Sources of Unnatural Knowledge

Knowledge of the Unnatural things that haunt the world can be concealed in a wide variety of media and take many forms. The outward appearance of such a source might clearly signal the horrors within, such as a tome bound in human skin; alternatively the source might seem completely inconspicuous at first. In either case, however, delving into the knowledge contains within the account is always confronting and inevitably accelerates the reader’s mental decline.


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Finding Information About the Unnatural

Knowledge of the Unnatural is often preserved within old tomes, but numerous other types of media can also serve as suitable as carriers of blasphemous secrets. Ancient texts might be found on clay tablets, a disc covered with hieroglyphics or a broken stele (inscribed standing stone). A fresco or a colorful mosaic in buried ruins at Pompeii might depict scenes showing the steps of a ritual,  as might a medieval painting or tapestry. Any of these might bear an annotation on the reverse which provides hidden instructions. In more recent historical eras, a gramophone record, tape recordings or even a mixtape CD might reveal unexpected chants or bizarre music when played back. A shaky video file might show an occult group’s performance of a ritual. Last but not least, details of rituals might also be found written as part of diary entries, letters or on an insert sheet that has been forgotten in a book. In modern and futuristic games, unnatural knowledge might even be concealed on a USB stick (or equivalent), inside a source code or compiled software, or even buried inside a computer virus.

Accounts of the Unnatural are rare, and as such every tome, record, or description should be unique. Even if a book is a published work, it’s still likely that different versions will have different contents.  For example, different editions of a printed book might vary because pages are missing, illegible or contain annotated by previous owners. Such differences might fundamentally change the information contained within the account. In a similar way, accounts of the Unnatural might bury the important details behind layers of allusion, elliptical description, or even code. Long-term examination of such a source can continue to produce new insights even after years of study. The truths about the Unnatural revealed in recorded accounts are facts beyond the normal experience of any human and as such cannot easily be comprehended or penetrated. All these factors make scientifically structured examination of Unnatural knowledge all but impossible.

The following tome descriptions are, for the most part, directly based on fictional titles invented by Lovecraft for his fiction. Mythos tales (including Lovecraft’s) often mention obscure volumes of lore whose titles were coined by other writers – this list does not include any such inventions.

The format for tome descriptions includes the following aspects:

Language: The language in which the tome is written; a reader must be fluent in order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the subject. For languages other than the reader’s native tongue, fluency means a language skill rating of at least 40%; for one’s own language a minimum INT of 8 is needed. In settings where literacy is not universal, a minimum 40% in the Literacy skill is also a pre-requisite.

Eras Available: The historical time periods where this tome might conceivably be discovered – usually this is any time after it has been written.

Time to study: The amount of time (usually days, weeks or months) required to study the source. This study does not need to be uninterrupted, but while an individual is engaged in study it is all-encompassing (i.e., the scholar cannot be solving mysteries or having adventures).

SAN loss: Once a source has been studied, an automatic loss of SAN occurs as a consequence of the Unnatural knowledge learned (no SAN test is involved). Such mental erosion is inevitable, because the human mind refuses to accept such connections. If the Breaking Point of a character is reached, this should have lasting effects (i.e., acquiring a new disorder).

Unnatural Skill: Studying a source increases the skill value in the Unnatural skill by the stated amount. The increase generally corresponds to the SAN loss suffered.

Other Benefits: Sometimes other skill ratings are also be increased as a result of studying the source.

Rituals: A list of Unnatural rituals contained in the source. These can only be learned after the reader has fully completely their initial study of the source. The tome can contain none, a few, or many rituals, and each can also be incomplete or flawed in some way. Note that learning rituals from a source requires extra study time and will likely trigger additional SAN loss – these details are noted separately with each ritual. Usually a scholar can only attempt to learn one ritual from a source at any given time, but over time can learn any/all of them one after the other.

Content: A brief outline of the contents of the knowledge source.

Accounts Written in Obscure Languages

Texts bearing Unnatural knowledge are sometimes written in rare or ancient languages, which characters in the game are unlikely to be skilled in reading. If the scenario relies on characters learning a key detail from the tome before their investigation can continue, this represents a significant problem. If possible, this situation should be avoided when writing a scenario. If the issue arises, here are a few methods a Game Moderator can employ to keep the investigation going:
  • Another scholar might have previously made a (perhaps only rough) translation of the text, which can be found alongside it.
  • A previous reader might have left helpful and legible handwritten notes in the margins of the original text to make their translation easier.
  • Dictionaries and other helpful reference works can be found close by.
  • A Non-Player Character friendly to the group might be skilled and available to help with the translation (perhaps returning a favor).
  • The relevant excerpt is only a few pages long, which at least reduces the translation time (and perhaps in modern games, allows machine-assisted translation to become a viable option).
  • The text or the relevant ritual is also available in another form (for example as a video recording of the ritual being performed by the prior owner of the tome).
  • The text is accompanied by diagrams or other helpful images which are detailed enough to provide the key details needed to continue investigating.


Books that contain knowledge about the Unnatural are usually old, extremely rare, very dangerous, and always unique. Merely tracking down or getting one’s hands on such a book should never be a trivial exercise. The only way to gain tangible benefits from the secrets contained within is through painstakingly detailed study. But such intense analyses will always have consequences for the reader, usually for the worse. In addition to causing a loss of SAN, some books have other special effects that apply to characters who study them.

In particular, some tomes can affect the scholar to such a degree that it causes changes to the character’s motivations (e.g., making them fixate on something they learned). In terms of game mechanics, such effects are handled as “overwrites” where an existing motivation on the scholar’s character sheet is replaced by a new – perhaps strange or dangerous – motivation. The player can choose which motivation is overwritten. Note that this is separate to the mechanic of motivations being replaced when a new mental disorder is gained (this may also happen if the process of studying of the tome pushes the reader’s SAN below their Breaking Point).

The rituals listed as being present in a particular book’s description should be considered suggestions only – the  Game Moderator should always feel free to add or remove rituals, as suits the needs of their game.

Azathoth and other Horrors

Edward Pickman Derby’s collection of nightmarish poetry

Language: English

Eras Available: any time after 1908

Study time & SAN loss: days; 1D6 SAN.

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits: N/A.

Rituals: DHO-HNA Formula,  Music of the Spheres (as a lyrical motif, a melody must be composed especially for it. This is only possible for someone formally trained in music), potentially multiple Summon Entities rituals (the specific beings targeted can be chosen by the GM).

This volume of disturbing poems was written by Edward Pickman Derby and published in 1908. Derby, aged just 18 at the time, describes nightmarish journeys to distant places and bizarre, terrifying creatures. He even details a voyage to the center of the Universe (and the nuclear chaos that dwells there). The slim book caused a scandal upon its publication.

Anyone who reads these poems will have extremely dark dreams for the next 1D10 nights. These feature images of immeasurable black abysses, the cold emptiness of the universe, hideous creatures in the dark, and perhaps of Azathoth himself, the insane consciousness at the center of the universe.

Special Disorder: After studying the book thoroughly, the reader must make an additional SAN test. If they fail, they develop a special mental Disorder “Azathoth’s Nightmares”. Whenever the character loses more than 1 SAN or is confronted with the idea or name of “Azathoth”, a further SAN test is required. If this fails, an acute episode of the disorder occurs, during which the character suffers again from nightmares for 1D6 nights leading to Exhaustion. The acute episode can be deflected shortened via the usual methods described in the rulebook.

“Young Derby’s odd genius developed remarkably, and in his eighteenth year his collected nightmare-lyrics made a real sensation when issued under the title Azathoth and Other Horrors.” 

— The Thing on the Doorstep, Howard Phillips Lovecraft. 1933.

Book of Azathoth

The Dark Man’s Book

Language: Unknown

Eras Available: any?

Study time & SAN loss: months; 1D10 SAN.

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits:

  • if the setting includes a skill for Dreamlands manipulation, increase it by +10 percentiles
  • gain a specialist knowledge of The Dark Man and the witch covens who worship him

Rituals: Aklo Sabaoth (Elder Things), Annihilation, DHO-HNA FormulaDominate Will, Open Dimensional Rift, Prolong Life, Summon Entities (Elder Things), Summon Entity (The Dark Man), Voorish Sign.

This book cannot be found in any library. Rather, The Dark Man – believed to be an avatar of Nyarlathotep – brings it with him when he is invoked, or otherwise brought to Earth. Perhaps he appears to a person who has caught his attention somehow, haunting their dreams. Or perhaps a member of a witches coven – groups whose rites frequently call upon The Dark Man – tricks someone into voluntarily agreeing to a meeting.

Regardless of how the encounter arises, The Dark Man makes one common request of all wish to receive his benevolence. They must write their names in the Book of Azathoth, using their own blood. The powerful entity might even allow someone a short glimpse into the book before asking for their signature – but at some point the request will certainly come.

Once someone has signed the book, they have irrevocably dedicated themselves body and soul to The Dark Man, in return for unlimited access to the book. Such access is not physical (that is, they will never hold the Book of Azathoth in their hands). But rather, the study of the book takes place within the dark nightmares which increasingly poison the pledged person’s slumber. He or she will be asked to take on a new secret name, at which point additional knowledge is granted: details of secret meeting places, and of other nearby worshipers of The Dark Man (perhaps a local witches covens). The nightmares also permit glimpses behind the benevolent veil that shields our world from the cosmic horror of reality.

In addition to the rituals described above, the study of this book also grants an in-depth knowledge of The Dark Man and his rites, as well as an opportunity to make contact with the Elder Things. It is also possible that the frequent use of such special knowledge might attract the attention of other Mythos entities, perhaps providing a conduit for them to possess the person’s body and manifest on Earth.

Anyone who has made contact with The Dark Man, peered into the book, but did not sign it manages to avoid these terrible consequences. Such a person does not receive the tome’s full effects, instead only losing 1D4 SAN and earning the same number of percentiles to their Unnatural skill. They can also learn one ritual from the book.

Obsessive Motivation: Anyone who has gone so far as to stand in the presence The Dark Man and holding the Book of Azathoth in their hands, is only one step away from personal ruin. Such an individual must make a SAN test to avoid developing a new motivation “Call Upon the Power of The Dark Man” (which replaces an existing motivation of the player’s choosing). Every time the individual is in a difficult or life-threatening situation, The Dark Man appears on the periphery of their perception, making a tempting offer of help. Aid that will be granted in return if the person relents and signs the book. The GM might call for a SAN test to see whether the character gives in to such temptation, or might simply allow the player to decide (a more generous alternative).

“He must meet the Black Man, and go with them all to the throne of Azathoth at the center of ultimate Chaos. That was what she said. He must sign in his own blood the book of Azathoth and take a new secret name now that his independent delvings had gone so far.” 

— Dreams in the Witch House, Howard Phillips Lovecraft,1932.

Book of Dzyan

Ancient secret knowledge from the Ascended Masters in Tibet

Language: Senzar / English

Eras Available: English version available any time after 1888, Senzar version pre-dates humanity

Study time & SAN loss: weeks (original) / days (English translation); 1D10 SAN (original) / 1D6 SAN (English).

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits: gain a specialist knowledge about the Brotherhood of Dzyan.

Rituals: Aklo Sabaoth, Dominate Will, Elder Sign, Inflict Harm, See Through The Ages (present in the original version only), Summon Entities (the specific beings targeted can be chosen by the GM). The translation by Madame Blavatsky lacks Dominate Will and Inflict Harm.

If one believes the well-known Theosophist and occultist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891), the Book Dzyan is a volume originally written in pre-human times in a language called Senzar, not known on Earth. It is purported to contain extensive secret knowledge about the world and its true gods. This wisdom is said to be derived from wisdom closely-guarded by a secretive brotherhood located in Tibet.

Madame Blavatsky translated and commented on the Book of Dzyan and included its English text as part of her published book, The Secret Doctrine (1888). However, the translation is of general poor quality and contains fewer complete rituals than the original Senzar text. Regardless, Blavatsky’s work still contains a great deal of information on the Great Old Ones (especially Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth) as well as information about rites and cults active in the Victorian-era world.

Obsessive Motivation: Anyone who has thoroughly studied Blavatsky’s book must make a SAN test to avoid gaining a new motivation “Locate The Secret Brotherhood” (which replaces a existing motivation on the character sheet). The affected individual will do everything in their power to track down the Secret Brotherhood of Dzyan in Tibet; indeed, they feel compelled to uncover all the secrets hinted at in Blavatsky’s book and maybe learn the forgotten (or alien?) language of Senzar and read the text in its original form.

“In a rear vestry room beside the apse Blake found a rotting desk and ceiling-high shelves of mildewed, disintegrating books. Here for the first time he received a positive shock of objective horror, for the titles of those books told him much. They were the black, forbidden things which most sane people have never even heard of, or have heard of only in furtive, timorous whispers; the banned and dreaded repositories of equivocal secret and immemorial formulas which have trickled down the stream of time from the days of man’s youth, and the dim, fabulous days before man was. He had himself read many of them — a Latin version of the abhorred Necronomicon, the sinister Liber Ivonis, the infamous Cultes des Goules of Comte d’Erlette, the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, and old Ludvig Prinn’s hellish De Vermis Mysteriis. But there were others he had known merely by reputation or not at all — the Pnakotic Manuscripts, the Book of Dzyan, and a crumbling volume of wholly unidentifiable characters yet with certain symbols and diagrams shudderingly recognizable to the occult student.” 

— The Haunter of the Dark, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1935.

Brick Cylinders of Kadatheron

Ancient knowledge, carved in stone

Language: Language of the Dreamlands (only to be read in the Dreamlands)

Eras Available: any, but only in the Dreamlands

Study time & SAN loss: months; 1D4 SAN.

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits: if the game setting includes a skill for Dreamlands knowledge, increase it by +15 percentiles.

Rituals: Accelerated Healing, Aklo Sabaoth (target is at the Game Moderator’s discretion), Dominate Will, Sign of Koth, Summon Entities (the specific beings targeted can be chosen by the GM).

The Brick Cylinders of Kadatheron is a unique artefact found in a city in the land of Mnar, in Earth’s Dreamlands. The cylinders contain extensive knowledge about the history of the Dreamlands, and about its inhabitants and places. The Brick Cylinders are unwieldy and heavy and can therefore only be studied on site. To do this, a scholar must spend numerous hours in the Dreamlands.

Obsessive Motivation: Those who have studied the cylinders in depth must make a SAN test to avoid gaining a new motivation “Chronicle the Dream”, a compulsion to continue writing the story contained on the artefacts surfaces. In the future, after any difficult or stressful situations (e.g. one in which considerable SAN was lost) the affected individual will find it increasingly tempting to seek refuge in the Dreamlands, retiring there in order to continue the writing the ongoing story on the brick cylinders.

“It is told that in the immemorial years when the world was young, before ever the men of Sarnath came to the land of Mnar, another city stood beside the lake; the gray stone city of Ib, which was old as the lake itself, and people with beings not pleasing to behold. Very odd and ugly these beings, as indeed are most beings of a world yet inchoate and rudely fashioned. It is written on the brick cylinders of Kadatheron that the Beings of Ib were in hue as green as the lake and the mists that rise above it; that they had bulging eyes, pouting, flabby lips, and curious ears, and were without voice.” 

— The Doom That Came to Sarnath, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1919.

CTHULHU CULT (Angell’s Files)

Professor Angell’s box of collected documents

Language: English

Eras Available: any time after 1925

Study time & SAN loss: days; 1D4 SAN.

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits: gain a specialist knowledge about the Cthulhu Cult.

Rituals: Summon Entities (Star Spawn). This ritual can only be extracted from the text through extended study and detailed additional research.

Stored in a tin box bearing the plain paper label “CTHULHU CULT”, this diverse collection of papers and notebooks was collated by Professor Gamell Angell and his great-nephew Francis Wayland Thurston (who also served as administrator of the professor’s estate).

The box contains the following documents, most of them handwritten accounts:

  • 1925: Dream and Dream Work of HA Wilcox, 7 Thomas St., Providence.
  • Description from Inspector John R. Legrasse, 121 Bienville St., New Orleans, LA., At the 1908 meeting of the American Archaeological Society in St. Louis & notes on this description & additional information from Prof. Webb.
  • Notes on unusual dreams by various people from the period between February 28 and April 2, 1925 as well as excerpts from certain Theosophical books (e.g. W. Scott-Elliot’s Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria); also notes on long-standing secret societies and hidden cults, with references to Frazer’s Golden Bough and Murray’s Witch-Cult in Western Europe.
  • Numerous newspaper clippings from all over the world, concerning outbreaks of group madness, panic, sectarianism, gloomy visions of the future, voodoo orgies and riots in asylums during the (Northern Hemisphere) Spring of 1925; also reports of a general increases in mental illness during the same period.
  • The handwritten travel diary of the Norwegian sailor Gustaf Johansen, in English, describing a maddening encounter in the Pacific during the (Northern Hemisphere) Spring of 1925.
  • Thurston’s own notes and conclusions drawn from Johansen’s manuscript.
  • Bundled in the box along with the documents is a clay bas-relief, depicting a tentacle-faced monstrosity with wings (see also Cthulhu Idol).

“That was the document I read, and now I have placed it in the tin box beside the bas-relief and the papers of Professor Angell. With it shall go this record of mine — this test of my own sanity, wherein is pieced together that which I hope may never be pieced together again. I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me. But I do not think my life will be long. As my uncle went, as poor Johansen went, so I shall go. I know too much, and the cult still lives.” 

— The Call of Cthulhu, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1926.

Daemonolatreiae Libri III

The witch hunter’s tract by Nicolaus Remigius

Language: Latin

Eras Available: any time after 1595

Study time & SAN loss: weeks; 1D6 SAN.

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits:

  • +5 percentiles to a relevant Occult skill
  • gain a specialist knowledge of witches, witch cults and witch hunting

Rituals: Accelerated HealingElder Sign, Inflict HarmPowder of Ibn-Ghazi, Voorish Sign.

The Demonolatria or “three books on the devil cult” were written by judge and witch hunter Nicolaus Remigius (also known as Nicolas Rémy), apparently in 1595. This work replaced the Witch Hammer as the most important manual describing witches and their craft. The (literal) witch hunts led by Remigius arrested many innocent victims as well as identifying numerous alleged “devil worshipers”. But among these regrettable excesses, Remigius also managed to capture a few true worshipers of the Old Ones and through their torture, learn some true information. Thus it was that he came to discover the true nature of witch cults and their association with The Dark Man. These details made their way into his treatise. However, the rituals he recorded are described in an extremely cryptic fashion and can only be properly comprehended through extensive and careful study.

Obsessive Motivation: After studying the book thoroughly, the reader must make a SAN test to avoid developing an overwhelming compassion for the innocently persecuted witches and a desire to avenge any similar injustice. This manifests as a special type of mental disorder “Punish the Persecutor”, which is triggered by appropriate situations or significant SAN losses through helplessness. Navigating these powerful compulsions is difficult. After all, who is truly a persecutor and who is a victim? The boundaries are often not as precise as one would like them to be.

“Dr Armitage slept, but was partly delirious the next day. […] He would shout that the world was in danger, since the Elder Things wished to strip it and drag it away from the solar system and cosmos of matter into some other plane or phase of entity from which it had once fallen, vigintillions of aeons ago. At other times he would call for the dreaded Necronomicon and the Daemonolatreia of Remigius, in which he seemed hopeful of finding some formula to check the peril he conjured up.” 

— The Dunwich Horror, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1928.

Ilarnek Papyri

Ancient knowledge of Earth’s Dreamlands

Language: Language of the Dreamlands (only to be read in the Dreamlands)

Eras Available: any, but only in the Dreamlands

Study time & SAN loss: weeks; 1D6 SAN.

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits: if the setting includes a skill for Dreamlands knowledge, increase it by +10 percentiles.

Rituals: Accelerated HealingAklo Sabaoth (Hypnos), Aklo Sabaoth (Nodens), DHO-HNA Formula, Prolong Life, See Through The Ages, Sign of Koth.

The Ilarnek Papyri contain diverse knowledge about Earth’s Dreamlands and their inhabitants. It also records information about ancient creatures like the Beings of Ib and their god-idol Bokrug, and even details about vanished cities like the unfortunate Sarnath. The scroll also describes certain gods of the Dreamlands (Hypnos, Nodens) and some terrifying details about things that live in the underworld of the Dreamlands, such as the hideous Gugs and Ghasts. The Game Moderator can use this book, easily located in the library of the cat-dominated City of Ulthar (and probably elsewhere in the Dreamlands), as a kind of encyclopaedia which may be consulted for any knowledge about the Dreamlands.

Obsessive Motivation: After studying the papyri thoroughly, the reader must make a SAN test to avoid developing a new motivation “Quest for Sarnath and Ib” (which replaces one of the existing motivations on their character sheet). The affected individual feels compelled to seek out and visit Sarnath and Ib, both said to be cities in the land of Mnar. Each time the individual loses points of SAN, their longing for the Dreamlands increases. It is quite conceivable that the reader will eventually feel the urge to use dream-inducing drugs or use other methods to increase their sleep cycles to permit more time to attain their goal. But what will happen when the compelled individual actually finds the dead city of Ib shrouded in fog?

“It is also written that [the Beings of Ib] descended one night from the moon in a mist; they and the vast still lake and gray stone city Ib. However this may be, it is certain that they worshiped a sea-green stone idol chiseled in the likeness of Bokrug, the great water-lizard; before which they danced horribly when the moon was gibbous. And it is written in the papyrus of Ilarnek, that they one day discovered fire, and thereafter kindled flames on many ceremonial occasions. But not much is written of these beings, because they lived in very ancient times, and man is young, and knows but little of the very ancient living things.” 

— The Doom That Came to Sarnath, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1919.

The King in Yellow (play)

The play that spreads madness

Language: English (or any other language)

Eras Available: the canonical form of the play sprang into existence in the 1890s, but it is likely that versions existed far earlier than this (in other languages)

Study time & SAN loss: hours; to see the entire play as a spectator is enough for the play to be considered “studied; 1D20 SAN.

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits: N/A.

Rituals: Summon Entity (King in Yellow).

This myth-shrouded play – written by an unknown playwright – has a reputation of being able to not only render its audience insane, but also spread like a virus. Despite being banned by governments and denounced by churches, it somehow continues to finds new victims. According to some accounts, the playwright is said to have shot himself. Others versions of the tale, however, claim that the play’s creator is alive and well.

The play itself is a two-act piece that takes place in the mysterious city of Carcosa. Some of the characters appearing in it are Cassilda, Camilla, and “The Stranger”. The first act is harmless, almost ordinary, and ends with a cry from Camilla in the gloomy streets of Carcosa. The opening lines of the second act begin to cast a spell on the reader or viewer … and by the time the second act has been read/watched, the full effects of the play’s maddening effects have manifested. (As a case study of how much this can corrupt a person’s life, consider the sad example of Hildred Castaigne, whose words are quoted below).

The play is full of glittering, searing truths that penetrate the mind of the reader like poison and initiate them into the mystery of the Hyades. It inevitably establishes a connection between the reader and the King in Yellow (the entity). It likely also brings to light whatever deeply-buried, unpleasant truths reside in the reader’s soul – be they unfulfilled emotions, perverted desires, or unattainable ambitions. The King in yellow encourages the abandonment of reason to pursue these unmet wishes.

Furthermore, the play also reveals the true meaning of the Yellow Sign, even if the association the King in Yellow and other powers of the Cthulhu Mythos remains vague and elusive.

Decadent Obsession: Anyone who reads (or views) the piece in its entirety must make a SAN test to avoid developing an overwhelming compulsion to discuss the play and its content with anyone and everyone. The affected individual simultaneously also develops an obsession (a new mental Disorder) to indulge their darkest ambition without restraint.

“During my convalescence I had bought and read for the first time, The King in Yellow. […] I pray God will curse the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with this beautiful, stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, irresistible in its truth – a world which now trembles before the King in Yellow. When the French Government seized the translated copies which had just arrived in Paris, London, of course, became eager to read it. It is well known how the book spread like an infectious disease, from city to city, from continent to continent, barred out here, confiscated there, denounced by Press and pulpit, censured even by the most advanced of literary anarchists.” 

— The Repairer of Reputations, Robert Chambers, 1895.

Liber Damnatus Damnationum

The ancient book of damnation

Language: Latin

Eras Available: medieval and later

Study time & SAN loss: weeks; 1D6 SAN.

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits: +10 percentiles to a relevant Occult skill.

Rituals: Accelerated HealingAklo Sabaoth (Yog-Sothoth), Body SwapErase MemoriesForge Ancestral Bond, Prolong Life, Sign of Koth.

This medieval work – compiled by an unnamed monk – contains extensive occult knowledge from the fields of alchemy, Jewish Kabbalah and Christian mythology, specifically focussing on demons and angels. In addition to all this occult lore, the so-called “damned book of damnations” also contains significant description of the Unnatural. Both handwritten and printed copies are known to exist, although only very small numbers of each persist to the modern day.

The book contains information about various Great Old Ones such as Yog-Sothoth and Azathoth; is also contains in-depth information about Ghouls. One copy is believed to have been in the possession of the warlock Joseph Curwen and another is rumored to be kept in the “poison collection” of Miskatonic University in Arkham.

Pursued by Shadows: The damnation referred to by the book’s title is all too real and personal. Anyone who has studied the volume in depth gain an invisible shadow that accompanies them everywhere they go. This mystical pursuer becomes a little stronger, a little more visible and ever more independent each time the individual loses SAN. On the next occasion when the afflicted person hits their Breaking Point, the shadow finally assumes a solid physical form – a duplicate of the afflicted reader, constructed from pure darkness animated by its own independent will.

“And IT said, that ye III Psalms in ye Liber-Damnatus holdes ye Clauicle. With Sunne in V House, Saturne in Trine, drawe ye Pentagram of Fire, and saye ye ninth Uerse thrice. This Uerse repeate eache Roodemas and Hallow’s Eue; and ye Thing will breede in ye Outside Spheres. And of ye Seede of Olde shal One be borne who shal looke Backe, tho ‘know’g not what he seekes.” 

— The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1927.

The Nameless Book

A black book of horror

Language: Latin

Eras Available: medieval and later (hand transcribed)

Study time & SAN loss: weeks; 1D6 SAN.

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits: N/A.

Rituals: Body SwapDHO-HNA Formula, Open Dimensional Rift, See Through The Ages, Summon Entities (the specific beings targeted can be chosen by the GM), as well as other rituals as desired by the Game Moderator.

Several different editions of this book are known to exist: each is bound in a black, unadorned leather cover bearing no title. In all the copies reported to date, the first few pages are always missing, with the consequence that neither the title, the author, or even the year and place of printing are known. The pages of the medieval manuscript are all stained, damaged, worm-eaten.

This anonymous work primarily deals with the obscure realms between dimensions, and occult forms of travel through space and time. It describes several supernatural “portals” which provide entry to those unknown dimensions: some of them places in our world from such voyage can be embarked, others are described in terms of rituals that can open gateways. Both are described as dangerous, since any such portal has the potential to allow entry to whatever beings inhabit those unimaginable abysses beyond. Some of the places described in the book are especially bizarre, places where geometry as we know it breaks down.

The Nameless Book might also contain information about the properties of Unnatural beings, as well as knowledge about unimaginable forms of life such as Bholes or Colours Out Of Space.

Automatic Ritual: Anyone who completes a detailed study of this book automatically learns the ritual See Through The Ages, whether they wants to or not . No rolls are necessary to learn the ritual, but full SAN costs apply. From now on, every time the affected individual loses two or more points of SAN in a single loss, this ritual activates by itself (the individual still pays the normal SAN and WP costs from the activation). This grants the affected individual a vision into the past or future of either the place where he or current is currently locate, or of an object or person who is present.

“These cycles of experience, of course, all stem from that worm-riddled book. I remember when I found it — in a dimly lighted place near the black, oily river where the mists always swirl. That place was very old, and the ceiling-high shelves full of rotting volumes reached back endlessly through windowless inner rooms and alcoves. There were, besides, great formless heaps of books on the floor and in crude bins; and it was in one of these heaps that I found the thing. I never learned its title, for the early pages were missing; but it fell open toward the end and gave me a glimpse of something which sent my senses reeling.” 

— The Book, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1934.

The Necronomicon

The Book of the Names of the Dead – Abdul Alhazred’s Encyclopedia of Unnatural Knowledge

Language: Arabic / Greek / Latin / English (depending on the version of the work)

Eras Available: varies by edition (see table below); the earliest versions date from approximately 730 CE

Study time & SAN loss: weeks (English) / months (other versions); 1D6 SAN (English) / 1D10 SAN (other).

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits: +10 percentiles to a relevant Occult skill.

Rituals: Accelerated HealingAklo Sabaoth (Great Cthulhu), Aklo Sabaoth (Yog-Sothoth), Annihilation, Banish Entity, Body Swap, DHO-HNA Formula, Elder SignErase Memories, Essential Saltes, Inflict Harm, Open Dimensional RiftPowder of Ibn-Ghazi, Summon Entities (Deep Ones), Summon Entities (other creature types, at the discretion of the GM), Voorish Sign and any other ritual the Game Moderator wishes. The English translation lacks the Aklo Sabaoth rituals, the Banishment ritual, as well as Annihilation. It may also be incorrect and incomplete in various respects, as the GM decrees.

The Necronomicon is easily the most famous fictional tome invented by Lovecraft, mentioned in numerous stories written by him (and many more by other writers of Mythos fiction)

The original Arabic text of this book was published under the title Al Azif, purportedly written by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. This curious figure is said to have been a scholar born around the year 700 CE in Sanaá in Yemen, who later in life supposedly visited numerous mystical and dangerous places before settling in Damascus around 730 CE to write of them in his grand treatise. Even in his lifetime he was considered to be insane, not least because he claimed to have found the fabled Irem, lost city of pillars, and discovered beneath its ruins records of a race older than humanity. According to various Mythos authorities, it was his discoveries in this place that began him on the path of worshipping a pair of unknown deities whom he named Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu. In the year 738 CE Alhazred was killed – or made to disappear – in a most horrific fashion. It is said that he was seized and devoured by invisible monsters in broad daylight.

The much feared Arabic book was translated into Greek under the title Necronomicon (“Book of Dead Names”) in 950 CE in Constantinople by Theodorus Philetas. Just 100 years later it was condemned for heresy and burned by the Patriarch Michael. In the Middle Ages, Olaus Wormius made a Latin translation that was printed in Germany in 1228 and reprinted in Spain in the 17th century. The Arabic original has been generally believed  lost since the Middle Ages.

The Latin and Greek translations were banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232. Nonetheless, another print of the Greek version appeared in Italy sometime between 1500 and 1550. The English scientist, astrologer and mystic John Dee (1527 to 1608 or 1609) produced an English translation at the end of the 16th century, although this version is incomplete and mainly survives as a variety of different handwritten versions, all of them quite flawed.

In its printed editions, the Necronomicon is a sizeable tome of more than 800 pages. The folios printed in black letter are usually bound in heavy leather and often have a metal clasp made of bronze.

Title Author / Translator Year Language Place of Publication Appearance Known Copies
Al Azif Abdul Alhazred (Author) approx. 730-738 Arabic Damascus handwritten manuscript, parchment is considered lost
Necronomicon Theodorus Philetas 950 AD Greek Constantinople handwritten manuscript, parchment is considered lost
Necronomicon Theodorus Philetas 16th century (between 1500 – 1550) Greek Italy printed edition Copy of the Pickman family burned in Salem in 1692 or disappeared with R.U. Pickman in 1926
Necronomicon Olaus Wormius 1228 Latin Germany handwritten manuscript
Necronomicon Olaus Wormius 15th century Latin Germany printed edition Starry Wisdom Church (Federal Hill, Providence); British Museum (London); owned by an American millionaire; Joseph Curwen (Providence); Kingsport
Necronomicon Olaus Wormius 17th century Latin Spain printed edition Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris), Widener Library (Harvard), Miskatonic University (Arkham), University of Buenos Aires
Necronomicon John Dee 16th century English England fragmentary handwritten manuscript Wilbur Whateley (Dunwich)

The Necronomicon is probably the best-known and most extensive collection of Mythos knowledge ever compiled by human hands. Among other things, it contains:

  • A description of the city of Irem in the Arabian desert, which Alhazred himself visited.
  • Knowledge and rites of the Great Old Ones Yog-Sothoth and Great Cthulhu, as well as information about the “crawling chaos”, Nyarlathotep.
  • Descriptions and knowledge of the Deep Ones, Ghouls, Shoggoths and numerous other unnatural beings.
  • An overview of the history of the Elder Things and their cities in Antarctica.
  • Descriptions of mystical places such as the lightless N`kai or the dreaded plateau of Leng.
  • Drawings and descriptions of strange artifacts such as The Shining Trapezohedron or Leng’s Jade Soul-Amulet.
  • Descriptions of cross-dimensional and temporal travel, including astrological calculations and diagrams.
  • The story of the black pharaoh Nephren-Ka.


This list is of course not exhaustive. The Necronomicon can contain any Mythos information that the Game Moderator would like to make available to players. Of course, not all information drawn from its pages is necessarily correct.

Pursued by Devouring Things: Anyone who has intensively studied the Necronomicon in depth, places themselves at risk. As with Abdul Alhazred original scholarship, such study attracts the interest of beings from the spaces between the dimensions. On every subsequent occasion when the affected individual loses control of their faculties (whether by hitting their Breaking Point, or just falling prey to Temporary insanity or an episode of an ongoing disorder), they must roll D100. Any roll of 50 or below means that a trans-dimensional being has appeared to pursue the individual. If the otherworldly being seizes the afflicted person, they will try to drag them back to their dimension. No one knows the ultimate fate is some abducted in this fashion (since nobody has apparently returned to tell the tale).

Quotes from the Necronomicon

“N’gai, n’gha’ghaa, bugg-shoggog, y’hah; Yog-Sothoth, Yog-Sothoth.“

— The Dunwich Horror.

“The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. YogSothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread.“

— The Dunwich Horror.

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.“

— The Call of Cthulhu.

“Immediately upon beholding this amulet we knew that we must possess it; that this treasure alone was our logical pelf from the centuried grave. Even had its outlines been unfamiliar we would have desired it, but as we looked more closely we saw that it was not wholly unfamiliar. Alien it indeed was to all art and literature which sane and balanced readers know, but we recognized it as the thing hinted of in the forbidden Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred; the ghastly soul-symbol of the corpse-eating cult of inaccessible Leng, in Central Asia.“

— The Hound.

·         The Case of Charles Dexter Ward , Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1927.
·         The Dunwich Horror , Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1929.
·         The Dog , Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1924.
·         The Call of Cthulhu , Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1928.

Pnakotic Manuscripts

Fragments from a pre-human library

Language: Latin or Greek / Language of the Dreamlands (depending on the edition)

Eras Available: varies by edition; some versions of this text pre-date humanity, while others are modern transcriptions

Study time & SAN loss: weeks / months (Dreamlands version); 1D4 SAN / 1D8 SAN (Dreamlands version).

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits:

  • gain a specialist knowledge of the Great Race of Yith and their mechanisms for time travel (all versions);
  • if reading the Dreamlands version, and the setting includes a skill for Dreamlands knowledge, increase it by +10 percentiles

Rituals: Accelerated HealingAklo Sabaoth (Great Race of Yith), AnnihilationElder Sign, Erase Memories, Open Dimensional Rift, See Through The Ages, Sign of KothSummon Entity (The Black Man), Summon Entities (Shoggoth), plus further rituals as desired by the Game Moderator. The fragmentary copies in the waking world contain a maximum of two rituals, chosen by the GM.

The Pnakotic Manuscripts is a broad term used to describe a corpus of surviving documents that contain knowledge believed to date to pre-human times. The name stems from the lost city of Pnakotus, a central library of the Great Race of Yith in what is modern-day Australia. The general assumption is that the source “Pnakotic” texts represent parts of fragmentary manuscripts from that alien – or perhaps Yithian writings that pre-date the foundation of the library many millions of years ago.

According to Mythos lore, the original Pnakotiac Manuscripts were preserved by the peoples living in the pre-historic land of Lomar, believed to located in what is now Greenland. The scholars of that age preserved, translated, and even augmented the knowledge contained on the scrolls. When the capital of Lomar, Olathoë, was overrun, the scrolls – along with the remains of the Lomar civilization – were hurriedly transferred into the Dreamlands. It is said that (at least) one of the original scrolls still resides in the temple city of Ulthar. It is said that Barzai the Wise studied the Pnakotic Manuscripts before setting out to climb Mount Hatheg-Kla in search of the gods of the Dreamlands.

Due to their origin, the Pnakotic Manuscripts are not a uniform work, but rather a diverse collection of different documents in a variety of diverse languages, some of which have not survived (even as a legend) to the modern day. Some of the documents in this collection describe:

  • Knowledge of the cities and culture of the Great Race of Yith, including a chronicle of their history.
  • Certain details about the Elder Things and their workhorses, the Shoggoths.
  • Information about subterranean realms in the waking world, such as K’n-yan, red-litten Yoth and the black, lightless N’kai from whence Tsathoggua came.
  • Knowledge of the lost land of Lomar and its people.
  • Knowledge of the Dreamlands history and locations, as well as details about the gods of the earth.
  • Some evidence alluding to a relationship between Mount Kadath in the Cold Wastes (a location in the Dreamlands) and the Antarctic City of the Elder Things.
  • An ancient, illegible part of the fragments contains a drawing showing a seal similar to the one found on Mount Hatheg-Kla, by those who went searching for the missing high priest Barzai. This Cyclopean symbol – some 50 cubits (or 75 feet) wide – was left carved into the mountain, almost as if by a gigantic chisel. Common belief holds this is the seal of the other gods (which most likely means Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth, etc.).


In addition to the original Pnakotic scrolls that are said to remain in Ulthar in the modern Dreamlands, copies and excerpts of the such manuscripts are also circulating in the Waking World. These are certainly mere fragments of the original texts, far more piecemeal than to source texts; it is reasonable to assume that such copies only contain part of the knowledge and rituals.

Weakened Veils: A scholar who completes and in-depth study of the original (Dreamlands) text of the Pnakotic Manuscripts must make a SAN test to avoid acquiring a special mental disorder called “Blurred Reality”. A person so afflicted may suffer disconcerting sensation whenever an acute episode of the disorder is triggered (any time 2 or more SAN points are lost at the same time). While under the influence of such an episode, the unfortunate person experiences dream and reality as a kind of blur – one overlaid on the other. This state persists 1D6 days. (Note that this effect is what Lovecraft described in his story “Polaris”). While experiencing this altered perception, the afflicted person may well come to see reality as the dream, and effectively live their life as if in the Dreamlands.

Excerpts from the Pnakotic Manuscripts

“Now it is told in the molded Pnakotic Manuscripts that Sansu found naught but wordless ice and rock when he climbed Hatheg-Kla in the youth of the world. Yet when the men of Ulthar and Nir and Hatheg crushed their fears and scaled that haunted steep by day in search of Barzai the Wise, they found graven in the naked stone of the summit a curious and Cyclopean symbol fifty cubits wide, as if the rock had been riven by some titanic chisel. And the symbol was like to one that learned men have discerned in those frightful parts of the Pnakotic Manuscripts which are too ancient to be read. This they found.”

— The Other Gods.

“It’s from N’kai that frightful Tsathoggua came — you know, the amorphous, toad-like god-creature mentioned in the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon and the Commoriom myth-cycle preserved by the Atlantean high-priest Klarkash-Ton.”

— The Whisperer in Darkness.

“The things once rearing and dwelling in this frightful masonry in the age of dinosaurs were not indeed dinosaurs, but far worse. […] They were the makers and enslavers of that life, and above all doubt the originals of the fiendish elder myths which things like the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon affrightedly hint about. They were the Great Old Ones that had filtered down from the stars when earth was young — the beings whose substance an alien evolution had shaped, and whose powers were such as this planet had never bred.”

— At The Mountains of Madness.

“There may be a very real and very monstrous meaning in the old Pnakotic whispers about Kadath in the Cold Waste.”

— At The Mountains of Madness.

·      The Other Gods, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1933.
·      The Whisperer in the Dark, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1931.
·      At The Mountains of Madness , Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1936.

The Scientific Notes of Dr. Herbert West

The laboratory journal of an inspired but insane medical researcher

Language: English

Eras Available: any time after the notes were written (1905—1920)

Study time & SAN loss: days; 1D6 SAN.

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits:

  • +10 percentiles in Science (Chemistry), or similar skill
  • +10 percentiles in Medicine skill

Rituals: Elixir of Life, Powder of Ibn-Ghazi.

This book contains both the laboratory journal and diary of Dr. Herber West. It chronicles the numerous attempts and experiments that he undertook in his long quest to perfect a Re-Animation elixir. The notes span the years between 1905 and 1920. They begins with a description of his origins as a medical student at Miskatonic University in Arkham, proceeding through his experiments during the Great War, before ending with accounts of independent experiments of his own devising.

The records show that West did not personally believe in the existence of a ‘soul’, but rather saw biological and chemical processes as the basis of all life. Hence, by his reasoning, the “state of death” should in principle be reversible through scientific procedures – this is effectively the hypothesis he wanted to prove with the development of an Re-Animating elixir.

West began his experimentation with small animals as subjects, but quickly learned that the solution must be of unique composition to work for each different species, and sometimes even for different specimens of the same species. He also learned that only very, very fresh corpses are suitable for his process.

Obsessive Motivation: Anyone who completes a detailed study of West’s notes must make a SAN test to avoid becoming obsessed by them. An affected individual succumbs to the captivating thought that it just might be possible to conquer death in the way West described. In game terms, they add a new character motivation “Conquering death” to their character sheet, overwriting a previous motivation. On each subsequent occasion when a close acquaintance (e.g. a bond, another character or a friendly non-player character) dies, the afflicted individual is sorely tempted to try using the Elixir of Life on the deceased person (a successful SAN test quashes this dubious urge). Alternatively, if afflicted individual has not yet studied and mastered the Elixir of Life ritual, he or she becomes overwhelmingly compelled to delve back into West’s notes and learn the ritual.

“Holding with Haeckel that all life is a chemical and physical process, and that the so-called “soul” is a myth, my friend [Herbert West] believed that artificial reanimation of the dead can depend only on the condition of the tissues; and that unless actual decomposition has set in, a corpse fully equipped with organs may with suitable measures be set going again in the peculiar fashion known as life. That the psychic or intellectual life might be impaired by the slight deterioration of sensitive brain cells which even a short period of death would be apt to cause, West fully realized. It had at first been his hope to find a reagent which would restore vitality before the actual advent of death, and only repeated failures on animals had shewn him that the natural and artificial life motions were incompatible.He then sought extreme freshness in his specimens, injecting his solutions into the blood immediately after the extinction of life.” 

— Herbert West: Reanimator, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1922.

The Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan

Seven scrolls of cryptic and Unnatural knowledge

Language: Chinese / Language of the Dreamlands (original version)

Eras Available: Chinese editions date back to 1st millennium BCE although English translations are much more modern; Dreamlands versions can be encountered in any era

Study time & SAN loss: days / weeks (original version); 1D4 SAN / 1D8 SAN (original version).

Unnatural Skill: scholar gains a number of percentiles in the Unnatural skill equal to the amount of the SAN lost during initial studies.

Other Benefits: if reading the Dreamlands version, and the setting includes a skill for Dreamlands knowledge, increase it by +10 percentiles.

Rituals: Annihilation, DHO-HNA Formula, Elder Sign, Prolong LifeSummon Entities (Bholes), Summon Entities (Ghouls), Summon Entities (Winged Servants). Partial copies in the waking world usually only contain the knowledge and ritual relating to one scroll, at the discretion of the GM.

The oldest and most complete version of the fabled Seven Cryptic Books of Hsan is kept in the form of seven ancient scrolls in the Dreamlands. They reside in the temple of Ulthar. Whether the work was created in the Dreamlands or originated in the Waking World remains a mystery, as is whether Hsan is a person or a place.

Copies of individual scrolls or incomplete transcriptions of parts of their text have also appeared in the Waking World, perhaps the work of persistent Chinese dreamers. A tradition has sprung up around these transcribed texts, imputing them as being the work of  a Chinese scholar named Hsan, who lived in the first millennium BCE. In addition to the ancient Chinese transcriptions, it is known that at least some have been translated into English (usually given the slightly different title “Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan”).

The contents of each of the seven scrolls is described below, along with the ritual contained within the text (shown in square brackets):


Special Disorder: Anyone who has read all seven scrolls in their full original text spontaneously has an epiphany during which they recognizes a pattern that links everything in the Universe. To them, the cryptic becomes all too clear, and all the pieces of the puzzle seem to fall into the right place. A person who undergoes this remarkable awakening also receives a new mental disorder – megalomania. After all, someone who sees the interconnectedness of all things can never be wrong ever again, can they?

“In Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, once dwelt an old man avid to behold the gods of earth; a man deeply learned in the seven cryptical books of Hsan, and familiar with the Pnakotic Manuscripts of distant and frozen Lomar. His name was Barzai the Wise, and the villagers tell of how he went up a mountain on the night of the strange eclipse.” 

— The Other Gods, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1921.

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