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Lovecraftian themes in Baldur's Gate

the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
So I am part of a FB forum on HP Lovecraft as he is one of my favorite authors. I recently saw a post describing the various influences in Baldur's gate that are Lovecraftian.

image

This is obviously one of the more obvious ones. What other ones do you all think exist? Possibly the Dreaming God?

JuliusBorisovTeflon
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Comments

  • MortiannaMortianna Member Posts: 1,355
    edited February 2015
    A friend of mine in middle school (which was a long time ago) introduced me to HPL's work, and I've been an avid fan ever since. His supernatural and cosmic horror themes fit in well with the D&D multiverse, especially Ravenloft.

    As for Lovecraftian influences in BG, I'd say anything dealing with forbidden knowledge, "lost" idols (Kozah), secret underground temples to dead or "hidden" gods, the Underdark in general, and insane cultists (Aec'Letec, Unseeing Eye) would be a good reference.

    JuliusBorisovMetalloman
  • OneAngryMushroomOneAngryMushroom Member Posts: 564
    If you think about it Charname is pretty Lovecraftian.
    The son of the god of murder that as he learns of his heritage gains the ability to transform into the nightmare inducing Slayer and slays creatures of incomprehensible power and evil.

    the_spyderCrevsDaakMortianna
  • AndrewFoleyAndrewFoley Member Posts: 743
    Don't forget the incredible racism against subhuman species.

    (I say that as a long-time Lovecraft fan.)

    CrevsDaakMetallomanAdso
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    I am surprised at the frequency this is mentioned. I've read some of his works and have yet to encounter a preponderance of overt racism. I know there are certain works that are VERY racist, but the vast body of his works don't appear "To me" to be a racist agenda in the way that I've seen some would have the world believe.

    Am I missing something?

    CrevsDaakDreadKhan
  • AndrewFoleyAndrewFoley Member Posts: 743
    The racism can be subtle in the fiction, though there are a number of passages regarding "subhumans" that have distasteful implications (and there's a character in one of his stories that has a cat named N******man, I think it's The Rats in The Walls, but don't quote me on that, it's been awhile).

    Beyond the fiction, Lovecraft's racism is a matter of public record and beyond dispute, and there's evidence his beliefs were stronger and more odious than the standard bigotry of the times. Then again, he was also an anti-semite, but that didn't stop him from marrying a jewish woman. This makes me suspect his beliefs were at least partly derived from intellectual exercises that wouldn't have held up in practical reality. Unfortunately, he lived a pretty sheltered life and didn't deal with other people that much, and my impression is that his views went largely unchallenged and so unchanged before his untimely death.

    CrevsDaakMetallomanAdsoNonnahswriter
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859

    The racism can be subtle in the fiction, though there are a number of passages regarding "subhumans" that have distasteful implications (and there's a character in one of his stories that has a cat named N******man, I think it's The Rats in The Walls, but don't quote me on that, it's been awhile).

    Beyond the fiction, Lovecraft's racism is a matter of public record and beyond dispute, and there's evidence his beliefs were stronger and more odious than the standard bigotry of the times. Then again, he was also an anti-semite, but that didn't stop him from marrying a jewish woman. This makes me suspect his beliefs were at least partly derived from intellectual exercises that wouldn't have held up in practical reality. Unfortunately, he lived a pretty sheltered life and didn't deal with other people that much, and my impression is that his views went largely unchallenged and so unchanged before his untimely death.

    More odious in an era when a plurality American citizens were okay with lynching African Americans? That seems hard to swallow. Europe had Nazis towards the end of his life, Japan had invaded China, Italy had invaded Africa for punitive vengeance against Africans, aboriginal populations in North America and Australia had been institutionally genocided for generations. Conditions in African Colonies, which were truly abominable. All examples of brutal, institutionalized racism during his life. I am unaware of any incidents where Lovecraft actually attempted to commit crimes against humanity. Considering how big rscism continues to be now, let alone was for the 40ish years following his death, does it seem reasonable to assert Lovecraft as an example of an 'odious' bigot? he seems a bit like the old racist relatives most have, the ones that wouldn't act on racism, but still are solidly racist.

    CrevsDaakMortianna
  • AndrewFoleyAndrewFoley Member Posts: 743
    DreadKhan said:

    More odious in an era when a plurality American citizens were okay with lynching African Americans?

    I'm inclined to say yes, on the grounds that while the majority of Americans at the time may have held racist attitudes, they didn't write poetry celebrating it (see "On the Creation of N*****s").

    But I'll admit it's possible I'm holding Lovecraft to a higher standard than other people of his time out of a desire admire Lovecraft the human being as much as I do Lovecraft the writer of cosmic horror.

    DreadKhanCrevsDaakMetallomanAdso
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    I suppose my issue is this: its not as bad to be a bigot in thought as it is to actively murder, beat and oppress. Mind you, both are evil, so the point is probably pretty moot. I doubt Lovecraft would have been physically equipped to harass people, but that certainly doesn't stop some people.

    I know what you mean though, I heartily enjoy Ian Flemming, but he really had some hateful beliefs regarding Germans, Russians and Koreans, mostly Koreans. He was racist towards Africans too, but less hatefully so, and this racist tendency was greatly tempered by the fact he actually liked Caribeans, including the blacks. He was probably affected by the conflicts of his era though, Germany and Korea being actual enemies on the battlefield, and Russia being the core of the Cold War enemy the USSR. Of course, I am projecting a wee bit, since it's actually James Bond that hates Koreans (and Germans largely, but being European, Germans and Russians are more respected), but he also makes a point of Bond loving the Caribean, and he himself retired there.

    CrevsDaak
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    edited February 2015
    @AndrewFoley - I do know that several of his works are quite racist. I haven't read them all, but I the ones I have read do not "Appear" to be overtly so, but I get that some of his works were not pleasant.

    As far as him being more or less in comparison to the time, I agree that he may have been a bit left of center. I do not in any way condone such an attitude, not even a little.

    However, the question I was attempting to raise is, given that most of his works are not overtly offensive (and he wrote a LOT), I don't see why people hang the racist card every time his name is mentioned. I've not seen and agenda in his writing. I don't see a manifesto suggesting any sort of action be taken.

    Tolkien was quite the Luddite in his day. He also was a bit sexist. Neither are put forth AGAINST his writings because they aren't overt or belligerent. H.P. Lovecraft was not a Nazi (that I am aware of). I don't think he was a member of the KKK. And I don't know of any documented incidents where he hurt anyone. Certainly those aren't the end all and be all of Proof, but I don't think that a man should be judged exclusively based on some unpleasant (yet unacted upon) beliefs.

    This with the greatest respect and in no way at all condoning treating any human being as less than any other.

    DreadKhan
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    There are always some problems when you take a person or act completely out of context. The challenge is trying to find some manner of Platonic Ideal (...yes, I am fully aware of the epic-level irony) of Goodness. Platos own definition of The Good may be deeply flawed, but the concept is a valuanle one, and imho, the best way to judge things with complicated/problematic contexts. Defining Good in an acultural fashion is not simple or easy though. So, part of working out a definition that works for you will require much thought, and unfortunately, you will need to read a ton of deeply problematic Classic work. A great example I am familiar with is Dostoevsky, a true genius, and a truely flawed man. Both a bigot and an addict, he wrote some incredibly deep, interesting and influential novels (...and some Stinkers!). Almost anyone can get a great deal out of his work, and most people should at least try reading one of his masterpieces (IE Brothers Karamazov). Especially interesting is how Dostoevsky writes some characters, especially the 'good' characters. Very few people have literally no concept of good and evil, but we like to put things in grey areas instead, to help justify ourselves and our culture. Even fewer care to invest serious thought into the question of 'what is good', as it will only make life harder, if possibly more satisfying.

    Refusing to read an author on the grounds they were a bigot, or otherwise unpleasant will very quickly elijinate everything ever written; nobody is perfect! Plenty of modern artists have aspects of their character that are reprehensible, and dead ones not only have character flaws, they are anachronisms. If you could pull a Bill and Ted, not very many historical figures from even the recent past would fit in well today, arguably none would completely at first. More than just unfair, it can be unproductive to ignore works from problematic artists. Why? Well, for one, none of the social ills we by and large despise is truly ever gone from the world: racism and prejudice are alive and well today, misogyny is thriving, destitue people the world over are exploited and abused, and violence has certainly not gone anywhere! if anything, these issues have been thriving underground. Rather than solve problems, the modern tendency in the 'civilized' world to date has been to conceal our sins, and our sinful natures. Reading an openly racist author can force us to look at our own lives, and the world, as they truly are; not merely as we wish to pretend they are! The flaws of others can be used as a mirror to better judge ourselves, and to an extent, the world around us. The worst thing that can occur with problematic art is for people to look at it and say 'look how good we are, and how bad they were', and the best thing imho is we can partake of trouvling art and ask ourselves 'how different am I? How different are we?' and most importantly, we must ask 'how do we improve?'.

    Finding fault in others is quite easy, but the problems in our self is very hard.

    tldr; Reading problematic works can provide insight into how problems (covertly or overtly) exist today. Racism doesn't make a work worthless or useles, but care should be excercised.

    the_spyderSmilingSwordMortianna
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    edited February 2015
    I couldn't begin to put something so eloquent. Thanks for that.

    I've seen people lock step behind one epithet or another as if a person can be summed up by a single sound byte. People are human. They have passions, strengths, flaws and mistakes.

    Websters dictionary defines bigotry thus:

    "stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own."

    I personally like to be careful that in applying a term to someone else, I don't end up being guilty of exactly that same thing (i.e. being a bigot about THEIR beliefs).

    Edited for unintended tone.

    Post edited by the_spyder on
    DreadKhan
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859

    I couldn't begin to put something so eloquent. Thanks for that.

    To put it simply, I've seen a fair amount of people today lock step behind one epithet or another as if a person can be summed up by a single sound byte. People are human. They have passions, strengths, flaws and mistakes.

    Websters dictionary defines bigotry thus:

    "stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own."

    Be careful that in applying the term to someone else, you aren't guilty of exactly that which you are condemning others for.

    Its very weird, but yes, even intoleance can be tolerated... this is where the West has stumbled upon a really useful concept; hate speech. In most Western countries, you can be openly racist and be protected largely from persecution for holding what is widely considered a truly abhorent position. But, as soon as you move into inciting action, or hatred, ie pushing your beliefs, the law ceases to be on your side. There is no real societal benefit in telling people they aren't allowed to have preconceptions and prejudices, but there ought to be no tolerance for those willing to actually act on their personal prejudices. Obviously this isn't entirely enforceable or perfect, but the idea is a good one, and the concept certainly isn't new.

    When Christianity spread in Europe, the clergy was aware that there were two groups you needed to convert to guarantee eventual sucess in converting a population: you needed to convert leaders, and start convertin children. Leaders could be influenced more easily as individuals, and sometimes could be bought via alliance. Once leader converted or at least accepted Christianity in their area of influence, conversion was a process of mixing tolerance of some old beliefs grandathered in, while each generation became progressively more Christian. Most of the time, it was completely understood that you were not going to truly convert most adults (though it is a tennent of Christianity that baptism creates faith, so instant conversion was not required if you accepted baptism), but if adults paid lip service to the new religion, and children were taught primarily this new faith, complete comversion only takes a few generations, and was almost completely successful (isolated areas complicate things, which is why Iceland was much less thoroughly converted, same with more isolated celt populations). There is even some very old 'propaganda' type literature. Some of the oldest English texts fall under this heading, ie Dream of the Rood. Many seemingly pagan works are also possibly inspired by this conversion process.

    Of course, we also can look at how conversion process' can go horribly awry, again looking at Christianity, as I am most familiar with it. Despite having a proven forumla, the Church chose a very different strategy when converting the New World... For one, some evangelists took an overly literal interpretation with them, and believed that merely baptizing a population assured conversion... without having actually TAUGHT the precepts of the faith. This went poorly, and misunderstandings resulted in many atrocities. Another key problem of converting non-Europeans was racism; lack of respect and 'othering' not only failed to convert, it often hardened populations against conversion! Converting Native Americans to aide in stealing their land was doomed to be a disaster, and assuredly was.

    The same concepts that allowed Christianity to displace all other European religions (close enough to be true) can be used to fight bigotry, if we learn from the sucess and failures. Trying to hamfist a dyed in the wool racist is not going to be very effective. As not being racist becomes progressively more normal, racist behaviour becomes less acceptable. Art can be used to better expose the more entrenched, discrete prejudices.

    tldr; converting by the sword is essentially a myth; you can't force people to be good, but you can require progressively more decent behaviour, especially over generations.

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    "Chancellor Gorkon: You don't trust me, do you? I don't blame you. If there is to be a brave new world, our generation is going to have the hardest time living in it."

    Would be another way to put some of what you posted.

    But I don't think that what I was trying to say was conversion of beliefs, but more along the lines of, if you don't like a given story that H.P. Lovecraft wrote, condemn the story if you must. But since 'By and large' the bulk of his stories are not racially motivated (or motivating as far as I can see), condemning the man and the body of his works blanketly because of privately held views seems like a good way to miss out on some truly fantastic literature.

    Mortianna
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Way to derail the thread.

  • AndrewFoleyAndrewFoley Member Posts: 743


    if you don't like a given story that H.P. Lovecraft wrote, condemn the story if you must. But since 'By and large' the bulk of his stories are not racially motivated (or motivating as far as I can see), condemning the man and the body of his works blanketly because of privately held views seems like a good way to miss out on some truly fantastic literature.

    If anything, my attitude towards Lovecraft is the opposite of what you describe. Generally speaking, I love his writing, at least the horror stuff; it's the man himself I have an issue with. And his beliefs weren't privately held, they were publicly espoused. Every biography I've read of Lovecraft, and I've read a few (though it's been awhile) makes a point of addressing his racism--it's just not something that can be ignored if you want to get a sense of the person behind the writing.

    Does it change how I read the work? A little, I think, yes. Does that mean I don't like his writing? No. Does that mean I wouldn't recommend people with an interest in horror not read his stuff? Hell no. I'm a fan of his work. To some extent, I'm a fan of the man--he was incredibly generous to fellow writers with his time and his creations. But he believed some unfortunate things, as many of his time did, and, as I mentioned above, it's largely because I respect his work so much that I find certain of his views so disappointing.

    Metallomanelement
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    @FinneousPJ - hey, it's my thread. But point taken. :smile:

    @AndrewFoley - Fair enough. I took your comments as a condemnation of his entire body of work as so often times I see elsewhere. That was my error. The man himself, I don't have an opinion on because I've never read anything about his life. I LOVE his writing, except where it gets ugly. Then I simply avoid that story. In that, we may be like minded.

    My reaction was in response to an article I read recently about removing his image from awards in horror writing "Because" of his racist attitudes and with zero regard for the writings. The article put forth that another writer should take his place. On the face of it, that is fine provided that the new person is as accomplished a writer as the one being replaced, and there are several that spring to mind. However, what was put forth was an author that had only written a few things, BUT was a minority in two categories. This in my mind was removing someone for a reason other than his writings and replacing him WITH someone for a reason other than their writings. It seemed problematic. Sorry if that spilled over here.

    However, back on track. I am actually thinking that the entire storyline in BG and BG2 is very lovecraftian. The Ancient Evil from beyond that grows inside the protagonist. The slavering Slayer is kind of Lovecraftian. The man attempting to usurp the power that he can't hope to ultimately control. Pretty cool stuff in my view.

  • Amber_ScottAmber_Scott Member Posts: 513
    edited February 2015
    Octavia Butler, if that's who you're referring to, wrote many novels and series and they were groundbreaking literary works. That's why she would make a fine candidate to name an award after.

    Nonnahswriter
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    Fair enough. I've nothing against her. merely that I had never heard of her before the article. Maybe that makes me not as well read as I should be.

    I did do some research and although she has written some 15 or so books, most of them were not in the Horror genre. Therefore, since the award was for horror writing, I'd have thought that Clive Barker or Edgar Allen Poe or Bram Stoker or Brian Lumley or half a dozen others might have been a better choice. When I think of horror writing, those are the names that spring to mind.

    Not to sell short Octavia Butler's accomplishments, merely that hers is not as well known a name as some others. And it did feel as if someone was attempting to elevate her for reasons other than her contribution to horror, particularly in light of the reasons why HPL was being rejected.

    But these are side issues and I do not wish to offend anyone, nor to derail the thread any further.

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    edited February 2015
    Well, the funny/disturbing thing is almost all Victorian era (when the genre really came into its own imho, though it definately was part of many myths/legends) horror novels featured some form of 'fear of foreigners', or other bigotry, perhaps inevitably because that was a hugely popular fear. Fear and hate VERY much go together remember... we default to hate things we fear, and we often fear the unknown. Unfamiliar cultures are a staple of horror, always have been.

    Even modern, multi-cultural societies still fear foreigners and anyone qualifying as 'other', so horror more than most genres has an ongoing history of 'problematic' literature.

    I think if you value intelligence and reason, reading problematic literature should not be something taboo. If you find you cannot get anything from a book you are reading purely for pleasure, by all means stop. But reading for development requires you to challenge yourself, which is why lots of deeply problematic work is studied a great deal more than exciting pulp fiction is.

    Edit: On topic, the various undead filled catacombs fit the bill. Ghoul Town the most obviously.

    The two Templesmof Amaunator are pretty horrifying too, with ancient gods slumbering and holiness defiled.

    the_spyderMortianna
  • MortiannaMortianna Member Posts: 1,355
    Someone should coin a term to describe the inevitable, conversation-stopping ad hominem that ensues whenever HPL is mentioned in a discussion (much like Godwin's law or "argumentum ad Hitlerum").

    Instead of judging him by today's political and social climate, I wish more people would try to understand the biographical and historical context behind his ideas. He had a low opinion of black people, but so did a lot of folks. Why? What experiences did HPL have that led to the formation of those opinions? What reasons did he give to support his views? Or has the doctrine of "political correctness--or else!" enshrined in most Western societies made such inquiries beyond-the-pale, outside of knee-jerk condemnation and ostentatious hand-wringing?

    If you want to get a better insight into Lovecraft's worldview, read his letters. He was one of the most prolific letter writers of the 20th century.

    ------------

    Back on-topic, @DreadKhan, if you haven't read it already, HPL's Supernatural Horror in Literature deals directly with what you were talking about regarding fear and the unknown.

    Given all of the jellies, oozes, and slimes in the BG trilogy, it's too bad Juiblex (arguably the most Lovecraftian demon) didn't make an appearance:

    image

  • hisplshispls Member Posts: 166
    edited March 2015
    Bearing in mind the the word "racist" wasn't even invented until 1936 (a scant year before HP died) by cultural Marxists in Germany. Naught for nothing, but the minute you start using made up communist propaganda words you lose all credibility with me.

    In the late 1800s if you were to travel into some of those Pacific islands or much of Africa the natives were naked, had no written language, hadn't even invented the wheel, and it was not at all unusual to be thrown in a pot and eaten. One can Read Hutchinson or Livingstone's writing about their exploration for a true picture of the horror and savagery that existed in those places.

    It's hardly out of the realm of reasonability to look at, say, Notre Dame cathedral or the Aqueducts in Rome, then compare that level of civilization with crude huts made of dung and broken sticks and naked cannibals and come to some conclusions.

    More on-topic, the first edition Deities and Demigods AD&D book had Lovecraft mythos section which IIRC was the reason that book went OOP so quickly and was later revised without those characters (some copyright issues).

    IMO there's absolutely nothing in D&D otherwise that's close to Lovecraft mythos. The largest proof being that TSR was forced to remove Cthulu mythos for copyright reasons! The mind flayer isn't a mini-Cthulu. Demons of D&D had their own mythos in the original Monster Manual. Demogorgon was price of demons, Lovecraft's creatures were of extra terrestrial origin. Things from "beyond the stars" and such.

    There was a "Call of Cthulu" game for the original X-box that was actually a really badass FPS style game. Absolutely worth a play if you can find it.

    MortiannaCrevsDaakWandering_Minstrel
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    I don't think that the lack of a word for something means it doesn't exist. The concept of treating someone as less than human (or at least less than your self) for no other reason than their race just seems wrong to me. Never the less, I wouldn't judge someone's writing (or other creative endeavor) based on their personality so long as the one doesn't intentionally forward the other in unpleasant ways.

    As far as the Deities and Demigods books, I know that there was a law suit requiring that the Moorcock Deities be removed. I guess the same thing (or similar) happened with the Lovecraft entries? I never knew.

    Regarding the rest, I'd disagree. Firstly, although outer space does seem to be a theme in Lovecraft's work, it isn't always present. Some stories are straight out horror. Others are monsters from the deep. Still others are from an outer space that is very akin to Extra Planar rather than little green men from Mars. Even if they were all Space aliens, I think that someone can be inspired by them and alter the details enough to fit in with the genre, in this case beings from The Abyss instead of from the outer reaches.

    I do agree that the Illithid are not Cthulhu incarnate, but it does appear that their look was inspired by a lot of the Cthulhu artwork out there. The similarities are far to similar to ignore. Likewise the Sahaugin and the Kuo-Toa would appear to have been at least in part inspired by Lovecraft's work. Maybe they had other influences as well, but the Sahaugin attacking the ship, and the underwater city are extremely suggestive of Lovecraft in my mind. All in my opinion only.

    DreadKhan
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    Racism didn't have a words, because strictly speaking, it wasn't really a concept. Most societies were hostile to varying degrees towards non-citizens, though more isolated cultures tended to be friendlier. Greeks had disdain for anyone not Greek I would say, but ones skin colour wasn't the issue. The Romans went even further, and wrote laws to allow foreigners to become citizens, aka considered Roman. Race was utterly irrelevant.

    Regarding Africa, its very much a myth that it was uncivilized, one spread by Europeans to excuse the truly horrendous 'colonization' of many parts of Africa, especially the centre. We can be sure Africa was very civilized, as by the time Europeans were starting to develop the trappings of civilization, Africa had built the Great Pyramid. During the Middle Ages, African nobility visited Europe on occasion, bringing with them so much gold the local economies nearly collapsed. The Africans considered Europeans violent, uncivilized, selfish and incredibly dirty. Also poor obviously. On the whole, most of the African populations were less interested in war, which makes some sense, as its still a continent with phenomenal resources, and the continent vast, so land was not nearly as worth dying over.

    When you get down to it, Europe's big advantage was probably the sheer crappiness of the location; Europe has fairly high population density, yet was never very good at providing resources... staple foods were imported from Africa by the Romans, who controled much of the cleared arable land in Europe. After Rome fell, Europe had pretty much constant violent upheavel, food shortages and disease outbreaks. Poverty was so rampant even in the 18th century that people were willing in large numbers to drop everything and risk a ship ride to leave. African previous to European exploitation had little desire to leave in significant numbers.

    Europeans tried to claim the native American population was savage; Peoples in many sciences more advanced in Central America and South America, while in North America there were many tribes so socially advanced they were non-violent. Whole tribes engaged in non-violent warfare to settle disputes.

    So no, I don't think its fair or accurate to claim that Europeans were civilized and everyone else were barbarous savages. However, in Lovecraft's day, the common people were never taught a single scrap of African history, and so the Average Joe was convinced Africans were all savages, and in keeping with this, freely treated non-whites ad subhumans. People were very ignorant, and because of this an individual from that era is going to be more racist. Its not a good thing, just an inevitable one. I would be far more troubled by similar racism now in a young person, as they have the opportunity to be better.

    D&D did in fact keep some Lovecraft in it, you might wish to read about the Obyrith demons, the ancient Lords of Chaos. Especially Dagon, Obox-ob, and probably Pale Night, though all the Obyrith possess forms of inconcievable horror. Dagon was basicly lifted, and arguably the Kuo Toa and Sahuigan were inspired by the same tale, as the_spyder noted.

    Illithids are canonically time travellers from a very distant future, the survivors escaped by going back in time. Yeah... its that weird. Imho, the humble Aboleth is far more Lovecraftian than the Illithid... they are the oldest species in existence, and they inherit memories. And turn people into horrible aquatic monsters, or eat them. They've got tentacles, secrete a slimebubble and are all evil geniuses too.

    DJKajururonaldoFinneousPJNonnahswriter
  • DJKajuruDJKajuru Member Posts: 3,279
    edited March 2015
    I would rather say that D&D could be a lot more lovecraftian.

    For example, while in D&D a group of adventurers fights hordes of undead, in a lovecraft book there would be *rumours* of a single undead walking the land, and that would terrify the whole village.

    While in D&D there are wizard schools and adventuring mages, in a lovecraftian book a wizard would be someone who found an ancient book and learned its magical secrets , and got mad from it.

    It is obvious that both approaches are different, but I like the idea of bringing more suspense to D&D games.

    Post edited by DJKajuru on
    DreadKhan
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    DJKajuru said:

    I would rather say that D&D could be a lot more lovecraftian.

    For example, while in D&D a group of adventurers fights hordes of undead, in a lovecraft book there would be *rumours* of a single undead walking the land, and that would terrify the whole village.

    While in D&D there are wizard schools and adventuring mages, in a lovecraftian book a wizard would be someone who found an ancient book and learned its magical secrets , and got mad from it.

    It is obvious that both approaches are different, but I like the idea of bringing more suspense to D&D games.

    Part of that is DMing of course, if you're curious Ravenloft is a general Horror setting, though sometimes it can actually be pretty legitimately horrifying. The Lodestone Paladin is a nifty concept it had, a Paladin that absorbs and stores Evil, including memories of the monsters they slay. Every ghoul has its story, you know! They might have called them Paladins of Empathy, as they will be forced to truly understand evil, not merely blindly kill every evil thing without thought because 'oh well, it Detected Evil!', which is not a healthy mindset Imho.

    Another interesting resource is Heros of Horror... its a 3.5 book, with heaps of guidelines for running a horror campaign, and its got lots of pretty disturbing evil in it. It stresses some of what you're suggesting. Pretty interesting book actually, probably more useful for a DM than the 3.0 Book of Vile Darkness, which was pretty hamfisted in its evil most of the time. Of course, the two have some impressive synergy! BoVD did include a really Horrific prestige class, the Cancer Mage. Its not an arcane class, but it gets a tumor as its familiar. I **** you not! At high levels, they're harder to kill than most Liches, as they can become a colony of microbes. Really well done class, and very horror appropriate. In HoH, there is a Prestige Class called the Tainted Scholar. Gets some handy abilities at the cost of mind and body.

    I think you hit the nail on the head for horror gaming, its not supposed to be about 'omg a Balor!', its about mystery, and requires a pretty good DM to be able to set the tone appropriately without just bludgeoning sensibilities. They need to stress the awfulness of seeing that Zombie, not how easy to kill it may be. Heck, a lvl 3 Ranger 3 Rogue is tons of villain to terrorize an area, no matter how strong the heros are. They have to find him first, right? Every day they fail to catch him, he might snipe 2 or 3 people. I could see even decent level heros struggling with finding a competent hunter, and juat imagine the stories the villagers in the region tell of the Fiend of the Forest! 15 hands tall, weighs 20 stone, etc. Scared people exaggerate, right? :wink:

    DJKajuru
  • alastair93alastair93 Member Posts: 117
    (Minor spoilers about BG series and other games in this post)

    I *love* Lovecraftian themes in video games. For the Baldur's Gate series, the quests that stick out in my mind as being particularly Lovecraftian are the Cult of the Eyeless, and the final quest in BG1 when the ancient, hidden, evil temple is discovered underneath a normal city. The idea of 'buried evil' is a recurring theme in his stories.

    Eternal Darkness for the Gamecube was completely Lovecraftian, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes the mythos. The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion also had a quest where the player character finds a village where they're worshipping subterranean creatures, which I'd bet is a direct nod to Lovecraft.

    While I like Lovecraft's works, he was definitely an unlikeable and unpleasant person, much like many of my favourite authors. I don't think his overt racism should be ignored, minimised or brushed under the carpet, since it directly explains the themes in his works. While racism and xenophobic attitudes were relatively very widespread in his lifetime, there were still some very high-profile literary works published before Lovecraft's stories, which explored and condemned the brutal aspects of European colonialism in Africa. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is the one that jumps out in my mind. So Lovecraft would certainly have been exposed to contrary viewpoints.

    He was living in a time of colonialism and imperialism — mysterious, 'savage' societies (N.B. in fact Africa *did* have several indigenous writing systems, to respond to a post above) were being discovered in remote corners of the globe. Meanwhile, European aristocrats were importing exotic Oriental arts such as yoga and vegetarianism. Theosophists like HP Blavatsky had achieved a great deal in promoting the concept of the 'ancient wisdom of the East', painting a picture of a mysterious, primal and dark 'Old Knowledge of the Ancients' in contrast to the flimsy, modern inferiority of European civilization.

    I think these cultural trends left a mark on Lovecraft, and I believe these concepts terrified him. You can see it in some of his stories where (if I remember correctly) a character sees visions of the dystopian future consisting of 'yellow people' (Asians) insanely dancing with flutes under a 'cyclopean' tower of the Old Ones — i.e. the triumph of the East over the West. For me, it's an interesting paradox in how he thought Western civilisation and Englishness were so vastly superior to anything else, and yet at the same time so fragile to the threats from ancient, 'savage' peoples.

    But just because you read Lovecraft, it doesn't mean that you endorse his views. His racist views disgust me (some of his poetry, in fact, is just awful to read - it's vile), but I still like his stories for their atmosphere and narratives. Likewise, I don't buy Virginia Woolf's antisemitism when I read her novels, or Oscar Wilde's pederasty when I read his. I agree with @DreadKhan when he says that we should read works that challenge us. But nor should we really engage in apologetics for authors just because we really like their artistic work. If anything, it makes them all the more interesting.

    elementDJKajuruthe_spyder
  • miklosselkirkmiklosselkirk Member Posts: 11
    Hey, all. I'm a fan of Lovecraft's writing and of Lovecraftian fiction, horror and themes, in general. On the controversy? Simply put: yes, Lovecraft was racist. Like his writing, still--but do chafe at the bigotry in it.

    Lovecraftian themes in BG/BG2?? How, I ask you--HOW--has no one mentioned Jan's sidequest, "The Hidden" in Shadows of Amn?? That's CLASSICALLY Lovecraftian stuff...from the SECOND you talk to Jan, in the upstairs of the Jansen home in the Slums, right after speaking with Uncle Gerhardt, you're clearly playing through a Lovecraftian plot! :D

  • miklosselkirkmiklosselkirk Member Posts: 11
    The story of what happened to the thief, Ralg, and of what happened to Gerhardt after he attempted to evaluate/treat Ralg? Could've been pulled right from Call of Cthulhu or The Haunter of the Dark. :)

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