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Few Lovecraftian inspirations from the real life and beliefs

Adeptus

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The article is intended primarily for Game Masters who play games in settings inspired by Lovecraft’s works. However, I hope that other fans of cosmic horror will also find something for themselves here. The interesting facts presented here may also be entertaining for people who do not know the work of The Loner of Providence, but some of the references may be unclear to them.
The article contains several anecdotes – either from real history or from beliefs that exist in the real world, and suggestions on how they can be related to the Cthulhu mythology.
So read about:
  • Sea Peoples, bane of ancient civilizations,
  • a forgotten Eldritch abomination from Greek mythology,
  • Jan Twardowski, the first man on the Moon,
  • mathematicians and physicists who wanted to know the structure of reality and lost their minds,
  • one of the most mysterious characters from the Bible and a dark, occult ritual that underlies monotheism.
Invasion of the Sea Peoples
Ancient, super-advanced, fallen civilizations are one of the favorite motifs of fantasy. And truth be told, something similar happened in real history. Of course, in reality, the fallen civilizations did not have sci-fi supertechnology at their disposal, but their collapse still led to great destabilization. We are talking about the invasion of the so-called Sea Peoples, which took place at the turn of the 13th and 12th centuries BC. The Sea Peoples are mobile and warlike groups of people of unknown origin. They caused the collapse of several advanced cultures, including: Mycenaean and Hittite. Only the Egyptians managed to defeat them in a great battle. Well, the material for Lovecraftian inspiration is obvious. A mysterious army, coming out of nowhere, called the „Sea Peoples”, leading to the fall of the most powerful human civilizations at that time? Let us add that, according to some historians, the descendants of the Sea Peoples destroyed by the Egyptians were the Philistines. Yes, the same Philistines, one of whose main deities was the well-known Dagon to Lovecraftomaniacs… Deep Ones say hello. Let us also add that, according to Egyptian records, the tribes of the Sea Peoples had names such as Ekvesh, Teresh, Lucki, Sherden, Shekelesh, Tekel and Peleset. Sounds suitably dark, blasphemous and filthy? If we want to dig deeper, one of the pharaohs who ruled Egypt was Akhenaten – yes, that heretic who tried to replace the worship of traditional Egyptian gods with the religion of the Aten and who is very much liked by conspiracy theorists.
Let’s add to the mix that Middle Eastern cultures had quite a negative attitude towards the sea as such. Babylonian Marduk had to defeat the giant monsters of Chaos – Apsu and Tiamat, personifications of fresh and salt waters, respectively. The Bible also contains traces of the myth about the fight between Yahweh and Leviathan, and the Book of Revelation, describing the new, ideal world, emphasizes that „I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”
Let’s assume that the players are researchers of an antiquity – historians, archaeologists, etc. They conduct research on the Sea Peoples. Of course, as common sense dictates, they assume that these were human warriors. However, as time goes on, more and more evidence appears that they were not completely human again, and the evidence of their monstrosity becomes increasingly difficult to put down to the demonization that Egyptian chroniclers used against their enemies… It becomes clear that an onslaught of inhuman and semi-human monsters came from the sea. , trying to conquer the world of that time. Moreover, after their defeat at the hands of the Egyptians, this species did not become extinct, but instead of open conquest it switched to cautious infiltration. Perhaps the Deep Ones have spies in academia who are tasked with eliminating historians who find the trail of truth…
Oh, one more interesting fact connecting the history of the Sea Peoples with Lovecraft. Well, as we know, HPL liked to use the term „Cyclopean” for huge, monumental buildings. At least he didn’t come up with it himself. Well, when the later (and at first more primitive) inhabitants, the Dorians, saw the ruins of destroyed castles left by the Mycenaean culture, they came to the conclusion that such huge buildings could not have been built by human hands, so they were probably the work of mythical giants – cyclopes.
Typhon – a classic but forgotten abomination
Modern works drawing on Greek mythology usually make Hades (completely senseless) or Kronos (a little more) the Big Bad, but they forget about Zeus’s greatest enemy – Typhon. After defeating the titans and then the gigants, the Olympian gods had to face the main boss on the way to dominating the world – Typhon. Here is an example of its description: It was larger than the largest mountains, its head touched the stars. When he stretched out his hands, one reached the eastern ends of the world and the other reached the western ends. Instead of fingers, he had a hundred dragon heads. From the waist down he had a tangle of vipers (yay, tentacles!) and wings at his shoulders. His eyes were shooting out flames. In other versions of the myth, Typhon was a flying, hundred-headed dragon. In any case – appearance and stature worthy of the Great Old One. Typhon attacked Olympus, and all the gods except Zeus fled in panic. The supreme god took up the fight… and lost it. Only in the second duel did he manage to defeat Typhon, but not kill him – he only imprisoned him, hitting him with Etna. In the sense of a mountain. A volcano – and volcanic activity is the result of Typhon’s anger, trying to break free.
Typhon equaled the lord of heaven not only in strength, but in fertility. His wife was Echidna, about whom Hesiod wrote: „She also gave birth to another creature, invincible, huge, unlike neither men nor immortal gods, in a hollow cave – the divine violent Echidna, half a sharp-eyed young girl, with beautiful cheeks, half a huge snake, a great and powerful, spotted, cruel – in the depths of the holy land. This pair spawned many, if not most, of the monsters found in Greek mythology. Their offspring were very diverse and strange, as befits the spawn of enemies of the divine order, including:
– Ladon, the hundred-headed dragon who never slept and guarded the apples that gave immortality,
– Cerberus – we all know the dog guarding the gates of hell… but not all of us know that, according to some accounts, it had not three heads, but as many as 50, it was also covered with scales, and it had a snake by its tail… so what does this have to do with a dog?
– Scylla – this lady inherited the most from the human, beautiful part of Echidna… at least initially, but eventually, as a result of various perturbations, she turned from a beautiful nymph to her siblings, becoming a six-headed sea beast, so hideous, according to Homer, that even the gods could not stand sight of her – she dwelt in a cave, from where she opened her mouth to devour the crews of ships,
– Gorgons – I mean, those ladies with snake hair, not monstrous bulls. Medusa was one of them – the story that Athena turned her priestess into a monster as punishment for being raped by Poseidon is an invention of later poets,
– Lernaean Hydra – a multi-headed monster with many reptilian or human heads. In place of each severed head, two others grew, and in addition, the main head was completely immortal – therefore, after chopping off the mortal heads, Heracles had to burn the stumps and bury the immortal, still hissing head underground. Hydra’s breath was poisonous.
– various other creatures, such as the Sphinx, the dog Ortus, the Nemean Lion or the Chimera.
Each of these descendants has the potential to be portrayed as an Eldritch abomination in its own right. To be precise – according to some accounts, the father of these creatures (and Echidna herself) was Typhon, but a monstrous, ancient (older than Poseidon) sea god, Phorcys.
How to use Typhon? Well, Typhon clearly has the potential to be a Great Old One, imprisoned by… Nodens? Some other Elder God? Weak gods of humanity? Maybe his cult is trying to free him from Etna? What if he succeeds? What might distinguish Typhon from many other Great Old Ones? I would recommend focusing on his monster progenitor aspect – if he manages to reunite with Echidna, they will immediately start spawning various blasphemous beasts in series.
Jan Twardowski – the first man on the Moon
Jan (John) Twardowski, the hero of the legend, a Polish nobleman who allegedly sold his soul to the devil and became a sorcerer. Probably a historical figure, according to legend he lived in the 16th century and became famous for summoning the spirit of the deceased queen for King Sigismund Augustus. The ghost allegedly appeared in the mirror. This mirror is still kept in the church in Węgrów. According to legend, when the terms of the pact were fulfilled, devils came to kidnap Twardowski to hell. Interestingly, instead of taking the sorcerer’s soul after death, the most material demons appeared and grabbed Twardowski in order to kidnap him bodily, alive… and instead of heading towards the underground, which in legends is considered the traditional place of residence of demons and damned souls, they began to carry away up with him. At some point, Twardowski started singing religious songs, which caused the demons to escape, leaving him on the Moon, where he is said to have stayed ever since. Could the “demons” actually be extraterrestrials? Maybe mi-go? Maybe Twardowski was their agent and obtained secret knowledge and technology from them that gave him the fame of a sorcerer? As part of his studies, did he acquire knowledge of a system of sounds („religious songs”) that was able to drive away his masters when they decided that his usefulness on Earth had ended and it was time to transport him to a space base where he would be transformed into a brain in jar? Or was transportation to the Moon part of the deal from the beginning? Oh, one more interesting fact – according to legends, Twardowski used to use a rooster as a horse, which he enlarged with his magic. It’s easy to imagine an abomination that, in the eyes of laymen, might have resembled a large rooster…
Examples of scenario hooks:
– Twardowski’s secret mirror is still in the church in Węgrów. The local priest thinks it is just other „pagan” superstitions, but in fact it is a tool enabling contact with cosmic beings and higher realities. It may prove useful to players if they convince the priest to give it back or simply steal it.
– Players are looking for Twardowski’s notes to gain knowledge about the „song” thanks to which he drove away mi-go (or other creatures that became the prototype of the „devils” from the legend). The so-called Twardowski’s „School” or „Cathedral” was located in a quarry near Kraków. In fact, at the end of the 19th century, during the construction of the church of St. Józef, a cave showing traces of alchemical experiments was discovered… And it was destroyed. But perhaps there is a second, secret laboratory under the cave that escaped destruction? And there lie Twardowski’s secrets… And again, potential obstacles may be placed by the local parish priest. But not only him. Maybe Twardowski’s legendary „rooster” lies dormant in the laboratory and was left by the sorcerer as a guard?
– players are astronauts on the Moon. However, it turns out that someone lives here, someone who was not detected by previous expeditions and probes. Will Twardowski prove to be an ally in the fight against cosmic horrors? Or maybe their agent, or an independent villain? If he survived this long on the Moon thanks to blasphemous secrets, it’s possible that he had little humanity left…
The rest of the text is avalaible (of course, for free) here: https://adeptusrpg.wordpress.com/20...ftian-inspiration-form-real-life-and-beliefs/
 

Arnox

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I was never personally into Lovecraft stuff. It's either a genuinely gross monster, in which case, I'm not interested, or it's a so-horrible-I-cannot-describe-it-the-insanity-is-too-great monster, in which case, I'm bored. Sometimes, the basic motivations given to the Lovecraftian entities also make no sense whatsoever, even from a purely animalistic perspective.

Then again... I was also never a horror fan in general either, so my opinion is probably literally invalid here.
 
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