Sunday, March 8, 2020

Odin A God Of A Different Battle Field - A Different Twist On A Classic Norse God For Your Old School Campaigns

"They came down out of the star-spaces unto this Earth, so that They might deal a grim and heavy judgement upon their former servants; and They went to and fro upon the Earth, terrible in Their wrath, like unto mighty Towers of Flame that walked like Men. Yea and verily was it writ of old, Terrible be the Elder Gods in Their wrath in the Hour of Their coming-hence."

Lin Carter 
 "The Horror in the Gallery" (1976)

We sort of get a set up on the Elder Gods in the Lovecraft circle mythos cycle but very few details. There was a war of incredible scale in which the Great Old Ones were killed, yet through out the eons are still continuing to die & are still dreaming.
According to the H.P. Lovecraft wiki;"The Elder Gods are said to be the former lords of the Great Old Ones. While some have specific appearances, like Nodens, most or them are described as "terrific Towers of Flame". In the Zanthu Tablets, titular Zanthu enrages the Elder Gods when he manages to break one of Ythogtha's chains, thus being able to see them when they descend to Earth. (EXP: "The Thing in the Pit")
They are said to rule in the star Glyu-Vho (Betelgeuse), from which they watch the Earth eternally. (AWDThe Lurker at the Threshold)"
The Elder gods have been given the lovely relationship toward humanity but personally I think its nothing more then a white wash & propaganda treatment by modern writers after the era of Lin Carter; 
"In post-Lovecraft stories, the Elder Gods oppose the likes of Cthulhu and his ilk. Derleth attempted to retroactively group the benevolent deity Nodens in this category (who acts as deus ex machina for the protagonists in both The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and "The Strange High House in the Mist"). With regards to the nature of the Great Old Ones, Joseph S. Pulver mentions in his Nightmare's Disciple (2006) a series of original Elder Gods, though lacking of any description about their true form. The story introduces entities as AdaeduAlithlai-TyyDveahtehsEyroixOvytonvUrthuvnXislanyx and Xuthyos-Sihb’Bz'. Others have a cult title as Othkkartho (Sire of the Four Titans of Balance and Order), which is said to be Nodens's son, and Zehirete, who is The Pure and Holy Womb of LightSk'tai and Eppirfon are both siblings. Eppirfon was originally Cthulhu's second bride who bore him a son, T'ith, now dead, murdered by Cthulhu himself."

Known Elder Gods in the Mythos[edit]

The following is another Elder God with no description: Walter C. DeBill, Jr.'s Paighon, an extra-galactic entity which now dwells in Earth's core, said to be inimical to the Outer God Ngyr-Korath and his servitor 'Ymnar.


Bast (Goddess of Cats or Pasht) appears as a female human with a cat's head.


An ambiguous deity regarded as an Elder God. First appeared in Lovecraft's short story Hypnos


creation of Brian Lumley, Kthanid looks the same as Cthulhu except for eye colour.


Oryx was introduced without name in August Derleth's "The Lair of the Star-Spawn" (1932). The name Oryx is given in Call of Cthulhu RPG supplement "The Creature Companion" (The Bright Flame) manifests as a giant pillar of blinding white and purple flames. Although its expression is bright and blinding, no one feels its heat. No one can look at Oryx more than a few seconds; after the first glance, the eyes of anyone who looks become sore and watery.


Oztalun (Golden and Shimmering One) is an Elder God introduced by James Ambuehl. It is symbolized by a seven-pointed star symbol, which is his own Seal.


Nodens ("Lord of the Great Abyss") appears as a human male riding a huge seashell pulled by legendary beasts. In CthulhuTech supplements, Nodens is said to be the avatar of the Forgotten One Savty'ya.


Shavalyoth (Shadowy and Shapeless One) is an Elder God introduced by James Ambuehl, supposed to be dark and formless.


Ulthar (or Uldar and also Ultharathotep[92]) is a deity sent to Earth to hold vigil over the Great Old Ones.


Vorvadoss* (The Flaming OneLord of the Universal SpacesThe Troubler of the SandsWho Waiteth in the Outer Dark) appears as a cloaked, hooded being, enveloped in green flames, with fiery eyes. He is described as a son of both the Elder God Nodens and the Great Old One Lythalia and has a twin brother, Yaggdytha.[31]


Another Brian Lumley deity. Has the same appearance as Yog-Sothoth, except its spheres are of a different color and its nature is purely benevolent.


Yaggdytha ("The Incandescent One") is twin brother of Vorvadoss, manifesting as a great, amorphous, incandescent ball of cyan living energy, spreading itself into a web of giant talons of light."
But I have a completely different theory for my own campaigns. The fact is that the more I dig into Robert E.Howard's Mythos contributions the more I'm convinced that some of the conventional Pagan gods of mankind are among their ranks. This is especially true of the Lovecraft circle fans I know locally.Robert E. Howard's story The Cairn on the Headland" by Robert E. Howard goes into what I think goes into the last incarnation of a rather nasty aspect of Odin; ""We of North Europe had gods and demons before which the pallid mythologies of the South fade to childishness. At a time when your ancestors were lolling on silken cushions among the crumbling marble pillars of a decaying civilization, my ancestors were building their own civilization in hardships and gigantic battles against foes human and inhuman.
"Here on this very plain the Dark Ages came to an end and the light of a new era dawned on the world of hate and anarchy. Here, as even you know, in the year 1014, Brian Boru and his Dalcassian ax wielders broke the power of the heathen Norsemen forever--those grim anarchistic plunderers who had held back the progress of civilization for centuries.
"It was more than a struggle between Gael and Dane for the crown of Ireland. It was a war between the White Christ and Odin, between Christian and pagan. It was the last stand of the heathen--of the people of the old, grim ways. For three hundred years the world had writhed beneath the heel of the Viking, and here on Clontarf that scourge was lifted forever.
"Then, as now, the importance of that battle was underestimated by polite Latin and Latinized writers and historians. The polished sophisticates of the civilized cities of the South were not interested in the battles of barbarians in the remote northwestern corner of the world--a place and peoples of whose very names they were only vaguely aware. They only knew that suddenly the terrible raids of the sea kings ceased to sweep along their coasts, and in another century the wild age of plunder and slaughter had almost been forgotten--all because a rude, half-civilized people who scantily covered their nakedness with wolf hides rose up against the conquerors.
"Here was Ragnarok, the fall of the Gods! Here in very truth Odin fell, for his religion was given its death blow. He was last of all the heathen gods to stand before Christianity, and it looked for a time as if his children might prevail and plunge the world back into darkness and savagery. Before Clontarf, legends say, he often appeared on earth to his worshipers, dimly seen in the smoke of the sacrifices where naked human victims died screaming, or riding the wind-torn clouds, his wild locks flying in the gale, or, appareled like a Norse warrior, dealing thunderous blows in the forefront of nameless battles. But after Clontarf he was seen no more; his worshipers called on him in vain with wild chants and grim sacrifices. They lost faith in him, who had failed them in their wildest hour; his altars crumbled, his priests turned grey and died, and men turned to his conqueror, the White Christ. The reign of blood and iron was forgotten; the age of the red-handed sea kings passed. The rising sun, slowly, dimly, lighted the night of the Dark Ages, and men forgot Odin, who came no more on earth." 

Odin, in his guise as a wanderer, by Georg von Rosen (1886)

Odin is one of the original gods of a completely different order then the later Norse gods;
"The earliest records of the Germanic peoples were recorded by the Romans, and in these works Odin is frequently referred to—via a process known as interpretatio romana (where characteristics perceived to be similar by Romans result in identification of a non-Roman god as a Roman deity)—as the Roman god Mercury. The first clear example of this occurs in the Roman historian Tacitus's late 1st-century work Germania, where, writing about the religion of the Suebi (a confederation of Germanic peoples), he comments that "among the gods Mercury is the one they principally worship. They regard it as a religious duty to offer to him, on fixed days, human as well as other sacrificial victims. Hercules and Mars they appease by animal offerings of the permitted kind" and adds that a portion of the Suebi also venerate "Isis". In this instance, Tacitus refers to the god Odin as "Mercury", Thor as "Hercules", and Týr as "Mars", and the identity of the "Isis" of the Suebi has been debated.[8]
Anthony Birley noted that Odin's apparent identification with Mercury has little to do with Mercury's classical role of being messenger of the gods, but appears to be due to Mercury's role of psychopomp.[8] Other contemporary evidence may also have led to the equation of Odin with Mercury; Odin, like Mercury, may have at this time already been pictured with a staff and hat, may have been considered a trader god, and the two may have been seen as parallel in their roles as wandering deities. But their rankings in their respective religious spheres may have been very different.[9] Also, Tacitus's "among the gods Mercury is the one they principally worship" is an exact quote from Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico (1st century BCE) in which Caesar is referring to the Gauls and not the Germanic peoples. Regarding the Germanic peoples, Caesar states: "[T]hey consider the gods only the ones that they can see, the Sun, Fire and the Moon", which scholars reject as clearly mistaken, regardless of what may have led to the statement.[8]
Although the English kingdoms were converted as a result of Christianization of the Germanic peoples by the 7th century, Odin is frequently listed as a founding figure among the Old English royalty.[10] He is also either directly or indirectly mentioned a few times in the surviving Old English poetic corpus, including the Nine Herbs Charm and likely also the Old English rune poem. Odin may also be referenced in the riddle Solomon and Saturn. In the Nine Herbs Charm, Odin is said to have slain a wyrm (serpent, European dragon) by way of nine "glory twigs". Preserved from an 11th-century manuscript, the poem is, according to Bill Griffiths, "one of the most enigmatic of Old English texts". The section that mentions Odin is as follows:
+ wyrm com snican, toslat he nan,
ða genam woden VIIII wuldortanas,
sloh ða þa næddran þæt heo on VIIII tofleah
Þær gaændade æppel and attor
þæt heo næfre ne wolde on hus bugan.[11]
A serpent came crawling (but) it destroyed no one
when Woden took nine twigs of glory,
(and) then struck the adder so that it flew into nine (pieces).
There archived apple and poison
that it never would re-enter the house.[11]
—Bill Griffiths translation
The emendation of nan to 'man' has been proposed. The next stanza comments on the creation of the herbs chervil and fennel while hanging in heaven by the 'wise lord' (witig drihten) and before sending them down among mankind. Regarding this, Griffith comments that "In a Christian context 'hanging in heaven' would refer to the crucifixion; but (remembering that Woden was mentioned a few lines previously) there is also a parallel, perhaps a better one, with Odin, as his crucifixion was associated with learning."[11] The Old English gnomic poem Maxims I also mentions Odin by name in the (alliterative) phrase Woden worhte weos, ('Woden made idols'), in which he is contrasted with and denounced against the Christian God."

Odin: Armor Class: 2 Magic Spell Ability: (See below) Move: 12* Fighter Ability: 18th Level Hit Points: 300 Psionic Ability: Class 1 Odin is supreme among this class of Gods and has many special abilities or innate powers because of his standing. Among them are: 1. The ability to shape change into any animal (normal sized) or to become dragon or humanoid in appearance. 2. Being also the God of full understanding and knowledge. Odin knows of all intentions for or against him and can weed out truths by use of natural E.S.P. and telepathy powers. Range of both powers is 240". 3. He may use any or all spells of magical and clerical nature. Clerical spells, though, conform mainly to Law, and Odin may not use any Raise Dead spells. 4. Odin inspires berserker rage in all of those whom he desires near him. Persons within a 20' radius gain 4 levels fighting capability for as many full turns as their level, (i.e., A second level fighter would become a sixth level for two turns)

In the far future of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea  Odin & the gods take the battlefield of Ragnarok. But these are not your traditional gods for if Odin is an Elder God. Then what are the other Pagan gods of Hyperborea? A number of AS&SH dungeon masters have been using the so called powerful & utterly alien  transmundane race as candidates for various Pagan & heathen gods; 
"The transmundane are members of a powerful and enigmatic race whose place of origin is unknown, but which certainly lies beyond Hyperborea. A transmundane looks much like a six- to seven-foottall handsome man or woman, typically clad in the dress and hairstyle of classical Greece and bearing an Hellenic name such as Hypnos or Kressida. The flesh, clothing, and hair of these beings are shades of gold and silver, making the transmundane look not unlike animated statues, or perhaps cunning automata; appearances notwithstanding, they do seem to be living creatures. Their voices are high and melodious, and they are surrounded by a pleasing scent of exotic blossoms, but their personalities are most haughty and imperious. "

Odin sacrificing himself upon Yggdrasil as depicted by Lorenz Frølich, 1895
If Odin & the other Norse pantheon gods died in the events of Ragnarok. Then does it stand to reason that in some quarters of Hyperborea that the  
powerful & utterly alien  transmundane race passes themselves of as the Norse pantheon?! The utterly alien  transmundane race is virtually immortal. And there is reason to believe they have connections to the Elder Gods. These beings are incredibly alien, extremely long lived, & have had interaction with mankind for eons. The can & have in the past masqueraded as gods when & where it suited their agendas. Agendas that don't always have the best intentions of mankind within  their machinations.
So what does 'Odin' then intend for mankind on the shores of alien Hyperborea?

Wotan takes leave of Brunhild (1892) by Konrad Dielitz

Make no mistake then the famous couplet by H.P. Lovecraft did not simply apply to the Great Old Ones. It was a indeed a very far reaching bit occult dross that touched many aspects of the Mythos.

“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”

― Howard Phillips Lovecraft, The Nameless City

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