The Elder Sign is an icon, symbol, or rune in the Cthulhu Mythos, whose stories describe it as a form of protection against evil forces. Although not described in Lovecraft’s work, he illustrated it in correspondence as a line with five branches.
Lovecraft described the Elder Sign only once in his writings, as given by the aged alcoholic Zadok Allen in “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” (1936): “In some places they was little stones strewed about — like charms — with somethin’ on ’em like what ye call a swastika nowadays. Prob’ly them was the Old Ones’ signs.” In this story, the sign is used as a defense against Deep Ones; apparently, the Deep Ones cannot harm someone protected by an Elder Sign. However, Lovecraft is known to have drawn it in at least one of his correspondences as a single line with 5 shorter lines branching off. Mythos writer August Derleth described the Sign as a warped, five-pointed star with a flaming pillar (or eye) in its center, and it is this interpretation which has become the most popular in subsequent Mythos literature.
“The Cats of Ulthar” is a short story written by American fantasy author H. P. Lovecraft in June 1920. In the tale, an unnamed narrator relates the story of how a law forbidding the killing of cats came to be in a town called Ulthar. As the narrative goes, the city is home to an old couple who enjoy capturing and killing the townspeople’s cats. When a caravan of wanderers passes through the city, the kitten of an orphan (Menes) traveling with the band disappears. Upon hearing of the couple’s violent acts towards cats, Menes invokes a prayer before leaving town that causes the local felines to swarm the cat-killers’ house and devour them. Upon witnessing the result, the local politicians pass a law forbidding the killing of cats.
It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat; and this I can verily believe as I gaze upon him who sitteth purring before the fire. For the cat is cryptic, and close to strange things which men cannot see. He is the soul of antique Aegyptus, and bearer of tales from forgotten cities in Meroe and Ophir. He is the kin of the jungle’s lords, and heir to the secrets of hoary and sinister Africa. The Sphinx is his cousin, and he speaks her language; but he is more ancient than the Sphinx, and remembers that which she hath forgotten.
I have recently been preparing a campaign for the Call of Cthulhu Role-Playing Game. We are using the D20 book (which I am proud to say that was signed by all the folks who worked on the book, including Monte Cook) Part of the preparation was to create a blog to chronicle some of my thoughts and allow the players to get a feel for the setting of the campaign. I placed the game setting in the City of DuBois, and entitled it DUBOIS: CITY OF THE DAMNED. Apparently a few folks found this through either Facebook, or Google or bot…h and started sharing the link this weekend. I got over 8,000 unique visitors to my blog page today, and several irritated people who thought the page was “real” left amusing comments on my blog which I replied to using mostly quotes from H.P. Lovecraft in some form. Even GoDuBois.Com managed to stumble across the blog page and opened a thread about it. So yesterday, I was Orsen Welles, and my War of the Worlds infected Facebook. I am amused, and I think H.P. Lovecraft and Gary Gygax both would be proud of the nonsense. Remember, folks, the STARS ARE RIGHT.
You can read the blog page in question and the comments here.
“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming
Keep Calm and Carry On was a propaganda poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the aftermath of widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities.It had only limited distribution with no public display, and thus was little known. The poster was rediscovered in 2000, has been re-issued by a number of private companies, and has been used as the decorative theme for a range of products.
“The Call of Cthulhu” is a short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written in the summer of 1926, it was first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, in February 1928. The Cthulhu Mythos is a shared fictional universe, based on the work of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. An ongoing theme in Lovecraft’s work is the complete irrelevance of mankind in the face of the cosmic horrors that apparently exist in the universe. Lovecraft constantly referred to the “Great Old Ones“: a loose pantheon of ancient creatures and deities from space who once ruled the Earth and who have since fallen into a deathlike sleep.
The Great Old Ones are powerful, ancient creatures worshipped by deranged human cults. Many of them are made of an unearthly material with properties unlike normal matter. A Great Old One’s influence is often limited to the planet where it dwells. If it is based on a planet outside the solar system, it can only extend its influence to Earth when the star of its planetary system is in the night sky. In such cases, the help of cultists performing various rituals may be required.
This idea was first established in “The Call of Cthulhu“, in which the minds of the human characters deteriorated when afforded a glimpse of what exists outside their perceived reality. Lovecraft emphasised the point by stating in the opening sentence of the story that “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.”
The Cthulhu Mythos can easily be introduced into the Dungeons & Dragons game if a Dungeon Master wishes to do so. In fact, in 2002, Wizards of the Coast did publish a long-awaited d20 adaptation of Call of Cthulhu in one all inclusive rulebook. Elements of Lovecraft’s work have appeared over the years in numerous horror medias, but now role-players can delve into a campaign centered around the author’s popular Cthulhu Mythos. The Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game contains everything needed to play or narrate a roleplaying campaign, including all core-game rules for the d20 game system.
So if your idea of the Dungeons & Dragons game involves mysteries, dark secrets, and investigators (with modern or fantasy times) then perhaps you should check out the Call of Cthulhu genre.
Them folks in Illmarsh just ain’t right, and the trail of Whispering Way cultists the PCs are following leads right to this fetid Ustalavic swamp. Desperate townsfolk are caught between creatures from the deeps of Lake Encarthan and others from the starry realms of the Dark Tapestry. Ancient secrets, histories of sacrifice, and mind-warping creatures from beyond the stars are uncovered in this Carrion Crown Adventure Path volume written by longtime author Greg A. Vaughan. This is a place in sore need of heroes to banish the dark things lurking at the edge of sanity and madness, but they risk being consumed by the darkness themselves. Will your party shoulder the risks, knowing that there’s a chance that they might become the very things they fight against?
Battles against Lovecraftian creatures aren’t the only thing contained in this volume. Details on the cults of the Old Ones, including such familiar faces as Azathoth, Hastur, Shub-Niggurath, and Yog-Sothoh are revealed, and new Old Ones such Mhar get their own Golarion spin. Roles of various character classes are covered in this article as well, and we’ve included two new subdomains—Dark Tapestry and Stars!
Laurel Cyphra’s tales continue in this month’s Pathfinder Journal, and she finds out the dead are not the only thing to fear in Ustalav. Be sure to check her story out, and make sure your Sanity is topped off with this month’s Pathfinder Adventure Path, available right here!