Crawling Chaos Cult
Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos - Pathfinder
Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, is notorious for his thousand forms, every one representing a different aspect of the god. As a result, each of his cults functions differently, often worshiping a different aspect to suit Nyarlathotep’s needs for that time and place. All are designed to cause chaos, evoke horror, and sow madness among mortal societies.

Nyarlathotep does not often have large or well-organized cults but instead instigates worship as needed for specific jobs or purposes. His devotees are mostly members of small organizations—witch covens, gangs of political dissidents, or outcast tribes—who have often been rejected by their neighbors.

Cultists of Nyarlathotep hope that, in gaining his approval, they will also curry favor with the Outer Gods he serves. Perhaps they are correct or perhaps not, but the natural laws of the universe seem to bend to aid them. They tend to have more good fortune, their spells are likelier to work, and random or haphazard event soften come out in their favor.

General Crawling Chaos Cult Gifts

Nyarlathotep’s cults share these features:

  • Command Monster: Cultists are given special privileges with all monsters associated with Nyarlathotep. They may still need to pay a hunting horror’s price to get its services, but the monster will not attack them.
  • Emissary of the Outer Gods: Service to Nyarlathotep means cultists are also accepted, at least to a degree, by the other Outer Gods that he serves. Such entities are less likely to harm or impede them.
  • Million Favored Ones: As they age and progress through life, each of Nyarlathotep's followers will wither and devolve into one of the million favored ones: mindless wraiths that accompany Nyarlathotep and do his behest in service to the other Outer Gods. It’s not much of an afterlife, but it is eternal.
  • Treasures: Cultists can generally gain access to brazen heads, gates, Leng glass, a lamp of Alhazred, space mead, and yithian lightning guns.

The Howler

As the Howler, Nyarlathotep takes the shape of a gigantic thing that, instead of a face, has a long tentacle that reaches quivering to the stars while it shrieks a litany to the Outer Gods. This is one of the most-feared aspects of the Crawling Chaos, and as such, it is a very commonly-worshiped aspect among his cults. After all, the safest way to avoid the god’s enmity is to serve him.

The Howler inspires large groups of cultists, such as lost tribes, whole villages, or breakaway sects, all of them seeking the Howler’s favor in their quest to seize power. Typically, the entire social unit of the local area is devoted to the Howler, who enthusiastically serves Nyarlathotep’s purposes.

To maintain the Howler’s form for any length of time or to awaken his presence, constant and aggressive acts of sacrifice and obeisance must be performed.

When sufficient death, pain, and madness has been caused by the cult, the ritual to summon the Howler to the mortal plane of existence can be completed. This normally means that a large and organized body of cultists must work together to bring about the Howler’s presence, inevitably sacrificing secrecy and causing significant harm even before they conjure up their dark god.

Once summoned, for whatever length of time the Howler takes to vocalize, his cult can benefit from his special gifts.

  • Flight: The cultists of the Howler gain the ability to fly as the spell. They can do this for the entirety of his howling, and his form drips a hideous sap from his chest which can be collected and stored for later use. When a user’s body is covered by the sap (this typically takes a liter or more), they can fly until the substance dries out, which typically takes 1d3 hours.
  • Summoning: When the Howler appears, normally one or more of Nyarlathotep’s monstrous minions arrive with him. These typically remain behind after the Howler departs, and the cult can call upon their services for an extended period of time.

The Dark Demon

The Dark Demon is rarely worshiped directly, and usually manifests only as an adjunct to another Crawling Chaos cult. Occasionally, a person who seeks contact with Nyarlathotep may summon the Dark Demon by accident, not realizing the true horror of the Dark Demon’s possession until it is too late.

A person transformed by the Dark Demon’s effect is sometimes revered as one touched by their god, and is sometimes mocked and reviled as a fool.

The Shadow Pharaoh

The Shadow Pharaoh is worshiped by the underside of society, typically in large cities or nations. His cultists operate in secret; they are inspired by his will to overthrow the current political or social order. They do not replace the forces of authority they overthrow but instead they substitute the existing social order for the horror and anarchy of the Crawling Chaos.

The Shadow Pharaoh’s clandestine forces operate in effect like an organized crime family focused on fomenting nihilism and destruction. Some disenfranchised individuals may begin by joining the Shadow Pharaoh’s cult in the hopes of disrupting a corrupt social order or to bring about a the dawn of a new age. Over time, however, they sink into madness and hatred, and their original goals are subsumed in the devastation his worship unleashes.

The Shadow Pharaoh typically provides these benefits to his followers:

  • Contagious Madness: With a ceremony, the Shadow Pharaoh can infect his cultists and an audience with a type of frenzied lust for destruction. This effect creates a dangerous mob that contaminates other people as they draw near, spreading their insanity and vandalism wide. Entire cities can be destroyed in the process. This particular result of the Shadow Pharaoh’s cult requires a sort of critical mass, as well as the Shadow Pharaoh’s physical presence during the frantic demolition process. When the Pharaoh leaves, those who were once his militant foes come to their senses, usually horrified by what they have wrought. Inevitably, some few among them exult in secret and find themselves hoping for more of the same. These the cult seeks out to refresh its numbers.
  • One-time adjunct spells: By signing his dread contract, the Pharaoh’s most loyal cultists gain a spell (regardless of any spellcasting ability or lack thereof) which they can use one time only to serve his ends (whether intentionally or not). Cultists so blessed must summon the Shadow Pharaoh again and do his bidding before they can receive another spell.
  • Secret Knowledge: The Shadow Pharaoh knows the weaknesses and dark hidden things of those whom his forces would wish to destroy. With this knowledge, they can expose the failings of the high-born, undermine important religious or social leaders, or blackmail the mighty.

The Black Man

Nyarlathotep can choose to take the form of an ordinary human with flesh, eyes, teeth, and nails of blackest pitch. In this form, he presides at the meetings of witches and wizards that worship him. The Black Man has no true cult in the sense of an organization, but his awakened followers occasionally work together to learn spells and secrets from the god.

The Bloated Woman

In this form, Nyarlathotep eschews cult worship in favor of a small group of devoted followers. They are secretive and operate outside normal society, in a somewhat similar fashion to the more cerebral followers of the Shadow Pharaoh, but the Bloated Woman’s followers are emotional, instinctive, and radical.

  • Berserker Frenzy: Cultists are unable to resist the Bloated Woman’s every whim and madly seek out her favor. They will do anything to be once more permitted into her presence, and so are the most loyal of fanatics. When prevented from serving her, they fly into mad rages.
  • Contagious Madness: The Bloated Woman's contagious madness is similar to that brought about by the Shadow Pharaoh, except that the mob tends to be more focused on killing people en masse, rather than vandalizing structures. The Bloated Woman herself presides over the destruction.

The Haunter of the Dark

In this form, Nyarlathotep can only exist in the absence of light, so he typically makes his appearance in underground caverns or windowless structures. As the Haunter of the Dark, he creates cults which are (at least on the surface) respectable religions. They may have structures built right in the middle of cities, where all can see them, and present the semblance of legitimate faith whilst hiding their true nature. Most of the rituals and services do not invoke the Haunter directly but instead focus upon its emblem: a Shining Trapezohedron. Even the trapezohedron need not be physically exposed to the congregation’s eyes. It can be kept inside a container or a statue, and thus even many of the actual cultists are deceived as to the true nature of their faith.

The Haunter likes to prey physically upon his own cultists, to keep them from straying or simply as a terrifying surprise for them. This partially sates Nyarlathotep’s need not only for devastation but also for human madness and terror.

The Haunter offers a significant and ruthless benefit for his cultists.

  • The Haunter Strikes: On moonless nights, the priests can send forth the Haunter to destroy those who oppose them. When used to find information about a victim of the Haunter, divination spells and even direct communion with one’s god are limited by the Haunter’s power. Anyone trying to find out what caused a person’s death can only learn that it was the Haunter of the Dark, but not who sent forth the Haunter or for what reason it was done. Nyarlathotep’s power absorbs any other attempts to uncover the nature of his cult. He can even block wishes and other powerful means of discovery. Cultists thus have a useful means of murder at a distance, which cannot readily be traced back to them.

The Jester

Wiki Note: This is a homebrew aspect of Nyarlathotep and not part of Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder.

The Jester is an aspect of Nyarlathotep rarely worshiped by mortals. Instead, the Jester often appears where Nyarlathotep has personal interests but doesn't want to manifest in a more powerful (or more noticeable) form. The Jester frequently takes the form of a young, barefooted woman with red eyes. At times, the Jester may interact with mortals to see if they're good candidates for starting a cult, seek out strange items whose use only the Outer Gods can fathom, or encourage people to take actions whose ramifications they can't even begin to understand.

While often more personable and charming than the other aspects of Nyarlathotep, the Jester is still an avatar of the Crawling Chaos and works for complex, indirect ends that those they meet may never even begin to understand. In most cases, the Jester avoids overt action, preferring to manipulate others to do their bidding. This helps to escape the notice of entities that could otherwise interfere with their plans, such as some infernal lords.

The Jester occasionally provides gifts to their pawns (whether those pawns recognize themselves as such or not), ranging from tips about local threats or occult lore to active protection from the Outer Gods and their minions. On the rare occasions when they need to act directly - or defend themselves - the Jester handles matters with the simple expedient of crushing the heads or hearts of those proving themselves to be a problem. If statistics are needed, treat the Jester as a medium-size version of the Howler, using the same stats, with a preference for using the Power Attack and Improved Vital Strike feats through their Claws. On a hit, the target must immediately make a save against dying from massive damage with a DC of 15 plus 1/2 the damage dealt, regardless of their normal HP or the amount of damage actually done. Alternatively, the Jester may simply use divine power to kill a target as they strike it. (GMs should be cautious of allowing players to fight the Jester. It is, quite frankly, not an appropriate challenge for most characters. Rather than actually battling, the Jester may simply leave.)

In some cases, the Jester is present only as an observer for one or more of the other Outer Gods. In these cases, they rarely do more than observe and talk with others.

The Jester is known to many of the planar powers and can be recognized by entities like Psychopomps and Proteans. However, such entities are typically loathe to disclose the Jester's identity directly without permission to do so, as it may bring the wrath of Nyarlathotep upon them. At other times, the Jester is quite fine with their identity being revealed - this usually happens after they got what they wanted.

The Jester does not enhance Elder Influences unless they want to. Like all other aspects, killing the Jester doesn't trouble Nyarlathotep much, as the Crawling Chaos can immediately recreate them. Indeed, if the Jester fights at all, they're most likely planning to allow mortals to think themselves victorious. Thus, it's rare for the Jester to reappear where slain unless they have a topic they still wish to discuss with those mortals. More likely, the Jester will simply avoid them in the future, allowing them to think they earned a victory while the plans of the Outer Gods continue to march on towards an inevitable result tens, hundreds, or thousands of years in the future.

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