Yig
idol_yig.jpg
Idol of Yig

Yig is a Great Old One. Worshiped as a god of of cycles, procreation, and serpents. He is a terrifying deity willing to devour his own worshipers if he is hungry.

Of all the Great-Old-Ones, Yig is without a doubt the most benign. Yet those so foolish as to expect kindness from the so-called Father of Serpents would do well to think again, for Yig does not suffer fools and is as likely to devour those who beseech him for help as he is to provide aid. Even his most devout worshipers realize he may simply wish to feed at times, and on these occasions no amount of devotion can protect a supplicant from death.

Yig is a Great Old One associated with snakes, but who is primarily worshiped by humans and occasionally kobolds and lizardfolk. While serpentfolk are aware of him, such creatures are typically not religious, nor do they find his blessings useful enough to serve him outwardly.

Yig, the Father of Serpents, is a half-anthropomorphic Great Old One who was worshipped as a god in Central America and the southern states of the USA. While he had an arbitrary and capricious nature he was also fiercely protective of his serpentine offspring and would punish anyone who dared harm them. He is the father of Ayi'ig and the mate of the outer god Yidhra. Even though Yig is quick to anger he is also easy to please as long as no harm comes to his children, the snakes.

Influence


Yig's favour manifests in bountiful harvests and hunts, and healthy babies who sometimes bear crescent birthmarks on their brows that mark Yig's blessing. His displeasure results in the birth of monstrous babies who kill their mothers and drive their fathers insane, and always bear Yig's crescent moon as a birthmark. Creatures that harmed snakes or Yig's clerics sometimes suffer from serpentine nightmares that sap their intelligence and eventually turn them into snakes, but he rarely holds grudges against those who defeated him.

History


In the early 1920s, an "American Indian ethnologist" conducted extensive research into snake lore from Guatemala to Oklahoma. He described Yig as the dark prototype for the more benevolent Quetzalcoatl and Kukulcan.

By the time of his investigation, the enthnologist found that the people of Oklahoma were often too afraid to discuss the legend, though this had not always been the case. Before the Land Rush of 1889, the plains tribes were more open than the Pueblo or desert nomads about their worship of Yig. The influx of white immigrants, however, led to a series of unnatural tragedies. Belief was more common in the west than it was in the transplanted south eastern tribes.

Unlike most of the Great Old Ones, Yig was rarely malicious, although he would enter a feeding frenzy in Autumn, leading the Pawnee, Wichita, and Caddo of Oklahoma to drum constantly from August through to October to drive him away. In addition to this, the Wichita would make offerings of corn to appease him. (HPL: The Curse of Yig)

In times long passed, Yig and his then-mate Coatlicue ruled the crimson cavern of Yoth beneath the subterranean land of K'n-yan, where the two were worshiped as gods by the denizens of Yoth, the Serpent Men. This arrangement came to an end when the Serpent Men transferred their veneration to Tsathoggua, and mighty Yig placed his curse upon them.

One story of Yig tells of a couple from Arkansas in the 1800's who were moving to Oklahoma in search of a better life. On their journey, the woman came across a nest of newborn rattlesnakes; knowing the fear her husband had for these animals, she killed them with the butt of her rifle, to spare him from the sight. Later that year in the fall, having built themselves a cabin and carved out an existence for themselves, the Father of Serpents came for the woman and her family in the night. Sending a swarm of his children to kill their dog, Yig then tricked the woman into killing her husband with an axe, having her believe that he was actually Yig come to take his vengeance. Finally the Snake-God transformed her into a part-human, part-reptile monstrosity, cursing her to wriggle on her belly like a snake for all eternity.

Appearance


Yig's true form is that of a scaled monstrous humanoid with a snake's tail and head, and he can also appear as a snake with a crescent mark upon the brow. In his true form, Yig stands 14 feet tall and weighs 1,100 pounds.

Yig appears as a scaled, humanoid creature with a serpent’s head and lashing tail, but he can appear as any serpentine creature if he so wills. In his true form, Yig stands 14 feet tall and weighs 1,100 pounds.

Yig can take three forms, each serving a different function.
Yig as a Humanoid

In order to interact with mortal races, or to further his goals, Yig can appear humanoid. This human form is imprecise, as Yig does not fully understand mammalian physiology. Flaws in the disguise might include traces of scales on parts of his body, too-sharp canine teeth that resemble fangs, slit-eyed pupils, or being cold-blooded. If he is attacked while in humanoid form, he immediately polymorphs to his monstrous true form.
Yig as a Serpent

Yig can be a snake of any size, but generally chooses a type resembling his messengers: an imposing venomous serpent with a white crescent moon marking its head. In this form, he is small enough that he often bides his time in innocuous places, such as a shrine or a worshiper’s cottage.
Yig as a Monster

This monstrous shape is the shape Yig always takes when attacking or being attacked. As Yig-the-God, instead of a head, he has a hydra-like thicket of snakes springing from his forebody. He also has a single central snake-form ending in a massive eye that has prodigious visual powers. He has two forelimbs and a long serpentine body, plated with thick armor.

At the start of battle, Yig immediately transforms into his monstrous form. Foes who attack by surprise might be able to get a few blows in against his unarmored human or snake-form, however. As a monster, he has heavy armor that is difficult to penetrate.

While he has two huge claws, these are generally not used in combat. Instead, he uses the claws for movement, clinging to walls or climbing, or seizing objects for tactical purposes. His attacks are almost exclusively biting with his thicket of snake heads.

As with his messengers, a single bite from Yig is nearly instant death. Even more terrifyingly, the eye of Yig can see invisible and hidden things, so no one can be concealed from his view.

Finally, Yig can summon vast numbers of deadly snakes, typically including a few messengers in their number, and these begin appearing as swarms as of the second round of battle.

Cults


Yig is worshipped by nomadic and rural communities who live close to the land, and his cult has no presence in cities. Unlike most Great Old Ones, Yig cares about his worshippers, and protects them if they practice the proper rites of worship, but failure to do so leads to swift punishment. Yig has few constructed temples, and his worship often takes place in a forest clearing, a circle of standing stones, or a cave mouth.

Despite being a snake god, Yig is not worshipped by the serpentfolk, and is an enemy of their patron Ydersius. After Ydersius was decapitated by Savith, Yig turned his attention elsewhere.

Yig is primarily worshiped by nomadic societies and those who live with a close connection to the land; veneration of him is all but unknown in urban areas. Although Yig often makes his presence known through the actions of serpents, serpentfolk rarely worship him, preferring their own, more sinister deity. Yig’s cult is associated with cycles (the cycle of seasons, the cycle of birth and death, and other manifestations of repetition in the natural world), procreation, and serpents, and his sacred symbol is a coiled rattlesnake with a crescent-shaped mark upon its head. His temples rarely take the form of constructed buildings and are often nothing more than a forest clearing, a ring of standing stones, or the mouth of a large cave. Unlike most of the Great-Old-Ones, Yig tends to take notice of those who worship him. This is, however, as much a bane as it is a boon for those who offer the Father of Serpents worship, for just as he may protect his flock when they are endangered, his retribution for slights is swift, and communities that fail to properly worship him often find their crops failing, their livestock sickened, and their children born with crippling deformities. You can model such unfortunate creatures by applying the mutant creature template. In addition to the normal changes wrought by this template, such mutants invariably bear a unique birthmark somewhere on their body—the crescent moon shape that all of those touched by Yig bear.

Yig’s clerics have access to the domains of Chaos, Community, Protection, and Scalykind, and to the subdomains of Defense, Dragon, Revelry, and Venom. His favored weapon is the punching dagger.

The Messengers of Yig

The messengers of Yig are deadly snakes marked with the crescent moon symbol of Yig on their heads. They are typically large members of their species, and their venom is astonishingly deadly—a bite from a messenger is so swift that its effects are often mistaken for a heart attack.

  • Vile-Oct A dragon-like or reptilian entity said to be a familiar of Yig.

Family


Yig

Mappo no Ryujin, mother
Rokon, brother
Coatlicue, former mate
Ayi'ig, daughter by the Outer Goddess Yidhra
Voltiyig, son


Yig is also thought to be the deity responsible for the legends of the Kukulcan and Quetzalcoatl worshipped by native tribes in Central and South America.

One thing about Yig's "snake god" to keep in mind: a subtheme that runs throughout the mythos (in Lovecraft's, but mostly in others' contributions), is the frightening idea that the origins of all earthly things (incl. humans, snakes, and the rest) lie with the Great Old Ones. So it could be that the very commonplace snake has alien origins.

My initial thoughts about Yig are how I grew up thinking snakes are cool rather than scary or creepy. Of course if you put a cobra in the room with me I'll be nervous because it's actually dangerous but it would not creep me out on principle.

So Yig has always left me confused on how to feel about him. On the one hand he's a Great Old One. He's an eldritch abomination. He's supposed to wear and tear at the mind simply for standing in a mete human human's presence. On the other hand… Yig seems to be little more than a snake god. That's not particularly unearthly or frightening to me. Yeah he's an alien quasi-deity but that goes for every GOO.

Yet the snake motif still gives him a certain mystique. The best GOOs IMO all have a certain tone or flavor that acts as a hook and I think Yig has that quality.

I love Yig stories. As mentioned, it resounds primordial fear in venomous snakes, especially in western us culture (a sort of departure for hpl) but also hammers in the feeling of appeasing certain great old ones, even if only temporarily/for the initiated.

Big fan of western movies and actually hiking the midwest/west as well, so I could relate more than the east coast which are some of the few states I've never seen.

All in all, one of my favorites, if overlooked.

He doesn't fit in with the others, but on the other hand, that adds to the alien-ness of the whole "pantheon". I don't remember where I read it, but in some variations of the mythos, there are /were a few demi Gods that are "normal" (eg yig, bast, etc). Yig just got lucky with a huge empire of lizard men worshiping him which elevated him to an eldritch god level of power.

Well, the thing is, he never really sat down and designed a pantheon. It just sort of happened. He rewrote someone else's story (The Curse of Yig) and so it ended up sticking.

I'm not really sure he is a Great Old One. He's a "god", but presumably something to the reptiles of Earth much like Dagon is to the Deep Ones on the earth.

He's also actually fairly friendly to humans, as long as you don't kill snakes or violate an oath to him.

I've always found Yig ultimately forgettable. I strongly dislike the RE Howard Mythos stuff, swords and Old Ones so that colours my thoughts.

However I just finished Ellen Datlow's Lovecraft's Monsters today. A couple of duds but in all a very solid anthology with a couple of reprints, but of the better stuff. Amongst the very strongest stories was Children of the Fang by John Langan. while was both excellently written, three real fleshed-out characters, and probably the best Yig-inspired story I've read.

I feel as though Yig belongs in another mythos. "snake god" is so mainstream and non-alien. although i like the idea of the snake-man empire ruling over the earth it just seems like it would fit better in a fantasy setting rather than a Lovecraftian horror setting.

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