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I've been wanting to play a Great Old One Warlock, but my table is about to start Descent Into Avernus. My thoughts to tie it in is that the GOO has taken notice of what's going on in the Nine Hells and... etc.

But there is a question that poses an "in world / in-universe" conundrum: would they? For what reason would Great Old Ones notice, and /or care about, the Blood Wars?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The more I think about your question, the more I like it. That's a great lore question. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 28 at 18:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ In my mind, wouldn't it be enough that your character believes there to be a connection? Your character can't make sense of the Great One's motives so they latch onto some meaning, perceived or invented wouldn't matter. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Sep 29 at 14:48
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Very little, though a few have connections to it.

Of the Great Old One patrons listed in the Player's Handbook and Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, none have a solid interest in the Blood War.

According to Elder Evils (2007), Zargon was once ruler of the Nine Hells in ancient times, before he was driven out by Asmodeus. However, following his exile to the Material Plane, he has long since given up his plans to return to the Nine Hells, deciding to take the Material Plane instead:

The slime bred new creatures that Zargon sought to corral and use as foot soldiers to reclaim his place in the Nine Hells. But as his power grew, Zargon realized this world could be his. He had no reason to return to his native plane when he could claim this one.

In the Forgotten Realms, Moander, listed as a Great Old One in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, actually resided on the 223rd layer of the Abyss, Offalmound. However, Moander was slain, and according to Player's Guide to Faerûn p.165, this caused his realm to be destroyed or expelled from the planes, meaning that Moander no longer has any direct stake in the Blood War.

Kezef the Chaos Hound, one of the Seven Lost Gods according to the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (2008), hunts many deities, but has no particular connection to the Blood War.

Dendar the Night Serpent, also one of the Seven Lost Gods, is said in Powers and Pantheons (1997), p. 188, to be to be an ancient elder evil, synonymous with Nidhogg of Norse myth, the dragon who gnaws on the world tree Yggdrasil. She inhabits the Gray Waste of Hades, which is used as a battlefield of the Blood War, but Dendar usually does not leave her lair, content to feast on the nightmares of mortals, and has no particular interest in the Blood War which rages outside her cave.

Ghaunadaur is enemy of Lolth, whose realm the Demonweb Pits was a layer of the Abyss, but by current Forgotten Realms timeline her realm is separate from the Abyss. He now occupies a separate plane called the Dismal Caverns or Deep Caverns, and has no known connections to the Blood War.

Tyranthraxus has possessed mortal bodies on the Material Plane and desired to conquer Faerûn, but has no known connections to the Blood War. According to Curse of the Azure Bonds, his origin is unknown and "none of the lower planes will claim him".

Tharizdun of the Greyhawk lore is an ancient entity of utter bleakness and annihilation, imprisoned by the gods to prevent him from destroying the entire multiverse. He has no connection to the Blood War. He may have a tangential connection via the Elder Elemental Eye, a proxy identity under which he was revered in the Temple of Elemental Evil, and which brought together the power of evil elemental princes who may themselves have some small stake in the Blood War.

Great Cthulhu was omitted from most D&D books for copyright reasons, so there is unlikely to be lore connecting him to the Blood War. Traditionally, he sleeps in his forgotten city beneath the oceans.

The Player's Handbook ends its list with "other unfathomable beings", which suggests that some other Great Old One patrons might exist who care about the Blood War. However, they are described in the Player's Handbook as having motives "incomprehensible to mortals", and the general trend is that Great Old Ones tend to be bizarre entities even older than the war between demons and devils.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the Elder Evils treatment of Zargon flies wildly in the face of his pre-existing canon. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 28 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow this is an amazing answer with citations and everything. I was planning on doing an "other unfathomable," Hadar, but based on this; I think Dendar could actually work quite well with the rest of my concept. \$\endgroup\$ – RyanFromGDSE Sep 28 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan The only other sources of Zargon canon I'm aware of are B4: The Lost City (1982), which does not contradict anything in Elder Evils besides minor details (the exact length of Zargon's horn, for example), Dragon #315's Mystara: Return to the Lost City which has an alternate statblock, and Masque of Dreams (Dungeon 142). Elder Evils does expand on the Zargon lore, such as his origin and conflict with Asmodeus, and the Forgotten Realms section gives an alternate history for use in that setting, but as far as I'm aware, it's largely consistent with past canon. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Sep 28 at 23:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Lost City’s description of Zargon makes him a minor—baatezu—devil lord. Elder Evils massively up-jumps his power and significance, and more importantly, makes him an ancient baatorian—which is a preposterous claim for his appearance in The Lost City. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 28 at 23:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can't help but feel the concept of great old ones has shifted between editions of D&D. Tyranthraxus, for example. was never really stated as being a great old one when he was first introduced. He certainly wasn't very powerful being forced as he was to flee from a trio of adventurers. My general impression of the great old ones from the far plane is that many would be lucky to even notice the Blood War, let alone care about it. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Sep 29 at 0:35
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Yes, and no. But really, you probably should not know!

If you want to embrace the full spirit of the Great Old Ones, we cannot know. They might be interested, but for reasons we cannot fathom. The established D&D lore, from 3.5e books like Elder Evils, but better yet Lords of Madness, does not establish much of a connection, but perhaps the fact that we are unable to see the connection is an illusion, perhaps they are interested but we are unable to comprehend the connection. As soon as you fully flesh out the reason why a certain Great Old One would be interested in the Blood War, you are making it understandable by mortals.

So I suggest: Do not try to find any connections at all. If this is not satisfactory, ie. you want to establish a solvable mystery, do not flesh out the connection yourself, just state your desire to your DM and let her establish one so you won't know. It will make roleplaying your character more exciting, you as the player won't need to pretend unknowing what your character should not know. But even as the adventure unfolds and you start to gain clues about what your DM has prepared, you should not be able to completely understand the full picture; some clues should even be contradictory; ideally as soon as you start to think you are grasping the big picture, some new clue must totally ruin it.

Most of us want to have a big comprehensible picture. If the lack of it would make your character less fun to play, please also state that to your DM, so she can adjust the level of mystery accordingly.

Now some loose threads that might inspire your DM:

All of the following information comes from various pages of the Lords of Madness.

1. Quoting: "Of all the major aberration races in the D&D game, the aboleths best personify the sense of cosmic horror and the ultimate insignificance of humankind expressed in Lovecraft’s writings."

2. Eons ago, exceptionally gargantuan aboleths managed to transport an entire world of slaves and minions from the Material Plane to Stygia, the icy-cold ocean layer of Nine Hells.

3. Aboleths in general like interacting with the baatezu, and collect means of summoning and binding them to servitude.

4. Piscaethces, the source of the aboleth race, could be the alternate name for Cthulhu or Shub-Niggurath from the Lovecraftian mythos.

5. While Piscaethces does not seem to care about the aboleths or any other beings in the physical world, insane cultists periodically attempt to call her.

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Work with your DM

This fantastic answer goes through a pretty exhaustive list of GOO patrons and how they'd feel about the Blood War. It's pretty clear that there aren't any GOO that would have a direct, vested interest in the Blood War itself. However, it's very possible for a DM to work a clear, cohesive hook in for you if that's what you want to play.

For a related example, I was playing an Undying Warlock through Curse of Strahd. There wasn't really a good reason for my patron (a mega-lich from a previous campaign) to care about Ravenloft on its own. However, the DM gave me a great hook: My Patron sent me to Ravenloft to find out how Strahd gained his powers, and seize the source of his dark magic for my patron (or at minimum learn everything around it). This meant that I had a solid reason for being there, but it was very different than the rest of the party. Our goals aligned for most of the campaign except for (CoS spoilers):

When we reached the Amber Temple, I had to do some really tricky roleplaying while trying to learn everything I could about the vestiges. The party didn't know about my secret motivation, so I had to think fast to figure out reasons why I was obsessively studying each of the vestiges and what gifts they offered. I had similar fun RP when we found Strahd's journal and I had to secretly steal it for my patron.

Although your patron may not be interested in the whole blood war, they don't need to be for you to play in this campaign. They really only need an express interest in one or two major players, or in a major artifact involved in the campaign, or some kind of lore or knowledge involved in the campaign. I haven't read Descent into Avernus yet, but it's entirely possible that one of the Fiends involved knows some secret that your patron wants, or has a powerful artifact that the patron wants. Your DM should be able to figure out something that would hook you into the campaign with the party, and that would reasonably advance your patron's goals in the world. This kind of situation can lead to some really fun and challenging RP and character choices too, so I'd highly recommend it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a good answer, it is shy just one point that I think would really round it out. The character wouldn't comprehend his patron's motives and therefore could just as easily invent an interest in the Blood War and act according to what he believes his patron needs/wants. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Sep 29 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think that's necessarily true. A GOO patron could easily tell their warlock "go get this artifact", "go kill this fiend", "go find out this secret". That's an understandable goal. What you may or may not know is why your patron wants X or how it fits into the bigger picture. It's also very possible to understand some patrons' motives - "consume all life on Earth" isn't too hard to grasp, for example. Others would be much more inscrutable. \$\endgroup\$ – Dacromir Sep 29 at 17:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ok, I guess I play the GOO much closer to Lovecraft's examples. Any warlock in my games that chose (or were chosen) the GOO path are essentially doomed, their patron doesn't have direct contact at all because they don't really care about humanity as they are insignificant, the power granted to a GOO warlock in 5E is likely incidental and any perceived contact is likely through signs and warped perception on the mortal's part and in no way a reflection of the patron. Obviously, DM's purview applies but if the GOOs start making sense to mortals well it sort of takes the Lovecraft out of it. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Sep 30 at 2:20

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