Workshop Codename: Zalthrugor
The Snake With Seven Heads. Devourer of All Artifacts. Eater of Cities. Serpent of One Thousand Eyes.
Fear that which is the spirit of ruin: Zalthrugor!
This is the gist of how this workshop was generated, this simple list of names as a concept. It was a response to a Tweet that was (I think?) about taking items from players or making them destroy artifacts or….something. It felt like it could be something done in reverence to a Great Old One of some kind. So I did what I always do to create a new elder being, give it a bunch of names.
I find that giving a creature a bunch of names like this is not only in keeping with Mythos tradition, but also reveals some information about the creature as it forms itself in your mortal mind. Of course, being the Game Master I am I had to take Zalthrugor further and explore the concept….totally not for use against my players….
The Snake With Seven Heads
Let’s start here because it lets us get visual. I see good old Zal as something of a serpentine hydra. Of course ours specifically has seven heads and is most definitely not a hydra. Oh and it is immeasurably huge, because are’t all great GOOs like that. Its size is on the scale of Great Old Ones like Cthulhu and kaiju like Ghidorah. In fact Ghidorah is one of my inspirations in that I picture those powerful heads twisting around, biting and writhing constantly. The long necks sit in a state of continuous motion and agitation, seeking out things to consume and competing with other heads if need be.
Serpent of One Thousand Eyes
This one doesn’t quite roll of the tongue properly but I like the imagery. First, I see Zal having all sorts of eyes, each head containing “too many”, and those being from different types of animals. Everything from reptilian to feline to piscine. Our Great Old One must be able to see everything in its entirety, in all lights, and in all ways possible.
More than this idea of a terrible multi-headed, multi-eyed serpent, I see the eyes of the entity’s followers. Each follower an agent of destruction and anarchy seeking to undermine civilization and its creations. Through their eyes it can see and feel the glee of ruin. From this the name gets a wonderful double meaning!
The Spirit of Ruin
Okay, let’s run with this idea. Given Zalthrugor’s other two names we can really play up its penchant for destruction. This is an ancient creature of primal power. A primordial, if you will. A titan. A being that may have fought gods for control over a world and lost. An angry being that loathes creation, cooperation, and civilization in all its forms. I am sure even its cult exists in short-lived bursts of them versus us.
This is exactly what I will be using Zalthrugor for in my worlds. In many ways it is a Great Old One but it is different in some ways. Zal is definitely more of a dark deity, but is no god. This is one of the elemental beings that the gods took the world from. I always loved how much a part of the backbone of 4E that concept was. The Dawn War was such a simple, wonderful cosmological concept to ground the game in.
This is an ever-present force that draws worshipers who don’t like the way the world works like moths drawn to flame. There are no churches, no lasting orders. There is only the word of Zalthrugor, its desires, and a need to burn it all down. Worshipers whisper to one another, leave notes, spread ideals. They are like an infection bringing a kingdom down from within.
Luckily there is no need for stats here, not for something this big and powerful. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have ideas. There will definitely be spells and monster/NPCs coming in the future! Let your own idea run wild and let me know what you’ve come up with.