THE ANNOTATED UNSPEAKABLE OATH
Introduction to The Annotated Unspeakable Oath (C)1993 John Tynes
This is a series of freely-distributable text files that presents the textual contents of early issues of THE UNSPEAKABLE OATH, the world's premiere digest for Chaosium's CALL OF CTHULHU (tm) role-playing game.
Each file contains the nearly-complete text from a given issue.
Anything missing is described briefly with the file, and is missing either due to copyright problems or because the information has been or will be reprinted in a commercial product.
Everything in this file is copyrighted by the original authors, and each section carries that copyright. This file may be freely distributed provided that no money is charged whatsoever for its distribution. This file may only be distributed if it is intact, whole, and unchanged. All copyright notices must be retained. Modified versions may not be distributed -- the contents belong to the creators, so *please* respect their work.
Abusing my position as editor and instigator of the magazine and this project, I have taken the liberty of adding comments to some of the contents where I thought I had something interesting or historically worth preserving to say. Yeah, right!
Introduction to TUO4
(C)1994 John Tynes
TUO4 established firmly in my mind that it took an entire semester to produce an Oath. We began this issue right after GenCon as school started back (this was the fall of 1991, the beginning of my Junior year of college) and didn't get it done til almost Christmas.
Somewhere in this time I learned from "the new Lovecraft circle"
(Kevin Ross, Scott Aniolowski, Keith Herber and others) about a new Cthulhu Now book in the works at Chaosium called THE STARS ARE RIGHT! I got busy and wrote up a scenario in record time, loosely based on a 1920s scenario I'd recently run, which was in turn loosely based on a 1980s crime novel called "Because the Night" (I think) by one of my favorite writers, James Ellroy. I got it written, submitted, and accepted in record time and then -- wonder of wonders -- TUO artist Blair Reynolds was selected to do the artwork! Nifty. So it was that "Nemo Solus Sapit"
saw print in 1992's THE STARS ARE RIGHT! with a scenario by myself and artwork by Blair. That was fun, and also seemed like a sign that Pagan and the Oath were really getting somewhere.
TUO4 was also notable for something rather odd -- frontal nudity on the cover of the magazine. Blair's cover for this issue showed a priestess dancing about with her breasts exposed. We received no direct reprimand for this, a real taboo in gaming, although we had second-hand reports of some game shops selling it from behind the counter. I suppose it may have had something to do with the fact that the woman in the picture had six arms and a tentacle where her head used to be. Not exactly a pin-up queen...
This file contains the complete contents of TUO4, lacking artwork and x articles. Missing are "American Shotguns, 1860-1940" by John H. Crowe, III (which has been superceded by his definitive work "The Weapons Compendium," available in our mail order catalog), "From the Investigative Journals of Mikhail Aksakov," (fiction by Blair Reynolds for which we could not secure permission to reprint), "Creatures &
Cultists," (which has been reprinted in a mass-market edition), and "Remnant" (Blair Reynolds' serial graphic novel).
All annotations by me are enclosed in brackets, and are (C)1994 John Tynes.
The Dread Page Of Azathoth
(C)1991 John Tynes
[The second part of the infamous "severed dog's head" story appeared in this installment of my editorial, to the delight and horror of our readers, making this one memorable for me.
The band I quote directly below, a local group called East Ash, broke up in 1992 (as I recall) much to my regret. However, the guitarist hooked up with a female singer/keyboardist, a drummer who played informally with East Ash's drummer, and bassist Rich Marinaccio, who did our music-to-play-Cthulhu-by cassette, to form a new band called WATERWORKS.
They've just released an excellent self-titled CD, and I hope to hear more from them in the future. So should you.]
I'd like to talk about mayhem.
sister's in the water
the gun is in the boathouse
my mother's only daughter
fishin' for her bleedin' baby in the water I think I better go now
'cause I'm the one that shot her
mommy and daddy died when I was seven
daddy went to hell
and mommy went to heaven
drivin' and drinkin'
my daddy wasn't thinkin'
his body's in the back room
rotting and stinking..."
The lyrics above are from a song called "Push!" by a band here in Columbia known as East Ash. I wish you could hear it as you read this; the song runs over six minutes long, carried along by a swiftly mournful rhythm that gets to the heart of mayhem.. This issue of the Oath is the mayhem issue. Within, in their own ways, the writers explore mayhem in its varied forms.
The word "mayhem" has lost its original connotation of senseless violent activity; it has been appropriated by advertising people and hack comic book writers and misused until its original meaning has shifted into something almost innocuous. Look at the origins of the word "bedlam" and you'll see the same process.
Mayhem denotes a certain malignant violence, embodied in the East Ash song and expressed in innumerable horror films. I believe we've lost touch with the kind of day-to-day mayhem that once inhabited people's lives. The days when slaughterhouses were common, concrete parts of a town are gone, for most of us. We don't sneak in with our friends on a dare to watch the horses be put down and ground up. Society and money divide most of us from such sights; work like that is considered dirty work, unclean work, unwholesome work, regardless of the fact that the result of this work is what ends up on our plates and in our mouths.
The processes of life and death, birth and renewal, are known to all but understood by few. The rituals of calving, the awful but wondrous implication found in severing the umbilical cord of a newborn, have lost their meaning through overexplanation, and the value of life has been lost like a joke told too often.
As I write this, we've had a vibrant demonstration of mayhem in its older, almost medieval sense, with the actions of George Hennard in Killeen. By the time this sees print you may have forgotten that Hennard is the man who drove his truck through a cafeteria window and shot and killed over twenty people.
It seems to me that there is a continual upping of the scale. As the majority of our society, the middle class and above, become less and less familiar with the cycles of nature and the beautiful violence of creation, it takes more and more to make a statement. Magazines run scorecards of different killers and their totals, like kill flags on a jet fighter. Mayhem just isn't what it used to be. As a word it isn't powerful enough to get across the gist of horror, the gut veracity of terror and the bitter silver taste of fear.
Perhaps this issue will help put the teeth back into "mayhem." If we aren't bitten we shan't wake up.
That was all I had intended to write on the subject. But, Oath artist Blair (Shea) Reynolds came through again with something that, in a small but significant way, changed the parameters of my life, and those of some of my friends. Where I was content to just sit back and proselytize from my soapbox, Shea went out and showed me that while I was on the right track, I wasn't really prepared for my words to become life. He did this guilelessly and in fact won't see this editorial until this issue is printed. But his timing was impeccable.
To understand the background to this, it will be helpful if you've read the Dread Page in TUO2. Within I described how Shea had discovered the frozen headless body of a dog in a dumpster. No, I'm not joking.
Suffice it to say that a more-or-less reasonable explanation was eventually obtained, but it certainly shook Shea and us up a bit.
Anyway, Shea called us shortly before Halloween and said he was about to ship...something...from his home in Alaska. What it was he would not say, only that it would be something very special. Artist Jeff Barber and I were to be the recipients of the shipment.
Well it arrived in time for Halloween alright. It came in a largish cardboard box, via 2-day air delivery. The box had a peculiar odor.
Within, we found the box walls were packed with insulation material.
Inside the box was something wrapped in two plastic trash bags, then enclosed within two extra-large ziplock bags.
Jeff and I donned the sterile surgical gloves Shea thoughtfully enclosed and began to unwrap the item. It was distinctly cold and heavy, and smelled rather foul. As we got closer and closer we began to suspect it was something genuinely strange.
We weren't disappointed.
I won't describe our conversation as we undid the wrappings, nor the growing panic in our voices as we speculated as to just what it was Shea had sent. Finally, we got it unwrapped.
Shea had mailed us the frozen, severed head of a dog.
At least, it was frozen when he mailed it, a couple days before. It was now thawing, hence the odor. The dog was (judging from the incomplete portion in our possession) largish, light tan or brown in color. It still bore a green collar, but had no tags.
"That atrocious bastard," I remember Jeff saying.
He and I wrapped the dog's head back up and stuck it in the freezer, for lack of a better idea. Of course we soon called and told almost everyone we knew. Word kind of drifted around our friends and my co-workers that we had the severed head of a dog in our freezer.
Uniformly, the reaction was one of disgusted shock.
Followed by laughter.
For our problem was not without humor, and it became a question I posed to people whenever I had the chance: what would you do with the frozen severed head of a dog?
Yesterday, we took the most sensible advice and buried it. Come summer we'll dig it up and have a nice clean dog's skull. What we'll do with *that* I have no idea.
What I found most interesting about people's reactions to all of this is how quickly they adjusted. I mean, it was rather like having your room painted a different color in secret while you're away. When you come home it's a shock -- but you get used to it almost immediately.
If this is the first issue of the Oath you've seen, you're probably wondering now just what the hell kind of magazine this is. Well? It's one that lives in a world of life and mayhem, just like you and me.
Scream And Scream Again
(C)1991 by the respective writers
[Our second letters column found some interesting reactions to the Dread Page of TUO3, as well as the first mention of what was to become a major effort for Pagan Publishing: our multi-media convention games. A few days before I wrote this little intro we introduced our third multi-media Call of Cthulhu game, "In Media Res," to great results. We've run "Grace Under Pressure," mentioned below, almost two dozen times now and had great fun doing it. In future issues, letter-writers have checked in with their own "Grace" experiences. Note that the Editor's Notes appearing below are from the original letters pages, and are not new to this edition.]
First I wish to thank you for giving this devout worshipper of Yog-Sothoth a publication centered on Call of Cthulhu. In the eleven years that I have roleplayed I have experienced many different systems ranging from fantasy to science fiction. Each having its own appeal and novelty but nothing ever compared to CoC. In fact I am a faithful follower of this Chaosium product. Devoted to the point of purchasing almost all their new releases (not republished items) with the only exception being Blood Brothers.
After reading your article "The Dread Page Of Azathoth" in TUO3 I could not help but smile. Many people miss this major point of humanity especially my group. After playing a session of CoC I stop and wonder what is the real threat to the world�the Mythos or the armed investigators?
Please continue the good work of informative articles, reviews, scenarios and new creatures. Especially continue the fiction which is a source of inspiration to those who need that fresh insight into the world of Lovecraft. I thank you and look forward to each new publication of The Unspeakable Oath.
Charles Humphrey Shreveport, LA
* * *
It's impossible for me to describe the surprise I got skimming through the pages of the second and third issues of The Unspeakable Oath, since even if the first number was amazingly interesting, I wasn't ready for such a huge amount of quality material! The artwork is great (Blair Reynolds is definitely one of the best illustrators around), and every contribution has something to add to the game we all love. I was especially pleased to find the adventure "Grace Under Pressure:"
adventures like this one are those I prefer, offering more chances to roleplay realistic situations, thanks to a carefully tailored environment. I must add that, even if I buy almost every new Chaosium product, this is the first time in a long while that I'm so eager to play a scenario. We're going to play "Grace Under Pressure" with walkie-talkies and probably some of the other advices from the ending section of the adventure: I will tell you something about the way we played it next time. Thank you for a top quality product.
Francesco Nepitello Venice, Italy
* * *
(Editor's Note�Jeff and I ran "Grace Under Pressure" three times in two exhausting days at Contemplation in Jefferson City, MO. We had an entire darkened ballroom to ourselves, with light provided only by our green glowsticks and the pen lights each player was given. Whalesong and sonar pings echoed from tape machines in the background. Walkie-talkies were used whenever the group split up, and we had pull-string firecrackers to set off when the bangsticks were used. The sessions were unqualified successes, easily the best gaming experience I've ever had, with a palpable tension and intensity in both the players and the Keepers.
Anyone out there have GUP experiences to share? And oh yes�the minumum number of fumbles rolled per session was twenty. It was heinous.) * * *
�anyway, at last a reply to your editorial, in which you suggest that HPL was trying to warn us about man's inhumanity to his fellow men: this is a good observation, and one which deserves a little expansion. In the story "The Call of Cthulhu" there is a passage which reads "Then�the secret priests would take Great Cthulhu from His tomb�and resume His rule of the Earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones: free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and reveling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom."
Hmm, sounds rather reminescent of post-Reagan America, eh? The "Me Decade" gone�literally�straight to hell. What frightens me is the bit about teaching men new ways to kill and revel: nuclear weapons, perhaps?
Chemical weapons? Why even look for such a grand scale? Think about how many serial killers we've seen this century. New ways to kill and revel, indeed.
In short�you're right, John. We are the Great Old Ones now, and HPL
oughta be damned grateful he didn't live to see the second World War, and what's come after it.
Mysterious Manuscripts: an important correction�Edward Pickman Derby, author of the poetry collection Azathoth and Others, did not leap from a building to his death! Fer christ sakes, man, Derby's the bloke featured in HPL's story "The Thing on the Doorstep!" You know, the guy whose wife switches minds with him, only she's really got her father's mind in her body, meaning that it's old Ephraim's mind in Derby's body? (Got all that?) Derby is not an Englishman, fer christ sakes, he's from Arkham.
Grrr. Read the bloody story.
The period occult texts was a nice piece of work, just the thing to toss into a campaign to mix things up a bit.
Scenarios: well the Mi-Go piece did nothing for me, but I did enjoy most of "The Travesty." There's some really great surrealistic stuff in there, what with reality being warped (something I'm always for). My only problem was the 'swing-the-burning-amulet-and-a-dosie-do' ending, which smacked of silly magical rituals ala D&D (I'm one to talk�see my Daoloth bit in the same issue, guilty of the same crime).
I was disappointed with Blair's fiction, though perhaps that's because I wanted to see more of the comic strip from TUO2. Let's see the fate of the plane!
One last note: uh, I wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea about me, from the crazed little biographical stuff you've been printing on your contributor's page. I do not engage in violence against children, unless my thoughts count. I have been known to pick up a rifle and shoot various types of wildlife, but I never kill what I can't eat or use in haruspicy. There, that should clear matters up some�
All in all, another good issue. Let's see, that's three regular issues, a special anniversary booklet, and a T-shirt, all in less than a year. Wonder what Carl Ford's been up to in that time�
Kevin Ross Boone, Iowa
* * *
(Editor's Note: I had to cut Kevin's letter quite a bit, but he has several important points here. First off�ouch! Thomas and I both dropped the ball on the Derby bit, and I feel pretty damn silly about it.
Second: although I had to cut it to save space, Kevin asked if we'd printed quite enough guns yet. The answer, quite frankly, is no. I personally don't know a gun from a hole in the ground, which makes me all the more interested in John Crowe's informative and useful articles. The research is broad and thorough, with an eye towards providing useful source material for the game and still keeping an interesting historical validity. I'd like to see the same thing done with cars and other seeming-minutae of 1920s (and 1890s) life. So, for now�more firearms!
And damn the olive branch. Finally, of course all the odd bits on the contributor's page are made up. Really. Not a spot of truth to any of 'em. Honest.)
* * *
As with the premiere issue, I have to say that Shea's covers for the second and third issues are great, although, again, perhaps in no way connected to the Mythos (but who cares, they're so good!).
I don't much care for "The Dread Page Of Azathoth"�in fact, I found the one in the third issue to be especially offensive, although I obviously see the point being made.
Steve Hatherley's "Tales of Terror" are neat scenario plots, and are a nice addition.
This seemingly never-ending parade of weapons is getting a little redundant�after all, CoC isn't a game of melee combat and high-tech military strikes (which are mostly useless against the non-human agents of the Mythos, anyway). In all fairness, however, I am impressed with the extensive research which must have gone into this series of articles.
As for the scenarios, well up until TUO3 I didn't really care for them, although they have always been presented very well. I thought that Chris Klepac's "The Travesty" was really good, and a neat idea. John Crowe's "The House on Stratford Lane" was good, as well, but all of those weapons again!
�good job, all around, and I think you've got a real winner on your hands.
Scott David Aniolowski Lockport, NY
The Paranoia Files
(C) 1991 Phillip H. Garland
[TUO4 marked the debut of this column, by teacher and self-described "itenerant historian" Phil Garland. One of Call of Cthulhu's greatest strengths (a strength missing from nearly every other game) is a real sense of history -- that all of what has come before has some influence on current events, as well as current threats. Phil's look at the real world and how the Mythos might be glimpsed in the cracks of the history books remains a part of TUO today.]
File One: Fall, 1991
Subject: the Presidents of the 1920s and the Mythos As is well known, the height of recent activities involving the Great Old Ones occurred during the 1920s in this country. Lovecraft himself admitted that federal officials were aware of strange occurrences in parts of New England. The government's investigation of Innsmouth and the subsequent actions taken against the town spring to mind immediately.
If the government took action, then it is logical to assume that the presidents were briefed on the situations. At least some of them must have kept the investigations going on. The involved presidents, with their terms of office and death dates, were: Woodrow Wilson, 1912-1920, d. 1924
Warren G. Harding, 1920-1923, d. 1923
Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1928, d. 1933
Herbert Hoover, 1928-1932, d. 1964
Harding died in office of a stroke. Wilson had a stroke during his 1920 campaign for a third term. Coolidge died five years after he left the White House of coronary thrombosis. Of all the presidents of this period, only Herbert Hoover lived past his sixties. At the time, these deaths were looked upon as natural, save for an accusation that Harding's wife had poisoned him (Harding had a penchant for meeting his mistress in a Capitol Building closet).
Were these deaths completely natural? The later assassination of John F. Kennedy has focused attention on the possibility of a conspiracy in 1963. Was there a conspiracy in the Twenties? The deaths of Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge may be more than coincidence. Indeed, they may be connected with the assassinations of the two Kennedys and Dr. King.
There is a thread of continuity involved. One man in political power had a career spanning this entire time. He was J. Edgar Hoover.
Might Hoover have been the key? His career began in 1919, when he was hired by the Justice Department as a unit chief in the enemy alien registration section. Subsequently Hoover was head of the General Intelligence Division, then Assistant Head of the Bureau of Investigation (1920), and finally Director of the Bureau of Investigation (1924). In 1935 the Bureau was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the F.B.I.
Hoover's later paranoid anti-communism is well known. Was this a cover? Was he a cultist, or was his mind under some form of control? As a man who came into contact with enemy aliens, what sort of aliens did he meet with? What could have been more likely in the years of the first Red Scare than to look upon some of the strange inhabitants of Innsmouth, Arkham, and Dunwich as potential spies? What then might Hoover have uncovered? Or what forces might he have been exposed to?
There are two basic possibilities based on the evidence available.
First, Hoover may have been a follower or willing accomplice of the Great Old Ones. In this case, he could have used his position to misguide the forces of the federal government to prevent discovery of or action against the Old Ones and their followers. Secondly, Hoover may have been under some form of mental control. Perhaps the Great Old Ones manipulated his mind to see enemy "Reds" everywhere rather than uncovering evidence of real danger from true alien forces.
In either case, the threat would have been very real. What did Wilson and Harding and Coolidge know? Why was Herbert Hoover able to live out a full, long life? Further research will continue.
For your Call of Cthulhu adventures, possibilities are endless. The Bureau of Investigation may be out to find your investigators. The power and wealth behind the organization will make it hard to defeat, but perhaps those guns and weapons skills will finally come in handy. Or, you may be targeted as a Red if you find out too much in your investigations, and be deported to Soviet Russia in the middle of an adventure (or to start an adventure for that matter). You may find friends you never knew you had�Wobblies, Socialists, Communists, et. al.
They may help you in time of need, but if so, then the Bureau will find out, and then they'll have proof that you're one of the baddies�
Be careful. Remember, they probably are out to get you.
Dreams Lost At Sea
(C)1991 Kevin A. Ross
[Kevin contributed this short piece as an adjunct to his excellent KINGSPORT book from Chaosium.]
An embellishment to the Kingsport scenario "Dead in the Water"
In keeping with the oneiric tone and emphasis of the book, it was intended that each scenario in Kingsport have something to do with dreams. Unfortunately, in writing the final scenario as a flat-out horror piece, the dreaming elements were forgotten by the author�perhaps they were borrowed by Hypnos for a time. The following dreams may be used by Keepers during the course of the nautical nightmare which climaxes the book. The Keeper may use as many or few as desired, and may determine who has them by having the investigators roll their Dreaming skills. Note that these dreams should only be had by those sleeping in Kingsport.
"The Ghost in the Fog:" A good dream to use early in the adventure, when the investigators still don't know what they're up against. The dreamer awakens aboard a fishing boat at sea, alone and adrift in a pea-soup fog.
After several minutes adrift, a huge shape emerges from the fog�a great ruined ship at least a century old. It sails directly for the investigator's tiny craft, and will surely crush it. Miraculously, before it does so it begins to sink, plunging below the surface mere yards away. But the whirlpool caused by its sinking sucks the investigator's craft down, and the hapless dreamer is drawn under with it. With a failed SAN roll the dreamer loses 1 SAN and awakens with a scream, dripping wet�with sweat.
"Voices in the Mist:" This dream might befall someone who has read the Customs official's account of the fate of the Hellene. The dreamer "awakens" in a world bathed in mist�no landmarks can be made out, nor can the dreamer see or feel his own body. He does hear voices in the mist.
"Corben, come out ye blaggard! Ye've no place to run! Come out or ye'll hang fer certain!"
"Curse ye, Aylesworth, ye damned fool! I'll see ye in Hell first!" (A gunshot follows.)
(A confused babble of voices.) "�cade the door� torches, we'll smoke them out� are you looking at? That's our sav�"
"For God's sake, Corben, half your men are dead or dying! Give this up�"
"Give me that brand, ye puling bastard! Now, mates, who dies with me�in faith�shall live again!"
(A confused babble of panicked voices.) "Sweet Jes� get out! �iring the magazine!" (maniacal laughter.)
At this point there is a massive explosion, and the dreamer actually sees a bright light�he has awakened to the morning sun.
"Finally, Making Port After All These Years:" This dream should occur near the end of the adventure, after the investigators have seen the hell-ship at least once. Try to make this dream as realistic as possible. In this nightmare, one or more of the investigators "awakens"
in the middle of the night. Looking out a window, a weird green glow is visible on the horizon, its origin seemingly in Kingsport Harbor. Going out to investigate in the chilly, misty night, the dreamer comes down to the shore to find the huge, ruined hulk of the Hellene anchored in the center of the Harbor�greenish light pouring from within the ship and playing about it like St. Elmo's fire. Yellow-green tendrils snake out of the gaping holes in her hull and from her deck, reaching into the water and wriggling obscenely towards shore. One such tentacular growth pushes inside a nearby fisherman's shack, and moments later there is a curiously abbreviated scream from within. Other tendrils wave in the investigator's direction, and as he presumably turns to leave he is confronted by a dripping-wet, seaweed-draped, horribly fish-eaten corpse.
With a moistly rattling chuckle it reaches for him, but the dreamer thankfully awakens. With a failed SAN roll the dreamer loses 1D3 SAN and screams as above.
A Visit To Dunwich
[The next two pieces follow along with Kevin's, as they are meant to add on to Chaosium's RETURN TO DUNWICH book. The second piece is the only thing resembling a scenario in TUO4.]
In which lost material is brought to light and a horrific scene awaits inspection
(Chaosium's Return To Dunwich book [see review in TUO3] saw publication minus a couple of bits deleted for space reasons. The piece below is one such selection, printed here thanks to the author. To round this out, a new scenario/encounter follows)
A Typical Dunwich Farm
(C)1991 Keith Herber
Dunwich farms are typically small, based on the amount of land that can be worked by a man, his wife, and their children. Typical crops include wheat, corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and peas. Other fields are given over to pasture land, hay fields, and timber lots. The soil is generally thin, not too productive, and filled with an inordinate amount of rocks. Indeed, most farmers enclose their fields not with wooden fences but with low stone walls built of the rocks turned up year after year by their plows. These stone walls can be seen running along most roads in the valley, or separating crops from pasture land, or even in dense woods where once open fields have gone back to the wilds.
Additionally, most farms keep an apple orchard and possibly a small arbor of Concord grapes. Livestock consists of small herds of dairy cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens. Some farms have rabbit hutches or a small collection of bee hives. There is always a dog or two around as well as any number of cats found living in both the house and the barn.
Dunwich farms are nearly self-supporting, only a few store-bought goods such as milled flour or cloth find their way into most homes. Many families still make their own soap and candles. Surplus crops and livestock are sold at the farmer's market in Aylesbury.
Farmhouses throughout the valley were almost universally constructed between the years 1700 and 1806, all but the rudest cabins evidencing some form of the Georgian style. Original houses were usually built small, sometimes only a single story of two rooms. Later additions would expand the house to four rooms and a second or even a third story would be added. Lean-to additions were usually built off the back of the house, but sometimes on the end, further increasing the original living space. Most are equipped with stone-wall cellars with outside entrances.
Lacking gas and electric service the homes in the valley are heated by huge central fireplaces sometimes augmented by small iron stoves installed in distant parts of the house. Water is drawn from a well or spring, and outhouses are often located only a short distance from the back door. Houses usually have at least a front and a back door, as well as an outside entrance to the cellar.
Many Dunwich residents (60%) have telephone service, one of the few earmarks of the 20th century investigators might find. Almost all have a mailbox mounted near the road, usually with the name of the family painted on it.
Almost every farm has a barn where livestock is sheltered and feed and equipment stored. Other outbuildings may include small tool sheds, a woodshed, a smokehouse, possibly an icehouse, maybe a spring house built to keep a source of water from freezing over during winter, and an underground root cellar. A small vegetable garden kept near the house provides the farmer's wife with a source of table vegetables, tomatoes, rhubarb, asparagus, and others. Some farms even have a small duck pond near the house. It would, however, be an exceptional Dunwich farm if it were to have all these things. Most farms have somewhere on the property a family burial plot. Township regulations now forbid the burying of bodies on private property, although unreported infractions occur frequently. All farms maintain a trash dump somewhere near the house.
The nearest place where trash can be dumped down a slope to disappear from sight is preferred, but the more-decayed of Dunwich residents often do little more than toss it out the back door.
Most of the farms are powered by animal labor�horse- or ox-drawn plows, harrows, cultivators, and reapers. A small handful of farmers own tractors but these are ancient, rusted vehicles sometimes jointly purchased by a father and son or by closely cooperating neighbors. A Dunwich farmer prosperous enough to purchase a new tractor is unimaginable.
A farm family consists of a husband, wife, and any number of children.
Farm families tend to be large but many youngsters end up eventually moving out of the valley. Only those in a position to inherit an established farm or occupation stay. Others, those not inclined to continue living at home with parents, move on to Aylesbury where the farming is better, or further on, even out of Massachusetts altogether.
Space did not allow us to give full statistics for every single resident in Dunwich country. The Keeper can use the following guidelines to fill in these characters as needed. Typical skills are described as well as some notes on the types of weapons most commonly encountered.
Typical Dunwich Farmer:
Average Characteristics and Exceptions
STR 3D6+2 10% will be congenitally weak, 2D6+1
CON 3D6+1 20% will be chronically unhealthy, 2D6
SIZ 2D6+6 5% will be below average, 2D6
POW 2D6 20% will be closer to normal, 3D6
EDU 1D6+3 10% will be carefully educated, 3D6
Typical Skills: Accounting 15%, Agriculture 85%, Animal Husbandry 90%, Bargain 75%, Botany 50%, Climb 65%, Credit Rating 15%, Debate 35%, Diagnose Disease 15%, Drive Automobile 35%, Electrical Repair 10%, First Aid 30%, Jump 40%, Listen 65%, Mechanical Repair 70%, Occult 15%, Operate Heavy Machinery 20%, Predict Weather 75%, Psychology 40%, R/W English 35%, Ride 60%, Spot Hidden 25%, Swim 35%, Throw 30%, Track 55%, Treat Disease 35%, Treat Poison 15%, Zoology 50%
Besides the tools, axes, and knives found around any farm, almost every resident of the valley owns at least one firearm. These are used for self-defense, to drive off varmints, or to destroy a sick or injured animal.
The most commonly-found modern weapon is the shotgun, usually 12-gauge in a single or double-barrel configuration. Modern-style pump-action weapons are rare, much too expensive for most residents. 40% of the residents own shotguns.
Revolvers are next in popularity, most often the .38 caliber. This was the weapon carried by Wilbur Whateley the night he was killed. 25%
of the farmers own some type of pistol. Automatics are extremely rare.
Rifles are less common although a fair number of houses have a .22
lying around. These are usually single-shot or bolt-action models. A few farmers own a .30-.06, used primarily for hunting deer. 30% of the houses will have a .22 and 20% a .30-06.
In almost every house, whether or not there are any other firearms, will be found a vintage musket, handed down through the family, usually kept clean and handy in case of an emergency. These weapons must be hand-loaded with shot and powder and can be fired only once every six rounds by even the most skilled user. They cause 1D10 points of damage and have a base range of 20 yards. They are simple and sturdy. It takes 14 points of damage to break one.
Earth, Sky, Soul
(C)1991 John Tynes
[I'm still very pleased with this little encounter. The title is taken from a Love & Rockets album, though I didn't recall where I'd heard it at the time [I'm not an L&R fan]. One of the subheads, "Down There," was lifted from the translated title of a 19th-century French novel about diabolism called "La Bas," written by Huysmans.]
Now that you have a better idea of what a typical Dunwich farm entails, your players will find out about an atypical Dunwich farm.
"Earth, Sky, Soul" is a very short scenario, little more than an incident, that may be placed whenever and wherever is convenient. It points towards one of the larger secrets of the area, and may be inserted at any appropriate point in play. The tone attempted is one of shock and revulsion, and it may well be the investigators' first look at the dark underbelly of Dunwich. Assuming that this is early in the campaign, play up the gruesome accents of this episode. It should contrast nicely with the rather sedate (if decayed) vision of Dunwich that your players probably have formulated at this point.
The night or morning before you wish this encounter to occur, stage a small earthquake, a tremor, heavy enough to rattle dishes in a four-mile radius from the planned site of the encounter, but not heavy enough to do much damage. The investigators will probably be elsewhere when this occurs, but you can volunteer this information at any point, prior to the encounter or during it.
As the investigators move towards the rim of a steep rise in the road (whether on horseback, driving, or walking) call for Listen rolls with a 20% bonus. Successful rolls hear a series of two gunshots, followed a few moments later by two more. Impaled rolls suggest that the gunshots are shotgun blasts, and are curiously muffled.
Cresting the rise, the investigators see a stretch of road with a few farmhouses spaced apart by an acre or so (again, this may be wherever you wish it to be; adjust the description according to locale).
Investigators who impaled their roll are certain that the shots came from one of the farmhouses up ahead; others may attempt an Idea roll for the same purpose, but only if they ask where the sound originated. The lack of nearby woods dispels the possibility of hunting.
Assuming they aren't flying along at full speed, as the investigators progress along the road some residents of the houses will walk out of their front doors and peer ahead, wondering what is going on. According to the Keeper's wishes and the player's actions, they may need to ask a couple of farmers where the shots came from; shortly they will be pointed towards one quiet-looking farm up the road. If the investigators are on foot, they will probably join a small cluster of farm folk heading up the road to check on the trouble.
Arriving at the farm in question, all will be quiet. If anyone hails the house (whether the investigators or any accompanying them), no response is heard. Asking any nearby residents identifies the farm as belonging to the Arkins, a family of five�Ethan and Virginia, along with their adolescent offspring March (14), Henry (16), and Banford (17). A fourth child, Dee, perished a few months ago of fever at the age of 15.
The run-down house sits on an 8-acre lot, with furrowed land extending behind. A small garden runs on three sides of the house, broken up by a well in the far corner of the yard. Observant investigators who succeed in a Spot Hidden roll as they cast their eyes about may notice a small burying ground behind a copse of trees past the well. An impaled Spot Hidden will indicate motion there.
Entering the house will reveal little; the building contains six rooms, consisting of a sturdy kitchen, master bedroom, two smaller bedrooms (one for the girls, March & Banford, one for Henry), a largish pantry and a sitting room. The furnishings are unremarkable, though antique-seekers in decades to come will no doubt coo over the simple, workman-like furniture typical of the period. Halved Idea rolls will notice that several things are either missing or in disarray (roll for each or for the sum as you wish); a single shotgun rack above the fireplace is empty; the pantry has several empty shelves and a mason jar or two on the floor; dressers in the bedrooms are lying open, with clothing hurriedly removed. Neighbors queried will respond that the Arkins haven't been seen today.
In the backyard, the storm doors to the cellar are open, from which issues an unpleasant smell of gunpowder and (with Listen rolls) a low moaning.
The Arkins are a deeply religious family, firmly opposed to the Believers; witch-globes hang presciently on their front porch. The parents harbor an almost masochistic fascination with the book of Revelations in the Bible.
Last night, a minor tremor opened a rift in the earth beneath the Arkin house, temporarily releasing a miasmic cloud of spores from the vast caverns and tunnels that riddle the rock beneath the region. These spores (see Dunwich, pages 22-23, for more info) filled the root cellar, the fastened storm doors keeping the filthy air from circulating with the clean. Early this morning, Ethan Arkin went down into the cellar to fetch some tools. There he was overcome by the POT 12 spore-air and beheld therein a vision of Judgment Day. Weighted down with religious hallucinatory awe, he hurried inside and roused the family, importuning them to come below and hide whilst the unclean roamed the earth, awaiting the rapture that would come and take them away. Virginia, the more prudent of the two, grabbed several jars of preserves and instructed the children to bring clothes. Henry grabbed the shotgun and an old box of birdshot shells.
Once within the cellar, the family was overcome by the spores to varying degrees. Ethan and Virginia both felt the coming of Judgment Day, and trembled in awesome fear. March and Banford suffered only from an extreme paranoia.
Henry felt something quite different. Henry and his late sister Dee enjoyed an incestuous relationship during the year prior to Dee's death.
Dee died giving birth to her brother's son; the child was born dead. As the spores entered his circulatory system, Henry became possessed of his own vision of Judgment Day, in which those worthy of the kingdom of Heaven would rise from their graves and ascend towards the Lord.
Paramount in this vision was Dee, buried in the family plot behind the trees, their child crying for aid.
Undergoing a bout of spore-induced paranoia, Henry became convinced that Dee and the child would be unable to ascend unless freed from the coffin where they lay. He attempted to flee the cellar where the Arkin family hid and breathed in the contagion, but was stopped by his father.
As adrenalin and the spores coursed through his bloodstream, Henry finally grabbed the shotgun and murdered his father and mother. As his helpless sisters cried and huddled in a corner, he re-loaded the shotgun and killed them both in turn. He then dropped the gun and fled the cellar for the burial ground.
Investigators descending into the cellar will not need a source of light; two lit lanterns provide sufficient illumination. The root cellar is a single, simple room, holding several shelves of preserves along with potatoes, rhubarb, and various tools. It also holds 4/5 of the Arkin family. Ethan Arkin lies in the middle of the room, nearest the stairs to the storm door, his face a mass of bloody sundered flesh.
Forty-five degrees to his left, Virginia sits against a support post, still living but within minutes of death from the shotgun wound to her abdomen. In a dim corner, March and Banford lie in a heap, covered in blood and the acrid smell of cordite. Seeing the remains of the Arkin family here costs investigators a 2/1D6+1 SAN roll. Virginia is the only family member alive, but she will die almost at once without a successful First Aid roll.
With a successful First Aid attempt, she remains alive just long enough to murmur into the kindly investigators' face, "Oh my lord, oh my lord Jesus, ye've come�" before expiring. Otherwise, she dies with a short rattling breath that never quite leaves her throat.
Casting about the cellar for clues, the investigators will be aware now of an acrid smell below the fresh reek of cordite. Once they have been down here for a couple of rounds (probably just after Virginia has met her final fate), have them make POW resistance rolls versus the spores, at a POT of 10. With a success, the investigator feels ill and is aware of the cellar as a source of uncleanliness. A failure instigates a brief but horrific hallucination; the lanterns seem to dim, and the corpses began to shift and move, as if struggling to get up.
Affected investigators should make a 1/1D10 SAN roll for this vision.
Those taking five or more points and making an Idea roll will flee screaming; the rest will be convinced of the movement and may attempt violent action against the corpses or may flee, according to the predilections of the investigator.
At some point after any mayhem has passed, the investigators may head back outside. Alternately, if the investigators noticed the movement by the burial ground and went there first, they will encounter the following first and the cellar only as an epilog.
The burial ground consists of five graves, all dated within the last one hundred years and holding the remains of Arkin family members. By one of them crouches the temporarily-insane Henry Arkin, frantically unearthing the corpse of Dee and the infant. Whenever the investigators arrive, he is cradling their stiff bodies in his arms, murmuring softly to the still forms. Seeing this pitiable but unsightly display is worth a 1/1D3 SAN roll.
Investigators who flee the cellar under the influence of the spores have a still-worse vision awaiting them should they run in the direction of the small family plot. There, the exhumed bodies of Dee and the infant�both shrivelled and worm-eaten�will claw at the investigator over Henry's shoulders, struggling to reach him or her with evil intent. This vision also costs 1/1D10 SAN.
Henry is unapproachable, wracked by sobs. If forcibly pried away from his beloved Dee, he will attack his grapplers with furiously swinging but largely ineffective fists and arms. He can be subdued easily, dissolving into helpless sobs for his lost sister and child.
Free from the influence of the spores, Henry will regain his senses and fall into a depressive melancholy at what has happened. Extended interviews will eventually untangle the truth of the story, though not the cause. Henry will face four counts of murder, and eventually be turned over to a state institution for the insane for several years (perhaps in Arkham?).
No Sanity gains exist for this episode; no solutions exist to the problems and tragedies of the Arkin family. But the curious presence of the miasma in the cellar (since stopped by shifting earth and rock) may alert the investigators to one of the larger problems affecting Dunwich and the area. As a pointer along that path, this encounter may eventually lead to their resolution of the threat and the peace of mind that may result.
The Eye Of Light And Darkness
[Our review column returned in TUO4 with two negative reviews. I suppose it won't hurt to reveal that "Ivor Skanes," the first reviewer, is actually the notorious Kevin A. Ross in anagram.]
Cast A Deadly Spell
HBO Movie, broadcast September, 1991
starring Fred Ward, David Warner, Clancy Brown, et al.
reviewed by Ivor Skanes; (C) 1991 Kevin A. Ross This HBO movie is set after WWII, in an alternate-world Los Angeles in which magic is commonplace. Werewolves, vampires, zombies, gargoyles, summoned demons, and (as if even their own film series couldn't contain them) gremlins shoulder each other aside for attention in the flick.
Color the rest of this seedy world in a hazy film noir-ish amber and you have the setting for Cast A Deadly Spell.
Into this setting steps H. Philip Lovecraft�the hardboiled private eye, not the New England author and creator of Cthulhu. Lovecraft (the P.I., played by Fred Ward) is hired by sinister book collector David Warner to recover the Necronomicon, his prized possession, which he needs for an upcoming midnight convention. Did I mention that Warner has a virginal daughter? I didn't? Ah, well, there's the rest of the plot for you.
There are a number of things wrong with this film, from the transparent plot (whose "surprise" denouement has been done previously in horror films�eg. The Monster Squad), to the needless usage of Lovecraftian elements. In fact, the use of Lovecraftian elements seems tacked onto a world already rife with occult trappings�any generic demonology could easily have substituted for the Cthulhuoid bits; as it is, these elements are handled as unimaginatively as they were in the earlier film version of "The Dunwich Horror."
Further problems arise in the use of the monsters, which in some cases are the strongest points of the film. The use of runes to summon a demon-assassin is hauled directly out of Jacques Tourneur's classic film Curse of the Demon. This scene is one of Cast's high points, and the monster is frightening despite its diminutive size. Unfortunately, the film's gargoyle is the butt of a brainless joke: detective Lovecraft empties his revolver at the stone-skinned critter at point blank range with no effect�at which point he incapacitates the thing with a kick to the groin. Obviously some parts of the stone are harder than others�
Finally we come to the big conclusion, in which Cthulhuoid names are dropped (and mangled), and crosses and double-crosses occur. An allegedly Lovecraftian entity answers Warner's call (oh? you hadn't guessed? sigh), but instead of some horrific alien monstrosity, we get Cujo on a bender�or is it some form of deranged subterranean aardvark?
Whatever it is, it isn't very scary, and it does exactly what anyone having seen the first 15 minutes of the film could guess it would do.
For all the money that was poured into this thing, we could have had a good start on adapting "Shadow Over Innsmouth." Instead we get a half-hearted attempt at a comedy/horror/film noir conglomeration. Why is it that Hollywood insists on dragging poor HPL's name into such dreadful cinema, especially when they don't have the sense to actually do Lovecraft stories? This is just a sickly attempt to cash in on Lovecraft's name. Worse yet, if this one succeeds future Lovecraft (the detective) stories are planned. Cthulhu forbid�
Cast A Deadly Spell is set to show up on video early in 1992. It rates at best three phobias out of ten.
a "luxury campaign" for Call of Cthulhu
Chaosium, Inc. $39.95
reviewed by John Tynes; review (C)1991 John Tynes Orient Express is certainly one of the most intriguing releases Chaosium has ever put out. The high price tag is the most visible facet of this. But the campaign does live up to its billing as one of luxury.
The handouts, components, and material presentation are luxurious. The passports, printed on linen paper with graciously embossed seals, are possibly the high point but the posters and the 25mm train maps are excellent as well.
The plot of Orient Express is pretty strong. The investigators are called upon to gather the pieces of an ancient artifact of sublime malignance, the Sedafkar Simulacrum. The parts are scattered across Europe (conveniently located along the route of the Simplon-Orient Express, of course) and vicious opponents dog the group at every turn. A seventy-percent Investigator casualty rate is given as likely in the text.
Six booklets comprise the campaign. Altogether, they total about two hundred and sixty pages of material. The first book sets up the campaign and gives meticulous information about the Orient Express train and routes. The second, third and fourth books (totaling 180 pages) contain the scenarios themselves, ranging from London to Constantinople. Of the two remaining books, one contains all of the player handouts (excepting the special components mentioned earlier), while the other is a file of N
good start on adapting "Shadow Over Innsmouth." InstPC's (or possibly investigators, if needed) that might be met on the train.
The presentation of all this is extraordinarily clear and attractive, both in terms of appearance and writing quality. You won't find yourself getting confused or flipping around in different books looking for some obscure reference. The background information and evocation of the variety found in 1920s Europe is first-rate all the way. All the stuff relating to the principal cult and their peculiar magic and history is also really well-conceived.
Beside all of these things, however, is the most important consideration: is it any good?
Yes. And no.
The campaign begins well enough, with a strikingly curious introduction ("Man Dies Three Times In One Night") and an interesting but unrelated side-scenario. The first "real" scenario occurs near Paris, and it is quite good. From there, things rocket downhill as the campaign goes from okay, to fair, to middling, then begins to suck. A couple of high points brighten the view; the Venice piece is everything a scenario set in Venice should be, full of mood and threat and curious happenings.
Zagreb is fun, in a strange sort of way. But Milan, Trieste, and Belgrade�oh god, Belgrade�are weak at best and frustratingly bad at worst.
My biggest problem with these scenarios is that their intent is to pop the investigators into one end of a tube and pop them out the other.
Generally, they have some really neat scenes and ideas, yet the execution is so limited and directed that I've found extensive improvisation to be needed, just to cover the basic points of the scenario, let alone when the players go off in any direction but the one the scenario wants them to go on.
My pet peeve with gaming scenarios is when they include text to be read aloud, especially dialogue from an NPC. You'll find several examples of this in Orient; player handouts with names like "What the Gypsy Tells You" and the like. Certainly, you can try to paraphrase them, but I found this to sound even clumsier. Why do writers insist on doing this? FASA's Shadowrun supplements are especially bad in this regard.
But�after the bad patch, when you open to the first page of the fourth and final scenario book, things change. The fourth book (about sixty pages) is just excellent. Lots of thrills and nasty stuff, some good investigative work, and a series of false climaxes that will leave players wheezing and investigators dead.
Dead? Oh yes. From all appearances, it is this fourth book where the seventy percent casualty rate comes in, because every scenario is exceptionally deadly. All the crows come home to roost, as it were, and the investigators are their pickings. Yet, it is the most consistently-good book in the set. It redeems the weak spots and the flat-out lousy ones, and really stands out as something else. Had the campaign been consolidated into a regular-size Chaosium supplement, with an emphasis on the contents of this final book, it would have been much better.
The bottom line is whether this campaign is worth $40 to you. First of all, it is really for experienced Keepers only, so if you don't feel comfortable with a lot of off-the-cuff improvisation you should steer clear.
For experienced Keepers, I really, really suggest talking to your players about it first. If they would be willing to kick in, say, $5 or $6 apiece (less than the cost of a movie nowadays) and you play the campaign through, your group will have a good time and it will fill up your gaming sessions for some time to come without making you feel like you've dumped a load of money on something that isn't completely satisfying.
Certain scenarios (and for that matter, concepts�the background material and the villains really are first-rate) in Orient Express rate seven or even eight phobias out of ten. But overall, the campaign sinks to about a five.
Kingsport, City in the Mists
source book and adventures in the "Lovecraft Country" series for Call of Cthulhu
Chaosium, Inc. $18.95
reviewed by John Tynes; (C)1991 John Tynes Chaosium's Lovecraft Country series, presenting fictitious towns from H.P. Lovecraft's stories for the CoC game, is hitting its stride. Arkham Unveiled, Return to Dunwich, and now Kingsport have all shown creativity and quality writing, as well as being true both to Lovecraft's works and to the spirit of the game (which are not always in harmony).
Kingsport is a quiet little seaside village in Massachusetts, barely a stones' throw from Arkham. It is home to numerous fishermen, and also boasts a thriving little artists' community. Tourists and visitors bring income and change, but quiet little Kingsport goes on much the same.
But when Kingsport sleeps, things happen. Kingsport, for a number of reasons, is a town on the edge of dream; dreams and reality at times merge there, taking forms wonderful and frightening. These are not the Dreamlands, as detailed in another Chaosium release some years back, but a very personal sort of unreality. Two scenarios in Orient Express took the same tack, with good results. Here the entire book is devoted to the subject, and the results are also good.
Author Kevin Ross (yes, you see him all over the place in the Oath, including this very review column) spends 57 pages describing the town itself�the harbor, the neighborhoods, the artists, the hermits�and succeeds admirably in getting across the feel of a little 1920s seashore retreat. The remainder of the 128-page book is taken up by three scenarios, all of course set in Kingsport.
The description of the town is really nice, but to some extent I guess I'd like to have seen more. Chaosium's current philosophy with sourcebooks like this is to provide more scenarios than background; the breakdown seems to be about 40% source material and 60% adventures. As a Keeper, I'd much rather see the ratio reversed�source material can be drawn upon for any number of scenarios, but an adventure is run only once. Kevin's work hits on the high points of Lovecraft's Kingsport stories, such as the Terrible Old Man and, especially, the Strange High House in the Mist. And it gives a nice feel for the town itself. There is a really interesting cult lurking in Kingsport's history, one that could really have been developed a lot better for the 1920s rather than being treated, by and large, as an interesting but more or less irrelevant history lesson.
The three scenarios are a diverse lot. The first, dealing with the Strange High House (one of Lovecraft's best creations, in my opinion) has a great idea behind it and the opening is terrific. But the execution falls flat; too much is devoted to a contrived meeting with an Elder God that doesn't give the players much to do. The combat encounter is neat, but completely irrelevant, and the creature there isn't picked up on in any of the remaining scenarios or source material. The possibilities it presents with investigators slain by it are intriguing, however.
The second scenario is by far the most peculiar, and the most�
Kingsportian. In it, a young poet commits suicide after reading a certain book of poetry, and soon the investigators are drawn into the same strange dream-times he was, perhaps leading to the same result.
There are no monsters to kill, no villains to fight, except for each investigator's internal demons. In the hands of a skilled Keeper and cooperative players, this could be one of the most interesting scenarios ever written. Juggling reality and dream is absolutely crucial, however.
The third scenario is, as Kevin says in a related article this issue, a flat-out horror piece. There is a lot of good investigative work, and the final encounters are exceptionally deadly and frightening. This is a longish scenario, and should provide a good pay-off to players after spending time in Kingsport.
Beginning Keepers could make use of this book. For them, I'd recommend using the book initially just as a place to base investigators in while they tackled other scenarios. Eventually, as they learn more about Kingsport, the scenarios and situations in this book could be explored. Experienced Keepers should find Kingsport a delight; the Kingsport cult of old is just itching to be developed in new scenarios, though beyond that there isn't a lot of meat to the source material.
All in all, Kingsport is a fine effort, and a good addition to the Lovecraft Country series. It doesn't offer as rich an environment for scenarios as Dunwich did, but it is enjoyable and has enough nuggets buried in it to spark some great ideas for role-playing. It ranks about six-and-a-half phobias. Or is that six phobias and a nervous disorder?
reviewed by Kevin A. Ross; (C)1991 Kevin A. Ross Several new comic titles related to HPL and the Mythos are slated for release before the end of 1991. As of this writing, only the first two have appeared. Here's a brief overview of what to look for: Re-Animator is a 3-part full-color series from Adventure Comics based on the Stuart Gordon film of the same name, which had its roots in the HPL tale "Herbert West�Reanimator." The first issue is now available, with a great Dave Dorman cover painting featuring characters from the film. The plot follows the movie very closely, so there are few surprises. The interior art also utilizes character depictions based on the film, but is rather hit-and-miss in terms of quality. Rumor has it that the 3-part film adaptation will spin off into a series of its own.
Re-Animator: Tales of Herbert West is another now-available Adventure Comics release. This one-shot book reprints the original HPL Herbert West stories, with black and white illustrations for each of the six parts. The stark black and whites are very well-done for the most part, and feature characters and scenes from the film and the original tales.
In particular there is a fine rendering of the Old Gent himself, and a very thoughtful introduction from Steven Jones, editor/author of all the HPL releases from Adventure.
H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu, from Millennium Comics, is set to begin an ongoing series of adaptations of Lovecraft's Mythos tales, beginning with "The Whisperer in Darkness." Each issue will also include Great Old Ones trading cards by various artists. Early hints are that this series follows the continuing exploits of the Miskatonic Project, a group of modern-day Cthulhu-busters a la Brian Lumley's destestable Wilmarth Foundation. We can only hope not.
H.P. Lovecraft In Full Color, coming soon from Adventure Comics, is a 4-issue series that begins with an adaptation of "The Lurking Fear."
Each issue will adapt a different HPL tale.
From the Journals of Alexander Hale, Ph.D.: The Tablets of Destiny (C)1991 C. Raymond Lewis
[This short story and the accompanying article were written by my then-roommate and friend Charlie Lewis. A second tale of the redoubtable Dr. Hale appeared in TUO10 (1994), although it was written not long after this one. Incidentally, this piece served as a major jumping-off point for TUO writer and Pagan staff member John Crowe in his WALKER IN THE
April 15, 1933
We were almost there. I could feel it. Soon we would make the greatest archaeological discovery of the decade, perhaps even of the last hundred years. Soon, we would find the Tablets of Destiny, the icons of Babylonian kingship.
With me at this historic moment were Dr. Daniel Leiber, a noted Assyriologist from Cambridge, and Dr. Nathaniel Polson, an anthropologist from Miskatonic University, where I also taught.
We were digging in an isolated area of Iraq, approximately 55 miles south-southeast of Baghdad. The countryside was deserted for a couple of miles around us in all directions. No signs, even, of farmers or shepherds, which was fine by me. The fewer people that knew about our true goal, the better.
I had heard a rumor from a colleague of mine at the university in Munich that the new Chancellor of Germany, Adolph Hitler, was secretly looking for ancient religious artifacts. I thought it was nothing more than a rumor, but it never hurt to be cautious. Something about the ideology of Hitler's Nazi party just did not sit well with me.
Our two laborers/guides that we had hired in Baghdad were resting, as were Drs. Polson and Leiber. We had dug out a hole roughly three meters square. If our notes were correct, we would hit stone at any time.
Chunk! One of our guides' shovels had hit something solid. We began to get excited as we all joined in clearing away the dirt and sand. Soon we had an area cleaned off; the outlines of a stone square one meter across could be readily seen.
It was getting late. Normally, by this time, we would stop for dinner, and then bed�but tonight was different. No one was hungry for food, much less tired. Dr. Polson was hurriedly making sketches in the quickly fading daylight, while Dr. Leiber began making preparations to pry the stone off. I was busy writing down notes so that the exact course of events during this historic moment would not be lost. I then retrieved my notebook that contained translations of cuneiform. Dr.
Leiber knew cuneiform like the back of his hand, but it never hurt to have a back-up.
As twilight settled on the plains of Iraq, so did we settle into the task of lifting the stone that lay between us and destiny.
Fifteen minutes later, I was being lowered down on a rope into a chamber that had lain undisturbed for thousands of years. I shined my flashlight around the chamber and felt the weight of history. There were carvings and statues beyond description, and I stood there in a spellbound reverie until Dr. Leiber almost landed on top of me.
Identifying the artifacts in this room alone would keep experts busy for some time. The room itself was exquisite. The chamber was approximately 15 meters by 18 meters, with many nooks and crannies around the walls. There were statues depicting at least half of the known Sumerian/Babylonian pantheon, many of which were gilded or silver-plated.
Excited as we were, we were still professionals. I began making a map of the chamber we had entered while Dr. Leiber started to translate the carvings. Dr. Polson came down soon after and began to catalogue the items in the chamber.
Two hours later, the task was done. We accepted the inevitable and went back up to the surface for a few hours of sleep. We had the guides replace the stone while we rested; the plan was to begin searching for a way into the next chamber at dawn.
We were up before dawn the next morning. Over coffee and reheated stew from last night's dinner, we discussed our next steps. Obviously, there had to be something more. Our individual researches had indicated many chambers. Finding the way into those chambers was logically the next step.
With the help of our guides, we reopened the chamber and climbed down.
After bringing down some supplies and setting up lanterns, we began the slow process of pushing, pulling, and poking anything that might conceal the catch for a secret door or entryway.
Three and a half hours later, Dr. Polson sat down with a sigh and leaned against a statue. Naturally, since we had already checked that statue, it moved with a groan. We pushed on it further, and it slowly moved back with a horrid grinding sound. Our efforts revealed a cramped circular stone stairway leading down.
I elected to go down the stairs first (actually, I lost at Rock, Paper, Scissors three times in a row). Gathering up a lantern and my courage, I went down.
The stairs only went down about 15 feet, though it felt much further.
I began to grow cautious when I looked back up and could barely see the others. When I called up to them, my voice felt far away, and I had to strain to hear their answer.
I looked around me. I was in a small room that looked to be about two meters across on a side. The side across from the stairs opened up on a passageway. Dr. Leiber came down next, followed soon after by Dr.
Dr. Polson thought he ought to stay at the bottom of the stairs, 'Just in case.' Dr. Leiber and I started down the hallway. Once we entered the hallway, I no longer felt swallowed up by the darkness like I had on the stairs.
We moved cautiously, noting the artwork and writings along the way. I was also keeping a close eye out for traps. Between the two of us, several were found, but were left to be disarmed later. The desire to find what we had come for was driving us on.
Some time and many twists and turns later, we came to a door. It was larger than man-sized and appeared to be made of something similar to marble. The door frame was covered with symbols unlike anything I had seen before, and we paused as Dr. Leiber copied them down. Soon, he began to translate the symbols, muttering excitedly under his breath.
What seemed to be an eternity later, Dr. Leiber looked up and said, "This is it. According to these symbols, beyond this door lie the Tablets of Destiny." But how to open the door? As if reading my mind, Dr. Leiber pulled a notebook out of his pack. "I remember finding some phrases on a tablet unearthed at Ninevah some years back," he said. "One in particular looked to be some phrase of power. Perhaps the door is voice-activated."
Now I found it very unlikely that a civilization based on bronze and stone would be capable of voice-activated doors. It wasn't possible here in the twentieth century A.D. Why would it have been possible millenia B.C.? The only way would have involved magic, and frankly, I have no use for that charlatan's trade. On the other hand, nothing else we tried had worked, so why not?
To this day, I cannot remember the phrase that Dr. Leiber used. It seemed at the time like the sound was sucked out of my ears. I do remember quite clearly, though, that the door began to move as soon as Dr. Leiber finished. Dumbfounded, I crossed myself as I crossed the threshhold.
Inside was a rather plain room. There were no statues, no gold or silver treasures. There were pictures of men and gods on the walls, along with more symbols similar to those around the door. On the right hand wall, there was a section of the wall that looked to be made out of white stone in the shape of a portal or window. In the center of the room on a raised dais was a stone box, presumably the container of the Tablets. Dr. Leiber came up beside me with a look of wonder on his face.
I went over to that section of the wall that was different from the rest. The figures around it were different also. Instead of the images of kings and gods, this area depicted humanoid creatures with tentacles and more. Underneath the images seemed to be another image, an image of something large and shapeless; but it was discernible nonetheless.
The air around the wall was significantly cooler than the rest of the room. I rubbed my arms as I reached out and touched the portal. It was cold! I jerked my hand back in fear that it would freeze with any more contact. As I pulled my hand back it seemed as though the surface shifted into something more vague. Before, it had been like white obsidian, but now its complexion had become more milky. At least, it looked that way. I returned my attention back to the stone box on the dais.
With a hesitancy that was almost fear, Dr. Leiber motioned me over to help him open the box. We struggled with the lid for a while, but soon it was off. Inside were two tablets. Dr. Leiber began to study them, then gasped. "What is it?" I asked.
"These tablets�one describes my life, the other describes yours," he said, visibly shaking.
"Lucky coincidence?" I refused to let myself contemplate the implications of our names being on these tablets that were supposed to be millenia-old.
"Legend tells of the god Enlil, who was one of the three great divinities of the Babylonians. Among other things, he was the guardian of the Tablets of Destiny. Enlil had power over the destiny of all things."
"But he is a dead god." He was bent over them, reading near the bottom.
"I am destined to die, but you are destined to live." All of the color had run out of his face.
"Well, that takes a lot of power to figure out. You're twenty years older than I. It would be very surprising if I didn't outlive you." I still refused to think about how our names and histories had appeared on these tablets. "I think we are dealing with a very elaborate hoax."
"Who would be able to do this?"
"I don't know. Grab them. We can study them in detail later. This place gives me a bad feeling." Dr. Leiber slowly picked each tablet up and put them in his pack.
I turned around as I reached the door for a last look at the room; something told me that I would not be coming back to it. It was then I noticed the change in temperature. The whole room was getting much colder, and there was a visible swirling pattern on the portal in the right wall. I grabbed at Dr. Leiber, but he stood there, transfixed by the swirling portal. I grew more worried when a vapor began to issue from it.
The tips of grasping tentacles appeared in the portal. I panicked, and grabbed Dr. Leiber's pack and pulled. He shrugged it off. Whatever was coming out of the portal was almost out.
"Come on! Snap out of it! We must flee!"
"No! I will delay it. Now go."
"Not without you."
"It is my destiny to die. I will not� no, I cannot run from my destiny."
By now, It was out, large and absolutely hideous. It looked like some horrid manifestation of a squid, with eyes all over the transparent amoebic body. A long tentacle reached out, wrapped itself around Dr.
Leiber, and pulled him toward it. I broke and ran.
The creature began sliding after me, but I ran like I wore Hermes'
winged boots. I ran, pell-mell through the hall, towards the upper chambers and the surface, tripping traps left and right.
I thought I was going to make it when I tripped over a loose stone and fell flat on my face. The creature was moving rather slow, so I was sure "But he is a dead god." He was bent over them, readiI would have plenty of time to get up and out. That was when the section of floor I was on sank about a foot. I scrambled up and hurried to the stairway, then flew up the stairs. A deep rumble could be heard from the bowels of the earth.
When I reached the surface, the sun was shining. I blinked against the glare. Dr. Polson looked worried; the guides looked terrified.
"What happened? Did you find them? Where's Dr. Leiber?" I was about to answer when all chaos broke loose.
Sand erupted everywhere and then holes began to form. The halls were collapsing beneath us! First to go were the pack animals, and supplies.
The guides, who were near the animals at the time, fell soon after. Dr.
Polson and I started to run, but he slipped in some shifting sand and started sinking. I reached for his outstretched hand as he screamed for help. Our fingertips touched, and then he was gone. A short while later, the sand was calm and the rumbling had ceased. There was no trace of our work, or my companions.
I reached into Dr. Leiber's pack. The Tablets were still there, along with his notebooks. With a feeling of despair, I gathered what little remained of our camp and started walking to Baghdad.
I was picked up by a camel herder, and from there made it to Baghdad, and ultimately back to the United States.
At the museum, the curator and several of my colleagues welcomed me back, but were saddened at the loss of Dr. Polson and Dr. Leiber. I told them we were separated in a sandstorm, and no trace of them could be found.
That night, a close friend of mine came to visit. He had experienced many things that were simply inexplicable. After hanging up his leather jacket and felt fedora, I told him the real story over a bottle of bourbon. I've told no one else since, until now.
The Tablets no longer contain the histories of Leiber and myself.
Instead, they are covered in a curious script no one recognizes. Perhaps it's better that way. A little knowledge can be a deadly thing.
The Tablets of Destiny for use in Call of Cthulhu The tablets appear in Sumerian myths when the god Enlil is mentioned.
Enlil was one triad of greater gods as the god of the land (Anu was god of the heavens and Ea was god of the waters). Enlil was the guardian of the tablets, which gave him power over the destiny of all things, living or not. Ancient Babylonian beliefs held that having power to assign anything its place in the order of creation gave the power to fix its destiny. In the Bible, Adam is similiar to Enlil in that he fixed the destiny of all creatures by naming them and assigning them their place.
In the Mythos, Clark Ashton Smith's creation Ubbo-Sathla is said to reside in a vast bubbling pool, around which are scattered the Elder Keys. The contents of these inscribed stones are unknown, but it is not difficult to postulate a connection between the Elder Keys and the Tablets of Destiny of Sumerian myth. If any of the Keys/Tablets are in the hands of mortals, it is likely to only be a very few. More likely is that such items would be hidden away in tombs, guarded by one of Ubbo-Sathla's Spawn [see "Dark Denizens of Dreams and Beyond," in this issue].
For those keepers wishing to weave subtle clues into a scenario involving the tablets, here is some additional info specific to Enlil: The sacred number of Enlil was 50; his astrological sign was the star group of Pleiades (which was usually represented with seven small circles); and the 'Way of Enlil' is the part of the heavens 12 degrees north of the equator.
It should be noted that when references are made to Sumerian ways, for the most part, they will hold true for Babylonia and Assyria, as each was a successive culture that grew on what came before.
In a scenario, there would probably be as many tablets as there are Investigators who find them. The language of the inscriptions is fluid and subject to change. The Tablets of Destiny, for instance, would be in Sumerian/Babylonian/Assyrian cuneiform. Elder Keys in the possession of other cultures would, of course, be different. The stones will initially tell the life history of each Investigator as well as references to their future. There is a 1d10 SAN loss for reading one's own tablet.
Shortly, however, the contents of the stones will change. Most likely they will revert to a script unknown to humanity, though this could well change again if they change hands. To prevent a continuing game of pass-the-stones among the investigators, it is safe to assume that the life-history feature of the Elder Keys requires magical rituals to unlock. It may well be that the Elder Keys, rather than being the curious but simple stones they appear, are actually some sort of cosmic database or library, containing virtually anything one might wish. But without the proper method of unlocking them, they will remain a frustrating mystery.
Hooke, S.H. and Oxford, Basil Blackwell. Babylonian and Assyrian Religion. (1962)
The following are sources that could be consulted either by Keepers for additional information on Sumerian culture, or Investigators wishing to do the same. Note the publication dates.
Garnier, Colonel J. The worship of the dead, or, the Origin and Nature of pagan idolatry, and its bearing upon the early history of Egypt and Babylonia Chapman & Hall, LTD. (London: 1904).
Jastrow, Jr., Morris. The Civilization of Babylonia and Assyria J.B.
Lippincott Co. (Philadelphia: 1915).
Layard, Austen Henry. Nineveh and its Remains George P. Putnam (New York: 1852).
Pinches, Theophilus G. The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria Constable (London: 1906).
Sayce, The Reverand A.H. Babylonians & Assyrians�Life and Customs Charles Scribner's Sons (New York: 1900).
There are many more sources of information that have been published since, but these were contemporary with 1920s (and 1890s) CoC gaming.
Additionally, there are many more of the same period in foreign languages, especially German.
[As TUO4 was coming together, so was Call of Cthulhu, fifth edition. I worked on the book to critique & comment the manuscript, and at one point Kevin Ross compiled lengthy notes on all the Mythos tomes that have appeared in the rulebook and in the fiction. These notes were to have appeared in CoC5 -- hence the following note. Instead, they were trimmed greatly, but the recent Keeper's Compendium has rectified that omission.
At this point, "Mysterious Manuscripts" became a column of newly-created Mythos tomes, a move which I think has opened the door to some very interesting work.]
For reasons that will become apparent before too long, this column will no longer address Mythos tomes listed in the CoC rulebook. Instead, we will concentrate on presenting new books or books from Mythos fiction that do not appear in the basic game rules.
(C)1991 Thomas M. Stratman
record of holy man's journeys
(Quechua-Incan pictoglyphs, +10 Cthulhu Mythos, -1D10 Sanity, x3 Spell Multiplier, study time: 75 hours)
publishing history: original textile bolt prior to AD 1400
fragmentary translation into Latin AD 1600
Spells: Brew Space Mead, Invisibility, Journey To The Other Side, Levitate, Summon Byakhee, Bind Byakhee
(double these stats for the unique original) Excerpt: "�then with a copper bowl formed on the twenty-ninth day of high waters. Chant Calling of Bui-a'kei then Supplicate of Bui-a'kei.
The Chichu formed induces rest on the journey to Celaeno � Obsidian walls shot with veins of Jade and Gold. The Bui-a'kei watch but the seal of Sun stays their talons � here is recorded the knowledge to tame and reflow the water spirits. The actual words I found could not be taken from Celaeno for the Lake would reflect the action."
The only copy of this text to survive into modern times was discovered in 1533 AD when the Jesuit priest Lucas de la Casca S.J. removed it from a pile of discarded textiles left by Pizzaro's men after the destruction of the Incan city of Chimu. The hundred and thirty yard hand-woven tapestry intrigued Father Lucas. Unfortunately, his attempts to learn the meanings of the picto-glyphs' contents were met with irrational fear by natives. They told the Jesuit missionary that the writings were sacred and could not be viewed by one not of the holy ruling class.
Lucas de la Casca sent the heavy cloth to Rome where it was placed in the Vatican library for deciphering. The last historical mention of the Celaeno Telalibro was the presentation of several translated fragments to Pope Leo XI in May of 1605 AD.
(C)1991 Thomas M. Stratman
by: unnamed Roman Catholic Priest
(English, +6 Cthulhu Mythos, -1D6 Sanity, x2 Spell Multiplier, study time: 26 hours)
Publishing history: Brichester University Press 1873 AD
Sophical Publishing House 1913 AD
Lifetime Books (Interpreted) 1983 AD
Spells: Brew Space Mead, Levitate, Summon Byakhee, Bind Byakhee.
(no useful stats for the Lifetime Edition printing) Excerpt: (from Lifetime Books edition) "�the royal holy man would then drink the Coca-laden Chicha variant and travel to the Incan temple of Celano, to dream visions which gave him insight into problems which plagued the Incan civilization.
The Incas held the Sun as a protective power against unwanted temptation and the waters as an opponent to their endeavors."
Both the Brichester and Sophical editions profess to be original unedited English translations ofthe original Latin fragments. Their claim is supported by the fact that the two editions differ only in minor instances of interpretation. The Lifetime Edition, however, only presents a few choice quotes with numerous summaries and a great deal of interpretive artwork.
The Lifetime edition is functionally useless to investigators, except to perhaps lead them to the other editions. At the Keeper's discretion, one of the full page artworks could bear an uncanny resemblence to the actual black-walled Calaeno library (although investigators will not know this unless they have been there or seen it somehow).
Invisibility: This incantation costs three points and requires five rounds to intone. The caster warps the spectrum of light around him or herself so that the caster is invisible to normal sight. This does not hide sound or smell, nor does it protect from any damage. But, the invisibile person is -40 to be hit in combat. A successful critical Spot Hidden roll allows the investigator to see a slight disturbance in the air and only take a -20 penalty. Range is touch, and the invisibility lasts for POW minutes. The slight disorientation of not being able to see their own body may cost the caster a point of Sanity loss if a Sanity check fails, as well as perhaps a temporary point or two loss to Dexterity. No physical action will cancel this spell, but violent motion of any sort will disrupt the warping effect and make that immediate area (hand, foot, elbow) visible for that round only. Should the caster begin running, watchers may make normal Spot Hidden rolls to see them for as long as they run.
The Ghoul's Manuscript
(C)1991 Scott David Aniolowski
text of worship to the charnel-god
(English (sub-literate), +5 Cthulhu Mythos, -1D10 sanity, x1 spell multiplier, study time: 52 hours
Publishing History: unknown
Spells: Call Mordiggian, Contact Ghoul, and 1D3 others of the Keeper's choice
There exists a tome, called The Ghoul's Manuscript, that is said to be the chief work of a corpse-eating sect of ghouls in service to Mordiggian, the Charnel God [see "Dark Denizens of Dreams and Beyond," in this issue]. This volume, usually found only in the Dreamlands, is bound with a cover of leathery human fresh, and hinged with shards of human bone. Each copy (and only a few exist) has been laboriously and poorly scrawled by hand, bordering on illegible. This work is the greatest source of information on ghouls and their necromantic worship of the Great Ghoul, Mordiggian. It is also cursed.
Anyone reading this tome becomes cursed to the life of a corpse-eater; within 1D4 days after reading The Ghoul's Manuscript, the dreamer/investigator is beset by the disturbing hunger for dead flesh.
To resist this unholy craving, the dreamer/investigator must roll his POWx5 or less on 1D100; if successful then he/she has resisted, but must then attempt a POWx4 roll the next day, POWx3 roll the next, POWx2 roll the next, and, finally, a POWx1 roll. The POW rolls must be continued (never below POWx1, however) until one is failed�at that time the dreamer/investigator succumbs to his or her blasphemous urges and seeks out and devours dead flesh; when this occurs a loss of 1D10 SAN is incurred. Over the next 1D6 days the investigator/dreamer completes the transition from human to ghoul, losing 1D10 SAN every day until the change is complete.
Dreamers or investigators transformed into ghouls may still function as player characters so long as they have not gone permanently insane (in this case the dreamer/investigator goes off to join other ghouls in a graveyard, or the Underworld, never to be seen again), although they must feed upon corpses, perahaps making their company undesirable to their companions! Dreamers cursed in this way are normal humans in the waking world (minus any SAN loss), however, they are forever ghouls in the Dreamlands. Any cursed investigator physically in the Dreamlands via a gate, or cursed in the waking world, ceases to be human altogether, and forever becomes a ghoul in both the waking world and the Dreamlands. If the cursed individual ever goes permanently insane, he or she goes off to join other ghouls, and is never seen again by his or her companions.
The origin and author of The Ghoul's Manuscript is unknown.
Call Mordiggian: This spell functions as any other Call Deity spell, however, it may only be cast in the dark, near ghoul tunnels, or in a graveyard at least 200 years old.
A Selection of Period Occult Texts
(C)1991 Brian Bevel
Continued from last issue, the following table shows real occult texts that investigators could expect to find in any bloodthirsty, power-mad, possessed, insane cultist wizard-priest, or, more likely, in their own bookshelves or on the nightstand, next to the Mauser. Those listed date from 1700 to 1940, all A.D. Earlier books can be found in TUO3; an article on books dating to the present is not presently contemplated due to the ease with which Keepers can get such information (check the New Age/Spiritual section of virtually any bookstore, which will include everything from Edgar Cayce to Seth to silly Necronomicon ripoffs).
It should be noted that with some of the texts listed below, the author and/or date of publication is not given, or is followed by a question mark. This denotes that the information could not be found, and rough guesses had to be made according to other works and/or birth and death dates. Some of this information is extremely difficult to get, and any help, corrections, or further information would be greatly appreciated. Write to Brian Bevel, c/o Pagan Publishing.
[1994 note: View the following table in a monospace font, preferably 7pt.
Monaco, for legibility. Or copy the table in your word processor and arrange it for portrait printing in a large monospace font.]
Year Title Author Language Notes
1711 A History Of Abbot Laurent Bordelon English, French A The Ridiculous Extravagancies 1732 Histoire Critique Des... Pierre Lebrun French E
1736 A Discourse On Witchcraft... J. Read English D
1851 Autobiographical Tracts of Dr. John Dee Dr. John Dee English B
1858 Der Aberglaube Des Mittelalters� Heinrich Bruno Schindler German I
1870, 1931 Witchcraft, Magic And Alchemy Emile Angelo Grillot De Givry French, English
1880(?) Memoirs Of Extraordinary Charles Mackay English J
1886 Phantasms Of Living Edmund Gurney, English
F.W.H. Myers, Frank Podmore
1891 Gypsy Sorcery And Fortune Telling Chas. Godfrey Leland English
1891 The Occult Sciences: A Compendium� Authur Edward Waite English H
1894 Cock Lane And Common Sense Andrew Lang English
1894 Why We Oppose The Occult Emile Cailliet French.
1898 Occult Philosophy Or Magic Henry Cornelius Agrippa English C
1899, Egyptian Magic E.A. Wallis Budge English
1899 Aradia: Or The Gospel Of Witches Chas. Godfrey Leland English
1902 Modern Spiritualism Frank Podmore English
1905 Advanced Courses In Yogi Ramacharaka English
Yogi Philosophy And Oriental Occultism 1908 Occult Science In India... Louis Jacolliot English, French K
1909, Others The Book Of The Dead E.A. Wallis Budge English
1909 The Star Of The West J.F.C. Fuller English
1909 Mesmerism And Christian Science Frank Podmore English
1913 The Voices W.V. Moore English
1913 Three Books Of Occult Philosophy Henry Cornelius Agrippa English
1914 The Occult Arts: An Examination... J.W. Frings 1 English L
1915 The Magic Jewels And Charms G.F. Kunz English
1915 The Great Book Of Magical Art� L.W. De Laurence English G
1916 Spirit Intercourse J.H. Mackenzie English
1916 A Course Of Advanced Lessons... Swami Panchadasi English M
1918 Spiritualism: Its History, J.A. Hill English
Phenomena, And Doctrine
1921 Lists Of Manuscripts Owned Dr. John Dee English B
1922 Some New Evidence For Human Survival C.D. Thomas English
1923 Atlantis And Lemuria Rudolf Steiner English
1923 Supernormal Faculties In Man E. Osty English
1924 The Problem Of Atlantis L. Spence English
1925 Atlantis In America L. Spence English
1926 The History Of Atlantis L. Spence English
1928 The Way To Power:Studies In The Occult Lily Adams Beck English
1931 Why We Oppose The Occult Emile Cailliet English
1931 A New Model Of The Universe:... P.D. Ouspensky English And Russian F
1934 The Invisible Influence: A Story... Alexander Cannon English N
1935 The Attitude Of Voltaire Margaret Sherwood Libby English
To Magic And The Sciences
1935 An Outline Of Modern Occultism Cyril Scott English
1940 The Fifth Dimension Vera Stanley Adler English
And The Future Of Mankind
A Full Title: A History Of The Ridiculous Extravagancies Of Monsieur Oufle Microform: Occasion'd By His Reading Books Treating Of Magick, The Black Arts, Daemoniacks, Conjurers, Of Elves, Fairies, Of Dreams, The Philosophers Stone, Judicial Astrology, With Notes Containing A Multitude Of Quotations Out Of Those Books, Which Have Either Caused Such Extravagant Imaginations, Or May Serve To Cure Them. Originally In French, And Now Translated In The English.
B His letters, notes and other remnants, as gathered by the Chetham Society.
C This is a translation of vol. 1 of H.C.A.'S "Three Books"
D Full Title: A Discourse On Witchcraft: Occasioned By A Bill Now Depending In Parliment, To Repeal The Statute Made In The First Year Of The Reign Of King James I, Intituled, An Act Against Conjuration, Witchcrafts And Dealing With Evil And Wicked Spirits...
E Full Title: Histoire Critique Des Practiques Superstitieuses: Qui Ont Saeduit Les Peulples, & Embarrassae Les Scavans...Par Le R.P. Pierre Le Brun. 4 Volumes
F Full Title: A New Model Of The Universe: Principles Of The Psychological Method In Its Application To Problems Of Science, Religion, And Art.
G Full Title: The Great Book Of Magical Art: Hindu Magic And East Indian Occultism, Now Combined With The Book Of Secret Hindu, Cerimonial, And Talismanic Magic.
H Full Title: The Occult Sciences: A Compendium Of Transcendental Doctrine And Experiment, Embracing An Account Of Magical Practices; Of Secret Sciences In Connection With Magic; Of The Professors Of Magical Arts; And Of Modern Spiritualism, Mesmerism, And Theosophy.
I Full Title: Der Auberglaube Des Mittelalters. Ein Beitrag Sur Culturgeschichte.
J Full Title: Memoirs Of Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds.
K Full Title: Occult Science In India And Among The Ancients, With An Account Of Their Mystic Initiations, And The History Of Spiritism.
L Full Title: The Occult Arts: An Examination Of The Claims Made For The Existence And Practice Of Supernormal Powers, And As Attempted Justification Of Some Of Them By The Conclusions Of The Researches Of Modern Science.
M Full Title: A Course Of Advanced Lessons In Clairvoyance And Occult Powers.
N Full Title: The Invisible Influence; A Story Of The Mystic Orient, With Great Truths Which Can Never Die.
The Case Of Mark Edward Morrison
(C)1991 Mark Morrison
Always it comes back to haunt me, this case. Some nights it speaks to me, its leather hasps whispering dire secrets I have no desire to know, no need to learn. I would burn the infernal thing, save that I fear this would somehow signal my own fiery destruction. We are bound together, this case and I, in a bargain I have not seen, and did not sign. Even now it grins at me slyly, daring me to open it again.
My hatred for the luggage from beyond had increased tenfold. Among its crimes of theft and pollution, it has added a sin more heinous. I can barely stand to remember it, yet some strange compulsion forces me to record it here.
It is summer here, bringing a pleasant warmth to my life and work.
However, I noted a peculiar smell about my apartments�a rich smell, sour and rank. At first I feared something was amiss in the refrigerator, but I found no evidence of spoiled foodstuffs. Then I was sure that some animal had crawled under the house and died, but a cursory search revealed no such cadaver. Then, as the odor grew more overpowering, I realized that it could only have one source.
Wisely placing a handkerchief over my nose, I approached the case, snapped the clasps, and opened the thing. God forbid! Green and livid pieces of meat, bloated purple organs, grey and leaking lengths of viscera, blackened limbs, and slack dead faces with eyes fixed and staring. It was a box of charnel horror, and I shall never forget the sight.
That's the thing about guts, gore, splatter and spew: it's in your face, and you don't forget it. This can be used to good effect, or fumbled really badly. The central problem with over-the-top descriptions in a Call of Cthulhu game is that there is only one reaction to out-and-out grue: bleah! A fetid and meaty interlude might be horrifying and memorable, but then again it might be ludicrous and laughable. So, use detailed carnage wisely, and judiciously.
Let the mood dictate the viscera. Sometimes unrelenting gross-ness actually helps to distinguish a scenario. No Herbert West-style adventure would work without corpses shedding limbs and spraying fluids with technicolored regularity. But other scenarios require a soft touch, haunting atmosphere, and vague threat. As an example of this contrast, the early scenarios of the Orient Express campaign are about shadows and unsettlement. The later scenarios are pure flyblown frenzy.
The splatterpunk school of horror writing holds that violence is an ugly business, and should be depicted as such. There's some merit to this. If you need to cure gun-happy or psychotic players, give them a taste of how terrifying combat really is.
As a general rule, violence within the game should be infrequent, but frenzied. Make it confusing, and make it count. Speed up the flow, demand instant responses from the players, launch attacks with terrifying ferocity, wave your arms and shout a lot. The wise know to avoid combat of any kind. Rash investigators are soon rashers of investigators.
The thing about violence is, of course, that people get hurt. Like the investigators. You can bring this home by personalizing the damage sometimes. Scrape knees, sprain ankles, deliver concussion, break arms, knock out teeth, dislocate shoulders, chew off fingers, pop out eyes, bruise ribs. You could say "The claw hits. Take 15 points of damage, and roll under your CON on 1D20," but who gets horrified by that? Try this: "The hideous clawed arm sweeps past you. You feel a strange numbness.
Looking down, you note your left arm is missing from the elbow down. Take 15 points of damage. You know, exposed bone is really, really white. Roll under your CON on 1D20 or pass out."
That'll make 'em think twice about hefting their hockey sticks and charging dimensional shamblers. Some injuries also provide dramatic potential. Most of the suspense in the climax of Stephen King's "Christine" comes because the poor sap has to drive a concrete mixer/bulldozer with a broken leg. I've tried walking on a broken leg myself, and frankly, I'd rather spend the night in the case than do that again.
Which reminds me of a terrible tale yet left untold. What did I do, faced with that casket of human wreckage? I slammed it shut with an inarticulate cry, fled my house, and ran into the night. I lived in the streets for a week. I cannot remember that time, a red madness clouds my memory. It is a miracle that I was not found and incarcerated in some place for the deranged. At last I came to myself, and with singular dread I returned home.
The case lay where I had left it. The smell was gone. There was a strange curve to that closed lid, as if the thing had a satisfied smile.
With a moan of horror, I sprang at it, and flung the damned thing open, to dispel my madness, or to confirm the sight I had but recently witnessed.
The meat was gone. No faces stared up at me. No bloated organs. But the bottom of the case was littered with bones, and each had been expertly cracked for the succulent marrow within.
A Tale Of Terror
(C)1991 Per Okerstrom
To All The Shapes At Sea
[handout #1, a newspaper article]
SEA SERPENT�AT LAST?
Mystery Carcass Washes Ashore
Officials are baffled as to the origin of a putrefying monstrosity that made landfall here in late August. The creature, some forty feet in total length, seems to possess several fins or arms. Everand Horne, founder of the Boston Marine Studies Group at Boston University, heralded the discovery as a major scientific coup. Dr. Horne was surprised to find rows of strange quill-like bristles under some of the limbs, but was unprepared to make a detailed statement, saying that the matter warranted further study. Arrangements are currently being made to transport the remains to Boston University. Dr. Horne promises to release his findings at some later date.
[handout #2, a letter to the investigators]
I am afraid my husband has met with foul play! The police have done every thing in their power to find him, but alas have come up empty. A colleague of my husband suggested I should try a private investigator.
So now, I turn to you.
He has been missing for almost three weeks and although I am not sure, I think it might have something to do with his "Sea Serpent?" For you see, it is missing too!
I do hope you'll take my case? I can be reached at the above address or by phone at BR3-4301.
Mrs. Abigail Horne
Abigail is indeed right. Both her husband and his mysterious find are missing. But what she failed to mention is that her husband's partner, Elias Whitney, and his pretty young wife are also nowhere to be found.
Rumors abound about the doctor's infidelities. Is it a simple case of marital discord or something more sinister?
1. The remains of the creature are in fact those of a large Basking Shark. The animal is actually quite rare but hardly preternatural.
Everand Horne, embarrassed at the publicity surrounding his Sea Serpent story, has gone into hiding. Elias, who threatened to expose Everand and his monster as a fake, is currently enjoying an extended holiday on the Studies Group's funds. Which of course, is another reason for Everand's strange disappearance.
2. Everand Horne has run off with his colleague's wife. Having murdered Elias and in need of some quick money they have sold the serpent off to a questionable showman named Barclay Shaw. The monster can now be seen touring the county as "The Krakatoa Kraken."
3. Everand, Elias and his wife have been kidnapped by cultists who are intent on proving the Hollow World theories of John Cleves-Symmes. They see the creature as a Plesiosaur and proof positive that Cleves-Symmes was right. What they have in store for the Doctor and his friends hasn't been decided.
4. The creature is a Sea-Shoggoth. Deep Ones from Innsmouth have enlisted the aid of Elias Whitney, a Deep One/human hybrid to destroy Everand and his findings. Elias's position within the Marine Studies Group has allowed him to keep tabs on how much the humans have learned about the Deep Ones and their under-sea activities.
5. The creature is a shape-shifting alien. It has transmogrified into the bodies of Everand, Elias and his wife and an unfortunate janitor, who so far hasn't been counted among the victims. Who knows, perhaps Abigail herself will bring in some easy prey?
Dark Denizens of Dreams and Beyond
The Mythos Additions of Clark Ashton Smith (C)1991 Scott David Aniolowski
[Scott Aniolowski is known to his associates as "Stat-Man" among other things, for his talents and enthusiasm for writing up stats for scores of Mythos creatures derived from fiction. In TUO4 he checked in again with more critters. Some of his TUO monsters turned up in Call of Cthulhu 5th Edition; more recently, he has applied himself to creating two volumes of creatures for Chaosium, to be released in 1994.
This is one of the few articles we've printed that directly addresses the creations of a Mythos author (Lin Carter and Robert W. Chambers being the others). I hope to do more of this kind of stuff in the future -- the game's origins lie with the stories, after all, and it's important to preserve that link.]
Clark Ashton Smith is considered by many to be one of the key contributors to Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, and is best known for the creation of his toad-god, Tsathogghua. Other Mythos-like entities created by Smith include the White Worm Rlim Shaikorth, Knygathin Zhaum, Ubbo-Sathla, the Great Ghoul Mordiggian, Xexanoth, and Aforgomon. Unlike most of the Lovecraft circle, however, Smith's tales were not set in shadowy New England boroughs, but were mainly in the medieval, dreamy, fantasy settings of Averoigne, Hyperborea, and Zothique: his work should be of particular inspiration to Keepers interested in creating Dreamlands scenarios, or adventures set in long-dead, mystical civilizations where magic and sorcery were common.
Not all Cthulhu Mythos fans or Lovecraft purists will agree with the classification of these creatures as part of the Cthulhu pantheon, and Keepers are urged to use or ignore these entities as fits his or her campaigns.
Aforgomon (Outer God)
Description: Aforgomon, the Time God, is never described, although bolts of strange flame and an awful brightness are associated with it.
Cult: Aforgomon is worshipped by humans in the Dreamlands, although it may also have a few interested followers in the waking world, into which its influence and powers equally extend. As Lord of Time, Aforgomon's favor is sought by those seeking to change what has gone before, or to see what is yet to come; dealing with the Outer God, however, is very dangerous, and those who transgress against its domain suffer ageless tortures and agony.
Notes: Aforgomon is never seen by anyone, except those who have offended the god and brought its wrath upon themselves; otherwise the Outer God simply enters into a host body to deal with followers. Typically, those who have angered Aforgomon find themselves in the Dreamlands, chained naked into a huge stone chair suspended over a gaping abyss; the condemned may sit, bound by the heavy chains, for aeons awaiting the wrath of Aforgomon. When the time god finally appears to the transgressor it causes the chain to heat to incandescence, charring the body and killing the mortal who was foolish enough to anger an Outer God; the corpses of such victims of the Chain of Aforgomon are found in the waking world, their bodies scarred with concentric rings of charred flesh, any clothing worn strangely untouched by heat. Very soon these victims of Aforgomon literally cease to exist, all knowledge, memory, and record of them fading from existence.
As Lord of Time, Aforgomon has the ability to halt time, or pass into and out of it at will; it may also transport other items and beings through time, or in some other way effect the time around them. The Outer God attacks with bolts of strange fire, which instantly char and kill its target. Because it is one with time, Aforgomon is capable of moving at speeds which are beyond the understanding of the human mind: it may move forward or backward through time in less than a heartbeat.
This Outer God may, in fact, be one of the other forms of Yog-Sothoth, or may be somehow connected with Chaugnar Faugn or Quachil Uttaus.
Weapon Attk% Damage
Fire Bolt 100% Death
Armor: None. However, only enchanted weapons and arcane powers may harm Aforgomon.
The Great Ghoul Mordiggian, the Charnel God (Great Old One) Description: "�a colossal shadow that was not wrought by anything in the room. It filled the portals from side to side, it towered above the lintel�and then, swiftly, it became more than a shadow: it was a bulk of darkness, black and opaque, that somehow blinded the eyes with a strange dazzlement. It seemed to suck the flame from the red urns and fill the chamber with a chill of utter death and voidness. Its form was that of a worm-shapen column, huge as a dragon, its further coils still issuing from the gloom of the corridor; but it changed from moment to moment, swirling and spinning as if alive with the vortical energies of dark aeons. Briefly it took the semblance of some demoniac giant with eyeless head and limbless body; and then, leaping and spreading like smoky fire, it swept into the chamber." ("The Charnel God," by Clark Ashton Smith) Cult: Mordiggian is worshipped exclusively by ghouls, although other races may offer up their dead to the Charnel God as appeasement and not as actual worship. The ghoul priests of Mordiggian cover themselves in long, hooded robes of funeral-purple, and silver skull-like masks. A tome known as The Ghoul's Manuscript (see "Mysterious Manuscripts" in this issue) deals with Mordiggian and its cult.
Notes: Although Mordiggian is known mostly within the Dreamlands, it is assumed that the Great Old One may also enter the world of waking men through the same grave-tunnels and tombs that its ghoul followers use.
When the Great Old One appears all fire and heat is sucked into its swirling void-like body, instantly lowering the temperature by many degrees, and filling the area with a deathly cold and still air. All within the presence of the Great Ghoul are blinded by the weird changing, dazzling form of the necromantic god, and so all attacks must rely totally upon the Listen skill to determine the location of the target: all such attack skills are performed at 1/4 the dreamers' Listen skill, and all other sight-related skills are useless. This blindness lasts only as long as the dreamer/investigator is within the presence of Mordiggian, and sight returns instantly upon the god's departure. Those who attempt to avoid to avoid looking at the blinding form of the Great Ghoul may do so by successfully rolling their INTx2 or less on 1D100.
Mordiggian attacks by engulfing victims, sucking away their life force, and dissolving the body: nothing remains of the Charnel God's prey, and they are never seen again in the waking world or in the Dreamlands.
This Great Old One does not appear to be especially malevolent, and has been known to spare those who have not personally offended the god or his followers (ghouls) in some way.
Armor: None, but Mordiggian can be harmed only by enchanted weapons and other magic.
Spells: Most, except those dealing with the Great Old Ones and the Outer Gods and their minions and servants.
Rlim Shaikorth, the White Worm (Great Old One) Description: "Something he had of the semblance of a fat white worm; but his bulk was beyond that of the sea-elephant. His half-coiled tail was thick as the middle folds of his body; and his front reared upward from the dias in the form of a white round disk, and upon it were imprinted vague lineaments. Amid the visage a mouth curved uncleanly from side to side of the disk, opening and shutting incessantly on a pale and tongueless and toothless maw. Two eye-sockets lay close together above the shallow nostrils, but the sockets were eyeless, and in them appeared from moment to moment globules of a blood-colored matter having the form of eyeballs; and ever the globules broke and dripped down before the dias. And from the ice-floor there ascended two masses like stalagmites, purple and dark as frozen gore, which had been made by this ceaseless dripping of the globules." ("The Coming of the White Worm," by Clark Ashton Smith)
Cult: Rlim Shaikorth is worshipped by certain mystical sects in the Dreamlands, although, unknown to them, the White Worm often devours its worshippers.
Notes: Rlim Shaikorth dwells in the Dreamlands, within a frozen citadel on an unmeltable iceberg called Yikilth, which came down to earth from the stars, bringing with it the Great Old One. Frozen Yikilth floats on the Dreamlands' seas, occasionally entering the waters of coastal towns where Rlim Shaikorth seeks worshippers. The presence of Yikilth causes temperatures to fall, and frost to form on the towns which the ice-mountain visits; an extended stay of Rlim Shaikorth and its arctic citadel causes plants and animals in the area to freeze solid: this may effect humans, as well. Those frozen by the presence of the White Worm do not thaw, even in the heat of fire, and remain forever solid and cold, like statues of ice.
The White Worm attacks by swallowing its prey, usually while they sleep; those swallowed by the Great Old One can not be saved, as they become one with the deity. Rlim Shaikorth also has the ability to freeze victims by matching its POW against the victim's; if Rlim Shaikorth overcomes its victim's POW then the victim begins to lose 1 CON every round thereafter as he becomes colder and colder. When the victim's CON has fallen to 0
he freezes solid, and is forever gone. Those killed by the White Worm in the Dreamlands die also in the waking world, their bodies unusually cold and stiff. Those who resist Rlim Shaikorth's POW simply lose 1D3 CON.
The blood of the Great Old One causes 1D6 points of damage per round to anyone that is exposed to it, so inflicting damage upon the god is also dangerous.
Weapon Attk% Damage
Swallow 75% Death
Armor: Rlim Shaikorth has 10 points of armor in blubbery flesh. Any piercing or slashing wounds to the Great Old One cause a flood of its deadly blood to pour onto those responsible for the wounds, and they each suffer 1D6 points of burning damage each round. Water may rinse the blood away.
Spells: All Dreamlands spells, except those dealing with the Outer Gods and their minions.
Ubbo-Sathla, the Unbegotten Source (Outer God) Description: "�the formless mass that was Ubbo-Sathla reposed amid the slime and the vapors. Headless, without organs or members, it sloughed from its oozy sides, in a slow, ceaseless wave, the amoebic forms that were the archetypes of earthly life." ("Ubbo-Sathla," by Clark Ashton Smith)
Cult: Ubbo-Sathla has no human cult, although certain alien races, such as the Mi-Go, may worship it on distant worlds. The Unbegotten One is mentioned only in The Book of Eibon, and in the Necronomicon.
Notes: The Unbegotten Source is very similar to Abhoth, although the two entities are not the same: Ubbo-Sathla is much larger, forms simple pseudopods instead of any sort of actual limbs, and is totally mindless, blind, and idiotic. Some sources claim that Ubbo-Sathla is, in fact, the twin of mighty Azathoth.
Ubbo-Sathla never leaves its primal cavern unless called or disturbed in some way; while this creature is mindless, it does react to outside stimulation such as vibrations, sudden extreme changes in its environment, etc. The Outer God constantly puts forth its spawn, some of which are instantly scooped up and absorbed back into the great festering mass, and others which flop, fly, or crawl off into deeper corners of the Outer God's cavern, or escape up into the world of men. Ubbo-Sathla's grotto may be entered through deep fissures in the ice cap of the South Pole in the waking world, or through hidden tunnels in the Cold Waste in the Dreamlands; other entrances (or even gates) to the Outer God's lair may also exist.
When called, Ubbo-Sathla brings with it 1D10x10 of its spawn, and it continues to produce offspring at a rate of 1D10 per round. The Spawn of Ubbo-Sathla fulfill every whim and urge of their primal, mindless sire.
This unclean pool of fertile slime has hundreds of pseudopods forming, flailing about, grasping prey, and absorbing back into the body mass at all times; if encountered, Ubbo-Sathla may grasp and absorb one, a few, all, or none of the luckless investigators/dreamers, at the Keeper's option. Remaining in the god's presence, however, for more than a few rounds will insure that one or more of the investigators are scooped up and absorbed. The Outer God's pseudopods have a reach of 1D100x3 yards, and any areas visited or touched by Ubbo-Sathla is left devastated and totally devoid of all life forms, including the minutest of microorganisms.
The Unbegotten Source may have inadvertently spawned the prototypes of all earthly life, and it was from its tissues that the Elder Things created their dread Shoggoths aeons ago. It is also said that within the primal cave of the Unbegotten One are several tablets of star-wrought stone which contain great knowledge and secrets of the Elder Gods, themselves. These tablets, the Elder Keys, remain as much an enigma as Ubbo-Sathla, and the few powerful sorcerers who were said to have sought these tablets vanished from the face of the earth.
Weapon Attk% Damage
Pseudopod 100% Grasp and Absorb
Armor: Ubbo-Sathla has no armor. However, it is immune to damage from all physical weapons; fire, spells, and enchanted weapons may do normal damage to the Outer God, although its slimy tissues quickly heal, allowing the god to regenerate 25 hit points per round. Ubbo-Sathla, like Azathoth, takes 3D6 points of damage from the Elder Sign, although the Sign will be destroyed, and anyone hiding behind it absorbed into the fertile pool. If reduced to 0 hit points, the Outer God seeps back into its cavern, or deeper into a fissure, and regenerates fully.
Spells: Ubbo-Sathla knows no spells, although its spawn are subject to its whims.
Spawn of Ubbo-Sathla (Greater Servitor Race) Description: The Spawn of Ubbo-Sathla are semi-transparent, protozoan-like creatures of variable size and shape.
Notes: The Spawn of Ubbo-Sathla are encountered generally only with their sire in its primal grotto, or near an entrance to the Unbegotten One's lair. No two Spawn are exactly alike: some attack with sticky filaments, some with pseudopods, some by engulfing, some with gelatinous tentacles, some with sharp cilia, etc. Whatever the attack, the Spawn of Ubbo-Sathla will attempt to draw its prey into its sticky body where it is digested and absorbed; an investigator sucked into a Spawn of Ubbo-Sathla suffers 1D6 points of damage each round, until totally digested. A swallowed victim may take no action, although others may try to slay the creature and free him. A Spawn that has gorged itself on a victim may still move, although its movement is half normal. Because they move so quietly, the Spawn of Ubbo-Sathla often surprise their prey.
STR 1-6D10+6 11-39
CON 3D6+6 16-17
SIZ 1-6D10+10 15-43
INT 0 0
POW 3D6 10-11
DEX 4D6 14
Move 1D10+3 8-9
Weapon Attk% Damage
Various 75% 1D6+Damage Bonus, or hold Swallow auto 1D6 per round
Armor: None, but the Spawn of Ubbo-Sathla are immune to all physical weapons. Fire, magic, etc. harm them normally.
Spells: The Spawn of Ubbo-Sathla know no spells.
Skills: Move Silently 90%
The literary works of Clark Ashton Smith are rich and colorful, and whether his creations are to be absorbed into the Cthulhu Mythos or not, his tales are well worth investigating, and they range from brooding horror to mystic fantasy. Smith was a strong story-teller and a key figure in the Lovecraft circle.
Some of the works of Clark Ashton Smith are still available through Arkham House (P.O. Box 546, Sauk City, Wisconsin, 53583) in Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, $23.95 (Smith, Lovecraft, Bloch, Long, and many others), and A Rendezvous in Averoigne, $22.95 (a collection of 30 of Smith's tales).
Message In A Bottle
(C)1991 Jeff Barber
[This installment of "Message In A Bottle" provoked a minor controversey in the letters column owing to its mucking about with an historical personage. Cheesy or Cthulhuoid? You be the judge!]
translated from the original document discovered at an old and secluded baronial farm in Southern Austria October 27th 1919
I wish to express my most heartfelt gratitude for the birthday gift you sent to me. It is uplifting after all these years, and my many visits to your farm, to finally hold in my hands physical evidence concerning those things we have talked of through so many dark nights. To be able to read with mine own eyes the fateful words of von Junzt, to know through his hand and not just a few half-remembered tales, is a warm satisfaction.
Your having come upon this manuscript must certainly have been fate, and now it will serve us well.
I have taken each word and phrase into my mind and locked it there. I feel hidden power unfolding and favoring me with the ability to dominate and use the human cattle around me. In bloody rites of mass sacrifice I believe the sleeper can be awakened and returned to his place of power.
I feel his awareness, and know he watches and he waits.
Kind Uncle, even now our plans take a visible shape while those around us go on unsuspecting. A short time now and the world will begin to fall before us. First quietly, and then in a bloody holocaust that will reform the earth to the will of Yog-Sothoth.
Mine own destiny is cast now, Uncle, and we have but to remain his faithful. In the massacre of his own design shall be his rebirth.
It is with the greatest anticipation that I await your arrival in Berlin.
Do hurry, the coming begins.
your loving nephew,
[So much for TUO4! And so much for The Annotated TUO; at present, this series will go no further. TUO5 through TUO8/9 all had the same print run (3,000 copies) and aren't nearly as hard to find as the first four issues are.
In retrospect, TUO4 is a real hodge-podge. Late in development I tried to retrofit a theme to the issue, namely violence and mayhem. Despite a few moments of serendipity (like Mark Morrison coincidentally turning in a column on that very topic) I don't think my half-hearted attempt at a theme succeeded.
However, the material is good. I think this was the most useful issue of the first four in terms of the variety and quality of the articles. Be aware, though, that the most notable inclusion isn't included --
Creatures & Cultists, our satirical card game, made its debut in this issue in all its cardstock glory. C&C didn't receive proper playtesting until our mass-market edition with the perforated cards, and the early version that appeared in TUO4 was a bit of a mess. But it was a real stretch for us and a lot of fun besides.
I hope you've enjoyed this little 4-part tour of our origins. There's a lot of good stuff in these files that you may have never seen before.
It's not the same as being there in the first place, but it's better than not being there at all. Be seeing you!
-- John Tynes, editor-in-chief, 4/26/94]