Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath

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The Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath are the spawn of the the Outer God of that name. Only obliquely alluded to by H P. Lovecraft (e.g. "Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand Young!"), they were introduced in Robert Bloch's story "Notebook Found in a Deserted House".


The Dark Young are horrifying, pitch-black monstrosities, seemingly made of ropy tentacles. They stand as tall as a tree (perhaps between twelve and twenty feet tall) on a pair of stumpy, hooved legs. A mass of tentacles protudes from their trunks where a head would normally be, and puckered maws, dripping green goo, cover their flanks. The monsters roughly resemble trees in silhouette — the trunks being the short legs and the tops of the trees represented by the ropy, branching bodies. The whole mass of these things smells like an open grave. They usually dwell in woodlands wherever Shub-Niggurath's cult is active.

The Dark Young are usually called upon to preside over cult ceremonies. One means for summoning them is found in the Book of Eibon and requires a blood offering. The ritual may only be performed in the deep of the woodlands at the darkest of the moon, and the victim must be sacrificed over a stone altar.

Dark young act as proxies for Shub-Niggurath in the accepting of sacrifices and the worship of cultists, in the devouring of non-cultists, and in the spreading of their mother's faith across the world.


"It was real tall and all inky-black, without any particular shape except a lot of black ropes with ends like hoofs on it. I mean, it had a shape but it kep changing—all bulgy and squirming into different sizes. They was a lot of mouths all over the thing like puckered up leaves on branches. […] The mouths was like leaves and the whole thing was like a tree in the wind, a black tree with lots of branches trailing to the ground, and a whole lot of roots ending in hoofs. And that green slime dribbling out of the mouths and down the legs was like sap!"

"Something black in the road, something that wasn’t a tree. Something big and black, just squatting there, waiting, with ropy arms squirming and reaching."

"It came crawling up the hillside to the alter and the sacrefice, and it was the black thing of my dreams-that black ropy, slimy, jelly tree-thing out of the woods. It crawled up and it flowed up on its hoofs and mouths and snaky arms. And the men bowed and stood back and then it got to the alter where they was something squirmin on top, squirming and screaming."

—Robert Bloch, "Notebook Found in a Deserted House"


Although Bloch originally referred to this creature a "shoggoth", Sandy Petersen took his description and applied it to his own creation in the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game rulebook in 1981.




Dark Young from the 2011 short film Black Goat

Reference works

Role-playing games