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Videopete

When you realize the truth

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In classic call of cthulhu we are told that the universe is cruel and has no place for people.  That to know the truth would break you and that you could not know.  What if that were false, not the inhospitible nature, thats true.  Lets take the elder things and the star spawns war.  To a 1920s investigators it is a confusing mess of unexplainable things.  In a hundred years people have entangled matter at the quantom level, and theorize living machines, and are currently developing means of wich we can bend space.  So you have a guy who traveled back to the 1920s and tries to explain stem cells and crspr gene editing, how the shagoth rebellion occured because of malware on a tractor.

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Sorry but had to go to work. Anyway, type truth is that as humanity advances their tolerance for bizzare facets of reality shifts that eventually man does go away but not through extinction but by becoming one of the mythos races, changed and warped by their technology and understanding of the underlying reality.

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I think HPL's perspective of humanity's mental frailty might've been based on his own. That said, even if we are totally cool with any bizarre thing, the multiverse might still be far more complex and advanced than a human mind could ever comprehend. Imagine a world after say, the technological singularity. Now imagine more massive, incomprehensible advances/changes every few years (or possibly every few minutes) after that. Now try to imagine a few thousand (or few million) years of this. 

Edited by mvincent
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I think the point is humans can not, by definition, think of the very thing we find so incomprehensible that it "breaks" the human psyche.

So no human author ( Lovecraft ) or person in an internet forum ( us ) is going to be able to originate and describe said concepts.

We approximate this by offering ideas that seem either isolating or frightening or sick or deranged; but perhaps the thing that causes "Mythos madness" is something that is just too beautiful or serene or truthful that it makes our mind snap.

 

Edited by groovyclam

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5 hours ago, mvincent said:

I think HPL's perspective of humanity's mental frailty might've been based on his own. That said, even if we are totally cool with any bizarre thing, the multiverse might still be far more complex and advanced than a human mind could ever comprehend. Imagine a world after say, the technological singularity. Now imagine more massive, incomprehensible advances/changes every few years (or possibly every few minutes) after that. Now try to imagine a few thousand (or few million) years of this. 

The thing is, thats wjat we are doing now, vast changes every 10 to 20 years.

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7 hours ago, mvincent said:

I think HPL's perspective of humanity's mental frailty might've been based on his own.

Quite probably. I've seen and read stuff about him that claim a link between the Mythos stuff and Lovecraft's difficulties in dealing with people in the real world. R'lyeh was apparently inspired by New Yorck City (which Lovecraft hated). SO character's in Lovecraft's fiction couldn't deal with the hidden dark truths of the universe, in part becuase Lovecraft had difficulty dealing with the world outside of Providence. 

 

Still, that's the paradigm we all agree to accept when we play CoC. 

 

2 hours ago, Videopete said:

The thing is, thats wjat we are doing now, vast changes every 10 to 20 years.

It's a sweeping generalization, but not without a grain of truth behind it. Most people 100 years ago would have a hard time understanding concepts such as smart phones or the internet. So on the one hand, yes the Mythos could just be a lack of understanding or more advanced technology or mental abilities.  But how much does that change? If the various Mythos races are just advanced aliens who view humans as a lower lifeform, usually not worth consideration or bothering about, it doesn't really change anything.

Unless you want to change the Mythos races' view of humans, and how they interact with them. Are you thinking of making them benevolent, or at least ambivalent about humanity? 

 

 

 

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Most of the races are not that mysterious, they want land, resources, and propagate thier race.  Remember cthulhu is not a god, but the starspawn high priest/pope thing.

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10 hours ago, Videopete said:

Most of the races are not that mysterious, they want land, resources, and propagate thier race.  Remember cthulhu is not a god, but the starspawn high priest/pope thing.

Yes, but what does that mean as far as investigators and gameplay goes? Essentially a story like Alien or Independence Day or War of the Worlds all fit in the Lovecraft Universe.The major differences are mostly point of view and the difficulty in accepting it. So nothing changes, unless the GM wants to run the Mythos races with a different attitude towards humanity.

It's kinda like how in Star Trek they had to be careful with how they interacted with less advanced cultures, as the natives couldn't handle the sudden and major chances that would come about with the existence of aliens and advanced technology. But that way the goodie-goodie Federation. If Mythos races are more like the Klingons or Cardassians then they could still come across as monstrous. 

 

 

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On 5/15/2019 at 11:12 PM, Videopete said:

In classic call of cthulhu we are told that the universe is cruel and has no place for people.  That to know the truth would break you and that you could not know.

This is the one bit about Call of Cthulhu that I just can't get my head around, which probably explains why I don't particularly like CoC.

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18 hours ago, Videopete said:

The thing is, thats wjat we are doing now, vast changes every 10 to 20 years.

Humans can fathom those changes. Singularity refers to vast changes that humans can't fathom... that's its definition. While I don't necessarily think that's what HPL had in mind, it's nonetheless a modern Sci-fi term that works for me if called to illustrate why something might be incomprehensible.

Edited by mvincent

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3 hours ago, mvincent said:

Humans can fathom those changes. Singularity refers to vast changes that humans can't fathom... that's its definition. While I don't necessarily think that's what HPL had in mind, it's nonetheless a modern Sci-fi term that works for me if called to illustrate why something might be incomprehensible.

The interesting this about is is that both are taken from the viewpoint of the "modern" human. A technological singularity might be completely comprehensible to a futuristic  humanity after the event.

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3 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

A technological singularity might be completely comprehensible to a futuristic  humanity after the event.

That is a good point, but I think the point of the term is that while we might comprehend the nature of the singularity, a human brain wouldn't be able to comprehend advancements/changes once AI's start making them at an exponential rate. Imagine the last thousand years of change being compressed into minutes. Take a short nap and you'd wake up in a completely alien world. I don't event want to think of what a million years of that might result in.

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8 hours ago, soltakss said:

This is the one bit about Call of Cthulhu that I just can't get my head around, which probably explains why I don't particularly like CoC.

The thing is it happens all the time. Confront any body with a piece of information or technology and you get madness and violence. Ask any one who went through the satanic panic, or just global warning.the horror is not these are reality shattering horrors but that we as a species can not handle reality and rather wallow in our preconceptions and ignorance. That is what terrifies me, that we are as bad as I hope we are not.

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20 hours ago, Videopete said:

The thing is it happens all the time. Confront any body with a piece of information or technology and you get madness and violence. Ask any one who went through the satanic panic, or just global warning.the horror is not these are reality shattering horrors but that we as a species can not handle reality and rather wallow in our preconceptions and ignorance. That is what terrifies me, that we are as bad as I hope we are not.

There is a difference though. In Lovecraft it's not about ignorance and preconceptions. but that, according to HPL, these are beings things that we cannot comprehend and accept. It's not just about challenging believes and knowledge, but about confronting things that we are mentally incapable of accepting. The closest thing to it were the Medusuan's from Star Trek. If someone got a glimpse of one they would supposedly go insane. And that's in a futuristic enlightened society. 

Now, like soltakss, this is a concept that I have trouble with, but that's how HPL wrote it. I'm also fine with alternating that, but it could alter the basic tone of CoC. If you want to divert from that idea, how would you run with it?

 

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But it is ignorance and preconceptions, by the very nature of these beings representing how reality exists, and with no fellow human pov to reflect off it is a tramatic experience.  Think of cthulhu mythos skill as a change of framework and religion. As your pov changes so drastically from the norm you are by all normal reckoning insane. 

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1 hour ago, Videopete said:

But it is ignorance and preconceptions,

Is it? It might be an interesting theroy, but that's all it is.There isn't anything in Lovecraft's work to support that theory. Can you think on any Mythos stories that supports your theory?  I can only think of one off the top ofmy head, and that was a Robert Bloch episode of Star Trek.

1 hour ago, Videopete said:

by the very nature of these beings representing how reality exists, and with no fellow human pov to reflect off it is a tramatic experience.  Think of cthulhu mythos skill as a change of framework and religion. As your pov changes so drastically from the norm you are by all normal reckoning insane. 

Sounds more like Gloranthan Illumination. The problem is that view doesn't match up with the behavior we see in the stories. 

Once again, I ask just how would you handle that in play?

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Most of the time its a failed illumination or atleast before the mind reassembles into a a working state.  Spirit journeys could be taken to shore up mental stability, or allow a new frame  work to assse.ble

 

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Essentially, SAN in Call of C'thulhu could as easily be described as "stress.  Stress is the universe demanding that humans learn to adapt in a hurry, and serves to remind them that they face survival pressures and threats if they don't.  When stress goes unrelieved for too long it is called "distress" and leads to all sorts of physical and psychological problems.  The main difference is that enough stress can cause a nervous breakdown and even death, and is more than capable of making a human brain malfunction pretty badly.

The central mechanic of the SAN rules incorporates the character's mythos skill that serves as a permanent trade of knowledge for SAN.  In short, the character trades their will to resist the effects of the things they shouldn't have to know about, for a small trade-off in actual ability to adapt.  The insidious problem is that you can resist or you can adapt, but you can't really do both reliably, much like a creature with only a partial evolutionary trait.

Now we all say that we would be perfectly okay with seeing cryptids IRL such as deep ones and shoggoths, but would we?  I mean, most people who see Bigfoot are pretty upset by it, they often feel threatened and terrified.  The same goes for ghosts too.  In the case of the USA's immigrant Hmong community, members of the community suffered sudden unexpected deaths in their sleep, that were put down to attackd by the Dab Tsog spirit (as in the New World they lacked the traditional protections), but this was linked to Hmong who suffered from PTSD.  This is potentially as close as we get to a "dream monster attacking the living" IRL.

As to coming to terms with Cosmicism (Lovecraft's philosophy), it is slightly bleaker than pure nihilism, in than nihilism can deny the possibility of knolwedge and reality, while Cosmicism accepts both, but offers nothing but horror if we as a species overstep ourselves.

Also, to assume that the Mythos Gods and Creatues only want "lebensraum" is incorrect.  In fact they want to completely rewrite the natural tendencies of matter than we call the laws of the universe.  They do this through rituals that effecitvely use those laws in ways we can't understand (unless perhaps we are already pretty crazy and tanked up on mythos skill).  Any sufficiently advanced technology will appear as magic etc.

In short, as humans relax into accepting the mythos, they give up a lot about themselves.  Consider the words of Colonel Kurtz:

"I've seen horrors, horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that, but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror! Horror has a face, and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies." - Col. Kurtz (Apocalypse Now)

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