It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train—a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter.H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness (1931)
These amorphous things were created by the Old Ones to service them; they were designed to be strong, adaptable, and capable for any task set before them. Eventually, they rebelled against their creators and brought them low and lost themselves to the four corners of the Earth. Even if the player’s characters have not heard of a “shoggoth,” the players have, and even the name is designed to send shivers crawling down spines.
Keepers desiring to include shoggoths in their campaign can find the fetid beasts in Chapter 14: Monsters, Beasts, and Alien Gods in the Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook (7th Edition). Shoggoths are presented in two varieties, Shoggoths and Shoggoth Lords. The Shoggoth is the horrific creature originally described in Lovecraft’s novella, At the Mountains of Madness. A Shoggoth Lord is typically smaller than a shoggoth, but far more intelligent. They disguise themselves as human to get closer to their prey. An additional type of shoggoth, the Proto Shoggoth, is available in the new Malleus Monstrorum, Vol. 1; it’s an infantile shoggoth, perfect for when the Keeper wants the investigators to confront a shoggoth without a near-certain total party kill.
Typically, Keepers describe shoggoth as oily, gooey, amorphous black blobs that form eyes, mouths, and other appendages on an as-needed basis. But, just by changing the description the Keeper can introduce uncertainty. The players, as well as their characters, won’t know with any certainty what they are facing. What if a shoggoth was dark red in color, and in addition to other organs and appendages it also produced several horns it uses for goring its victims. The Keeper can continue to use the same monster stat-block for the shoggoth, but the description alone will cause the players to second guess their next move.
Bold Keepers may consider creating their own unique version of a shoggoth; much like how the shoggoth lord and proto-shoggoth are variants of the original beast, the Keeper can do something similar. One possible method for creating a new variant of a shoggoth is to combine a shoggoth with another interesting Mythos creature. For example, the amalgamation of a shoggoth with a hound of Tindalos; a Tindalosian Shoggoth.
Not long after the Elder Things created shoggoths, they poured a few into the timestream with the intention to correct schisms in past and future histories, but the shoggoths were lost to the eddies of time and forgotten by their creators. The shoggoth’s amorphous forms were stretch throughout time, and were nearly destroyed, but the Lords of Tindalos took notice, and collected them in their citadel located in time’s distant past. The mysterious Lords of Tindalos enhanced the shoggoth’s form so that it may sense pressures in time and allow it to traverse the flow of time as it sees fit.
Transmuted by the Lords of Tindalos, Tindalosian shoggoths are a pale blue-grey color, and they appear to be comprised of thousands of cubes, each cube measuring six inches on a side. The pile of cubes tumble and merge with each other as the creature moves. Eyes, mouths, and cuboid tentacles form as needed from the flat plane of any cube. A nimbus blue fog surrounds the creature wherever it roams; they use sharp angles as a gateway into the timestream.
Unlike their kin, the hounds of Tindalos, Tindalosian shoggoths are not known to pursue prey through the timestream. But they are sensitive to pressures and changes in the timestream. If a Tindalosian shoggoth is temporally nearby when a change to the timestream occurs, then the creature is compelled to investigate and destroy whatever is capable of such a disturbance.
TINDALOSIAN SHOGGOTH, fetid iridescences of time
10D6 × 5
8D6 × 5
12D6 × 5
3D6 × 5
(3D6+6) × 5
5D6 × 5
Average Hit Points: 37
Average Damage Bonus: +4D6
Average Build: 5
Average Magic Points: 17
Move: 7 tumbling
Attacks per round: 2
In combat, a Tindalosian shoggoth can cover up to three yards square and may produce cuboid tentacles, claws, teeth, and horns which it may use to crush, tear, or gore its victims. Or those unfortunate enough to be hit by a Tindalosian shoggoth attack may be embraced by it instead.
Embrace (mnvr): Each embraced victim is damaged separately. Tindalosian shoggoths can drain time out of an embraced victim. Victims who begin the combat round already embraced by a Tindalosian shoggoth loses 4D6 points of CON; the loss of CON is permanent. In addition, for every two points of lost CON, the embraced investigator ages one year. The investigator dies of frailty if their CON is reduced to zero points, or they die of old age if their accumulated loss of CON ages them to 110 years old.
An embraced victim can escape if they have a successful opposed Strength roll with the Tindalosian shoggoth, or if the appendage embracing the victim suffers at least 10 points of damage in a single combat round.
Fighting 70% (35/14), damage equals damage bonus, or it can choose to embrace the target (see above).
Dodge 25% (12/5)
Armor: 3-point hide; it regenerates 2 hit points per round, unless on 0 hit points; mundane weapons have no effect on a Tindalosian shoggoth, though enchanted weapons and spells do full damage. Fire and electrical attacks only inflict half damage.
Sanity Points: 1D6 / 1D20 Sanity points to see a Tindalosian shoggoth.
Where would an investigator most likely encounter a shoggoth? If you consider the elements found in nature, a shoggoth most represents water, so it seems logical that they could be found in or near water. Maybe it lies in wait at the bottom of a well or bubbles up when the tide rolls in under the baleful eye of a full moon. What follows are three ideas for Keepers to build upon to create shoggoth-infused adventures for the investigators.
- Classic 1920s period. The investigators are graduate students who have volunteered to work on a dig in the Badlands of Montana. Archeology students are searching for signs of early civilizations, paleontology students are searching for fossils, and geology students are searching for unique geological and mineral deposits. During the dig, the students discover the site of an ancient village, to include a well that is capped with a strange stone. The capstone is laced with ore that is not of this Earth, it is an ancient meteor that was fashioned into a capstone. If the stone is removed, it reveals a well that contains a dark sludge at the bottom – a shoggoth. Radiation from the meteor has changed the shoggoth, rendering it incapable of forming independent appendages it can use to hunt and kill. And though it may be immortal, it is starving and needs to eat. So, to overcome the deficiency incurred by the radiation, the shoggoth can merge its form with fossilized dinosaur bones to create an amalgam of shoggoth and fossil when it attacks its prey.
- Cthulhu Invictus period. The investigators are servants, soldiers, and members of a great Roman house, and they have all traveled to a village in Aquitania to attend a wedding; a maiden from their house is to be wed to a young lord in Aquitania. The wedding is a two-week affair that begins with a hunt. The hunt takes them deep into the forest where they seek a great ram, (a modern-day mouflon). Legend tells of a ram with golden fleece, and to see one during a wedding hunt will bring good fortune and strong children for the newlyweds. While in the forest, the hunting party discovers a hot spring. Under the spring is a cavern used by a shoggoth as a lair; the creature occasionally emerges from the spring to hunt for food. The legend of the golden ram is true, and anyone who kills the ram and uses its golden pelt as a cloak becomes invisible to the shoggoth, and if the ram’s horns are used as weapons they inflict 1D8 damage upon the fetid beast. Hidden within the shoggoth’s lair is an artifact that dates back to when the creature was in servitude to the Elder Things; a large white crystal. The Elder Thing crystal is cold to the touch and covered in frost at all times. The crystal stores 25 magic points and it contains a spell; Enthrall Victim. Once someone has attuned themselves to the crystal, they gain access deposit and withdraw magic points into the crystal, as well as the ability to cast the spell from the crystal. The crystal is capable of storing up to 40 magic points.
- Modern period. The investigators are part of the production crew for a new reality television series that is going to be set in an abandoned penitentiary. The show is called “Death Row;” contestants compete against each other for a cash prize of one million dollars. Each week, the contestants vote to eliminate, (i.e.: execute), one other contestant. The production crew has just arrived, and you have one month to fully explore the abandoned prison and place cameras and microphones in every nook and cranny. The contestants will have free reign of the prison, so the show needs to be able to follow their every move and listen to every conversation. While exploring one of the lower levels of the prison, the investigators discover something that looks like a precious gem, a ruby. In truth, the ruby is a time crystal, with it a person can fold time allowing them to see and move through the angles of time. Unfortunately for the investigators, use of the ruby attracts the attention of a nearby Tindalosian shoggoth. The beast moves through the angles of time to destroy that which disturbed the timestream, and all of those around them.