Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Primal Chaos & The OSR Lovecraftian Legacy - A Very Different Ecology Connection For Your Old School Campaigns

"Before the ocean and the earth appeared— before the skies had overspread them all—
the face of Nature in a vast expanse was naught but Chaos uniformly waste.
It was a rude and undeveloped mass, that nothing made except a ponderous weight;

and all discordant elements confused, were there congested in a shapeless heap!"

When it comes to old school games & OSR games Chaos has been an on going substance of evil all the way back to the days of mythology. The material of creation & the substance that binds reality & planes together. Passages in Hesiod's Theogony suggest that Chaos was located below Earth but above Tartarus. Primal Chaos was sometimes said to be the true foundation of reality, particularly by philosophers such as Heraclitus. The material is deadly to anyone exposed to it for even short periods of time. The power of chaos is often associated with both the power of the blackest magick & the Lovecraft's circle of the Cthulhu mythologies. This goes all the way back to the days of Dungeons & Dragons Supplement IV Gods Demigods & Heroes By Robert Kuntz & James Wards. Back then the Conan Mythology had many of the essential Chaos elements within it. 

The OSR has recently discovered this association that we saw crystallized in Deities & Demigods way back in 1980. The Cthulhu mythology really has its alieness & power within the fact that the original Lovecraft  deities are right in line with early third party Dungeons & Dragons products. These entities are extremely dangerous & downright deadly. This trend continues into right into the OSR products of today.

The Greco Roman mythological tradition has a long history of Chaos inside its bounds & its the fact that belongs to an older set of gods. Many of these predate the Greek & Roman gods of old.

"Hesiod and the Pre-Socratics use the Greek term in the context of cosmogony. Hesiod's chaos has been interpreted as either "the gaping void above the Earth created when Earth and Sky are separated from their primordial unity" or "the gaping space below the Earth on which Earth rests".[9]
In Hesiod's Theogony, Chaos was the first thing to exist: "at first Chaos came to be" (or was)[10] but next (possibly out of Chaos) came GaiaTartarus and Eros (elsewhere the son of Aphrodite).[11] Unambiguously "born" from Chaos were Erebus and Nyx.[12] For Hesiod, Chaos, like Tartarus, though personified enough to have borne children, was also a place, far away, underground and "gloomy", beyond which lived the Titans.[13] And, like the earth, the ocean, and the upper air, it was also capable of being affected by Zeus' thunderbolts.[14]
Passages in Hesiod's Theogony suggest that Chaos was located below Earth but above Tartarus.[15] Primal Chaos was sometimes said to be the true foundation of reality, particularly by philosophers such as Heraclitus.
The notion of the temporal infinity was familiar to the Greek mind from remote antiquity in the religious conception of immortality.[clarification needed][16] This idea of the divine as an origin[clarification needed] influenced the first Greek philosophers.[17] The main object of the first efforts to explain the world remained the description of its growth, from a beginning. They believed that the world arose out from a primal unity, and that this substance was the permanent base of all its being. Anaximander claims that the origin is apeiron (the unlimited), a divine and perpetual substance less definite than the common elements. Everything is generated from apeiron, and must return there according to necessity.[18] A conception of the nature of the world was that the earth below its surface stretches down indefinitely and has its roots on or above Tartarus, the lower part of the underworld.[19] In a phrase of Xenophanes, "The upper limit of the earth borders on air, near our feet. The lower limit reaches down to the "apeiron" (i.e. the unlimited)."[19] The sources and limits of the earth, the sea, the sky, Tartarus, and all things are located in a great windy-gap, which seems to be infinite, and is a later specification of "chaos".[19][20]
In Aristophanes's comedy Birds, first there was Chaos, Night, Erebus, and Tartarus, from Night came Eros, and from Eros and Chaos came the race of birds"
There have been artifacts & other unexplained relics that have been found throughout mythology for little to no reason. I think that these occult artifacts were left overs from the 'Time Before'. 

Richard Corben artwork illustrating on my favorite artworks of his.

The fact is that Chaos is one of the most dangerous material that PC's can come across. There is one deity that composed of the primal Chaos itself;
There, in the grey beginning of Earth, the formless mass that was Ubbo-Sathla reposed amid the slime and the vapors. Headless, without organs or members, it sloughed from its oozy sides, in a slow, ceaseless wave, the amoebic forms that were the archetypes of earthly life. Horrible it was, if there had been aught to apprehend the horror; and loathsome, if there had been any to feel loathing. About it, prone or tilted in the mire, there lay the mighty tablets of star-quarried stone that were writ with the inconceivable wisdom of the pre-mundane gods. 
Clark Ashton SmithUbbo-Sathla"

Ubbo-Sathla is the essence of primal chaos itself & one of the most dangerous beings in the planes;"
Ubbo-Sathla ("The Unbegotten Source", "The Demiurge") is described as a huge protoplasmic mass resting in a grotto deep beneath the frozen earth. The being is of a monstrous fecundity, spontaneously generating primordial single-celled organisms that pour unceasingly from its shapeless form. It guards a set of stone tablets believed to contain the knowledge of the Elder Gods.

Ubbo-Sathla is said to have spawned the prototypes of all forms of life on Earth; though whatever its pseudopods touch is forever devoid of life. Ubbo-Sathla is destined to someday reabsorb all living things on Earth."

The Elder Things of HP Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness novella used the primal chaos of Ubbo-Sathla to create the Shoggoths & all life on Earth as both a cosmic joke & servants of plastic aspect & design; "They seemed able to traverse the interstellar ether on their vast membranous wings—thus oddly confirming some curious hill folklore long ago told me by an antiquarian colleague. They had lived under the sea a good deal, building fantastic cities and fighting terrific battles with nameless adversaries by means of intricate devices employing unknown principles of energy. Evidently their scientific and mechanical knowledge far surpassed man's today, though they made use of its more widespread and elaborate forms only when obliged to. Some of the sculptures suggested that they had passed through a stage of mechanized life on other planets, but had receded upon finding its effects emotionally unsatisfying. Their preternatural toughness of organization and simplicity of natural wants made them peculiarly able to live on a high plane without the more specialized fruits of artificial manufacture, and even without garments, except for occasional protection against the elements.
It was under the sea, at first for food and later for other purposes, that they first created earth-life—using available substances according to long-known methods. The more elaborate experiments came after the annihilation of various cosmic enemies. They had done the same thing on other planets, having manufactured not only necessary foods, but certain multicellular protoplasmic masses capable of molding their tissues into all sorts of temporary organs under hypnotic influence and thereby forming ideal slaves to perform the heavy work of the community. These viscous masses were without doubt what Abdul Alhazred whispered about as the "Shoggoths" in his frightful Necronomicon, though even that mad Arab had not hinted that any existed on earth except in the dreams of those who had chewed a certain alkaloidal herb. When the star-headed Old Ones on this planet had synthesized their simple food forms and bred a good supply of Shoggoths, they allowed other cell-groups to develop into other forms of animal and vegetable life for sundry purposes, extirpating any whose presence became troublesome.
With the aid of the Shoggoths, whose expansions could be made to lift prodigious weights, the small, low cities under the sea grew to vast and imposing labyrinths of stone not unlike those which later rose on land. Indeed, the highly adaptable Old Ones had lived much on land in other parts of the universe, and probably retained many traditions of land construction. As we studied the architecture of all these sculptured palaeogean cities, including that whose aeon-dead corridors we were even then traversing, we were impressed by a curious coincidence which we have not yet tried to explain, even to ourselves. The tops of the buildings, which in the actual city around us had, of course, been weathered into shapeless ruins ages ago, were clearly displayed in the bas-reliefs, and showed vast clusters of needle-like spires, delicate finials on certain cone and pyramid apexes, and tiers of thin, horizontal scalloped disks capping cylindrical shafts. This was exactly what we had seen in that monstrous and portentous mirage, cast by a dead city whence such skyline features had been absent for thousands and tens of thousands of years, which loomed on our ignorant eyes across the unfathomed mountains of madness as we first approached poor Lake's ill-fated camp."
he first mention of Cthulhu seems to have appeared in Feb 1975, in the  Greyhawk Supplement by Gary Gygax & Robert Kuntz.  Feb 1978 an article titled Lovecraftian Mythos in D&D by Holmes and Kuntz appears in The Dragon #12. Giants in the Earth in The Dragon #36, Lawrence Schick and Tom Moldvay include an entry for "H.P. Lovecraft's Richard Upton Pickman the so called King of the Ghouls. Terminal Space rpg was one of the first OSR games to mention the Elder Things.

The Primorial Ones Errol Ortiz Deities & Demigods

Ubbo-Sathla possibly dwells in gray-litten Y'qaa. The being may also dwell in Mount Voormithadreth and may have spawned another of its residents, the being Abhoth, whose form and nature is very similar. This similarity has led some writers to speculate that Ubbo-Sathla and Abhoth are the same entity viewed at different epochs under different names"

Any dealings with the primal chaos & works of the Cthulhu mythos or its works leads to PC's being exposed to weird radiations & rampant mutation as well as insanity.. Lovecraftian Demons and god things are attracted to the energies left behind by the works of the Primordial Ones & later Mythos races.  The Immortals have taken the gods place there after several were murdered by the Great Old Ones. Several biological weapon systems in the form of certain D&D monsters still prowl the waters after the legacy left behind by the Elder Things. Rumors are that they still watch from beyond the veil of the Outer Darkness across the eons.
This is something that we see in the recent Aventurer, Conqueror, King, rpg sourcebook
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu™ (BCK) By Omer Joel, & Alexander Macris.

The Dreamlands of HP Lovecraft isn't immune to the machinations of the Old Ones, several mythos gods have connections to both our reality & the dream chaos of the lands beyond dreams. The countries of Fairy & Arcadia are deeply connected to the creation of the Elves who were spun from the mutated stuff left from the death of the gods. Dark Albion's Elven kings & rulers took advantage of the power of chaos to mold their great works & magicks. 

I go into this in far more detail with the connection between The Legendary Legacy of The Knight of the Yellow Pentacle & Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos in this blog entry. 
100 Oddities for a Chaotic Mutation, the 13th entry in Skirmisher Publishing's series of “100 Oddities” titles is solid for creating any random exposures that PC's happen to come across.

Primal chaos knows neither time nor space as many of the classic Pulp settings uses many of the classic Lovecraftian cults & monsters. Many of  
the Amazing Adventures Manual of Monsters by Troll Lord Games has many Lovecraftian monsters whose very presence have a sheen of chaos about them.

These are some of the most dangerous monsters that PC's can run across in OSR games. The cults of these monsters are actively working on tearing apart the local time space continuum. There is a dramatic shift in the violence that the Old One's cults are taking towards various old school & OSR campaign settings. 

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