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Lovecrafted Out?


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Given that Robert Howard included and collabarted with Lovecraft with several of the Conan stories I'd be accepting of more Lovecraft influence in Pathfinder.

Ideally though, I'd like it more as a splat book in the vain of the Faction Guide. I think that overall Cthulhu, Bokrug, and several other critters work nicely in the game.

Hell, take the new Dragon Shaman. This is a great build for a worshipper of Bokrug or Mnomquah*, with their 9th level spell being Summon Frogemoth. Madness all abounds:)

* Yeah I know Mnomquah is a creation of Brian Lumley, but he has written several good Mythos stories that I accept his place in the Lovecraftian circle.


I seem to recall seeing a podcast page on which several different Mythos monsters were given Pathfinder statistics for game play. I thought the link was here, but if so, I'm overlooking it. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Thanks!

Shadow Lodge

LizardMage wrote:
* Yeah I know Mnomquah is a creation of Brian Lumley, but he has written several good Mythos stories that I accept his place in the Lovecraftian circle.

Any good contributions that he made are far outweighed by his bastardization of the Mythos by introducing "good twins" for many of the Mythos entities.


Kthulhu wrote:
LizardMage wrote:
* Yeah I know Mnomquah is a creation of Brian Lumley, but he has written several good Mythos stories that I accept his place in the Lovecraftian circle.
Any good contributions that he made are far outweighed by his bastardization of the Mythos by introducing "good twins" for many of the Mythos entities.

Wasn't that Derleth?

Shadow Lodge

Jonathon Vining wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Any good contributions that he made are far outweighed by his bastardization of the Mythos by introducing "good twins" for many of the Mythos entities.
Wasn't that Derleth?

Derleth introduced "good guy" entities. But Lumley took it a step further, with introducing actual siblings that were good guys.


Kthulhu wrote:
Jonathon Vining wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Any good contributions that he made are far outweighed by his bastardization of the Mythos by introducing "good twins" for many of the Mythos entities.
Wasn't that Derleth?
Derleth introduced "good guy" entities. But Lumley took it a step further, with introducing actual siblings that were good guys.

Nothing stops us or paizo from only taking the choice bits from the mythos ;) like Mnomquah.

Taldor

Kthulhu wrote:


Any good contributions that he made are far outweighed by his bastardization of the Mythos by introducing "good twins" for many of the Mythos entities.

Honestly, I get more CoC mileage out of his Necroscope vampires than any of his actual pastiche stuff.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

LizardMage wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Jonathon Vining wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Any good contributions that he made are far outweighed by his bastardization of the Mythos by introducing "good twins" for many of the Mythos entities.
Wasn't that Derleth?
Derleth introduced "good guy" entities. But Lumley took it a step further, with introducing actual siblings that were good guys.
Nothing stops us or paizo from only taking the choice bits from the mythos ;) like Mnomquah.

Actually, the fact that Brian Lumley is exceptionally protective of his additions to the Mythos stops us from taking those choice bits pretty effectively. Of course, even if he DIDN'T, we'd still get permission from him to do anything with his creations in the first place, since that's the rules.


James Jacobs wrote:
LizardMage wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Jonathon Vining wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Any good contributions that he made are far outweighed by his bastardization of the Mythos by introducing "good twins" for many of the Mythos entities.
Wasn't that Derleth?
Derleth introduced "good guy" entities. But Lumley took it a step further, with introducing actual siblings that were good guys.
Nothing stops us or paizo from only taking the choice bits from the mythos ;) like Mnomquah.
Actually, the fact that Brian Lumley is exceptionally protective of his additions to the Mythos stops us from taking those choice bits pretty effectively. Of course, even if he DIDN'T, we'd still get permission from him to do anything with his creations in the first place, since that's the rules.

Ah well no offical pathfinder moon god of madness for me.

Taldor

James Jacobs wrote:
LizardMage wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Jonathon Vining wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Any good contributions that he made are far outweighed by his bastardization of the Mythos by introducing "good twins" for many of the Mythos entities.
Wasn't that Derleth?
Derleth introduced "good guy" entities. But Lumley took it a step further, with introducing actual siblings that were good guys.
Nothing stops us or paizo from only taking the choice bits from the mythos ;) like Mnomquah.
Actually, the fact that Brian Lumley is exceptionally protective of his additions to the Mythos stops us from taking those choice bits pretty effectively. Of course, even if he DIDN'T, we'd still get permission from him to do anything with his creations in the first place, since that's the rules.

Well, you can always ask him to co-write those monsters for PF or something. You know, try to get him involved somehow. Maybe that would work.

I don't pretend to know how publishing works, just seems like a good idea to me.

Taldor

LizardMage wrote:


Ah well no offical pathfinder moon god of madness for me.

You kinda have Groetus for that.

Taldor

James Jacobs wrote:


Actually, the fact that Brian Lumley is exceptionally protective of his additions to the Mythos stops us from taking those choice bits pretty effectively. Of course, even if he DIDN'T, we'd still get permission from him to do anything with his creations in the first place, since that's the rules.

He still alive ? Does that make him one of the Great Old Ones ? :)

Okay sorry, could not resist this one :)

Cheliax

Stereofm wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


Actually, the fact that Brian Lumley is exceptionally protective of his additions to the Mythos stops us from taking those choice bits pretty effectively. Of course, even if he DIDN'T, we'd still get permission from him to do anything with his creations in the first place, since that's the rules.

He still alive ? Does that make him one of the Great Old Ones ? :)

Okay sorry, could not resist this one :)

Yup. He's still alive at the age of 73. I'd say that makes him a Great Old One.

Taldor

Evil Genius Prime wrote:


Yup. He's still alive at the age of 73. I'd say that makes him a Great Old One.

Makes him Old, at least.


James Jacobs wrote:
Actually, the fact that Brian Lumley is exceptionally protective of his additions to the Mythos stops us from taking those choice bits pretty effectively. Of course, even if he DIDN'T, we'd still get permission from him to do anything with his creations in the first place, since that's the rules.

I think that I saw some book, probably one of Call Of Cthulhu series, with special thanks to Brian Lumley for allowing use of one of his creations. Unless it was about someone else, but I think that was about Mr. Lumley.


Kthulhu wrote:


:) Sorry, but I've got to say I think that's the worst idea I've seen anyone officially with Paizo put forward to date. Yuck.

I think it's a FINE idea. Dark Sun Sorcerer-Kings, anyone?

And I can't get enough Lovecraft in this setting! I want EVEN MORE! (:


Just flicking through The Brinewall Legacy and the Pathfinder Society Field Guide and noticed the gem in the bestiary and the archetypes.

Dimensional Witches who uses higher math to warp space and contact other planes?

Rat thing familiars?

I know what NPC I need to add to WotW.


OmegaZ wrote:
I really like the Cthulu mythos. I really like the themes, the writing style, the horror, etc. I like Lovecraftian themes in my rpgs. But after the Denizens of Leng in Rise of the Runelords, Legacy of Fire, Carrion Hill the module, and now Carrion Hill in Carrion Crown, I feel like the theme has been over played. Does anyone else feel like this? What other themes would you like to see? Have I gone mad?

I never saw Rise of the Runelords, Legacy of Fire, or the Carrion Hill module, still fairly new to the product line. So obviously I don't think it's too much, and looking at the adventure paths it seems like three mentions in about as many years isn't too much. Maybe I'll look into RotR when the new book comes out. I like the denizens of Leng. And I've liked the Dark Tapestry, especially its mystery for oracles. And I liked a lot of the more Lovecraftian adventures that, I think, Paizo put out near the end of Dungeon (there was a travelling group of yellow sign players and some other things).

As for what other themes? Idunno looks like they got a lot going on as it is. Another author of that time period, Clark Ashton Smith, has a lot of play in Golarion, with the nations ruled by necromancers and such. Even the Throne of Bones gets some amount of play, with 'civilized' ghouls, though they seem more like the 'true ghouls' in an even older Dungeon issue, which I also liked. A lot of the more epic dark fantasy seems to appear in the remnants of the Azlanti civilizations and in some other places in the world.

Heck there's even other planets to check out.

Andoran

2 people marked this as a favorite.

People who don't want Lovecraft in D&D are, no offense, displaying quite a bit of ignorance about where fantasy fiction comes from.

Fantasy as a genre would not exist if not for a small handful of pulp writers. One of the most important of these writers is Robert E. Howard, who created Conan, defined the sword and sorcery genre, and more or less created the adult fantasy genre. The only person who has had the same impact on fantasy as Howard is Tolkien, and Tolkien wouldn't have gotten Lord of the Rings published if Howard hadn't created the genre of heroic fantasy adventure. So, without Howard, we would likely have no Tolkien, and we would almost certainly have no D&D.

But Howard wasn't much of a fantasist. He didn't actually care much for fantasy - his tastes leaned more towards historical fiction, westerns and stories about boxing and sports. He did heroic fantasy for the money.

So where did he get his ideas for Hyborea and the fantastic elements of Conan? He got them from his contemporary, H.P. Lovecraft. That's what most of their correspondence is about, how to develop a fantastic setting. And if you read that correspondence, its mostly Howard asking Lovecraft how to do this thing he has to do.

And Howard was far from the only fantasy writer that Lovecraft influenced - another was Lin Carter. Now, Lin Carter wasn't a great writer (I like his stuff, but he's the definition of a hack; nothing he writes is original, its all pastiche of better writers), but he was a fantastic editor and literary historian, and had a huge impact on the development of fantasy as a genre in the late 60s and early 70s. Guess who his two favorite authors were. Lovecraft and Tolkien. Guess who the two most influential fantasy writers of all time are. Lovecraft and Tolkien. That's Lin Carter's influence right there.

So when people say they don't want Lovecraft in Golarion because it doesn't feel right, I just have to laugh. Lovecraft is a lot more than Lovecraft's own stories, and Lovecraft is everywhere in fantasy. You know those demon summoning wizards that are behind so much of the evil in fantasy worlds? That's Lovecraft's influence. In Lovecraft's stories, men of reason and science are driven to madness by confrontations with such supernatural evils. But that's just one take - Howard wrote stories featuring entirely Lovecraftian horrors, he just feature them in stories with Nietzschean supermen who respond to such evils with a sword. That's totally D&D.

And for all of Cthulhu's cosmic terror, try to remember that when he rises in Call of Cthulhu, he's driven back and defeated (for now) by ramming him with a large fishing vessel. Sure, everyone on the ship goes hopelessly insane, but still. They knocked out Cthulhu with a boat.

Cheliax

Gailbraithe wrote:
when he rises in Call of Cthulhu, he's driven back and defeated (for now) by ramming him with a large fishing vessel. Sure, everyone on the ship goes hopelessly insane, but still. They knocked out Cthulhu with a boat.

How do we know that what they rammed with the boat was Cthulhu? There's a chance that it was merely the Starspawn that happened to be closest to the door of R'lyeh. Which if you think about it like that makes it even scarier.

Taldor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Gailbraithe wrote:

snip

So when people say they don't want Lovecraft in Golarion because it doesn't feel right, I just have to laugh. Lovecraft is a lot more than Lovecraft's own stories, and Lovecraft is...

You're over-egging that pudding so much that it's becoming unpalatable.

Haggard
Kipling
Doyle
Barrie
Swift
Homer
Malory
Shakespeare
etc.

The idea that The Hobbit was unpublishable without a minor author like Lovecraft in a country that had gone all weak at the knees over Peter Pan is laughable. Lovecraft is influential and he is a classic example of a 'cult' author but he is not the foundation stone of fantasy.

The obvious popular source for this would be Joseph Campbell.

But, just to make sure we're not getting carried away:
Beowulf
Odyssey
Gilgamesh
One Thousand and One Nights
Iliad
Aeneid
Grimm's Fairy Tales

All massively more popular than Lovecraft, all around for much longer, never out of print and exerting a massive influence on popular culture.

Bestiary 2 doesn't have Narlothep on the cover, it has the Jabberwock. Bestiary 1 has a troll, not Chulhu.

So, please, stop laughing at people, it's unpleasant.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Nah. I consider Neon Genesis Evangelion a far more appropriate source of inspiration for D&Dish fantasy than Lovecraft.

But I'm known to be considered a weird person.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Gailbraithe wrote:
People who don't want Lovecraft in D&D are, no offense, displaying quite a bit of ignorance about where fantasy fiction comes from.

Or maybe we dont see any need to pay 'homage' to where fantasy fiction comes from now that the genre has matured somewhat and moved in directions we like better?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Lovecraftian elements are welcome in heroic fantasy as long as they remember their place, which is generally to eventually be punched in the throat by the heroes.

I only really get bugged when Lovecraft stuff gets treated as Villain Sues when they're plugged into other settings, where suddenly they're the ultimate big dogs in all reality, regardless of whatever else is in the setting. In Golarion, if Azathoth is presented as equal to a god but different, fine. But if he's used as THE BIGGEST BAD EVER EVEN MORE THAN ROVAGUG AND EVENTUALLY HE'LL END IT ALL LOL....no thanks. That and how many expect that it absolutely must enforce despair, regardless of the previous feel of the setting. And the xenophobia.

All that and when it gets overexposed. Used with restraint though and veering towards REH's stance on cosmic horrors(if they come into our reality, they can have their asses handed to them), it's okay.


Mikaze wrote:
if they come into our reality, they can have their asses handed to them

Do they even have asses?

Osirion

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I feel that a campaign does not suffer from an excess of villains. Even if you don't want to highlight them as active opponents its not hard to say 'Yeah there are crazy cults worshiping some Old Ones, and no one takes them seriously. They aren't going to be playing a major role in this campaign.' You don't make a setting better by removing opponents.

I can't help but wonder how many sentiments like this stem from other sources. I know there have been music groups I disliked not because of their music but because people I didn't like loved them.

There is also the hipster trend of disliking things because they are popular. That confuses me a lot.

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Matthew Trent wrote:

I feel that a campaign does not suffer from an excess of villains. Even if you don't want to highlight them as active opponents its not hard to say 'Yeah there are crazy cults worshiping some Old Ones, and no one takes them seriously. They aren't going to be playing a major role in this campaign.' You don't make a setting better by removing opponents.

I can't help but wonder how many sentiments like this stem from other sources. I know there have been music groups I disliked not because of their music but because people I didn't like loved them.

There is also the hipster trend of disliking things because they are popular. That confuses me a lot.

On the flip-side, I think that some Lovecraft fans don't realise quite how obscure he is.

When I grew up playing dnd I played with an entire group of literate kids who never mentioned Lovecraft (or pulp fantasy). We were fantasy enthusiasts raised on Tolkein and Lewis, Robin Hood and King Arthur, Greek myths and Bible stories...
When I helped to run a gaming society with about 60-80 members I never heard a mention of Lovecraft, we ran the gamut from 16 year olds to 60 year olds.
Of my current gaming group (all in their late-20s and early-30s) only I have read any Lovecraft.

Maybe this is a British thing, perhaps his writing is much bigger in the US.

Shadow Lodge

GeraintElberion wrote:
On the flip-side, I think that some Lovecraft fans don't realise quite how obscure he is.

Lovecraft's influence is pretty substantial, but his name and most of his works are somewhat obscure. One thing that has definately gained more fame that it's creator ever will is the Necronomicon...to the point where some people assume it's an actual book.

Taldor

Gailbraithe wrote:
People who don't want Lovecraft in D&D are, no offense, displaying quite a bit of ignorance about where fantasy fiction comes from.

As a general rule, anytime someone says 'no offense,' they actually are being offensive. Knowledge of the origins of the genre has no bearing on personal tastes. Ice cream and limberger may have came from a cow's nipple, but I don't have to like eating them together.

I'm one who does not want Lovecraftian themes in my high-fantasy roleplay. I understand that fantasy/sci-fi/occult horror were originally developed by writers some 90-odd years ago, but these genres have diverged to such an extent that they can be seen as separate and distinct. Apes and humans are separate genuses.

Also, I think we need to clarify the difference between Lovecraftian themes (the smallness of an individual human being in the grand scheme of the cosmos, stimuli so alien and bizarre that the senses cannot perceive them, the fragility of the human psyche) and Mythos-inspired monsters. It seems that many people confuse the two. A lot of people may own a Cthulhu plushie, but I doubt many of them really 'get' it. Take the South Park Cthulhu episodes. I mean really, WTF?

Sure, there are lots of Mythos monsters in the game, but in my book, that does not mean that there is a lot of Lovecraft in Pathfinder. A CoC or Delta Green game is so different in terms of tone, atmosphere, pacing and characters than Pathfinder that it would be very difficult to truly merge the two games. How do you play a CoC-type game with a system that doesn't include sanity as a core mechanic?

This was kind of rambling, but in recent weeks, this has been rolling around in my brain and I needed to get it out there.

Osirion

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
GeraintElberion wrote:
On the flip-side, I think that some Lovecraft fans don't realise quite how obscure he is.

I don't see how the obscurity of a work relates to how much fun it is in a game. I went looking for some of Vance's fantasy at B&N the other day and didn't find anything. I'm honestly not a huge Lovecraft fan, but that doesn't reduce the amount of fun an encounter with evocative creatures like the Hounds of Tindalos can provide.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"


GeraintElberion wrote:
Matthew Trent wrote:

I feel that a campaign does not suffer from an excess of villains. Even if you don't want to highlight them as active opponents its not hard to say 'Yeah there are crazy cults worshiping some Old Ones, and no one takes them seriously. They aren't going to be playing a major role in this campaign.' You don't make a setting better by removing opponents.

I can't help but wonder how many sentiments like this stem from other sources. I know there have been music groups I disliked not because of their music but because people I didn't like loved them.

There is also the hipster trend of disliking things because they are popular. That confuses me a lot.

On the flip-side, I think that some Lovecraft fans don't realise quite how obscure he is.

When I grew up playing dnd I played with an entire group of literate kids who never mentioned Lovecraft (or pulp fantasy). We were fantasy enthusiasts raised on Tolkein and Lewis, Robin Hood and King Arthur, Greek myths and Bible stories...
When I helped to run a gaming society with about 60-80 members I never heard a mention of Lovecraft, we ran the gamut from 16 year olds to 60 year olds.
Of my current gaming group (all in their late-20s and early-30s) only I have read any Lovecraft.

Maybe this is a British thing, perhaps his writing is much bigger in the US.

Mmm... Are you kidding? We the brits love Lovecraft. Everywhere I have roleplayed in this country, I have meet call of cthulhu fans.

Yog-Sothoth.com is british is memory serves, we have a number of cthulhu, writers wise we have Charles Stross, Brian Lumley, Neil Gaiman and Graham Walmsley(all of whom have played with the mythos).

Back in the day we had Werebadger, who ran awesome mythos larp.

I'm retty sure that Cthulhu I bigger over here per head of capita, than it is in the states.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

I would not qualify Lovecraft as obscure. There are significantly sized Lovecraft sections in bookstores, after all, and once you get Cthulhu showing up in something like South Park or the Great Race showing up on Futureama or the Necronomicon (or similar books) showing up major motion pictures... that's starting to get mainstream.

Maybe not as mainstream as Twilight or Harry Potter or Game of Thrones, but certainly more mainstream than Hillbilly Hand Fishing or the Silmarillion.

Qadira

James Jacobs wrote:

I would not qualify Lovecraft as obscure. There are significantly sized Lovecraft sections in bookstores, after all, and once you get Cthulhu showing up in something like South Park or the Great Race showing up on Futureama or the Necronomicon (or similar books) showing up major motion pictures... that's starting to get mainstream.

Maybe not as mainstream as Twilight or Harry Potter or Game of Thrones, but certainly more mainstream than Hillbilly Hand Fishing or the Silmarillion.

Hey! There's nothing wrong with lifting fish out of the water using only your hands...It sounds awesome and manly...as long as you dont live someplace where the Water dwelling Lizards are thirty feet long and will eat you.

The Problem with Lovecraft is that no one understands it. They want there to be Cosmic elder Gods as the source of it all. They dont get that at superposition all life is the same life and he is talking about the symptoms of playing with black holes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
yellowdingo wrote:
The Problem with Lovecraft is that no one understands it. They want there to be Cosmic elder Gods as the source of it all. They dont get that at superposition all life is the same life and he is talking about the symptoms of playing with black holes.

I'm actually pretty sure that Lovecraft was just writing about how he hated squid, and humans were kind of pointless more than anything too deep about black holes, if you'll pardon the pun! :D

Heh, I don't actually think that. But Lovecraft had many ideas that were just plain wrong and preached about them often in his books... and that's in addition to the stuff that he knew was fantasy! He was a very skilled writer and quite startlingly influential in all sorts of sword-and-sorcery fantasy elements (even if he, himself, is often considered "horror"). Quite frankly, he's remarkably important - we wouldn't have many of the foundational essences of fantasy we do without him. He's also often just plain bigoted and nasty towards others at times. That said, he's made great works too, and it's appreciated. I think many - both those who like him and those who don't - don't quite get him, because... he was complex. Some things he was accurate on (decadence of the modern lifestyle, the fallibility of modern sciences, etc) and some he was wrong (cultural racism and a general disdain for advanced science comes to mind).

In the end, love him or hate him (and his works) he was a brilliant writer, and fundamentally necessary for most modern fantasy, and especially the sword and sorcery genre (via Conan the Barbarian) owes him much of its existence. To that end, I approve of Lovecraftian horrors in Pathfinder - it's neat to see such great homages inside a great game. But you might not want it in your game. And that's fine too.

Also: what Mikaze said.


Tacticslion wrote:
He was a very skilled writer ...

An excerpt, if I may, from Lovecraft's widely acclaimed "Shadow Over Innsmouth..."

"I had to endure the furtive glances of Innsmouth's citizens as I made my way through the streets. Around lunch, I began to get hungry, so I walked into a small grocery where there was a furtive shopkeeper looking over the counter. He looked at me furtively as I bought a box of crackers for an economic lunch, and then I walked furtively over to the counter. He rang me up with a furtive gaze, and then I furtive began eating the crackers, pulling them furtively from their furtive box. They were quite filling, bringing furtive colour to my furtive cheeks, and then furtive furtive furtive furtive..."

His technique is one of the primary reasons I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Lovecraft's works. He displays a remarkable inconsistency in effective style and structure. At times, he's great, but he blatantly ignores several basic principles of effective prose. I'm not saying that we need always hold ourselves in thrall to such conventions, but many times, Lovecraft's departure from them often leave the reader wrestling with the text for comprehension or interest.

I praise the man for his invention of a new genre (a pretty b~&*$in' one at that), but from a stylistic standpoint, his ability is not what I'd call perfect. Not abyssal by any means, but certainly not outstanding.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
martinaj wrote:
Furtive techniques

And, lo, the length of time it has been since I've read Lovecraft has become apparent! Alas I am undone! Furtively!

martinaj wrote:
I praise the man for his invention of a new genre (a pretty b+$%%in' one at that), but from a stylistic standpoint, his ability is not what I'd call perfect.

Basically this is what I was poorly trying to get at. That said, IIRC, some of his stuff is excellent writing. Furtively, speaking.


Detect Magic wrote:
I don't really think Lovecraft has a place in a setting that isn't Earth circa 1900-2000. But that's just me.

Late to the party, but worth mentioning that Robert E. Howard is considered a contributor to the Mythos, and that at least one Conan story is often thought to be intended as a connection to same.


James Jacobs wrote:

I would not qualify Lovecraft as obscure. There are significantly sized Lovecraft sections in bookstores, after all, and once you get Cthulhu showing up in something like South Park or the Great Race showing up on Futureama or the Necronomicon (or similar books) showing up major motion pictures... that's starting to get mainstream.

Maybe not as mainstream as Twilight or Harry Potter or Game of Thrones, but certainly more mainstream than Hillbilly Hand Fishing or the Silmarillion.

I think you have to measure that against who is inserting the Cthulhu references, and whether the audience is really in on the joke. Based on the reactions I've seen, most audiences still don't get who Cthulhu is supposed to be, who Lovecraft was, etc. The creators of those things are having fun and throwing a wink to those of us who are in on the joke. But that's still not a lot of us, comparatively.

It's a sort of self-indulgence you see more and more often in a world where creative works are more often falling into the hands of grown-up, successful nerds, and are spread over wide swaths of media that need programming to fill them. The same guys throw out references to D&D fairly regularly. But like any self-indulgent practice, these leave most observers scratching their heads. And just because a show or a bookstore caters to a reliable niche does not make that thing mainstream in the truest sense.

That's why the planned big Ron Howard Lovecraft flick disappeared. If you had haunted the IMDB while that thing was still in the works, you'd have seen whole articles based on the matter of the topic's obscurity.

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Matthew Trent wrote:
GeraintElberion wrote:
On the flip-side, I think that some Lovecraft fans don't realise quite how obscure he is.
I don't see how the obscurity of a work relates to how much fun it is in a game. I went looking for some of Vance's fantasy at B&N the other day and didn't find anything. I'm honestly not a huge Lovecraft fan, but that doesn't reduce the amount of fun an encounter with evocative creatures like the Hounds of Tindalos can provide.

But Levecraft stuff has a certain tone/mood and if you don't recognise it then it can be a bit jarring.

For example, the Hound of Tindalos write-up is a pleasure to read but it made for a quite confusing encounter which resolved in the players seeing it as a demonic blink dog.
They had no way of understanding the weirdness of it all or connecting it with the circular room, even when I dropped hints.
In the end I had to read out part of the monster description, which they thought was cool, and then the players fled and did some research to bump their knowledge skills so that they could fight it.

Whereas, if I throw creatures which are weird and wonderful but obey basic physics and some core fantasy assumptions then the characters/players can get on with interacting with that creature.


GeraintElberion wrote:


But Levecraft stuff has a certain tone/mood and if you don't recognise it then it can be a bit jarring.

For example, the Hound of Tindalos write-up is a pleasure to read but it made for a quite confusing encounter which resolved in the players seeing it as a demonic blink dog.
They had no way of understanding the weirdness of it all or connecting it with the circular room, even when I dropped hints.
In the end I had to read out part of the monster description, which they thought was cool, and then the players fled and did some research to bump their knowledge skills so that they could fight it.

Whereas, if I throw creatures which are weird and wonderful but obey basic physics and some core fantasy assumptions then the characters/players can get on with interacting with that creature.

Your players can have a jarring reaction from anything that they haven't memorized from the Bestiary, but it's actually the type of reaction you usually want them to have with Mythos creatures. They aren't supposed to be worldly or understood very well after all, and fighting them should be disconcerting.

Also, the Hound of Tindalos isn't actually a great example of a Lovecraftian creature. Mostly because it wasn't created by Lovecraft but by his friend Frank Belknap Long. Sadly, not a lot of Long's stories get the attention they should, which is why the Hound of Tindalos, while popular with Mythos aficionados, is not extremely well known.

The tone of using the Mythos doesn't have to be all doom, gloom, and "we're pointless and going to go mad and die!" though. It all depends on what you want to highlight. Look at Pelgrane Press' Trail of Cthulhu game after all. That has two "modes" of play; Purist, which is closest to typical Lovecraft stories, and Pulp, which is more two fisted, "there's a chance if we fight back" type of stories. The same scenario can be played with either mode with an absolute minimal adjustment of mechanics.

Mythos creatures should come across as strange, otherworldly, and jarring compared to the other creatures in the Bestiary. They should be used sparingly, and with a specific purpose in mind. They aren't goblins or kobolds after all, to be thrown in as level grinding fodder. Just how dark you want their existence to be is up to you. Nothing requires the existence of the Mi-go to guarantee the downfall of Humanity, especially on a world like Golarion.


I love the Lovecraft elements of Golarion, but it's something of an extended bestiary thing due to the other assumptions of the setting. It could be so much more, or at least different. Lovecraft's stories focus on the inner processes of the protagonists, his doubts, fears, and changes, as he grows more and more aware that the world is not what he thought. The monsters are merely one catalyst for those processes, as the mundane world is another. Meshing this credibly with a fantasy setting and its core principles, such as objective good and evil, that heroes can fight back and win, or that humanity can shape their own destiny... that's difficult at best. Then again, using them merely as monsters is a good thing too.

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Tobias wrote:
Your players can have a jarring reaction from anything that they haven't memorized from the Bestiary, but it's actually the type of reaction you usually want them to have with Mythos creatures. They aren't supposed to be worldly or understood very well after all, and fighting them should be disconcerting.

I'm really not expressing myself well here (and, incidentally, the idea of my players picking up a Pathfinder book and reading it is highly unlikely. That's my job, as far as they're concerned).

What I'm trying to say is that the monster was just a souped-up blink dog to them. All of the things that make it eerie and exciting were lost on my players; they never even worked out that it needed angles to move through.
They also couldn't really fathom why it was there beyond the 'ooh-crazy-wizard-stuff' reasoning.

I find the cthulhu stuff interesting in small doses but I prefer a light sprinkling to a hefty side-order.

Shadow Lodge

Sissyl wrote:
I love the Lovecraft elements of Golarion, but it's something of an extended bestiary thing due to the other assumptions of the setting. It could be so much more, or at least different. Lovecraft's stories focus on the inner processes of the protagonists, his doubts, fears, and changes, as he grows more and more aware that the world is not what he thought. The monsters are merely one catalyst for those processes, as the mundane world is another. Meshing this credibly with a fantasy setting and its core principles, such as objective good and evil, that heroes can fight back and win, or that humanity can shape their own destiny... that's difficult at best. Then again, using them merely as monsters is a good thing too.

THIS.

This is why I'm not a big Lovecraft fan. Throughout his works, there is an air of despair, a fear of the unknown. I read some of his stuff back in high school and thought, "Wow, this guy was totally frightened of where technology was going. He probably couldn't conceive of existing in a world with the atomic bomb." It's this recurring theme of the abject horror of new places, new things, new experiences that I find completely anathema to the standard adventurer's mindset. Except for campaigns specifically designed this way (like CoC), his works are pretty much exactly what I'm NOT looking for.

Shadow Lodge

InVinoVeritas wrote:
This is why I'm not a big Lovecraft fan. Throughout his works, there is an air of despair, a fear of the unknown. I read some of his stuff back in high school and thought, "Wow, this guy was totally frightened of where technology was going. He probably couldn't conceive of existing in a world with the atomic bomb." It's this recurring theme of the abject horror of new places, new things, new experiences that I find completely anathema to the standard adventurer's mindset. Except for campaigns specifically designed this way (like CoC), his works are pretty much exactly what I'm NOT looking for.

It's pretty easy to make the case that he already anticipated the atomic bomb, based on some of his stories. He certainly was knowledgeable about radioactivity, as shown in "The Colour Out of Space".

And I think the fact that most adventurers are seeking new knowledge/places/things/experiences can play wonderfully into a Mythos encounter. Just give them what they want...in the worst way possible.

Shadow Lodge

Kthulhu wrote:

It's pretty easy to make the case that he already anticipated the atomic bomb, based on some of his stories. He certainly was knowledgeable about radioactivity, as shown in "The Colour Out of Space".

And I think the fact that most adventurers are seeking new knowledge/places/things/experiences can play wonderfully into a Mythos encounter. Just give them what they want...in the worst way possible.

1. Yup, wholly agree there, but "anticipate" isn't the same as "like or welcome." He was well-read about science, but he was still rather strongly screaming that we back away from the cutting edge.

2. So, teaching adventurers that adventuring BAD is a good idea? Not for me, thanks.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Don't forget the crippling fear of interracial relationships. This is the guy that edited Medusa's Coil after all.

MY PLAYERS DON'T READ

Spoiler:
That's one reason I aimed to subvert the hell out of the "Innsmouth look" theme in my homebrew. Those folks in the fishing village that are a little piscine or cephalopodic here and there? Well yeah, turns out humans and other races in a fantasy setting can be romantically adventurous. What of it?

Hey, there's a villain idea. Some guy that applies the same crackpot racial theory towards the half- races...


i love seeing references or things that make me think of Howard, lovecraft or ashton clark smith. There is a lot of it there, I loved seeing it since you were previewing burnt offering. It makes the world pop to me, makes me interested in it cause I love that pulp fantasy and horror vibe. So more please, lots more.


I don't think I'm quite Lovecrafted out just yet.
I actually enjoyed the 4th installment of the CC AP.
Maybe I'm at the cusp of Lovecrafted out, because I could probably do without more tentacle stuff for at least another 3 APs.


Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Man, for a minute there, I thought I'd just posted.

Nope, I'm still nowhere near Lovecrafted out.

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