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Relationship of Old Ones - Great Old Ones - Outer Gods - and Elder Gods ?


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#1 Rosh87

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 06:54 AM

I'm still relatively new to the Cthulhu / Lovecraftian Mythos....so I have several questions about the central Mythos monstrous entities that I hope you guys can clarify.

- Okay - so I understand there are the "categories" of "Ancient Ones" - to use the catch-all term the LCG gives these creatures...that I listed in the title for this thread/posting....but how do they all interact and what are their power-levels relative to each other ?

 

Old Ones - I assume this is the catch-all term for many of the ancient monsters that sleep/wait on Earth or other planets / areas in the Mythos ?   Like...this Mnomquah - giant lizard card in the Dreamlands cycle for the LCG....he is pretty strong...but lacks the Invulnerability (game term) that many of the "bigger - and I presume more powerful" Old Ones have...

So I assume beings like him....Bokrug (Great Water Lizard)....and several others ARE "Old Ones" - technically speaking...but don't rise to the level of "Great"-Old Ones.....   is this correct ?

 

Great Old Ones - In this category, I assume, are massively powerful entitites like Cthulhu, Shub-Niggurath, Hastur....etc.      I assume Y'Golonac is also considered a Great Old One....but maybe he's only a "regular Old One" - who simply has "Invulnerability" as part of his special powers in the card game ?

Great Old Ones are several magnitudes of power beyond the other Old Ones represented in the Mythos (in my understanding of things) - and are the ones that most of the cults on earth tend to direct their worship to.     Dagon and Mother Hydra (Deep One deities) - may be Great Old Ones - that are simply trapped/living beneath the sea...or they might be "regular Old Ones'" - in the same role....I'm not sure where they fit into the Mythos "power hierarchy".

 

Outer Gods -  These guys include almighty Azathoth....Yog-Sothoth....and Nyarlothotep (as the messenger of the Outer Gods) - from what I understand.... these beings are "supposed" to be more powerful than the imprisoned Great Old Ones and lesser Old Ones ....if I am correct ?

Also.. I am confused by the exact "point/goals/aims" of the Outer Gods .... like...what do they want with Earth and humanity, if anything ?   It seems the Great Old Ones are more sinister and "evil" in their aims and feelings on people...but do Azathoth or Yog-Sothoth, for example, actually "care" about things happening on earth - or what humans think of them / worship towards them - etc ?

Additionally....if Yog-Sothoth is an Outer God...and a being more powerful than sleeping Cthulhu, and the other Great Old Ones, what is his role in the Mythos ?  I have heard him called "The Key and the Gate" - but am not sure what they mean by this ?    Apparently he has massive knowledge of the past - present - and future - in some way, and "knows the places where the Great Old Ones sleep....and where they will try to break free once again" - like the secret areas of "weakness" in the mortal plane where the GOO's can be freed. 

But is this something Yog and the other Outer Gods actually want....or are they actively opposed to the GOO's ever waking up again and will try to stop human cults who are trying to raise them ?    

Also...can something like Yog-Sothoth or Nyarlathotep actually exist in their "true monstrous forms" - while on Earth / physical plane - or do they only appear in smaller "human-sized" avatars, like Nyarl. and his "Black Pharaoh" guise .... ?

 

 

Elder Gods - these are apparently different from the Outer Gods, and are somehow "good" deities - who actually don't want to see humanity be destroyed.  They may not be "directly good" - but I have read they basically are content to let the world turn - so to speak - and will not interfere to control or dominate humanity as the GOO's and Outer Gods (Nyarl in particular) are likely to do .....  

Are these entities somehow related to the Outer Gods ?  - or are they completely separate and different in goals / power-level / etc....  ?

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Thanks to all who can offer some explanation of these areas to me !



#2 TheProfessor

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 10:35 AM

 You've got the general idea correct.  Some of these terms were not written by Lovecraft, but rather associated by other writers or analysts.  For exmple, the Outer Gods were actually called "Other Gods" by Lovecraft.  And although in general the Outer Gods are more powerful than the Great Old Ones, there is a fuzzy boundary between them in Lovecraft writings.

One thing we have to accept is that Lovecraft really didn't try all that hard to make a coherent mythos. There are holes and contradictions throughout the work - it's not like Tolkein. 

Azathoth is the boss of the Outer Gods.  He's in the center of the universe and holds court there where the Outer Gods come to hang out and dance around to some demonic flute playing.  Yog-Sothoth is like the vice-president of the universe.  Yog exists at all places and at all times simultaneously, but somehow is locked outside the mundane universe.  Yog might be more powerful than Azathoth though.

Why are they messing with us?  Well I figure they are inscrutable!



#3 Rosh87

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 12:28 PM

But do the Outer Gods (like Yog-Sothoth) - actually WANT the Great Old Ones to revive and destroy humanity....or are they (and their human agents - like Yog worshippers) - actually OPPOSED to that and trying to stop the G-O-O's revival ?

Like....by mentioning that Yog is the "Key and the Gate" - it seems to imply that he is in some way stopping / or a means to stop - the return of the GOO's....if he's actually an Outer God, and on a different level of power (overall) then Cthulhu or Hastur (for example) - then it seems likely he would not favor their coming back to earth / material plane - as their Cultists might want them to ?

So what is Yog's actual role in that dynamic, then ?    Do he and Azathoth - for example - actually "care" about what is happening on earth, or are they mostly uncaring // chaotic-neutral (to use D+D alignment terms) in regards to the planet ?   (whereas Cthulhu, Hastur, Y'Golonac, etc - are mostly Chaotic Evil, if you were to assign Alignments to them)

 

 



#4 Hellfury

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 11:47 PM

Rosh87 said:

 

But do the Outer Gods (like Yog-Sothoth) - actually WANT the Great Old Ones to revive and destroy humanity....or are they (and their human agents - like Yog worshippers) - actually OPPOSED to that and trying to stop the G-O-O's revival ?

Like....by mentioning that Yog is the "Key and the Gate" - it seems to imply that he is in some way stopping / or a means to stop - the return of the GOO's....if he's actually an Outer God, and on a different level of power (overall) then Cthulhu or Hastur (for example) - then it seems likely he would not favor their coming back to earth / material plane - as their Cultists might want them to ?

So what is Yog's actual role in that dynamic, then ?    Do he and Azathoth - for example - actually "care" about what is happening on earth, or are they mostly uncaring // chaotic-neutral (to use D+D alignment terms) in regards to the planet ?   (whereas Cthulhu, Hastur, Y'Golonac, etc - are mostly Chaotic Evil, if you were to assign Alignments to them)

 

 

 

Yog Sothoth nor Azathoth care for anything as their agendas are mysterious and yet ambivalent towards humanity. They neither care nor hate.

Lets take Yog Sothoth for example since it can be given anthropomorthic attributes unlike Azathoth who is just a roiling mass of insanity at the center of the universe (and who is not as frequently mentioned).

In Through the Gates of the Silver Key, Hoffman and Lovecraft gave Yog Sothoth a way to be understood by humanity (Randolph Carter) and even gives apparently benign guidance to Carter. Counter this with Yog Sothoth of the Dunwich Horror, who only wishes to subjugate the Earth through it's progeny.

To put it another way, Lovecraft defied Derleth's attempt to classify everything into tidy packages, because (and this is my own supposition) he felt that any alien thought patterns should lie well outside of human understanding. The fact that great mysteries of such magnitude would destroy human sanity; and as we see in Lovecraft's tales, this is indeed the general outcome of humans who delve too deeply in such things. I believe that lends credence to my theory. Ignorance being humanity's only protection against such dread.

The reference of Yog Sothoth being "The Key and The Gate" is am implication that he is coterminous with all time and space. He is both Here and not here at the exact same time. Time and space are not relevant to Yog Sothoth. The passage in The Dunwich Horror is the most revealing:

"Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth's fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread."

Their actual place isn't meant to be understood. Its intentionally ambiguous to let the human mind wonder at their possible roles and know dread because their depth cannot be fathomed. This is why Lovecraft is so successful. As intricately descriptive as his writing are, his writing is conspicuously devoid of clear cut explanations of What Lies within the Spaces Between that exert influence on humanity.



#5 Rosh87

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 01:52 AM

Nice reply Hellfury - !   Very well said....and I love the D-Horror reference / quote.   The dark mystery is part of the "chilling" nature of the Mythos that is interesting to me.   I guess I just am trying to figure out the overall interests / goals of many of these entities - relative to each other.


Like...Bokrug... or Mnomquah....do they ally with Cthulhu and support he (and his cultist factions) goals for destruction or subjugation of humanity ? - - or are they completely separate and unaligned (despite the faction they are given in the CoC-LCG we play) ?

And...are there ever Lovecraftian (or other writers) stories of interaction (directly) between various Old Ones // Great Old Ones ?  - like...is there ever a story where Y'Golonac battles Hastur....or where  Nyarlathotep fights or encounters Dagon or Hydra, etc - ?    Like...are these creatures even AWARE that there are others (like them) active on earth (in one form or another) and with their own interests / goals - etc ?    

 



#6 Hellfury

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 02:59 AM

Rosh87 said:

Like...Bokrug... or Mnomquah....do they ally with Cthulhu and support he (and his cultist factions) goals for destruction or subjugation of humanity ? - - or are they completely separate and unaligned (despite the faction they are given in the CoC-LCG we play) ?

 

From what I understand, they are unaligned more or less with a few exceptions.

Nyarlathotep being the most glaring exception. Being the "Soul and Messenger of the Outer/Other Gods" which I take to mean the avatar of a particular outer/other god when they manifest.

A few of the beings in the stories align themselves to the outer/other gods themselves, such as Mi-Go which give reverence to Nyarlathotep and Shub Niggurath. Its kind of a jumble though and again never clealy defined.

Elder Things supposedly created Shoggoths, but these very same Shoggoths are tools used by the minions of Cthulhu in some tales. Often times they contradict each other when you take Lovecraft's stories as a full body of work.

I dont recall any gods fighting each other in Kaiju fashion, but they do influence each other's machinations in some ways, or often you only know of the end result of a conflict, such as Cthulhu being entombed by the Elder Gods for some reason or other. Or like Nyarlathotep's Shantak carrying Carter towards Azathoth but redirected by Nodens to return him back to Kingsport.



#7 Cap8tin

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 09:53 PM

Maybe Lord Dunsany has some answers on this topic about the different mythos beings origins and relationships. I have not read all of the Lovecraft stories however it is evident that the Old Ones are willing to support a secretive cult that will never die until the Old Ones are resurrected. You have in some of the stories the two worlds reality where the supernatural is able to be superimposed upon the setting where than some mythos characters do appear until the narrator escapes. Yog Sothoth was adhered to in the Dunwich Horror however Wilbur needed to confirm some discrepancy existing in copies of books, so it was as if they were trying to learn how to invoke something, he and his growing menace that is. Nyarlathotep was a man and he was able to interact with people, so it is a real jumble of characters all with threatening powers. The Old Ones were going to teach man new ways to kill and be free. The cult must fuel a dark destiny in the cult member. The mad Arab recorded what is a reference, but the book exists in separate worlds and was copied. It is as if the setting is held together but evil does appear to take form for a duration. The mythos would be dispelled if there was not any more speculation, but it remains a mythos until the evil entities prevail, as it is apparently their will to return.



#8 dboeren

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 06:22 AM

I think it's important to keep in mind that the whole point of Lovecraft's mythos was that there are things out there beyond human understanding.  This pretty much precludes our ability to try to put these beings into neatly labelled boxes, all we can do is act on our impressions of what we think they're like based on extremely limited information which is often gotten secondhand at that.

I would also add that our entire recorded history of contact with these beings is more or less an eyeblink in their terms.  That means we're not really getting to know them, just seeing their moods at one particular instant in time.  To put it in perspective, let's say you were contacted for a fraction of a second by some tiny insignificant peoples.  Maybe they got you when you were late for work, and you'd seem like a cranky god.  Or they might contact you right after a nice meal, and you're seen as mellow.  Or they could even make contact an instant before you had to sneeze, and you'd seem rather distracted and incoherent because you can't concentrate on anything else.

While from what we know, your summary seems more or less on target, it's still just a glimpse of the bigger picture and we don't really know why these beings act the way they do or what they really want.



#9 Shangfu

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 08:25 AM

dboeren said:

I think it's important to keep in mind that the whole point of Lovecraft's mythos was that there are things out there beyond human understanding.  This pretty much precludes our ability to try to put these beings into neatly labelled boxes, all we can do is act on our impressions of what we think they're like based on extremely limited information which is often gotten secondhand at that.

I would also add that our entire recorded history of contact with these beings is more or less an eyeblink in their terms.  That means we're not really getting to know them, just seeing their moods at one particular instant in time.  To put it in perspective, let's say you were contacted for a fraction of a second by some tiny insignificant peoples.  Maybe they got you when you were late for work, and you'd seem like a cranky god.  Or they might contact you right after a nice meal, and you're seen as mellow.  Or they could even make contact an instant before you had to sneeze, and you'd seem rather distracted and incoherent because you can't concentrate on anything else.

While from what we know, your summary seems more or less on target, it's still just a glimpse of the bigger picture and we don't really know why these beings act the way they do or what they really want.

This.

Personally i try to avoid the terms outer god, great old one, elder god etc. as separate groups of entities. They are all on the power level Godlike when compared to anything we know anyway, so it's not that important. BUT, as i have some experience with occult and ceremonial magick, i once tried to fit the descriptions of these entities into qabalah and various other occult and philosophical format. The results were extremely interesting, so it's worth a try if you want to find some order within the chaos of Lovecraftian cosmos.



#10 MinionOfProvidence

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 05:34 AM

The whole cycle thing is kind of out of control now, i mean it started with one cycle and then moved to the second and third, but now its all over the place. People have made up so many new gods and given them relationships together that you cant really pin down whats what unless you just go back to the start which i might add is not very clear because HP left a lot up to the imagination. This is something i hate about writers now its that its all spelled out, im suprised no one has written an "Elder God Geneology!" one thing is for certain though all Azagthoth wants is to destroy everything!!!



#11 evilidler

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 03:43 PM

MinionOfProvidence said:

 one thing is for certain though all Azagthoth wants is to destroy everything!!!

I think it's more likely it's just in its nature, not something it actively wants :)

Once you figure out all the connections you're already well past sanity, and the answers won't help you. Give up while you have a chance!






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