THIS IS MATERIAL FROM THE ICE CAVE. IT HAS NOT YET BEEN FORMATTED.
Also of interest is the discussion about Stephen Alzis.
Date: Sun, 7 Jun 1998 02:15:30 +0900
From: Jay and Mikiko Noyes
Okay. It's 2:30am, I'm drunk on rum, lime, and coke, and I'm listening to Harry Conick jr. on my the new stereo my wife and I hauled over from Shinjuku just today, and I say to myself "Who would _love_ to listen to me rant about the mythos." Naturally, I thought of y'all.
Of all the mythos beings, and I include Cthulhu itself, only Nyarlathotep takes any real interest in mankind. Almost all of the rest are only incidently associated with the human race: we worship them, they notice us at their whim. Why, of all these creatures, does he spend so much time and energy on us.
I suggest that, even in the unreal realm of the mythos, Nyarlathotep does not in any physical way exist. Instead, in all his many forms he is the embodiment of the sum total of humanities spiritual power. Not only is he a god, but he is God. Not only is he God, but he is Satan as well. There is not focus of theophilosophical consideration that he does not have as an incarnation. The teravadha (sp? who cares?) version of Buddhism was a man, the Mahayana version is a god, and is thus a form of Nyarlothotep.
He is not always evil, but he is rarely wholly good, even as gods are rarely wholly good. He has not independant will: he is as we desire him to be, and he acts as an intercedent between our physical selves and the other psychophysical powers of the universe.
Be kind, I know not what I say.
Date: Sat, 6 Jun 1998 17:05:36 EDT
From: Shane Ivey
« I suggest that, even in the unreal realm of the mythos, Nyarlathotep does not in any physical way exist. Instead, in all his many forms he is the embodiment of the sum total of humanities spiritual power. »
Maybe this is just my innate conservatism showing, but I still kind of prefer Lovecraft's version. Nyarlathotep is the soul of the Outer Gods, the true powers of the Cosmos. Nyarlathotep fucks with us because it is conscious, seems to have a gift for showing sentient creatures what they want to see, and likes fucking with things. After the End Times, what will we have had, a couple million years? What's that, a hundredth of a percent of the history of the planet, let alone the history of the galaxy or the Cosmos? Humanity is a blip. From Nyarlathotep's POV, I'd imagine even Cthulhu is a blip. He just probably doesn't entertain N. as much as we do.
Which makes DG agents basically blips who think they can accomplish something by requisitioning big guns and shooting other, sometimes bigger blips.
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 12:22:20 +0900
From: "David Farnell"
Jay drunkenly ranted and Shane soberly responded:
I agree, and yet, Jay's ideas have some definite potential for further exploration. Now, the Big N may not actually be God, but could it have started that whole Christianity thing for kicks? Or, rather, twisted it to its own purposes. No, Jesus wasn't Nyarlathotep—Paul was. Jesus' true vision (which was a very conservative, orthodox Judaism, and an anti-Roman nationalism) was completely hijacked by Paul. If Jesus came back (which I doubt he ever even considered possible), he'd have no fucking idea what this whole Christianity thing is. ("My mother was a virgin? I walked on water? What, are you guys crazy?")
And, of course, you have only to check the history books to see how useful Christianity has been to the Mythos over the years. Ditto Islam, Judaism, Buddhism (there's a book out recently about how Japanese Buddhists preached support for the war), Hindu (duck and cover!), and the rest. In fact, I think the religious impulse was hard-wired into our brains at some point, perhaps by the Elder Things, perhaps by Mi-Go genetic manipulation, to make us easier to control.
Then again, a lot of religions at least started out as ways to break free of all that (before getting hijacked and turned into the opiate of the masses). Look at Gnosticism, which posits that the Earth was created by an insane, idiot god, that our bodies (including brains) are purposefully flawed to keep us chained down, and that if we can break free of the limitations designed into us, we can become as gods ourselves (Steven Alzis, anyone?).
And Buddhism, when reduced to its purest form, is not quite a religion in the western sense but really a way to "open the mind's eye" and see Reality (like that brat in "At Your Door").
Of course such religions don't do terribly well. It's just a lot easier to simply follow the rules and get into heaven, and that's what Buddhism has become for most of its adherents. Gnosticism was, of course, smashed by the Church (although its resurfaced many times, and is doing so again today) as a competitor.
SO! Here's my question. If that little kid in "At Your Door" can have his mind's eye opened, what about the players? If satori or gnosis or whatever are achievable in CoC, what is the effect, and what's the mechanic? I've been considering a limited crossover with Kult—I kind of like the Mental Balance thing vs SAN, and it allows for Enlightenment both through descending into darkness (a la Steven Alzis) and through Ascension into light (which ought to be just as terrible, in its own way). Not that I want the players to become "as gods". But gaining some insight into the true nature of the universe, and gaining some limited powers thereby, could be interesting.
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 22:00:27 -0700
From: Curtis Shenton
And let's not forget about one of the villains in the Delta Green book(I hope that's vague enough to avoid spoiling anything), he managed to gain access to psychic powers. In fact several CoC adventures have touched on humans having psychic/metaphysical powers. In the adventure collection Strange Aeons it's mentioned that the Mi-go and others have been tampering with human ability for some time. And there is a spell/technique listed that can trigger some of these hidden powers. If you wanted to shine a ray of (false?) hope into a Delta Green campaign you could introduce the players to either a psychic or psychic researcher who has stumbled onto some way to trigger the development of these abilities. If you want the players to have a bit more of a chance to fight the horrors around them then letting them gain access to powers seems like a reasonable thing to do. Of course in a straight CoC universe becoming more in tune with what's REAL is a bad thing. If you want to drop in the development of psychic powers into your campaign. but keep the CoC atmosphere I suggest watching Akira. In the Akira universe psychic powers seem to lead to either your brain dripping out your nose, turning into a giant shoggoth, or maybe becoming an avatar of the Nyarlathotep
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 01:55:08 EDT
From: J. Frederick MacKenzie
In a message dated 98-06-09 David Farnell wrote:
« I agree, and yet, Jay's ideas have some definite potential for further exploration. Now, the Big N may not actually be God, but could it have started that whole Christianity thing for kicks? Or, rather, twisted it to its own purposes. No, Jesus wasn't Nyarlathotep—Paul was. Jesus' true vision (which was a very conservative, orthodox Judaism, and an anti-Roman nationalism) was completely hijacked by Paul. If Jesus came back (which I doubt he ever even considered possible), he'd have no fucking idea what this whole Christianity thing is. ("My mother was a virgin? I walked on water? What, are you guys crazy?") »
Maybe I should just pour myself a big cup of you know what, but:
While I like to rattle my players as much as the next guy, I can't tell you how much this thread bugs me.
I generally maintain an "athiestic" CoC game, because that's more true to Lovecraft's vision. As a keeper with a Christian perspective, I try to show the horror of a world without meaning, without God. As such, plotlines involving Christianity as a tool of Nyarlathotep are just another insidious horror.
Despite this, careless speculation about the views of Jesus or the early Christians could easily be disrespectful toward the most cherished beliefs of some people. Perhaps I should have spoken up when the Scientologists (or those weird Italian cultists) were getting hammered.
Please carry on, gentlemen. I'm just asking that you avoid a "flip" tone when you discuss controversial subjects.
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 00:31:46 +0900
From: Jay and Mikiko Noyes
I have to admit that your message made me stop and pause. Please understand that I had absolutely no intention of offending anyone. Do keep in mind, however, that we are talking about a completely fictional universe. Nyarlothep & Co. are completely derived from the works of various pulp authors. As such, I was commenting on a what-if situation for a completely fictional situation. I am not hammering on anyone; I merely speak _as though_ they were real for the purposes of our little cybernetic kaffeklatch. Secondly, I would like to point out that we have cheerfully discussed trepannation (sp?), torture, and a wide variety of violent situations on this mailing list with nary a squeak of protest from anyone. I'd a bit worried if people suddenly become offended by an entirely speculative discussion on religion.
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 00:31:42 +0900
From: Jay and Mikiko Noyes
Something similar happened with Buddhism. Hinayana (sp?) Buddhism, which is not widely studied, works along the lines that "Buddha was a man, and he said this, this, and this." Mahayana (sp), which came along several hundred years later basically says that Buddha was a godlike figure, and he did this and such miracle, and when he spoke, the boddhavistas gathered around him. In this sense, people make their own gods.
This doesn't surprise me too much. Japanese Buddhism has about a dozen different sects, and some of them have very nationalistic ties.
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 17:43:27 +0100
interesting thing about Buddhism, and various related eastern religions, is the way they dovetail nicely into some of th more depressing western philosophy, like Schopenhauer (who actually died with a copy of the Tibetan book of the dead under his pillow) and even Nietzsche (in that he accepts Schopenhauer's metaphysics, but trys to deny the consequences for 'life'), and of course also quantum physics (no, honestly). All these areas raise lots of interesting points about personal identity and the nature of reality with plenty of scope for the cosmic horror angle (the world is just will - the world we experience and know is simply a manifestation of that will so it can act upon itself). Not that i'm suggesting, even for a second, that we should be associating respectable religions like Buddhism with cosmic horror, of course.
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 18:40:27 EDT
« SO! Here's my question. If that little kid in "At Your Door" can have his mind's eye opened, what about the players? If satori or gnosis or whatever are achievable in CoC, what is the effect, and what's the mechanic? I've been considering a limited crossover with Kult »
I'm designing a Kult/DG crossover scenario as we speak. Kult crosses over with CoC very easily if you monkey with a couple of the basic truths just a little. Viz, certain cults might well THINK that by following the paths of Light or Dark that they can attain immortality and regain humanity's lost godhead and operate under that assumption. Conversions are an intriguing process: some of the gods and godlike figures in Kult are gimmes, with obvious Lovecraftian equivalents, but the more interesting angle is to compare what the deluded cultists THINK they follow with what they really do follow. What the local satanist calls Astaroth might be a little bit different from what the satanist on the other side of the globe calls Astaroth. Giving the players the chance to buy into the cultist's line of how to attain immortal powers is a very intriguing thought. If anyone on this list winds up playing in my scenario when it's done, please forget you read it. ;-)
The otherworld from Kult can be presented as-is or with some modifications. The main thing is, the players SHOULD be confused as heck about its true origin and nature. Is it a facet of the Dreamlands? Is it somehow related to Lost Carcosa? Is it someplace on another planet? Is it a figment of their imaginations? Is it a shared perception foisted on them by some psychic enemy or bugaboo? Is it exactly what is described in the Kult book? Keep guessing, Agents…
« you could introduce the players to either a psychic or psychic researcher who has stumbled onto some way to trigger the development of these abilities. »
Like I mentioned (maybe) the other day, this is a field that is ripe for development in a DG campaign. Another one I'm writing deals broadly with attempts to shape/guide human psychic development and powers, and the implications of those attempts from a Cthulhu Mythos point of view. It is well established in Mythos literature that human possess noncorporeal souls that can exist beyond physical death and can even move from one body to another; it is interesting to note that among the beings of the Mythos this seems to be a rare capacity. This could mean that humans have unknown powers which might save them… or it could mean that they will have that much clearer understanding of the bitter truth when all the pieces are connected and the stars come right.
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 09:29:15 +0900 From: "David Farnell"
I'm sincerely sorry I offended you, J. Frederick. And I don't think your response was overly touchy—I was certainly stomping down hard on some toes there. But it was certainly meant only in the context of the game; I'm not out to convert anyone out of Christianity. However, see below…
True. The "however" is this: what I said was not merely careless speculation, but what I've come to believe (minus all the Lovecraftian stuff, of course) after many years of study. I'm not going to go into it further than that because by now everyone's getting ready to tell me to drink a big glass of you-know-what, rightly so.
Why? There's nothing wrong with people believing what they believe, as long as they don't try to ram it down others' throats or violate people's rights, use it as an excuse for war, things like that. Thus, while the basic beliefs of Scientology are as perfectly deserving of respect as those of any other religion, I have no problem with "hammering" their terrorist tactics, their mind control, their extortion, etc., just as I have no problem with protesting the mutilation of women's genitals while still having respect for Islamic beliefs.
As far as the Italian cultists go, I don't remember anyone hammering them. I just remember having a strong feeling of "truth is MUCH stranger than fiction."
Sorry again. Sometimes I forget others' feelings. Actually, I spiced the post with several "flip" comments in an attempt to prevent its being taken too seriously, but of course that just made it more offensive.