Talk on the Dark Side 1: Great Cthulhu
GvP: Hello everyone, and welcome to the first in a new series at Games vs Play. In “Talk on the Dark Side” we’ll chat with some of the most infamous villains in the world of games and popular culture. Only difference is, this time we get to hear their story.
Our first guest needs no introduction. Perhaps the most well known and best-loved of all the Great Old Ones, he’s the starring antagonist of classic games like Call of Cthulhu, Arkham Horror, Elder Sign and Cthulhu Wars. I speak of none other than old Squid-Face himself, Great Cthulhu! Ladies and gentlemen, can you please make him welcome.
GvP: Great Cthulhu, it’s an honour to have you on the show tonight.
Cthulhu: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. [lights a cigarette]
GvP: Great Cthulhu, your story is well known to anyone who has a passing interest in current affairs. You first came to Earth in the pre-Cambrian era and quickly set yourself up at R’lyeh, your private resort island in the South Pacific. Can you tell us what first attracted you to buying property on Earth?
Cthulhu: Well, I guess you could say I was looking for a seachange at the time. There I was, a middle-aged, newly divorced single parent with a brood of hideous starspawn to care for. What I needed was somewhere to start over, where I could find my inner bliss again. Earth offered all of that, and more.
[Polite applause from audience]
Cthulhu: Thank you, I thank you.
GvP: Property must’ve been pretty cheap back then.
Cthulhu: It was a steal. I mean, literally, we just took it. [Chuckles nostalgically]
GvP: I suppose you would’ve seen a lot changes in the neighbourhood since you first settled down here.
Cthulhu: Of course. There was no such thing as “gentrification” back in the pre-Cambrian! Actually, there were no land-based life forms at all, as I recall …
GvP: You were one of the smart ones to get in early, Great Cthulhu. Now, through all those eons it’s pretty safe to say your popularity has remained consistently high, especially among your core fanbase of dark cultists, unstable artist types and real estate agents. What’s the secret of your enduring appeal?
Cthulhu: That’s an interesting question. Look, without blowing my own tentacle, I’d have to say it’s because the average cultist on the street can relate to me. I’m relatable. Now take Azathoth, for example – a seething, idiotic swirl of chaos at the centre of the universe. I mean, please, how does that speak to anyone? Sure, Azathoth might be the all-powerful “daemon sultan”, but he’s so distant, so aloof. Not me. When it comes to Cthulhu, what you see is what you get.
GvP: You mean, “a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind”?
Cthulhu: [Chuckles] Ah, that was old Howard, wasn’t it? Always had a way with words, old Howard [chuckles again]
GvP: But what about Nyarlathotep? Surely he’d be a close rival for the title of most worshipped Great Old One?
Cthulhu: Oh, I don’t know about that. Don’t get me wrong, I totally respect Narly as a fellow Great Old One and a artist in his own right – but the guy’s got a bit of an identity problem, hasn’t he? Can’t quite decide who he wants to be. One minute he’s The Crawling Chaos, the next he’s the Black Pharaoh, then he’s the so-called “Haunter of the Dark.” [makes finger quotation marks] C’mon old man, make up your mind! Personally I think he’s just trying a little too hard to please. Narly needs to learn to love himself first – then the fans will follow.
GvP: Uplifting words of affirmation, Great Cthulhu.
Cthulhu: Thank you. Narly is a mate, you know. We go way back.
GvP: Which leads me to my next question. A lot of fans are wondering – is there a Mrs Cthulhu on the scene?
Cthulhu: Ah, no, not at the moment. I’m just re-learning to love myself again, I guess. It’s a journey we must all go on.
GvP: So what do you say then to the persistent rumours of you and Shub-Niggurath getting back together?
Cthulhu: [Shifting uncomfortably] Where did you hear that?
GvP: I can’t reveal my sources.
Cthulhu: It was Yog-Sothoth, wasn’t it? “Co-terminous with all space and time,” that’s his catchphrase. Leaks information worse than the bloody Internet, what with all those floating spheres of his. It was Yog-Sothoth, wasn’t it?
GvP: I really can’t say.
Cthulhu: [sighs]. Ok, fair enough. Well, look – Shub-Niggurath and I had some good years together. Some of the best years of my life, in fact. But that’s all in the past now. We’re still friends, Shubby and I, but that’s all we are. Just friends.
GvP: So there’s no chance of you getting back together?
Cthulhu: [shakes tentacles]. No, I don’t think so. I’ve still got a lot of love for Shubby, and I wish her the best in everything – but we just wanted different things from life, you know.
GvP: Like what?
Cthulhu: Well, Shubby wanted to settle down, have kids – one thousand kids was the number I usually heard. And she was after a tree-change, but I didn’t want to leave my pad at R’lyeh. I love the smell of the ocean too much.
GvP: So it was about children, then?
Cthulhu: Well, I’m older than her, you have to remember. I’d already passed through that stage of my life. I wasn’t interested in starting a family all over again, not when I still had my own hideous starspawn to care for. No, it wasn’t anything Shubby did or didn’t do. The stars were just not right for us, that’s all.
GvP: Do you still have hope of meeting someone one day?
Cthulhu: Oh, I suppose so. Sometimes I still think the right pan-dimensional alien monster is out there waiting for me. But I’m honestly so busy right now with all my projects that I don’t have time for relationships.
GvP: I see. Thank you for being so candid with us, Great Cthulhu. Our time for tonight is nearly up. Can you give your fans a hint about what the next big project for Cthulhu will be?
Cthulhu: Right now I’m getting a bit of hard earned rest at R’lyeh. I’m not as young as I used to be, you know. So I’m just doing simple things, recharging my batteries. You know how the old saying goes: “That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeons even death may die.”
GvP: A line attributed to your biographer again, Howard Philips Lovecraft.
Cthulhu: Well, yes. That was Howard’s. Credit where credit’s due, and all that. But you asked what my next big project is, and I guess the answer is the same as always: total destruction of all life on Earth, followed by a complete genetic reseeding of the planet with my own teeming starspawn.
GvP: So, eyes always on the main prize?
Cthulhu: That’s right. That’s the message I’d pass on to any young Great Old One just starting out – stay true to your dreams, and your reality will follow. One day, when the stars are right.
GvP: Well, thank you for your time tonight, Great Cthulhu. It’s been mind-blowing talking with you.
Cthulhu: Yes, that’s what my fans say. The ones who can still speak, at least. Ha! [chuckles as audience applauds and credits roll]