Most of the entities in the Cthulu Mythos are outside of human comprehension, and so alien to us they’re beyond horrifying. The reason cosmic horror is so chilling is humankind’s complete insignificance on a universal scale, and that we’re at the mercy of creatures far more powerful than we could possibly imagine. But Nyarlathotep is unique in the pantheon of Lovecraftian horrors because he has a strange fascination with the human race. While the other entities of the Mythos seem amoral, detached, and unknowable, he has some very human characteristics. Such as a sadistic pleasure in the manipulation of humanity. This Outer God has many names including, the Crawling Chaos, the Messenger of the Outer Gods, the Black Pharaoh, and the Faceless God just to name a few. Nyarlathotep is the offspring of Azathoth, the Blind Idiot God who is the all-powerful creator of the universe, and to whom all other entities in the mythos have but a fraction of power in comparison. Though, if there were any who were second in power to Azathoth, it would be Nyarlathotep (or perhaps his nephew Yog-Sothoth, it’s debatable).
The Crawling Chaos has little loyalty to all other Outer Gods other than his father Azathoth, to whom he obeys without question (but sometimes enjoys manipulating as well). In fact, some theories suggest Nyarlathotep is merely an avatar of Azathoth himself. Most Outer Gods are inactive in human affairs directly, however, Nyarlathotep greatly enjoys walking among us, and directing our affairs for his own twisted enjoyment. If he so wished he could wipe out our world in an instant, or allow other Outer Gods and Great Old Ones entrance into our dimension to wreak chaos. Yet for some reason, they are for the most part kept at bay by the Nyarlathotep. He’s free to roam our plane of existence, while the other cosmic horrors are not. The truth for this can never be known to us, but it’s safe to say our outright destruction and death are not enjoyable to him. Because if humans were wiped out then he would lose his favorite playthings. Nyarlathotep loves to frequently mingle with humans, and though he can take on a thousand different forms, he’s unique among the Outer Gods in that he often takes on the form of a man. An ancient Egyptian Pharaoh being one of his most well known. Throughout human history, he’s manipulated civilization’s destinies towards confrontation, death, destruction, suffering, and madness, all for his own enjoyment. Who’s to say he wasn’t Hitler, or Genghis Khan, or Caesar? The Outer God very well could have been any prominent historical figure responsible for chaos in the world. It’s only the enjoyment he gains from our suffering that prevents our total annihilation at his hands. To Nyarlathotep, our race’s existence is a great game.
H.P. Lovecraft was inspired to write about Nyarlathotep by a terrible nightmare he had. In the dream, Lovecraft got an ominous letter, which stated “Don’t fail to see Nyarlathotep if he comes to providence. He is horrible. Horrible among anything you can imagine. But wonderful. He haunts one for hours afterward. I am still shuddering at what he showed.” Reading the letter in the dream, Lovecraft recalled that the Crawling Chaos had already come to providence. The Outer God inspired fear and discussion in a public hall. Then displayed before all was a horrific film real which he knew was possibly prophetic. Afterward, Nyarlathotep performed frightening experiments with scientific devices. Lovecraft seemed to remember people whispering to him in awe of Nyarlathotep’s horrors, and that they warned him not to go near the cosmic horror. But Lovecraft went out into the night anyway. Around him were people whispering and moving together down the road. He fell in with them, afraid, yet eager to hear Nyarlathotep. When Lovecraft woke up from the nightmare, the memory was burned into his skull. Later in life, he was compelled to write about the vivid dream.
The first short story Lovecraft wrote on the Outer God was entitled Nyarlathotep. In the short story, the entity took the form of a lanky man who resembled a Pharaoh that travels across the Earth displaying to those he meets strange magical devices that are wondrous to witness. These people became his followers, and the Black Pharaoh gained a horde of worshipers who slowly lose touch with reality. The narrator also succumbs to the Outer God’s influence and throughout the tale grows more and more unreliable due to his growing insanity. The Narrator concludes the world is ending around him, and like the army of followers in awe of Nyarlathotep, is a complete slave to the star god’s will. What was truly happening could not be said, but it was guaranteed the Narrator had totally been consumed in madness.
Nyarlathotep has siblings, Bärkatlànm, the Darkness, and the Nameless Mist. He would find a cosmic mate in Yhoundeh, who spawned his son Ugga-Naach. His supernatural abilities are indeed godlike, which he uses depending on what form he may be in. As a human, he may just snap a man’s neck who annoys him or gets in his way. However, in any of his cosmic horror forms, he’s more likely to wield unnatural powers beyond belief. The Outer God is capable of superhuman strength, invulnerability, flight, mental influence, many forms of powerful magic, Madness induction, Reality-warping, Illusionism, Telepathy, and I really could go on and on. But despite all the immense power he wields his greatest attribute is his ability to manipulate. The world is a chessboard and humans are his pawns. Nyarlathotep loves to make deals with humans and lead them on a path that may very well end in their doom for his own entertainment. Since he is so conniving, sadistic, and deceptive to humans, he IS almost never trustworthy. But, once in a while, he may be entertained by a mortal enough to the point he leaves them be after an encounter. Though that person is most probably insane or worse after dealing with the Outer God. The Crawling Chaos enjoys playing with people rather than outright killing them or committing wanton destruction.
Another dimension in the Mythos is the Dreamlands. Which is similar to the Astral Plane. Only humans may enter it through dreams, or even by physical means in some cases(other planets and species have their own Dreamlands too). The journey to the realm in the material plane is immensely treacherous though. The Dreamlands have their own set of gods called the Great Ones, who are treated with blatant contempt by Nyarlathotep. Despite this, he protects the Dreamlands, not allowing mortals or other entities to challenge the stability of the realm. However, the rest of the Outer Gods, Great Old Ones, and cosmic horrors have little to no influence or interest in the dimension. The reason the Crawling Chaos protects the human dream realm is enigmatic and mysterious, but assuredly NOT out of benevolence of any kind. Some have speculated these pocket dimensions are just part of the gears behind the mechanism of existence. The only guarantee is that challenging such realms brings the wrath of Nyarlathotep, which is an assured and horrible demise.
Nyarlathotep is the only Outer God who actively effects our existence on earth. There are many other sentient species in the Mythos universe, but none offer whatever it is humans have to offer the Crawling Chaos that brings him such enjoyment. On a whim, the entity could destroy humanity in an instant, but hasn’t. It’s heavily suggested only he can allow the other Outer Gods and Great Old Ones into the mortal realm of earth. So, it seems like he doesn’t allow them in on purpose. Nyarlathotep enjoys deceiving and manipulating all those he crosses. Especially humans. Driving people insane out of enjoyment seems to be his favorite hobby. But what if one day Nyarlathotep gets bored with us? It has been suggested by some that Nyarlathotep may be the creature that will ultimately destroy the world. He’s been revered by humans throughout history as gods, rulers, and countless other people of influence. The Crawling Chaos may even be responsible for the creation of many religions throughout human history. There’s really no end to the possibilities of his influence on Earth over the millennia in the Mythos universe. But one thing is for certain, we humans are Nyarlathotep’s favorite toys.