Apocalypse Sketch 1: Nyarlathotep Unmasked

Thanks to the many folks who have answered our poll to pick which Mythos Apocalypse sketches from our forthcoming APOCTHULHU RPG and sourcebook. Looking at the poll results there are a couple of clear front-runners, one of which is “Apocalypse 2: Nyarlathotep Unmasked” … so that’s the one I’ll unveil below.

I will leave the poll open, though, to allow folks to vote on which *other* sketches we should similarly “spill the beans” about during February. We’re aiming to do about one a week. You can get to the poll via this link — it’s also embedded at the bottom of this post.

Credits for the material from APOCTHULHU which appears below are as follows: the Apocalypse setting description was written by yours truly, while the Hollow Men (which are statted in the actual book itself) are a creation of Chad Bowser.

Nyarlathotep Unmasked (Example Apocalypse 2)

In the mid-1920s, a world-wide conspiracy of cults devoted to Nyarlathotep forged a bold plan to open a dimensional rift through which the Great Old Ones could return (early). Their covert machinations came to the attention of a group of occult investigators who undertook a globe-trotting adventure to track down and defeat the monstrous plan. They failed. At the appointed hour, in the shadowy light of a solar eclipse a rocket was launched from an island in China and exploded high above the world – the final act needed to open the invisible gateway.

Great yet insidious evil descended upon the world. While the way had been opened for the ancient and terrible gods, the nature of reality was still not ready for their physical manifestation. But their mental – and even more importantly, moral – influence certainly took shape across the face of the globe. Wars became bloodier, politicians more mean-spirited and greedy. By the time the Atomic age had been ushered in, the hidden influence of the Great Old Ones was in the hearts of many world leaders, whether they understood it or not. This dark stain led ultimately to the nuclear holocaust that shattered the civilized world. It began with a small rogue Asian nation obtaining atomic weapons and ended with a series of tactical strikes that killed hundreds of millions and pushed the world into nuclear winter.

Today, remnants of humanity still linger in many places – although isolated and without most of the trappings of technology and civilization. But the insidious stain of the Great Old Ones lives on as well, poisoning the minds of people towards actions designed to either wipe out humanity altogether or groom it as a slave race ready to mindlessly follow the physical forms of Cthulhu and his ilk … which surely must approach their long-awaited resurrection.

  • When Did the Apocalypse Occur? The downfall of humanity can be traced to actions in the 1920s, but the nuclear exchange that directly led to the current world happened in the mid-1950s.
  • What Event was the Trigger? The gate was opened by the Nyarlathotep cultists; the atomic war was the product of human greed and fear pushed onwards by subtle whispers and dreams from the Great Old Ones.
  • What Changed? Scores of cities burned under the mushroom clouds; electro-magnetic pulses rendered most complex electronics inoperable. Electrical grids and communications fell.
  • How Long Afterwards? The game setting takes place in the immediate aftermath of the 1950s atomic war.
  • What is the World Like? The fall of most infrastructure has left isolated bands of survivors huddled in small groups. Their lives were bad enough, with the after-effects of radiation casting a pall over everything. Then the RADHAZ-suited execution squads began roaming the countryside following orders given by national leaders, each a thrall to one alien god or another. They were accompanied by things that seem to be even more unnatural than the mutations.

  • What Communities Exist? Small groups of people are common, many of them survivors who weathered the atomic war in fallout shelters in their backyards or towns. There are not yet any large-scale communities established, although some people have a dream to reunite people into a form of civilization. But do those people do so for the good of humanity … or compelled by whispered instructions from the Great Old Ones?
  • What Mythos Entities? This game setting is light on physical manifestations of the Cthulhu Mythos, although a handful of monstrosities may be found. Far more common is dark mental and moral influences pushing people to commit terrible – sometimes inhuman – acts. Perhaps this is the world as Nyarlathotep, lord of chaos, truly wants it to be? Or perhaps it is the unintended impact of close mental contact between sensitive human minds and the now-adjacent realities where the Great Old Ones wait at the door?
  • Is There Any Hope? In theory humanity may still recover from the nuclear winter and re-establish some form of civilization. But for any such efforts to be long-lasting, the taint of the Great Old Ones must be removed or blocked, else any semblance of order that is brought into being will soon crumble under their insidious shadow influences.

The Hollow Men, an example monstrosity for Nylathotep Unmasked

(By Chad Bowser)

In the aftermath of the nuclear winter supplies are scarce and safety in short supply. Many communities lack the means to effectively protect themselves against ranging bandit groups let alone the Hollow Men.

Rumor has it that the Hollow Men were once men who have been warped and twisted by the radiation that permeates the world. That’s just a rumor, though. The reality is much worse. The Hollow Men are normal men and women driven mad by what they’ve seen and experienced. These are people who have lost any sense of mercy or morality.

While bandits loot, pillage, and rape, Hollow Men sweep across the landscape utterly devastating whatever life they encounter. In the grips of their psychoses, they can’t stop until they’re dead.

Vote For The Next Apocalypse

Next weekend we’ll be releasing the description of another example setting ripped from the pages of APOCTHULHU — you can help pick which one by voting in the poll below.

2 responses to “Apocalypse Sketch 1: Nyarlathotep Unmasked

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