Most Horrific Creatures
The following was submitted by Chuck Z.:
Peter Devlin quipped:
Dustin Wright answered:
If I were to pick just One, I think I would have to pick Ghouls.
At least some of them were once human like ourselves! If my understanding of them is correct, then any of us could be transformed regardless of our geneology. Becoming such a creature myself, is more disturbing to my mind than meeting a race from another Star, Time, or Dimension. Even if that other critter is going to eat me alive.
I also find Ghouls fascinating of course.
I'm also quite fond of Gugs.
Here''s to the Ghuls!
Steve Dustin added:
I also have a soft spot for Shugoran, from "Black Man with a Horn." TED Klein sure made the Tcho-Tchos particularly evil, especially when the missionary mentioned how they GREW something in some poor guy's throat . . .
When he shuddered I shuddered.
Still, Cthulhu will always lead the pack. Why? Because, before I read "Call of Cthulhu" (my favorite Lovecraft of all time) I just never saw things from that perspective before.
Ricardo Mendez answered:
Wisdom from Don, Acolyte of Tular-who-waits-for-the-falling-of-the-moons:
(On a related tangent), Watching this season's X-Files I was reminded that one of the essential elements of horror is the viewer's (reader's, player's) imagination. As a keeper, you are far better off *hinting* at something horrific than actually describing it (a common HPL technique). Your job is to set the scene: talk about lighting, sounds, sights, and smells. Your voice can act as the 'inner voice' of the PC's. Pretend you are the investigators for a moment, and tell them what their thoughts might be within the context of your descriptions. A simple phrase will do; by rambling on, the mood will be lost.
You are the conduit between that which you imagine, and that which they imagine. Translate your visions and interpret theirs.
Laura Bruce added:
Brian Sammonds answered:
Christopher Lee offered the following insight:
Absolutely! I think a lot of the horrific aspect of the mythos is the sheer unexpectedness. Ordinary people glimpse behind the veil of mundane existence, and wham! a hideous monstrosity that shouldn't exist.
This is diluted by the sort of "oh yeah it's only a byakhee. I'll just blow it away with my shotgun!", or conversely the player who knows to much: "that little black guy in the Egyptian get-up it might be Nyarlothotep, let's run!".
I have found that the best way to get around this is not to explicitly describe any creature. This has two useful outcomes. First I think it is more realistic: you are confronted by a hideous being that every fibre of your body tells you should not exist. I would think you would panic and try to blank it out, not stop to count the fingers on each hand, its exact height, etc. This also means the investigators can never be too sure, many creatures are similar. Say it is man-sized and has no body hair. Could be a ghoul, a dimensional shambler, a byakhee, etc. This cuts down on the players who know too much, as they can't be certain and it might be a fatal error to jump to conclusions.
On a related note I seldom apply the rule where you lose less sanity for monsters you have seen before. I treat most encounters in a way which doesn't allow this understanding and insight. They are shadowy affairs and don't leave enough detail to work like this. However, if the PCs have scoured every text and fully understand the thing(s) they are dealing with, I will allow this. But I think it ought to be linked to a lowering of the maximum sanity, just like gaining mythos knowledge, because that's exactly what it is! You may not read a book, but if you've seen this many monsters of a certain type you are gaining some real insight.
ALL mythos monsters ought to be horrific. I don't mean in a physical sense, many might look pleasing to the eye, like normal people, etc. It is the fact of what they represent, the sanity blasting conclusions that their existence and actions reveal to investigators that make them horrific. Is an attack by a great white any less traumatic and horrible than being savaged by a dimensional shambler? Yes, but only because you know about great whites, it's natural and fits your understanding of the world. A dimensional shambler is utterly alien, wrong and should shock you to your very core in a way no terrestrial creature could. Why else does the Black Pharoah have a d100 san losss? Because if you know what it is you will go gibbering mad!
Ricardo Mendez answered:
Me too and I agree completely with your analysis. Nevertheless, I do allow it also on the case where the being is recognizable as what they are, say zombies or Gnoph-keh, and I don't use it on horrible, unstoppable things like shoggots.
Peter Devlin replied:
I am in agreement with Brian on this, ghouls are an underrated Mythos creature for gaming purposes. Some PCs in our campaign have survived quite a few Mythos encounters including 'Shadows of Yog Sothoth'. Imagine my surprise when a relatively recent, lengthy (but rip-roaring) scenario involving cannibal underground dwellers (sic) in New York produced 3 dead PCs, 2 insane PCs and 1 pregnant PC.
Do other GM's avoid using ghouls because of their too-humanoid appearance? Or their rather comic meeping? Or the fact that they often appear in fiction as 'allies'? Or the player reaction of "Hey, it's just a group of ghouls!"? Personally I never use creature names when gaming. I'm curious because I share Brian's opinion that ghouls are a first class resource, one of the Mythos creatures that is closest to humanity but yet very different from us.
Ricardo Mendez asked:
Is this the scenario that you have asked input for? Besides the score, what was the final outcome? How is it developing with the pregnant female investigator?
Mark S added:
Never use creature names : let the suckers, er, I mean players, figure it out for themselves...
I'm just running John Crowe's "The Realm of Shadows" with my players - it's a really great campaign set in 1940 with a ghoul cult as the main protagonists. So far we've played about 12 hours total (2 sessions). Now, these players are a 50/50 mix of good role-players (into traditional CoC) vis a vis some "shoot it up merchants" (new to CoC), so I've been very careful not to let on anything about the nature of the threat. This has nicely led to some real fear of the unknown, even with the old hands. There was a great scene in the last game as the PC's came to the faulty conclusion that there were werewolves loose in the woods, and set off armed with a paper bag of pig's offal as bait and some rifles, thinking to conceal themselves up some trees : needless to say some-one fell both asleep and out of the aforementioned trees, straight into the offal. Talk about the panic to scramble back up ! The ensuing argument between the characters escalated back to the topic of"who's fault it was that [villain of scenario intro] got away", there was a brief exchange of small calibre rounds, and a mass fistfight. And all this just before the Bear (who was investigating the nice smell of blood) turned up on the scene...
End results : no werewolves, one PC with the start of a gun phobia, numerous light wounds, oh, and a dead bear. Its forced the players to use their brains and review the evidence, and they are only now starting to whisper the word "ghoul" to each other (when they think I'm not listening..).
Next Friday ((May 5th) will probably see them heading graveyard way, with a little trepidation...
Slight change of track (still on "Realm") : I feel that there is a marked lack of PC motivation between episode one ("Kith and Kin") and part two ("Provider of the God"). To some extent I've solved this by having [initial "villain"] get away with [their] evil plan, and this has given me an excuse to get the PC's hired by [certain innocent person's] relatives to find said "murderer/kidnapper" (and led the players to want to get some vengeance).
Has anyone else who's run this scenario any helpful hints or experiences to help me drive along the (excellent) plot ?
Peter Devlin replied:
>> How is it developing with the pregnant female investigator?
>And what makes you so sure it was a _FEMALE_ investigator??
>*Wanders off muttering "hmmm! now _THAT_ would be interesting!*
During the scenario in question the PCs discovered an imprisoned group of pregnant victims of the evil Bishops, which included 3 men. Yes, it was most interesting indeed to see all the male players staring at one another in shock and horror. For some reason the thought of male PCs being captured and impregnated (made host to) scared the hell out of them. Can't think why, unless it was due to the lack of available birth canal for the child-thing :-)
The pregnant female investigator unfortunately had to be committed to an insane asylum, from which the PCs 'removed her' to take her home to her people in Montana. She has recently given birth although none of the other PCs know of this - some of them are in Antarctica, the rest are headed for Africa.
David Lewis added:
That, or they were fathers who had been present at the birth of their _own_ children, and knew what was coming!
Chuck Z added:
Uhoh, I hope for your sake you're not one of those "Sensitives" described in Call of Cthulhu.
What's this? I have recently picked up that book and would be very interested in joining this list. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
Ricardo Mendez answered:
><< Walker in the Wastes mailing list >>
>What's this? I have recently picked up that book and would be very
>interested in joining this list. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
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