Wednesday 12 December 2012

Cthulhu Metropolis

It is the year 2026 and the city of metropolis dominated the world economy and houses 52 million persons. For the rich – a designer deco paradise of urban engineering. Where the rich live lives of pleasure the workers dwell in squalid subterranean factories. At its center is new Babylon – the control center where the head of the metropolis bank monitors everything - from global money markets to the thunderous work floors of the great machine beneath the city.

Some things are less visible – like the army of servants who serve the rich, or the dilapidated cathedral haunted by the spectre of old religion. Similarly in a run down section of the city is the ancient house of the scientist magician Rotwang – the master brain behind Metropolis, his mechanical hand and other forbidden secrets. Then there are the caverns beneath the city said to be over 2000 years old, where rebel workers meet in secret and who knows what else dwells.

This is a set of notes for setting the horrors of HP Lovecraft in a fantasy world of the future imagined by the silent cinema film Metropolis and the novel by Thea Von Harbau of the same name. I was inspired in part by watching the film with the more recent Call of Cthulhu silent film together – where the idea of editing the two together occurred to me. Kim Numans famous monsters of film land also inspired this with his short story where Superman and metropolis converge with other silent movie characters like Dr Caligari, Nosferatu and others.

To celebrate this reaching my top 10 blogs:
also see:
The Metropolis of Tomorrow (Dover Architecture) by Hugh Ferriss (Paperback) and The Power of Buildings, 1920-1950: A Master Draftsman's Record (Dover Architecture)

1. Concepts
-using narrative of film as background activity
-explore as a deco punk sci fi horror pulp setting

-No Nazis, Hitler and WW2 never happened, obscure political cult
-Metropolis and capitalistic monopolies have crushed the world
-Many cyber punk ideas are in metropolis like machine consciousness

-There are video phones but guns and cars have not changed since WW1  
-Firearms are used by some agents but are very rare

2. Locations in City of metropolis
-New Babylon
-Pleasure Hives
-Subterranean Church

-Private library of the Elite
-Workers City
-Factory Floor

-Drain network
-Master Machine
-Wizard House
-Roads And Transport (aircraft, autogiros, rail, elevators, automobiles)
-Dreamlands of Metropolis (Ancient Babylon)

3. Organizations
-Bank of Metropolis
-NWI New World Industries Building
-Pluto Mining Corporation
-Silver twilight
-Metropolis Astronomers Society (Astronomers Club)
-Look to the future
-Oceanic Inc

4. Characters
-Credit Rating determines social class - under 30 subteranean labour, 31-59 servant, 50+ ruling  class
5. The Mythos in Metropolis - Adventure Seeds 

Independent Races

Deep Ones – The sprawling drains and waterworks and subterranean reservoirs of water are connected distantly to far off seas. With its awesome population and industrial capacity Metropolis requires huge capacities of water – for use of humans but also for industrial use (which may be highly polluted). Some of these sections have their own workers accommodation for those doomed to crawl through miles of damp pipes. A Deep One colony  has come to occupy one of the most isolated worker colonies – who in turn infiltrate and infect other similar outposts and communicate via their secret networks of globe traveling sailors. Some of the catacombs connect to water sources also making the odd deep one or hybrid agent encounter, especially in the dankest parts.

Great Race of Yith – Multiple citizens of Metropolis (among the more mobile wealthy classes) are currently possessed and several agent cells exist to serve them Some use Yithian communicators and have lightning guns which can be used to disintegrate evidence if necessary. Some seek Flying polyps vaults in the catacombs. Others just interested in gathering information. A character could accidentally come into conflict with a cult gathering information or artifacts.

Ghouls – The city with all its efficiencies does not tolerate the wasteful practice of buriels where possible but ancient graves remain built over by the sprawling city. Some use parts of the catacombs the city under as secret buriels. The cathedral houses a vault of ancient corpses added to occasionally on the death of an important religious person. Some of the rich bury their dead in mausoleums sky scrapers. With the lower levels for cremated remains and ceremonies.
Cthonians –The tunnels are more than thousands of years old and new sections are sometimes discovered – which are actually dug by the children of Shudde Myell. Cultists crawl beneath the catacombs and expand their influence over new territories by commissioning new tunnels. The Cthonians like some other species crave rare earths and use cultists to obtain them. They sometimes come into conflict with Mi-go.

MiGo – From the sprawling Pluto Towers a decrepit sprawling office block, staffed by wizened old men embroiled in incomprehensible esoteric tasks of a tedious bureaucracy. Actually they are MiGo with bioengineered synthetic human skins. They run Pluto Mining Corporation and have humans from across the world delivering them the rare earths they crave so much. Their agents serve them as butlers, drivers, clerks, messengers and other duties. Several floors of the building are dedicated to human brain canisters networked serially to act a supercomputer by the Mi-go to manage their business and foreign money markets.

Serpent Men – Several serpent men sorcerers dwell in human form representing different factions of ancient serpent man culture. While several rogue wizards have been active for millennia (at least one sits on the board of metropolis bank) two main colonies dwell beneath Metropolis. One of degenerate albino cave dwellers which has been adopted by a bachelor sorcerer who stumbled across them. Plans to breed them into a new serpent master race. The second clan too proud to consort with degenerates awake periodically to monitor humanity – currently they are infiltrating metropolis and trying to find and eliminate other rogue serpent men.  They await a time they can revive their whole city and walk on the surface.

Shoggoth – Somewhere in the subterranean depths a shoggoth may occasionally dwell – usually acting on a mission for the deep one cult.

Flying Polyps – Somewhere sealed in a basic vault – several Flying Polyps have been sealed. If freed they would slaughter all they could find in the tunnels then one night launch into the sky, murder a few dozen citizens then flee to some secret place they can plot to free more of their kind.

Insect From Shaggai – A few Insects from their colony in the brittish isles have infiltrated Metropolis. A more restrained Insect dwells in New Babylon – plundering information it can use for insider trading for the Insects corporation. Several others roam the sublevels finding isolated individuals to sadistically torture

Star Vampires – Mostly summoned by rooftop sorcerers for travel or murder. One left to its own devices would stay and horribly kill a highrise dweller every night.

Dimensional Shamblers – Mostly summoned by wizards to kill others without evidence. A terrifying prospect with the cities confined spaces and maze like corridors. A wizard might also be use one for transport to another dimension. 

Servitor Races

Spawn of Tsathogua – A worn down chamber once a hyperborean temple contains a vault were a guardian spawn dwells.  Defilers will be slain if they cannot make the sign of tsathogua or use his name.

Byakee – Used by sorcerors especially Hastur cultists or those wishing to traverse the stars.

Rat Things – possibly the familiars of a witch or wizard or just inhabit haunted old houses. Rundown old houses walls vibrate with rats. And occasionally a “ball” of rats with fused tails is discovered.

Dark Spawn – The city is mostly treeless other than the gardens of the rich. A private garden on a rooftop could house several for rich cultists. Triffids might be more convenient size.

Fire Vampires – several Cthuga cults exist and there are several loner arsonists have appeared from time to time. The city observatory has several cultists. They keep their activities fairly secret – even hunting their rogue brethren who indiscriminately start fires and summon fire vampires.





Chaugnar Faun – His statue is housed in a private cult museum where his cult sacrifice innocents to him. His brothers statues have gathered in Metropolis and hold corporate offices. They are fairly discreet.

several Cthuga cults exist and there are several loner arsonists have appeared from time to time. The city observatory has several cultists. They keep their activities fairly secret – even hunting their rogue brethren who indiscriminately start fires and summon fire vampires.

Cthulhu – Various Cthulhu cults from across meet via the waterways of metropolis.
Deep ones have settled colonies and hybrid agents in the dampest bowls of the machine. While land locked it has millions of miles of pipes and has controlling interest in many European port cities. A river is used to produce hydro electric power, flows in and out of the city with multiple canals. All this allows cultists, deep ones and even shoggoths to enter the bowels of the city and the damper parts of the catacombs. Some more affluent cultists are involved in global trade with corporations such as Oceanic (a trade and sea mining corporation). Cthulhu also influences many with his dreams – some witness or hear him first, or touch a relic or is hexed by a cultist or hybrid. Dagon, Hydra and Starspawn may also have telepathic influence.

Eihort - Goods from across the world get to Metropolis markets and labs and museums.  One day a sickly truck driver parks his cab and looked for somewhere quiet he could be sick. To find he was vomiting creatures into the factory drain - but the sick never stopped leaving the driver host a sack of burst skin. Characters investigate the new species till they find an infected victim explodes before them proving it is a potentially dangerous plague. They track it back to the cult who helping Eihort by bringing him victims through a gateway in the cult base near a truck stop. Prostitute cultists kidnap drivers.

Glaaki -

Hastur and The King In Yellow – Most of chambers mythos fiction could be translated here especially the Repairer of Reputations – which is in an already alternate future would fit in well – or could even be used as a basis for USA. Trying to find an heir to Hastur on earth who once crowned works to ruin the world and rule the remnants would make a fine pulp villain. More mainstream (orthodox) Hastur cultists call directly to the horror in the lake of Hali himself on Carcosa. In with the Astronomers Club. Some wizards deal with Hastur to control Byakee and travel the stars.  A few rooftops have V shaped pillars concealed to summon Hastur directly.

Nyagthoa – In deepest reaches of the caverns is a dank soot stained chamber with black handprints and marks which could be writing or random sooty marks. In the middle is a sealed stone well, with carved marks around the edges. Sometimes huddled robed cults meed here to summon Nyagthoa.


Tsathogua – Remnants of Hyperborean civilization is buried beneath metropolis and many wizards sealed foul things beneath it. Tsathogua has one ancient temple and guardian beneath metropolis (see under dark spawn). Also found are several dream inducing black monoliths and a handful of artifacts. Other hidden temples or worse things were buried. Possibly a gate to Saturn's dreamlands or a artifact of Eibon.

Outer Gods

Azathoth – While not often directly worshipped, many cultists are concerned to find the location of azathoth and his myriad spawn which cause dimensional distortions. A number of the astronomers of metropolis worship azathoth. 

Shub Niggurath – A cult thrive in the outlaying agriculture regions but a few wealthy operate rooftop greenhouse temples. Some of the medical, farming and food companies have shrines in metropolis. Some greenhouses actually house a dark spawn.

Nylarthotep  - Multiple cults of Nyarlothotep dwell here. Nyalathotep has appeared to help plan the last days and direct his cult to hide mythos activity. He does not appear openly in public.  Curious investigators who risk public exposure are listed as pawns to be destroyed or sent to be sacrificed to a specific god with a trail of clues. Various businesses, labs, small churches and other small esoteric orders all act for Nyarlothotep..

Yog-Sothoth – A number of wizards and cults exist especially among the astronomers. Several summoning towers exist in the city rooftops.

Moloch - my mythos addition
A god whom inhabitants mega machines and alters their purpose to enslave mankind and be fed sacrifices. Moloch may inhabit a dangerous factory, a foul power plant, a decrepit coal mine where child miners die en mass or certainly a whole city. The machine could include primitive temple city complex, the Babylonian library, roman factory mill or any complex human built system. Even monoliths arranged as a calenders could form a cult and be uninhabited by him. He may use parts of the machine to kill or even form a cybernetic body.

Other Silent Era Adventures

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. – Dr Caligari runs Metropolis Asylum. He is a fiendish hypnotist and mind controlling wizard, exerting his influence over persons of all walks of life from bankers to criminals to carnival folk to other cultists. He also has controlled agents who prowl by night killing and kidnapping victims. Ideally those investigating him discover him in some other identity before waking up themselves in Metropolis Asylum.

Der Golem -  Outside the core of Metropolis are sprawling slums and factories in constant process of change. One includes a Jewish worker ghetto set to be demolished. The authorities would like to develop into a more “modern” metropolis factory zone but have been acting slowly In fear of a popular people movement. Apartments for bureaucrats already on topmost part of city. From a crumbling old Synagogue a Rabbi sends forth his golem to waylay the development. Characters intercede before situation gets worse.

Nosferatu – A character is invited to Transylvania to act as a legal agent….

Frau In Der Monde – A trip to the moon is within Metropolis reach and investigators are probably generated for the mission. Investigators can explore lunar ruins of ancient civilizations, battle cultist crew infiltrators, and discover the whole mission was funded by cultists and even return to earth with an unwelcome entity. Moon heroes are welcomed by ticker tape parade – with hungry looking workers children waving flags.

Diary of a lost Girl – Workhouse for girls who have children out of wedlock is run by a cult. The best are selected as sacrifices and to be brides of cult members. Investigators find links in several of their cases.

Pandora's Box – The femme fatale LuLu enters the characters lives, causing suicide, duels and multiple deaths among their friends family and peers. Eventually Investigators investigate only to have several of their mad suitors harm them who may abuse their powers or just attack. Finally tracking her to distant parts they fend off a wanted serial killer before cornering her. She is a lamia with a casket that opens to Abhoth – using it to create smaller abhoth spawn or flooding a building with Abhoth's lake sized body of bioplasmic viscous fluid. She is spawn of a Succubus from the dawn of civilization. Who menaced Babylon for years. Allowed to continue she will destroy the city.

Olympia – Annual games for the children of the elite are being used to select sacrifices and host bodies than cults. Date set at an auspicious season for wizards. Characters investigate several horrid murders where prospective winning youths were killed. Cults feud over who has broken their deal. Encounter multiple cultist groups out for blood. Powerful old lechers may persuing athletes may be viable red herrings. Provide a demo of many cults active. Partly inspired by notorious Olympic documentary.

Other Pulp and Heroic Adventures
Any other pulp adventures could appear just more multilingual
Use novel 1984 for the UK.
Robert W Chambers future for North America
Film - "Dark City" worth a look

I use a mythic looking ancient Babylon
for the dreamlands of metropolis. Not unlike in the unfinished epic "deliverance". Lilith, Moloch and other ancient forces have been drawn here.


  1. very nice. great fit for metropolis.

  2. i get to tie hpl, silent film, deco sf and babylon in one game


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