Call of Chicago: Which of These 7 Never-Before-Adapted Lovecraft Monsters Is Right For You?

AZATHOTHSimon says I need to have grabbier headlines on these posts, so I went a little Buzzfeed up there. Hope you like it.

The Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition corebook contains 38 monsters. I’m not including the Great Old Ones, Outer Gods, or such, just monsters. When you add in the similar creatures, races, servitor beings, what-have-you from the magnificent Malleus Monstrorum, you get 136 total monsters. They’re not all from Lovecraft — the talented teratologists of Chaosium have trawled everyone from William Hope Hodgson and H.G. Wells to Clark Ashton Smith and Brian Lumley to get that many.

And yet, some honest-to-Yog Lovecraft monsters are still out there. Lurking. Un-adapted to a Cthulhu-themed horror game. I’ve adapted two of them myself, so far. First, I put the reptile-things from “The Nameless City” into the Trail of Cthulhu corebook. William Hamblin adapted them for the Chaosium adventure “City Without a Name” but didn’t wind up compiled somehow; I re-adapted them from the story and from actual Bedouin folklore, from which I took the name “masqut” as being catchier than “reptile-things from ‘The Nameless City’”. Then, I adapted (for the first time ever, so far as I know) the titular hound-lich from “The Hound” for Bookhounds of London, as it is all of those things.

But I’m not done. I’ve got 20 more fiends, all of them at least as well-attested as the ludocanonical Dimensional Shambler or Sand-Dweller, that I’ve combed out of Lovecraft’s stories, collaborations, and poetry. (I should give a shout-out to the obsessive illustrator Michael Bukowski, whose Yog-Blogsoth series is one of my prettiest and finest combs.) And, as it happens, I’m writing a bimonthly series of expanded Lovecraftian bestiary entries called Hideous Creatures, nestled within the Ken Writes About Stuff schedule. Which leads, ineluctably, to our Buzzfeedish title.

As a special bonus for subscribers to Ken Writes About Stuff, I’ll be preparing an exclusive subscriber-only PDF. (Probably in December. For the Festival season.) This PDF will expand, adapt, and otherwise ring changes — for the first time in Lovecraft gaming history — on one of these untouched monsters. From those 20, I’ve sorted out seven promising candidates for this special PDF — and you get to vote on which one KWAS subscribers can enjoy. So let’s meet our finalists!

Bat-Thing

“But in respect of generall Infamy, no Report more terrible hath come to Notice, than of what Goodwife Doten, Relict of John Doten of Duxbury in the Old Colonie, brought out of the Woods near Candlemas of 1683. She affirmed, and her good neighbors likewise, that it had been borne that which was neither Beast nor Man, but like to a monstrous Bat with humane Face. The which was burnt by Order of the High-Sheriff on the 5th of June in the Year 1684.”

– “Of Evill Sorceries Done In New-England Of Daemons In No Humane Shape”

Black-Winged One

“All denied a part in the ritual murders, and averred that the killing had been done by Black Winged Ones which had come to them from their immemorial meeting-place in the haunted wood. But of those mysterious allies no coherent account could ever be gained.”

– “The Call of Cthulhu”

“199-Black winged thing flies into one’s house at night. Cannot be found or identified—but subtle developments ensue.”

– Commonplace Book

“When he began those night-howls we declared
He’d better be locked up away from harm,
So three men from the Aylesbury town farm
Went for him — but came back alone and scared.
They’d found him talking to two crouching things
That at their step flew off on great black wings.”

– “The Familiars”

Medusa

“Surpassing all in horror was the streaming black hair – which covered the rotting body, but which was itself not even slightly decayed. All I had heard of it was amply verified. It was nothing human, this ropy, sinuous, half-oily, half-crinkly flood of serpent darkness. Vile, independent life proclaimed itself at every unnatural twist and convolution, and the suggestion of numberless reptilian heads at the out-turned ends was far too marked to be illusory or accidental.”

– “Medusa’s Coil”

Oblong Swimmer

“‘Do you remember,’ he shouted, ‘what I told you about that ruined city in Indo-China where the Tcho-Tchos lived? You had to admit I’d been there when you saw the photographs, even if you did think I made that oblong swimmer in darkness out of wax. If you’d seen it writhing in the underground pools as I did. . . .’”

– “The Horror in the Museum”

Ultraviolet Devourer

“Things are hunting me now — the things that devour and dissolve — but I know how to elude them. … My pets are not pretty, for they come out of places where aesthetic standards are – very different. Disintegration is quite painless, I assure you — but I want you to see them. I almost saw them, but I knew how to stop.”

– “From Beyond”

Vampirish Vapor

“Out of the fungus-ridden earth steamed up a vaporous corpse-light, yellow and diseased, which bubbled and lapped to a gigantic height in vague outlines half human and half monstrous, through which I could see the chimney and fireplace beyond. It was all eyes — wolfish and mocking — and the rugose insect-like head dissolved at the top to a thin stream of mist which curled putridly about and finally vanished up the chimney. I say that I saw this thing, but it is only in conscious retrospection that I ever definitely traced its damnable approach to form. At the time, it was to me only a seething, dimly phosphorescent cloud of fungous loathsomeness, enveloping and dissolving to an abhorrent plasticity the one object on which all my attention was focussed.”

– “The Shunned House”

Worm-Cultist

“Amid these hushed throngs I followed my voiceless guides; jostled by elbows that seemed preternaturally soft, and pressed by chests and stomachs that seemed abnormally pulpy…”

– “The Festival”

Which Three Never-Adapted Lovecraft Monsters Should Ken Adapt?

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10 Responses to “Call of Chicago: Which of These 7 Never-Before-Adapted Lovecraft Monsters Is Right For You?”

  1. The Gneech says:

    I always assumed the “bat-winged ones” were byakhee, just without a label.

    -The Gneech

  2. The Gneech says:

    Er, black-winged ones, that is. Although it could work for the bat-things, too.

    -TG

  3. huth says:

    I voted for ‘Black-Winged Ones’ with the caveat that, being most notably mentioned in ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ they should help fill the gap in really Cthulhoid Cthulhoid monsters between Deep One and Star-spawn.

  4. Terry says:

    The ultraviolet devourer is the one I’d most like to see, being the most Lovecraftian IMO – the idea that monsters are constantly surrounding us, and we are only protected from them by the fact that they cannot see us. But when the universe is properly understood, the veil that protects us is ripped away and we are destroyed…

  5. […] there are still Lovecraft monsters that haven’t been worked up into game monsters by the table-top gamers. I can add another […]

    • SunlessNick says:

      The first two could easily – especially in the context of a Hideous Creatures issue – be the same critter. But as the Gneech said, they sound a lot like Byakhee (maybe some have defected from Hastur to Cthulhu).

      Pagan Publishing have done the Ultraviolet Devourer (as the Terrors from Beyond), and Chaosium have done the worm cultists (as the Crawling Ones, although they’re somewhat different).

      Out of Medusa, the Oblong Swimmer, and the Vampirish Vapour, Medusa is the one whose quote jumps out at me most.

  6. Moe Lane says:

    I will admit: I picked ‘Medusa’ because I’d like to see what Ken thinks of Cubicle Seven’s Laundry RPG.

  7. Cambias says:

    I’m interested in seeing Ken’s take on Lovecraft’s take on vampires.

  8. Alan Scott says:

    Please for the love of god do not adapt the Medusa. “The Medusa’s Coil” is almost certainly the most racist thing Lovecraft has ever written. The Cthulhu gaming canon can do without a monster that’s a metaphor for black women’s hair.

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