The Masks of Nyarlathotep
One of Nyarlathotep’s best-known attributes is his multiplicity of shapes . There is a shout-out to it in the core game (his Thousand Forms spellbook), but he doesn’t actually utilize this ability. Players have remarked on this, and it always bugged me a little too. However, I couldn’t justify doing a whole bunch of different Nyarlathotep models just to benefit a single faction. I mean, if the new shapes are useful, then only Crawling Chaos gets the benefit, and it throws off the game’s balance. And if the new shapes aren’t useful, why do them in the first place?
This time around I hit upon a way to incorporate these shapes without ruining balance. In this campaign, we are introducing the new Masks of Nyarlathotep expansion, which incorporates 3 different forms of Nyarlathotep (a fourth Form is waiting in the wings, if and when we hit the stretch goal). I decided that since Nyarlathotep is the servant and messenger of the Outer Gods, he is not totally subject to his own whims, and therefore it is plausible, even likely, that at times one or more of his forms is under the thrall of another entity.
The result? Each of Nyarlathotep’s forms can be taken by ANY faction. To represent Crawling Chaos’ special relationship with the forms, he is able to get them more easily than the others. However, because increasing the presence of Nyarlathotep in this way is a burden on the cosmos (and presumably, Nyarlathotep’s actual focus), all other factions get an Elder Sign when he does this.
Let’s talk about the three forms I’ve included. One is a Cultist, one a Terror, and the third a Great Old One.
The Dark Demon (Cultist)
This entity is based upon the eponymous story by Robert Bloch, published in 1936, when he was only 19 years old! He became a much better writer later on, but he had to start somewhere! He also had the amazing gift of being able to correspond directly with Lovecraft as a teenager, which no doubt affected his skills and his career.
In the story, the dark demon is a form of Nyarlathotep which manifests itself by literally engulfing and transforming his summoner. When the avatar departs, the victim’s body is left transformed, forever a hideous monster. In the box, we provide Dark Demons in every faction color: nine total figures! When you recruit the Dark Demon, all the enemy factions also get one, but theirs is a burden and weakness to them, while yours is more of an asset.
The Shadow Pharaoh (Terror)
This manifestation is Nyarlathotep’s Egyptian connection, well-known from many stories. The figure itself is a sort of combination of sphinx, scorpion, mummy, pharaoh, and tentacled horror. I really like it, and I think you will too. It has an especially nasty ability which drives cultists off gates, making the gates vulnerable to be captured once the Pharaoh leaves.
The Bloated Woman (Great Old One)
First popularized in the well-known adventure Masks of Nyarlathotep for the Call of Cthulhu system, the Bloated Woman is Nyarlathotep in a rather repulsive female form. She steals killed enemies, and later transforms your gates so they produce Elder Signs rather than Power.