It has been a year since John Henry Booth's exile from New America and the fall of the Black Cathedral. Cursed with a slow transformation into a monster, he has begun a doomed relationship with fellow escapee Mercury Halsey as they seek some way to arrest his transformation.
Dubious hope arrives in the form of the University, the deranged scientists and cultists descended from the staff of Miskatonic University. Except, their offer of help comes at a price. Having sold themselves to ancient aliens called the Yith, they wish John and Mercury to join a group of rogues in hunting down a wayward member of their faculty: a man who intends to release the last of the sleeping Great Old Ones on an already ravaged planet. If they're telling the truth, John and Mercury will be heroes. If.
It came out January 22nd, 2017.
Tropes found in "The Tower of Zhaal":
- Action Girl: Jessica, Bobbie, and Mercury all qualify for this.
- Ambiguously Evil: The Yithians have a lot of Condescending Compassion to the human race, pitying our race's near-destruction but doing very little about it save the possible "salvation" of keeping mankind alive in a Lotus-Eater Machine Dream Land zoo. They're also extremely manipulative. On the other hand, this is a lot nicer than most advanced species who suffer from Blue and Orange Morality at best.
- Antihero: All of the seven are one shade of this or another.
- Anyone Can Die: In the end, only John, Mercury, and August survive.
- Big Bad: The Unimaginable Horror is the Greater-Scope Villain which Marcus Whateley wants to unleash. Except, Marcus actually wants to release it so it can be bound up again, since the wards are already failing.
- Body Horror: John is slowly becoming a monster and all his attempts to arrest the process fail miserably. In the end, he embraces his nonhuman status and becomes a mixture of himself and a long-dead alien.
- Captain Ersatz: Kithnid is this for Kthanid from Titus Crow. Played with as John believes the idea of a "good" Great Old One is just a delusion on the part of Elder God worshipers.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Averted as humans are helpless before the Unimaginable Horror. So they summon Cthulhu.
- The Extremist Was Right: Marcus Whateley's plan succeeds and saves the world despite the insanity of unleashing one of the Great Old Ones. Played with as it would have been a miserable failure without John's help.
- The Faceless: The Faceless Ones are, appropriately enough, this.
- Fantastic Racism: Deconstructed as we see it from various angles in the Cthulhu Mythos. The ghouls consider themselves superior to Shoggoths, the Elder Things consider themselves superior to everyone, humans hate all nonhumans, Faceless Ones consider themselves the true humans, and John loathes becoming an alien. It's indicated Nyarlathotep, of all people, finds it immensely tiresome, since all beings are insignificant specks to him.
- Functional Magic: A mainstay for this version of the Mythos.
- Godzilla Threshold: Will be crossed if the Unimaginable Horror escapes its prison. Which is what prompts our heroes to summon Cthulhu to defeat him. It ends up working, though not without considerable cost.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Thom is an unpleasant Fantastic Racism spouting Antihero who hates all nonhumans as well as possesses a sexist streak. He ends up depending Insmaw's inhabitants anyway. He ends up dying for them too.
- Kill Em All: In the end, only three out of the seven survive with no less than two civilizations destroyed in the process.
- Killed Off for Real: Jessica and Thom both die in the quest to save the world.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: John gains a number of these as he fully abandons his humanity.
- Mars Needs Women: The shape-shifting Eyes of Yog-Sothoth routinely bred with other races to produce more of their kind, eventually overtaking them. This puts an uncomfortable spin on John and Mercury's relationship.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Unimaginable Horror is a Great Old One even other Great Old Ones apparently loathed. This proves to be its undoing.
- New Old West: The East Coast of the United States has many qualities of a prairie, if you ignore all the monsters and Eldritch Location spots.
- Not as You Know Them: Miskatonic University has transformed from an academic institution of monster hunters into a cult devoted to the Yithians.
- Ragtag Band of Misfits: The seven assembled by the University is a collection of murderers, thieves, and nonhumans.
- Slave Liberation: The Shoggoths wish to rise up against the ghouls who are enslaving them with magic. They succeed with John's help.
- Took a Level in Badass: Mercury has gone from a helpless Naïve Everygirl Torture Technician (it makes sense in context) to a badass Black Magician Girl.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Continued from Cthulhu Armageddon with John, Bobbie, and Jackie all being Half-Human Hybrid beings. Notable when the heroes defend a Deep One hybrid village from Fantastic Racism-spouting Deep Ones. Shoggoths are also given a large amount of sympathy as oppressed slaves.
- Your Cheating Heart: Subverted. Mercury and John maintain an open relationship post Cthulhu Armageddon.