Are there any good Great Old Ones?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


In Bestiary 4 it says that they are "always chaotic and usually evil" Now some are CN but could there be a CG one somewhere?


Not if you're going by Lovecraft's descriptions. They're just not nice.


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They're usually not trying to be cruel to you. They just don't notice all the ants they are stepping on. Although if they DO notice, they become the kid with the magnifying glass.


Well, Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss seems a bit more friendly (and human like ) than most... of course, he's not in B4

Dark Archive

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Yqatuba wrote:
In Bestiary 4 it says that they are "always chaotic and usually evil" Now some are CN but could there be a CG one somewhere?

Desna is what some of us like to call 'The Great Nice One'.


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Eindridi wrote:
Yqatuba wrote:
In Bestiary 4 it says that they are "always chaotic and usually evil" Now some are CN but could there be a CG one somewhere?
Desna is what some of us like to call 'The Great Nice One'.

Indeed, a great monstrous cosmic butterfly that just happened to be more benevolent than most of her cousins.


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No there are no mind shattering cosmic horrors that care about humanity. As Umral Reaver said they rarely if ever notice humanity. They operate at a completely different level than humanity so they really don’t fit into our reality. To them we are even less than ant, more like bacteria. By their standards we are not even sentient.

They are not chaotic in the traditional sense. They have their own reasons why they do things, but their reasons are beyond human comprehension. There actions make no sense to us so we classify them as chaotic.

They are not evil in the traditional sense. Evil would imply maliciousness, but when something destroys entire species without even realizing they exists it is pretty much the same thing from our perspective.

How would a doctor working to eradicate a deadly disease appear to the disease? As far as the disease appear to the disease? As far as the disease is concerned it is going about its business and a monstrous entity completely wipes out every member of its race. The Great Old ones are the doctor and humanity is the disease.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Klorox wrote:
Well, Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss seems a bit more friendly (and human like ) than most... of course, he's not in B4

Nodens is not a Great Old One, he's one of Elder Gods, a category of creatures which are almost friendly or at least benevolently neutral towards mortals. He shares his, admittedly short, bench with the likes of Bast and Hypnos.


I thought this was about good as in useful, and was thinking who doesn't love a dagger throwing Warpriest of Cthulhu?

But, the Old Ones are, by our trivial standards, all chaotic, mostly evil, once again by our trivial definitions of those words.

Ultimately most of them are no more evil than we are to bacteria (good example, Mysterious Stranger).


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I wanted to actually mention somewhat that... I do think that within the system that there is none, but I like the idea of a setting based around a 'good' eldtrich being.

It reminds me a lot of Darkest Dungeon, we never actually get to see what 'The Light' is, we don't even know if it is a real entity or if it is just the spark of magic within humanity.

Though more to the point, I personally believe that within that kind of setting that the idea of your good god of light and puppies being just as much of an eldritch abomination as the most evil creatures in the multiverse would be fascinating to play with.


For some of the reasons detailed above, I dislike that most of the eldritch entities are officially considered evil. From my view, evil requires a certain degree of active maliciousness - "doesn't notice or care about you" is very different from "outright hostile and wants you to suffer". Neutral, frankly, feels like a better fit.

That, and I think Chaotic Neutral in general is under-represented as an alignment. If you toss all the eldritch entities into Chaotic Evil, they're basically just Qlippoths with another name. "Oh boy, another thing with tentacles and too many eyeballs to hit with Smite Evil" isn't very impactful. XD It's much more interesting when players realize traditional anti-evil things don't work because their foes aren't actually evil. I house-rule most of the eldritch beings to CN and tweak 'em accordingly.


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As has been referenced above, most of original works regarding Great Old Ones indicated they operated in a manner of consciousness beyond anything humans could process. They were not evil in the sense that they wanted to kill humans, no more than a person casually stepping on an ant while out for a walk is evil. Nodens hunted the great old ones, at least in Derleth's working of the mythos. Nodens wasn't "good," per se, it just was a force working against those that would casually wipe out humanity.

Pathfinder rules generally require an alignment, and so I might look at the "neutral" great old ones as "the ones who aren't actively going to wipe out existence" and the "evil" ones as "antithetical to reality as we know it." They are labels projected on the Great Old Ones, but functional for the purposes of magic, etc.


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What Brother Willi said.

Technically, outside of Golarion "fluff", there are no Evil Great Old Ones, no Good ones, no Lawful, Chaotic, or Neutral ones.

The ethics and morality of the Great Old Ones are so alien, they cannot be compared to those of human beings, and their experience and interests are so alien that human individuality, rights, dignity, etc. simply play no significant role in the day-to-day affairs of Great Old Ones, in much the same way that individual ants in an anthill hold no special interest for human beings who tread on those ants by mistake.

In the Lovecraftian universe that spawned the Great Old Ones, concepts like D&D Alignment are a figment of human imagination, a fairy tale we tell ourselves to make it easier for us to sleep at night. The human concepts of "Good" and "Law" derive no significance apart from that which humanity grants to anything that benefits humanity, for whatever mere humanity is worth in a universe where humans are hardly worthy of an insignificant footnote in the greater scope of the vastness of the space and time of the universe. In the Lovecraftian universe, there are no gods but those we might imagine for our own comfort, or choose from the endless and unimaginable hosts of sufficiently advanced aliens whose ruined civilizations and technologies litter the universe, and hence no objective morality... there are no laws except for those imagined by humans, or the limited set of physical laws that bind humanity within the restrictions of time and space, and hence no objective ethics. The Lovecraftian universe is bound only by the "alignment" of Relativity, in which Law and Good and Neutrality and Evil and Chaos are only constructs built by those with limited perspective for those with limited perspective relative to their own limitations and experiences - perspectives that would make little sense to anything else in the universe.

To the Great Old Ones, there may well be great good to be found in those things that mere humans find to be abhorrent and Evil, an an eldritch order to be seen in those things that humans can find only chaos and disorder in. To see the universe as the Great Old Ones see it, one must stop thinking like a mere human being, and see the universe in an alien and inhuman way, and go "insane" from a human perspective, though arguably the "cultist" who at last can see from that perspective gains levels of wisdom and power over the laws that govern the greater universe beyond the limited human perception of "good" and "evil" and "law" and "chaos" that the cultist can access higher truths and manipulate greater rules that govern the universe in ways that would seem like miracles and magic to us - the "mad" cultist has actually gone saner than human beings by ceasing to be bound by the mundane limits of his/her humanity.

The alien amorality and "madness" by which the Great Old Ones choose to govern their experience are crudely aped by the "Evil" and "Chaos" elements of D&D alignment, but it's really not a very good comparison....


Well said. Really well said.


yronimos wrote:


To the Great Old Ones, there may well be great good to be found in those things that mere humans find to be abhorrent and...

Well thats the problem of the alignment spectrum of D&D, but the concept of alignment could be a tool adapted by the planes of heaven and hell to drive humans, or it could have been created from the more concept.

The great old ones is not tied to the concept of alignment, compared to anything they are more in the line of elements and is in a realm all of their own.

So in addition to the alignment planes, you have Postive and Negative, Shadow and Astral planes, the elemental planes. Then the great old ones migth be of their own "Mental" plane so to speak, but in (fictional) reality they are just alien cosmic horrors beyond the planes.


I guess another small thing about the 'evilness' of the Great Old Ones is because the Gods that bestow the powers to detect and smite evil decide that they are evil even though technically they are not necessarily so.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

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Maybe not any "good" Great Old Ones, but I am sure there is a "great" Great Old One. Let's call him Bucky! Maybe a "fabulous" Great Old One or a perhaps an "apathetic" Great Old One. How about Masadra and Bill, respectively?


Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
Maybe not any "good" Great Old Ones, but I am sure there is a "great" Great Old One. Let's call him Bucky! Maybe a "fabulous" Great Old One or a perhaps an "apathetic" Great Old One. How about Masadra and Bill, respectively?

They call him The Winter Old One.


Adjoint wrote:
Eindridi wrote:
Yqatuba wrote:
In Bestiary 4 it says that they are "always chaotic and usually evil" Now some are CN but could there be a CG one somewhere?
Desna is what some of us like to call 'The Great Nice One'.
Indeed, a great monstrous cosmic butterfly that just happened to be more benevolent than most of her cousins.

Not sure if your being serious or not but I acutally kinda like that idea. (though she would probably be an Outer God rather than a Great Old One since she doesn't have stats)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Desna's more on the Derleth-esque "Elder God" sort of level, in that she fights Great Old Ones and Outer Gods...

... even if she probably IS just wearing her "pretty winged elf" costume so we don't run away screaming...


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Well, there's always me. 8D ...I mean, "good" is too much of a stretch, but I usually offer a few laughs.


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In my pondering of this I'm thinking that Great Old Ones come in one of three varieties.

One are those that are likely incapable of understanding that mortals are actually free willed creatures, or that they aren't creatures like themselves. Azathoth an Yog-Sothoth are like this. Azathoth couldn't notice humans at all and is as unfeeling as a super nova when Yog-Sothoth probably ony notices us when we reach out to make contact.

The next are Great Old Ones that can notice mortals, but are so willfully indifferent to us that it is indistinguishable from actual malice. Cthulu leaps to mind as an entity that probably is aware of and recognizes humans, but we are so beneath him that there is no reason to be concerned about our suffering at his presence. To indulge in some anthropomorphism... "My very dreams spread madness, murder, and psychic cancers among these little apes? Pathetic."

Then there are the ones that know what we are and take active delight in our suffering or otherwise seek us out to do us harm. Nyarlathotep is the poster child of this group. It doesn't seem to be enough to step on us like ants, but to set us on fire with a lens... Better to give us lenses so we set ourselves ablaze!

It is just a thought I enjoy and wanted to share.


Could there be a Great Old One who inadvertently or unknowingly performs a function that is beneficial to humanoid life? Yes, that is entirely possible. However, if such a being exists, we don't know about it yet. Great Old Ones seem to be so far above humanoid reasoning and scope that just being too close to them can be extremely harmful. Tsathoggua and his uncle Hziulquoigmnzhah come close to benevolence from time to time, Tsathoggua having a beneficial relationship with a human wizard whom he helps escape to Saturn when pursued by witch-hunters. But Tsathoggua is also just as likely to eat you as talk to you if you stumble across him, and Hziulquoigmnzhah seems to be extremely dismissive of mortals, his only quote consisting of "be on your way" in the Old Ones' tongue. And Tsathoggua's rites (what little we know of them) are not exactly for the squeamish.


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Honestly the Old Ones don't really fit into Pathfinder no matter how much people want them to. There mere passing is a disaster that would spell the end of Galorian and the very stars themselves.

The creatures we think of as "servants" of the Old Ones are more like us than them. Those servants grovel and pray to the Old Ones hoping for a spec of mercy and consideration that is as unlikely for them to receive as it is for us. You have to consider, we think of Cthulhu as an Old One, something we see as a god and the actual Old Ones see Cthulhu as nothing more than an actual servant.

Calling the Old Ones Chaotic and Evil would describe the Old One's effect on altering our reality. Our reaction to their passing. Their own motives and objectives absolutely unknowable to us. Even in our grasping madness any clarity someone would claim is only a delusion. If you plan on including an Old One in your campaign don't figure out its motivation, only what happens because it acted. Describe the fallout, leave the actual action a mystery even to yourself.

Somehow I'm reminded of a play I once saw in Paris. Tell me, have you seen the Yellow Sign?

Shadow Lodge

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Now I want to make up a CN Elder Mythos Cultist of Desna, who's a beekeeper, who goes out of his way to avoid stepping on any bugs, who prays for a Control Swarm spell to encourage termites out of people's houses, and is friends with the flumphs (who tell him they can't mutate him, so quit asking!)
"Up in Cynosure, Desna sleeps. To her, the stars are always right!"
"You and your petty squabbles. Thinking stealing from people, killing people, will make you noteworthy in the terms of the cosmos somehow? Let me show you just how little the Dark Tapestry itself cares for you and your Evil..."


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To answer the original OP, no.

Some of the Outer Gods and Great Old Ones are indifferent to us (Azathoth) or even kind of fine with us (Yog-Sothoth/Umr At-Tawil or Bokrug); many treat non-Mythos sapient beings as vermin or prey (such as Cthulhu); others will happily toy with us (like Nyarlathotep).

I generally don't agree with the whole "they're beyond good and evil" thing because, well, the Great Old Ones aren't stupid. They understand perfectly damn well what we are, and they understand what they're doing to us, and a number of them seem to honestly enjoy that.

The Great Old One attitude towards humanity boils down to "we're stronger than you, so we can do whatever we want with you."

Which, when you get down to it, is Chaotic Evil in a nutshell.


I'm not quite sure I agree with that. Many of the Outer Gods - at least - are described more as not really noticing or caring about lesser existences. We don't pay too much attention to bacteria, but occasionally, we like to sanitize areas just in case... and we don't really care about their opinions on the matter. XD Are we horribly evil for that? Most don't think so.


GOO: "Hey... I'm good!"

<GM: Sense Motive check, please>


Note that Good and Evil aren't subjective in Golarionverse. They are objective, measurable qualities. Both of creatures, objects and places.

Literally. You can have a a non sentient sword register as Evil because it was used to commit so many evil acts that the quality of Evil stuck to it.

The Great Old Ones and Old Gods aren't Chaotic/Evil because the mortals decided they are. Even gods, with infinitely greater minds than mere mortals, view them as Evil or Chaotic.
They're Evil because that is a quality of their being.

Side note: Not even the gods decide whether something is Good or Evil. Asmodeus can't prevent his clerics from being subject to Smite Evil no matter how much he may believe his views are 'good'.

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