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Great Old One

Source Bestiary 4 pg. 135
The Great Old Ones are otherworldly entities of almost unimaginable power—beings completely alien to humanity, both physiologically and spiritually. They exist in the forgotten corners of distant worlds or lost dimensions, yet their power is so great they can inf luence certain sensitive mortal minds in their dreams and nightmares, even if such inf luence is as accidental as a star’s gravitational pull on a tiny mote of dust adrift in space. In such ways, cults devoted to the Great Old Ones can rise on worlds throughout the Material Plane, even without prior contact between these worlds. Some of the Great Old Ones grant access to the domain of Void and its associated subdomains (see below).

While not all of the Great Old Ones are evil, all are forces of chaos. Their cults are almost always evil and cause harm and madness, but the Great Old Ones are generally content to ignore lesser life such as humans, elves, and dwarves. Yet when their attention is garnered, the results can be catastrophic on an immense scale— for just as the ant who bites someone’s toe invites swift destruction on a scale its feeble mind can’t envision, so too does humanity invite unimaginable ruin by delving into the affairs of these powerful creatures.

The Great Old Ones themselves often serve and worship even greater powers, such as Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath, and Yog-Sothoth. Those creatures are the Outer Gods, and whereas the Great Old Ones can be thought of as akin to demigods, the Outer Gods are themselves true deities.

Other Great Old Ones

Bokrug, Cthulhu, and Hastur are but three of the Great Old Ones—countless others exist on distant worlds or other dimensions, yet are still able to influence the world through their dreams and cults. The central concept of the Great Old Ones was created by H. P. Lovecraft, one of the most influential writers of weird fiction—and horror fiction in general—of the 20th century. Lovecraft actively encouraged his writer friends to add to his mythos of creatures, and today we have Great Old Ones created not only by Lovecraft’s contemporaries like Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, and August Derleth, but also by modern writers like Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, and Stephen King. Chaosium’s excellent Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game is a perfect place to start delving into the realm of Great Old Ones evoked in RPG form. By creating new Great Old Ones for your game, you can become part of a tradition of shared mythology nearly a century old!

Creatures in "Great Old One" Category

NameCR
Atlach-Nacha28
Bokrug27
Cthulhu30
Ghatanothoa29
Hastur29
Ithaqua28
Mhar26
Mordiggian30
Rhan-Tegoth28
Tawil At'umr30
Tsathoggua29
Xhamen-Dor26
Yig27

Great Old One, Cthulhu

This towering impossibility, neither quite octopus nor dragon nor giant but something far worse, must surely herald the end of times.

Cthulhu CR 30

Source Bestiary 4 pg. 138
XP 9,830,400
CE Colossal aberration (chaotic, evil, Great Old One)
Init +15; Senses darkvision 60 ft., true seeing; Perception +52
Aura unspeakable presence (300 ft., DC 40)

Defense

AC 49, touch 29, flat-footed 44 (+12 deflection, +5 Dex, +10 insight, +20 natural, –8 size)
hp 774 (36d8+612); fast healing 30
Fort +29, Ref +29, Will +33
Defensive Abilities freedom of movement, immortality, insanity (DC 40), non-euclidean; DR 20/epic and lawful; Immune ability damage, ability drain, aging, cold, death effects, disease, energy drain, mind-affecting effects, paralysis, and petrification; Resist acid 30, electricity 30, fire 30, sonic 30; SR 41

Offense

Speed 60 ft., fly 200 ft. (average), swim 60 ft.
Melee 2 claws +42 (4d6+23/19–20 plus grab), 4 tentacles +42 (2d10+34/19–20 plus grab)
Space 40 ft., Reach 40 ft.
Special Attacks cleaving claws, constrict (3d6+23), dreams of madness, mythic power (10/day, surge +1d12), powerful blows (tentacle), tentacles, trample (2d8+30, DC 51)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 30th; concentration +42)
Constant—freedom of movement, true seeing
At will—astral projection, control weatherM, dreamM, greater dispel magic, greater teleport, insanity (DC 29), nightmareM (DC 29), sendingM
3/day—antipathy (DC 30), demand (DC 30), quickened feeblemind, gate, weird (DC 31)
1/day—implosion (DC 31), summon (level 9, 2d4 star-spawn of Cthulhu 100%), symbol of insanity (DC 30), wishM

Statistics

Str 56, Dex 21, Con 45, Int 31, Wis 36, Cha 34
Base Atk +27; CMB +58 (+60 bull rush, +62 grapple or sunder); CMD 97 (99 vs. bull rush or sunder)
Feats Ability Focus (nightmare), Awesome Blow, Combat Reflexes, Craft Wondrous Item, Critical Focus, Flyby Attack, Greater Sunder, Greater Vital Strike, Hover, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical (claw), Improved Critical (tentacle), Improved Sunder, Improved Vital Strike, Power Attack, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (feeblemind), Staggering Critical, Vital Strike
Skills Fly +36, Knowledge (arcana) +49, Knowledge (dungeoneering, engineering, geography, history, nature, planes, religion) +46, Perception +52, Sense Motive +49, Spellcraft +49, Swim +70, Use Magic Device +48
Languages Aklo; telepathy 300 ft.
SQ compression, greater starflight, otherworldly insight

Ecology

Environment any (R’lyeh)
Organization solitary (unique)
Treasure triple

Special Abilities

Cleaving Claws (Ex) A single attack from one of Cthulhu’s claws can target all creatures in a 10-foot square. Make one attack roll; any creature in the area whose AC is equal to or lower than the result takes damage from the claw.

Dreams of Madness (Su) When Cthulhu uses his nightmare spell-like ability on a creature with one or more ranks in a Craft or Perform skill, he also afflicts the creature with maddening dreams. In addition to the effect of nightmare, the target must succeed at a DC 40 Will save or contract a random insanity (Pathfinder RPG GameMastery Guide 250). This is a mind-affecting effect. A creature that already has an insanity is immune to this ability. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Greater Starflight (Su) Cthulhu can survive in the void of outer space, and flies through outer space at incredible speeds. Although the exact travel time will vary from one trip to the next, a trip within a solar system normally takes Cthulhu 2d6 hours, and a trip beyond normally takes 2d6 days (or more, at the GM’s discretion).

Immortality (Ex) If Cthulhu is killed, his body immediately fades away into a noxious cloud of otherworldly vapor that fills an area out to his reach. This cloud blocks vision as obscuring mist, but can’t be dispersed by any amount of wind. Any creature in this area must succeed at a DC 45 Fortitude save or be nauseated for as long as it remains in the cloud and for an additional 1d10 rounds after it leaves the area. Cthulhu returns to life after 2d6 rounds, manifesting from the cloud and restored to life via true resurrection, but is staggered for 2d6 rounds (nothing can remove this staggered effect). If slain again while he is staggered from this effect, Cthulhu reverts to vapor form again and his essence fades away after 2d6 rounds, returning to his tomb in R’lyeh until he is released again. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Non-Euclidean (Ex) Cthulhu does not exist wholly in the physical world, and space and time strain against his presence. This grants Cthulhu a deflection bonus to AC and a racial bonus on Reflex saves equal to his Charisma modifier (+12). His apparent and actual position are never quite the same, granting him a 50% miss chance against all attacks. True seeing can defeat this miss chance, but any creature that looks upon Cthulhu while under the effects of true seeing must succeed at a DC 40 Will save or be afflicted by a random insanity (this is a mind-affecting effect). The save DC is Charisma-based.

Tentacles (Ex) Cthulhu’s tentacles are a primary attack.

Unspeakable Presence (Su) Failing a DC 40 Will save against Cthulhu’s unspeakable presence causes the victim to immediately die of fright. This is a death and fear effect. A creature immune to fear that fails its save against Cthulhu’s unspeakable presence is staggered for 1d6 rounds instead of killed. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Description

Known to some as the Dreamer in the Deep, Great Cthulhu is the mightiest of the Great Old Ones. Cthulhu is represented often in artwork—particularly in sculpture, painting, and poetry, for his influence is particularly strong among such sensitive and creative minds. In these eldritch works of art, he is depicted or described as having a vaguely humanoid frame, but with immense draconic wings and an octopus-shaped head. His actual form is somewhat fluid—the Great Old One can shift and reshape his exact countenance as he wills, allowing him to occupy a smaller space than one might expect for a creature that stands over 100 feet tall.

It is fortunate indeed that Cthulhu is currently imprisoned on a distant planet within the sunken city of R’lyeh. There, the Great Old One slumbers away the eons in a state neither quite dead nor living, held in stasis by ancient magic and the potency of the Elder Sign, yet at times the city rises from the sea and the doors to his tomb open, granting Cthulhu limited mobility before he must return to his tomb.

Cthulhu’s Cult

Although Cthulhu is imprisoned on a far-flung world, his dreams span the gulfs of existence and are capable of touching upon the sleeping minds of sensitive or artistic souls, inspiring them with insane visions and driving the creation of all manner of eldritch artistry. In such ways, his cult spreads like a night-borne virus of the dreaming mind across all worlds on which sapient life dwells. Cthulhu is worshiped by various aquatic races and folk who dwell along coasts, but also among certain decadent or fringe societies of artists, poets, and philosophers. When they form, his cults are secretive and careful to hide their allegiance to the Great Old One, meeting only in desolate and otherwise abandoned locales hidden from society’s notice. Central among his cult’s beliefs is the prophecy that one day, the stars will be right and Great Cthulhu shall rise from his corpse-city to usher in the end times, wiping clean all worlds to make them ready for his kind. The cultists believe they might be spared this fate through proper obeisance and fealty, when in truth Cthulhu is unlikely to notice the difference between those who worship him and anyone else.

Cthulhu’s cult is associated with cataclysms, dreams, and the stars, and his sacred symbol is a complex rune surrounding an open eye. Cthulhu’s temples are monolithic structures of a stark and cyclopean architectural style, but most of his faithful lack the resources to build such temples and instead make do with what they can, hiding away personal shrines in underground chambers or in shacks or glades in the remote wilderness. Cthulhu’s clerics have access to the domains of Chaos, Evil, Madness, and Void, and to the subdomains of Dark Tapestry, Insanity, Nightmare, and Stars. His favored weapon is the dagger—often one with a curving blade.