In the year 2030, humanity has not only become aware of the Cthulhu Mythos but also started taking tentative steps to make use of its secrets to better itself. Treaties and trade agreements have been established with the mi-go and the deep ones. Shortcuts through the space between spaces have opened ways to the stars and allowed various countries to establish extra-solar colonies. While Great Old One cults and bizarre sorcery still exist in the shadows, an officially licensed UN agency exists to keep them all at bay.
However, while humanity is not doomed, nor is it promised a bright future. The galaxy is littered with the ruins of earlier civilizations that reached this point and then fell to invaders, natural disaster or their own runaway technology. Hyperspace is filled with god-like creatures hungry for the psychic energy of material lifeforms. And if alien life is not inherently hostile, nor does it have any concern for humankind except as a means to further its own ends.
This roleplaying game styles itself "Lovecraftian science fiction" as opposed to "Lovecraftian horror," drawing on the more sober tone of stories such as The Shadow Out Of Time that depict the Mythos universe as less a place of blasphemous monstrosities and more one that's large, bizarre and uncaring of human concerns.
The game contains examples of the following tropes:
- Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted for a lot of species that were this in the source material. The deep ones and ghouls are alien and unpleasant, but they can at least be reasoned and co-existed with. However, half-ascended species like the cthulhoids and the flying polyps are always bad news, since they rely on consuming the life-energy of material beings to remain active (and also, being half-ascended gives them one hell of a superiority complex).
- Apocalypse How: Planet-wide disasters and a resulting immediate or eventual extinction of the resident intelligent life form turns out to be disturbingly common. For instance, Mars had a thriving civilization until they somehow managed to rip out half their atmosphere with malfunctioning hyperspatial technology.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The "happy ending" for any species is to find a way to do this, disappearing into hyperspace to an unknown fate.
- Broken Masquerade: In parts. The public knows about the mi-go, the deep ones, the past elder one civilization, psychic powers, techno-sorcery and similar aspects of the Mythos that have been deemed unlikely to cause widespread panic or encourage dangerous behavior. The authorities are still hiding the existence of such things as the yithians (time-travelers from the past who can take over your body at any time), the ghouls (predatory creatures who live underneath your cities) and "normal" sorcery (which allows anyone with access to the right books to summon bullet-proof tentacled monstrosities).
- Canon Discontinuity: The game explicitly draws only on Lovecraft's own works, ignoring any later additions to the Mythos.
- Creative Sterility: Every species begins to suffer from this sooner or later, as they learn everything about the universe that they are biologically capable of understanding. At that point, their only way to continue advancing as a species is to start making use of (to them) incomprehensible alien theories and technologies by rote. The mi-go and the yithians are both in this position, which is why they're so interested in elder one artifacts.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: A theme of the game. A number of species have gotten to where we are and then been destroyed. There are no guarantees that that won't happen to us. A number of other species have gotten to where we are and gone on to either have prosperous interstellar civilizations spanning millions of years or even Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. There's nothing that says we can't become one of those, either.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Subverted. Apparently, it wasn't knowledge of the Mythos that drove so many Lovecraftian protagonists batty, they were just suffering from hyperspatial exposure, which messes up your thought process a bit and makes you vulnerable to influence by sorcerers and Great Old Ones but which is perfectly possible to recover from.
- Great Gazoo: Nyarlathotep seems to be actively trying to cultivate species it's taken a liking to and bring them to ascension. It isn't too concerned with the fact that many of them end up destroying themselves along the way, though. (and yes, humanity is one of the species it's decided to help. Yay?)
- Half-Human Hybrid: While pure deep ones and ghouls are considered to be too alien to be possible to use as player characters, half-breeds are allowed.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: Implied in the description of the planet of Pacifica. It is populated by a race of disembodied intellects that exist wholly within the ice found at the bottom of the ocean, and that can perceive surrounding life psychically but otherwise have no understanding of the material world. Corporations are working at mining the ice to extra valuable chemicals from it. So in other words, what the Pacificans consider the very fabric of reality is gradually being devoured by entities from a realm of existence they can't comprehend, for reasons that they can't conceive of, and who aren't hostile to the Pacificans but just entirely indifferent to them. Now, doesn't that sound oddly familiar...?
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: While aliens and ab-humans are revealed to not be as dangerous as Lovecraft made them out to be, the "space between spaces" really is filled with unknowable monstrosities that want to eat your soul. It still makes for an awfully handy shortcut between star systems, though.
- Lovecraft Lite: By design. The universe is dangerous, but humanity isn't inherently less capable of surviving in it than any other species.
- Magitek: Hyperspatial technology is essentially sorcery turned into a more stable and reliable form.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Carefully averted, any planet whose native life wasn't originally seeded from Earth's is inhospitable to humans to the point where the soil needs to be sterilised before Earth-born crops will grow in it.
- Precursors: The elder ones, who had an extensive interstellar civilization, seeded uncountable planets with life, left behind a great number of ruins and artifacts, but are now all but extinct.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Cthulhu is trapped in a distant hyperspatial dimension and can only access Earth in specific times (i.e. "when the stars are right") and places (like R'lyeh).
- Timey-Wimey Ball: According to the yithians, there are not only infinite possible futures but also any number of possible pasts.
- United Nations Is a Superpower: The UN has gained a great deal of importance from the discovery of aliens since it created the need for a single human institution capable of making deals on behalf of the entire species.