The King In Yellow
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Basic Information

The King in Yellow is, technically, a collection of short stories by Robert W. Chambers, commonly considered to be part of the Cthulhu Mythos and featuring some classic entities including the city of Carcosa and the eponymous king, considered to be an avatar of Hastur. The King, it seems, takes a particular interest in artistic types and can often be found encouraging them to pursue their work in ways that damage both their sanity and the boundaries of reality.

For those unlucky enough to encounter him, the King may take many forms, from the hunched and hopping to the tall and stately, but he always appears swathed and veiled in yellow robes - hence the name - although the robes are frequently filthy, tattered and prone to moving independently of the King himself. Of course, it is not entirely clear whether the robes and veil are actually clothing - in the eponymous play, the still veiled King asserts to Camilla that he "wears no mask" - but this still places him amongst the least horrific avatars of the Great Old Ones. Whilst definitely harmful and malevolent, the King is rarely directly aggressive, being more prone to observe mockingly as his mere presence robs mortals of their sanity.

He is also closely associated with the city of Carcosa, which in context has an extradimensional presence and a tendency to seep into reality and infect other times and places - generally an incursion by one will be accompanied by the other.

The King is represented by the mysterious yellow sign - this is popularly depicted as a sort of deformed triskelion, but is never actually described in the source literature. Like many symbols of the mythos, the yellow sign is harmful to the sanity and best not studied too closely - it's widespread appearance will tend to herald an incursion by Carcosa and its monarch.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Injecting an incursion by Carcosa into a campaign can be a great way to genre switch any sort of urban game, as the PCs find this mysterious symbol appearing more and more - first at crime scenes and/or in artistic flyers and then daubed everywhere. Meanwhile their encounters get weirder and the geography of the city is sometimes …wrong… the longer it goes on, the worse things get.
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