Black Pharaoh and Blacker Cults (H.P. Lovecraft's Nyarlathotep)



Sonnet XXI of Lovecraft’s poem cycle Fungi from Yuggoth is something of an odd glimpse into Nyarlathotep. At first, it doesn’t appear to be anything more than a re-telling of the first short story. On closer inspection, it does give a few more hints to the nature of the mysterious being. It reiterates his throngs of followers, his obscene and forgotten shows, and his status as having come from Egypt.


It also adds some new details for us; he has a strange animal kinship, and that his goal is to rise a city from beneath the sea. The connotations this has with a certain Great Old One and his fishy friends is obvious, and gives some implications that Nyarlathotep serves more than just Azathoth. He could easily be interpreted as a messenger and servant of all Lovecraft’s gods, and perhaps they all serve equally Azathoth. None of Nyarlathotep’s forms, as explored later in this series, are as dangerous on a grand scale as the likes of Cthulhu or Yog-Sothoth, but with his ability to conjure R’lyeh (if, indeed, R’lyeh is his “forgotten lands with weedy spires of gold”) make him more than a force to be reckoned with all on his own.


There is little game material to be gleaned from this short sonnet. It restates the themes of Nyarlathotep in a condensed form, and simply repeats his original story while adding minimal new content. With the references to Nyarlathotep’s worshipers, I’ve decided to include stats for a few different cults, usable in games of cult vs. cult warfare. 


These stats are useful in games where characters are each members, or leaders, of a cult to the Elder Gods, each player is given (or creates) a small character sheet for their cult. These stat variations are based on another Open Game Evil Hat Productions game, the Fate-based Spirit of the Century. Make of that what you will.


Extra: Cult of Nyarlathotep

Permissions: None; assumed as part of the game’s premise.

Costs: A special pool of aspects, skill ranks, and stunts.

The Cult of Nyarlathotep is subtle among the cults of the world. As myriad and wayward as the Crawling Chaos himself, they take many forms, share much alike, and comprise a complicated web of alliances, enemies, and neutral cults. Each of Nyarlathotep’s cults is different, whether it be subtly or wildly. Regardless, they all hold a few skills in common...

Aspects: 1,000 Forms; Habitual Liars; Ever-Changing

Skills: Deceit (Great +4), Mysteries (Good +3), Stealth (Fair +2), Empathy (Average +1)

Stunts: Takes One to Know One: The Cult of Nyarlathotep may use Deceit instead of Empathy to find out if another cult is lying to them. See Pg. 137-138, Spirit of the Century core rulebook for more details.


Extra: The Cult of Azathoth

Permissions: None; assumed as part of the game’s premise.

Costs: A special pool of aspects, skill ranks, and stunts.

Worshipers of Azathoth are a curious lot. Known as being an insane and fanatic lot, even for a Cult of the Old Ones, they are