Of course, the other joy (and Lovecraftian tradition) of Call of Cthulhu is making up your own eldritch tomes full of mind-shattering cosmic horror. The following is what I came up with as an alternative to the Necronomicon for a multivalent “ultimate tome of horror” – I generally prefer a game that is more focused on the Elder Gods rather than the Great Old Ones, and even when I focus on the GOO’s I shy away from Cthulhu because he tends to be done to death. In any case, as with the Oer Linda Book, part of the fun with doing this sort of thing is detailing out the various versions of the book through the ages. With a Necronomicon-like book this is (as you see below) much more than the simple editions (which is essentially what the Oer Linda Book was written up as). This is a collection of closely related tomes which all deal with the same eldritch mystery across both time and cultures. I actually have notes on three or four more related texts (including at least two more modern ones, this was originally written for a Classic Era campaign) that I haven’t detailed yet, those will form a new post in the future.
The Song of Samael
Song of Samael is a complex allegory poem that is considered one of the great lost Gnostic source materials. It discusses the great song of creation and destruction that the Demiurge, the great blind God, sings as surrounded by his servants at the center of Creation – in the chaos that comes without awareness or wisdom. Portions deal with the place of humanity in creation, the nature of the four-fold world, and the multiple emanations of the Demiuge that both plague and inspire humanity, through the Fall of Man as well as the hope of his Apotheosis. Some scholars have recently questioned a possible connection between the Song of Samael and the Massa di Requiem per Shuggay though no definitive proof has ever been unearthed. Similar relationships have been posited with the Dhol Chants.
Singing Across the Centuries: A Historical Analysis of the Song of Samael.
Produced shortly before the Great War in 1911, this text was derived from the doctoral thesis of Dr. Samuel J. Wight, who is currently associated with the newly created Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Obscure in nature, it is generally only found on the shelves of university libraries, though a few have found their way into private hands.
- (English: Sanity: -1d3, Unnatural: +1/+2, Occult, Anthropology, & History Checks, 3 Weeks – Mythos Rating: 9)
- No Spells
Joachim Feery’s Notes on the Canticum Yaldabaoth:
One of Mr. Feery’s last pamphlets, this was published in English in 1903. Similar to his Notes on the Necronomnicon, this consists primarily of translated portions of the Latin text with a series of annotations and footnotes.
- (English: Sanity: -1d6, Unnatural: +1/+3, Occult: +2, 6 Weeks – Mythos Rating: 12)
- No Spells
The Song of the Creator
Translated in 1900 from the Greek Āisma Dēmiourgos by Dr. W. J. Spencer-Knowles, it was the culmination of a twenty project on his part at the end of his career. Considered a brilliant and accurate translation, though often disturbing due to bleak projections on the nature of the universe, a freak fire destroyed most of the copies at the printers and there has been little demand for another printing run. Thirteen copies are thought to have survived, which are found in university libraries for the most part.
- (English: Sanity: -2d6, Unnatural: +2/+3, Occult: +2, 12 Weeks – Mythos Rating: 15)
- Spells: Call/Dismiss Daoloth, Contact Azathoth, Contact Daoloth, Contact Vorvados, Summon/Bind Dimensional Shambler, Dread Curse of Azathoth, Shrivelling
The Song of Bind God Sammael – Hear the Roar of the Lion-Faced Serpent
Privately published in London in 1898, the author remains unknown. The run of one-hundred and one volumes bound in black leather and printed in a curious silver ink is difficult to read and a comparison of the different volumes shows subtle differences. It is unknown if this is purposeful or if it is a printing error. Given the generally high quality of the printing it is thought that there is some meaning to the differences though no-one has ever managed to gather to enough of different volumes together to manage viable a textual analysis. This translation seems to derive from a combination of the Greek and Latin texts, and there is little else in the text other than a somewhat terse introduction and some fragmentary footnotes.
- (English: Sanity: -1d6, Unnatural: +2/+6, Occult: +5, 12 Weeks – Mythos Rating: 24)
- Spells: Contact Azathoth, Contact Daoloth, Contact Nyarlathotep, Contact Vorvados, Dread Curse of Azathoth, Shrivelling, Elder Sign, Voorish Sign
Ballade du Dieu Aveugle
Transcribed in 1354 by the Comte de Montange, the “Ballad of the Blind God” during the terrible times of the Black Death after listening to cries of the dying in the rural regions around Langeudoc. This octavo was barely published before being denounced by the church, with all copies banned and then many burned. A significant number survived however in the hands of the Inquisition as they searched out similar sources of heresy, and a similar number remained in private hands as well.
- (French: Sanity: -2d4, Unnatural: +1/+2, Occult: +3, 20 Weeks – Mythos Rating: 9)
- Spells: Contact Azathoth, Contact Daoloth, Contact Nyarlathotep, Summon/Bind Servitor of the Outer Gods, Dread Curse of Azathoth, Shrivelling
Testament des Zeichens der Löwe-Gesicht Schlange
This 917 version is a handmade copy of a now lost version that dated from the time of Charlemagne. The “Testament of the Sign of the Lion-Face Serpent” was ordered by the Holy Roman Emperor himself. It records the tale of the destruction of a pagan cult of blind singers by the warriors of Charlemagne and the interrogation of the few survivors. Replete with details of human sacrifice, sexual perversity, and bestiality it has always had an unsavory reputation. Only three copies are known to exist, one in private hands and one each in library of the University of Munich and Heidelberg. Rumors persist that the original is contained within the Z Collection of the Vatican Library.
- (Old High German: Sanity: -2d4 Unnatural: +2/+4, Occult +6, 30 Weeks – Mythos Rating: 18)
- Spells: Call/Dismiss Nyarlathotep, Contact Azathoth, Contact Daoloth, Contact Nyarlathotep, Contact Tzulscha, Contact Yog-Sothoth, Summon/Bind Dimensional Shambler, Summon/Bind Servitor of the Outer Gods, Dread Curse of Azathoth, Shrivelling
This version, the “Song of the Son of Chaos” dates to the Crisis of the Third century, and was recorded by members of Imperial Cult who saw the changes and chaos of Imperial Rome and its court as endemic of the Emperors. It’s authorship is attributed to Vibius Lartius Priscus, a black magician and sorcerer of that time period. The earliest known manuscript has been dated to the reign of Philip the Arab (244-249 C.E.), and is usually dated to 248. Speculation remains rampant among scholars as to the possible association of the Philip the Arab in the establishment of the Yaldabaoth Cult. Secret and hidden, some scholars suggest that it is a resurgence or survivor of the Imperial Cults associated with Caligula and Nero while others insist that Philip brought it to Rome from Persia. The British Museum and the Huntington Library in California are known to have copies, as does the Z Collection of the Vatican. At least two copies are known to be held in private collections. There was an excellent copy at the University of Prague prior to the Great War but it disappeared during the conflict.
- (Latin: Sanity: -2d6, Unnatural: +3/+6, Occult: +4, 36 Weeks – Mythos Rating: 27)
- Spells: Call/Dismiss Daoloth, Call/Dismiss Nyarlathotep, Call/, Contact Azathoth, Contact Daoloth, Contact Nyarlathotep, Contact Tzulscha, Contact Yog-Sothoth, Summon/Bind Dimensional Shambler, Summon/Bind Servitor of the Outer Gods, Dread Curse of Azathoth, Shrivelling
Fragments of this version, which translates as the “Song of the Demiurge” date to the chaos of the Persian invasions around 500 B.C.E. Contemporary accounts speak of the hymns of damned priests from Persia in the vanguard of some of the Persian armies, as well as their unholy rites and orgiastic frenzies that they indulged in. Written and recorded by scholar Argyros the Delian with a series of commentaries on the Greco-Persian Wars, this work is a gigantic and complex text that includes a significant alternate history of the Delian League and elements of the Persian Court. Hints at terrible alliances within the Greeks and foul bloodlines among the Persians run concurrent with the Argyros’ rendition of the Song of the Demiurge. Copes of this are exceedingly rare, the only complete one known being held at the British Museum.
- (Ancient Greek: Sanity: -2d6, Unnatural: +3/+7, Occult: +5, 52 Weeks, History Check – Mythos Rating: 30)
- Spells: Call/Dismiss Daoloth, Call/Dismiss Nyarlathotep, Call Vorvados, Call/Dismiss Yog-Sothoth, Contact Azathoth, Contact Daoloth, Contact Nyarlathotep, Contact Tzulscha, Contact Vorvados, Contact Yog-Sothoth, Summon/Bind Dimensional Shambler, Summon/Bind Servitor of the Outer Gods, Dread Curse of Azathoth, Shrivelling, Elder Sign, Eye of Light and Darkness, Vach-Viraj Incantation, Voorish Sign
The original and lost version of the Song of Samael, there are several scholars who are positive that this version is forever lost though fragments have been found that confirm its existence. There are obscure references to this song throughout many obscure texts and it scholars believe that the original Shir Ha Samael dates to roughly 1000 B.C.E. Abd al-Azrad mentions in the Kitab Al-Azif to listening to a choir of 666 blind monks and nuns who sang “hymns to the daemon sultan” accompanied by unseen flautists who piped with maddening monotony in the nights of the Empty Quarter. Knowledgeable occultists agree that this is a reference to the dreaded Song of Samael.
- (Ancient Aramaic: Sanity: -2d8, Unnatural: +4/+9, Occult: +6, 64 Weeks – Mythos Rating: 42)
- Spells: Call/Dismiss Azathoth, Call/Dismiss Daoloth, Call/Dismiss Nyarlathotep, Call/Dismiss Tulzscha, Call/Dismiss Yog-Sothoth, Contact Azathoth, Contact Daoloth, Contact Nyarlathotep, Contact Tzulscha, Contact Yog-Sothoth, Summon/Bind Dimensional Shambler, Summon/Bind Servitor of the Outer Gods, Dread Curse of Azathoth, Shrivelling