Friday, October 16, 2009

Carcosa and "The King in Yellow"

I'm a story and a half into The King in Yellow, having already read The Yellow Sign in an anthology, and already my imagination fevered with unspeakable visions and unwholesome inspirations.

I've already been tossing around this idea of the setting presented in Supplement V: Carcosa being a post-"Call of Cthulhu"-apocalypse setting. The investigators all died or went mad, the stars were right, Nyarlathotep does his Randall Flagg routine and pre-maddens the population before Cthulhu rises and utterly destroys humanity's works and minds. The blasphemous prehuman races run wild on an utterly reshaped planet and eventually, millions of years later, Earth is now Carcosa.

While reading The Repairer of Reputations this idea emerges that Carcosa is this parallel reality, located in "The Abyss," "Outside," "The Outer Dark," what have you. And it's trying to pull Earth into it. Trying to bring about a reality-shattering apocalypse. I'm coming around to the idea of the King in Yellow being an aspect of Nyarlathotep, with the spreading madness and all (admittedly that is par for the course with pretty much any one of the sanity-blasting Mythos big-boys) and I'm never been that fond of Hastur.

Does Leng serve as a gate between our Earth and Carcosa? The High Priest Not to Be Described appears to very much resemble The King in Yellow.


  1. Hastur is problematic. As you note, the King in Yellow aspect is very similar to Nyarlathotep, and Hastur itself is rather poorly described, particularly in gaming materials. All of which led me to reinvent the whole Hastur mythos for my Call of Cthulhu game, but it's a bit too involved to go into here!

    I really like the idea of a Cthulhoid post-apocalypse. There are hints of something similar in the Hellboy comics (and a brief glimpse in the first film too).

  2. The weird thing about the Cthulhoid post-apocalypse is that it's often referred to, but almost never that would be "survival horror!"

    What issue of Hellboy? I don't think I have got to it yet, going to have to watch the movie for the brief post-apoc content.

  3. I think there's potential in a post-Cthulhu game, but I don't think you could do it with CoC itself as it's too bleak; something with more of a pulpy, high-adventure feel would be much more palatable.

    The Hellboy movie only has a very brief snippet of the post-Ogru Jahad future, literally only seconds, but we see a bit more of it in the BPRD comics; Liz Sherman has a number of psychic episodes involving glimpses of the potential future. It's mainly giant Cthulhoid entities striding across the land, with Deep Ones running free amongst the ruins of civilisation, picking off those humans unlucky enough to be out in the open. I'm about to hit my CoC players with a similar vision, just to let them know what's in store if they don't defeat the villains. ;)

  4. I guess "A Colder War" by Charles Stross is about the Cthulhu-pocalypse as it's happening.

    And there's "In the Mouth of Madness," which deals briefly with a Cthulhu-pocalypse at the end.

    Gordon R. Dickson's "Necromancer" deals with occultists trying to bring about a "reality crash" which I imagine a Cthulhu-pocalypse would involve, at least on the human's perception of the event side of things.

    Some savvy designer should send a proposal to Chaosium about doing a post-Cthulhu-pocalypse sourcebook...

  5. And I think a straight CoC/bleak version of the post-apocalypse would be appropriate, there's a fair amount of supernatural apocalypse material, such as zombie movies, that deal with the "doomed protagonists" motiff.

    You know your going to die horribly or become one of the gibbering mindless savage wretches of the eternal Kali Yuga, the struggle is to hold onto whatever last scraps of humanity and maybe effect some form of retaliation before your doom.

    I'm imagining surviving USAF members battling through the hell on earth trying to cobble together nuclear strikes against R'yleh and so forth.

  6. There's a Monograph setting called Cthulhu Adventus which is set After The Mythos Wins, so I suppose it can be done, but it's a bit bleak for me, I think. I prefer the doomed heroism of the basic game, or a more gonzo post-apocalypse of the Carcosa sort.