Hastur (The Unspeakable One, Him Who Is Not to be Named, Assatur, Xastur, or Kaiwan) is a fictional entity (Great Old One) of the Cthulhu Mythos.
It is possibly one of the most written about and discussed Great Old Ones within this Mythos, and conversely, one of the least understood. This fuzzy, blurred and vague state of comprehension is exacerbated by a divide between literary fans of Hastur, and the RPG community. The fact Hastur is so hard to accurately quantify is no coincidence.
This article is written from the viewpoint that you either know enough about Hastur to be interested in what I’m exploring here, or, that you’re smart enough to form a nebulous patchwork image from the various threads.
Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur
Yellow Dawn is described as a post-apocalyptic world for action adventure and investigative horror. Some aspects of the game draw heavily upon H.P.Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos cycle of stories. I published Yellow Dawn as a role-playing game in 2008 but it also exists as a platform for a raft of stories I plan to write. This includes the recently launched novel, Dog Eat Dog (Edit @ 17th September 2012 – there is now a new Yellow Dawn novel, The Black Lake)
At some point in the not-too-distant future, a corporate cargo hauler, called the Calisto and owned by Soyar Corporation, is heading back from Choma Lab Habitat en-route to Earth. It suffers a critical systems failure resulting in it ploughing into Earth’s atmosphere; breaking up as it fireballs across the sky, it showers debris across Southern Europe and North Africa. Within a week seventy percent of the human population on Earth is dead: victims of a swift and fatal pathogen. Over the next few months, a large proportion of the survivors have succumbed to a second pathogen, the second wave or “zed wave”. Zombies begin to take over whole cities – forcing survivors to either fight it out, creating protected zones, or flee into the wilderness leaving behind Dead Cities.
The story of Yellow Dawn – of the characters getting involved – starts ten years later.
The Truth behind Yellow Dawn
The public (those that survived) blamed the military, blamed Soyar Corporation; and both these parties had no defence because it’s true they were involved in developing and shipping weaponized biological agents. What isn’t known, and is only suspected by a few savants of forbidden and diabolical lore, is that some element of Hastur has been infused within our reality. Events that led to the Calisto crashing into Earth’s atmosphere were planned, although not all of the subsequent consequences were expected or even foreseen. If you’re keen to know the truth about what caused Yellow Dawn, I’d recommend you purchase the major campaign written for the RPG, called Shadows of the Quantinex.
Themes within a Hasturpocalypse
As part of a recent critique of Yellow Dawn, I was asked the following:
Its the Age of Hastur according to the front cover- what does that mean exactly? How does the partial/full summoning of Hastur into our reality change things? What influence does that have on humanity?
One criticism I have of the previous Yellow Dawn rulebook (version 2.1) is that there’s not enough Hastur in the “Age of Hastur”. It’s something that has been rectified in the latest version (2.5) released in February 2012 – with a whole section detailing the corruptive Influence of Hastur and the Yellow Sign within the world of Man.
As part of this re-launch and giving more explanation about the influence of Hastur, I’ve been exploring themes I’d like to bring into the world of Yellow Dawn, through writing short-stories. The end result will be sections of narrative that can be added to the rulebook as “scene setting & background material” and broken down into game system mechanics: spend too long in a Dead City that the following might start to happen to your character.
At the moment these themes include:
<>Zombies are not zombies. They carry Infection but are actually all victims caught within a hideous and shared hallucination that does not end; the bio-chemical compounds within the virus stops their bodies from rotting but their conscious minds have merged with the realm of Carcosa.
<> Hastur can emerge with stronger influence through these human conduits, creating abrupt and corruptive effects in localised areas.
<>Some of The Changed (also called “Orcs”) have a subconscious calling to create temples to Hastur and develop into a meta class known as Star Whisperers, or Warrior Orcs.
<> Any bit of written or illustrated information found within a Dead City or Dead Zone (or associated directly with Carcosa) can be corruptive and spread contagious memes through the character(s).
<> A person may not necessarily be aware they’ve been affected, and even when they suspect, the process of trying to confirm what’s happening to them or the world around them, can drive them into despair and madness.
<> It is impossible to clearly define Carcosa or what Hastur is; the very act of trying to do so can become compulsive and quite literally bring about total mental collapse – as meanings shift and slither every time you believe you’ve grasped the truth of it.
<> The laws that govern our perception of reality – time, the linear continuum of history, physics and geometry – can be corrupted and warped through the influence of Hastur.
<> Entropy and decay are prevalent consequences of exposure to Hastur – but the form in which this actually occurs varies without reason.
You may also enjoy this:
The Black Lake: A novel that explores the influence of the King in Yellow upon a scientific expedition.
THE BLACK LAKE: The Earth has been ravaged by an event known as Yellow Dawn. Ten years later, survivors are putting lives back together and probing the frontiers of a new Wilderness; whilst overhead the orbital colonies slide across the sky, removed and unaffected. Five men leave the fortress island of Malta on an expedition to the sub-Arctic waters above Scotland. They intend to undertake scientific observations of an alien meteorological phenomenon that has followed the apocalyptic event. What they find is a cosmic horror that seethes amongst the shadows of a shattered Earth. It is a story of escape and wonder, of madness and terror. David J Rodger’s trademark unforgiving rendering of harsh reality, and relentless narrative pace, are here in palm-sweating abundance, delivered in a novel that tears open a rent in the boundary of reality, providing a nerve-jarring glimpse of the Outer Chaos and the horrors that lurk just beyond the threshold of our fragile, human existence.
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