Not really game-related, but a big part of the source material, so it's still valid.
I've seen two different versions of the elder sign and I know there is/was a debate about it amid fans.
So where do you stand, personally? What do you believe it to be and which do you prefer? Both answers may be different after all.
I can see the one reminscent of a twig being the official or "proper" one, but design-wise, I like the star/eye combo better. They both have good points, but the star is my preference.
At least in the German version this one is the canonical Elder Sign, and when
you use a search engine like Google to look for "Elder Sign" you will find that
it is the most common version:
Elder Sign Star 5 x 4505 by LunarScreams on Etsy
The star version is a Chaosium trademark AFAIK and was originally promoted by Derleth. The tree sign was Lovecraft's version and seems to be based off a written description rather than a sketch. The star version seems to be more like one would expect a 'seal' to look and as such makes sense in terms of the common usage in the game.
The use of the star version throughout CoC game material would explain the prevalence of that version in search results.
I was thinking of the description in Shadow over Innsmouth and the little stones mentioned by Zadok Allen. However the Selected Letters containing the sketch is the volume covering 1929-1931 so it pre-dates the published story by some 5 years.
Aye, the star one is very common. I like both and think that if used together (ie. both drawn in the same location), you're pretty much going to be safe from a lot of things. Except outer gods. And **** that!
I don't know which one is supposedly official, but to me, given the non-human nature of the mythos beasties, the twig makes more sense, as it is less representative of any human referents...though I believe a willow wand was thought to be a protective device... on the other hand, maybe the human use of pentagrams and eye symbols is derived from the elder sign... [ramble] It's five-sided nature could be related to the symbology of the Elder Things, who used the five-pointed star a lot...though that may be related to their 5-sided radial symmetry [/ramble]... I guess its a matter of personal taste ...
If the Elder Sign is rationalised as the human interpretation of an elder thing footprint (which is odd, given that an elder-thing's footprint was sort of shovel shaped... maybe they meant the grave markers?) , then why does it work on non-human mythos nasties? Unless, its the belief that it will work that empowers the symbol... this has two interesting implications: 1/ That human belief is an actual force in the universe and 2/ It explains why holding a cross up to a vampire works... a true believer should in theory be able to use whatever their holy symbol was to do the same job...
A potential third implication is that human belief in their own supremacy over nature might be why we haven't been eaten by (*insert favoured mythos carnivore)...
We've survived the reign of the Nazgul. We've survived prehistoric megafauna (and ate them up!). We've survived multiple worldwide plagues and wars. We've survived multiple alien invasions since the 1890s and thumbed our collective noses at Ming the Merciless. We've survived the Brides, Sons, Daughters and assorted household pets of Frankenstein and Dracula as well as the rise of the Planet of the Apes. We've survived the Eugenics Wars and Godzilla and Company. What does old Squid Face think he's gonna do? X(
Originally Posted by Erasmus1966
Personally, I wasn't aware there was any controversy about Lovecraft's Elder Sign. It's mentioned briefly in a story or two but never described (that I can remember). I figured the star thing was something Chaosium came up with for marketing purposes.
I've read here and there that Cthulhu was some kind of priest. What the hell did HE pray to? Scary thought!