Alternate Mythos Lenses

HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos have had an influence on various forms of entertainment. Many episodes of Doctor Who and Star Trek have had a Lovecraftian feel to them. The early Tom Baker episodes of Doctor Who with stories like Pyramids of Mars, Horror of Fang Rock, and Talons of Weng-Chiang have many elements to be found in the Cthulhu Mythos, like ancient aliens, god-like beings visiting the Earth, etc. Star Trek had references to the Old Ones placed by Robert Bloch in What Are Little Girls Made Of and many episodes dealt with the remnants of previous interstellar empires - the Iconians, known as "Demons of Air and Darkness" come especially to mind.

And looking at the Mind Flayers of Dungeons and Dragons one cannot help but find influences from Lovecraft.

What I've found rather interesting is those settings which go beyond mere influence from the Cthulhu Mythos but embrace their cosmos in its entirety yet put their own unique perspective on them.

One of the best known is the Delta Green setting as published by Pagan Publishing. It takes as its starting point the US Government's raid on Innsmouth, Massachusetts in 1928. The premise is after being made aware of alien beings such as the Deep Ones, would the government simply forget about the whole thing? In the Delta Green setting the answer to this is no. In the aftermath of World War II this organization becomes official as Delta Green. However, it runs afoul of a rival government organization, Majestic-12. Eventually it is disbanded but nevertheless continues to exist as a conspiracy within the US government working against the Cthulhu Mythos. It has a very 1990s "the truth is out there" feel, though it actually slightly predated The X-Files by a year (confession - The X-Files is one of those bits of popular culture that I just never could quite get into). Characters in a Delta Green campaign are working against the Mythos from various organizations within the government, working in cells and unaware of who else might be in the organization. Though a new incarnation is being worked on by Pagan Publishing which will be its own RPG (currently it is realized as fiction and supplements to the Call of Cthulhu RPG) in which in the post-9/11 world Delta Green regains its official status within the government.


Another lens that goes even farther is Charles Stross' Laundry Files. Now technically it isn't fully in the cosmos as created by HP Lovecraft, but it is in one extremely close to it. To quote Stross:
The Laundryverse is not exactly the Lovecraftverse; HPL himself is going to show up as a character in a future story (and be seen to be a dangerously flawed correspondent).
This setting has many of the mainstays of the Chulhu Mythos. You've got your Deep Ones (which have signed a treaty with humanity, though most of humanity is unaware of this). Nyarlathotep is out there. And you've got your mad cultists and evil sorcerers. The big addition is that of computational demonology. Basically, magic spells aren't really magic, they are advanced mathematical equations that can connect universes, perform summonings, provide protection, etc. This is very much in keeping with the science fiction aspect of Lovecraft's writings and in accordance with Clarke's Law of any sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic. While in the past your sorcerer might pour over tomes for decades to learn how to cast a spell, an app on your smartphone can do the job far easier and far faster. Many computer scientists and mathematicians get pulled into the world of computational demonology, where some program or theorem they develop accidentally alters reality. The Laundry is a part of the British Civil Service, an odd crossover of The Office, Delta Green, and the works of John le Carré. Agents of the Laundry are must deal both with bureaucracy and the Old Ones. There's a sort of dark humor to this. Cubicle 7 has published The Laundry RPG along with several supplements. It uses a form of Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying System, the same system which powers Call of Cthulhu.

Chaosium itself has published Cthulhu Invictus, a take on the Cthulhu Mythos at the time of the early Roman Empire. While the Mythos are largely unchanged, the society is very different. This is not a civilization that has a difficult time believing in the supernatural. Richard Tierney's stories about the sorcerer Simon Magus, who appeared in the Acts of the Apostles, are set during this era. This setting offers many possible frameworks, such as citizens of Palestine, self-interested sorcerers, Roman soldiers facing the Mythos, etc.

This is just scratching the surface of some of the lenses that have been used to view the Mythos - should time and inclination point in that direction, I'd like to go deeper into these and others at a point in the future (heck I'd like to run a game in all of these I've listed here...(

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