Tomes of Eldritch Lore
Mythos tomes are the repositories of arcane wisdom, terrible secrets and powerful magic. They provide the seeker of enlightenment with stark truths about reality, existence and presence of those from outside. For the unwary, such books delineate a path to nightmare, horror and insanity.
This chapter summarizes the books of the Cthulhu Mythos most often mentioned in the fiction of the Lovecraft Circle of writers.
Describing Mythos Tomes
Some Mythos volumes are recent enough in origin to have been printed with movable type. Those editions were usually published privately in short press runs and only sold to rich collectors or acquaintances. Upon publication, copies often were sought out and destroyed by the authorities due to their scandalous nature. Better these texts be burned and suppressed. Such was the fate of the original publication of The King in Yellow.
Where surviving copies exist, these have often have been ill-treated by the crazed or malicious, or else rebound to disguise their blasphemous contents. Bound manuscripts were never regularized by typesetting and printing, and their wavering, blotted handwriting may be wholly incomprehensible for pages at a time, a situation remedied only by great dedication and scholarship.
Even though each book’s summary is uniform, assume that each copy of a Mythos book can be different from its fellows. Though the logic of that potential diminishes for recent books, such as Azathoth and Others, even then bindings may be broken, pages torn out and signatures missing or wrongly collated. Contents may be ink-stained or acid-scarred, with pages half-burnt and the words made illegible or utterly defaced by madmen (or by sane men who sought to destroy the dangerous information therein). Unique information may be written as marginalia or jotted down on notepaper and inserted here or there.
Some tomes begin to possess their own “character” as they grow in age. Passed down through the generations, between family members, booksellers and collectors, the tomes seem to absorb an imprint of their owners. This can be more than simply the wandering marginalia of occult scholars; with some books apparently manifesting distinct “personalities” that echo once powerful owners, such as grand sorcerers and cult potentates. Consider the smell, feel and look of Mythos books. The overall impression ought to be distinctly unhealthy. The binding will probably be leather, perhaps human or even that of some unworldly being.
Does the leather leave a slimy residue when touched? Does the book leave a musky odor wherever it has been? Does the presence of the tome cause the pages of other, nearby books to char and blacken? Perhaps the book appears to move of its own accord, never to be found where the investigator remembers placing it…
Sorcerers and cultists are not librarians. They are unconcerned with the needs of posterity. They intend themselves to live forever and they consider the knowledge contained within their tomes to be theirs by right and not to be lightly passed to the unworthy.
If an original language version is found of a work that until then was known only in translation, then the original version is more informative. Add a few percentiles to the Cthulhu Mythos skill reward. Treat the original edition as another edition. The Keeper chooses the book’s original language and can make up its title in that language as well.
If you create a new Mythos tome for some purpose, you should have a suitable name for it, know the language of its composition, know what it looks and feels like, know how many Sanity points are lost in reading it, know how many Cthulhu Mythos points its comprehension adds, and be able to determine what spells (if any) can be found within it.