Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cthulhu Through the Editions

I was reading Realms of Crawling Chaos last night and thought the stats for Cthulhu were somewhat weak. That prompted me to go dig out my Dieties & Demigods book (yes, the one with the Cthulhu and Melnibonean Mythos inside) and compare the stats.

Note: I haven't replicated the stat blocks in their entirety. I wanted to focus on comparing overall power)

AD&D Cthulhu (from Dieties & Demigods)

AC: 2
MOVE: 18"/36"
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-10 (x30)
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Immune to Magical Control, +2 or better weapon to hit, regeneration.
FIGHTER: As 16+ HD monster
MAGIC-USER: 20th level magic-user
STR: 25, INT: 20, WIS: 23, DEX: 20, CON: 25, CHA: -7

Cthulhu usually attacks both physically and psionically. He can regenerate 10hp/round. He teleports up to one-half mile at will and is totally immune to the effects of water, cold and vacuum. He can call up from the sea 10-100 Deep Ones. He will retreat into his lair id confronted by an intact Elder Sign, another of the Old Ones (suchas Hastur) or some natural catastrophe, such as the re-sinking of the city of R'lyeh into the sea.

D&D 3.0 Edition Cthulhu (from d20 Call of Cthulhu)

Hit Dice: 42d12+378 (882hp)
Initiative: +5
Speed: 140ft, swim 140ft, fly 360ft (poor)
AC: 47
Attacks: 6 tentacles +56 melee, 2 claws +50 melee, stamp +50 melee
Damage: Tentacle 4d6+16, claw 2d8+8, stamp 4d6+8
Special Attacks: Improved grab, horrid constriction 4d6+12, spells
Special Qualities: Divine qualities, damage reduction 40/+4, divine fast healing 50/round, Spell Resistance 37, darkvision 60ft, fire resistance 25, sonic resistance 25, alter size, alter form.
Saves: Fort +39, Ref +31, Will +37
Abilities: STR: 42, DEX: 12, CON: 29, INT: 33, WIS: 27, CHA: 29
Feats: Alertness, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (tentacle), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Sunder, Weapon Focus (tentacle)
4th Edition Cthulhu (from Goodman Games' Critter Cache Lovecraftian Bestiary)

Initiative +29

Nightmarish Presence (Fear, Psychic) aura 10; enemies with
fewer levels than Cthulhu in the aura take a -5 penalty to attack
rolls and saving throws. Enemies that enter or start their turns in
the aura take 25 psychic damage.

HP 1,288; Bloodied 644
AC 51; Fortitude 49, Reflex 48, Will 49
Immune to attacks from creatures under level 25, poison, sleep;
Resist 15 all
Saving Throws +5
Speed 10, swim 10, fly 12 (hover), overland flight 15
Action Points 2

m Flabby Claws (standard; at-will)
Reach 4; +42 vs. AC; 4d10+13 damage, and the target is
grabbed (until escape).

M Wing Slam (standard; at-will)
Reach 4; +42 vs. AC; 4d8+13 damage, and the target is
pushed 2 squares and knocked prone.

M Horrific Tentacles (minor; at-will) ✦ Healing, Necrotic
Grabbed target only; +40 vs. Fortitude; 3d10 + 13 necrotic
damage, and the target loses 3 healing surges. If the target
is reduced to 0 healing surges with this power, it is slain,
and Cthulhu regains 322 hit points. The target cannot be
raised from the dead until Cthulhu is destroyed or it chooses
to release the target’s soul.

R Soul-Shattering Gaze (minor 1/round; at-will) ✦ Gaze,
Ranged 10; +40 vs. Will, 3d6 + 13 psychic damage, and
the target is dazed, slowed, and weakened (save ends all).

c A Mountain Walked (when Cthulhu ends its move action on
the ground; at-will)
Close burst 4; +38 vs. Reflex; 2d6 + 13 damage, and Large
or smaller targets are knocked prone.

c Ensnaring Madness (standard; recharge 56) ✦ Charm,
Fear, Psychic
Close burst 10; +38 vs. Will; 4d10 + 13 psychic damage,
and the target is pulled 5 squares and stunned (save ends).
If the target is pulled within 4 squares of Cthulhu, Cthulhu
can make a melee basic attack against the target as a free
action. Aftereffect: The target is dominated (save ends).

Whisperer in Darkness (whenever a sentient creature takes an
extended rest within 1 mile of Cthulhu; at-will) ✦ Psychic
+40 vs. Will; 3d10 + 13 psychic damage, the target
regains no healing surges and suffers a -2 penalty to attack
rolls and saving throws until it can take an uninterrupted
extended rest.

Threatening Reach
Cthulhu can make opportunity attack against enemies within
4 squares of it.
Alignment Chaotic evil

Str 36 (+30) Dex 30 (+27) Wis 36 (+30)
Con 34 (+29) Int 32 (+28) Cha 34 (+29)

Labyrinth Lord D&D Cthulhu (from Realms of Crawling Chaos)

Movement: 180’/360’
Armor Class: 0
Hit Dice: 350 hp (50)
Attacks: 2 (claws) or 10 (tentacles)
Damage: 1d10+15 or 1d6+special
Save: F20
Morale: 9
Psionic Strength: 22

Cthulhu prefers to attack psionically, however, if he must attack physically, he will do so with his two claws. If his head is close to his opponents, he will attack with his 10 tentacles. Each tentacle is 10ft long and may attack separately each round. They flail about doing 1d6 damage and an opponent struck must Save vs. Death or lose 1pt of INT. Each 1pt of INT lost restores 10hp to Cthulhu.

Cthulhu has the abilities of a 20th level magic-user. He also has the following psionic powers clairaudience, clairvoyance, dimension projection, dimension travel, ego whip, ESP, Id Insinuation, intellect fortress, mental barrier, mind thrust, neural telepathy, psionic blast, psychic crush and suspend life

The AD&D and Labyrinth Lord Hit Points are within 50 HP of each other. In 3rd edition and 4th edition, the Hit Points are inflated to double and four-times as much.

Armor Class for AD&D and Labyrinth Lord are equivalent to plate armor or plate and shield, and it is plausible that even a low level fighter could hit Cthulhu, whereas the 3rd and 4th Edition versions requires an Epic-level character to hit him.

Damage varies between all versions, some more than others.

All versions except 3rd edition have Psionic powers.


  1. There's also the earlier one from The Dragon magazine #12, Feb '78:

    Armor Class — 2
    Move — 12”
    Hit Points — 200
    Magic Ability — (see below)
    Fighter Ability — 15th level
    Psionic Ability — Class 1

    Cthulhu is a bloated humanoid form 100 ft. high with an octapoid head and a face a mass of feelers. He has a scaley, rubbery skin, prodigious feet and curved talons on hands and feet. A pair of folded batlike wings protrude from between the shoulders.

    “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wagh’nagl fhtagn.” — “In his house a R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.” R’lyeh is a great sunken city of non-Euclidian geometry somewhere in the Pacific. So bizarre is its construction that anyone entering the city must make saving throws against fear and insanity. Cthulhu lies in a huge stone structure sealed with the Elder Sign (see below). If the Seal is broken and the god released, everyone in a radius of 100 miles must make a saving throw or go insane.

    Cthulhu usually attacks both physically and psionically. He can regenerate 10 hit points per melee round. He can teleport up to half a mile and is totally resistant to water, cold and vacuum. He can call up from the sea 10-100 of the Deep Ones. He will retreat into his lair if confronted with the intact Elder Sign, another of the Old Ones such as Hastur, or some natural catastrophe, such as the re-sinking of the city of R’lyeh into the sea.

  2. Interesting, those stats in the Dragon issue are almost dead-on to the Dieties and Demigods version. The description and notes are exactly what is shown in the book as well.

  3. Yeah, they used an edited version of the article for DDG and since Eric Holmes wrote most of the Dragon article, his credit in DDG is understated to say the least.