Old One: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Old One may be a term used to refer to a god or other deity. Old Ones may also be a term used to refer to beings who co-existed with early humans according to many religions. These terms may also be found in fantasy and horror fiction.


Referring to gods

Albert Einstein, the famous 20th-century physicist, famously said:

Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.

This quotation is widely condensed into the short sentence I cannot believe that God plays dice, or God does not play dice (with the Universe).

Referring to Beings

A great many older religions may believe that Old Ones are the beings that existed at the creation of the universe and everything in it, possibly considered to be minor gods or deities or of co-existing with gods. It is an uncommon term for a creator being but not completely unheard of, though it should be noted that Old One would be the English term for a number of words in other languages.


In the Biblical apocrypha, angels that came to Earth, taught secrets to man and bred with mortal women known as the Grigori (or Watchers) are also known as the Old Ones. They are said to have been the fathers of half-breed creatures known as the Nephilim.

Lovecraftian Fiction


H. P. Lovecraft

In H. P. Lovecraft's fiction, the term Old Ones is used in different contexts. Lovecraft's first mention of the Old Ones comes in his most famous story, “The Call of Cthulhu” (1926). Lovecraft used "Old Ones" to refer to Cthulhu's spawn.[1] Inspector John Legrasse of the New Orleans police department raids a cult meeting, capturing a number of the members. These cultists revered

the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to the first men, who formed a cult which had never died.

Lovecraft also mentioned the Old Ones in "The Dunwich Horror" (1929), naming them as mysterious entities associated with the Outer God Yog-Sothoth. In "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1936), the Old Ones (whomever they were) had the power to keep the Deep Ones in check. In Lovecraft's revision story "The Mound" (1940), "Old Ones" referred to the denizens of K'n-yan.

In Lovecraft's novella At the Mountains of Madness (1936), "Old Ones" was another name for a fictional alien species, the Elder Things, which were described in vivid detail in the story. These aliens built cities around the world in ancient times but were eventually relegated to Antarctica. At the end of their reign, they were all but destroyed by the shoggoths, a slave race of their own creation.

August Derleth

August Derleth’s reinterpretations transformed the beings of Lovecraft's fictional mythology. Perhaps most importantly he introduced a good versus evil dichotomy between the Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones. More recently, however, scholars have come to accept that Derleth’s most fundamental innovation was the assignment of these beings to a single mythological pantheon. One of the categories of this pantheon - the “Great Old Ones” or “Old Ones” - has become a standard in our thinking about Lovecraft’s fiction.


In the Dresden Files the Old Ones are demons, or dark gods who ruled the world before mankind. They were apparently banished from our reality. The Fifth Law of Magic prohibits the summoning of both the Old Ones, and their foot soldiers the Walkers, or Outsiders.


In the fictional Buffyverse established by the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the Old Ones are the powerful pure-breed demons that once dominated earth before humankind appeared and during its first years. In "The Harvest" Rupert Giles tells Buffy:

"This world is older than any of you know. Contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons demons walked the Earth. They made it their home, their...their Hell. But in time, they lost their purchase on this reality. The way was made for mortal animals, for, for man. All that remains of the Old Ones are vestiges, certain magicks, certain creatures..."

This description closely matches the Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos (as interpreted by August Derleth).

Other Fiction

Babylon 5

In the television series Babylon 5, a range of beings known as the first ones appear during the course of the show. In the show's lore, these powerful entities were the first civilizations to develop in the galaxy.

Age of Mythology

In the campaign of the real time strategy video game Age of Mythology, the titan Kronos is referred to as the 'Old One'.


Within Games Workshops fantasy and sci-fi settings there is reference to the Old Ones; these are implied to be the same creatures though they have been presented in slightly different ways.

Warhammer 40,000

In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000, the Old Ones traveled through space manipulating minor species on several planets and growing them into tools for their battle against the C'tan. The Slann were probably their servants.

Warhammer Fantasy

Though less prevalent, the Old Ones also appeared in the background material for the Warhammer Fantasy setting and the Slann are the rulers of the Lizardmen. Before the Lizardmen Army book was released, the race now known as the Old Ones were called the Slann (primary referenced in the High Elf rulebook); after the book was released, they were renamed the Old Ones allowing the name Slann to be assigned to the Mage-Priests of the Lizardmen. No current allusions are made as to the physical appearance of the Old Ones, although it is assumed they were bipedal - as was the race that served them (the Slann, who in turn presided over the Saurus and Skinks. The Saurus being the warriors, the Skinks being in charge of work requiring more finesse; pottery, scribing etc..). Some materials (Drachenfels) referred to them as the "toad men" from the stars. The Old Ones were the ones who set up the warp gates at either pole of the planet and shifted it into a more favorable orbit before encouraging the development of the native species. In older versions of the material, the Old Ones where known as the Old Slaan and were ancestors of said race, who at that time where far more humanoid (a race of psychic frog-men).

The Dark Tower series

In The Dark Tower series written by Stephen King, the Old Ones (also sometimes called Great Old Ones) were a highly advanced civilization, called the Imperium, that ruled the All-World many centuries, or possibly millennia ago. They were obsessed with technological development and saw their inventions as a solution to everything; replacing the immortal, magical essence of creation with mortal machinery. The Imperium borrowed the magic of the Dark Tower, using its rooms into the worlds to travel to horrible times in history and revel in the destruction and death. Posters advertising gladiatorial battles and events such as Lincoln's assassination or the 2001 WTC collision appear throughout the main building that served as a transportation hub. In their hubris, they thought they could rule the time-space continuum, but in order to do this, they had to rebuild the Dark Tower. When they arrived in End-World, where the Tower resides, they attempted to knock the Tower down. No sooner had they hit the wall of the Tower when great cracks appeared in the earth, allowing a thick mist infested with monsters to escape from the Outer Dark. These mists spread all over Mid-World and the Old Ones blamed each other for this and soon war started. In one final battle, the ancient people managed to destroy themselves, leaving Mid-world a radioactive hell. Technological relics of the Old Ones' era can still be found scattered throughout the world.[citation needed] Considering how many of the Great Old ones interest, machinery, buildings and cities (such as Lud, which is a worn-down version of New York or the field of oil derricks and tanks Roland finds in Mejis when he is young) the Great Old ones are most probably the name for a civilization directly descending from today's (worldwide) civilizations. It is highly suggested that the Old Ones were in fact human, but were the working or higher class that controlled All-World, and that the name Old Ones was only contrived after centuries of absence.

The Dark Is Rising series

In The Dark Is Rising Sequence by the British author Susan Cooper, the Old Ones are agents of the Light, born as men and women, whose task is to prevent the Powers of the Dark from taking control of the world. They are immortal but are not Gods and most do not appear different than late middle age humans.

Their abilities include time-travel, shape-shifting, and ability to speak and understand various languages without having learned them. Most of their powers are designed to allow them to fulfill their goal of combat against the forces of the Dark and are activated upon reading the Book of Grammarye. Their full abilities are never detailed and they are often the protagonists in the series and serve as a balancing force to the Lords of the Dark who have similar powers.

In the series, the first Old One is Merriman Lyon and the last Old One is Will Stanton. There are five books in the series: Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark Is Rising; Greenwitch; The Grey King; and Silver On The Tree.

Forgotten Realms

In the Forgotten Realms universe of Dungeons & Dragons, the Old Ones are an extinct race of extremely powerful, cruel, reptilian humanoids (likely the sarrukh) who had enslaved the "warm blood" races in ages past. The original Neverwinter Nights story revolves around their queen's attempt to resurrect the race - also called the "Creator Race" - and reestablish its dominance on Faerûn.

Palladium Fantasy

Within the fictional history of its fantasy role-playing game, Palladium Books uses the term "Old Ones" to describe the ancient creators of magic within this fictional universe.

In the original, 1983 edition, of the Palladium Fantasy game, the Old Ones are described in Lovecraftian terms, as "hideous, oozing, slimes and gelatinous mounds of flesh and tentacles" who "are the masters, if not the very source, of magic"

Wrath of the Immortals

In the D&D supplement book, Wrath of the Immortals, the Old Ones are portrayed as super-powerful beings, more powerful than even the gods themselves. The Old Ones live in the Vortex Dimension, and are in charge of almost everything in the multiverse. In this campaign setting, it is believed that if a mortal achieves immortality, and rises to the ranking Hierarch (level 52), then gives up his immortality, becoming mortal once more, then again achieving immortality, and again rising to level 52, then the blackballs (servants of the Old Ones) come from the mystical vortexes and spirit the hapless immortal away, either destroying him, or making him into an Old One.


In Blizzard Entertainment's universe of Starcraft, the Xel'Naga are beings who are said to have been responsible for the creation of all of the sentient beings in the universe and nurturing their civilizations. These included the Terrans (Humans), however, only the Zerg and Protoss had ever come into contact with the Xel'Naga. The Xel'Naga are beings of supposedly unsurpassed wisdom and power, though it has been noted that the Zerg became uncontrollable for them and decimated their fleets.

In World of Warcraft there are beings known as the "old gods", some of the old gods names are mentioned and are very similer to some of Lovecraft characters, such as the old god "c'thun", the name a few letters short of c'thulhu. Also the "old god" Yogg-Saron, which is very close to the lovecraft character yogg-sathoth. Other references being the "deep ones", which along with yogg-saron and c'thun, are killable enemys in the game.

Other appearances

  • In Darren Shan's bestselling series The Demonata. They are first mentioned in the 4th book of the series, Bec, as beings of light living in a cave under the sea. The Demonata fear but hate them. They left Earth 1600 years ago when their time came to an end and ascended to the Heavens.
  • In Marvel Comics, Cthulhu-esque Old Ones appear as extradimensional demons who once ruled the Earth tens of thousands of years ago. They serve largely as a backstory, the only one of note being the Dr Strange enemy Shuma-Gorath.
  • Old Ones appear in Madeleine L'Engle's series of science fantasy books about the Murry family, notably in A Swiftly Tilting Planet. These Old Ones are similar to the ones in Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series—humans born with unusual mystical powers and dedicated to a never-ending struggle against the powers of darkness and evil. In both series, the Old Ones are associated with an Old Music.
  • In the novel "Shadow Scourge", part of the Outlanders series by Mark Ellis, the villain, Ocajinik, is suspected of being an Old One.
  • In the universes and dimensions that collectively make up the Palladium Books Megaverse, the Old Ones are a group of extradimensionally imprisoned Alien Intelligences that were responsible for the creation of the "science" of Magic.
  • In the novel "Earthfall", part of the Homecoming Saga by Orson Scott Card, humans are referred to as "the Old Ones" by the two sentient, indigenous species of the Earth.
  • In the short story "A Study In Emerald" by Neil Gaiman, the old ones are great inhuman monsters that have taken control of earth's governments. For instance, the queen of England is described as being "[she] is called Victoria because she had beaten us in battle seven hundred years before, and she was called Gloriana, because she was glorious, and she was called the Queen, because the human mouth was not shaped to say her true name. she was huge, huger than i imagined possible, and she squatted in the shadows, staring at us without moving." [Fragile Things, pg.11]


  • Harms, Daniel. The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana (2nd ed.), Oakland, CA: Chaosium, 1998. ISBN 1-56882-119-0.


  1. ^ The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, p. 128.

See also John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness.

External links


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