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Follow up to this question:

What would prevent an eldritch deity from gaining the abilities of others that it absorbs?

Nyarlathotep, the Black Pharaoh, seeks to enter the realm of Earth to rule over mankind. Unfortunately, he is prevented from doing so by a barrier that blocks eldritch deities from crossing over. To get around this, he breaks his soul up into thousands of pieces and seeds them into thousands unborn children. These kids become immortal avatars of Nyarlathotep called Nylanders, who do battle with each other over the centuries through one-on-one engagements to the death. When one is killed, the other "eats" the loser and gains their power and memories, absorbing them into themselves. When all pieces of the deity have joined, Nyarlathotep will become whole within one body and would be reborn on the mortal plane. In the end, there can be only one.

As each child is killed/destroyed, the remaining Nylanders gain that power equally. As the Nylanders are killed over the centuries, the rate of power absorption would increase each time, with the final two battling being the strongest of their brethren. These warriors also possess a piece of the deity's consciousness hidden deep within their minds. As the souls merge with each other, the collective consciousness of Nyarlathotep gains more self-awareness, regaining its memories and sense of self. The remaining warriors become more deity than human, until the final battle in which the full mind of the god emerges within the body of the winner.

However, as the collective consciousness emerges, it competes with the consciousness of the human it is apart of. The human mind was not built to have two psyches within one body. This leads to both minds battling it out, leading to different memories, attitudes and personalities colliding with each other. An analogy would be schizophrenia, a chronic disorder which affects how a person perceives and relates to reality. The resulting winners would risk being burdened with these mental conditions. As more of these individuals come together, they can spread their illness to the emerging whole, leading to the creation of an unstable god.

A crazy elder god is not good for itself or the world it plans to rule. How can this collective mind avoid this fate so Nyarlathotep can be reborn in full capacity?

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    $\begingroup$ Rather than schizophrenia, Dissociative Identity Disorder would be a more fitting analogy. While most people will call such a condition an illness it may also be seen as a defense of the individual to cope with an otherwise too traumatic experience. The different personalities can find ways to accept each other as parts of a whole, each kicking in in the fitting situation. May be unsettling for others but multiple personalities can cohexist in an individual in a functional way. This of course does not cover the case of the god. he would have thousands of personas. Quite too many to manage. $\endgroup$ Oct 27, 2020 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ It seems far, far more likely that you'd wind up with a significant power concentration in one individual who is going around easily picking off the other fragments at will. The nature of power accumulation, in this case, would likely lead to a snowball effect similar to a monopoly where the smaller players are immediately crushed by those who gained a small early advantage through happenstance. $\endgroup$
    – Onyz
    Oct 27, 2020 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ Have you read much Lovecraft? These Elder Gods think entirely different than we do. From our point of view, they are already insane. $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Oct 28, 2020 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ cull ... the ... weak .... $\endgroup$
    – user59660
    Jul 29, 2022 at 10:42

3 Answers 3

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I love simple questions

These kids become immortal avatars of Nyarlathotep called Nylanders, who do battle with each other over the centuries through one-on-one engagements to the death. When one is killed, the other "eats" the loser and gains their power and memories, absorbing them into themselves.

Assumption: Somewhat like in the Highlander stories, the kids are driven to find one another. Otherwise they start dying off before finding one another and the whole plan kinda falls apart.

As each child is killed/destroyed, the remaining Nylanders gain that power equally. As the Nylanders are killed over the centuries, the rate of power absorption would increase each time, with the final two battling being the strongest of their brethren. ... As the souls merge with each other, the collective consciousness of Nyarlathotep gains more self-awareness, regaining its memories and sense of self.

What this means is that the possibility of madness occurs early in the process, when Nyarlothotep has the least amount of influence over the host mind. As his avatars are consumed, his awareness exerts greater and greater control, imposing stability.

The problem occurs with this phrase:

These warriors also possess a piece of the deity's consciousness hidden deep within their minds.

This was in reference to the last two combatants. Simply put...

No they don't.

They can't and keep all your other rules consistent. By the time the last two are battling, they basically know exactly what's going on. There aren't two hosts battling for reasons they don't quite understand, unless you better define just how much the buried consciousness exerts itself at each step along the way, what we have are two aspects of Nyarlothotep itself doing battle.

So, what's your answer?

Since the madness can only occurs early in the process when the buried consciousness can't exert actual control beyond "find the others and kill them!" the problem is, oddly, self-solving.

The mad hatter would be sought out and killed by the others, resolving the conflict. Or, the madness would resolve itself with each death as the consciousness of Nyarlothotep exerts more and more control over the host mind.

In other words, what you have is an amazingly cool story element that isn't actually a problem.

And finally, once again, when's the dang book coming out? You're killing me! I swear, if I don't hear about a publication date soon... I'm gonna hunt you down and beat you with all the plush bunnies I can find along the way!

Whew! I'm glad I got that off my chest!

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Not Schizophrenia

First of all, you are not describing the precursors of a schizoid mental disorder at all, but rather of a cognitive dissonance issue. Schizoid disorders are mental disorders where your perceive things that do not really exist, or you misperceive things that do exist. This can be in the form of Hallucinations like hearing voices, seeing apparitions, etc. or they can be less obvious Delusions which are misperceptions where you internalize fantasies as truth, like believing that the person on the TV is actually talking to you. That said, a person with schizophrenia typically has just 1 personality; so, you should not look to schizoid disorders to model your mental instability after.

The human mind was not built to have two psyches within one body.

This is actually an untrue statement. Human experience is very complex, as such we routinely run into situations where we are either doing something that we do not agree with or we believe something that does not make sense with something else that we believe. This causes an internal conflict (cognitive dissonance) in our personality which psychology often described as being two selves at once. Lucky for your children, the human brain actually has a whole lot of tricks for dealing with these internal conflicts such that most of them will actually not go mad at all, but rather adapt to the emerging thoughts and beliefs of the god inside of them the same why we adapt to any new thoughts, feelings, or emotions that conflict with our personality as we transition through the normal stages of life.

Standard coping mechanisms for cognitive dissonance include:

Repression: Forcing the new thoughts and feelings of the god to only be experienced in the subconscious, here the gods emerging thoughts and feelings will be forced to play out in your dreams and unconsciously in your behaviors that "you are not thinking about". So, you continue to live a normal and moral life, but at night you have nightmares about murdering your loved ones, or you start to do things the dark god would want to do "in fits of anger".

Regression: If the influences of the god on your psyche are to powerful and confusing, you brain can revert to a less mature state of being (when things were simpler) to ignore the more complex interactions that the god is trying to force on your mind. The dark god wants you to murder your wife, but you want to give her a hug... instead you have her pull your finger and fart because that is an easier manifestation of the problem to resolve.

Projection: Your retain your identity, but resolve how the dark god is making you feel by making up narratives about how other people are making you feel that way. So you tell yourself you don't suddenly hate your family, but now when your kids leave their shoes in a walkway, it is no longer a minor offences, but a personal attack against you that should be responded to with maximum punishment.

Reaction formation: You respond to the unpleasant thoughts and emotions of the dark god by doing the opposite of what it wants in an exaggerated way. So, the dark god wants you to murder your neighbors, and you respond by baking them a cake.

Sublimation: This where you simply learn to verbally express to the people around you that you are having conflicted thoughts and feelings. Here you accept that you are feeling ambivalent and operate out of that state of being. People capable of sublimation often find they have to think longer and harder than other people to make decisions because they have to maintain a conscious awareness of both sides of themself and weigh the pros and cons of their choices each time they do something.

Change: If the god's ability to exert his will on you grows too strong to push into any of the defense mechanisms, a normal person would not go mad, but simply change to accept the new feelings as his/her new self. So, you did not used to want to drown a bag of puppies, now that is a thing you want to do.

Note: various psychological models on cognitive dissonance have actually identified dozens of different coping mechanisms, these are just the most common ones

Sometimes Borderline/Dissociative Personality Disorder

In most cases, your children will begin with using any combination of the 1st 5 methods listed above until the dark god's influence becomes so strong that they simply change their own personalities to match. But occasionally a person is so resistant to changing their personality that it results in borderline/dissociative personality disorder. This is distinctly different than schizoid disorders in that a person with a borderline/dissociative disorder will switch between personalities without retaining any knowledge of what their other selves are doing whereas a schizophrenic person would perceive the hallucination of someone who wants them to do something, but the hallucination has no direct control over their actions because the hallucination is a manifested fantasy and not a part of the person's personality.

So, if your dark god "drives a person mad", because of the way the human brain is already wired to deal with this sort of conflict, the person in question will begin to live part of their life as 100% themself, and the other part of their life as 100% the dark god. As the god becomes stronger, they will begin to spend more and more of their time as the god until their human personality becomes permanently repressed.

Either way, the final state is a perfectly normal mind (or whatever the dark god would consider normal) that has simply altered the brain until the human self is fully supplanted or fully accepts the new reality of the dark god's personality.

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By slowly training the host to think like the Nylander inside

The Nylander knows if it instantly exerts itself the host may not like who they are becoming and take measures to control it. That's bad for the evil elder god.

The fix - the elder god keeps their mind to themselves so to speak, and only helps the host when the host is doing something evil the elder god would do anyway.

It starts small

I beat up the bully and convinced all the witnesses to lie and say he fell down the stairs.

but builds

I need this, so I'm gonna take it and threaten anyone who sees into silence.

Until

It's my world - I deserve it. No one can stand in my way.

By the time there are only a few left, the host has been trained to think and act just like the elder god. Any human emotion has been trained out of them, and since the elder god and host share the same goals and values, they are quite happy to co-exist.

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