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Literature / Cthulhu Armageddon

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“Under an alien sky where gods of eldritch matter rule, the only truth is revenge.”

It is one hundred years after the rise of the Old Ones. Earth has became a giant desert filled with unspeakable monsters and pockets of human survivors (along with Deep Ones, ghouls, and other “talking” monsters). John Henry Booth is a ranger of one of the largest remaining city-states when he’s exiled for his group’s massacre and suspicion he’s “tainted.” Escaping with a doctor who killed her husband, John travels across the Earth’s blasted alien ruins to seek the life of the man who killed his friends.

Cthulhu Armageddon is a series by C.T. Phipps set in the world of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. The first book is also called Cthulhu Armageddon and has its tropes listed here. It is followed by The Tower of Zhaal.

Books in the series include:

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     Tropes in the series 
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Elder Things, depicted by HP Lovecraft as A Lighter Shade of Black and an educated cultured race, are shown to be a vicious monstrous people that John hates with every fiber of his being. This may be due to the fact they are slavers, which is John's Berserk Button.
  • After the End: It's over a century after the Great Old Ones rose and destroyed the Earth.
  • Alien Sky: Earth has developed one of these due to the Great Old Ones. It is implied the laws of physics themselves are breaking down.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Elder Things are the only race that is uniformly treated as malicious and hostile due to their past as eugenicists as well as slavers.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: As human society has been reduced to a bunch of Wild West towns and fortress cities that are more or less independent because travel is incredibly perilous. The Great Old Ones continue to stomp around along with their creatures, warping reality along the way that humanity is guaranteed to go extinct unless they find a way to escape or change.
  • Apocalypse Cult: Apocalypse cults existed before the rise of Cthulhu and the other Great Old Ones but have become the dominant faiths now that, well, they've been proven real. It's all but stated that the Great Old Ones don't notice those who call upon them, unlike the Other Gods who draw sustenance from humanity's dreams.
  • The Apunkalypse: Some Cthulhu cultists seem to have adopted the look but no one else has.
  • Bizarro Apocalypse: The series place in, as the title suggests, an apocalypse where the Great Old Ones woke up and are causing all kinds of mayhem. Among other side effects of this situation, the protagonist of the series becomes a Humanoid Abomination early on, although he remains a Pro-Human Transhuman and helps his friends.
  • Cargo Cult: The worship of the Great Old Ones all turns out to be this as they awoke from their millennia of slumber and promptly ignored all of the various cults devoted to them. They don't even appear to be aware of most of them, treating the Deep Ones with the same disdain as their human followers. This proved devastating to most cultists while it encouraged others to pray harder. Subverted by Nyarlathotep who is actually quite interested in his worshipers and often appears to them to give them exactly what they desire, in hopes of seeing them destroyed by it.
  • Cattlepunk: It is a post-apocalypse Western. It says so in the title. Humanity survives but in scattered frontier towns and tribes with vast wasteland between them.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The backdrop to a post-apocalypse western. The world has been destroyed, monsters walk among us, and the gods are all indifferent or sadistic.
  • Crapsack World: The Great Old Ones have killed most of humanity, monsters rule the Earth, and most of the surviving human communities are dictatorships. Oh and slavery has returned.
  • Death World: Earth has become one of these due to the massive amount of monsters, inhospitable environment, and bizarre physics that are now just commonplace post-Rising.
  • Desert Punk: The world is majority desert and wasteland. Most animals and plants have been killed alongside humanity. A huge amount of the remaining lifeforms of both have been mutated. It is a struggle for everyone left just to survive. Even the stars are different.
  • Dream Land: The Dreamlands are this and John has been known to take trips there in order to deal with the locals. It is noted that Earth may have been absorbed by them and that's why everything is utterly incomprehensibly bizarre.
  • Dream Walker: Richard Jameson possesses this as one of his abilities. John eventually develops the power himself.
  • Eldritch Abomination: It wouldn't be a Cthulhu Mythos story if they weren't present. Notably, the first book contains nightgaunts, Elder Things, ghouls, Deep Ones, a "dragon" a shoggoth, mutated humans, a Earthmother, a giant byakhee, and more.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Dunwych tribals are this to Native Americans. They are also a subversion in that they are one of the most technologically adept peoples and have access to the most knowledge from before the Rising. It's just that they are also a tribal people, ecologically integrated, worshipers of the Great Old Ones, and take names based upon their deeds as often as not.
  • Fantastic Racism: Called out in the text that Deep Ones, ghouls, and Serpent Men are all closer to humanity than they are to the Great Old Ones they worship. Nevertheless, all of them hate each other and consider their variations monstrous. New Arkham is particularly bad about it as they kill all mutants they encounter and consider themselves the only "pure" humans, which doesn't work well for John once they believe he's a Half-Human Hybrid.
  • Functional Magic: A mainstay for this version of the Mythos.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: The Future of Supervillainy has an unexpected crossover with John and Mercury where it is revealed that they sought a gateway to another world to take as many survivors from their world to another. It ends up being the Hollow Earth of Gary's world where they settle with the help of the locals.
  • Future Primitive: Played with. The Dunwych are a tribal society but encountering them reveals they're more advanced than just about anyone else, they just choose to mix low-tech with high tech due to magic getting better results.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: Overall. Just about everyone has a reason for what they do, even if those reasons are inexplicable to human minds.
    • Black-and-Gray Morality: For the human characters. The Wasteland has embittered humanity so the majority of survivors are one kind of scumbag or another. Some are pure evil, though, and this makes the others look better.
    • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Great Old Ones themselves. They destroyed the world waking up and are probably not even aware of humanity. Averted with the human or near-human characters who may be good or evil depending on their actions.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Jackie is one of these, being the daughter of a ghoul and destined to become one herself. John, himself, proves to be one.
  • Humans Are White: Resoundingly averted as the protagonist is black, his girlfriend is Asian, the Dunwych are multiracial, and no one bats an eyelash at it. Word of God says this is a (gentle) tweak at Lovecraft's RL views.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Nyarlathotep (of course) takes this form a few times. John Henry Booth turns out to be one himself.
  • Lovecraft Country: The New England Wasteland or Esoteric East is an unusual example since it is actually the original Lovecraft Country but Post-Apocalypse. The protagonists are from New Arkham (a Arkham Air Force base Pre-After the End), they deal with the tribals of Dunwych, and they even visit Kingsport that is still a thriving city.
  • Magical Native American: The Dunwych to an extent with the subversion they're descendants of a bunch of tourists who formed a tribal (but functional society) in a green zone near the aforementioned town. They're stated to be a "new race" due to the mixture of the people onboard the bus.
  • New Old West: The post-apocalypse Cthulhu one. There's gunslingers, small cattle towns, tribal peoples, Rangers, vast deserts, and eldritch abominations wandering around.
  • Not Always Evil: Despite taking place in H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, the majority of monsters are Blue-and-Orange Morality rather than evil and even things like the Deep Ones or ghouls are no more malicious than the human beings in the setting. A few are even allies of the protagonist. The lone exception are the Elder Things that are treated as Always Chaotic Evil due to being a race of eugenicists and slavers.
  • Purple Prose: The author deliberately attempts to ape Lovecraft's style in descriptions being flowing and foreboding with words like "antediluvian", "squamus", "unnameable", "cyclopean", "eldritch", and others being used in place of more common descriptors.
  • Private Eye Monologue: A rare non-detective story example with Cthulhu Armageddon where the protagonist, John Henry Booth, uses flowery, purple, and pulp-ish metaphors about his eldritch cyclopean surroundings filled with antediluvian structures that forebode dread. It's just our protagonist is a cynical tough guy and smartass when describing them so the effect is the same.
  • Religion of Evil: Subverted by the cults of Cthulhu. While everyone treats them as this, it's implied to be no worse than any other faith.
  • Scavenger World: The Fallout and Wasteland influences are very visible.
  • The Seven Western Plots: The first book is a revenge story about how the protagonist is on a mission to find out who massacred his Ranger squad. The second is more an homage to Magnificent Seven Samurai with Word of God even referencing it by name.
  • Shout-Out: The Hyborian Age, Titus Crow, and Herbert West are all given shout-outs. Also, there's some allusions to Stephen King's The Dark Tower. The video game Wasteland also gets one in the middle of the book.
  • Space Western: While it takes places in the future on Earth, the entirety of the planet has been reduced to a steam level of technology with vast wasteland between settlements. The Earth is also populated with bizarre aliens and mutated humans.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: More like re-arranging, which John admits is even more impossible than it sounds (and it sounds insane) since they shouldn't have their light visible for millennium. It is so blatantly illogically impossible that it is one of the first signs that Earth has been pulled into the Dreamlands by Yog-Sothoth.
  • Weird West: While only lightly so (Rangers, cowboy hats, quirky towns, and native tribes), there's definitely a New Old West vibe to the place. It's just merged with the fact it's also a Lovecraftian horror story and a sci-fi apocalypse.

     The Book 
  • Adventure Towns: Scrapyard, Kingsport, and New Arkham. There's implied to be a lot of these scattered around the New England Wasteland.
  • Big Bad: Alan Ward, implied to be a reincarnated Joseph Curwen, is this. Also qualifies as a Big Bad Wannabe since he lives in a world with alien gods.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bordering on a full-blown Downer Ending. Alan Ward is killed and so is Peter Goodhill but New Arkham is devastated, the children are all dead, while John is turning into a monster.
  • Body Horror: Alan Ward has a nasty case of this, having mutated horribly from his use of black magic. John has a serious case once he discovers his true nature as a half-human hybrid. Richard Jameson suffers a mild one of these, still hating the fact he's a ghoul centuries after becoming one.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Peter Goodhill, who fled the Remnant to avoid punishment for running in a fight, and ultimately turns out to be in bed with the slavers as well as Alan Ward.
  • Dead All Along: The children the heroes were originally planning on rescued were sacrificed long ago and their souls bound to a Lotus-Eater Machine to "save" them from living in the hell that is post-apocalypse Earth.
  • Doomed Hometown: New Arkham becomes one of these at the very end for no reason at all other than to kick our heroes when they're down.
  • Dwindling Party: Gamma Squad consists of five members and they're almost all slaughtered by Reanimated with John believed to be the only survivor for much of the book until he finds Jessica. Later, Peter Goodhill, Katryn, and possibly Jessica are also killed.
  • Eldritch Location: The Black Cathedral is made of organic and inorganic material, has non-euclidean geometry, and also exists in multiple dimensions.
  • Expy: The Earthmovers appear to be ones for Chthonians combined with Dune's sandworms.
  • Evil Overlord: Alan Ward rules a portion of the Wasteland like this.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Richard Jameson is a Friendly Neighborhood Ghoul.
  • Last Fertile Region: Ghoul Pass isn't the only one but it shocks Mercury when she sees it.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Alan Ward's plot is to create an artificial world in the Dreamlands where the children of humanity can escape to live their lives in everlasting bliss while the rest of the humanity goes extinct. Horrified and disgusted as John is by this plan, he notes Ward's logic was not actually flawed.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Averted. It appears to be this way but humanity has only three generations to live, New Arkham is destroyed, and the children were Dead All Along. Played straight in the fact the monsters are shown to have more human qualities than typically found in Lovecraftian writing.
  • Military Coup: Near the climax, New Arkham's military overthrows the ruling council as a prelude to ending isolationism and going expansionist. It ends up being for naught, however.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Stephens, one of the Gamma Squad Rangers is a brave and capable soldier who dies heroically, but is misogynistic and racist towards blacks, and while he leaves the homosexual Hispanic Garcia alone, this might just be because they're first cousins.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: This happens with Jessica a couple of times since she's only feigning a Texas drawl.
  • One-Man Army: John repeatedly kills things no human has any right to be able to. Because he's not human.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Alan Ward believes he needs to exterminate humanity's survivors in order to transcend them into something else. John is disturbed to note there's a little logic to his words given humanity's imminent extinction.
  • The Remnant: The government of New Arkham styles itself as the official United States Remnant. However, since its control only extends to New Arkham itself (a pre-Rising military base converted into a burgeoning city) and the surrounding territory (some small towns and villages), no one really takes the claim all that seriously. They do take over Kingsport later on, only for New Arkham itself to be destroyed shortly after.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Alan Ward proves to be this most resoundingly. He killed all of his young captives in order to make them immortal in the Dreamlands. Interestingly, it is averted for most of the setting since humanity seems to have developed a severe aversion to child abuse in its dying days.