In expanding the source material to cover the Weird Century, Cthulhu Awakens presents a world with a secret history, where the Mythos is never acknowledged in public life, but still represents a pervasive, dangerous influence. This kind of thing isn’t at all unusual for horror and urban fantasy—it’s hard to keep the world recognizable and acknowledge Cthulhu is real—but in our case, this means including somewhat radical changes to the past as well, reaching all the way back to geological epochs. In the game we divide the setting’s history into the following loose epochs.
The Colonization Wars
Beginning over a billion years ago, rival alien factions battled for domination of the world. These included the city-building “elder things,” the body-stealing Yithians, the Mi-Go travelers from Yuggoth and beyond, and Cthulhu and its minions, but the Skotomorphs, a species so strange it has evidently never communicated with any other, and so destructive its actions created the Permian-Triassic Extinction event, presented perhaps the greatest danger. After that event, but in the waning aeons of this period, various hominid species evolved, and some were altered by alien factions, though the relationship between alien-modified hominids and modern humans is unknown.
Secret Human History
In Cthulhu Awakens, most people learn the same history we do, where slow waves of migration from Africa introduced humans to the rest of the world, and the first cities arise around 10,000 BCE. Only a small number of fringe scholars and subject matter experts who focus on certain highly sensitive issues for various governments and other interested parties know the truth: Humans have founded nations, forged bronze, and fought wars to drench the idols of strange gods for perhaps 80,000 years. Furthermore, nonhuman hominids (and, perhaps, beings who never descended from apes at all) had their own nations, in lost islands and vast underground realms, where they used eldritch technologies. Flood myths and other tales of catastrophe may explain why these civilizations fell.
Mundane History to the Weird Century
From 10,000 BCE on, the main course of human history is well-known to the public, but it has secret aspects ranging from the caves of K’n-yan, whose existence is kept secret by the US government, to a certain forbidden zone in Antarctica where the few authorized visitors must avoid using modern equipment to prevent accidentally teaching its clever, shapeshifting residents how to access computer systems or create horrendous weapons. The last 100 years of ordinary history constitutes the Weird Century, where Cthulhu stirs, and the effects of the prehuman colonization wars seem poised to wrench the world out of any predictable path.