The Halloween Grab Bag!
Your Guide To The Great Old Ones
by: Protoclown

If you're familiar with the stories of H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos, then you're no doubt aware of the Great Old Ones, the unspeakably horrible dark gods of evil and chaos whose horrific appearances cause madness with but the briefest glimpse. But what do we really know about them? Our knowledge of these hideous, evil creatures is somewhat limited. Which is why I have decided to risk my own sanity, taking it upon myself to research these dark and powerful forces so that we might learn something and build an encyclopedia of knowledge about them. I have put together what I was able to compile, incomplete and limited as it may be. Read on, dear reader, if you dare, and if you have the constitution for such things, but beware!


They say that Azathoth is the main god in all of the Cthulhu Mythos, that it had a hand in creating the very universe itself. Its appearance is that of an amorphous blob, floating in the center of all existence, endlessly writhing to the monotonous piping of a badly-played flute. Its essence is found all throughout the universe. Servants and worshippers mindlessly dance around it to the tune of the repetitive, dull piping that surrounds it (it's kind of like an episode of American Idol). Now, imagine if you will, you're in your exploration shiftship floating through the ether of some newly discovered dimension, and you come across this blobby, tone-deaf thing squirming around and embarrassingly trying to perform whatever it passes off as dancing. Just pipe-pipe-piping the same crappy tune over and over for all eternity. Can you imagine how fucking annoying that would be? I shudder to think.


Here he is, the man of the hour, the star of the show! Cthulhu may not be the most powerful of the Great Old Ones, but he is the most popular. He has stuffed dolls, a role-playing game, video games, songs--hell, the "Cthulhu" mythos is named after him, after all. He'll probably have his own cartoon series and breakfast cereal ("Cthulh-Os") soon enough. Sleeping deep under the Pacific Ocean in the great corpse city of R'lyeh (and you know that any name that has arbitrary apostrophes in it fucking means business), he promises to one day arise from the depths and go on a destructive hissy-fit rampage to prove to the world that Godzilla is his bitch. He also likes to play "tickle monster" with his tentacles.

Hastur the Unspeakable

Also known as The King in Yellow, little is known about Hastur, except that nobody knows what he truly looks like under his yellow robes, and that his name is supposed to be unspeakable. They say that if you speak his name, you will not only draw his attention upon you, but you will add to his unholy powers, because belief is power, and to speak of something and name it is to give it belief. It has nothing to do with his name being unpronounceable, because let's face it, Hastur is a pretty easy two-syllable name to say. If his name was something like, say, Xv'bylrlvzz3qaqwrttlnpsa, then that would be a lot more convenient, because it wouldn't be so tempting to say it. But no, he had to go with the evil god equivalent of "John Smith" which is so easy to say that it's finished rolling off your tongue before you even realize what's happened. He's pretty clever that way, but as yellow is the color of piss and cowards, his fashion sense leaves something to be desired.


Often known by Native Americans as Wendigo, Ithaqua usually appears as a 60-foot tall furry humanoid creature (nevermind the picture, he obviously killed a guy who was also 60-feet tall). Sometimes he is known to capture travelers of the icy wastes and takes them back to his caves, where he does god only knows what to them. We know this because occasionally corpses (or partial corpses) are found, after he has had his way with them (no, not like that, you pervert). However, he got a little taste of his own medicine the time that he captured Luke Skywalker and stuck him to the ceiling to save as a snack. Lost his arm that time, he did.


Nyarlatotep has a Thousand Faces, only a few of which have been recognized and catalogued. He is most often depicted with an eyeless, mouthless tentacle for a head, which is sort of appropriate, because as far as evil gods go, he's kind of a dickhead. Also known as the Crawling Chaos, Nyarlathotep's goal is to usher in the Dark Times when all the Great Old Ones return, by slowly corrupting all of humanity. The most effective way he has found to achieve this goal has been to motivate more and more people to run for political office. In his dark vision of the future, we will every one of us be politicians.


Shub-Niggurath, which sounds like it contains a racial slur so don't pronounce it that way, also known as the Black Goat of the Woods With a Thousand Young, usually appears as a blobby protoplasm (has it ever seen a goat before?) that constantly pukes up all manner of life forms, before devouring them again if they aren't lucky enough to escape. This biological blob contains tentacles, testicles, eyes, mouths, vaginas and hoofed limbs which are constantly poking out or opening widely before dissolving back into the writhing mass, which means that it has probably appeared in no less than two thousand Japanese porno cartoons. Worshippers and cultists willingly line up to have sex with the gargantuan beast, which immediately indicates to me that they've never heard of websites like Match.com or eHarmony. It's not that hard to get laid these days, guys. You don't have to go there.


Known as the Father of Serpents, Yig wassss a man until he was mutated by Cobra-La spores. Now he can transform into a giant snake or a half-man, half-snake reptilian creature, with a wild-looking collar that gives him the appearance of a flower for a head. Often made fun of for his embarrassing lisp, Yig goes out of his way to love the ladies in an effort to prove to his fellow Great Old Ones that he's not gay (but they lovingly accept him either way).


Also known as the Key or Gate, Yog-Sothoth often appears as a writhing mass of tentacles and glowing globes that are always shifting around, melting into one another and then breaking or bursting apart. It also possesses the power to move through time and space, which means that it can go on Excellent Adventures like Bill and Ted. The fact that life goes on as normal means that Yog-Sothoth must be particularly ineffective since it could just go back to the beginning of time and kill mankind at the dawn of life, or kill any of us in our cribs as babies. Also, if I could travel through time I would be totally rich, so why does this thing live in an empty realm outside of time and space rather than in a giant money house?

These are but a small few of the Great Old Ones, for to go into any greater detail on these horrible, horrible creatures would be to invite utter madness upon you, and we certainly don't want that. Now that you've read this, you know that the next time someone comes up to you and says, "Hey, there's a group of us getting together at the community center tonight to worship and try to summon Nyarlathotep", you just say NO!

Have any questions or comments about this piece?


If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out:

How To Really Survive A Horror Movie

Reader Comments

Fucking Finland
Sep 22nd, 2008, 04:16 AM
Freaking awesome, Iä!
Scruffy drunken Brit
Sep 22nd, 2008, 05:21 AM
Good read, I liked the summary for Nyarl
drifting in the void
Sep 22nd, 2008, 07:52 AM
Always nice to see the whole bunch of them...I really love the mythos and I think it would be an addition to the universe if they were a fact :D

I mean, what´s better

"The Universe is a big boring empty space devoid of all kind of life"


"The universe is full of beings from beyond sanity, so twisted an alien that it LITERALLY blows your mind. Be ever watchful of the skies, for they are always there...watching...waiting *twitches*"

Forum Virgin
Sep 22nd, 2008, 08:04 AM
Hastur the Unspeakable

Is it just me or does this dude look like he's wearing the lampshade?
Evil and a total dick when he's drinking!

I have an Aunt Hester, which is the way I pronounce the Unpseakable's same...by far the least scariest fella on the list. oh! Unless that big purple octopus is backing him up, then more scarier
1.21 Gigawatts!!!
Sep 22nd, 2008, 10:26 AM
I agree with dakotacruz on Hester, as he seems about as scary as an Ewok. The octopus behind him makes me think that he is either a Pokemon trainer or resorts to some very odd magic. How intimidating would it be to have an Octopus coming at you, especially one that looks as lame as the purple one in the picture.

As for the rest; Azathoth looks like it is playing a concert (in a non-color world) attended by a lot of the townsfolk. Cthulhu is playing with his toy sailboat (who new he was such a softy?). Ithaqua seems to be the coolest of the bunch with glowing eyes and severed head. The wendigo is supposedly supposed to drive people insane and make them cannibals, so he does not seem like much of a people person. Nyarlathotep looks like he got the raw deal when it came to him. Not having an eyes and mouth can make anyone a little cranky. Even in the picture, it looks like he is getting bitched by the trees. Ol’ Shub may want to join Yog-Soruth and Yig (who looks like a bad Jurassic park reference) and start a rock and roll band. Shub already has the groupies, so music talent is not much of a necessity. Just don’t put Yig on vocals as his lisp may get in the way.
Sep 22nd, 2008, 11:46 AM
McFly, That isn't a toy boat, Cthulhu is just that big.
Forum Virgin
Sep 22nd, 2008, 12:40 PM
Actually, the big purple octopus IS Hastur. The King in Yellow is just one of Hasturs avatars. The god/thing itself likes to spend its time doing pretty much what Cthulhu is, sleeping in a large body of water. Luckily, however, the body of water Hastur resides in is somewhere near the star Aldebaran. I got this information from the CoC Core rulebook for, i think, 6th edition.
Forum Virgin
Sep 22nd, 2008, 12:50 PM
Even a giant octopus isn't terribly scarey, being on land and he's defeated!!
And yellow, poor choice of color, not menacing enough

BUT I always focus on the lampshade, kinda of like Mushmouth

moving on, Yig looks like he's in the DnD monster manual!

But Shub-Niggurath is really scarey!!
Crazy dog woman
Sep 22nd, 2008, 01:57 PM
Hm, how many of these actually appear in Lovecroft's writings? Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Cthulu, Yog-sothot and Shub-niggurath for sure, but the rest? I'm pretty certain that in his actual writings it was Nyarlathotep that went around in a yellow robe posing as a nameless priest in some realm that Randolph Carter stumbled into, not some guy named Hastur. But as the wise proto pointed out, it's pretty menacing to have an easy name like Hastur and THEN tell you that you shouldn't say it.
Lovecroft was wise enough to never describe what his monsters looked like. But still, enough is said about Azathoth to make associations to American Idol almost inevitable...
What Video Games?
Sep 22nd, 2008, 02:42 PM
Great stuff. Makes me want to go read some more Lovecraft.
Forgets Passwords Easily
Sep 22nd, 2008, 02:56 PM
Lovecraft and the gang sure like their tentacles.Ithaqua and Yig are the only ones without, and even Yig has those tentacle like head-dealies.
Strange blob from beyond
Sep 22nd, 2008, 02:56 PM
now for some mashed banana!
Our Last Hope
Sep 22nd, 2008, 03:01 PM
Brilliant, i've been waiting for this list for a long time.
Forum Virgin
Sep 22nd, 2008, 04:00 PM
Seeing this article has completly cemented my desire for a Cthulhu tattoo. Stoked!
King of the Monsters
Sep 22nd, 2008, 04:48 PM
Wow... I guess Lovecraft didn't have much of an imagination when it came to thinking up how almost half of his "insanity beasts from beyond infinity" looked. Seriously, 2 out of 4 Great Old Ones are pretty much just blobby masses with tentacles. How am I supposed to know if I'm dealin with either Yog, Shub, or Az? :P

No wonder Cthulhu's so popular, his appearance is so distinct that it sets him apart from his peers.
Forum Virgin
Sep 22nd, 2008, 05:40 PM
It's possible that Shub-Niggurath is meant to be pronounced that way. HP Lovecraft was really, really racist. He had a cat named "n-word man" and his wife said he would go into fits of uncontrollable rage around ministries. Sometimes you can just substitute black people for the villains in his stories and they still work remarkably well.
Amicable Herculean
Sep 22nd, 2008, 06:10 PM
There really needs to be a Lovecraft comic book series.
Admiral of the Undead
Sep 22nd, 2008, 06:19 PM
captain516 - There are actually two really great Cthulhu comic series going right now from Boom Studios. They're called "Fall of Cthulhu" and "Cthulhu Tales." I heavily suggest reading both. I dare say "Fall of Cthulhu" is one of the top ten best comics published right now. If you want a mind-fuck of a read, then it's the right comic for you!
is hopped up on goofballs
Sep 22nd, 2008, 06:20 PM
Nice rundown, Protoclown. I personally like the 'giant jet black flute player' avatar of Nyarlathotep, but to each his own.
I hate this hacker crap!
Sep 22nd, 2008, 07:36 PM
(nevermind the picture, he obviously killed a guy who was also 60-feet tall)

But that was an awesome article. I've only ever read Call Of Cthulu (ok, it was an audiobook). Very cool stuff.
I am Johnny Luchador
Sep 22nd, 2008, 08:06 PM
Hastur the Unspeakable is my next door neighbor, that or he's an 80 year old alzheimer's patient who I never understand what its name is, hell I dont know if its a he or she.
Valkyr Addict
Sep 22nd, 2008, 08:31 PM
very nice article, if lovecraft were still alive i'm sure he'd sue your asses for everything you have.
Crazed Techno-Biologist
Sep 22nd, 2008, 10:46 PM
pretty good guide, though i found that even though his world was well made, it really wasnt as good as his Reanimator stuff.
Fake Shemp
Sep 22nd, 2008, 11:17 PM
Great guide Proto - it'll come in very valuable once the LHC rips a crack in dimensional reality and these guys slip on through and start wrecking shit.

I for one welcome our new other dimensional overlords.
Sep 22nd, 2008, 11:59 PM
A great list, but my personal favourite would have to be Y'golonac. I know he's not strictly canon (being a Ramsey Campbell creation) but I love the faceless bastard.

How many Sanity Points were lost in the writing/reading of this article?
Sep 23rd, 2008, 02:08 AM
"All this scroll says on it is Hastur...Hastur...Hastur..."

This article definitely brought about quite a few chuckles, for more reasons than one. And I'm proud to say that I'm proud supporter of Cthulu...in beanie baby form. *laughs*

And that's an idea for a costume, Proto! Go as the King in Yellow!
grants but one wish
Sep 23rd, 2008, 03:12 AM
yes, yes, a thousand times YES! this site is now perfect, Cthulhu was the final piece needed

Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn!
Amicable Herculean
Sep 23rd, 2008, 07:30 PM
ThanksThanos, I'll go look for those.
good fer what ails ye.
Sep 23rd, 2008, 09:11 PM
I love the guy, but Lovecraft sure has a thing for tentacles and blobs.http://bodhranman.files.wordpress.co...ng?w=420&h=420
Former Virgin
Sep 23rd, 2008, 09:25 PM
I loved playing CoC. I usually tried to play the "quiet guy" that would seek to murder whomever he was with. Sometimes it would be overt like stabbing someone in the back, othertimes it would be as simple as tripping someone while we ran from the cultists.

Good times.
Forum Virgin
Sep 24th, 2008, 02:08 AM
makes me want to play some arkham horror.
Sep 25th, 2008, 01:39 AM
Are you sure Ithaqua wasn't the one that captured Luke in The Empire Strikes Back?
Sep 25th, 2008, 04:55 AM
There's some site I can't find now, not even off hplovecraft.com of live action Lovecraftian roleplaying games that stretch as far back as 1980. People make props and gather in the woods and pretend to be scared of monsters and shoot capguns at each other, sometimes they even went out in the desert on a helicopter and pretended like they were at an archaeological dig site in Nevada standing around in dorky trench coat and goofy hat costumes with notepads while helicopter pilots looked on scratching their heads embarrassed beyond belief. Hilariously depressing site but interesting.
Sympathizes with the foo'
Sep 25th, 2008, 12:02 PM
Silver: Good try, but Protoclown beat you to it in his own article.
Freelance Product Tester
Sep 25th, 2008, 01:47 PM
I like Nyarlathotep's human avatars more. Sometimes he's a happy guy, other times he's a Nikola Tesla allegory, and some other times, he's a completely black (imagine a living silhouette) figure wearing a robe.
The Geminate
Sep 25th, 2008, 06:21 PM
Hmm, I found this article sadly incomplete and is some respects incorrect. I mean why bother, maybe it took ten minutes to throw this together?

"for to go into any greater detail on these horrible, horrible creatures would be to invite utter madness upon you" What a cop-out, where's the content.
Sep 25th, 2008, 06:59 PM
Hey look guys, he can change his font! This dude Geminate... wow, I am simply amazed at his in depth criticism. He is the master of the written word in bold font.
Sep 25th, 2008, 09:11 PM
Originally Posted by Geminate View Post
Hmm, I found this article sadly incomplete and is some respects incorrect. I mean why bother, maybe it took ten minutes to throw this together?

"for to go into any greater detail on these horrible, horrible creatures would be to invite utter madness upon you" What a cop-out, where's the content.
The Goddamned Batman
Sep 25th, 2008, 09:49 PM
Guys, I have to confess that I may have made some of that content up

from my head
Sep 25th, 2008, 09:51 PM
Sep 25th, 2008, 09:53 PM
And to read Max Burbank.

So is he alive still or what?
Sep 25th, 2008, 10:15 PM
Originally Posted by Protoclown View Post
Guys, I have to confess that I may have made some of that content up

from my head
Whew! That's a relief! Because I said Hastur's name aloud and then was immediately raped by my father. But it was all make believe.
The Geminate
Sep 26th, 2008, 04:19 PM
I didn't mean to offend anyone, I was just commenting on the obvious.
Sep 26th, 2008, 04:45 PM
Talk tough and then apologize? You wimp
Forum Virgin
Sep 26th, 2008, 09:53 PM
Very good selection. Cthulhu was always my favorite. I never knew Lovecraft had so many creatures that had tentacles. Very funny stuff you did Protoclown. I cracked up at Nyarlathotep's section XD. Also, not to be a nit picky bastard, but some guys like Azathoth, Nyarlathotep and Yog-Sothoth are technically not part of the Great Old Ones. They are actually the Outer Gods, and the Outer Gods are much more powerful than the Great Old Ones. Just thought I'd say it.

And Yig reminds me of El Seed.
Forum Virgin
Sep 28th, 2010, 04:42 PM
Great read.

Sort of...two years behind here but I think it bears mentioning. Lots of folk are pointing out the number of tentacle/bulbous/amorphous-blob gods in the Cthulhu mythos and how that isn't very creative. I'd just like to point out that at the time it WAS pretty creative, sure today it's been overdone but at the time it was a pretty grotesque concept. It was the gore/splatterfest of the day to put essentially unimaginable horrors to pen that did terrible things to people that in that day and age no “decent” individual would have dared spoken of. At that time a monster/demon was a werewolf, a vampire, a gremlin, not a galaxy sized monstrosity that could rend the very fabric of the universe and your sanity apart like a tissue napkin. This was the start, this was what made all these tentacle creatures make their way into modern day literature to an over saturation point, but at the time it was unique.
Forum Virgin
Nov 14th, 2010, 04:42 PM
Like GoldenKitten, I'm a bit late to the party, but I wanted to add to this as well.

The main reason for the tentacles and such was Lovecraft had a terrifying fear of the ocean and deep-sea creatures, particularly octopuses and squids.

Click here to return to the Features homepage