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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

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Great Old One, Ghatanothoa

An insane tangle of eyes and mouths, arms and legs, tentacles and worse rises up upon itself, a mountain of madness come to life.

Ghatanothoa CR 29

Source Pathfinder #114: Black Stars Beckon pg. 84
XP 6,553,600
NE Colossal aberration (chaotic, evil, Great Old One)
Init +25; Senses blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., true seeing; Perception +49
Aura unspeakable presence (300 ft., DC 39)


AC 47, touch 24, flat-footed 35 (+11 Dex, +1 dodge, +10 insight, +23 natural, –8 size)
hp 717 (35d8+560); fast healing 25
Fort +29, Ref +24, Will +30
Defensive Abilities all-around vision, amorphous, freedom of movement, immortality, insanity (DC 37); DR 15/epic and lawful; Immune ability damage, ability drain, aging, cold, death effects, disease, electricity, energy drain, mind-affecting effects, negative energy, paralysis, and petrification; Resist fire 30; SR 40


Speed 90 ft., swim 90 ft.; air walk
Melee 3 bites +40 (4d6+21/19–20 plus grab), 6 tentacles +38 (2d8+10/19–20 plus grab)
Space 30 ft., Reach 30 ft. (60 ft. with tentacles)
Special Attacks apocalyptic dreams, constrict (2d8+31), create mummified creature, fast swallow, mythic power (10/day, surge +1d12), overwhelming devastation, pounce, swallow whole (10d6+31 bludgeoning plus 10d6 negative energy damage, AC 21, 71 hp)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 29th; concentration +39)
Constant—air walk, freedom of movement, true seeing
At will—black tentaclesM, control weatherM, create undead (mummies only), dreamM, greater dispel magic, insanity (DC 27), nightmareM (DC 25), project image (DC 27), sendingM
3/day—demand (DC 28), earthquake, quickened feeblemind (DC 25), vortex (DC 27), weird (DC 29)
1/day—imprisonment (DC 29), storm of vengeance (DC 29), symbol of insanity (DC 28), tsunamiM (DC 29)


Str 52, Dex 33, Con 43, Int 29, Wis 32, Cha 30
Base Atk +26; CMB +55 (+57 bull rush, +57 sunder); CMD 87 (89 vs. bull rush, 89 vs. sunder, can’t be tripped)
Feats Ability Focus (unspeakable presence), Awesome Blow, Combat Reflexes, Critical Focus, Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Critical (tentacle), Improved Initiative, Improved Sunder, Lightning Reflexes, Multiattack, Power Attack, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (feeblemind), Staggering Critical, Weapon Focus (bite), Weapon Focus (tentacle)
Skills Climb +59, Intimidate +48, Knowledge (arcana) +47, Knowledge (dungeoneering, geography, nature, planes, religion) +44, Perception +49, Sense Motive +46, Spellcraft +47, Swim +67, Use Magic Device +45
Languages Aklo, Aquan, Undercommon; telepathy 300 ft.
SQ compression, Great Old One traits, otherworldly insight


Environment any
Organization solitary (unique)
Treasure triple

Special Abilities

Apocalyptic Dreams (Su) Ghatanothoa can affect a creature with apocalyptic dreams if it has been subjected to his unspeakable presence (even if the creature successfully saved against that effect), has been harmed by a natural disaster created by a magical effect (such as an earthquake, storm of vengeance, or tsunami spell), or has ever offered a prayer to Ghatanothoa. When Ghatanothoa uses his nightmare spell-like ability on such a target, the victim has a vivid dream of experiencing the end of the world in a fiery, destructive apocalypse—be it from asteroid impact, devastating floods, volcanic eruption, or anything else at the GM’s whim. Upon waking, the conviction that such an apocalypse is only days, if not hours, away haunts the victim. In addition to suffering the normal effects of the nightmare, the victim must succeed at a DC 37 Will saving throw or be staggered with hopelessness for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Create Mummified Creature (Su) Any creature slain by Ghatanothoa’s swallow whole attack is immediately transformed into a mummified creature (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 4 196) under Ghatanothoa’s control. As a free action, Ghatanothoa can disgorge any number of swallowed mummified creatures into adjacent squares. As a swift action, Ghatanothoa may make a touch attack against a creature that has mummified fully as a result of his unspeakable presence to transform that creature into a mummified creature under his control (no save).

Great Old One Traits Full rules for Ghatanothoa’s immortality, insanity, his mythic abilities, and otherworldly insight, as well as the base rules for his unspeakable presence, can be found on page 306 of Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 4.

Immortality (Ex) If Ghatanothoa is killed, his form and all perfect images of his likeness lose their unspeakable presence ability (see page 85). Ghatanothoa’s body shrivels and compresses in on itself, growing hard and leathery as it mummifies and contracts in size to a Huge object with AC 24, hardness 30, and 200 hit points. These remains are immune to cold damage, take half damage from fire and electricity, and take 150% damage from acid. An earthquake manifests (as per the spell at CL 29th) each round thereafter, centered on the location where Ghatanothoa was slain (his remains never take damage from the effects of these earthquakes). If Ghatanothoa’s remains are not destroyed within 1 minute of his death, the remains explode in a blast of negative energy with a 600-foot radius that deals 20d6 points of negative energy damage to all creatures within that area (Reflex DC 43 half). A creature killed by this damage is immediately transformed into a mummified creature (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 4 196). If the remains are destroyed before this occurs, they crumble to dust without exploding. In either case, as soon as the remains are destroyed or explode, the earthquake effect in the region ends. Once this occurs, Ghatanothoa is reborn from one of the hidden cysts deep within his island lair. If his remains were destroyed before they could explode, he stays dormant in his lair until outside influences awake him once again (this could be a complex ritual performed by cultists, an astronomical event, or any natural disaster that strikes the region). If his remains were allowed to explode, Ghatanothoa wakes immediately and his unspeakable presence ability once again functions as detailed below. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Overwhelming Devastation (Ex) As a standard action, Ghatanothoa can assault a structure, dealing 10d6+31 points of damage to the structure in that round. This damage bypasses all hardness the structure has.

Unspeakable Presence (Su) Any creature failing a DC 39 Will save against Ghatanothoa’s unspeakable presence becomes afflicted with a horrific curse. Ghatanothoa’s unspeakable presence is so potent that even perfect images of the Great Old One can have this effect—a “perfect image” can either be a projected image created by Ghatanothoa, a perfectly rendered statue or painting (this requires an expenditure of 100,000 gp in resources, a successful DC 50 Craft [painting or sculpture] check, and a wish by someone who has suffered from Ghatanothoa’s unspeakable presence), or any other representation at the GM’s whim. Fortunately, the saving throw to resist this effect from a “perfect image” is only DC 20 (DC = 10 + Ghatanothoa’s Charisma modifier).

If a creature fails to resist this curse, it immediately takes 1d10 points of Dexterity drain per round as its body begins to swiftly mummify. If the creature averts its gaze from Ghatanothoa, this drain is reduced to 1 point per round. As soon as a creature’s Dexterity score is drained to 0, it transforms into a perfectly preserved and completely immobile mummy, yet the victim does not die. A creature mummified in this way no longer needs to eat, drink, or breathe, and no longer ages. It is essentially immortal, and can observe the world around it (and may even take purely mental actions, including the use of psychic magic), but can take no other actions. No magical effect can end this condition (even if the victim’s Dexterity drain is healed) save for an effect that removes the curse. This is a curse effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.


Ghatanothoa is a horrific monstrosity who, fortunately, is imprisoned on an island on a distant world. Yet even an image of this Great Old One has the potential to wreak havoc and destroy lives. Ghatanothoa’s form is singularly repulsive—a tangle of arms, legs, eyes, mouths, and other body parts capable of shifting its composition at a whim, yet always retaining a definite and abhorrent shape.

Ghatanothoa’s Cult

Few humans worship Ghatanothoa, but certain sects of mi-go (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 4 193) have long revered this Great Old One. His temples are typically stone buildings on remote, desolate islands. Ghatanothoa grants access to the domains of Destruction, Evil, Madness, and Water and to the subdomains of Catastrophe, Insanity, Nightmare, and Oceans. His favored weapon is the morningstar.