I’m reading through Pelgrane Press’ Cthulhu Confidential at the moment and I’m really loving the thought and care they’ve taken in building a RPG focused on a 1 GM and 1 player setup. More significantly for this post, one of the sections within the GM section of the book got me thinking about the origin of the various books that appear in the Cthulhu mythos. Specifically, wouldn’t it be cool to build a game or adventure around the creation of one of these tomes? Here are a few ideas for using this idea to build games around some of the more obscure texts of the Mythos!
- The Celaeno Fragments – The Celaeno Fragments appear in August Derleth’s novel The Trail of Cthulhu. The book is based on the discoveries of Professor Laban Shrewsbury who visits the planet Celaeno several times as he escapes Cthulhu’s minions. This is a great opportunity for the players to be part of Professor Shrewsbury’s party, evading Cthulhu’s spawn and followers while raiding the Great Library of Celaeno.
- The Eltdown Shards – The Eltdown Shards are pottery fragments dating to the Triassic period and are first referenced by Richard Searight’s story, “The Sealed Casket.” The shards are translated as a text very similar to the Pnakotic Manuscripts developed by the Great Race of Yith and seem related to the summoning of the “Warder of Knowledge.” Since the shards are part of a larger piece of pottery, this is a great opportunity to introduce some Cthuhlu-mythos inspiration into a game set in older history. Perhaps the pottery is in the hands of ancients bent on summoning the warder and the player’s are responsible for stopping the summoning and shattering the pottery (creating the shards for latter generations!).
- On the Sending Out of the Soul – This pamphlet appears in Henry Kuttner’s short story “Hydra.” The pamphlet weighs in at eight pages and circulated about Salem, MA in the late 1700’s, describing how to experience astral travel without fail and with simple supplies (a brazier and cannabis). One small side effect, the ritual always summons the outer god, Hydra. For a game set in the investigation of the occult (witch hunters!) in Salem, this setup practically writes itself.
- Unaussprechilchen Kulten/Nameless Cults – Nameless Cults is pretty well known in Mythos circles, but it’s the one that inspired this list, so I’m including it anyway. The tome was first introduced by Robert Howard (of Conan fame) in the short stories “The Children of the Night” and “The Black Stone.” In the mythos, the book was written by Friedrich Willhelm von Juntz and covers his investigation of a variety of different cults and their lore and beliefs prior to his grisly demise. The players could easily be involved in his investigations periodically – or one of the players could be Friedrich himself!
There are numerous texts mentioned and described in the various works that make up the Cthulhu mythos, making for lots of opportunities to work the mythos into your games in a subtle way while creating potential future plot hooks!