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"Ktulu! / Ktulu's so he-ea-ea-a-avy / he's driving you mad. / He's driving you mad! / He's driving you. / Hyeah! / He's so / Heavy! / Heavy! / Heavy! / Yeah!"

- Ktulu (He's So Heavy) by Beatallica
(Okay, I know it's a dumb quote, but if you're familiar with The Beatles, Metallica, and Lovecraft, the song is pretty awesome.)

Basic Information

Great Cthulhu is the most famous of the Great Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos. He's described as huge, immortal, alien, and evil. Maybe I should be saying "it", ascribing a gender to Cthulhu humanizes it too much. The whole point is the alien-ness of this titanic and cthonic monster.

If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful.

- H.P. Lovecraft, The Call Of Cthulhu

Cthulhu is immortal. It rests at the bottom of the ocean, in a city named R'lyeh, waiting for an opportunity to destroy us all. When The Stars Are Right, it will arise and devour mankind. Or, drive us all mad with it's Alien Geometry. Or consume our souls. Or mutate us into something no longer human. Or maybe just fail to notice us in the same way we fail to notice the ants we displace when we stomp around and build our vast monuments. It's hard to say with Cosmic Horror - you just know Cthulhu's big and bad, and we should all fear his return.

In fact, Cthulhu's so nasty, he's sometimes invoked as just a word meaning the supreme evil or horror. Sort of a cross between The Devil, the Big Bad Evil Guy and an Eldritch Abomination.

Despite lending his name to numerous role-playing games and the Cthulhu Mythos, ol' squid face isn't actually the center of Lovecraftian Pantheon. Depending on how you look at things, that'd more likely be Nyarlathotep or Azathoth. Cthulhu himself only plays a major role in one of Lovecraft's stories.

Other spellings for Cthulhu include Cathulu, Cighulu, Clooloo, Clulu, Cthulu, Kthulhut, Ktulu, Kulhu, Kutulu, Q’thulu, Thu Thu, and Tulu. I can't possibly list pronounciations - he's the original The Unpronounceable. Our human bodies (and minds) aren't built for his language.

Great Cthulhu is served by all sorts of lesser minions, from depraved human cultists to hybrids known as Deep Ones, to his own huge tentacle-faced spawn. It's a Religion of Evil with Mutation and Monster of the Week subthemes. Given his evil alien nature, he probably doesn't give a hoot about any of them. Cthulhu may be in league with the other Great Old Ones, or an enemy of Hastur, or they may all be so inhuman as to have no identifiable emotions or relationships.

According to August Derleth, Cthulhu is some sort of super-powered Water Elemental. Kenneth Hite says Cthulhu is "the incarnation of (or a sentient facet of) gravity." The Cthulhu Project says Cthulhu is actually a spaceship being built underwater by a vast global conspiracy to leave the planet.

See Also

For more ideas, see Interpretatio Cthulhiana and Cthulhu Mythos Spotting List.


2. Short Story: The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
3. RPG: Trail of Cthulhu by Kenneth Hite - starting on page 90, Hite proposes no less than 9 different explanations for what Cthulhu really is.

Game and Story Use

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