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 Lovecraft in the WoD

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yanamari

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Join date : 2010-08-10

PostSubject: Lovecraft in the WoD   Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:39 pm

Novus Nocturnis
The Introduction of the a complete World of Darkness Setting Resource, World of Darkness: Bergen and an the ongoing, exclusive ELN introduction of H.P. Lovecraft’s "Cthulhu Mythos" into the World of Darkness…

World of Darkness: Bergen
Visit the icy North lands….
Norway is a country of beauty and majesty, but it is also home to sinister things that go bump in the night. Bergen is a city on the edge of redemption or damnation as it’s supernatural population struggles for dominance. Shady deals and strange bedfellows make up the fabric of the city. There is no such thing as friends in Bergen, merely convenient allies.
The Crimson Twilight….
World of Darkness: Bergen is an Ex Libris Nocturnis exclusive and provides a new setting and characters for players and storytellers to mingle with. The history of Bergen and it’s outlying areas are fully described, as is it’s grim present day situation. All of the World of Darkness denizens have some stake in the city, and are willing to risk anything to maintain control.
World of Darkness: Bergen: The Crimson Twilight Includes:
History and lore about Bergen and it’s supernatural population.
A setting in which any kind of character can blend in.
Plotline hooks to get storytellers started on their Norwegian campaign.
Email Lisa Fleishman if you have any questions regarding World of Darkness: Bergen at the_gm@hotmail.com

ELN Mythos Project
For those of you who have been coming to ELN for a while or consider yourselves "regulars," you’re more than likely wondering what the hell is going on with all the Lovecraft stuff this month.
Hell, indeed.
Since the Autumn of 1998, I’ve been trying to talk Shadowmancer into allowing me the space, time, patience and chance to introduce the universe as perceived by Howard Phillips Lovecraft – something I love, cherish and respect dearly and personally as both a lover of the macabre and intellectual horror and as a writer and editor – into the World of Darkness as I, and others, see it. I think that it’s been a long time coming, personally, and this month, the first issue of ELN for 2000 seemed to be the most appropriate time to initiate the realization of my concept.
Over the next few months, Ian Grey, Reginald Lafontaine, Matt Snyder, and myself among others, will be doing our absolute best to accomplish the following three general goals:

1. Introduce the scope of H.P. Lovecraft’s "Cthulhu Mythos" to the World of Darkness for the purposes of enlightening those not familiar with Lovecraft or his works to the possibilities presented by his vision in regards to modern horror and science fiction.
2. Apply several of Lovecraft’s ideas and creations into the existing World of Darkness with as little deviation as is possible from "classic" inhierent to the existing World of Darkness by providing easy to understand and useable player and Storyteller resources crafted FROM the Mythos FOR the World of Darkness.
3. Adapt several core concepts of Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu Gaming System into World of Darkness-friendly systems and mechanics for ease of incorporation into the World of Darkness for Storytellers as alternate or optional rules systems for use within their existing World of Darkness Chronicles.

If you’re new to this, then take it slow. It’s not something ANYONE picks up in a day. It also might be something you find that you DO NOT like, personally. That’s okay, too. Lovecraft’s work is, at times, an acquired taste. Our goal with the ELN Mythos Project is HARDLY to REPLACE the existing meta-plots of the respective games of White Wolf’s World of Darkness. Our goal is to add what we feel could be an important, new facet to the existing World of Darkness by combining two completely plausible interpretations of life, the universe and everything into one, enjoyable medium for your players to enjoy playing in and for STs to enjoy running.
If you have ANY QUESTIONS, please don’t hesitate to mail me at spiraldancer99@hotmail.com and I will do my best to field any and all questions regarding the project or Lovecraft’s work that I can.
Sing While You May,
The Lighthouse Keeper

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03 June 2010 11:28 AM
yanamari
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Mythos Lore
Mythos Lore is the knowledge of the existence, hows and whyfores of those powers and entities that are intimately connected to the Mythos...

Mythos Lore is the knowledge of the existence, hows and whyfores of those powers and entities that are intimately connected to the Mythos. Exact knowledge of the Mythos is not required to work its magic, but learning its magic will begin to lead to that terrible knowledge. Note that a mere mortal will never fully understand the Mythos or its implications, given how alien it is to human nature.
This Lore should never be taken at character creation. It should be learned in-character either by accident or design. Its secrets are not for the faint of heart or weak of will: learning the truth about how the universe really works is a very, very dangerous undertaking. For each dot in Mythos Lore that a character takes, a dot of the Sanity score is crossed out, going from right to left, never to be used again.
* Student: "What the hell was that?" You've seen something, and know there's more out there than the traditional 'occult' can explain.
** College: "So that's what that was..., and here's how you bring it?" A partial understanding of what's going on and a very fleeting grasp of how it works.
*** Masters: "How can I even be reading this?" A careful or reckless study has illuminated some matters..., but so much more remains to be seen.
**** Doctorate: "You mean..., THEY made US?" An even better understanding..., maybe. Or maybe you're just going crazy?

***** Scholar: "The Moon is full and the sacrifice is prepared..., now, where did that copy of Cultes des Ghouls go...?" (insane, mocking laughter)
The Magic of the Mythos
Those entities that comprise the so-called Mythos (an artificial, OOC term) utilize a kind of nigh-advanced, alien science to do their bidding. We call this science "Mythos Magic"OOC, though it is not really magic. However, given that it relies on sounds, gestures, and specially-prepared objects to make things happen, as opposed to strict reliance on machines and electronics, it's easy to understand how humans could mistake it for magic. To date, no human has ever fully understood this, or at least been in any shape to tell anyone of it after learning.
It is recommended that Storytellers keep the information here to themselves. Not only does it spoil some of the mystery and horror of the game if the players know too much OOC, but handing this information off can lead to a "shopping list" mentality where the ends are focused on rather than the means, and the Roleplaying involved to get there.
Is/Is Not
Mythos Magic is unlike Hedge Magic because it requires no belief to use. A total skeptic who pronounces the words correctly will have as much of a chance to call up Ye Liveliest Awfulness as the cruel and determined cultist, though the cultist may have other tricks up her sleeve to increase the chances. It is also not the Sphere Magick of the mages: you do not have to be Awakened to use it, and while Sphere Magick can rework reality to fit the will of the Mage, Mythos Magic is reality. Those who use Sphere Magick in a blatant manner, warping reality, risk paradox, but Mythos Magic accrues no paradox because it is based on those hidden and eldritch principles by which the universe truly works.
Working the Craft
Working Mythos Magic is costly. It is also very dangerous to humans, and other awakened types, as their minds weren't meant to handle it.
In some cases, the character must use Willpower and lose Current Sanity, and each dot of Temporary Willpower spent gives one dice that the character may roll to attempt something. In other cases, Permanent Willpower must be sacrificed. Sometimes a roll must be made, and sometimes spending the Willpower will be enough. And some things do not require Sanity at all. Details are given with each spell, or type of spell.
Storytellers will note that understanding of what one is doing does not need to exist in order to make it happen. A character does not need to know what she's doing to make something happen provided the time is right, the materials are there, and wording or gesturing is plain to see. When dealing with amateurs who stumble across something and do not know what they are doing, then they will trigger the spell's effects with no control. In the cases where a certain number of Temporary Willpower may be spent, the character will have the maximum amount they can spend sucked out of them for the roll. Once they understand what they are doing (provided they survive) they can tailor the effects to their needs and spend less than the maximum. However, once they do this, the Spell should be purchased with experience points.
Spells can be learned in any combination, in any order; unlike most WOD systems there is no progression, and a complete novice could learn how to bring Yog-Sothoth down before learning anything else. There are some cases where it would be ideal to learn one spell before trying the other: such as "Enchant object" as a precursor to Summoning and Binding a Dimensional Shambler. Also note that knowing one kind of spell doesn't help with others: just because you can Summon/Bind a Dimensional Shambler does not mean you could Summon/Bind a Byakhee, and these must be learned separately.
Nor do the characters have to take points in Mythos Lore in order to unwittingly learn these things. Mythos Magic is, as stated earlier, nothing more magical than a flashlight once one understands its principles. Unfortunately, mortals -- even Awakened ones -- were not meant to understand them, hence the resulting madness.
That said, Storytellers should enforce the learning curve. The character might not know that the strange object will, when manipulated just so, call up something horrible. But, once that line has been crossed, and the character starts to learn spells or research things best left alone, Mythos Lore should start to appear on the character sheet.
Character Development
Mythos Lore is a Secondary Knowledge (except for those game systems where Lore is a Primary Knowledge). Anyone who studies the Mythos seriously should start learning this, and each dot that is purchased with experience will remove a dot of the Sanity Score from play permanently. This crossing-out goes from right to left, often removing places for possible Current Sanity before ever getting to Current Sanity or Base Sanity.
Mythos Lore can be learned, initially, by seeing or experiencing Mythos entities. After that, study and research will have to be done. This usually entails reading old, blasphemous books and seeking out instruction from some very frightening people. Contacting Lesser or Greater Entities is a dangerous but effective way to do this as well, but brings its own perils.
The spells can be treated as Rituals, and cost 3 Exp. to learn how to do. An Intelligence + Mythos Lore roll could be made in secret by the Storyteller to see if the character truly understands what she's doing, given how anti-intuitive some of the magic is, but the appropriate time spent RPing the learning and the Exp. spent could also be enough, too. It's the Storyteller's call.
Categories of Spells
There are five types of Mythos Magic that are covered here: Summon/Bind Lesser Entity, Contact Lesser Entity, Call/Dismiss Greater Entity, Contact Greater Entity, and Miscellaneous.
While the spells' rolls, conditions for success and effects are described, the exact, IC mechanisms are not. Storytellers should come up with their own components and conditions for them, and should tailor them to the nature of their chronicle and the tastes of their players. A good rule of thumb is that small things might need very little in the way of components or preparations, but the really big things need many components, and the preparations will be much more intricate and/or grotesque. Put another way: the more damage the spell might have, either on its own or from whatever it's calling up from beyond, the more elaborate the set-up.
At no time should such an undertaking become mundane or matter-of-fact. Try to impress on the players the sense that their characters are doing something cosmically wrong, even in getting the most modest of things to do the most niggling of spells. Humans working with the Mythos screams of cosmic taboo, and the atmosphere of treading into realms best left unseen should be stifling. Let your imagination run wild!
Summon/Bind Lesser Entity
These spells are good for calling up less-intelligent, lesser entities that are usually used as servants by more intelligent, or at least more powerful entities. Examples of what can be called up are given below. These usually require some sort of enchanted component, and in some of the more carnivorous cases a sacrifice might be needed as well.

System: The character must spend Willpower to gain dice, and may spend less than or equal to her Manipulation + Mythos Lore dice pool, and no more than that. Willpower may not be spent for automatic successes. The difficulty is the Willpower of the creature Summoned. Casting, whether successful or not, causes the loss of one dot of Current Sanity plus whatever is lost in the Sanity Roll when the thing arrives. The Summoned creature will arrive whenever the Storyteller deems it most appropriate or effective for the Scene, but it will usually be there in less than half an hour.
The Storyteller has the option of saying that the Summoning and Binding come from the same roll, above, as this makes things much simpler. Alternatively, the above could be used merely to Summon the entity: if so, then when it comes the caster and the creature have a battle of Willpower via a resisted roll. Success by the caster means it is bound, failure means it's not bound and will either attack or leave, depending on the Storyteller's judgment. A botched result always causes an attack.
Once successfully summoned and bound, the entity must obey one order of the caster, no matter what it is (within reason), and is then free to go. If it is not given a command within a reasonable amount of time it will just leave, hopefully without attacking the caster. Simple commands are best: the Storyteller should decide whether the creature understands via a secret Intelligence roll.
On a related note: if a creature for which the character knows the Summon/Bind spell is just happened upon, unbound, the character may attempt to bind it. The character and the creature's Willpowers are rolled off against one another in a resisted roll. Success by the caster means it is bound, failure means it's not bound and will either attack or leave, depending on the Storyteller's judgment. A botched result always causes an attack. The first attempt to do this costs no Willpower and causes no Sanity Loss, but if the character fails and tries again, each additional attempt will cause a loss of one dot of Current Sanity.
Examples of things that can be Summoned and Bound: Byakhee, Dark Young, Dimensional Shamblers, Fire Vampires, Hunting Horrors, Nightgaunts, Servitors of the Outer Gods, Star Vampires.
Contact Lesser Entity
Some entities are not able to be ordered about like cattle: these are more intelligent, or more powerful, and should be contacted instead. Examples are given below. These usually must be performed at or near places where these entities would likely be found, or else areas, such as magical gates, that lead to where they are.
System: The character must spend Willpower to gain dice, and may spend less than or equal to her Manipulation + Mythos Lore, and no more. Willpower may not be spent for automatic successes. The difficulty is the Willpower of the creature Summoned, and a botch will remove a point of Permanent Willpower from the casting character. Contacting a creature, whether the attempt is successful or not, costs one dot of Current Sanity, plus whatever lost in Sanity Roll when the thing arrives. The creature will arrive when it can, which could be anywhere from an hour to a week, as fits the Storyteller's judgment on what the story calls for.
The spell will always call a random representative of the creature's race: large entities will only come one at a time, but smaller ones might arrive by the half-dozen. These individuals may have their own agendas to fulfill. Some entities are perfectly willing to enter into agreements with casters, some are not, and some things -- most notably the Hounds of Tindalos -- are just better left alone. Once they are here they will act as they wish and leave as they please.
The Storyteller should roleplay these entities carefully with an eye on keeping them alien and not completely understandable. They might shower the caster with knowledge and gifts in return for nothing, or they might ask one odd question and then leave without saying anything more. Never let them become dependable: if the caster gets into the mindset that she can just call on the Elder Things any time she needs an edge over the Primogen Council, then the point has been lost and the Storyteller is well within her rights to have the next group come through with dissection of a vampire on their minds…
Things that can be Contacted: Cthonians, Deep Ones, Elder Things, Flying Polyps, Formless Spawn, Ghouls (not vampiric ones), Hounds of Tindalos, Mi-Go, Moonbeasts, Sand-Dwellers, Star Spawn of Cthulhu.
Call/Dismiss Greater Entity
The mad poet Abd-al-Azrad once exhorted his readers "do not call up what ye cannot put down." In spite of that sage advice, too many are too willing to call up great entities that they might not be able to control. This is usually done by the supplicants or worshipers of those creatures, but it's not unknown for someone to call something up from beyond by total accident.
By Greater Entity, in the context of Mythos Magic, we tend to mean those nigh-invulnerable beings of the Mythos. However, Storytellers are free to say that nasty, large Umbral creatures or other great and powerful things of the World of Darkness can be called and dismissed by these kinds of spells as well. Most entities that can be ordered here and then sent back are near-mindless, primal forces or creatures that are so awesomely alien than mankind can only conceive of them as gods.
System: The character must spend Temporary Willpower to gain dice, but, unlike Summon/Bind Lesser Entity spells, the character may be aided by others who know the spell as well.
To Call a Greater Entity, each character may contribute up to the total of her own Manipulation + Mythos Lore in Temporary Willpower. This is put into a central pool and rolled, and the difficulty is the Entity's Willpower minus the number of dice in the pool. Failure means the Willpower was spent for nothing; a botch removes a point of Permanent Willpower from each participant. Each participant loses one dot of Current Sanity, and may lose more when the Greater Entity arrives, as always. The entity will arrive whenever the Storyteller thinks it's appropriate, but they tend to appear rather quickly when called.
Dismissing the Greater Entity once it's here is much more costly. One Temporary Willpower must be spent per dot of Permanent Willpower the entity has, and then Temporary Willpower must be spent on top of that to provide a dice pool for Dismissal. The difficulty is ten minus the die pool for Dismissal, not counting the Temporary Willpower spent to counteract the Permanent Willpower of that entity. Each character involved who knows the spell to Dismiss the entity may contribute up to her Manipulation + Mythos Lore in Temporary Willpower to either effort, of course. Failure means the Entity hasn't left, and is annoyed; a botch means that not only has the entity not left, but every participant loses a dot of Permanent Willpower and the Entity is furious. Dismissing the entity costs no Current Sanity.
Calling such a thing should be no small matter. It might not want to be brought here, but once it's here it might not want to leave, either. Storytellers should roleplay these things carefully, playing up their totally alien psychology (or the lack thereof). Some of these things are literally mindless and won't notice that they're stepping on anyone. Others have definite agendas that might be strangely transparent, or as hidden as any vampire elder worth her age, but their modes of communication should be both confusing and maddening.
Greater Entities that can be Called/Dismissed: Azathoth, Cthugha, Daoloth, Hastur, Ithaqua, Nyogtha, Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth.
Contact Greater Entity
Some Greater Entities are either unable to physically appear, or simply cannot be ordered about: these ones are usually more intelligent than the others previously mentioned, or, to be fair, have more "understandable" personalities. As with Call/Dismiss, some WOD entities could also be summoned, and it's recommended that these also be more intelligent ones, or more personable at any rate.
System: Contacting Greater Entities is always costly. Unlike most of these spells, it is PERMANENT Willpower that is spent: one dot per attempt to Contact. Once that dot is spent, the Caster may roll her new, reduced Willpower (but not spend any of it, except for an automatic success) against the difficulty of the Greater Entity's Permanent Willpower. Success means the entity will appear within a day or so, failure means it doesn't, and a botch tends to being lesser entities who are sent to try to kill the caster.
Some entities come in dreams, some appear as hazy phantoms, some form their own bodies and some possess the bodies of others. Storytellers should make the visitations as weird or as horrible as she cares to, depending on the nature of the entity: Nodens would be more kindly a contact than, say, Nyarlathotep or Cthulhu.
They want to Caster to do things for them, which is the whole purpose of their coming when Contacted. They might be disposed to give information, spells and aid to those who follow their wishes. However, they are not there to be shaken down and then sent away, and any Caster who tries to order the entity around is in very, very big trouble. Especially when you consider that, unlike Call/Dismiss, it is the entity who decides when it's time to go.
Greater Entities that can be Contacted: Nodens, Nyarlathotep, Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, Y'Golonac.
Miscellaneous
These are some of the "stock" Mythos Magics or preparations that should be used to make components of other spells, deal with the creatures of the Mythos, or get around in the big, frightening universe they dwell within. There can be countless other spells available, and the characters could, with time and study, invent some of their own (a sanity-shaking process, to be sure).
Again, the exact nature of what to do is up to the Storyteller to define, and can be as grisly or weird as she cares to make it, in keeping with her chronicle.
Elder Sign
A symbol of protection from those creatures of the Mythos, this is a potent tool that can be scribed on anything that will retain its shape. It is described as a misshapen, five-pointed star, with an eye in its middle and a flaming pupil within that eye. The symbol itself is not enough to protect: the spell must be done in time with the symbol's creation, or it is useless.
System: The caster must spend one point of Permanent Willpower to make an Elder Sign. It can be made in rock, metal, earth or even sand. In sand it tends to keep its shape and power, even through the worst sandstorm -- a fact that has many baffled. Some say it could even be scribed on water if one but knew how. Making an Elder Sign costs no Current Sanity.
Once placed on something, and then physically attached to a doorway or entrance (or, perhaps better, scribed directly ON the door), no minion of the Greater Entities of the Mythos may enter that gateway. However, carrying an Elder Sign on one's person doesn't guarantee that the minions won't attack that person, especially if they can evade the sign.
Enchant
Many items that must be used to Summon/Bind or Call/Dismiss must be Enchanted. Likewise, some creatures can only be harmed by weapons that have been enchanted. Each type of thing to be enchanted has a different spell (a whistle is not a dagger is not a stone altar, after all) and knowing one wouldn't help with another.
System: The exact things to do should vary from item to item. Storytellers should decide what to require, but a good rule of thumb is that the larger the item, or the more grand (or harmful) its purpose, the more elaborate and weird the spell should be. At least one Permanent Willpower should be sacrificed to enchant something, and it should take at least one day and cost at least one dot of Current Sanity.
Examples of things that might be Enchanted are: knives to aid in Summoning certain kinds of Lesser Entities; "batteries" to hold Temporary Willpower; towers from which to Call Greater Entities, and so on.
Gates
One of the more useful bits of Mythos Magic to be learned is the warping of space and time that allows for the near-instantaneous travel of great distances. These portals are known as Gates, and can take many forms: scrawls on a wall, inset stone, a pentagram on the floor, an arrangement of rocks, etc. The other end of the gate (provided it's a two-way gate) should look like the start. Some gates have been 'locked' and will open only to those who have the key, usually a gesture or phrase of some kind. Mention is made of some gates that will change the user to survive the conditions on the other side, but many will not: looking before one leaps is not always possible, either.
System: The exact method of creating any Gate should be up to the Storyteller to decide. The costs can be fairly staggering, though, as it is paid in Permanent Willpower: a sacrifice of one point will connect two spots not more than 100 miles apart, two points will connect two spots not more than 1000 miles, three will give 10,000, and so on. Once established on one end an additional point of Permanent Willpower must be spent at the other end, once there, to make the gate two-way, and a similar gateway must be constructed or placed there. Some variations of the spell allow for locking the gate as described above, and some have left that vital information out. It costs no Sanity to make Gates.
In order to use a gate, the person must step through the event horizon. Anything a person carries will come with them, but inanimate objects cannot be shoved or thrown through on their own -- a person MUST accompany them. The trip will remove a number of dots of Temporary Willpower equal to the casting cost each way: so if the journey crosses 100,000,000 miles, and cost seven dots of Permanent Willpower to create, it will cost seven dots of temporary willpower to use going there, and another seven dots to go back. This means that some people will never be able to use some gates. Alternatively, a cruel Storyteller could say that anyone who enters a gate without the needed reserves of Willpower gets stranded somewhere in-between, possibly in deep space, or just disappears and is never seen again.
Powder of Ibn-Ghazi
A rather useful tool, the powder will, when thrown onto invisible things, render them visible to the human eye. It can also detect if an item or place has been Enchanted, or that a particular place or thing is also a Gate.
System: Using the powder requires no roll, except perhaps a Dex + Athletics to toss it on something from a fair distance. It requires no Current Sanity to use, though seeing what it shows may call for a Sanity Roll. The powders effects last for one turn.
The powder's exact nature and preparation is up to the Storyteller. It is recommended that it be made from at least three different things, one of which should be fairly rare, and these things must be mixed properly under the right conditions. The Storyteller may wish to make a secret roll using the character's dice pool to create it, and only let them know if it worked when they try to use it; Manipulation + Mythos Lore could do for the preparation, but Chemistry or Alchemy might be more appropriate.
It's up to the Storyteller as to how this powder effects the invisibility powers of other Awakened creatures, such as Garou, Changelings, Vampires, etc.
Resurrection
A rather cruel spell that allows the caster to call someone back from the dead, body and soul. It requires taking a dead body, reducing it to certain, "essential salts," and then saying a phrase to bring it back to a semblance of life, soul and all. The body can be turned back to the salts and the soul dispelled by saying the reverse of the phrase.
System: The caster must assemble as much of the corpse as possible, and then treat it with certain strange and unworldly things -- all up to the Storyteller to define, of course.
An Intelligence + Mythos Lore roll might be needed to get it right, or knowing how to do it and having the right materials might be enough. An Alchemy or Chemistry roll might do as well. A successful preparation turns the body to a measure of blue-grey powder. It should cost one point of Temporary Willpower to make, and deducts one level of Current Sanity. Failure or botching means that not enough of the corpse was gathered, or something went wrong, and only "ye liveliest awfulness" has come back from the dead: a near-mindless, stupid and deformed thing of no use to anyone, save as a simple guard or a sick distraction.
Calling the person back by reciting the phrase costs three Temporary Willpower and one point of Current Sanity. No roll needs to be made.
Trying to recite the opposite phrase and send the person back to dust costs one point of Temporary Willpower, and takes two turns. The caster and person must square off in a Contested Roll at a difficulty of one another's Permanent Willpower: success means the person is dust, a failure means that it didn't work and must be tried again. A botch means the caster cannot attempt to reduce the person to dust for 24 hours. This costs one point of Current Sanity per attempt.
Being resurrected is no little thing, obviously: the resurrectee must make a Sanity Roll against 1 Automatic/4. Her Sanity will be where it was prior to death. Once resurrected she knows and remembers all prior to death and after it, but has no access to any old powers, save those Mythos Magics she once knew. She need not eat, nor sleep, nor breathe. If attacked she will suffer no wound penalties and may soak Bashing and Lethal damage, but cannot heal herself. She will have to be returned to the dust and then brought back once more to be whole again. And, yes, she can repeat the spell backwards to send herself back to death if she learns it and so desires to, and this costs her no Sanity nor Willpower.
One of the problems with this spell (as described in Lovecraft’s superb "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" – a must-read!) is that there is a clash of canons between Lovecraft’s stories and the World of Darkness over matters of spirit, and what happens after death. It’s up to the Storyteller to define how it works in the larger scheme of things, but here are two suggestions:
1. It works within the WOD framework. Only those spirits that are ‘free’ can come back, free meaning they have not returned to the world, and are not tied to anyone else as a ‘past life’-based merit or flaw. Diablerized vampires cannot come back, nor Changelings, nor Shifters. Any attempt to call up such a person automatically fails and gets ‘ye liveliest awfulness’ instead.
Wraiths can come back, but if their body was a fetter they will lose it due to the preparation and go through a Harrowing. Any attempt to call the salt back to life will have to wait until they get back from the Harrowing. Spectres do not have this problem. While they are in the body they cannot leave it until they are sent back to the dust, and may not use any Arcanoi while in it.
2. It works OUTSIDE the WOD framework. Perhaps it is not the true soul that returns, but the body, once remade, presents a false image of the soul based on the state of the brain at death? This could get pretty messy, especially if the body’s owner is now a wraith and should meet "herself."
Space Mead
Besides Gates, there are other means by which to travel great distances. Certain, lesser creatures of the Mythos are capable of interstellar travel at phenomenal speeds, and if they can be Summoned and Bound then asking them for a ride to some far-flung location isn't out of the question; the problem is how to withstand the nature of space travel and yet survive. A solution lies in the peculiar substance known as Space Mead, which allows mere mortals to survive the vacuum, radiation and other dread forces that exist above.
System: Space Mead is made from at least five, nigh-mysterious ingredients and takes at least a week to brew. The Storyteller should determine what these are, and how to go about doing it. Knowledge of the spell might be enough to make the brewing work, or the Storyteller could make a secret Intelligence + Mythos Lore roll on the behalf of the casting character, so the characters won't know whether it's been made right until they try to use it. Alchemy or Chemistry might also be appropriate for the roll as well.
During the brewing time, Temporary Willpower must be placed into the stuff: ten points per dose to be made. This can get rather expensive, and it does not have to be done all at once, nor by the same character, but any donating character must also know the spell.
When the character is ready to use it, she takes a dose. It works quickly (one turn), so she will have to clamber on whatever she called and tell it to go soon after taking the dose. After that she goes into mental and physical stasis, and cannot act or react to anything until she gets to where she's going. She cannot be physically, emotionally or mentally harmed or affected for as long as the dose lasts, and is quite literally in a world of her own just watching the cosmos roll by. The effects end when she gets where she's going, and then she must take another dose to return home.
She will have to pay for the trip, though. For a trip of up to 100 miles, she must pay one point of Temporary Willpower, for 1000 it's two, 10,000 it's three, and so on: for each new zero, subtract another point of Temporary Willpower. Each trip costs one point of Current Sanity, no matter how long it is.
The formula is normally intended for air-breathing mortals who are capable of withstanding Sunlight and ingesting liquids. This presents a slight problem for Vampires. Storytellers can say that Space Mead will not work for them at all, or that to work of vampires it must be prepared with blood that has been treated in a certain manner. In the last bit, the mead should protect them from the rays of the Sun, or any other star, for as long as the effects last; when they get where they’re going they should hope they land at night, though.
The Voorish Sign
This is a series of gestures and passes done with one hand that, when done correctly, aids the caster in other endeavors that use Mythos magic. It may also render the invisible visible, in some cases.
System: No roll is needed to perform this. It costs one point of Temporary Willpower to do, and this point may then be added to the die pool of any other, Mythos Magic roll, IN EXCESS of the normal roll restrictions. So if Bob has a Manipulation + Mythos Lore of 3, he can use Voorish Sign to add extra dice to that pool, one per Willpower Point. Each casting can only give one point of Willpower; in order to get more, the caster must cast Voorish Sign yet again. Its aspect in rendering the invisible visible is up to the Storyteller to decide for herself, especially in considering what other forms of invisibility it might affect (obfuscate, Enshroud, etc.) Casting Voorish Sign costs one point of Current Sanity.
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PostSubject: Re: Lovecraft in the WoD   Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:39 pm

Into the Abyss
"Bear in mind closely that I did not see any actual visual horror at the end..."
- H.P. Lovecraft, "The Whisperer in Darkness"

Inside the padded cell shadows crawled. A single light hung from the ceiling, its glow fighting to be seen in the ever shifting darkness. Occasionally ebony tendrils would slide up to probe the fixture - not to break it, but to tease and play with it in a parody of eroticism that was almost hypnotic.
Bishop Lang stepped back & closed the peep-hole on the darkness. Like a startled octopus in an aquarium... he thought.
"How long has he been like this?" he said, turning to face the young Tzimice Priest-in-Training acting as nurse & caretaker.
The fresh faced ivory beauty betrayed its original gender with a strong tenor voice. "Only for the last day or so, your Excellency. As you know he's been Catatonic for much of the last year, only becoming lucid enough to feed and give a few hints as to the nature of his... condition." Lang noticed the slight hesitation, and smiled inwardly. Madness you mean... yes, wise of you not to use that word in relation to any of the Lasombra, no matter how true. The childe was learning some wisdom from its experiences here at least. "It was the late Priscus Esther's wish that he be cared for until he could be more properly be debriefed."
Yet another in a long line of confusing details leading to your demise, my dear Esther... He shook his head, thanked the caretaker and took his leave. A few minutes later he was above ground, the Mercy Funeral Home that served to hide the temple behind him. Normally he embraced the darkness, but the nature of the thing he'd witnessed within the cell oddly left him wanting the comfort of the lit city above.
"Gather your wits, my little Nightingale..." Lang whispered to the closed door, "I have many questions for you, and I will have answers..."
After a bit of hunting (a lithe & slightly anorexic blond with a forgettable name) he returned to his haven. Few suspected the slum-side chapel of Rev. Lang of masking the Jersey Barrens Temple of the Sabbat. No one who suspected lived long enough to act on their suspicions.
Closing the oak door behind him he strode past the pews, pausing only briefly to kneel and cross himself before the altar, a whispered prayer given up to God and Cain. Standing again, he turned and headed back to his study. After clearing enough space on a desk laden with musty papers and yellowed books he turned briefly to rifle through a number of transcripts. Finding what he sought, he settled down to review his evidence, both fact and speculation, on the strange case of Priscus Esther and young Nightingale...
Esther Shade. She had been a ghoul in the service of a Toreador Elder when Grenada finally fell to both Christianity and the Lasombra reformation in the 15th century. Switching sides, she embraced the invading Lasombra and was embraced in turn. In the centuries since, she had fought, lied, cheated, betrayed and slept her way up to the exalted position of Priscus. To support herself in recent nights she'd taken to making snuff-films; not because she needed the money, but because she enjoyed the work. Her most recent service to the Sabbat had taken her from the killing fields of New York to the contested Anarch territories in California, where she met up with Nightingale's pack.
Nightingale's history was far shorter, though no less colorful, given the short span of years which he had had to shine. A random recruit, Nightingale took his name from his evident gift for the Discipline of Obtenebration and the style of using it for which he became known. At one point in his career he and his pack had actually managed to seize control of a local TV station and commit bloody mayhem live from the newsroom. Given that it was Hallowe'en, the incident had been swept under the rug as a prank, but it had the local Camarilla sweating for some nights afterward.
After the death and diablerie of Symmachus the Pack somehow lost a month's time to the aftereffects of a faerie curse originally placed on the ancient Brujah. Because of this encounter, they discovered Symmachus had been pursuing two other elders, both of an obscure bloodline, and immediately gave chase. According to Esther's letters, they had tracked the two ancients back to New York, losing them in a firefight at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
It was in this battle that Nightingale had fallen into the catatonic state that had claimed him for much of the past year.
Esther was not actually present at this incident, arriving just in time to pick up the pieces. Once the pack was in hiding at her haven, she made a brief jaunt to stash Nightingale at the Mercy Mortuary Home before returning to the Big Apple.
And her death.
From what Lang had since been able to piece together, the Camarilla never knew of her Manhattan hideaway, a large house by the waterfront funded by her disturbed film hobby. Her servants told of an invisible assault during the day, the sounds of automatic gunfire in the cellars, replaced by screams. No remains, outside of some bloodstains & a fine layer of ash, were found...
It wasn't until the following week Lang received the call; there had been another change. Nightingale had regained his "composure".
Lang peered through the peep-hole but could see only darkness. "I thought you said he'd recovered?' he growled.
The young fiend cleared its somewhat dry throat before it spoke, "Only in that he's demonstrably out of the coma. He's been whispering, your Excellency, speaking and muttering in hushed tones. We believed you would want to know..."
Lang stopped the apology with a gesture. "Quite right... Open the door, I wish to hear what he has to say."
"Your Excellency? Wouldn't it be best if some bodyguards were present?" the aide spoke up.
With a hiss Lang turned suddenly on the younger Kindred, his fangs bared and his eyes black with rage. The target of his attention visibly cringed under the weight of that gaze. His voice barely audible, Lang spoke: "I am a Bishop of the Sabbat, a survivor of more crusades than you have hairs on your silly little head. Do you suggest I should cower from a weak little tick as if I were a child hiding behind his mother's skirts?"
Ignoring the Tzimice's groveling attempts at apology, Lang refocused the angry beast within on the door. Digging fingers into the edges he wrenched it open, the lock popping free with a sharp crack. Wisps of shadow drifted out like smoke, eating at the light in the hall like a hungry thing.
"Come in," a chillingly soft voice came out to greet him, "please..."
Nightingale's voice was an instrument of music in and of itself, or so the Bishop had been told by a number of those who'd met him. Now it was a still note, echoing out of the darkness. The bravado of Bishop Lang's beast wilted, becoming a thing of fear instead of courage. Ha! he challenged it, I am Lasombra. I have no need to fear any darkness! Holding the thought like a rallying cry, he stepped into the cell and was quickly engulfed in shadow.
"Welcome..." the voice purred, "I don't suppose you have a cigarette, by any chance?"
Lang fished about in his pockets for lighter and smokes. Like many he knew, Lang played the game of tempering the beast's fear of fire with his smoking habit in little ways. The Fire Dance required small steps to prepare, and constant reinforcement. After a while the habit became just another mindless craving, the thrill having left decades ago.
Not so apparently for his host. Having handed his offerings out into the darkness, Lang saw the spark of the lighter and the glow of the cigarette as his companion in the darkness inhaled. Lang could not help but admire the young vampire's control of the shadows in the blackened room. Although he could no longer see either the door or the single hanging light-fixture above, the glow of the cigarette illuminated his mouth and reflected in his eyes. Even the smoke drifting up could be dimly seen, dancing in an imperceptible breeze.
"Ahhh..." Nightingale sighed contentedly, "thank you, your Excellency. I've had an itch for that for a long time now". The dim face smiled at him and winked.
"I have questions," Lang growled, more impatient and ill at ease than he cared to admit to himself, "and it is long past time for answers. I am Bishop Lang, your confessor in this matter."
"What of my Pack? Thomas, Kalia, my other brothers and sisters?" Nightingale asked, impassively.
"All dead or missing, as is the Priscus Esther. The details of how and why are still a mystery to us-- do you think you can..." Lang paused and took a breath, "...shed some light on any of this?"
The Cheshire-like lips smirked a little. "They were all still very active when I saw them last..." he said soothingly, "but I'll tell you what I may."
A small shaft of light escaped the hidden lamp above to land squarely against the wall, almost like a spotlight for some great yet secret show, as the quiet voice began its story.
"As you may already know, we had tracked down Symmachus to a queer little cottage in the Oakland hills region. A sleepy Methuselah drunk on the invincibility of his years, he would have likely killed us all had he not been cursed by the faeries. This curse caused the sun to rise as time became distorted. Soon, each day went by in the span of a minute and we were forced to take shelter in that strange house along with our quarry..."
The point of light on the wall began to flicker.
"Imagine the sun was a strobe-light flashing, on and off, on and off, just outside your door. Symmachus couldn't. He barely had the strength to kick the door shut before falling to the floor looking the part of an overcooked burger. Yet he lived, still."
The light on the wall shrank, pulsing slowly.
"We had tracked him there hoping to get the drop on him, and had been thrashed soundly. Now that he was down we were more than ready to take back the advantage, falling upon him, ripping and tearing into his burnt flesh as we raced for his heart's blood."
The pulsing light was quickly devoured by claw-like shadows.
"Stranded in that horrible old house we set about exploring, eventually coming to basement and the charnel pit that held one final inhabitant. But I'm getting ahead of myself... The house itself was odd, seemingly larger within than without. An extensive library with a focus on the occult was the joy of our pack's pet Thaumaturge. The gallery too was both extensive and exquisite, though the portraits seemed to follow one with their gaze." As he spoke, hundreds of glowing eyes opened to stare at Lang, then closed and vanished a moment later.
"As I had begun to say, it was not until we found the pit in the basement that we realized we were not the sole inhabitants of the house. At the bottom of the pit lay a festering layer of corpses, one of which still moved. Like some bizarre parody of our own creation rites, the stranger dragged himself out of the mess of bodies and climbed up from the pit in a frenzy. We easily overcame him, weak as he was, and calmed him through the blood of the Vaulderie. Esther was of the opinion he could prove invaluable in solving the puzzle in which we now found ourselves trapped."
On the wall shadow-puppets played out the scene. The figure ascending the pit, attacking and being subdued by others, being bound, and their ascension upstairs. Always behind him followed the shadows, eating up the light behind him.
"Tall and gangly yet beautiful in an inhuman way, the childe who called himself Devlin Black seemed to have bones more suitable for a bird than a man. Once well groomed hair now disordered with the grime of the dead, eyes like amber... ultimately words fail me... let me just say that he somehow seemed a fitting inhabitant for that odd place. As we were taking him in and initiating him in the rites of our pack, the childe told us his story. Devlin clamed to have been turned only recently by two ancients, infernalists of the obscure Baali line. Symmachus had interrupted them when he arrived with designs to mete out justice left hanging since the fall of Carthage. We had missed them only by moments it seemed, arresting his pursuit in our rather final fashion."
Nightingale paused in his telling to take another puff from his cigarette. The burning embers seemed to split and stare like a pair of eyes, watching...
"Devlin impressed upon Esther the need to pursue these ancient demonologists, and where she went we followed. Devlin believed the pair were traveling to New York, where they would be making arrangements to continue on to the Middle East. Using some bizarre variant of Thaumaturgy involving non-Euclidian geometry he sketched a door in chalk and blood. Telling us to follow he then stepped into it and whether he was pulled apart or simply faded from view I couldn't tell...but we followed..."
On the wall the shadow puppets stepped into the silhouette of a door, dropping from sight one by one, be replaced by ever more bizarre creatures of alien symmetry swimming quickly about the room, which now filled with stars.
"In the space between the gates of Devlin's making, madness... replaced reality. I found myself falling (or was it flying?) down a well of black light, a host of distorted, indescribable things surrounding me. It wasn't until I looked at my limbs and saw that my own shape had changed that I realized these monsters were my own pack mates similarly transformed. Like victims of some fiend's overactive play with Vicissitude, we were thrown down a nightmare ride in amusement-park hell, ending only when after an infinity we collapsed through a pinprick in time and space. We were in Central Park, returned to our natural shapes, tormented only by the vague memories of our journey." The distorted play of light and shadow collapsed to a singular point of light on the wall, then expanded to a simple shadow-puppet stage, complete with trees and the puppets of Nightingale's play.
"After a few misadventures dodging Ventrue watchdogs and other such sideline entanglements, we tracked our quarry to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Our surprise assault fell to pieces though, when we stormed into Pandora's trap. The room she waited for us in was filled with gas, a fact we discovered only just as she snapped her fingers and set off a purplish fireball that consumed the room and all within. Somehow immune to the fires that lapped about her naked body, she stood there like some beautiful angel of death, laughingly calling to us to join her in the purifying flame. The Beast within us forcing us to flee our pack scattered, though a few such as I were summoned back by her force of will and would have likely died in the flames..."
...One by one, shadow-puppets began seemingly to catch fire and burn...
"...had not the stranger interfered. The concussive force of a few well-lobbed grenades knocked the ancient into Torpor, freeing myself and his Excellency Thomas Moon, the only other member of our pack who had neither died nor escaped from her summoning. Sidestepping the fire we quickly snatched our prize, wrapping her in blankets to smother the flames still about her body. Our savior, an albino kindred Thomas knew and called Benson by name, kept pace with us as he argued our claim on Pandora's blood. Thus we were all quite distracted when Pandora's companion, the ever young Del Hevil popped out of nowhere to end the dispute..."
The gloom deepened. Nightingale's features disappeared, as did his cigarette, the shadow puppets and their stage...all was dark and still.
"He reached out his hand and grasped the edge of space, and then ripped a hole in it... like this..." and as Nightingale spoke Lang saw a hand, somehow darker than the murky room in which they stood, grab a corner of shadow stuff, and pull...and rip...
...a gaping hole opened across the width of the room between them. A cold wind blew out of it, chilling Lang to the bone. Within that ragged maw was an even darker abyss, a void of infinite depth... Things moved in that void. Massive, huge, inhuman things. A hundred eyes stared dim and gleaming. Tentacles writhed like branches of an immense tree in a strong wind.
Nightingale began whistling, and beautiful as it was there was horror in it as well. In the vast distance the mad piping of alien flutes twittered as if in answer...incessant and insane... echoes to soothe an idiot god, to lead the never ending dance that was its lullaby. The music continued to grow in volume as other voices joined in song. The inhuman chorus of hideous gods writhed in their eternal dance about the demon-god, the emanations of their parody of courtly entertainments crawling into the back of what little still remained of Lang's shriveling sanity.
A voice whispered in his ear, dim, like the buzzing of a fly.
"Nightingale saw this and went mad. I observed his agony and took it, along with the spark that was his soul... devoured it like a ripe plum. Then I filled his body with a little black spark of my own, to wear like a mask as I bring forth messages from the court you see before you to this poor excuse of a cult you call the Sabbat. Go, join them now, give praise to Azathoth, daemon-sultan, teach them of their true master.
"Tell them Nyarlathotep sent you."
Lang could not tear his gaze away.
Something moved and writhed to his side and took one final drag from the cigarette before flicking it into the abyss.
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PostSubject: Re: Lovecraft in the WoD   Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:40 pm

A Madness more Compelling…
Mythos meets Vampire: The Masquerade.

Richard Benson sat back & stared at the monitor before him, his cold gray eyes looking through - not at - the information crawling before him. The phantom flicker illuminated his chalk-white face, giving it a false ghost-like cast. He grimaced. Somewhere, out there, forces were moving. Megalithic, ancient forces. He'd seen them and it chilled what little remained of his soul. Gods & monsters that made the common scum of evil he hunted look like the maggots they were. But maggots became flies, and a swarm of flies could beget yet more maggots...he'd been playing the part of exterminator by himself for too long - too many god-damn maggots for one man...too many flies...
He longed to destroy the true source of this evil, this rot that infected the world. But how could you slay a God? The Old Ones lurked beyond the veil of time & space, immense and unassailable, sleeping dragons slowly roused but hungry when they finally did. 'And they will', Vorhese whispered from elsewhere in his mind, 'soon...' Vorhese was right, Benson now knew. He had seen these beings, learned their names, and even made "arrangements" with a few. They knew of him, as much notice as a boy might give a beloved termite in an ant-farm.
Forcing himself away from the desk, Benson stood and paced the confines of his office. His unexpressive face betrayed no hint of his inner turmoil, though there was none to hide it from in the room. He stopped to look at the picture sitting face down on his desk. He knew the photo inside by heart - a woman, blond, beautiful, graceful - a little girl, curly haired, like yet unlike her mother. They were angels, perfect, without fault, without the rot that infected the world. Has it really been so long? For more than a decade he'd sought to sooth the empty spot in his soul, a hunger greater than the price of power Pandora had given him. The vampire's thirst for blood at least could be sated for a time. This thirst, this hunger to put the world to right could never be. 'But it can...' whispered Vorhese, '...it can...' Still ignoring the voice inside his head, he set to pacing again. He had built with his own hands an instrument with which to wage his war for justice. The Benson Foundation funded his allies in the cause, the rabble Vorhese had laughably called assassins had been transformed from a misguided cult of terrorists into a proper organization - combined with investigators & dabblers in the occult willing to follow his vision. With their help he had cleansed the world of...a small number of maggots & flies. The futility of his war still staggered him. It wasn't until that monster Del Hevil had torn the space before him that Benson had come to realize just how futile. Just how close these beings really were. Training and momentum kept him going after that - Del Hevil and his ilk were monsters, but still just shadows of the Gods they served. Devlin had left him after that grand butchery, taking his talismans of power with him, abandoning Benson to his own devices. It wasn't until he left, his host of demons flitting about to open the dark road between the gulfs beyond, that Benson had realized how empty and adrift he felt. Devlin & his wife Pandora had been like second parents to him: Devlin the stern but mischievous father, Pandora the caring mother of his rebirth as vampire.
Swords in hand he and Devlin had pierced her heart and drained her to the last, severing her head with the violence of it before her body fell to ash. Devlin had smiled at him and laughed.
For two years...TWO YEARS...Benson had continued his task, a machine of efficiency, lost in his work. Futile. Maggots still became flies begetting maggots. The world continued to slide into rot & decay. But he was no longer alone again, shouldering the world like Atlas. A sleeping angel, a GOD had remembered him, would not leave him to this task alone. He could almost weep.
Vorhese knew more than he admitted about the knowledge imparted...'I tell but you never listen...' Benson ignored the voice, a gnat in his ear. The rite imparted him required sacrifices - normally this would set him off, but all wars have casualties. He returned to the database & continued his look through records. There would be those, he knew, who would be willing to give up their lives. The Foundation served to collect them to him for just that purpose. Loyalty had been fanned in them for the last decade, bound and branded into them by the bonds of a common cause, the blood-borne power within his veins, and the intensity of vision Benson instilled within them. Yes, finding those willing to shed their blood to protect this land would not be a problem, but it had led him to another.
Those others of his kind, the Kindred - old, week, directionless. For years he'd been tripping over them & their petty, private war. Oh, some of them were all right, had seen the true enemy and joined the Foundation from time to time, but most were to rapped up in Sabbat or Camarilla power-games. Symmachus, that Brujah bastard, was a fine example - for all his strength & power, he died a directionless, needless, useless death. No more. The twit Dunst was a shining example of fools in the way of destiny. By their own rules Benson had a better claim to this region than any other did. The Camarilla-Sabbat power-struggle here served no one. Time to give them the choice - join him, leave, or die.
Too damn many flies.
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PostSubject: Re: Lovecraft in the WoD   Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:40 pm

A Color Out of Space, A Shadow Out of Time: H.P. Lovecraft & His Work
The purpose of this essay is to explore Lovecraft's philosophies and work, and explain how an even greater body of work -- known as the Cthulhu Mythos.

"Only a cynic can create horror -- for being every masterpiece
of the sort must reside a driving daemonic force that despises
the human race and its illusions, and longs to pull them to pieces
and mock them." -- H.P. Lovecraft.
H.P. Lovecraft's work sits in a very interesting niche: is there any other writer in the 20th Century who has had his creations so blatantly used by other writers?

A great deal of 20th century horror has been influenced by Lovecraft's work, yes, and this is to be expected as he remains this century's chief writer of the weird tale. However, the gentleman's body of work seems to be a bucket from which many a writer has filled their cup: placing copies of The Necronomicon within their evildoers' hands and the names of his hideous, shambling monstrosities on their lips. All of it adds to the great body of work known as the "Cthulhu Mythos," which, like one of Mr. Lovecraft's Shoggoths, seems ready and willing to absorb anything in its path.

But what exactly is the Cthulhu Mythos? Was it a planned story arc on Lovecraft's part? A great scheme cooked up betwixt he and his writer colleagues? Or is it just a term that has been applied to anything "Lovecraftian" that uses the specific names, places and concepts that Lovecraft and his initial group of fellows wrote of? Where does it start, and where will it ever end?

These sorts of questions have been keeping Lovecraft scholars quite busy: the amount of scholarly study devoted to his work as a horror writer is exceeded only by that which is given unto Edgar Allan Poe. It's a field of study that is worth perusing if only to gain a better understanding of the man, his life, his work, and how those things were all bound to one another.

The purpose of this essay is to explore Lovecraft's philosophies and work, and explain how an even greater body of work -- known as the "Cthulhu Mythos" -- came to mushroom from it both before and after his death. It will show that the so-called "mythos" is really an artificial grouping of things from various authors' tales, and that, from Lovecraft's pen at least, that grouping is dwarfed by the signifigance of those tales.

The Unknown Mind
In a sense, it almost goes without saying that Lovecraft would write of odd things, he being such an odd person himself. A brief biography, HERE, will give details of his life, so we need mention but little of it in this central essay. His philosophies, however, should be understood, and we should also see where they factor into his writings before we try to understand their larger scope as the cornerstone of a so-called "mythos."

H.P. Lovecraft was, in many ways, a man displaced in time. He would have been much happier had he been a colonial subject of the English King in the 17th or 18th centuries. He was obsessed by antiquity, and held social, political and artistic views more suited to those earlier times. This traditionalist sense shows up in his writing quite a bit: he has a penchant for describing the old, with a particular reverence for decaying grandeur and places long since gone from the land but alive in story and song.

Despite the traditionalist streak, Lovecraft shared none of the piety that accompanied the times he loved; he was an unapologetic atheist who described himself as a "Mechanist Materialist." This philosophy held that the universe was a creatorless mechanism that, once set into motion, needed no further prodding to keep it going. There was no life after death, no spirit, and nothing outside of the measurable, material universe of energy and matter.

He described his philosophy in writing as "Cosmicism": a state where mankind, which could not be regarded as the special creation of any deity, could only have its self-worth, and views, rebuffed or utterly ignored by the cosmos at large. Outside of its Earthly environs, mankind was of no real importance to the rest of the universe. Mankind's struggle to confront the alien, and the beyond, and assert its "rightful place" amongst them, could only end in death or madness.

We must also note that Lovecraft was in possession of the sort of low-key racism often inbred by well-to-do, Northern communities of his time. It was not a crusading racism, nor was it a violent one, but it was there and must be recognized for what it was. His work should not be discarded out of hand because of it, but neither should his personal prejudices be denied or swept under the rug to mollify the politically correct.

Looking at his work, in fact, we can see that his sense of xenophobia is where a lot of the horror comes from. He writes of the plight of mankind, which is caught in the gulfs of unintelligible and mysterious cosmic forces that are so mightily above it that a man might as well be an ant to a human. And this has parallels with the plight of Western Civilization, as seen by a man who viewed the modern, well-meaning "melting pot" sensibility as pure hogwash. Horror comes from outside, where understanding is impossible and things are better left unasked and unopened, and horror happens when the understandable (Western, genteel, and White civilization) meets or is beset upon by the unintelligible (slovenly european and 3rd-world immigrants, the yellow peril, etc.).

And we should also note that, towards the end of his life, Lovecraft began to soften his views quite a bit, at least in theory. In one letter, he regrets having been a miserable, old, stuck-in-his-ways Tory all his life. In a later one, however, he hopes that the authorities in the Indian colonies would use poison gas on the native Indians. Some habits die very slowly, it seems.

It is around this time that his earlier works have their cosmic scope abraded away. In The Mountains of Madness and The Shadow Out of Time, we find out that the nigh-hoary, all-powerful races of old weren't totally alien: in fact, they can be shown to have had quite a few traits in common with humanity. There are still those cosmic gulfs and great vistas of eldritch and alien horror, but closer to home we find that some of what we feared is not as fearsome as we might have thought. This is a vast departure from his earlier works; it would have been interesting to see how the "de-mythologizing" would have developed had he not died shortly thereafter.

Early Influences
When considering the genesis of what is called the Cthulhu Mythos, we must recognize that the whole warp and woof of the matter cannot be laid squarely at Mr. Lovecraft's feet.

Like any writer, Lovecraft learned to write by first learning how to read, and what he read would have a profound influence on his output. In addition to the classical works that he devoured in his grandfather's stately library, he took great influence from weird writers both before and during his time: Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany and Robert Chambers were particular favorites.

Lovecraft learned from Machen how to add seeming realism to a tale by giving clear, documentary evidence. He was quite firm in the notion that, to be effective, weird fiction must have a firm basis in fact. To succeed, weird stories should be possible supplements, as opposed to blatant contradictions, of the universe and its workings.

A great deal of his writing, then, contained bits of true scientific information and mention of real-life events. He made use of letters, articles and manuscripts in the work, trying to evoke the sense of seeming veracity that epistolary documents could give a story. And he also made consistent mention of his own literary inventions within his works to create a stable framework to base these tales upon: his towns of Arkham and Kingsport, Miskatonic University, and so on.

And on a related note, we should note of the convention Lovecraft learned from Chambers: how to effectively create belief in that framework in the mind of reader. This is most notably illustrated by Lovecraft's invention, constant referral to, and extensive quoting from The Necronomicon, which was much in the same vein as Chamber's The King in Yellow. Lovecraft constructed a very authentic-sounding history to the book, going so far as to mention translators and different editions. That many people today still believe that book to have been real is testament to how well he learned his lessons from Chambers' work.

And then there is Lord Dunsany, who is purported to be Lovecraft's strongest contemporary influence. Dunsany's "The Gods of Pegana" encouraged Lovecraft to write his dream-based stories, which often went far out of the realm of horror and could rightfully be called fantasy. The Baron's works gave him an idea for an artificial pantheon, one that is often alluded to in his Dreamlands tales and has elements of both classical myth and mind-numbing horror to it.

The Big Question
That said, one of the major problems with trying to codify the nature of the so-called "Cthulhu Mythos" is that, in truth, there is no such thing to be found in Lovecraft's own writing.

Lovecraft refers to "cycles" of stories, such as the "Cthulhu" and "Yog-Sothoth" cycles, and his tales often refer to specific people, places and things. It is true that towards the end of his writing career Lovecraft connected some earlier tales with more recent ones: an example of this can be found in The Shadow Over Innsmouth, where the Deep Ones are worshipping the Dagon found in the early, short story "Dagon." However, this was a very late development, and hardly proof of a consistent, underlying scheme on his part.

Indeed, the idea that Mr. Lovecraft sat down to pen an elaborate, interconnected "mythos" within his own work is not supported by that gentleman's epistolary accounts of his fiction. Had he been planning such a thing, one would think he would have written his colleagues concerning the idea: he did not, and that leads one to believe that such a conceit did not occur to him.

If Lovecraft did indeed "create" the Cthulhu Mythos, then it was formed from the influential connections between Lovecraft and those he took influence from, and gave influence to. Again, we cannot point to a deliberate act on Lovecraft's part to create a vast Mythos to bear his creation's name, but we also cannot deny that Lovecraft sat at a hub of like-minded writers who kept in close contact with one another and traded ideas quite a bit. That he blended ideas of others with those of his own and in some cases tied more than one author's work down to his own, or that of others, seems in the spirit of the give-and-take attitude he and his fellow writers enjoyed rather than part of some self-aggrandizing scheme.

Tying the Cords Together
How the Mythos, as it is understood today, came together is a tale that spans more than a century in itself. It starts with Lovecraft's previously-mentioned weird tale influences, and ends with writers who, depending on your perspective, either continued his tradition or committed acts of gross plagiarism on his work.

Though Lovecraft made mention of Carcosa on Lake Hali, on a planet circling the star Aldebaran, those places were first written of by Ambrose Bierce. Robert Chambers would later contribute to Bierce's work concerning Carcosa, also creating the dreaded script of "The King in Yellow," which inspired Lovecraft's The Necronomicon, The Pnakotic Manuscripts and other eldritch tomes of dire import. We should also note just how closely Machen's "The Great God Pan" matches Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" in theme and mood.

Then we must add the efforts of Lovecraft's fellow writers. In the course of their epistolary contact with one another they traded a lot of ideas back and forth. This literary give-and-take resulted in a good deal of the "Mythos" recognized today.

Clark Ashton Smith created the prehistoric civilization of Hyperborea, which Lovecraft referred to quite often. Smith also created Tsathoggua, Abhoth and Atlach-Nacha, and made mention of the Book of Eibon. Frank Belknap Long created the Hounds of Tindalos, the Space Eaters, and Chaugnar Faugn, whose introductory story was based on one of Lovecraft's vivid dreams.

Other members of Lovecraft's circle were authors who are better known for other, more popular works. It was Robert Bloch -- perhaps best known for writing Psycho -- who made the books De Vermiis Mysteriis and Cultes des Goules and contributed the Star Vampire. Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, penned tales of the Unausprechlichen Kulten, and the mad poet Justin Geoffrey, writer of The People of the Monolith. Lovecraft referred to Howard's Cimmerian era in his tales much as he referred to Smith's Hyperborea.

We should also consider Lovecraft's ghost-writing work, done during the time when his own, signed work was being rejected by Weird Tales. He would often write the entire text of a story based on one or two ideas from the person whose name wound up going under the byline. In fact, Zealia Bishop's "The Curse of Yig" and "The Mound," and Hazel Heald's "The Horror in the Museum" and "Out of the Aeons," were at least ninety percent Lovecraft's doing.

In these stories that Lovecraft revised, many of the stories of other writers come together. Bishop's stories were set in the Southwest, which is where we can find Tsathoggua, both worshipped by races of subterranean humans. The deity Ghatanothoa from "Out of the Aeons" is introduced by way of Howard's Unausprechlichen Kulten, and both are linked to Lovecraft's Fungi from Yuggoth.

The further codification of the Cthulhu Mythos, as we have come to understand it, seems to have been mostly the work of writer August Derleth. Derleth was a friend and colleague of Lovecraft's, and, with Donald Wandrei, founded Arkham House to keep Lovecraft's works in circulation after his death in 1937. In addition to his own Lovecraftian works, Derleth wrote many posthumous "collaborations" where he would take something that Lovecraft had started and left undone and finish it on his own.

Amongst Derleth's other creations were Cthugha (his fire elemental), the sand-dwellers, the Tcho-Tcho people, and Ithaqua (borrowed from Robert Chamber's creation of the Wendigo). He also added to Bierce and Chamber's Carcosa stories by adding Hastur, a great thing which was trapped beneath the surface of Lake Hali, and also happened to be the air elemental in Derleth's mythos.

Derleth acted as a solidifying agent: trying to draw the loose cords of the Mythos together to form a cohesive whole. This has been a cause for much controversy amongst Lovecraft's fans, particularly those who think his protege's efforts in this matter were detrimental to the work of the man he was trying to honor (see "Notions of the Mythos and later deevolution" below). All the same, a great debt is owed Mr. Derleth for keeping Lovecraft's name and works alive long after his death.

Starting in the 1960's, the Mythos had its own British Invasion of sorts. Ramsey Campbell -- himself influenced by Derleth's work -- produced a series of Lovecraftian stories set in England's Severn Valley, introducing Y'golonac, Glaaki and the Insects from Shagghai. Fellow Briton Brian Lumley came along in the 70's, creating the Cthonians and the G'harne Fragments.

In the 80's and on through the 90's, Chaosium Inc. produced its award-winning Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, which helped solidify the idea of a cohesive Cthulhu Mythos for a whole new generation of Lovecraft fans. Although Derleth's creatures and creations were left in, the principal author of the RPG excised a lot of his ideas concerning the "war in Heaven," the "good" gods and the elemental significance of Cthugha, Cthulhu, Hastur and Nyarlathotep. Various supplements have also included creatures and beings created by other, Lovecraftian authors who have contributed to the "Mythos."

Notions of the "Mythos" and later deevolution
As stated earlier, Lovecraft's concept of the weird tale was based around a central tenet: that the universe at large was not only stranger than we ever imagined, but that it was stranger than we could ever imagine.

This world, as he wrote of it, was a dark and fathomless place where mankind's treasured notions had little or no meaning. Decency, love, honor and piety were notions that were probably akin to mankind alone. Expecting inhuman entities to share in such notions was foolish to say the least.

In fact, Mr. Lovecraft held a great deal of scorn for those pulp writers who ascribed all-too-human feelings to alien races and civilizations. In his philosophy the truly alien should be alien not only in appearance, but in thought and deed as well. And this is, again, why his stories The Shadow out of Time and The Mountains of Madness are such vast departures from his earlier work -- they show that while these alien or ancient races that shared our world with us may have been alien in thought and deed, they were not as completely alien as he'd made them out to be in earlier references.

But in spite of what came later, in most of his work Lovecraft's creations can be said to be beyond what we could call "good" or "evil". They simply are what they are, and do what they do. Our notions of what ought and ought not to be done matter little outside of our own tiny planet, and these creations play by entirely different rules.

They are horrifying to us much as the insane killer is horrifying, as opposed to a man who simply wishes to rob us. The man with a gun who seeks to rob us is a terrifying thing, yes, but we can ascribe reasoning and motive to his actions. We can also predict what he is likely to look like and avoid such people, and have ideas on where he is most likely to strike and avoid such places. And should we encounter him, we know that if we hand over our wallet and do what he says, the chances are good we'll live through the experience. And we will know terror.

With an insane killer, however, we have nothing to fall back on. The appearance of the man and the places he will strike are up in the air. His reasoning and motives are either nonexistant or too insane to fathom. And should we be caught by such a person we will have no idea what is going to happen at all: we could be smiled upon one moment and slaughtered the next. And we will know horror, at least so long as we live.

Lovecraft showed us cosmic horror by placing those great unknowns onto even greater entities. Suddenly it's no longer a man with a knife who claims that God told him to skin you alive -- now it is a strange, polymorphous thing the size of a New England state whose every twitch destroys acres of land. It cannot be understood. It cannot be reasoned with. It cannot be pleaded with and, worst of all, it may have no idea that the things it's stepping on are living, thinking beings. It might view us with as much concern as an elephant would show to an ant; it may not even be able to think at all.

Even those creations of his that are more terrestrial, or less amorphous, are no less horrifying because, again, they are not truly understandable. Things happen that we cannot predict nor fully affect, and we have the choice of running or fighting, but both choices seem doomed to failure. Madness and death come on one another's heels, usually, and sometimes not even those states can save us.

And here is man, beset on all sides by these things and unable to do more than scream and go insane when faced with them. He may not even be able to see them properly, or they might attack for the oddest of reasons from literally nowhere. And that sense of helplessness, hopelessness and utter fear of the unknown and unknowable is what makes Lovecraft's horror tales so horrible, and his "mythos"-spawning work so memorable and admirable.

The problem with the later stages of the "mythos" is that many writers, both during and after his time, did not understand what he was trying to do. Lovecraftiana is not solely formed from dense, overly-descriptive prose and goopy, amorphous creatures from beyond space and time. The gulfs of the unknown between the narrator and what he is narrating must be present, as should be the utter fear of being alone against these horrors and unable to fully understand them.

One needs only look at August Derleth's works to see where a breakdown in concept mechanics occurred. Derleth created a pantheon of "good" gods, based on Lovecraft's Nodens, to counterbalance the "evil" represented by Lovecraft's less wholesome creations. He also spoke of a "war in Heaven" where these beings were cast out, and tried to assign elemental status to Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep, casting them as Water and Earth, respectively.

Some have said that Mr. Derleth's efforts to propagate the "Mythos" stemmed from his attempts to tie up his idol's loose ends. If so, then it was a task that he undertook with a bit too much enthusiasm, leading to some rather haphazard and inconclusive results. For example, if Cthulhu is a water elemental, then why is he "dead" from being trapped underwater?

But from a more aesthetic sense, these actions on Derleth's part are in direct opposition to Lovecraft's views on his literature and their meaning. The notion of having "good" gods around ready to save the protagonists' behinds deprives us of horror and turns the story to mere terror or, worse, simple gruesome adventure. And identifying these great and unknowable beings with human elemental magic is so anthropocentric as to be nauseating.

The pure, mind-numbing horror that Lovecraft succeeded in creating is seriously abrogated by Derleth's stylistic additions, and it is just as well that the author of the Call of Cthulhu Role Playing Game left a lot of them out. All the same, we cannot soundly condemn Derleth as a worthless hack hanging onto his betters' coattails. Indeed, Lovecraft fans owe Mr. Derleth a great debt for keeping his idol's works in circulation, which is more than can be said for those who ham-handedly pilfered Mr. Lovecraft's creations to ape his work or spice up their own.

Concluding: A Matter of Intent
So then we are left with the real problem with the notion of this "Cthulhu Mythos": that concentrating on it, rather than the concepts behind it, is to miss the point entirely. It doesn't matter that there is a Necronomicon, an "Elder Thing," or any such place as Yuggoth, and they could have been Dating Tips for Boys, "gelatin gone bad" or Vomitville. The names and particulars don't matter so much as what they represent.

Lovecraft's stories, for the most part, were written to make a particular point: that Man's morals and accomplishments are meaningless outside of his own sphere of influence. The creatures of the "mythos" are just amorphous, unsubtle and fictional reminders that having a gun, a language and some grasp of mathematics still won't save your behind when vastly greater powers intersect with your town square. And there are those who understand this and continue writing similar, cautionary tales -- with or without Lovecraft's creations in them -- and then there are those who didn't get the point.

Point being: those who explore the unknown and seek out hidden truths dice with hidden peril. Those of us who sit at home, read of their exploits and think "gosh, aren't we so swell" should be less proud and more humble. Real life has given us countless examples of this; Lovecraft's stories are just artistic ways of illustrating it, and the "mythos," being an artificial grouping of fictional symptoms representing real-life peril, is ever-subordinate to it.
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PostSubject: Re: Lovecraft in the WoD   Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:40 pm

Abdul Alhazred, Prophet of the Old Faith
The author of the Necronomicon, Abdul Alhazred for use in Mage: The Ascension...

Very few occult references are as cryptically veiled in speculation or assumption in regards to authenticity or credibility as the Book of Dead Names, or, as it is referred to more commonly, the Necronomicon. Most occult scholars (mortal or otherwise) maintaining any degree of respect and consideration from their peers in the field contest the very existence of such a volume of collected blasphemies as hearsay and superstition. The truth of the matter is that the Necronomicon does indeed exist, as does it’s author; the "Mad Arab," Abdul Alhazred, and to understand and properly respect the written word if the book’s message and motivation, you must first have some insight into the author himself.
"There is but one God, and Muhammad is his prophet…"
The Mad Arab was born Abdul Ashif Bethel Muhammad Alhazred in the year 712 AD to a wealthy, silversmith father and a common prostitute mother. However, it is stated by some of the students of the Mad Arab that Alhazred’s mother found the truth in the teachings of Allah and made proper penance for her sins against God and man, married while with child, and became a devout follower of the tenets of Islam before the birth of her son.
As a child, Alhazred was unsurpassed in his command of reading, writing and arithmetic; he became an exceptional mathematician and scholar before the age of fifteen, and at the age of sixteen, he was already regarded as one of the most talented and enlightened scholars of his people. Although names are either deliberately omitted or, were forgotten in time, Alhazred was (according to those who took up the task of writing his biography) placed under the tutelage of some of the most enlightened intellectuals in the history Asia Minor and was sent abroad by his father to study science, philosophy and theology in Jerusalem, Baghdad and Mecca, the latter being where his Avatar awakened.
At the age of twenty, Abdul Alhazred married Rachel Sadiz, the daughter of the governor of Tabez, and sired two sons with her; Abdul and Meta. In the early winter of his twenty-fourth year, however, Alhazred slipped into an unexplained, catatonic state of Quiet that left him completely and totally devoid of speech and movement. Specialists from Arabian doctors to Rabbis from Jerusalem were called upon by Alhazred’s father-in-law to tend to the apparent illness, but to no avail. Alhazred’s condition was apparently deemed irreversible and blamed upon some manner of demonic possession. This news so shocked Alhazred’s wife, Rachel, that she miscarried their third child with whom she had been pregnant for three months.
After a few weeks of torpid existence, Alhazred’s eyes began to glow with a dim and ghastly light. He began to speak again, but the process was slow and labored. When Alhazred finally regained the ability to fully express himself verbally, his voice had taken on a completely different tone than it had known before, and his actions and intentions changed with it.
"Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them…"
Alhazred’s recovery was swift, as was his squandering of the riches he had inherited from Rachel’s dowry. Using the wealth supplied by Rachel’s father upon his union with the sultan’s daughter, Alhazred financed dozens of expeditions and caravans into the darker recesses of Africa and Asia in an effort to acquire scrolls, tablets, books and diaries of myth and legend. Secret meetings were arranged between Alhazred and leading occultists from Greece, spiritualists from Carpathian Europe, mediums from Rome, Norse diviners and soothsayers and men who had journeyed to India and returned with knowledge both forbidden and arcane in Islamic society. Alhazred publicly denounced the teachings of the prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam as false doctrine and petty superstition. Scholars, teachers and fellow magi who had once been the staunchest allies and closest friends of Alhazred, denounced their association with him in kind, fearing the changes that had come over him
Alhazred grew increasingly distant and disassociated from Rachel and his sons, having sent them away from Tabez to stay with relatives while he studied and debated eldritch mathematics beyond the scope of most modern and accepted science and teaching languages that he had not only never studied, but that had been extinct since before the towers of Babylon had their foundations laid to those who were willing to meet his price.
Having determined unanimously that Alhazred was in fact possessed by Satan, the elder council of magi, nobles and intellectuals made the decision to banish him to the wilderness outside of the city, never to return in sentence for his mad blasphemies and his pursuit of damnation. Accompanied by soldiers of both the governing sultan the Caliph of Yemen, the council burst in on Alhazred’s sanctum in the middle of the night and discovered the madman surrounded by scrolls written in the name of Moloch, tablets describing the glorious redemption in darkness offered by Baal, and parchments of dried, human flesh which spoke of a gate and a great seal which protected the earth from the wrath of deities which outdated the teachings of both Muhammad and Moses by millennia.
The Caliph of Yemen was so enraged by the betrayal and blasphemy of the beloved Scholar of Tabez that he had Alhazred beaten repeatedly, his hair shorn from his head, and his clothes torn from his body. Naked and without sandals, water or provisions, the Mad Arab was exiled from Tabez into the surrounding wilderness of desert and waste.
Rachel, still in remembrance of what Alhazred HAD been, closeted herself away for forty-two days in private mourning for the loss of her husband; a Muslim tradition observed by widows.
Into the Wilderness…
Alhazred wandered in the deserts of Arabia for weeks. Finally, dying of thirst and exposure, he was discovered by a group of nomads who took the Mad Arab for a lost holy man, fed him and clothed him. With the assistance of these nomads, and after he had recovered his strength, Alhazred discovered the ruins of the damned city of Irem.
What knowledge (if any) that Alhazred gained from the hieroglyphs of Irem’s ruins is unknown; he returned after a few days alone, his companions who had traveled with him for the sake of his safety missing, carrying a large, green-gold chest the likes of which none had ever seen.
The pilgrimage of the Mad Arab did not end with Irem, however. Alhazred traveled next to Egypt, in search of a nameless city said to have been inhabited by creatures that were half-men and half-crocodile. Many scholars who have studied both Alhazred’s life as well as his works believe that this "nameless city" was the ruins of Crocodiliopolis, the legendary, ancestral home of the shapeshifters known as Mokole. Alhazred makes references to these "demons" throughout various correspondences with students and peers stating that they hunted him for acts of desecration and blasphemy on these ruins.
During a conflagration between Alhazred and these "demons" while crossing the Red Sea, a storm was summoned that destroyed the ship, all hands and all the cargo that the Mad Arab had salvaged from the ruins of Crocodiliopolis. The only survivor of the ensuing chaos wreaked by the storm was Alhazred himself, who washed onto the shores of northern Arabia, where he dwelled alone in his madness for two years surviving on starfish and crabs.
Eventually, Alhazred was discovered and rescued by a band of Islamic nomads en route to Mecca and nursed back to health.
"He restoreth my soul…"
After a time in Mecca, Alhazred returned to Yemen via trade caravan, and indeed even to the very city from which he had been exiled years before. The council, which had banished the Mad Arab, summoned him to explain himself and his return. Alhazred pleaded with them to return him to the scholastic pedestal on which he had once stood, saying "I have fought long in the desert with my adversary and with the demon that has possessed me. By the power of Allah, I have cast him into outer darkness!" In truth, however, Alhazred had suffered a form of amnesia from his powerful Quiet and remembered nothing from the time of his first catatonia up until his arrival in Mecca with the nomads. The magi of Tabez sensed nothing malignant in Alhazred, and believed his Quiet to be remiss attributing his recovery to his renewed faith in Allah due to his stay in Mecca. Abdul Alhazred was restored to his station of esteemed teacher and respected scholar and magus in the service of the Caliph of Yemen and the people of Tabez.
During this period of spiritual and mental restoration, Alhazred was summoned via a dream to site somewhere outside of Tabez. There, he was driven by his subconscious to exhume a set of relics hidden among the dunes; he found a set of tablets written in ancient Assyrian depicting what he interpreted as demons – half-man, half-crocodile – worshipping a god of horrific countenance. The deity in the relief had the head of an octopus, the arms and claws of a lobster, and wings like that of a bat. While fluent in a dozen different languages, both active and deceased, Alhazred was unable to read the tablets or interpret their meaning. He did, however, realize that these relics had been among the treasures he had sacked from the ruins of Crocodiliopolis in Egypt while he had been possessed in a stark, terrifying moment of clarity amidst his amnesia.
On a separate occasion some months later, Alhazred found himself wandering the wilderness outside of Tabez and into the camp of the nomadic people who had fed and clothed him after his subsequent exile and dehumanization at the hands of the Caliph of Yemen years before. The nomads bowed down before Alhazred, kissing his feet and referring to him as "master" and "magus." The nomads turned the green-gold chest Alhazred had left with them back to its rightful owner gladly, claiming that those who had maintained custody over the relic had died mysteriously from fever and, in some cases, had vanished completely or committed suicide. While still somewhat under the spell of sleep, Alhazred had the clarity of mind to understand that something was propelling him to place the tablets he had found in the dunes inside the chest.
Alhazred’s dreams continued to grow progressively more vivid after the reclamation of the chest from his nomadic saviors. In his dreams, Alhazred claimed to have visited not only the ancient past of earth, but also other worlds, their ancient pasts, celestial bodies such as Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, Sirius and the space that lie betwixt them. These dreams began to torment and haunt Alhazred, and as he confided in his peers, they began to suspect that perhaps while casting out the adversary which had once possessed him that he had been visited again by their forces tenfold and was again possessed by unclean spirits.
"Go ye forth and be ye fishers of men…"
The worst fears of the elder council and magi of Tabez were realized when once again Alhazred abandoned his duties as both a man of God and a father to his sons and took to the streets preaching the blasphemies revealed to him in his tortured dreams. Alhazred told any who would listen of gods who could manifest themselves as mortal men and women, and in some cases, animals. He preached of how these gods were as capable of both good and evil in their endeavor to cross the gate of time and space itself to reclaim the birthright that had been denied them by the swirling chaos at the center of the universe – their creator. He called these deities the Great Race and spoke of their war against those who had come before them; beings that Alhazred referred to as the Elder Gods. The Elder Gods, he claimed, were the founders of the universe, created by the mighty Pharaoh of Darkness, Azathoth. Alhazred disavowed the three major monotheistic religions of his day, citing that Christ, Moses and Muhammad had not been touched by the true hand of the Great Race, and were therefore charlatans and tricksters. Never before had the Celestial Chorus or the Ahl-i-Batin of Yemen endured or tolerated such heretical blasphemies against their collective visions of reality. The more Alhazred taught of his Great Race, the more furious the magi of Yemen became.
Eventually, the magi of Yemen, with the continued support of the Caliph, banished Alhazred and all of his students and disciples from Tabez forever. To return would mean immediate execution of any that would dare. Abdul and Meta, Alhazred’s sons, however, were spared and Rachel was allowed to divorce Alhazred so that Allah might have mercy on her children’s souls.
While in exile, Alhazred continued to educate his disciples in the ways of the Great Race. He presented to them the graven image if mighty Cthulhu, he whom Alhazred claimed was the most potent of the earth’s Elder Gods. He instructed them in the terrifying rites of Nyarlathotep, who had visited Alhazred in his dreams. Many of the Mad Arab’s students could not bear the gravity of the forbidden knowledge they were partaking from and fled into the wilderness or committed violent suicides. For those who remained faithful and strong, Alhazred taught the secrets of Yig; the god of the underworld the Egyptians referred to as Set. He taught them the names of Dark Han, Sub-Niggurath and Chaugnar Faugn, and the handful of apostles became a cult and built infernal altars to these new, yet vastly ancient deities.
In time, Alhazred journeyed to the city of Damascus where he retired from teaching the gospel of the Great Race in exchange for the research opportunities that a monk was afforded. During this period of reclusiveness, the Mad Arab finished what he had started in Tabez before he had been cast out; a book of pacts, rituals, equations, rotes, rites and procedures collected into the unholy and foul book of the wonders and miracles of the Great Race, the horrible Necronomicon. With this tool, Alhazred could ensure that the work of the Great Race and their struggle for freedom could continue and thrive like the fungus on an olive branch… even if the branch itself were cleft from the tree. The Mad Arab completed two complete copies of the tome; one for his personal use and one for the use of his handpicked successor and apprentice.
"There are many, terrible and ancient gods, and Alhazred is their prophet…"
The Final Days of the Mad Arab
Shortly after the completion of the Necronomicon, word of Alhazred’s ability to command the forces of nature began to spread across Arabia, Syria and what is now Iraq. Stories of how the Mad Arab could call down fire from the heavens to smite his enemies, speak words that killed men where they stood, bring stillness to the ocean tempest, summon demons and inflict madness on any he wished made Alhazred a legend in his own time. His living legend status, however, also earned him the ire and hatred of the collected magi of the Celestial Chorus, Ahl-i-Batin, Order of Hermes and Verbena of Persia and Asia Minor. In time and through reputation, Alhazred became one of the most powerful and influential earthbound, mortal occultists and awakened magus of his day and age.
Alhazred was summed to the court of the Caliph of Baghdad to serve as the Court Astrologer and Soothsayer, and for a while all was well. After a year, however, Alhazrad’s health began to fail, and as if knowing that his time were coming to an end (despite his magical ability to stall such mortality), he returned to Damascus to erect a temple in the glory and honor of the mighty Cthulhu.
In the year 732 AD, while sharing the prophecies and miracles of the Great Race to a small crowd of students, hecklers, curious bystanders and fearful agnostics, The Mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred, disappeared from sight and into thin air in the mid sentence and broad daylight. His clothes, a few coins and a small amount of blood were all that remained of the author of the Necronomicon and the prophet of Cthulhu.
Many believe that Alhazred was completely consumed by the demonic forces which inhabited his body; his soul no longer enough for them to nourish themselves. Others, magi mostly, claim that it was the wrath of paradox spirits, who punished Alhazred for his blasphemies and his works towards rending the reality in which he existed for the sake of another. The more devout students of the Mad Arab, however, claimed that Alhazred had been summoned to Cthulhu’s side in reward for his faithful service, and that he waits with the mighty Cthulhu in his sunken city, Ry’leh, for the day when he will lead the sleeping god’s children and servants in an assault on the gate which isolates the Great Race from our realm.
Construction of the temple whose foundation was consecrated in the name of Cthulhu was never completed. Urged on by the collective members of the Celestial Chorus and Order of Hermes, the governor of Damascus brought soldiers down onto the disciples of the Mad Arab, killed all but two, and razed the temple to dust.
To date, there are FOUR KNOWN and complete copies of the Book of Dead Names, also known as the Al-Azif and Necronomicon. Of these volumes, it is said two were written by Alhazred himself while two others were manufactured by his apprentice shortly his disappearance in order to preserve the words of the Mad Arab beyond the grave and persecution of the cult he had founded.
There is a very good possibility, however, that a dozen or so books claiming the namesake of Alhazred’s Necronomicon exist or have been manufactured over the centuries. These forgeries, while valuable in their own rights to some degree or another, should be treated as incomplete or ineffectual due to erroneous translation or damage. Many claim that Alhazred walks the earth to this day, having survived his disappearance and in possession of his personal copy of the Necronomicon while obsessively hunting the other three across the world.

Practical Demon Keeping
The Mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred can actually be used in a variety of ways within a World of Darkness chronicle, although personally I feel that his works and his characterization are most useful in Vampire: The Dark Ages, Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade or Mage: The Ascension. For ease of understanding and use, and seeing as how there is very little information at all regarding the Ahl-i-Batin in White Wolf canon, my personal vision of the Mad Arab is that of either a Celestial Chorister gone Marauder or Barabbi. The following stats are MERELY a SUGGESTION regarding the powers and abilities of Abdul Alhazred. Please feel free to use any and all stats you deem appropriate in your respective game when using the Mad Arab:
Abdul Alhazred, the "Mad Arab"
(A.K.A. The Poet of Tabez, Master of the Dead Names)
Nature: Fanatic
Demeanor: Architect
Essence: Primal
Tradition: Iblitic or Celestial Chorister Barabbi/ Marauder Oracle
Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 4, Charisma 4, Manipulation 5, Appearance 2, Perception 5, Intelligence 5, Wits 5
Abilities: Alertness 3, Awareness 3, Dodge 4, Intimidation 2, Subterfuge 5, Drive/Ride 2, Firearms/Archery 3, Leadership 4, High Ritual 5, Meditation 5, Research 5, Technology 3, Cosmology 5 (or Special*), Culture 4, Enigmas 5, Linguistics 5, Lores (All Supernaturals at 3 and Mythos Lore at 5), Occult 4, Science 5 (Mathematics)
Backgrounds: Allies 3, Avatar 5, Resources 4, Talisman 5**
Spheres: Correspondence 4, Qlippothic Entropy 3, Forces 5, Life 3, Matter 3, Mind 4, Prime 5, Spirit 3
Willpower: 9
Arete: 6
Quintessence: 10
Paradox: 5
Resonance: (Entropic) Alien/Corruptive/Chaotic/Diabolic
If Marauder, I would suggest a Quiet of 2-5
* - Alhazred’s knowledge of Mythos Cosmology is essentially second to none. The Necronomicon is the definitive work on the subject.
** - Alhazred’s personal copy of the Al-Azif/Necronomicon/Book of Dead Names
The Book of Dead Names
The Necronomicon is, for all intents and purposes, the bible of the Elder Race as written and collected by Alhazred. Within the book’s pages are prayers, sigils, forgotten names of gods long dead, and summoning techniques used for communion with these beings. Use of this book and its contents, however, should never be taken lightly by anyone who comes into possession of it. There are at least four complete and handwritten copies of the Book of Dead Names in existence; the Celestial Chorus, deep within the catacombs of the Vatican City, holds one of them under Templar guard. It is believed that this particular copy of the book was the first and original copy drafted by Alhazred in Tabez, however this may or may not be the case.
For game purposes (should you actually allow one of your players to come into possession of a copy of this tome) you can either use the resources for Grimoires in Infernalism: The Path of Screams, or you can use the following resources to generate probable contents of the book from rituals, procedures, rotes, investments, gifts, disciplines, etc.:
The Book of Madness by Sam Inabinet, Kathleen Ryan, Steve Brown, Bill Bridges, and Phil Brucato
ISBN 1-56504-137-2
$15.99 (U.S.)
A book that I sincerely hope will receive the "revised" treatment sometime in the very near feature, this resource is instrumental, in my opinion, for the formation of complete antagonist NPCs in a Mage: The Ascension setting. Rules for everything from demons to Nephandi can be found here and it is certainly worth the read.
Infernalism: The Path of Screams by Phil Brucato
ISBN 1-56504-495-9
$18.00 (U.S.)
Path of Screams is to Sorceror’s Crusade what Book of Madness is to Mage… except BETTER. In my Mage games, I’ve adopted The Path of Screams in lieu of Madness until a revised working of the book comes out, and I’ve found that when coupled WITH the book of Madness, it’s a PERFECT resource for modern day Mage settings as well. Pay close attention to the Grimoire section on Page 90, as this may be the EASIEST and most efficient manner for you to incorporate the Necronomicon into one of your games.
Clanbook: Baali by Lucien Soulban and Sven Skoog
ISBN 1-56504-213-1
$12.00 (U.S.)
A great resource not only for antagonists in a Vampire setting, but for Dark Age era infernalist and cult practices. A little over the top at times, Baali delivers a nice, horrific feel to the Dark Ages and a reason for your PCs to be wary of those who traffick with "outer gods."
Breedbook: Mokole by Jim Comer, Rick Russell, Chad Imrogno and Conrad Hubbard
ISBN 1-56504-306-5
$18.00 (U.S.)
For more information on Crocodiliopolis or for official canon on how the World of Darkness may have felt/looked in pre-history, this is the place to go.
Book of the Wyrm, 2nd Edition by Brian Campbell, Sam Inabinet, Deena McKinney, Jim Moore, Justin Achilli and Ethan Skemp
ISBN 1-56504-356-1
$18.00 (U.S.)
Pay special attention to the write-up regarding the Vhujunka in this book, as they are the closest things to a pre-generated servitor race of the Cthulhu Mythos that you’re going to dredge up in a Werewolf resource. Also, many of the totem spirits of the Black Spiral Dancer Tribe can be converted for use in a Werewolf chronicle that includes the mythos as a plot element.
Freak Legions: A Players Guide to Fomori by Steve Brown, Phil Brucato, John Dcott Burrows, Jackie Cassada, Jim Comer, Lucien Dark, Beth Fischi, Christopher Howard, Jenn Lindberg, Jim Moore, Nicky Rea and Richard Watts
ISBN 1-56504-350-2
$12.00 (U.S)
Fomori Powers and Taints are EXCELLENT for use as demonic or infernal investments, and this books chocked full of them. Use your best judgment as a ST to determine how many points each power should cost in pacts, and you can populate the pages of the Al-Azif/Necronomicon yourself.
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PostSubject: Re: Lovecraft in the WoD   Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:41 pm

Outer Gods & Greater Old Ones
Matt Snyder introduces us to the power players in the most important game in the universe: Dominion.

Outer Gods are the true and terrible masters of the universe. Their power is great, though they have little interest in the affairs of humans, whom they barely recognize as insignificant pests. Greater Old Ones are only slightly less powerful, though no less terrible to mortals.
Azathoth, Daemon Sultan (Outer God)

At the center of the sprawling universal chaos, Azathoth, the idiot god, reigns supreme. He is both the greatest power of the old ones and a mindless being without conscious or reason.

The court of Azathoth is a blasphemous festival where lesser abominations dance eternally playing monotonous tunes on otherworldly flutes. In the center is Azathoth, an amorphous mass of dark eyes and writhing tentacles.

Cults devoted to this Outer God are unknown. He appears only to those foolish enough to summon him by accident or chance. Those who do are destroyed according to the whim of this chaotic god.

Azathoth is often credited with the creation and eventual destruction of all existence, the chaos from which all began and to which all will once again return. Others say the mindless god is the greatest manifestation of paradox, a being comprised of oblivion itself.
Nyarlathotep, The Crawling Chaos (Outer God)

This malevolent force is the Outer God most interested in the affairs of humanity. He has a thousand incarnations, each terrible and maddening. Nyarlathotep's apparent goal is the spread of discord and chaos in the universe.

Nyarlathotep is messenger to the Greater Old Ones, the medium by which their madness is spread to the fragile minds of humans. He delights in transmitting the unknowable message of his masters to the curious and insane. The result is always the same for his victims -- destructive madness and the annihilation of identity. Nyarlathotep delights in tormenting individuals in this way, particularly those who believe he offers something more than inconceivable ruin.

The cults of Nyarlathotep are involved in secretive and complex plots. The purpose of these convoluted conspiracies is to wreak irreparable physical and psychological destruction in the world. Rituals of these cults demand horrific sacrifices that utterly destroy the body and soul of many victims. Of course, the ultimate damage a cult can unleash is the summoning of Nyarlathotep himself into the corporeal world.

Nyarlathotep is often associated with the ancient cults of Egypt. Some of his many incarnations include the Black Pharaoh and the Beast, a faceless stone sphinx whose visage reveals the despairing blackness of the cosmos. Other incarnations include the Dark Demon, the Bloated Woman, and the Haunter of the Dark, a demonic bat with a three-lobed red eye. The most commonly encountered incarnation of Nyarlathotep (perhaps his true form) is a huge three-legged form with clawed arms and a single blood-red tentacle sprouting from the torso in place of a head. At the base of the bloody appendage is a gaping, toothless orifice.
Shub-Niggurath, Mother of the Thousand Young (Outer God)

Shub-Niggurath and her young haunt the dark reaches of wooded areas all over the earth. She is the producer of the Thousand Young, horrific abominations that accept for their mother’s gruesome sacrifices.

Shub-Niggurath appears during rituals as a cloudy fog, from which hoofed feet and fleshy appendages dart and squirm. Mortals have never seen her true shape. Her children, the "Dark Young" appear as towering figures of black ropy tentacles that sprout from their thick bodies like the branches of a dead tree. Their trunks feature several vicious sucking mouths. The Dark Young maneuver with squat, hoofed feet. These abominations are likely the result of a union between Shub-Niggurath and Hastur.

She is likely the most widely worship Outer God. Human cultures have worshipped fertility gods and goddesses for centuries. Shub-Niggurath is the true dark identity of these fertility gods. She may grant plentiful harvests in exchange for blood sacrifice, carried out in frenzied ceremonies. Her Dark Young appear only in dark wooded areas, and they often accept sacrifices for their mysterious mother.
Yog-Sothoth, Lurker at the Threshold (Outer God)

This Greater Old One is a master of time and space. The entity can exist at any point and time, though it is bound outside the realm of terrestrial experience. Yog-Sothoth shares rule of all existence with the supreme Azathoth.

It appears as a dizzying mass of iridescent spheres and eldritch foam. Its shape flashes in disturbing, myriad colors and lights. This bubbling mass can assume any size or volume and travel at any speed.

Throughout history, people have mistakenly worshipped Yog-Sothoth. Most religions did not fully realize the presence they worshipped. It is possible that Yahweh, who appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai was, in fact, Yog-Sothoth freed from a terrestrial prison. The Aztecs may also have performed misguided rites for this Greater Old One.

Mages have sought the aid of Yog-Sothoth to travel among the planes of existence. The being can also grant patron mages the ability to summon creatures from other worlds. Whatever power granted to its worshippers, Yog-Sothoth always exacts the same toll from them. They are inevitably assimilated into its terrible form, their identity consumed.

Yog-Sothoth is able to appear in most any form. It has appeared as Tawil at’Umr, a cloaked figure who can guide travelers of the dimensions. This incarnation of the omnipresent being is apparently benign, though.
Cthulhu (Great Old One)

Under the Pacific Ocean, dread Cthulhu lies dreaming in the city of R'lyeh. His cults are pervasive -- every dark corner of the world conceals a few worshippers who maneuver to see their terrible master rise again from the depths.

For the present, he lies dormant in the sunken city of R'lyeh, where he once ruled the earth, millennia ago. Cthulhu waits for R'lyeh to rise again, so he will once again dominate earth with his terrible rule. Until then, mortals are left with the haunting influence of his dreams, by which he cunningly influences worshippers to seek out idols of his image and pursue the resurrection of his city.

Cthulhu is cyclopean being from beyond the stars, though few have seen his gargantuan form rise above the ocean. He is a monstrous biped with demonic wings and fierce clawed arms. Cthulhu's head is bulbous; foul red eyes peer down over a mass of writhing tentacles on his face.

While Cthulhu has no other known incarnations, he can alter his shape and size dramatically. He is apparently indestructible; Cthulhu can reform his body if his material form is damaged or destroyed.

Cthulhu may be the sire of other terrible Greater Old Ones, including Ghatanothoa, Ythogtha, Zoth-Othmog and perhaps other horrors.
Hastur, the Unspeakable (Great Old One)

Hastur is imprisoned in space, near the star Aldebaran. Even from that distant prison, he has a horrific influence on the mortals of earth.

Hastur’s true form is unknown, though other incarnations avatars have known to appear. Humans possessed by Hastur become bloated and scaly, and their bodies become a pile of boneless flesh after his departure. Incarnations of Hastur include the King in Yellow and the Feaster from Afar. As the King in Yellow, Hastur appears as a large human figure cloaked in sickly yellow robes and wearing a pallid mask. There exists an obscure play titled The King in Yellow, which has driven many of the artists and intellectuals who read it to a destructive, solitary worship of Hastur.

The decadent and nihilistic cults of Hastur are particularly abhorrent. Their ultimate aim is the summoning of Hastur to the earth. The cults seek out Mi-Go to torture the alien beings for knowledge to further their cause. Rituals of these cults take place and only under a night sky in which the star Aldebaran appears.
Servitor Races
Mi-go, the Fungi from Yuggoth

The Mi-Go is a very unusual race who travels throughout space, though they have founded a large colony on Pluto, known as Yuggoth. They have visited earth for centuries, seeking resources and to participate in studies of humans and worship of the Outer Gods.

The Mi-Go are roughly five-foot long crustacean-like beings with membranous wings, which actually propel them through the reaches of space. Pairs of articulate limbs line their bodies, and they use these both to walk and to manipulate items. Their egg-shaped heads are covered with antenna, which they use to communicate with one another by changing colors. Their bodies are not flesh, but rather a kind of fungus, which the Mi-Go can shape in to many useful forms.

On earth, the Mi-Go has established several subterranean mines. From these, they gather a precious mineral; its use is unknown. They are also involved in cults dedicated to Nyarlathotep and Shub-Niggurath. They employ humans for both mining operations and cult practices.

The Mi-Go are masters of surgical technology, able to alter life-forms in extraordinary ways. Perhaps the most unusual of these is the brain cylinder, a device that the Mi-Go use to house the brain of any life form, including humans. The brain remains alive and alert, able to manipulate machinery that can be connected to the device. The Mi-Go use brain cylinders to study life forms and also to transport individuals through space, as their bodies would not be able to survive.

Mi-Go have recently become fascinated with human thought. Because their own thought patterns are unable to think creatively, the Mi-Go have begun to study humans so they might harness the ability to make their thought patterns more efficient. Mi-Go thought is based on cause and effect, and they seem to have a finite limit of knowledge. Mi-Go must wipe select knowledge from their brains to learn anything new.
Deep Ones

The Deep Ones are humanoid amphibians that infest the earth’s oceans in great underwater cities. They are the devoted followers of Dagon and Hydra; greatest of their race who in turn offer fanatic loyalty to dread Cthulhu.

They appear as bipedal fish-men complete with gills, webbed and clawed appendages and a maw of spiny teeth. Their large bulging eyes are cruel and malevolent. The creatures are immortal, though they can be killed by violent means.

Deep Ones have the ability to breed with humans, and they have bred with whole families in coastal settlements. The offspring of a Deep One-human union appears human until it approaches adult age. At that time, the hybrid begins to develop the piscine features of their Deep One progenitors. Possible mutations include large, rounded eyes, slightly webbed digits, scaly skin and even gills.

Deep Ones inhabit all oceans on the earth, though there are notable concentrations of their race off the coast of New England and near Polynesia. Humans have been known to worship Deep Ones, offering sacrifices and mates to the sea dwellers. Deep Ones, like many human followers of Cthulhu, seek to bring the Great Old One up from his submerged tomb in lost R’lyeh.
Great Race of Yith

Millions of years ago, the Great Race of Yith came to earth and took on the bodies of large, cone-shaped life forms they found on the planet. With their unusual technology, they became builders of magnificent cities and lived for centuries perfecting scientific efforts and studying cultures, past and future.

The Yithians could project their minds into other life forms. In fact, the bodies they inhabited upon their arrival to earth were not their own. The bodies were cone-shaped, with four appendages sprouting from the tip of their large forms. Two flexible appendages terminated in pincers, and a third ended with several strange trumpet-shaped openings. Finally, a fourth appendage supported the creature’s head with three eyes that circumvented the head and strange antennae above those.

It is believed that once wiped out by the predatory flying polyps, the Great Race of Yith moved their psychic identities to another beetle-like life form.

The race was master scientists and historical scholars. They constructed fantastic cities, space-faring vessels, and unusual weapons. One such weapon was a kind of lightning gun, a camera-like weapon that could project devastating blasts of lightning.

The Yithians are notable for their ability to travel throughout time, though their technique is quite unusual. They select a being in another time and exchange conscious states with their chosen host. The Yithian lives for a few years in the form of his host, while the mind of the host is stored in the Yithians cone-shaped body. Some of these minds go mad as they are suddenly transported to another time into a monstrous body. This technique saved the Great Race from extinction.
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PostSubject: Re: Lovecraft in the WoD   Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:41 pm

The Ghouls
J. Edward Tremlett, our Wraith: The Oblivion Editor acts as crossing guard for the Mythos eaters of the dead into the World of Darkness...

Common Knowledge
Stand still -- absolutely still -- and take a deep breath.
Hitch it in your throat and count to ten. Count to a hundred if you want to, or if you can. It’s all there is to do, now that you’re just a little wiser than before. Will you be older, though, before the night is through? Or just dead, like the others?
Your back is to the concrete, subway station pillar you’re hiding behind. Your camera is back there, where your shaking fingers dropped it after your moment of triumph. In panic, you think of small things. Little things. The traces of a search across five continents’ history to point to a single conclusion -- that we are not alone on this ball of mud.
At last you had the proof you needed. And the proof’s coming closer with each frightened heartbeat. So you hold your breath and count. It’s all you can do to stop yourself from screaming. Count like you did in grade school.
One - Two - Tie my shoe. The stories of the tribesmen of Arabia and upper Africa: frightened by unhallowed noises in the night -- strange sounds coming from the graveyards. Come the morning they would stand aghast at the sight of their graves, all of them upturned and robbed of their occupants. They called such a creature a "Ghul" and attributed dark powers with its creation.
What were the ancient Egyptians really protecting their tombs from when they chiseled the likeness of Anubis inside them? Where did they go with the bodies they stole? What did they do with them?
Three - Four - Lock the door. Changelings: human babes stolen from cribs and replaced with unwholesome fruit. A sullen boy who grew up strange and as far from the tree as one might expect. A spooky girl who seemed to hear things that were not there. One day, when the change from child to adult was in the offing, and a marriage was nigh, such a child would vanish without a trace.
Sometimes, just before the disappearance, parents would see red eyes off in the woods, watching their every move. Was it elopement with some unknown suitor or a journey to town to seek one’s fortune? Or did the true parents come to collect their bundle of joy?
Five - Six - Burn some sticks. The records of Cotton Mather, witch-hunter. Stories of the strange friends and fellow travelers of the New England witch cults. Loathsome, hoofed helpers who would bound from holes in the ground at the Esbats. Under the Moon’s dull shine they would show the hags charnel wonders. They would go to the old, secluded graveyards, and witch and creature would rut in the open graves, explorers of the dark world best kept hidden.
Then would come the black man, bearing gifts of wisdom and a small, black book for them to sign. Such a promise brought only death or damnation, surely. But who, or what, was the black man? And what were they? What is The Thing that Should Not Be?
Seven - Eight - Twist of Fate. The paintings of Richard Upton Pickman: native of Boston and "Weird" artist of the 20’s. He disappeared in 1926, age 43(1), leaving behind a prodigious body of macabre work too shocking for his time, but coming into vogue now that such things are more acceptable. His works were recently "rediscovered" courtesy of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which once shunned him. Critics are calling him a master of realism, as the faces on the subjects are so real they seem they could come alive at any moment: gray-skinned, canine-faced things dance about upturned graves and devour the bodies of the dead in loving, glorious detail.
Prints have gone on sale and done brisk business. You have one called "The Lesson" hanging in your apartment. In it, a circle of the creatures go about showing a young, human boy how to eat like they do. Looking at the faces of the creatures, and the boy, you began to see a certain resemblance between the two. What could this mean? Where did Richard Upton Pickman disappear to?
Nine - Ten - Again and Again. All the missing people, lately. People go missing in New York all the time, but lately it’s become an epidemic. Winos down at the precinct babble about people coming up out of the sewers late at night. People with red eyes and gray skin and fangs who grab anyone who doesn’t move fast enough and carry them back down into the underground. They’ve been saying that for years, but only now that folks in suits and ties go missing does New York’s finest go looking for clues. They don’t find any, at least none your contacts would own up to.
And here you are. All the little pieces you’d uncovered on your way to the Pulitzer Prize you thought you’d get for this pointed here. You were following up on the one, solid lead you had: the only person who didn’t sound like a nut or off his head. He talked about how this station was after Midnight. How no one came. How no one ever left, either, save what might not wish to be seen at all.
That article’s stewing on your head, even now. All that waiting paid off when they came bounding down the tunnel, red eyes glinting in the dark. The picture would have said a thousand words if you hadn’t dropped the camera, and the accompanying article would have solved a whole bundle of old mysteries in one, fell swoop if they hadn’t heard the Nikon hit the ground. But as they pad closer, sniffing you out, you realize the only thing of yours that might see print is your obituary.
You can’t count any more. You can’t think. The padding of their hooves are right next to your pillar. You can hear them breathing, hot and smoky in the morning chill. You can smell the upturned graves on their fingers and the dead men on their breath. There’s no time for regrets, goodbyes, cryptic last notes or clues for others to follow. There is only time for a headline, and it reads "Amateur Reporter found dead in subway station."
You close your eyes and open them to see the answer to a whole lot of questions staring at you. It’s uglier than you ever thought and makes your mind boil over just to see the look on its face. Sure, you’ve got more questions to ask, but it lets its claws and teeth do the explaining.
And then you, too, become just another question in a wide world full of them.

Uncommon Knowledge
The Ghouls are an intelligent -- if dim-witted -- race of necrophages. These ugly fellows eat the dead of both the waking world and the Dreamlands, from whence they travel via the ancient, underground boltholes of long ago. They have their own language: a collection of meeps and gibbers that may or may not have a written equivalent. Those which are encountered in North America or Europe tend to write in English, although the spelling and grammar is that of times long past.
Their exact origins are unknown. They may the Dreamlands reflection of the ancient, legendary race known as the Ghul, or Ghilan. (2) These horrifying, red-skinned creatures were supposedly the children of Iblis Himself -- cruel and demonic shapechangers possessed of a taste for human flesh. It’s also possible that the sightings of the Ghouls gave rise to the Ghilan’s legend: after all, no one’s seen a Ghilan in centuries, but the Ghouls are very real.
It’s perfectly possible for them to mate with Humans, and the child will usually turn into a Ghoul at some point after adolescence. It’s also quite possible for an ordinary human to become a Ghoul by adopting some of the creatures’ habits and eating practices. This is some of the historical basis for the Changeling legends, though the Changelings themselves would likely say otherwise.
Speaking of the Changelings, they have an entwined history given that the Ghouls come from the Dreamlands. That makes them of The Dreaming, however removed, and this means that ghouls can see Changelings for what they are, use Chimerical weapons and interact with the whole of the Dreaming. This interaction includes entering Freeholds, much to polite Changeling society’s disgust and horror.
In spite of this interaction, they remain as much a part of the dismal, mundane world as the bright Dreaming. They seem to be fully manifested in both worlds at once: whether seen from Changeling perspective or purely mortal eyes, a Ghoul looks no different. How this can be, no one is sure.
Ghouls devour the bodies of the dead in the manner prescribed by their deity, Mordiggian, and in so doing their lives are extended. They’re capable of living well past a human lifespan, and some of them are centuries old, though most don’t make it past two-hundred before being killed by one of the Dreamland’s many hazards. No one is quite sure how long a Ghoul might live if they didn’t eat what they did. Given their closeness to mankind – they are sexually compatible, after all -- it’s possible they might have a "normal" lifespan of around fifty or so years, which is the normal time allotted for a human in the Dreamlands.
Their entire culture revolves around the simple pleasures of gorging on ripe corpses, dancing beneath the Moonlight and then retreating back to the Underworld to lounge about and gnaw on bones. Most Ghouls don’t aspire to do, or be, any more than this. Their worship of Mordiggian is done by doing what they’d do anyway -- eating bloated, dead bodies – so there’s no need for them to be fanatical or overly-energized at all. Some of the older Ghouls have become very prodigious sorcerers and magicians in their own right, but they are the exception and not the rule. Those Ghouls who choose to lay their allegiance with Nyogtha are more active than the others, but still pay lip service to Mordiggian’s rites and expectations.
Ghouls have a long history of interaction with Humans. Their habit of mating with mortals led to situations where Ghoul babes would be carried by human mothers, and these children would come of age and either be stolen back by the Ghouls, or else they would beat their own path to the graveyard, hearing Mordiggian’s call.
In the early times they also consorted with mortals for more reverent reasons. Those humans who chose to worship Mythos entities, particularly Nyogtha, would encounter Ghouls as they went about their business. Many Black Sabbaths were spent in Ghoulish company, so much that the witch cult cultures of Europe and North America were heavily influenced by Ghoulish practices. Whether it was Ghouls who introduced Nyogtha to Humans, or the other way around, is unknown. On the other hand, it is quite possible that the Ghouls were the ones who introduced Mordiggian to Humans, as evidence of Mordiggian’s worship amongst the Ghouls predates that of mortals.
The flames of the witch trials sent the Ghouls’ mortal accomplices skyward, and for a time the Ghouls’ forays above ground were conducted with more care lest they be caught by witchfinders. Not that they were particularly scared of such things, of course, but pack wisdom showed that a dead or missing witchfinder raised more questions, and brought more witchfinders, than a baffled one. After the hysteria was over, or at least subsided, the Ghouls came back to their usual haunts.
In recent times, large graveyards are something of a rarity in the developed world, and its modern embalming practices render the bodies more resistant to decay -- ruining their taste. This is quite a problem for Ghouls, as one might expect, and they have mostly quit North America and Europe because of it. They prefer the conditions in Asia, Africa and South America, where embalming is not universal, conflicts leave human wreckage strewn in its wake and entire villages can be massacred and left to rot. In such places, the Ghouls can still hold their debauched pavanes under the light of the Moon and feast to their hearts’ content.
This state of affairs has also created a social upheaval: the new breed has turned away from the dictates of Mordiggian, and now kills live prey, rather than waiting for them to die. Ghouls have always killed those humans who stumbled into their affairs, of course, but such was done to defend their existence. The wholesale killing of mortals and eating of their meat -- whether fresh or "ripe" -- is looked upon as heresy by Ghoul society, and a state of conflict exists between these "heretics" and the older majority. (3)
In spite of the diaspora, Ghouls are still quite active in New Orleans, Colma and Mexico City, given the extensive necropoli of the former two and the horrible conditions of the later. A few small groups of sentimental ghouls maintain their old stomping grounds up and down the Eastern coastline, in places like Boston and Arkham. And some of the more ancient and hoary catacombs of Italy are prone to a visit from such old friends.
The center for ghoul activity in the First World, however, is still New York City. There, in tunnels, sewers and places not seen by mortal eye since the laying of the city’s foundations, they come up to feed. The Ghouls in New York are most likely to be "heretics," now, and are responsible for a significant number of missing persons there. A vast majority of these Heretics are also hooked on heroin, if the rumors are true.
Another recent development has occurred. Richard Upton Pickman, a macabre artist of the 1920’s, had befriended a clutch of Ghouls that frequented the Boston area and persuaded them to allow him to paint their likenesses. He produced a fairly complete body of work based on these gruesome subjects, but had a hard time getting it displayed, much less keeping his social contacts.
One day, in 1926, he disappeared and his paintings were stored away by persons unknown. No mortal was ever quite certain what had happened to Mr. Pickman, but many rumors abounded. The truth was quite simple: after so much time of being among the Ghouls, he found that he preferred their refreshingly honest lifestyle to that of Humanity, and made the choice to join their society. When last seen – in the Dreamlands by no less than Randolph Carter himself – he had degenerated into ghouldom so much that he could barely remember how to speak English. He helped his friend with his legendary journey, and then disappeared back into the gray-skinned throngs he’d joined. What became of him after that is unknown.
A few years ago, his works came back into circulation. An anonymous donor gifted the lot of them to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and they’ve been on rotating exhibition ever since. Prints and t-shirts are being sold and critical acclaim is being bestowed upon "without a doubt, one of the finest American masters of the Weird of the last century: Richard Upton Pickman." (Time Magazine: January 14, 2000). Type O Negative are going to use "Holmes, Lowell and Longfellow Lie Buried in Mount Auburn" for the cover of their upcoming CD.
Where were those pictures sitting for all those years? Who donated them, and why? An account has been set up that takes 10% off the sale of the prints and shirts, with the rest being allowed to enrich the coffers of the BMFA, but who’s raking in the money?
Or what?
Average Ghoul
Attributes
Physical: Strength 5, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3
Social: Charisma 1, Manipulation 3, Appearance 0
Mental: Perception 3, Intelligence 3, Wits 3
Abilities
Talents: Alertness 3, Athletics 3, Awareness 2, Brawl 3, Dodge 3
Skills: Melee 1, Stealth 3
Knowledges: Mythos Lore 1, Dreamlands Lore 2, Sewer Lore 3, Theology 1
Willpower: 4
Banality: 3
Weapons: They tend to not use hand to hand weapons, relying on their claws and teeth. In those rare cases where weaponry is used, it will most likely be a club or other bludgeoning object, and occasionally a knife. With a successful Brawl attack, they do STR + 2 dice of Lethal damage. If they succeed in a Grapple attack, they automatically succeed in a bite attack, doing 2 dice of Lethal damage per turn they are attached to the target.
Spells: None
Armor: Ghouls have a tough, rubbery hide that is resistant to firearms and other ranged weapons. They can soak Bashing damage with their Stamina, and damage is halved after the soak roll. Treat gunfire, arrows and the like as though they were bashing damage.
Health: OK / OK / Bruised / Hurt -1 / Injured - 2/ Wounded - 3/ Mauled - 4/ Crippled -5 / Incapacitated / Dead
Ghouls can never have an Appearance of more than one, but can have a Strength of up to 6. Those Ghouls who were once human will have a Linguistics of one, with "ghoul" being the extra language.
Their Banality is usually around 3, but may get higher as they get older if, with advanced age, they take up more scholarly pursuits rather than continuing to run in the night and play in the boneyards. It rarely goes higher than 4, though.
For older, more experienced Ghouls, give them:

1. Willpower of 8
2. Banality of 4
3. Dreamlands Lore of 4
4. Mythos Lore of 3
5. Linguistics of 3, perhaps more: these will most likely be Dreamlands languages
6. Theology of 3, perhaps more: this will most likely be the worship of Mordiggan or Nyogtha

Those Heretics who are using the spell "The Maker of Dreames" should have a Dreamcraft of between 1 and 3.
All Ghouls can see in absolute darkness, and due to their coming from the Dreamlands, they enjoy a full interaction with the Dreaming. This means they see the Fae Mien of Changelings, interact with Chimera, enter Freeholds, be harmed by and use Chimerical weapons, and so on. This ability is on all the time.
They have a peculiar ability to absorb information from the bodies they consume. If a Ghoul wishes to activate this ability, it must eat at least 3/4 of the body in one sitting (not hard to do) and spend a point of Temporary Willpower while eating. The Ghoul then rolls the remaining Temporary Willpower against a difficulty of 7 if the body was dead for more than 24 hours, and 5 if it is fresher than that. Even one success will give a Ghoul the body’s name, mannerisms, partial recall of what was topmost on that person’s mind prior to death, and the names of important people.
Each success past the first gives one of two things.
* A dot in an Ability the body had. This will last for as long as the Ghoul has the person in its digestive tract: usually 24 hours. This will not transfer merits, flaws or any supernatural powers or birthrights.
* A die to the Ghouls Manipulation + Subterfuge pool in order to fool people into thinking the ghoul is that person if the spell "Become Foode" is used (see Ghoul Spells, below). As most Ghouls do not have Subterfuge, this is the only way they can fool most people into thinking it’s really the body, apart from the effects of the spell.
Also note that the Heretics have come to love the feeling that Heroin gives them. Ghouls who shoot up lose dice from their ability rolls and enter a state of waking dreaming for a few hours. The exact numbers are up to the Storyteller depending on how she runs the effects of narcotic drugs in her game.


The Ghouls in the World of Darkness
Ghouls are able to mate with humans, and it’s not inconceivable for them to bear children with various supernaturals. If they mate with a very high-generation Vampire, or a Kuei-Jin with a Yin imbalance, a child might result but the offspring would be a dhampir with no chance of ever becoming a Ghoul. If they mate with Shifters, the offspring will either be kinfolk or Ghoul, but not both, and never a Shifter.
With Changelings, it’s more complicated. Despite ancient warnings to leave the Corpse-Eaters alone, there are a few Kithain depraved -- or lusty, in the case of Unseelie Satyrs -- enough to try. The children of such a match almost invariably come out horribly deformed, sterile and mentally deficient kinain of some kind. Most of these don’t live long, either.
Ghouls can be Ghouled by a vampire, but as long as they have vampire blood in their veins they will lose their connection to the Dreamlands. They will not be able to interact with the Dreaming, even if Enchanted, and will be unable to physically return to the Dreamlands. An Embraced Ghoul loses all abilities that come with being a Ghoul for the rest of its unlife. The only way a Ghouled or Embraced Ghoul can enter the Dreamlands is by dreaming, and that is a pale substitute. In fact, most Ghouls -- even the Heretics -- consider the consequences of Ghouling or the Embrace to be a fate worse than death.

They can never Awaken, but they can learn Hedge Magic. Only the oldest amongst them really bother to do this, though. They cannot become Wraiths when they die and none of them will ever be Imbued.

Relations with the World of Darkness

Vampires: Most Cainites have no idea that Ghouls exist. This is the doing of Clan Nosferatu, and they do this half out of the need to preserve the Masquerade, and half out of pure fear.
The Nosferatu are deathly afraid of the Nicktuku: the horrifying progeny of Nosferat, who purportedly seeks to destroy his own childer. The Ghouls are usually believed to be Nicktuku when they appear, so the Nossies don’t go out of their way to try and talk to them. And since the Clan’s doing its best to keep the other clans from knowing about the Nicktuku, that includes keeping the Ghoul’s activities from reaching their ears, too.
As a result, anything the Ghouls do will be covered up with the same zeal and efficiency the Nosferatu apply to covering their own asses. Even amongst the Sabbat, the antitribu of that Clan are fastidious in keeping the presence of these creatures a secret out of the same fear. This is getting harder to do in New York, now that the "heretics" are making so much trouble. It remains to be seen what the city’s changing of hands – from Sabbat back to Camarilla – will have in this state of affairs.
The eldest of Assamites and Setites know the Ghouls of old. They aren’t entirely sure WHAT they are, of course, and may be getting them mixed up with the Ghilian. But they do know the creatures prefer to live underground, tend to come out at night and eat dead bodies straight from the grave. Those Assamites who come from Moslem backgrounds consider the desecration of graves to be Harram, and therefore punishable. The Setites only care if it’s their grave being robbed.
The Kuei-jin have noticed the creatures appearing with strange rapidity in their countries over the last seventy years or so. Before, they were mistaken for Kuei but always got away before they could be caught. Now, there are too many to hide effectively, and their true faces have been seen.
The Kuei-Jin are nothing if not cosmopolitan, though, and have decided to be patient and let the "walking crows" -- so called because of how they emulate carrion crows -- feed on what the vampires leave behind. In the steam of the jungles, the bodies will rot whether they are in one piece or several, and having them around to devour the evidence is rather useful. There is some word of establishing official communication or agreements with the newcomers, but the prognosis of these efforts is unclear: the crow-monsters seem too simple to understand the notion of treaties, and no one has stepped forward to speak for them as a whole.
There is also a further complication: with the wholescale feeding of these newcomers, the Bone Flowers are receiving many petitions from the spirits to do something about the defilement of their corpses. Conflict may soon arise.
Garou: Silent Striders know of the creatures as their paths often crossed in the deserts of old, and even now. They know of their eating habits, including the notion of why they do this. They also know they come from somewhere else. That’s as far as they know and, quite frankly, as much as they really want to know, too. They desecrate graves and pillage the contents, and that’s cause for a pack to go roust them from the tunnels and chase them back where they came from. Ghouls tell stories of the man-jackals of the deserts, and how they make feeding difficult in those areas.
Other Garou, including the Hengeyokai, are less likely to know as much about them. The Bone-Gnawers will run into them while hiding out in the sewers or the underground, but might mistake them for vampires -- until they take a sniff, or pause to look at what they’re tearing apart.

Mages: Some of the more well-read Verbena know of them, given the Ghoul’s sordid history with the East coast "witch" culture of colonial America, and earlier. These will-workers know they come from somewhere in the Umbra, and eat the dead to gain a lengthier lifespan, amongst other things. They also know there is some connection to the Fae Folk, but how that came about is unknown.
The Verbena find the notion of their worshiping Mordiggian to be..., interesting. They just aren’t quite sure if this means that they’re worshipping Her in the real world, here, or if there’s an echo of Her wherever they come from, too. Very few of those who know anything know of the connection to Nyogtha, just as very few know that some of their number made pacts with that dark thing. Either way, they know better than to pry into their method of longevity.
Other Traditions may have run into them from time to time, and each would have a different take on them. Most of them would be most likely to mistake them for those ugly vampires who live in the sewers, at least until they did a scan or two. City-dwelling mages who run into the "heretics" can put up a good fight, but will always lose them in the chase.
Those Hollow Ones who frequent the graveyards have run into them and may have interacted, even if they don’t realize what they really are. Those that get close enough to try to communicate tend to think they’re pretty cool, even if their choice of foodstuffs is a little hardcore. Those who have dealt with the "heretics" sing a different tune...
The Technocracy:
Report Starts: "According to the records, these RDs have been popping up in the literature all over the place. They are identified as "Ghoul’s" from the arabic "Ghul." This suggests an origin in the deserts, which might set them in nice with certain other RDs who came from there. Exact origins are inconclusive.
"They eat dead bodies, primarily. They also have a peculiar ability to devour someone and then assume their likeness, voice and some of their memory. We’re not sure if this is automatic or if they have to expend effort, or how long they can make this last. When tracking these creatures, always keep a bio-scanner handy and don’t be shy about scanning your partners when you regroup -- the life you save could be your own.
"Speaking of which: their energy signatures read similar to the "changelings" but they are not quite the same at all. If you shoot them they fall down dead and don’t change from one form to another, unless they’ve done that strange, necrophagic illusion of theirs (Note from the Progenitors: Genetics wants a live captive so they can see if they can synthesize that ability. Control says Low Priority on that one, but keep an eye open for an opportunity) And while we’re on the subject of shooting, be sure to pack heat with a high rate of fire. These guys can take some punishment before they go down.
"There have been more reports of these folks getting antsy. They used to just be content with tearing up graveyards and running for cover, but now they seem to be attacking live people. Some of our $yndicate friends swear they’re buying Smack, too, but I’ll believe it when I see one of them nodding off with an armful. It sounds a little too human to me. (Note: Ask the $yndicate to cobble up some of that "tracker" Horse they make for tailing RD Junkies. Might come in handy.)"
Changelings: The Changelings have known of the Ghouls – "dogfaces" as they’re called -- for time out of mind. There are ancient warnings to leave them alone and let them be, though no one is quite sure what prompted them. It may have something to do with the old stories of Ghoul raids on hallowed burial grounds in The Dreaming, and how the creatures have a strange relish for the decayed flesh of the fae. But then, Redcaps are known to eat dead fae, too.
As a result of these ancient warnings, not to mention general standards of taste, relations with the creatures are non-existent at best. The Changelings have never found a leader to negotiate with, and neither camp wishes them near the Freeholds, anyway. The only Kith they seem to have any real dealings with are the Redcaps, mostly because of their gruesome nature, but it’s unclear if the Kith are getting anything out of the bargain other than odd fellows at the dinner table. It’s hoped that they’re not breaking the taboo on mating with the repulsive creatures, but some Satyrs are telling some horrid tales...
They must be prodigals of a sort but even the Eshu cannot find any tales that describe their creation. They could be some sort of dark-minded Chimera that have bred, but they do not respond to any magic that would affect such things. A frightening theory posits that the creatures may predate the Changelings’ role in the Dreaming, but surely that is nonsense. Whoever suggested such a thing, anyway?
And amongst those who deal with the Ghouls, there is a dark prophecy spoken. They say that if a true Changeling were ever born of such a match, it would be a girl-child of formidable and terrible power -- one that would show the way to survive the coming Winter. Some say this is why so many amongst the Unseelie break the ban and seek to mate with such creatures. Others say the child has already been born...
Wraiths: The Restless dead are fairly well-acquainted with Ghouls. In fact, for most Wraiths an encounter with such a creature is their first brush with another supernatural outside of other ghosts. Western Wraiths who hang out in older graveyards, or else have to patrol them or do business there, will see them sooner or later. And those Wraiths who were cut down in a third-world massacre and left in a pile to rot will see the creatures come out to feed.
Ghouls are the bane of any Wraith who has her own body as a fetter. Before the 6th Great Maelstrom, the Dictum Mortuum precluded trying to stop them or talk to them, but this was often ignored. And through this, an important discovery was made: Ghouls are TERRIFIED of ghosts. Even a weak effort to breach the shroud is enough to send them running for less-haunted climes. Why? No one is quite certain, but word of the discovery has made the rounds.
In the Jade Empire, their insurgency has caused no end of problems. One of the functions of the P’o is to guard the body, which is rather difficult to do when it’s lying in tattered pieces all over the ground, or taken somewhere that they, themselves, cannot go. A number of them have been petitioning those who speak with the dead for some aid, and hope for a change in this state of affairs.

Hunters: "They are not of this world. They eat the dead and are willing to kill the living to protect their secrets. Some of them are getting a real taste for fresh meat, now. And there’s a whole group of them less than half a mile away, sitting by your mother’s tombstone..."
Hit them in the head. Hard.

Ghoul Spells
BECOME FOODE
This is the means by which a Ghoul can assume the likeness of anything it has eaten. It’s a messy process, and requires the eating of fresh meat – ugh! – but if it’s something that must be done, Ghouls are sure that Mordiggian will forgive them their sins…
SYSTEM: The Ghoul must kill, and eat, a relatively fresh corpse: one that is no more than 48 hours old. It must spend a Temporary point of willpower and make the Willpower roll to absorb the body’s memories, as given above. Then, to work this spell, the Ghoul must spend another Temporary point of Willpower. Another Willpower roll, using the adjusted total, is then made against the Stamina of the Ghoul. If it’s successful, then the Ghoul may, at some point within the next year and a day, assume the body’s pre-mortem likeness for however long it likes, at no further cost. This spell is good for only one use per likeness, though: once the Ghoul reverts back to Ghoul form it will lose the ability to wear that likeness.
However: the Ghoul has the option of spending a Permanent point of Willpower when working the spell. If it does, then it has permanently subsumed that likeness into itself, and may use the likeness any time it likes, over and over again. In addition, any dice that were added to the Manipulation + Subterfuge pool for this likeness come back when the likeness is reassumed.
The illusion is perfect, to a point. The ghoul looks, talks and sounds like the person in photographs, movies, x-rays and other mundane means. However, the shadow of the person will always reveal the slumping outline of the Ghoul, and it is by this that they can be detected. If the Ghoul is ever killed while in a stolen likeness, it will revert back to looking like a Ghoul at death.
Pure-blooded humans cannot learn this form of the spell, as they do not have access to a Ghoul’s ability to consume memories of the dead. Those who have Ghoulish blood running through their veins would lose a point of Sanity for doing it, plus whatever other losses might come from devouring a human corpse.
POSSIBLE RITUAL: The creature worried open the woman’s skull, cracking it between its hands and sinking its jaws into the rich, steaming mass of brains within. It fought back the nausea and fear of defilement, realizing that this was something that must be done, and began to absorb what he found. As it did, it opened its mind up and let the foreign memories run free: television ads, sex with Tom, Johnny’s report card, dog needs de-worming pills…
"…I need… to go to… the store…" it croaked, imagining her face on its own between bites, the voice becoming less and less its own and more and more hers as its features started to blur and change… "Not… tonight, I have a… headache… my god, why can’t you do your homework… poor Lassie… not now, Oprah’s on…"
And then the woman was nothing but bones and a lump in the Ghoul’s stomach, and it stole to the sewer ladder wearing her face…

CALL/DISMISS THE THING WHYCH SHOULDE NOT BE
Those Ghouls who lay allegiance to Nyogtha and do its bidding will call it up from time to time, usually on high holy days or whenever their leaders need to hear its counsel and commands. In times past, such Ghouls would assist the witches in their worship of it, but now it seems that they alone are left to remember and revere the dweller in the darkness.
SYSTEM: The standard rules for Calling/Dismissing a Greater Entity (as outlined in Mythos Lore 2) should be used. Storytellers are free to invent any specific needs of the ritual, but it’s suggested that it should be done at a hole that somehow connects to the great cavern where Nyogtha dwells.
POSSIBLE RITUAL: The leader of the ceremony ordered the knocking over of the torches before the cavern’s hoary entrance, and, with arms raised, meeped and howled the final intonations. The Moon was dark, the sky was cloudy and now, with the torches stamped out underhoof, the place was prepared.
The humans who’d caught the Ghouls napping screamed and pleaded where they were bound, before the cavern entrance. They were, perhaps, sensing the sudden onrush of moldy, stale underworld fumes that was coming fast from the cavern…, the primal darkness made form was coming…, coming…, rushing onwards. The last few syllables were sounded. A final gesture made.
And then, before the Ghouls’ eyes, It was there. It looped, sloshed and poured out with a thunderous roar of displaced air of arrival, ready to accept their offerings and give its gifts. The mortal sacrifices never saw what engulfed them, but the Ghouls saw it all. And they were made glad of it.
THE MAKER OF DREAMES
Recently, there’s been a social heresy amongst the Ghouls. Their younger ones are being tempted away to eat fresh fruit they kill on their own, and nothing done thus far seems to deter them. And word comes of a further sadness: addiction to the drugs of the mortal world, heroin in particular. What the elder Ghouls do not know is why.
The Dreamlands have a strange property to them. Those mortal Dreamers who enter it in dreams are able, by unconscious effort or force of will, to create wondrous objects from the strength of their dreams. This is the province of the Dreamcraft skill. The mortal inhabitants of the Dreamlands are denied this ability, as are those who enter through the physical openings. And Ghouls are also unable to create such things, at least unaided. And it is for this reason – at least for some – that heroin has become so popular amongst them.
No one is quite sure what the Heretics are making, but unwholesome suggestions are being raised.
SYSTEM: The normal procedure to make something from the stuff of dreams is as follows: the dreamer dreams of a certain person, object or place that should be within the Dreamlands, somewhere, and places a point of temporary Willpower into that object. Only one point of Willpower can be spent per night in this fashion. The more common the object is, the less points it costs, and the amount of points that can be placed into an object can be no more than 100 points. A one point object would be the most simple of simple things, and one poorly made at that, while one that costs 100 points could be anything from a fantastic realm to a great kingdom filled with adoring subjects.
When the object has enough points, the dreamer makes a Wits + Dreamcraft roll against the difficulty of 1/10th the number of points placed into the object, rounding up. A fine sword worth 20 points would be a difficulty of 2, while a castle worthy of 75 would be a difficulty of 8. With a success, it appears somewhere in the Dreamlands and must be found. Failure means the entire effort is lost and a botch brings horrible consequences.

In order to use this spell, which is the only way a Ghoul can do this, a Ghoul must enter a state of waking dreaming, like what is caused by injecting heroin. Before the drug takes effect, they must think of the object they wish to create, and it must then be foremost in their mind during the time they’re high. They cannot move from the spot until the high is over, and must not be disturbed. If anything disturbs their state the spell is broken and the work thus far is ruined.
Casting this spell costs the Ghoul a point of Temporary Willpower, plus one more for the point to be invested in the object. When the object is near completion, the Ghoul makes the Wits + Dreamcraft roll and the results come as they will.
The spell costs no Sanity to perform, but most Humans wouldn’t need to do it, anyway. And need we say that doing this will lead to a roaring addiction to heroin or other opiates?
POSSIBLE RITUAL: It shifted in the piss-stained clothes and plunged the needle into its gray elbow, feeling the sting and savoring the moment before the drug set its mind free once more. The feeling was so sweet and comforting, like being muzzle-deep in human haunch and stopping to sigh. It wondered why more humans weren’t doing this, too.
Across from it, its friends guarded the door of the crackhouse they’d taken over. No one must interrupt this. Not now. Not when they were so very, very close.
In its lap was a piece of paper that bore an ancient picture. It had torn the page from one of the elders’ books of power. On it, a great, powerful Ghoul was brandishing a staff and lightning was flaring all around. The Elder Gods knelt before it, prostrating in fear.
And as the drug hit its mind, and it nodded off into the lair of its chosen dream, it wondered how much longer it would take to make the Lost Lord come back…

(1) The date of Mr. Pickman’s disappearance, and his age at the time, are not given in the story "Pickman’s Model." The story was written in 1926, and Pickman’s age is given as 43 in Call of Cthulhu ed. 5.5. (Thanks to Prime Evil for this tangent and the bit about Mr. Pickman: he knows why.)
(2) More information about the Ghuls can be found in World of Darkness: The Bygone Bestiary (pp. 32 - 34). Storytellers should decide for themselves what link the two have with one another, or if the Ghilan still exist at all.
(3) The idea of a heresy amongst the Ghouls was supplied by Dennis Detwiller in Pagan Publishing’s Delta Green. It also forms the basis for Bob Kruger’s story "Identity Crisis" from the Delta Green: Alien Intelligence anthology. Storytellers interested in portraying Mythos entities in modern times should check both of these books out.
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