill for the players from there.

Edited by dragonewt
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Oh, wait... RuneQuest Glorantha. :P

Gloranthan Classics Volume III: Cult Compendium: Start with Primal Chaos, Vivamort and Thanatar; and it all rapidly goes down-hill for the players from there.

Right... BRP + Classic Fantasy + Lords of Terror + The Book of Drastic Resolutions Volume Chaos would do the trick!

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You know I have played/DM'd D&D using versions (D&D, AD&D, ver D&D 2.5, and ver D&D 3.5 d20) and I have NEVER had or seen a honestly played character EVER get above level 13. When ever I see anything higher than 13th I call THAT campaign a "Monte Hall" campaign. It is BS no one honestly can get that high playing in a realist style game. My players play every other week on wednsday nights from 7pm till 11pm (4 hr long gaming season), and it would take years to get that amount of exps needed. We do lots of Roleplaying, and hunting monsters and etc. There is no free lunch or exp gifts given in my games, a player has to earn their own way. I have been running both my D&D campaign and Traveller campaign now both for 25+ yrs. My gamers (5-7 players)have all been playing with me as the DM/GM now between 13-15 yrs running. I guess I have figured out what works well, and know how to keep players interested in staying and playing within my games. These others that allow "Ubber God" characters are Monte Hall GMs that don't have a clue how to DM/GM. I have also noticed over the years a trend to pandar to these Unrealistic high level characters, and turns my stomach. Get real, try playing a low level character from level one and really roleplay the character. Play and really earn everything from scratch, it is much more enjoyable for you and the DM/GM.

Sorry I will get off my Soapbox now...


That explains English football fans. :war:

I don't understand. My level 78 Cavalier/Illusionist/Monk and his Prismatic Dragon mount could take on an army of Cthulhus. Plenty Classic! :thumb:

Old time RPGer of +34 yrs, player/DM/GM.

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On the subject of Sanity loss. To keep the feel of the subject being emulated, go to the source being emulated and see how they did it. In this case, not COC, but 1st ed. AD&D. I just flipped through the 1st edition of Deities and Demi Gods, the one with the Cthulhu Mythos in it, and only the outer Gods and old ones like Cthulhu had any mechanic for causing insanity. In the case of Cthulhu, it was simply "If the seal is broken and the god released, everyone (and/or everything) in a radius af 100 miles must make a saving throw against death or go insane. This insanity lasts for a number of months equal to the creature's intelligence."

I want to point out that the sanity effect has nothing to do with seeing Cthulhu, just the breaking of the seal. So player characters outside the radius would be unaffected but would have to avoid (or not) the insane population of the region when operating within the area. And if a player character was to be so unlucky to be within that area when it awoke, that's what I included the Restoration spell for. This IS Classic Fantasy after all, nothing lasts forever, not death, and certainly not insanity.

None of the other members of the Mythos have any effect on sanity whatsoever, with the exception of a couple that have it built in as a "magic ability" like AD&D's Mind Flayer which is able to strip the sanity from your very being. But things like Deep Ones, Migo, etc. no effect. I have no problem with the Sanity rules as written in COC and BRP, but for CF, where seeing "monsters" and the fantastic is an everyday occurrence, most of the Mythos monsters should be considered, just another monster.

Just wanted to say how I would do it in The Realm if the Mythos were to play a larger part. Right now Cthulhu is just one of many Gods on the big list hoping for some love.


Edited by threedeesix

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I recently read the entire Howard Conan works - I don't remember any Cthulhu mythos in his Hyborian work. Sure he wrote Cthulhu stories, but they didn't take place in Hyboria.

(face saving caveat: my memory isn't what it was when I was younger! :ohwell: )

Here is a decent article talking about some of the connections, however, it does include some non-Howard Conan stories.


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I had a thought towards having SAN as part of the function of Dark Side Points in a BRP Star Wars conversion. Of course, in my 'verse, Illithids were a spacefaring race and being a Force-user and encountering one automatically rated you a DSP just from the encounter with how alien and horrific an Illithid's mind is.

But back to Howard and HPL. I agree with the above post that mentioned treating most non-god mythos creatures as "just another monster." Though I think if you referred to something like the Pastores, that gives you a good template for how a mythos organization could permeate a region and wield secret influence under the guise of legitimate religious authority.

"The only snakes I know of are those of Set and his cursed towers. Their evil has spread to every city. Two or three years ago it was just another snake cult, now... they're everywhere. It is said that they are deceivers... they murder people in the night... I know nothing."

Sure, you've got your run-of-the-mill magic users, but every now and again one of those robed freaks taps into something SERIOUS and next thing you know borders are changing and the dead rise from the grave. Simple answer, that guy's no longer using ye Olde Grimoire, he's found something new, or should I say... really old? I'm not a huge fan of WFRP, (well, not since 10th grade anyway), but I think they had it right with Wizards. That if you use certain types of magic... things start to change. Chaotic effects, cadaverous appearance, strange smells, etc. Those things would all be in accord with Lovecraftian Canon (the Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward, is I think my favorite story). Tempt players with unholy magick and allow them to experience the consequences. Yog Sothoth is the Gate.

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I've a thread over at RPGNet on this subject. I want to tie a sort of Sanity system in with a BRP Freeport campaign. I stopped responding to it due to work obligations but I plan to get back to it as there is a bud that threatens to blossom into a rose.

Like I have said all along, you the DM/GM should be able to set the mood yourself without using that Sanity check which to me is counter productive to the enjoyment of the players as a whole.

I think you're coming at this the wrong way. The OP asked 'how' to do something, not 'should he.' It would be a bit like you coming to the board saying that you want to run an Arthurian game and need a way to track chivalry and me saying, "Dude, role play."

On the subject of Sanity loss. To keep the feel of the subject being emulated, go to the source being emulated and see how they did it.

I'm sure this will resonate with Bygoneyrs, as we share a similar background when it comes to D&D. Wanna really scare your players? Hit 'em where it hurts. Level Drain. Stat Drain. Paralysis. These are the things that made Undead scary in a low level, resource scarce campaign. Isolation is another good one, because we all know what happens when you split the party.

Regardless, it comes to emulating a genre through mechanics.

In the concept I have, the gods of humans, elves and other fantasy races are newer while the Cthulhu gods are part of the primordial chaos. Mortal races will go insane if they see the Cthulhu gods because they are so far beyond comprehension that they destroy the minds of mortals. The magic in the world that wizards use is less powerful than the Elder magic because Elder magic is not really magic at all, rather the true way the multiverse works. That said, the Elder gods need to be amped up to scare high powered fighters, magic users, clerics etc. There are evil monsters like demons and undead but these are the result of the split between the gods of humans. It is thought that the Elder Gods were the ones that engineered the split so that the gods would be divided between good and evil so as to allow the gods to be weakend so that the Elder Gods can return into the world easier.

The main things I am looking for are artisitic description and how to relate Cthulhu things and demonic things. The Cthulhu things most likely are beyond good and evil so they care little else than destruction while the demonic things like destruction but they also want control and evil power over the universe. The demonic things would use the Cthuhu things to aid in their expansion of evil but since Cthulhu things are impossible to control the alliance usually ends in chaos with the good gods battling the Cthulhu things in order to save the world. This is what I have so far...

My guess is that you need to bring it down a couple notches and look at how it actually affects the players. Assess what your goals are and how to emulate them through the mechanics. I'm struggling with the same question right now and I'm not sure what the answer is. Currently I'm leaning towards an amalgam of RQ cultural background and the Madness Meter from Unknown Armies, or a Sanity mechanic where knowledge in the 'Mythos' skill provides you with armor while lowering your Sanity, or a mix of the Chaos Allegiance rules from Corum, modified, with Sandy's Vow rules for RQIII.

I think the key issue is pegging your sanity. What is mind destroying in a fantasy game and what is not?


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Hit 'em where it hurts. Level Drain. Stat Drain. Paralysis. These are the things that made Undead scary in a low level, resource scarce campaign.

Heh - I hit my players with a poison that had a mind altering effect once and had 'em doing skill increases in reverse: rolling D6's and deducting the amount from skills that had recently gone up. They did NOT like that. They're not too afraid of bodily wounds because they're a known factor, but any hint of poison or similar effects and their skin crawls.

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb



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If I were adding C of C to a Classic Fantasy game, I would not include SAN, but instead I would add a third Alignment – Outer gods/mythos/chaos/whatever. Like Good and Evil, characters could accumulate affinity with this third power.

To capture the “insidious” nature of over-exposure to the mythos, I would have certain effects that are based on the absolute level of this new alignment. For example, at 10 the character might acquire a behavioral quark; at 50 the character may have some physical effects.

Off the top of my head ideas for gain Alignment points

+1-+5: reading certain forgotten tomes which explain how the entire “Good versus Evil” dichotomy is a cover over a deeper less human-centered theology.

+2: Experiencing the reality-bending effects associated with the materialization of the major Mythos beings.

+5: Traveling to a non-Good/Evil place such as the Dreamlands.

+Var: Knowing letting the mythos corrupt the Good/Evil world (for example by using a Mythos spell rather then “normal” magic).

+1: becoming aware that someone is violating the fundamental Good/Evil conflict. For example, determining that a cultist priest destroyed a village without gaining any Evil points – because it was done with Mythos “magic” not “real” magic (and therefore the priest gained Mythos alignment points – the act although “evil” was outside the realm of Evil and therefore the priest would not detect as evil)

I would also make Mythos magic relatively powerful and easy to use, but hard to find. Further I would make sure that any character which had access to Mythos magic knew that its use was corrupting to the world, so there was always the tug between the cheap-and-easy big effects, but at the cost of accumulating additional Mythos alignment.

(I have run similar fantasy games in the past, where the three alignments became known as “the good”, “the bad”, and “the ugly”.)

As a bonus, cultist clerics would be easy—simply power their abilities of this third alignment.


The Black Skull: any person attuned to this item (POW roll once per hour to attune) will gain the ability to travel via dreams to the various “lands of the dead”. Once there, the character can find the souls of the deceased (POW roll with a bonus for knowing the subject, and another for having personal items of the subject, and a minus for the length of time the person was dead) and force them to return to the life. It costs the caster one permanent POW point to do this, plus using the skull gives the +1 Mythos per day the person was deceased (to a maximum of +10, after that it is +1 per year)

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