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Fitting the Lovecraft mythology into the World of Darkness's cosmology?

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  • #61
    I'm not, that's just what first came to my mind the moment I read the word Necromanticon cuz the word romantic is right in there <.<


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    • #62
      It should be pretty easy, right? All of Lovecraft's monsters were just aliens with superior technology that we couldn't recognize.

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      • #63
        Speaking of, Deviant could be a pretty good light Lovecraftian game; the ambiguity of your mutators being sorcerers or scientists is right there in the pitch, they could be wizards of Yog-Sothoth and it wouldn't make a difference.

        Neatly ties into the horror of alienation and seeing the dark side of the world. Also makes the cultists the main villains, which is probably what you should be doing.


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        • #64
          Originally posted by raygungoth View Post
          It should be pretty easy, right? All of Lovecraft's monsters were just aliens with superior technology that we couldn't recognize.
          Not all of them. You are right in the case of beings like the Mi-Go, Elder Things and Great Race Of Yith. As for Nyarlathotep, the use of weird sciences is just one of his powers, the other two most commonly shown being multiversal travel and near limitless shapeshifting.

          For the most part, Lovecraft's monsters didn't need advanced and wondrous mechanisms built over eons of increasing understanding and artifice. They simply operate on physical principles that are vastly different from the ones we accept as "correct", often to terrifying and deadly levels.

          While these alien laws of matter, energy and space-time affect our universe in usually harmful ways, the laws of our universe seldom appear to be a major inconvenience to these creatures. Perhaps the only ones that can stay for relatively long periods on our plane of existence without breaking down or being violently expelled are those who possess some kind of mastery or aptitude with imposing their laws over ours.

          There could be some obscure hierarchy/sequencing of realms that determines the difficulty and means of transfer between them. "The stars are right" does not solely refer to the planets in our solar system being aligned. This alignment is merely a key that can only unlock the gateways to eldritch domains from our side. The beings who are interested in coming to our universe for their own alien reasons gather cultists, servants and other allies precisely to facilitate their manifestation.

          It is possible that in a domain with no stars at all, grandiose and eyeless vermin of keen hearing perceive the Call as frequencies of sound that make them ill and irrational. They might even perceive the Call as light, which is as absurd a concept to them as the angles of R'lyeh are to us. A measure of dread and awe might even be a requirement for the Call to traverse the many layers of reality in any meaningful capacity.

          In short, their many powers are usually inherent and instinctual, not external and cerebral.
          Last edited by GibberingEloquence; 08-18-2015, 11:38 PM.


          Let Him Speak.

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          • #65
            Shub-Niggurath could also birth, vomit up, or otherwise mutate a potential Deviant.


            Remi. she/her. game designer.

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            • #66
              Originally posted by GottaGoFeast View Post
              Not all of them. You are right in the case of beings like the Mi-Go, Elder Things and Great Race Of Yith. As for Nyarlathotep, the use of weird sciences is just one of his powers, the other two most commonly shown being multiversal travel and near limitless shapeshifting.

              For the most part, Lovecraft's monsters didn't need advanced and wondrous mechanisms built over eons of increasing understanding and artifice. They simply operate on physical principles that are vastly different from the ones we accept as "correct", often to terrifying and deadly levels.

              While these alien laws of matter, energy and space-time affect our universe in usually harmful ways, the laws of our universe seldom appear to be a major inconvenience to these creatures. Perhaps the only ones that can stay for relatively long periods on our plane of existence without breaking down or being violently expelled are those who possess some kind of mastery or aptitude with imposing their laws over ours.
              Right, so, exactly that. Technology that is not currently understood by us which understanding would make us into something other than human. To Lovecraft, to expand our capacity to understand the universe meant discarding what we currently quantify as "humanity" and change our definitions to suit. He really loved playing with definitions and language, and attempted to force the reader to imagine things that weren't really there through the use of his language.

              At the Mountains of Madness is quite clear on this in its entirety. This whole idea that they're not aliens with advanced technology and are instead some other thing did not come until well after (and Derleth tried to inject his own version of faith into it, and even started giving the characters elemental associations) - Lovecraft was writing science fiction as the science of the day understood it (albeit with his own dislike of the Flash Gordon-type stories so common in the period were - he was under the opinion that putting an Earth human into a situation where he must deal with technologically advanced species would be such a "no contest" situation that it made interactions between the two outright laughable, if not impossible), and it must be cast as something else to fit into our modern understanding of physics - but this is a more complex issue than that.

              There could be some obscure hierarchy/sequencing of realms that determines the difficulty and means of transfer between them. "The stars are right" does not solely refer to the planets in our solar system being aligned. This alignment is merely a key that can only unlock the gateways to eldritch domains from our side. The beings who are interested in coming to our universe for their own alien reasons gather cultists, servants and other allies precisely to facilitate their manifestation.
              This doesn't suddenly make them not aliens with technology we don't understand, and it actually seems to lend more credence to the fact that they are >_>

              It is possible that in a domain with no stars at all, grandiose and eyeless vermin of keen hearing perceive the Call as frequencies of sound that make them ill and irrational. They might even perceive the Call as light, which is as absurd a concept to them as the angles of R'lyeh are to us. A measure of dread and awe might even be a requirement for the Call to traverse the many layers of reality in any meaningful capacity.
              Right, so, multiverse theory. Again, At the Mountains of Madness is quite clear that they're all aliens simply not operating under human constraits given the technological limitations of the 1920s/30s. Lovecraft was very annoyed with science fiction of the day and his works are largely a response to the current zeitgeist of how aliens acted. I mean, really, the entire "universe too big, aliens don't care enough to even give you the bird as they fly off" thing was such a mind-blowing concept that we're still projecting occult/magical phenomena into his works to this day.

              In short, their many powers are usually inherent and instinctual, not external and cerebral.
              Would you call use of a pacemaker external and cerebral? Plastic knee? What about a language system? We could also talk about memetic support infrastructures and how they develop without direct input other than a communication method - you know, are the statements "don't go swimming until 30 minutes after you've eaten" or "MSG is bad for you" external and cerebral given that they are demonstrably incorrect but still embedded in the cultural infrastructure of the Americas? How about entirely iconographic languages that work on object association memory? Most of our technology is inextricably intertwined with our instinctive patterns, and is utilized as a whole without regard for its function or even its purpose. Most technology studies don't even recognize a human as separate from its technology, given that our brain, within thirty minutes, accepts any tool being utilized as a part of its body - smart phones are straight up prosthetic brains that impact people the same way memory loss does when they're removed.The same would be true for a large-scale infrastructure whose purpose was either lost or was supported to maintain one particular entity or more. The difference between Yog-Sothoth and an intelligence computer network designed to monitor transference of field interactions between membranes is practically nil and only possible to be seen as a different when the viewer doesn't even know what a computer network or interacting membranes are.

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              • #67
                The thing is, though, that a being like Yog-Sothoth is so fundamentally unlike us that calling it "just an alien with superior technology" is misleading. You're right in that Yoggie can perhaps be compared to a form of technology (being "the key and the gate"), but it can also cause (and perhaps be induced to cause) human women to give birth to giant invisible monsters and not-quite-human things with tentacles coming out of their waist. It's the kind of thing that moves "not in the spaces we know, but between them," but also the kind of thing which can be summoned, at least in part, into the material space that we're familiar with. Contact with it can be damaging to the rational mind, but it can grant understanding and power and access to strange other realms and distant places. It seems to want things, though this could merely be human beings projecting their own desires and fears onto it. It is, for an intents and purposes, a god, but is inexplicably bound by certain limitations which make it possible to oppose those machinations which at least appear to be its will.

                Although it's not really a distinction that Lovecraft would have used or necessarily agreed with, this is why it can be useful to distinguish Lovecraft's alien gods into two groups, which the Call of Cthulhu RPG calls "Great Old Ones" and "Elder Gods." Cthulhu is located in a distinct place, apparently likes to have a house to live in, and you can ram a boat into him. Yog-Sothoth was and is and will be, everywhere and nowhere all at once, and you can no more hit him with a boat than you could punch gravity.

                Also, At the Mountains of Madness is, for the most part, about one particular group of starfish-barrel aliens, who are explicitly compared to humans in their goals and the way they order their society.
                Last edited by CatDoom; 08-20-2015, 10:07 PM.

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                  Ehh... In my opinion, WoD is too empowering to humanity to play well with the Lovecraft mythos. Lovecraft's stories were all about how small and insignificant humans are in the face of omnipotent uncaring gods from the farthest reaches of the cosmos. In the World of Darkness, every single human has the potential within their soul to become a living symbol that can define and re-define reality any way it sees fit, and artificial beings wielding the divine fire would gladly give up their power to become human... I just don't see them meshing well, at least not without damaging a big part of what makes the Lovecraft mythos so horrifying. That said, there are plenty of godlike alien beings in WoD, so it should theoretically be possible if you aren't married to Lovecraft's themes of existential nihilism. Wouldn't be my choice, but different strokes.

                  I have to agree here. I was recently trying to work on a Beast Chronicle (well, prepare anyways) set in present day Arkham. It's rather difficult to do, for me anyways, because of my love for anything Lovecraft (I have the entire collection of works, letters, etc. all leatherbound in my bookshelf and copies to read...I'm that guy). I scrapped it because I could not achieve the level of horror that is the mythos. Not with Beast anyways. I have seen some adaptations meant for Mortal games in Arkham, but again, I just have a hard time setting the Chronicles of Darkness in Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth, etc. without failing the level of horror I feel Lovecraft achieved with his work.

                  I figure if I want Lovecraft, I'll crack open Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror and play a 3-4 hour game (unfortunately 1 player because my wife and children absolutely cannot stand it lol) or quite possibly run through one of the old solo CoC modules (remember those?!).


                  "Kinda I want to" - Trent Reznor

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                  • #69
                    Originally posted by Xenu's Paradox View Post
                    The Beast thread, in which I posited Cthulhu as a Makara/Ruin Beast, got me thinking...

                    Is it possible to fit the whole Lovecraftian mythos into the framework of the World of Darkness, without changing anything on either end? I'm imagining Nyarlathotep, for example, as as an Arch-Qashmal (Lilithim, obviously.)

                    You have any thoughts on the matter?
                    Now, I'm not overly familiar with Lovecraft, but I will say that the Abyss is filled with Lovecraftian references.

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by MCN View Post
                      Now, I'm not overly familiar with Lovecraft, but I will say that the Abyss is filled with Lovecraftian references.
                      The Abyss is full of Lovecraftian aesthetic. But it's thematically not very Lovecraftian, in my opinion. Actually very, very little modern work adapts Lovecraft's themes well, despite his Asthetics being all over modern horror.

                      The thing is, Lovecraft's horror came from the realization that despite all of our science and technology, we don't know shit about how the universe really works. And if we ever found out, our puny brains wouldn't be able to handle it. But that's not a particularly horrifying revelation in this day and age. We have celebrity scientists telling us that science is an ongoing process of trying to explain things the best we can with limited information. We're much more comfortable with the idea of an unknowable universe than most people were in the 20s and 30s.

                      Awakening is a thematic inversion of Lovecraft. It's about characters who get a glimpse of how the universe really works, and instead of breaking them, that knowledge empowers them to become super-beings. The Abyss may have the trappings of alien intellect and tentacles and Things That Should Not Be. But in Lovecraft's work, the horror is in the fact that the eldritch beings actually should be and are; it's only because of our limited perspective that we think they shouldn't. In Awakening, the Abyss quite literally should not be. It's not beyond our ability to comprehend because the truth is inherently beyond our grasp, the Abyss is incomprehensible because it's actually literally impossible, and exists anyway as a side effect of your power to define reality.
                      Last edited by Charlaquin; 07-18-2017, 12:23 PM.


                      Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                      • #71
                        I didn't say to use Awakening; Lovecraft really didn't suggest witches and wizards for his main characters, after all. If you want to talk about people who see the underlying bits of the universe and struggle to make sense of it, going a bit insane, then we're going to go with mortals and their Integrity. Integrity is pretty much just a WoD version of Sanity. You can use the Abyss as a threat even in a mortal game. And if you're not comfortable with that much? Then just translate them into Horrors.

                        All in all, I think such a conversion is fairly easy.

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                        • #72
                          GibberingEloquence --Regarding your parody portrayal of Cthulu: I find your product and/or service intriguing and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Do Yog-Sothoth next, perhaps? As CatDoom points out Yogie there is a barrel of contradictions swimming in the space-time superfluid. Or something.
                          ‚Äč
                          Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                          The Abyss is full of Lovecraftian aesthetic. But it's thematically not very Lovecraftian, in my opinion. Actually very, very little modern work adapts Lovecraft's themes well, despite his Asthetics being all over modern horror.

                          The thing is, Lovecraft's horror came from the realization that despite all of our science and technology, we don't know shit about how the universe really works. And if we ever found out, our puny brains wouldn't be able to handle it. But that's not a particularly horrifying revelation in this day and age. We have celebrity scientists telling us that science is an ongoing process of trying to explain things the best we can with limited information. We're much more comfortable with the idea of an unknowable universe than most people were in the 20s and 30s.

                          Awakening is a thematic inversion of Lovecraft. It's about characters who get a glimpse of how the universe really works, and instead of breaking them, that knowledge empowers them to become super-beings. The Abyss may have the trappings of alien intellect and tentacles and Things That Should Not Be. But in Lovecraft's work, the horror is in the fact that the eldritch beings actually should be and are; it's only because of our limited perspective that we think they shouldn't. In Awakening, the Abyss quite literally should not be. It's not beyond our ability to comprehend because the truth is inherently beyond our g[r]asp, the Abyss is incomprehensible because it's actually literally impossible, and exists anyway as a side effect of your power to define reality.
                          All of this is true, and it's one of the things that bothered me about the Abyss and what it is and is supposed to represent in the nWoD cosmology. It's just too pat, in a way: the Abyss wasn't, then it was, after the attempt at conquering heaven was partially successful. So... the argument continues as to why, but it's been firmly established for the sake of publishing product that the Abyss constitutes the concept of "untruth" on contrast to Supernal "truth" -- which is in fact subjective truth thanks to the Exarchs meddling with it, not that the Fallen World would know the difference.

                          And I think there's some missed opportunities here, at least if what you're aiming for is a game experience of reality horror and not just a colorful trip. Namely, the Abyss could be the things that *should* be and *are* but *are not* because of meddling humans. Only, since they were/are in fact true, and the Exarchs are products of the World and thus dependent on previous truth to substantiate their existence--ever--then Cthulu can't be un-true--his truth has to be "killed" and left dreaming until even the truth of Death may die.

                          So, then, the Abyss isn't just want is not true, it is what is true but is being swept aside because it's inconvenient to the foibles of the Exarchs at the time. There are multiple Atlantis-es, but there has to be an Atlantis because something you can label as that was/is foundational to the Exarchs, who are true in their state and past--minds being bound by a relative passage of Time.

                          And Yog-Sothoth is true, even if he's not part of present reality "truth", because he cannot be gotten rid of without removing a necessary support for the Exarch(s). So, when a human mind--even an Awakened human mind--encounters Yog-Sothoth she encounters Truth. Truth that is clearly not supposed to be true, but is so. Yog-Sothoth isn't a lie, the lie is that Yog-Sothoth isn't there, and that lie is the Abyss.

                          Does this help? Mage makes me want to scream, so it's hard to tell.

                          --Khanwulf

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                          • #73
                            If we say that a Lovecraftian horror is things which are and should be, but we can't comprehend them, I think that a good example of such being in Awakening are the Old Gods of the Supernal- you know, those ancient symbols from before humanity which devour souls and were banished by the Exarchs when they Ascent. On the other hand, you may say that Awakening is a very Lovecraftian game from a mortal's point of view- magic breaks the mind of regular people who witness it, as their minds can't comprehend the truth. Humanity lives in a Lie it tells itself since they very beginning of time to make it feel safe and protected. Mages are terrible people who were touched by primordial forces older than mankind, and are now able to invoke unknown horrors using occult symbols. The Watchtowers are not beacon of light in the darkness, but castles of madness which draw those souls and unstable minds of those that can accept the truth, that the world is wider and deeper than what any mortal mind could imagine. The Supernal is not somewhere up in the heavens- it is all around you, lurking, whispering, twisting and coiling. Your limited mind just can't see it, and those who do are driven mad by fear and terror. The Old Ones are already here, called as angels and demons and faeries by those who try to give a name to the nameless and face to the faceless in a poor attempt to understand the vastness of the universe.

                            What I'm trying to say, that maybe we are looking at it all wrong- the world could look quit sane when you look at it from the eyes of a madman, after all... or in other words, what if Cthulhu does not lurk in the Abyss, but sits under the the Watchtower of Iron Gauntlet? What if the Abyss, with all of its horror, is not the power which tries to destroy the world, but humanity's last hope?

                            (I'm not a Scelestus I just look like one)


                            My Homebrew Signature

                            "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

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                            • #74
                              Originally posted by MCN View Post
                              I didn't say to use Awakening; Lovecraft really didn't suggest witches and wizards for his main characters, after all. If you want to talk about people who see the underlying bits of the universe and struggle to make sense of it, going a bit insane, then we're going to go with mortals and their Integrity. Integrity is pretty much just a WoD version of Sanity. You can use the Abyss as a threat even in a mortal game. And if you're not comfortable with that much? Then just translate them into Horrors.

                              All in all, I think such a conversion is fairly easy.
                              This raises another interesting point. I don't think Integrity, or Call of Cthulhu's Sanity for that matter, are a great fit for Lovecraft's themes either.

                              Sanity works in CoC because CoC is like the tabletop equivalent of a roguelike. You know when you set out that your character is going to die, and you play to see how far you can get before that happens. Sanity in that system is just another HP track, something to grind your character down on until it runs out and you get to try again with a new character.

                              CofD takes a slightly different approach to a similar concept with Integrity, modeling the trauma the protagonists experience from witnessing the existentially horrifying, and gives the characters the opportunity to learn and grow from the experience, even as it negatively impacts their psychology.

                              Both are good systems for modeling characters being psychologically scarred by their experiences, but I would argue that neither is thematically appropriate for Lovecraft's brand of "madness". In Lovecraft's stories, part of the horror (which, again, doesn't play as well to modern audiences as it did to Lovecraft's contemporaries) is the suggestion that maybe the apparent madmen are actually the sane ones, and everyone else is just too deluded to see the world as it truly is. Seeing Cthulu doesn't cause you to spontaneously develop mental disorders. It opens your eyes to the truth that has been right in front of you all along, but you wouldn't allow yourself to see. Actually, this is one place where CofD does fit in well with Lovecraftian themes.

                              But I think a game system for modeling Lovecraftian madness would look less like CoC's Sanity or CofD's Integrity, and more like Bloodborne's Insight. As you experience eldritch horrors, your understanding of the true nature of the universe actually increases, but in so doing, your experience of reality becomes further from what you would previously have considered normal. You're not hallucinating, you're just seeing very real things no one else can.

                              And now I am tempted to start working on house rules for inverting Integrity into Insight.
                              Last edited by Charlaquin; 07-18-2017, 12:58 PM.


                              Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                              • #75
                                LostLight: I actually very much agree with that interpretation. It's a great way to present Mage as antagonists in a mortal game, and much more in line with Lovecraftian themes if that's what you're going for. I've said before that Supernal entities are the best example of cosmic horror in CofD, and I stand by that statement.


                                Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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