Friday 24 October 2014

Don't read this: tomes of doom in USR Mythos

I like the thought of a book so evil, so mind-shattering that it psychologically breaks the reader and sends them into a spiral of madness. What a great book. Of course, the daddy of them all is the Necronomicon. We all know it and its power to bring on the crazy wholesale. But what about other cult books? Let's run through some that could be making an appearance in USR Mythos:

Book of Ways

Thought to be written in the 13th century by an unnamed sorcerer, the Book of Ways would come to be known by Christians as a Satanic text, although this would be profoundly wrong. The Book of Ways had nothing to do with Judeo-Christian religion, but everything to do with spells to conjure cosmic entities from the vast reaches of the universe. The book describes the Four Ways that are required to summon such a creature, which include the Way of Flesh, the Way of Silence, the Way of the Mind and the Way of Death. For centuries the Book of Ways has been lost, although some antiquarians believe they have spotted it at night auctions among dealers of the cursed and corrupt.

Codex Incantum

An 11th century text written by a man called Edward Black, the Codex Incantum was found sealed in a vault beneath the surface of Castle Rising in Norfolk, England. The book details magic spells and curses, as well as instructions on enchanting and ensnaring through magical means. It is a book that is said to corrupt all who read it, although its current whereabouts is unknown, like so many of these tomes.

Livre de Gris 

A 17th century French book, the Livre de Gris is an account of one Pierre Durand, a scholar at the University of Strasbourg who stumbled across a tomb filled with dead creatures from another world. Durand spent two years writing about the strange beings - detailing their physiology, naming them, and, eventually, going mad from his discoveries.

Forbidden Lore

Stephanie Corrin, a 19th century witch, wrote what was considered to be one of the most blasphemous books in existence. When the book was published, the Mayor of London had Corrin arrested and copies of Forbidden Lore burnt on a pile. The book contains incantations, rites, songs, pictures and enchantments that were revealed to Corrin in a series of dreams over 10 years. Corrin would later be hanged for her sins and any remaining books were hunted down by the authorities. However, being so sought after, few remaining copies of Forbidden Lore have made their way into the hands of collectors, scholars and the criminally insane.

The effects of reading maddening tomes

The ideas and reports written in these rare books bring both power and psychological damage to those who read and comprehend their words. In game terms, their sanity score decreases by an amount that is dependant on the severity of contents in the book. However, in sacrificing sanity, the reader will gain a better understanding of the Mythos, offering a temporary bonus to relevant Wits checks.

Where to find these books

Books such as these are generally incredibly scarce, with many only existing as a sole copy. The easier-to-acquire ones can likely be found in university libraries or museums. Those that are more difficult to get your hands on will fall into the hands of collectors at auction, while incredibly rare and powerful books can only be found via discovery or on the black market. Generally the harder they are to get hold of, the more information can be gained and the higher the sanity loss.

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