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AnOptionalMagicSystemfor
CALLOFCTHULHUandBASICROLEPLAYING
Mythos
Magic
An Optional Magic System for
Call of Cthulhu and Basic Roleplaying

By Christian Read
Art by Christian Read

Additional editorial and layout assistance


by Whiskey & Tipple

Chaosium Inc. 2007


all contents copyright © 2007 by chaosium inc.
all rights reserved.
Call of Cthulhu is a registered trademark of Chaosium Inc.
This book copyright © 2007 by Chaosium Inc. as a whole, all rights reserved.

2 MYTHOS MAGIC
Chapter One
Wherein the Nature of Magic is Discussed

Defining Magic Perhaps the best modern definition


comes from one of the foremost
magicians of the modern era,
For decades magic has been a back-
Aleister Crowley:
bone and prominent feature of Call
of Cthulhu. Whether it is a race to A Magic is the Highest, most
stop the summoning of some god or Absolute, and most divine Knowledge
alien, the need to communicate with of natural Philosophy, advanced in
things on other worlds by means of the works and wonderful operations
arcane scripture, or solving murders by a right understanding of the
done with hexes rather than guns, inward and occult virtue of things; so
magic has been inevitably wedded to that true Agents being applied to
the game narrative. proper Patients, strange and
admirable effects will thereby be pro-
Here is, hopefully, a useful break- duced. Whence magicians are pro-
down of what magic is, what it can found and diligent searchers into
do, how it works and how nature; they, because of their skill,
Investigators can make it work for know how to anticipate an effect, the
them. Of course, humans are not the which to the vulgar shall seem to be
only ones who can use this mysteri- a miraculous.
ous force and Mythos specific magic
is also examined. Magic is emphatically not a science
as we understand it. If magic obeys
empirical facts, repeatable experi-
ments and working hypotheses, they

What is Magic?
are beyond human comprehension.
Science is a philosophy that claims
that truth can be arrived at empiri-
Asking what is magic is about as use- cally, using testable, predictive and
ful as asking what is art? The falsifiable theories. Magic is none of
debates go on forever and are ulti- these. A television picks up a signal,
mately subjective and have been had converting information to pictures.
to death. For ease of use, we will The process can be explained, repli-
define magic as a set of perfor- cated, shown to be true over and
mances that, if used, create effects over again. A crystal ball shows a
largely outside empirical or objective picture because, ultimately, you said
established physical law. It is a cir- the right spell and you imagined it
cumscribed set of behaviors that cre- would work. Magic is an art, a disci-
ate effects and results. pline, an act of faith, a tool we can
CHAPTER 1: THE NATURE OF MAGIC 3
never understand the inner workings rationalism. The carvings the Elder
of. Like the imagination it comes out Things created in their weird stone
of, like consciousness, humans are tapestry beneath the Mountains of
simply unequipped to categorize and Madness tell the story of waves of
deconstruct sorcery. Because if we alien invasion, migration and evolu-
did, that wouldn’t be magic but tion. Even mighty Cthulhu is revealed
rather science. Magic is always as an extraterrestrial and not a hedo-
supernatural, outside of the nature nistic, hungry god. In The Shunned
humans can understand, always House, we have a story of
transgressive and strange. flamethrowers and scientific gad-
getry.
This book will not seek to provide
concrete answers concerning either Yet, there is also the terrible familiar,
magic, or the nature of it in a Brown Jenkin. The vile congress with
Lovecraftian universe. To do so gods Lavinia Whately is subject to,
would be to fly directly into the face the strange case of one Charles
of the tradition of vagueness and Dexter Ward and his sorcerous rela-
unsystematic plot devices rather tive. If one reads certain blasphe-
than solid answers in Lovecraft and mous books closely enough, it seems
his best followers worked so dili- even the Great Alien Cthulhu holds a
gently to create. Instead, it will out- place of religious primacy amongst
line various ways to view the phe- his star-spawn. Science and magic lie
nomenon of magic within the frame- side by side in the Mythos. Is the
work of a Lovecraftian universe. Shining Trapezohedron a monster
The rouge physicist who views Yog- summoning gem, or is it some signal
Sothoth as an elaborate mathemati- device that utilizes geometry utterly
cal code will foolishly see magic as a alien to the human sensibility? Is the
kind of science. The mad, tooth- star’s rightness an astrological phe-
sharpened Shaman of the Congo will nomenon, or is it astronomical? Does
see his screaming chants as just it matter? Should it?
another, darker part of his rites. The Lovecraft wound together black
saffron-robed Acolyte of the Order of magic and mad science, scientifiction
Silver Twilight will see Azathoth as a and gothic with no regard for or
kind of Qlippothic Ain Soph, interest in strict genre boundaries.
approachable through the Tunnels of The Mythos makes little internal
Set. These ways of examining magic sense and was never really supposed
are called paradigms and are dis- to. What is clearly a super-science in
cussed below. one story is black magic in another.
It is a mistake to do otherwise and
while, for convenience and campaign

Magic in the Mythos


continuity sake, it may be useful for
a Keeper to decide on a paradigm,
they should also be willing to throw
The Cthulhu Mythos of H.P Lovecraft out all established ideas on magic on
use traditional magic only a few a case by case basis. Humans, after
times but it is always shown as a all, are never more ignorant or vul-
frightening, potent force. So much of nerable than when they think they
the Mythos is based upon fabulous have an answer.
4 MYTHOS MAGIC
Paradigms of Quantum theory was new in
Lovecraft’s lifetime but its bizarre
Lovecraftian Magic and counter-intuitive demi-logic
seems perfectly fitted to be viewed
A paradigm is a set of practices and
as a cruel kind of mysticism. Its
beliefs that view how we look at any-
strange dependency upon the
thing. They represent the basic
observers and superposition, its
assumptions we make about knowl-
notions that all human sensibility is
edge. Magic has several paradig- utterly fallible and that our most
matic notions attached to it. A basic notions such as matter, light
Keeper may wish to examine the par- and time are not only wrong but inca-
adigms not so as to create hard and pable of ever being correct can, in
fast rulings about magic, rather to the some interpretation, be seen as
guide the decisions they make con- the ultimate expression of the futility
cerning behind the scenes ruling, at the heart of the Mythos.
campaign creation and mood.
In this view of the Mythos, there are
neither gods nor monsters, simply
Magic as Superscience entities of differing power, knowl-
edge and states of being. The Elder
Lovecraft famously described himself Gods may indeed be nothing more
as a ‘mechanistic materialist’. He had than metaphors somehow made into
no time for supernatural or religious being through the pressures of cos-
beliefs. His own voluminous corre- mic principles we can never under-
spondence reveals that while he had stand. Perhaps they are somehow
an extensive interest in the history trapped in the micro-gravitic worlds
and anthropology, mythology and of branes and superstrings rather
the philosophy of occultism, he him- than sea and stone. Perhaps they are
self bore absolutely no belief in the branes and m-strings, or the expres-
supernatural. Therefore, the ‘magic’ sion of entities that live in five
of the Mythos is not some lore that dimensions. Or six, or twelve, or
somehow transcends physics, or twenty two, or a million.
rewrites the laws of the universe. The hand gestures and terrible
Rather it is some hitherto undiscov- chants may be nothing more than
ered science, some alien, perhaps techniques, when balanced and com-
lethal but utterly rational, predictive, bined with sentience, affect the
reproducible discipline. Human nature of the universe. Scream out
beliefs in the mystical, in the magical IA! IA! and it creates a fluctuation in
are at best an attempt to mimic the spacetime, sonic keys allowing the
thought processes and natural Byhakee, Nightgaunt, whatever, to
philosophies of creatures many entire into our Process. The ankh,
orders of magnitude beyond them. interestingly, is an example of the
Like monkeys left in control of super- curious geometric artifact called a
computers, perhaps results can be Klein bottle. The binding commands
had but they will be, at best, largely that controls the Shoggoth may be a
accidental. More likely, some primate kind of machine-language, a redun-
is going to press the wrong button, dancy built into those organic
or type in a very dangerous com- robots. However, as the Elder Things
mand. found out, those can be hacked.
CHAPTER 1: THE NATURE OF MAGIC 5
Chemistry creates the tools we build Mythos Magic
as Human Magic
our world with and the connections
between it and alchemy are well-
known and obvious. Building on this Magic as it has historically been prac-
idea: is genetic engineering an elab- ticed, is extremely hard to define.
orate, hidden paean to Shub- The most famous attempt to break
Niggurath? Perhaps contacting the magic down into a single, explicable
Sleeper in R’lyeh is not a spell that phenomenon comes again from that
drags ones astral form deep beneath most brilliant, arrogant of men, Alei-
the ocean ways but rather a barbaric ster Crowley, who said that magic
kind of psychological self-condition- was changing reality in accordance
ing that allows the ancient phantoms with one’s Will.
from the R-Complex, the limbic The famous grimoire, The Lesser Key
region, to interact with the newer, of Solomon says “Magic is the
feeble conscious mind of the mod- Highest, most Absolute, and most
ern, city-dwelling human. Perhaps Divine Knowledge of Natural
Cthulhu is just us, wrapped around Philosophy...Whence magicians are
our fish-dragon brains, waiting for profound and diligent searchers into
our bi-cameral house to come down. Nature; they, because of their skill,
know how to anticipate an effort, the
Of course, watching Mi-Go telekinetic which to the vulgar shall seem to be
vivisections at work is one thing, a miracle.’
experience in terms of rationality is
another. To the Fungi, the forces at In other words, through the practice
work during the grotesque biological and study of certain disciplines, the
experiments are no more mysterious world becomes both explicable and
amenable to our control. The Keeper
to a human than the closing of a fist
may decide that there is a secret,
or wielding of a scalpel. To a human,
mystical power in the universe that
there is no frame of reference for
transcends or transgresses observ-
these powers and the procedure is able physical phenomenon. There
explained in terms of the miraculous, are ways to influence the universe,
the magical. techniques we have to change the
If we are to view magic as super- world, approach hidden intelligence
science, we must always recall that and plumb the cosmos for its hidden
knowledge. In Western Magic, these
the nature of the universe, the empir-
intelligences are often called Angels
ical truths it reveals, are so unfath-
and Devils and they exist on a polar
omably bizarre and grotesque that
scale between good and evil, God
the human brain, that three pounds
and Satan. In a universe that emphat-
of meat shot through with a few ically rejects religion and the very
amps, can never truly recognize it. Is notion of morality, unless one is try-
has been said any technology suffi- ing to recreate the dualism intro-
ciently advanced is indistinguishable duced into the Mythos by the well-
from magic and perhaps that mani- meaning but misguided August
fests itself in no better way than the Dereleth, this is a poor, unsatisfying
endlessly mysterious Mythos. way to view Lovecraftian magic.
6 MYTHOS MAGIC
In other words, all traditional sadly is For many practitioners of the mantic
effective. Although it is a cloaking of arts, this provides a way to make
the true reality of magic. explicable the inexplicable and so is
in some ways equally as unsatisfying
While the magical formulae may give
as dualism. The Daemon Sultan is, by
us ‘contact with unknown spheres its nature, unanswerable, unknow-
and powers’, the costs are greater able and the existence of the Others
than the Western traditions ever makes a mockery of human mytholo-
guessed. A Keeper must bear this in gies and pantheons.
mind at all times. By way of example,
the great magician and spy, John Dee But the advantage of this viewpoint is
believed he was taught an alphabet that the role of magic in Call of
by angels. Within the context of his- Cthulhu becomes simpler, easier to
torical magic, this is considered one use and explicate. Magic is explained
of the great triumphs of sorcery. A as magic, a secret power. That is all
Lovecraftian context leaves Dee a the explanation one can give. Or that
blasted wreck, gibbering at the horri- one needs. Light moves in parcels
fying new thoughts the Enochian lan- and waves, gravity goes down and
guage allows him to express. Even spells work.
the horrors of Their Infernal In using this paradigm, one can ape
Majesties are but masks we place traditional modes of magic but one
over the Mythos creatures. The Black has to be prepared that the truths
Man of the Witches is indeed that have been passed down from
Nyarlathotep. The devil merely wants pontifex to magus, from madman to
to drag us down to god’s dungeon natural philosopher, are feeble chari-
but the Crawling Chaos wants to ties. Magic is darker, harder, more
make ruin and mockery of our civi- vicious than we can know and that
lization, before opening us up to cos- Divine Knowledge, instead of being
mic vistas that will leave our whole the goal of magic, may be a vicious
race mentally and spiritually, then trap lying in wait for all magicians.
perhaps physically, degraded and Divine Knowledge is that of the Outer
destroyed. Gods…
Of course, the historical tradition of ‘Primitive’ magic or folk religions
magic is a living one and work con- such as Nagual, Palo Monte, Santeria,
tinues to this day. Kenneth Grant and all may be as effective as Western
O.T.O did the earliest and perhaps magic. Perhaps more so. These are
the greatest work with Western eso- religions and magical frameworks
teric thought and the Mythos. In his that are based in the blood, the
seminal ‘Nightside of Eden’ Grant bone, the world around their practi-
drew connections between the tioners and the spirit world which
Mythos and the traditions of cannot be seen. The Divine
Kabbalah, creating a Tree of Life that Horsemen of Voudou may be the
had correlations between the Mythos Lloigor, invisible spirits of the air, of
entities, rather than the traditional perhaps even cultural memories of
Spheres, or planets. This is a safe the early involvement with the Shan.
way to experience, and a useful way The Jaguar Cults of East Africa may
to express magic, in a Lovecraftian be a way of partaking of the mind of
manner. the Hunting Horrors of the voids. The
CHAPTER 1: THE NATURE OF MAGIC 7
old Celts had memories of a silver- bound by laws of Mercury or
handed god that their broken seman- Hermes? Is Azathoth a ghost haunt-
tics recalls as Nauda but who has ing a universal house? Probably not.
another name: Nodens. Indeed, part of the appeal and horror
Speilwerk, that folk magic of the of the Mythos is that they are ulti-
American Pennsylvanian Dutch pio- mately Other. To see them as imps
neers may claim to curse the geese that can be called up by any backyard
and milk of neighbors but what pow- Faust is to mistake their purpose and
ers do they really unleash from the grandiose horror. As for being bound
dark woods? The Kooris of Australia and limited by anthropomorphic
have an elaborate mythology that dif- ideals that apply to pathetic primates
fered from tribe to tribe but a major on a tiny planet, the idea is of course,
recurring demiurge is the Rainbow laughable. Nonetheless, Al-Azif and
Serpent, significantly a great snake. other books of Black Magic seem to
Is this a local manifestation of Father be rife with ideas of how to commu-
Yig, or a recollection of contact with nicate with these tramontane intelli-
the Dholes of the Dreamlands? The gences, which seems to be as good a
complicated Koori concept of working definition of magic as any.
Dreamtime would seem to suggest
the latter. If this is true, then magic follows
Blake’s dictum to create its own sys-
The specifics differ, yet be it kahuna, tem or be enslaved by another’s.
or kadaicha, in Lovecraft’s world, Alien magic has no significant over-
magic is at worst a parlor trick, at lap with any extant human belief sys-
best a discrete fiction we veil over tem or magical schema and nothing
the horrifying truth of the human can be relied upon to be a useful
spiritual experience. metaphor or overlapping guide to
One thing to be strenuously avoided the Mythos.
if traditional magic is used in a cam- This paradigm stresses that this is
paign is the notion that it is human
the magic of black gods. Hidden
belief that fuels this power. The old
from us and beyond us and what sor-
idea that it is faith in the rite, rather
cery we know is the fraction of a
than the rite itself, that gives it effi-
minute fraction. The very essence of
cacy. That kind of optimistic belief
leads us in directions that give credit forbidden knowledge, the flame
to human potential at odds with the handed to a child.
essential pessimism of Call of Alien Magic can be adapted at will.
Cthulhu. Magic working because it For a Keeper, this means that every-
works, outside of humans to give it thing is up for grabs as all knowl-
meaning, is a far more satisfying edge is false and what is true magic
idea. is totally up to them. If the game
uses this kind of magic for its mysti-
cal underpinning, Sanity should be at
Mythos Magic even more risk as any kind of use of
as an Alien Magic sorcery immediately places the par-
ticipant into psychic territory in
What does a Mi-go care for the which ancient, blasphemous demons
Archangel Metatron? Is Ithaqua dwell.
8 MYTHOS MAGIC
The advantage of this is that the disciplines, a loaded gun in the
Keeper can pick and choose at will hands of a child and can never, ever
whichever genre of magic they feel is be relied upon. Knowledge of the
appropriate. The ancient rites of the Mythos itself is sure to bring insan-
Bloody Tongue causes a ripple within ity. What might the cost of using
the processes of the localized space- their weapons and secret knowledge
time grid. Quantum computing be?
begins to activate and ancient curse The downside of such a process is
and the death of a black goat sum- that magic will have radically differ-
mons up the shadows of ancient ent feels at different times. If the
Serpent-Men engineers. The Keeper Investigators are all members of an
solely decides what works and what occult lodge from the 1890’s, then
doesn’t. If two spells from one book clearly shimmering fractal creatures
are cast and one works, clearly the that emerge from the hyper spatial
failed one was human invention. This realms may not be appropriate.
technique also encourages Keeper-
originated magic. Alien magic should be difficult to
learn, impossible to master and
The Mythos were never a unified cos- extravagantly dangerous. It places
mology in the mind of their creator emphasis on trying to learn unhu-
and work best when they are the- man languages, the mathematics of
matic entities, ideas of mood and beings that lurk in other dimensions,
metaphor rather than giant mon- mastering emotions felt by beings
sters. This approach works well for billions of years old. To those who
magic in the game because it is for- care to throw away their humanity,
ever unsafe, a series of competing this magic is a powerful tool.

CHAPTER 1: THE NATURE OF MAGIC 9


Chapter Two
Wherein Sanity & Magic is Discussed

Sanity and Magic neighbor is clearly driven by a mental


state that makes him a malfunction-
ing unit. He cannot live happily or
In Call of Cthulhu, perhaps the most
easily within social conventions.
important statistic of all is Sanity.
When coming face to face with both In other words, Sanity is a measure of
ancient and malign alien beings as how closely a human agrees with the
well and the more mundane horrors narrative a society tells itself is real
such as a simple human corpse, and unreal.
Sanity measures how well a human
being can cope with unreality and yet In a Lovecraftian universe, there are
still function in society. rather more exotic threats to sanity.
Coming face to face with Azathoth
Sanity is a complicated process and practically ensures a human cannot
concept. Bi-polar depression is tech- go back to the day-to-day functions
nically a mental illness to be med- of the world. Seeing a Deep One may
icated yet millions of people deal mar the functionally of an investiga-
with the disease with little effect on tor without the creation of a half-
their daily lives. Homosexuality and dozen neuroses. The sudden imposi-
transexuality were once considered tion of the unreal on the real causes
serious mental conditions yet now a schism between the rational mind
are considered lifestyle choices or and the unconscious mind. A human
socially/genetically determined may be able to process that in fact
mindsets. Holy men and visionaries the highest destiny of the universe is
in the past would today be consid- to fall into entropy. To see a god that
ered schizophrenics and medicated represents the nihilist idea manifest
accordingly. Sanity is a concept that in front of one is an imposition of a
easily mutates and fluxes. new reality. It makes one mad.
However, for ease of use, sanity is a Imagine the scientist who struggles
simple gauge that tells society how daily with a view of the universe
well adjusted to consensus reality a which excludes any phenomenon
member of that society is. The above except that which can be measured
mentioned depressive may occasion- and observed. Imagine the cognitive
ally find it hard to get up and go to dissonance when they discover the
work but that is not always a particu- fundamental laws of the universe
larly debilitating condition consider- exist because Gods want them to be
ing the extremes of mental illness. so… A lifetime of learning, a strong
The psychotic who happily eats his mindset, utterly fractured.
10 MYTHOS MAGIC
Going insane is therefore mistaking The second answer is that the act of
the real and unreal. One goes Insane, performing magic in some ways insu-
in game terms, when one can no lates the magician against inevitable
longer fend off the notion that objec- madness. No human mind can long
tive and subjective, true and false, survive the true nature of the uni-
have no overlap with the bleak reality verse but magic offers perhaps the
of the universe. True insanity is only viable form of protection. A
understanding that no part of reality state called Gnosis.
can ever be understood.
What then of the magician, that
breed who actively seeks out such
horrors, with the arrogance, confi- Gnosis
dence, or naivety to believe they can
At the heart of magic is the sensation
be confronted and controlled?
of being in the presence of
Meet a man on the street who runs Knowledge. Some call this Magical
naked screaming that he is being Consciousness, some call it Zazen,
hunted by a great bat with a tri-lobed no mind meditation, and others call
eye and the chances are you will it Samadhi, one-pointed conscious-
think him insane. The investigator of ness but we will call it Gnosis: the
the Mythos knows that while he may mental state in which the magician
be stark raving mad, he may be also leaves behind the mundane world of
telling the very literal truth. This is teapots and bank drafts and sends
the slipstream world of magic. their mind into the infinite gulfs of
time and space. Magic requires an
The magician, therefore, has a rather entry into Non-ordinary reality, a way
complicated relationship with the of thinking that is decidedly at odds
notion of insanity because the essen- with the liminal and process based
tial nature of magic is seeking out mentation of humanity. Magic takes
and commanding the very forces that place in the heart of mystery and
undermine sanity. A magician of any cannot be entered in to simply or
skill who came into contact with easily.
Mythos beings with any frequency Gnosis is a way to safely, well, more
will, no matter how powerful their safely, enter into the madness of the
will or Sanity, sooner or later fall into Mythos, without being lost forever. It
irreparable, Indefinite Insanity. How is a sort of psychic inoculation
then can any magician gain powers against the raving hysteria so many
over the beings magic promises to humans exhibit after a brush with
grant? It seems that no one could those forces
ever get good at magic without end-
ing up an unfortunate lunatic. The Gnostic state is when all atten-
tion and focus goes onto the magical
There are two answers – the first is Operation being worked. Intense
that they cannot. In this case, magic concentration and focus is required.
will almost inevitably lead to severe The kind of concentration that
madness. Below rules can be safely requires training and practice to
ignored if the Keeper prefers this achieve. The mind shuts down all
system. internal chatter, all thoughts of
CHAPTER 2: SANITY AND MAGIC 11
everything except the magic at hand. off ideas. So, aids are required.
Gnosis also makes one more readily Common tools to enter Gnosis are:
prey to the forces of Magic. As one
enters into a state where they can
examine the hidden forces of the Meditation
true creation and so too can those Hyperventilation
hidden forces enter them. Self-mutilation or flagellation
Chanting
Entering Gnosis requires, at least ini-
Exercise to the point of exhaustion
tially, time and preparation. It is not
Orgasm
a matter of simply clicking one’s fin-
Drumming
gers and shutting off the internal
chatter of the mind. Many magicians
Fasting
find it one of the great challenges of Sensory deprivation or overload
mastering the art, shocked at how The methods are unimportant. The
loudly the mind continually shoots magician who chants prayers in Old

12 MYTHOS MAGIC
Hebrew or the mad witch-doctor unconsciousness. Distractions can
scourging himself are both entering easily cause one to fail in magic.
into a Gnostic state. The whole point
Gnosis can be easily lost. For exam-
is to change the normal mode of
ple, a group of well-armed private
thinking. investigators opening fire on a crypt
Gnosis explains why radically differ- is an easy way for the magician
ent techniques of magic work. From within to lose focus. During the
the sinister black-robed chanters in strange, intense state of magical
Latin, to the terrible blasphemous consciousness, the magician can
orgies of the Cthulhu cult, to the believe they can control the terrifying
stately dances of Shamans and the protoplasmic slime in the penta-
drug-trances of the Chaotians, they gram. Thrust into reality, sanity
intrudes its ugly head and without
all share Gnosis. Many modern
Gnosis, the reality of a magician’s
occultists argue that it is the act of
hubris might become apparent. Or
becoming so involved, so focused,
they might just go mad.
losing oneself using various props
and hypnotic-techniques that this Gnosis does not provide Sanity buff-
magical concentration is the true ing benefits outside of the context of
mechanic of sorcery, rather than magic. The magician suddenly con-
actual words and motions used. fronted with the corpse of a loved
one while preparing dinner still gets
From a gaming standpoint, this is a shocked and disturbed the same as
useful mechanism to allow varying any other human. It is only after
styles of magic to co-exist without lengthy preparations solely for the
further explanation. All that matters purpose to cast magic does Gnosis
is Gnosis. become effective.
When the Gnostic state is achieved,
the magician becomes capable of
working with the powers of magic. Rules for Gnosis
They are absolutely focused on their
Gnosis creates a state wherein, for a
work, in a state of deep and tran-
short time, Sanity is much harder to
scendental meditation. All thoughts
lose. This is an incremental process
in a Gnostic state are magical and succeeds due to excess.
thoughts. Feelings, diversions, stray
ideas, all impact upon the magic at While within Gnosis, all sanity loss
hand. A great deal of time and effort scores are halved, no matter the
is made by magicians to prepare a cause of the loss. Any loss of Sanity
ritual are to ensure Gnosis is more under d10 can be ignored by the
easily kept. It is easy to think magician, who is removed from such
thoughts about dragging entities mundane assaults upon their minds.
screaming into the world if one is The process to enter into Gnosis is
surrounded by black robed monks slow and incremental. Firstly, an
and screaming whippoorwills than it Occult roll must be made, represent-
is waiting for the bus. The magician ing the magician’s ability to correctly
must be absolutely focused on their use the technique. The Keeper may
Gnostic state as magical thoughts wish to hide this roll from the aspir-
come directly from the dark depth of ing spell caster. For each hour that
CHAPTER 2: SANITY AND MAGIC 13
13
the magician spend in meditation, ing 10% to her skill, while breathing
they receive +10% to the Occult roll. in strange, mildly narcotic incense
and staring into the heart of a fire,
Magic Points can be spent to
overloading her eyes. Both of these
increase ability to enter Gnosis. Each
actions give +5% to her Occult score.
Magic Point further increases the
ability to enter Gnosis by +10% to Finally, still uncertain of her capaci-
Occult. ties, she spends one of her Magic
Points , bringing her new Gnostic
Use of other techniques can lead to Occult to 80%. She then spends 10 of
further increases. Each of the above her remaining 14 Magic Points and
mentioned techniques, such as self- successfully summons Cthugha.
mutilation, or whatever the magician
uses, may add +5% to temporarily to While normally she would have to roll
Occult for the purposes only of enter- against d3/d20 to view the Fiery
ing Gnosis. Certain techniques may King, she now must roll against
be combined with each other but it is d2/d10, which allows her to ignore
recommended no more than four San loss when viewing Cthugha.
techniques be used during one ritual.
Some may not be appropriate to a
rite. Daoloth, for example, may care Losing Gnosis
nothing for frenzied copulatory rites
and therefore such would be inap- Keeping in Gnosis in the face of dis-
propriate for summoning of that traction is very dangerous. The
god. While a Dark Young might find Keeper is urged to consider context
the aesthetics of no-mind meditation when making a magus roll to stay in
pointless. Gnosis. The mechanic is simply a
SAN check, modified at Keeper dis-
cretion. Being riddled by bullets
An Example might lower the SAN done by the
amount of damage taken. Seeing an
Sarah has served Cthugha for years unbound Mythos monster lowers the
and wishes to at last summon her score by the saved SAN they have
god to gaze upon the holocaust fury. lost. If this happens, an Occult roll
She has a SAN of 75, 15 Magic Points
must be made to keep the rite active.
and an Occult of 50%
If it fails, Magic Points are spent and
She spends an hour chanting out no further magic can be taken for
praises to her mighty lord, thus gain- some hours.

14 MYTHOS MAGIC
Chapter THree
Anatomy of Magic

Magic, at the heart, is a performing Some spells require particular rituals,


art. It must be spoken and acted some do not. It is suggested that the
upon. Some argue that magic can be more effective the spell, the more
completed within the imagination complex the ritual, especially when
but those who do so are often timid, dealing with magic used by the
confined to rowing the shallows on Investigators. While it may be effec-
the shore of a vast ocean. In addi- tive to have a villain who can kill with
tion, ‘working in the astral’ as it is a word, giving such powers to play-
known is terribly uninteresting in a ers can quickly end in a shift of game
gaming session. Magic is dramatic, emphasis from horror to super-hero-
changing and changed, magic is ics. After all, an Investigator should
powerful and undeniable. At the be wary of having to sacrifice intelli-
heart of this energy, this information gent beings for the power to strike
is action. down enemies.

Magic is ritual. Performance. This No hard and fast rule can be applied
may be as simple as pointing a figure to the application of ritual to spell.
and muttering a word. It may be a set As will be discussed below, magic
series of performances, spread out must be introduced carefully to a
over years, or simply one ceremony. campaign, with full cognizance of its
The actual event of magic is called a effect upon the game. Complexity of
‘spell’. Roughly speaking, the more Workings lies solely with the Keeper.
complex the spell, the more involved The more Magic Points the spell
the ritual attending it, is good a rule costs to cast should be a guideline
of thumb. Modern parlance also sees for how intricate and time consum-
ritual called Operation, or Working, ing a spell can be.
although operation would indicate a
series of smaller rites working in
sequence. Either way, the terms are What Does Magic
interchangeable.
Feel Like?
In game terms, the spell is the action
that requires Magic Points. No Performing magic, being in the pres-
expenditure of POW or MPs are nec- ence of it, is in some ways the sharp
essary until the terminal moment of end of the entire thematic structure
of Call Of Cthulhu. The world, the
the rite.
universe, everything, is far more
Formally, Call of Cthulhu places no strange than can ever have been sus-
particular emphasis upon rituals. pected. Indeed, far more foreign,
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 15
hostile and uncaring than humans Technique
can tolerate. Magic is part of this, a
set of rules, a kind of logic and sci- No matter the paradigm the magician
ence that has no need to be in any works in, the techniques available to
way intuited or understood by the the magician are roughly the same.
primitive lightning and chemical that The witch building a clay effigy of an
is the human mind. enemy, piercing it with pins and the
chilly high-tech cultist using
Therefore, magic must always be Quantum Entanglement Effect on the
shown to be an imposition on the subject’s DNA are both using an
world, felt as a strangeness that can Enchantment.
in no way be mistaken or ignored.
Magic breaks down into the following
A Keeper, in relating magic, must techniques
therefore be imaginative in their
Evocation – The art of bringing alien
descriptions of magic. Synaesthetic
entities into the world
effects are useful, describing colors
by way of textures, the weight of Invocations – The art of intimately
scents, the sight of emotions. communicating with entities
Localized weather patterns may
Enchantment – The art of imposing
become microcosmic as barometric the magician’s will on reality
pressure sinks incredibly in just one
room. Spatial distortions may cause Divination – The art of extending the
those involved in a ritual to seem to magician’s sensibilities
be taller, smaller or further away Be it summoning Dimensional
than could be possible. Causation Shambler or putting horrid gypsy
becomes suspect: a good Keeper curses on transgressors, or riding
might give glimpses of the results of through space on the back of a
the spell being cast the magician Byhakee, all magic techniques fall
may never have suspected. Flies and roughly into those divisions and all
cockroaches may gather, displaying rites can be pared back to their
the behaviors of bees and ravens and essence.
rooks may croak out prophecies in
weird nearly manlike tongues.

Breakdown of A Rite
Imagery should be surreal, unpleas-
ant and confronting. The air
becomes mephitic and foul, the skin
prickles as if insects walk beneath it. As all magic falls into technique so
Lights turn a cruel blue and it seems do those techniques fall into broad
as if a snake is lose in the spine. categories. No matter the spell cast,
the process to cast them will fall into
Whenever there is magic, ensure that
these steps.
there can be no mistaking what has
occurred. Its not that the rules are
being broken, rather that the real
1. Establishment of Intent.
rules are at work, Laws of Physics no
simian can glimpse without their Intent is the very building block of
breaking. the magician and what separates
16 MYTHOS MAGIC
them from amateurs. While anyone believe that an ‘astral’, or imaginary
can read Latin they cannot under- Ward is sufficient. However, as the
stand, unleashing curses and mon- Evoker must continually reaffirm that
sters, the magician sets out to mas- the astral circle exists, something
ter forces. A magician plans. Without not easy to do when a creature with
the confidence and focus of intent, a thousand mouths shrieks cosmic
all other planning can go awry. Intent blasphemies, this is not recom-
is the first step in entrance to Gnosis. mended.
Here, Sacred Tools (discussed below)
When constructing Wards it is con-
are chosen and prepared.
sidered wise to make them as inde-
structible as possible. Chalks scuffs,
a circle of broken glass shifts, but
2. The Ward something carved into stone is much
Be it the sand-mandalas of the Hopi, harder to accidentally destroy.
the pentagrams of the hermeticist or Some Mythos entities are affected
the jade and the red banners of the only by very specific Wards, some of
Mandarin geomancer, a ward is per- which are quite exotic. A Hunting
haps the most important aspect of Horror may be kept at bay with a
the Evocation. It creates a Sacred pentagram and a harsh word but for
Space, a Liminal Area, a Temporary something like one of the mysterious
Autonomous Zone between the colors that fall from space, perhaps
workaday world the magician inhab- only electro-magnetic energy is use-
its and the area where black myster- ful. A Chthonian may only respond to
ies will be plumbed. Most commonly the firm threats of a stone or mud
used in Evocation or Invocations, it ward. Commonly, magicians sit in
still finds use in other techniques. Wards and Evoke into them. If a
Wards acts as a focusing agent for Binding spell succeeds, the Ward is
the Working, and a jail cell for what- functional. Without the correct Ward,
ever the magician chooses to bring which is often built into the spell if
into the world. Prime example of his- necessary, then no Binding can suc-
torical Wards may be seen in classical ceed. The key, as ever, is research.
Hermetic texts such as the Sacred
Book of Abra-Merlin.
3. Banishing
Wards are almost always physical
delineations of Sacred Space. Be they The sacred space is like a workbench
circles of salt, pentagrams drawn on and like all working places, should
the floors, marked with candles, a be cleaned before you begin a new
pattern of menhirs, beams of electro- job. An area must be cleansed of all
magnetic force or a simple chalk impurities before a Working begins,
marking, the important thing is that to banish all complications and neg-
they physically demonstrate where ativity with sacred tools. One of the
the thing or spell is allowed to go or simplest reasons for a Banishing is
function while under the duress of that it serves may serve as part of
the Operation. Most simply a circle, entering into Gnosis. Banishment is
the being cannot leave the confines something like a pre-ritual and
of the Ward. It should be noted that requires little effort. But Banishings
modern magicians occasionally also have a rather more practical use.
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 17
17
If there are existing spiritual entities require delicate music, poetry and
in an area, their influence may cause quiet and dignified blood-letting.
magic to go awry. They may Yog-Sothoth might desire his suppli-
strengthen an entity summoned, or cant to meditate on some obscure
weaken it, or cause other elements of kind of mathematics, or recite a
the magic to become somehow cor- Diophantine equation or some other
rupted. imponderable piece of formula. The
magician must be well and truly in
The magic wand blasts away all hos-
the magical state of mind before they
tile magic, the blade cuts them away,
continue with the rites of Evocation
the horn sound frightens them. The
as the next step is the most danger-
ward, the magic circles, serves to
ous.
create a temporal zone wherein the
Banishment is the most effective. Gnosis is detailed more fully in chap-
ter two.
More than that, Banishing allows the
magician to enter fully into the
Sacred Space of magic, aids in reach-
ing Gnosis. 5. The Spell
The Banishing rite may be specific to The lynchpin of the Working is, of
the spell or ritual being performed, course, the actual spell. This is the
or it may be left up to the individual picosecond when the last chant is
caster to perform one that they are finished, the dagger is thrust down-
comfortable with. ward or the frenzied dance finishes
and the change in reality. At that
moment, deep in Gnosis, the magi-
4. Gnosis cian visualizes the actual occurrence
of the spell. Be it the healing of flesh,
The most vital part of any magical rit- the summoning of demons, the
ual is the full entrance into Gnosis. death of an enemy, every rite ends
This may be chanting in Latin, with the magician willing an event to
screaming out ‘YOG. SOTH. OTH’ on take place. If Gnosis is entered in to
a starless night on a hill, dancing properly, if the chants are performed
madly, intercourse, sacrifice or what- correctly, then the magic will work. If
ever methods the magician or rite anything has gone wrong along the
seems appropriate. Evocation way, it is at this moment that the full
requires Gnosis to be appropriate to magnitude of the rewards of incom-
the entity called up, to be of the right petence are revealed. In game terms,
‘flavor’, if you will. It’s no point giv- this is where the dice get rolled.
ing prayers to the gentle Goddess
and dancing around a maypole if you
are going to be calling up a shriek- 6. Banishing
ing, bestial goat-thing from Antares.
If someone is calling up Cthulhu, the Assuming that the magician and all
alien hedonist with plans to teach who may have been a part of the
our species to dance and revel and Working are alive and sane after the
kill, orgiastic rites, screaming and moment a spell is cast, there is very
codified murder will be on the little to do but end the ceremony.
agenda. Likewise, calling up the still, Whatever forces have been at work
soft entropy that is Hastur may should be safely spent, bound or
18 MYTHOS MAGIC
destroyed. Rather, this secondary
Banishing removes all traces of
occult information from the region. A
failure to clean off and wipe up a
bench, to push a metaphor, often
results in cockroaches. So too can
Magic Tools
large scale magic attract various spir- The wand, the cup, the pentagram,
its and beings. Any form of sensitive, the sword. The athame and boline,
psychic, or even other magician, may sacred knives of Witchcraft, the staff,
become aware of things being awry the whistle, the amulet. Black Cat
in the area where magic has been hair, John the Conqueroo, caduceus
cast. Recurring dreams and feelings staff. No matter what form they
of unease in the area may be com- come in, magicians require props,
mon, even hauntings and the pres- sacred tools with which to perform
ence of lesser Mythos beings. For miracles. Because of the importance
some magicians, this is a desirable of visualizing a spell, of willing the
event, aiding in finding Gnosis. For immanence of a moment, magical
others, it is an inexcusable ethical tools work to symbolically aid the
lapse. magician in such goals. It is easier to
enter Gnosis surrounded by physical
props that aid a magician in their
7. Reclamation goal of seeking absolute focus.

The true magician knows that non- Some Workings absolutely require
ordinary reality is not something that certain Tools. Most Evocations are
can be kept permanently in mind. dependent upon them, for example.
While eventually a magician can more Some spells may need very specific
easily capture a state of Gnosis, per- reagents, such as the finger bones of
enemies, staffs soaked in holy water,
haps even constantly, still, magic is a
eye of newt. A spell will list its
highly concentrated state and must,
needed Tools. Many spells do not
sooner or later, be left behind.
wholly require such paraphernalia
Closing the Wards, returning the
but magicians use them because it is
Sacred Tools to their sheaths and
easier to enter Gnosis with them.
pouches, incense must be doused.
No more than four magical Tools can
For those magicians who have not be used for an individual rite with
endured a horrific SAN loss, this is a effect. Only four can aid in game
time of normalcy. With the magic fin- terms. Anything else is a psychologi-
ished, power and devastation cal crutch. Traditionalists of the
become things to be brooded over Western tradition often use wands,
another time. In game terms, all ben- pentacles, cups and swords. Chinese
efits from Gnosis end at the begin- magicians might have tools that rep-
ning of the reclamation. If a mage resent the elements of wood, fire,
does not ‘decompress’, as it were, metal, water and earth. Tools can be
formally ending the rite, they take a used appropriately to the intent of
SAN roll or lose D2 Sanity from the the spell. Marital drums, shooting of
simple bemusement of readjusting pistols, screaming war cries might be
to ordinary reality. useful in magic intended to damage
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 19
19
enemies. Healing magic might neces- Group Workings
sitate soft music, ‘healing crystals’ or
even modern medical equipment. There is a reason why cultists join
cults and witches join covens.
Magical success is amplified by
Creation of Magical Tools group work. Indeed, the success of
many Workings has been all but
While it is possible to simply use a assured by this approach. Time and
cup of water to represent a grail or a tested for thousands of years, magic
butter knife to facilitate a sword, is often worked with groups of like
magicians report greater success minded mages coming together for
with magical Tools of long ancestry common cause.
or those they have created them- Aside from magical reasons, there
selves. Personally selecting and mak- are practical ones. Magic, like any
ing Tools give them a greater bond human endeavor, does not happen in
with the Magician, becoming exten- a void. Economic reasons are a very
sions of their will. Certain tools viable one. A group of loners on the
become respected and admired over out of town may simply not be able
years and decades of use. They come to afford the Gems of Blood or the
to represent the style of the magician Staff of the Fish God, a simple fact
who created them. Lavish scepters or that Keepers may wish to use to fuel
cruel blunt bayonets may, for exam- stories. Humans are social animals
ple, work best for magicians who like and enjoy peerage. While there are
elaborate ceremonies or sharp, effec- sorcerers content to do their solitary
tive rites, respectively. bidding in remote places, many
magicians are happy with the social
Magical Tools may give up to +5% aspect of their Workings. After all,
success to the overall chance of a magic is an unusual and dangerous
Working’s success, depending on the practice and so the better to do it
Tool and the rite, entirely at the with some friends. If nothing else, if
Keeper’s discretion. Tools of long a Working fail, you only have to out-
pedigree, or those created personally run the slowest member of the cult.
over at least a month by the magician
The social dynamics of such a coven
are more likely to yield results. Tools
are complex and Keepers are recom-
are context-sensitive. A doll made of
mended to research human relation-
the hair and nails of a victim will
ships in such a setting for rich story
yield great bonuses to magic con- ideas.
cerning the subject who donated the
materials but will have little effect in From a rules point of view, group
summoning the intelligence of workings yield results. Magic does
Venus, god of love. not work to aggregates, rather it
adds. There is no upper limit to the
Even with full ritual panoply appro- amount of magicians who can come
priate to the ritual and intent, no together and few limits on what they
more than +20% can be added to the can do. This is part of the reason
chance of the spell’s success. cults are ecumenical and why so
Magical Tools are important but are many of them seek to become shad-
never a short cut. owy leagues that span the world.
20 MYTHOS MAGIC
Rules for Group Work Therefore, if two members fail,
everyone in the group must immedi-
The head of the ritual is called the ately check to see if they can main-
Executive. While this role may have tain the rite at -2%. Increasing penal-
ceremonial names, Crow, Grand High ties may exist depending on how
Priest, Imperial Wizard or what have badly the participant has failed.
you, it is the Executive who leads the Going violently insane and running
rite and it focuses upon them, they out of a ritual may cause everyone to
who takes the most active part of the test at -5%, at the Keeper’s discre-
working. Most often the Executive is tion. This is one of the reasons huge
the most accomplished magician of cults do not always succeed, despite
the group, although for simpler rites, their enormous mystical resources.
magicians in training will be given Small covens of dedicated, skilled
the lead role. magicians are more desirable than
unwieldy, vast movements of ama-
The mechanism is easy for group
teurs.
work, in that Magic Points from the
entire group are added and used.

Learned Rituals
Therefore if five people with 10
Magic Points are present in a rite,
they have 50 Magic Points to spend.
The casting of a spell is, when one
Moreover, for each person present
has the correct equipment, a simple
+1% is given to chance to enter
thing: A good copy of a spell, suffi-
Gnosis. This certainly eliminates
cient Magic Points , the Tools
many dangers solitary workers face.
required. Good to go. Within the
Sadly, having fuel does not make a game Call of Cthulhu, any spell that
great driver. The Executive makes all is introduced into the game is a
rolls for successes in his magic on learned ritual. It has parameters and
their own skill after the entrance to Tools already prescribed and out-
Gnosis. Failures they suffer are suf- lined and little extra research need
fered by all. It is recommended there- be done, assuming the Investigators
fore that all cultists thoroughly vet can correctly learn the spell.
their Executives. Certainly, these are the easiest spells
to learn, cast and require little effort
Group Rituals are obviously powerful on behalf of the magician involved
ways to do magic but they have one with them.
potentially very dangerous flaw. If
anyone fails, everyone can fail. If any

When It All Goes Wrong


one of the participants suffers SAN
losses, loss of Gnosis or any kind of
error, the whole group must role
Monsters break loose from wards
again. Be it three or three thousand
and words in Latin are mispro-
people, one error from one person
nounced and shoes scuff the
can doom a whole Working. If a
Warding circles or someone forgets
member of a rite somehow fails
the final banishing. Mistakes are
penalty of cumulative -1% chance
made.
exists to enter or keep Gnosis or roll
for the success of the Spell, depend- It is a very bad idea to make a mis-
ing on the stage of the ritual. take in magic.
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC
Some of the failures are obvious.
Incorrect Wardings will lead to a crea-
Evocation
ture that is totally free and only a few
The old priest-kings of Assyria called
feet away from the magician. Other upon the city-gods to smash their
mistakes are more subtle and have enemies and keep them safe. The
more subtle effects. As always, the Lares of Rome kept check over the
context of the magic will be more household. Solomon wrestled up the
important than hard and fast rules. terrible Asmodeus. Old Man Whately
Merciful Keepers will rule that mis- bought up something terrifying one
taken Workings are simple no-shows. night in Dunwich. Evocation, the art
The monster doesn’t come, the spell of summoning, of binding, of dis-
missing. The magic of monsters.
doesn’t work. This is very lucky.
This is perhaps the most common,
More often, magic seems almost
the most useful and the most dan-
malevolently gleeful, looking to pun-
gerous of all magic used in Call of
ish the amateur. Healing spells gone
Cthulhu.
awry might be entirely too effective
and cuts that heal might seal over Many entities of the Mythos are vul-
the nose and mouth. Death spells nerable to summoning. Evocation
rebound upon the caster’s friends. works not only on spirits and gods
Divinations might lie or subtly mis- but also on the alien races such as
lead. Evocation and Invocations are the Mi-Go. Superscience or nay, this
particularly dangerous spells to leave gives humans an edge over the
unfinished. The Gods may fake being Mythos that they perhaps do not
dismissed but stay in the guise of enjoy over us. The Lloigor may be
whoever it possessed, waiting a able to mentally dominate us but
chance for more calamity. The that is a function of their psionic
smarter the Summoned being, it will existence, rather than a magical law
of the universe. Mythos races may be
it make its revenge the more ruthless
able to Evoke each other but it is the
and amusing. It may chose to per-
one singular blessing our race has,
form the task it is bound to do, then
that we are spared from Summons.
slowly stalk the Investigator.
The traditional technique of
The greater the foolishness, the
Evocation is well known to any reader
more severe is the penalty for mak-
of horror, let alone Lovecraft. The
ing mistakes. The magician who sim- ancient grimoire filled with terrible
ply fails a roll might be blasted by secrets, the room filled with candles,
magical energy gone awry. Those blood sacrifice, lights flickering and
who grab and ancient book and the arrival of some homunculus to
chant, thinking they can control our world. The clichéd image exists
forces from beyond are the ones in because it is a useful one. It outlines
truly dire peril. Keepers should pun- the process of Evocation in simple, if
ish such infractions horribly, ensur- gothic-flavored terms. The penta-
ing magic is treated with respect, gram on the floor serves as a ward,
reverence and caution. There is a rea- the candles create the correct ambi-
son magic is rare and not lightly ence and the horned demon stands
entered in to. for the monster. Most Evocation fol-
22 MYTHOS MAGIC
lows this pattern in one way or time in any fashion is sure to bring
another. the attention of the Hounds of
Tindalos, for example, or perhaps
the Great Race. Banishing is the only
Elements of Evocation certain way to remove these ele-
ments of disaster and is almost
always effective. The more powerful
the magic, the greater the chance
The Subject
that malign or bored entities can, or
Evocation is the art of calling forth. It may be, interested in, making them-
is perhaps the most common magic selves felt for their own purposes. If
an Investigator will encounter, be it a Rite is performed without a banish-
stopping the last minute summoning ing a simple Luck roll can be made,
of some terrible Goetic Hunter or subtracting 1% for each magic point
raising up imps to serve them in the spent. The greater the magic, the
duties. more potent the expenditure of
power, the more attractive the rite
Usually, Evocation’s first step is to
will be to invading entities. If the
identify the creature they need to
Luck roll fails, the magician has
summon. If one seeks knowledge of
attracted something’s attention.
the dark between the stars, one sum-
mons a Mi-go. A ghoul makes the Again, the stronger the magic, the
perfect subject if one seeks answer more dire the consequences. An
to questions chthonic. To a man with attempt to communicate with the
a hammer, every problem looks like a Daemon Sultan that goes awry may
nail but that is the wrong way for a bring down the mindless anger of
magician to think. The Mythos are the Servitors of the Outer Gods,
too dangerous to summon wily-nily, whereas trying to communicate with
bringing up things just to look at a family ghost might involve no more
them. These creatures are dangerous than a minor poltergeist. Unbanished
to even look at, let alone stand next Invocations tend to end with posses-
to. If one simply thumbs through a sion.
book, finds a pretty picture although
unable to read the Talagog scrawl-
ings beneath it, yet still decides to Preparation
summon it, one has a short career as
a magician, and breather, ahead of Certain entities have certain needs.
They can only appear upon the earth
one.
under specific astrological or astro-
nomic conditions. Prayers and sacri-
fices must be made, or local terrain
The Banishing and topography must be made suit-
Within Evocations, it may be that par- able. This may be a mere whim of the
ticular banishments need to be pre- entity before it answers Evocation or
pared. Any attempt to deal with a certain contingencies that are nec-
Nodens, Nightgaunts or other enti- essary for them to exercise their abil-
ties hostile to most Mythos creatures ity to manifest upon the earth.
may Invoke the wrath of certain Whatever the reason, not even the
beings. Any attempt to work with great sorcerers can force an entity to
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 23
23
appear when these conditions are many people may have read the
not met. Necronomicon or Nameless Cults
throughout the centuries but few
Most Evocations will spell out these
gods have treaded our paltry shores.
conditions, long established by tradi-
tion. For example, Shub-Niggurath
and her brood will only appear when
prayers have been said over a blood The Name
soaked altar. Yog-Sothoth requires a The magical name of the entity sum-
great tower made of stone at the site
moned is a complex idea, especially
of his arrival. Keepers are encour-
in the context of the Cthulhu Mythos.
aged to create more difficult condi-
It is highly unlikely something as so
tions for more powerful creatures.
utterly indefinable as Azathoth could
Evoking Sand-Dwellers is a simple
really be named Azathoth. The
enough task as they are little differ-
ent than humans. Bringing even a nethermost infinite god of the uni-
fraction of the Daemon Sultan to verse, after all, is beyond the meager
earth is enormously complicated and machineries of the human brain to
so the preparations should reflect understand. This is without taking
this. Spells may have to be cast and into account basic phenomena such
operational, sacrifices must be as semantic drifts. Names of gods
offered, constructions created, all and monsters change as cultures col-
matter of things. Simply having a lide and words are borrowed and
scroll that tells how to bring an alien shared. Yet, in human magic sys-
deity to earth is one thing. Actually tems, the true name of the creature
doing it, rather another. After all, being bought to our domain so often

Evocation
Evocation is, of course, a lengthier look at the mechanics for the
Summon/Bind and Call/Dismiss schools of magic in the game’s core
rules.
In terms of this book, Evocation is both a Calling and a Summoning. Only
Greater and Lesser Servitors respond to Summoning for a simple reason.
There is no way for a human being, or even many other races, to com-
mand an Outer God. Outer Gods and Great Old Ones can be Evoked but
they do not respond to Binding. Although, there are ways to, momentar-
ily, keep oneself safe from the Weak Gods no magician in the history of
the species can order the Mighty Ones. Certainly, terrestrial spirits and
local gods are prey to this power but evoking the Cthulhu Gods is almost
suicidal. If an Evocation succeeds, the god is momentarily loose in our
reality and unbound.
Some gods may respond to a Call spell, which acts as an Invocation, an
entirely different process of magic. Do not view the ideas presented as
replacement magic systems for Call of Cthulhu. See them rather as
expansions upon a sound idea.

24 MYTHOS MAGIC
plays an important part of the sum- being. The name becomes a very
moning rite. sharp point of the Gnostic state, a
place of absolute concentration. If
One answer to the question of how to
use these cognomen is that of the rite is being performed with oth-
Barbarous Names. Evocation requires ers then it works as a unifying sylla-
more than simply mumbling in Latin ble the entire group can focus on.
and commanding the devil to arise. Magic requires the icy clarity of
As we will see below, emotions and
Gnosis. While, yes, a gate can be
stretches of faith and belief must be
flung open to invite any entity into
undertaken. Calling up Shaftiel,
the world, this is extraordinarily dan-
Hellish Angel of Shadow is a rather
gerous. A Barbarous Name focuses
different experience than summon-
ing Bill. Terrifying names are a part the rite and avoids any… problems.
of the Evocation. It is of course, possible to view the
However, this creates a genuine above notion as completely wrong. If
problem when the magician is met one keeps in mind that magic is a
with the sprawling mélange of non- kind of suprascience then perhaps
linguistics that is the Mythos. The the name of a Mythos entity, chanted
Arabic word ‘ghul’ has devolved to or sung or otherwise vocalized, may
the English word ‘ghoul’. But has the create some kind of vibration in
term Ubbo Sathla, a being named space-time that causes local condi-
hundred of millions of years ago by a tions and process to be more hos-
race without a mouth, let along a pitable to foreign entities.
tongue, or foreign accent to confuse
the issue, been the subject of seman- Or the Barbarous Names of the enti-
tic drift? Thankfully, Evocation is a lit- ties may be somehow immune to the
tle more subtle than that. The name faulty apparatus that is human
of the creature isn’t as important as speech and never change, recogniz-
the emotions and empathic connec- able to all human cultures in all
tions built up between Evoker and times. This decision is left up to the
Evoked. Surely the Star-Spawn of Keeper.
Cthulhu do not come at the call of
that name but rather to the deep self- It is unlikely that some Mythos enti-
willed sensations of dark, undersea tles have individual names as we
prisons, of the endless oceans of know them, or they may be unpro-
space. The barbarous names of the nounceable. A Mi-Go might not even
Mythos serve to dislodge the primi- have an individual name if they are
tive language centers of the primate part of a hive-mind, or perhaps it is
brain, allowing deep focus to be only correctly rendered as a wave of
made on the summoned entity. A bioluminescent particles and insect
name in important but not the True body-language. It may be that to cor-
Name as this is an entirely anthropic rectly pronounce the name of such
concept. an entity, the summoner must go to
The true name, therefore, is anything great lengths. In the above example
but the true name. Rather, it is an of a Mi-Go, perhaps elaborate light-
ideal, a notion for the subjective ing techniques must be used to cre-
human mind to hang on an objective ate a facsimile of the name.
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 25
Regardless of the method used, a Summoning With No Name
name is needed before the rite can
go on. Perhaps the most foolish, stupid and
insane thing a magician can do with
an Evocation is to open the doors to
Finding a Name any visitor, trawl the nets in unknown
seas. Without proper binding agents,
Keepers may decide simply having a one may call down a Dimensional
name of a race, or the common name Shambler while you have the wards
of a god is enough for an Evocation set up for a Lloigor. Those, of course,
to take place. Most Evocation spells will be utterly ineffective and a quick
will include the name of the entity death awaits the foolish magician if
within the ritual itself and no further they are lucky.
ruling is necessary. Although, cun-
ning magicians may leave grimoires The advantage of this kind of sum-
trapped with false names. moning is gaining access to crea-
tures the magician may not have ever
Using true names adds another layer encountered otherwise. Amongst
of complexity to Evocation. True students of the Mythos, creatures
names are an important concept in like the Serpent People and Deep
magic, such as demons only come at Ones may be common knowledge
its call, magic affects those whose but the Flying Polyps have been
name you know and other related locked in underground cities, loosed
ideas. If a true name is required to once in a thousand millions years.
summon a Mythos entity and its true Even the great occult scholars will
name is a mystery, then mechanisms have very little information on those
are needed to locate those names. creatures.
Obviously, Barbarous Names do not
grant any specific hold over the Great Unfocused summoning is a danger-
Gods, being far beyond the human ous, foolish notion and yet magicians
race no matter what syllables we are are not known for their restraint.
armed with. These Working are known as
Freeform Rituals. Freeform Rituals
Depending on how difficult, a Keeper are largely a construct of imagination
may wish to have a magician roll on and sympathy, consisting of fulfilling
their Cthulhu Mythos score. If deal- a want rather than a precise
ing with non-Mythos beings, Occult Operation. A magician may have a
scores may be used. If searching for great need for guardian being, a
the true name of one very specific hunter, or perhaps a seer. Without
being, Library Use, Idea rolls and
access to the correct spell, they must
more must be used. Alternatively,
then Evoke and essentially open their
the name may only be recorded in
door, inviting whoever wishes to
one specific place, require an investi-
come calling. Worse yet, particularly
gation simply to find.
clever creatures, aware of the situa-
Trying to Evoke without a true name tion, may decide to pretend to be
may lead to simple failure of the under compulsions. Perhaps, via
spell. Alternatively, the Evocation some strange magic law, suddenly
may completely fail as wards and the human is under domination of
bindings do nothing at all. the Summoned entity.
26 MYTHOS MAGIC
Evocation as Superscience Bringing it Up
Of course, Evocation may be consid- As I told you longe ago, do not calle
ered the completion of an equation, up That which you can not put downe
or the closing of a circuit. Two nodes …
are created, still points in space-time Once the name is spoken, the act of
creating a World Line the entity can actually Evoking begins. This may
use to navigate to enter our dimen- require a formal prayer or command,
sion. Topological symbols, such as or simply the saying, out loud, of the
the famous Elder Sign will superim- name of the being. It may come at
pose on one of the nodes, creating the moment of sacrifice or impreca-
an area of hostility for the entity to tion but the time will come when the
be summoned yet imprisoned. Then, magician has to actually call up the
a charge is created. Where once it beast. This is where all the prepara-
was necessary to enter Gnosis and tion, all the Gnosis, all the will of the
complete the circuit between the two magician is put to the test. Whether
nodes, thus charging them, alternate the entity materializes out of the air,
power sources can be used. Most rips its way out of the ground, steps
often in the twentieth century this is out of a dark thicket or emerges
electricity but certainly nuclear, geot- through shining gates, here is the
moment of truth. Any magician must
hermic or any other kind of power
be firm, must be strong and must
can be used to charge spell. Instead
stand fast at this moment.
of the use of Magic Points , the
amount of energy used will influence Most Mythos entities do not want to
how effective the Evocation is. The be summoned, will chafe under the
use of power and the solution of an constraints of magic, will seek to
equation attracts entities. Specific escape the spell used. This necessi-
entities react to specific equations, tates the use of Binding.
much like the use of a true name. If the god or creature is willing to
communicate with the supplicant,
even so they will chafe at the rite, if
Evocation Rules for no other reason than to gauge
the strength of the magician. Deals
An Evocator must have a Science are not cut and favors are not
skill, such as geometry, physics or granted, to the weak.
pure mathematics of 20% to use this
kind of magic. They must also use
this skill instead of Occult. For every Binding
50 Kilowatts of power used, one
Magic Point is supplied to power the The mechanism within the main rules
spell. So long as a basic circuit of stands, although the rules presented
energy is created and successfully herein can be substituted. Simply
closed no entrance to Gnosis is put, for each Magic Point spent,
required. Although, the Keeper may there is a ten percent chance for the
Evocation to succeed.
consider solving of equations suffi-
cient to provide the SAN protections To Bind the entity for greater than
Gnosis offers. one term of service, the Magician
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 27
must expend more Magic Points than strosities bound to ancient tombs or
triple the creature can maximally houses are often dealing with crea-
possess. For instance, to bind a tures who have never been properly
Lloigor, 48 Magic Points must be banished.
expended. Certain artifacts may aid
in this cause.

Invocations
Some beings Bound for a certain
period of time will die if not appro-
priately cared for. Otherwise, entities
must be tied to a physical location The voodoo bokor, ridden by the
that it cannot wander from. It must Divine Horsemen, the shaman pos-
obey any one order from the magi- sessed by terrible spirits, the Pagan
cian who conjured it or those who priestess, channeling the ancient
the Executive nominates, through gods into their bodies, even the little
whatever means they choose. The vomiting girl, hurling obscenities
creature must be aware of who has and possessed by demons, these are
permission to rule it. Greater Gods all example of Invocations. As are the
and Great Old Ones cannot be magician talking through the ball of
bound, ever, by humans. No magi- black crystal and even the lone schiz-
cian can ever wield this kind of ophrenic, receiving orders from
power. voices no one else can hear.

Some entities can be Bound and Invocations is the art of talking to the
questioned over a long period of gods and of letting the gods enter
time. While Invocations is a far more into oneself. It is about charging the
successful technique for gaining mortal form with the energy and
information out of magical entities, information of the gods. When Glaaki
sometimes this might not be practi- spears with his spines, when the King
cal. If such a case occurs, the crea- in Yellow takes a host and more, this
ture must only answer truthfully is Invocations. The gods will speak,
once, a fact a magician may or may accept invitations, but their ideas of
not know. discussions are not ours.
If one wished to contact Epona, the
goddess of horses, it would be
Banishing appropriate to race, wear a bridle,
then dance as a herd. If one needed
Once the Working is complete, if
to speak with the morbid god of
there have been no problems, the
death and war, the Morrigan, crow
magician should be able to dismiss
feathers, funeral dirges, shrieking
the entity without problems. This
and scourging are the best forms of
simply requires the expenditure of
supplication.
one Magic point. If there are no
points to spend, the creature stays While the Great Old Ones and their
inside its Warding until either the masters are beyond being compelled
magician frees it, another magician by the likes of humans, there are cer-
who knows the Dismiss version of tain desires and amusements they
the Evocation releases the entity, or make with us. Most famous is the
something makes its Binding ineffec- Invocations by mad Whately that
tive. Those who come across mon- allowed the birth of the son of Yog-
28 MYTHOS MAGIC
Sothoth. The darkening of the hand. Often the physical area must
Shining Trapezohedron is another represent what the subject is used
Invocations, although accidental. Any to. A Fire Vampire will be put at ease
time we ask the Mythos to come into where many braziers burn. A
our world, any time we approach Carcossan human, or even the King
them with humility and no intent to in Yellow itself, might be pleased by
command, we Invoke. elaborate and formal rituals of wel-
coming, such as a tea ceremony. An
insect from Shaggai will be pleased
Elements of Invocations by total darkness and a psychic envi-
ronment of torture and degradation.
Similarly, human ghosts might be
pleased to be Invoked in areas they
The Subject lived in, or greeted with artifacts of
their lives.
Those wishing to Invoke a Power
must first understand that entity.
While its goals can never truly be
understood or served fully, an
The Name
Invoker will need to understand what Finding and using the name of an
they are asking into the world. entity works exactly as it does in
Firstly, Invocations does not attempt Evocation. Finding the name follows
to command entities; it desires to exactly the same kinds of protocols.
communicate with them. Therefore,
it is the only way to approach the
Outer Gods, magically speaking.
Human spirits, earthly ghosts, cer-
tain kinds of monsters, all are able to
be Invoked. Creatures without a par-
ticularly solid body, such as the
Great Race, the Polyps and the
Lloigor are particularly easy to
Invoke.
As always, context is the key to
Invocations. Deep Ones are going to
be poor subjects to interrogate on
cities in deserts. Mordiggian would
be offended by asking advice on how
to raise the dead.

Preparation
Because Invocations is how humans
communicate with gods, great care
needs be taken to make an area com-
fortable and fitting for the god.
Sacrifices may be prepared and what
the god will require is bought to
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 29
Entrance into Gnosis importance. If the magician binds a
creature into another living host, that
If the host plans to channel, say, being cannot move from out of the
Cthulhu, they will indulge in a period Warding space. Depending on the
of wild hedonism before the rite. If spell, the host may be able to move
they want to channel the conscious- about freely but the possessing
ness of an old Snake Person from the entity cannot or perhaps neither can.
truly distant past, they might indulge If the magician themselves are pos-
in dry, logical, arrogant emotions so sessed, the binding tends to keep
as to ease the Invoked into them. them in one place until the spell
Gnosis is prepared slowly and surely. ends.

Binding The Invocation


Unlike Evocation, gods can be bound Any time a human is directly in men-
in Invocations. This does not repre- tal or spiritual contact with a Mythos
sent the control humans have over entity, or indeed any entity, under rit-
the Great Ones, simply it implies that ual conditions, this is an Invocation.
magic makes everyone, for a little This kind of magic takes many, many
while, play by the rules. When forms. Most invocations are in the
Invoked, rarely do Gods and Old main book as Contact spells.
Ones appear directly. Calling upon Invocations may take the forms of
the Dreamer in R’lyeh, does not dreams, strange voices buzzing and
mean that the magician and the god clicking from dark corners of rooms,
share a kind of psychic tea and bis- direct telepathy or simply conversa-
cuits. Rather, the magician taps in to tions. Invoked entities are often
the enormous surreal mind of the extremely well informed concerning
god and may spy out what wisdom their areas of interest. Mi-Go are sur-
they need. Binding does not repre- geons and explorers. The Formless
sent a control in this case, rather it is Spawn know well the deep and dark
a protection. It represents the capac- areas of the world. A nature spirit
ity of the magician to use their art in may have much to teach on the his-
a commanding way. tory of a wild place.
For creatures below the exalted rank The Gods and Great Ones are of an
of Great Old One, binding may be order of magnitude beyond human
interpreted as a command. However, understanding and likewise is their
it is rarely used so gauchely. conversation. Within their spheres
Invocation is a discussion and bind- they A human asking Yog-Sothoth for
ing and is used only as a way to keep information about M-space or mathe-
the guest under control. The matics may receive their knowledge
Formless Spawn may share their but not understand it.
master’s passion of manners but
Potentially any information required
they will still chafe under having their
by the magician can be unearthed by
rest disturbed and binding magic
these means. Ancient sorcerers often
keeps everyone polite.
permanently bound demons and
If the Invocations takes the form of sylphs to have their knowledge to
possession, binding takes on a new hand. Magicians raid and plunder the
30 MYTHOS MAGIC
secrets of the universe in this way. cantly changed since we swam in
Some consider it the ultimate com- warm and primordial seas.
munion with the god, a holy act of Schizophrenics and MPD subjects
unity with a foul godhead or a way to have displayed shocking physical
worship directly. changes in response to changing
personality types.
To some, magic represents a kind of
Banishing highly culturally-specific mental con-
Banishing can be tricky during ditioning that, in certain circum-
Invocations. The old tricks are often stances, makes bypass of the con-
at use. The possessing entity may scious mind possible. Some thera-
pretend to have withdrawn from a pists, still involved in the hazy and
conversation, still lurking in the base mystical world of Jungian psychol-
of the brain of the subject. The ogy, believe that there are arche-
dreamer may think they have woken types for more involved and danger-
and so terminate the spell prema- ous that Shadow and manticore. The
turely, only to realize they are forever ‘Cthulhu’ archetype sees humans
trapped in the mind of god. It is a interfacing with a terrible kind of
common claim from intelligent spir- infantile personality complex that
its that they could be far more effec- lives for pleasure and destruction as
tive if the barriers between the magi- does a child. The ‘Nyarlathotep’
cian and themselves were removed. archetype represents a far darker
and saturnine version of the
If an Invocation is not ended with a Trickster personality. There are many
proper banishing, true disaster can others, like the sexually voracious
entail. To forcefully end an ‘Niggurath’ archetype and some that
Invocation follows the same proce- have so far defied rational explana-
dures as the Dismiss Deity spell. An tion. Often, these psychologists have
effective Ward and Magical Tools other names for the archetypes, such
may give +10% bonus to this difficult as Dragon or Worm.
process.
The kinds of techniques used to put
patients in these states is highly
Invocation as Superscience unorthodox and controversial.
Patients wanting to contact the
Human psychology is a murky area fierce, patriarchal ‘Dagon’ archetype
and there are problems in using the may have their faces immersed in
human brain to study the human water. Those wanting to contact the
brain. Theories are thrown up con- ‘Ithaqua’ personality might be feed
cerning our grey meats yearly. fresh meet or made extremely cold.
Modular mind, meme machines, pat- Needless to say, ethics committees
tern recognition devices, bi-cameral are interested in those who experi-
consciousness and more beside. For ment freely with such ideas.
a certain kind of student of the brain,
Invocation is a clear example of cre-
ating a dialogue with sub-personali- Invocation Rules
ties that exist within the mind. After
all, the R-Complex represents parts To perform psychological Invoca-
of ourselves that have not signifi- tions, the magician must have a
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 31
Psychology or Psychoanalysis skill of
at least 85%. Then, they must have
Enchantment
specifically trained in areas of per- Enchantment is the ability to use
sonality-construction. Using elabo- magic as a direct imposition of their
rate hypnosis techniques and a will upon reality. Enchantment is
Cthulhu Mythos skill of at least 5%, what is known to the layman as ‘spell
the psychologist can create a kind of casting’. Enchantment is a single
demi-Invocation, if they succeed a effect that may be permanent or
check on their psychology roll. For instant. This broad category is infi-
each Madness the patient suffers, the nite in variety and the techniques
difficulty of the roll decreases by 5%. used to create spells. Indeed, any
Unknowingly, the psychologist must magic that does not fit into these
expend 1 Magic point for every 10 other categories is considered an
points of SAN the patient has. If a Enchantment by default.
patient has 40 SAN, the psychologist Enchantments are less powerful than
must therefore expend 4 Magic other forms of magic. They can never
Points . pierce the veils between the worlds,
can never provide information about
The patient takes on some personal- the Beyond, or new futures. Yet they
ity traits of the god Invoked and only are immensely flexible and, usefully,
a very faint amount of their knowl- do not always require Gnosis to be
edge. Often patients will freely used.
express new personality traits, tak-
In gaming terms, an Enchantment is
ing cues from the god or monster-
any spell that does not require prepa-
archetype they are expressing.
ration before it is cast and does not
Hastur, for example, may effect dis- require Gnosis. These are magic
dain for the common workaday world readily cast by the layman and by the
and take on an archly superior per- magician alike. Nor do spells
sonality. The patient may show instantly mean a SAN loss, as their
extremely heightened creative skills, effects may not be witnessed. Many a
although work that comes from such foolish person with a spell book has
states will be disturbing in the treated ancient secrets as little more
extreme. Y’Glonac-archetypes will than a game, all the while unaware of
become crude, lecherous and the terrible harm they are doing.
extremely sexually hostile. To cast an Enchantment, one or more
To end the fugue state the patient is elements must be performed. Either
in, the psychologist must again the magician must physically speak,
they must perform some form of ges-
expend the Magic Points and suc-
ture (dance, hand-signals and mime
ceed on a Psychology roll. If they do
and other such things constitute a
not, the dismissal fails. The subject
gesture) or some elaborate medita-
may then fake a return to normalcy tion must be used. At least one of
or perhaps stay as the new personal- these elements must be used and
ity type. Only years of intense ther- sometimes others are combined,
apy can bring back their old self. depending on the nature and
Those so possessed may go on to be strength of the spell. The burning of
holy saints of their god. items, the flying of a flag, the ringing
32 MYTHOS MAGIC
of a bell are all elements of an ancient wisdom both describe ideas
Enchantment. Magic is, after all, per- that indicate all things are one and
formance. formed from the same stuff.
Enchantment works best when creat-
ing channels between physical items.
Why do Spells Work? Sympathy is the idea that magic
Again, this is ultimately a decision works like a river and flows down-
best left to the Keeper. Spells may be stream. It seeks the simplest solution
kinds of video game cheat codes, to the tasks put before it. Spells
certain instruction that are fed to the require fuels for their effectiveness.
operating system of reality that allow Magic is a symbolic technology and
rewrites and new instructions. They will work best if there are symbols at
may be sorts of sonic keys that, hand that will put the magician in
when spoken aloud, change reality mind of the task at hand. Therefore,
on a quantum level. Reality might be a healing spell might be best used in
Maya, an illusion and those bold the presence of modern medicine,
enough may force their will upon it. herbs and fungi, the ancient poul-
Spells are no more than disciplines to tices, even magnetic energy. Death
more easily part that veil. spells work if the caster has access to
Enchantments may be seen as a com- the tools of murder. Guns, knives,
pletely rational phenomenon that nooses might all be effective in
operates outside of scientific beginning the murder as too might
research. Or, perhaps, dark forces, be the birth caul of the victim. In this
attracted to words, gestures and last case, what can be more effica-
more importantly emotion and cious in ending life than in the relic
intent, hear the spells being cast and of its beginning?
change the world to accommodate
the will of the caster. The original
stories present spells as both ancient The Principle of Coincidence – The
and demonic and also strictly ratio- creation of likelihood
nal kinds of natural sciences. More
Magic is a powerful, perhaps the
than one competing idea may be true
most powerful force in the universe.
and again, magic is best used as the
While there a few theoretical limits
Keeper sees fit.
upon it, the most successful magi-
cians know that magic is best chan-
neled upon paths of likelihood and
The Principles ease.
There are two doctrines which guide A magician may wish to Enchant
Enchantment: looking for money. Perhaps the best
way will be to join the public lottery.
No matter how brilliant the magician,
The Principle of Sympathy – Like unless they buy a ticket for the lot-
Attracts Like tery ticket, they cannot win the lot-
tery. This is the Principle of
Sympathy, in an older meaning of the Coincidence. Magic works along
term, indicates an affinity between channels of causality. A magician
two things. Quantum physics and wanting to cast a love spell upon his
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 33
intended might do well to brush his is a mental clouding making people
hair and put on a fine suit when unable to concentrate on the caster.
meeting her. Similarly, brewing a Perhaps it physical erases informa-
love potion means nothing if the tion from databases or keeps the
intended does not drink it. Of magician physically invisible.
course, doubters can always believe Depending on the scope of effect the
it was mere coincidence that led to spell will be more or less difficult to
the completion of the Enchantment cast and require more POW to sacri-
and hence the name. The subtlest of fice and Magic Points to cast. A
sorcerers best work invisibly, getting rough rule of thumb to keep in mind
‘lucky’. Magic works more effectively is that if a spell will remain perma-
if it has to work a path of least resis- nently in effect, it will cost 1 or more
tance. These are the conditions of POW as a sacrifice to cast.
the physical universe that humans
operate in. Any spell that directly infringes upon
a sense of normality for others as
Of course, not all Enchantments are well as for the magician will also cost
quiet acts of luck. The barring of SAN. Commanding a rat and looking
gods from places of the earth, the through its eyes, for example, will
sudden petrifaction of ones foes, the cost no SAN. It is an entirely personal
transformation into animals and experience and not a particularly jar-
more are possible. A Working in this ring one. Spells that deal with trau-
form requires regular entrance into matic physical change, call for muti-
Gnosis and all the similar trappings lation of the self or others, or directly
as the vocations. A spell that tele- deal with any supernatural entity,
pathically communicates with ones Mythos or not, will all cost SAN. All
friends will require an image or a magic requires Magic Points to run
strong physical link with the off. Again, the more elaborate and
intended recipient and at the very permanent the effect, the more
least, extended mediation upon the points it will cost. As ever, the
communicant. If one casts a spell Keeper will decide the final require-
giving oneself a scorpion’s tail will ments of the spell.
require something along the lines of
devouring a live arachnid, or surviv-
ing its venom. Empty-Handed Magic
Perhaps only for campaigns in which
Ritualized Enchantments there is fairly high use of magic,
empty-handed magic is kind of
Like any group working, Enchanting Enchantment on-the-fly. A very minor
can be done in a group. The rules kind of Enchantment, sometimes
detailed above are active here. called a cantrip or an eyebite, empty-
handed magic is a way of creating a
magical effect without any prepara-
Creating Enchantments tion. Very little can be done with this
power. A magician may cause a bus
A magician creating a spell must be to halt for a moment, a door to open
very clear on its effects. If it is a spell or shut, a dog to bark or a torch to
to hide the Enchanter from their ene- dim. Only those with Occult 90% or
mies, the magician must decided if it more and a very high POW might be
34 MYTHOS MAGIC
able to do
empty-handed
magic. It is
included here
as a way to
explain magi-
cians capable of
performing
minor magical
effects without
stopping for an
hour to achieve
Gnosis and
scream to foul
and alien gods.
It is recom-
mended players
not have access
to Empty-
handed Magic

Enchanting an
item
A common use art of interpreting omens and other
for spell craft of this nature is to supernatural sources of information
Enchant items. Lanterns that cause to be forewarned what actions may
the invisible to become visible, come to pass. It is one of the oldest
swords that pierce the flesh of the forms of magic, one of the most
fleshless, drugs that retard aging widespread and popular in human
and the like are all common uses of culture. From the ancient I-ching to
Enchantments. The Keeper should the Delphic Oracle, who shaped the
make the creation of such artifacts spread of Greek civilization and so
beyond the scope of most our modern world, to the rune-cast-
Investigators. Unless they are follow- ing Vikings, King David and the Witch
ing a spell long since writ down, the of Endor, they all wanted ways to see
creation of mighty artifacts is the what was up ahead. Today we do as
work of centuries. As when creating they did in ancient Babylon and look
spells, the same guidelines of SAN, to the stars.
POW and Magic point loss should be
followed. Divination works on macro and micro
levels, being useful for both prophe-
cies concerning civilization and our
own personal fates.
Divination Lovecraft drew on one major
Divination for his works, the overar-
Telling the future is one of the pri- ching prophecy that which is dead
mary tools of magic. Divination is the cannot die and with Strange Eons
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 35
even death may die. Indeed, the very unusual stellar activity recorded by
notion of the stars coming right and the Aztecs and the wide census
the return of the Old Ones is Imperial China kept of strange chil-
Divining. dren, weird stories and the like,
humans have long recorded the
anomalous. Often this was written
Games and Fortune-telling down in books and used to predict
the future.
Games are not stories. They cannot
be controlled without potentially For the sake of Call of Cthulhu,
damaging the player’s enjoyment by prophecies of strange, end times are
limiting their freedom. When often recorded in musty scrolls. The
Divining is used, it must be done meetings of conditions of the release
carefully, more like foreshadowing of certain gods and spirits who are
than set in stone facts, or players will bound in dark corners are met here.
work tirelessly to defeat the fortune
This is less prophecy than the ability
dealt to them. Try and ensure what
to riddle out meanings from sym-
prophetic visions are used in the
bolic and purposefully cryptic dead
game so that players cannot control
language. Revealing such truths will
them. Saying ‘you will die when a
Deep One eats you on August 9th’ is require a Linguistics check, a
a poor game prophecy. An investiga- Read/Write check and perhaps and
tor will go nowhere near the ocean Occult or Cthulhu Mythos check. To
on that day. A vision of the death, a properly translate, or even under-
terrible sense of impending doom stand, the nature of these prophe-
when looking at the ocean, what cies, readers of the work of transla-
have you, might work just as well. tion must be undertaken while in
Keep things vague an symbolic. ‘You Gnosis, otherwise the underlying pat-
will defeat the summons of Zhar by terns and hints remain unrecog-
destroying the ruby in flames.’ is nized.
again a bad Divination. A message
that the ‘Tentacled King-God can be
bought low by the Reddest Cat’s Eyes Sortilege
return to the heart of Cthugha’ is
quite another. This is the traditional casting of the
stones, throwing of the dice, I-ching,
rolling knuckles or any other kind of
Forms of Divination randomized method of reading the
future. It is the random chance that
The great psychologist of religious defines this kind of Divination best
impulse, Julian Jaynes, divided used for yes or no answers, or giving
Divination into several categories,
only vague hints to the future.
which we shall make broad use of.
Successfully throwing and reading
knucklebones, widely used through-
out the world, lies in reading the
Omens and omen texts shapes the bones fall in. Patterns
Fortean phenomena and interest in it may give broad hints for the future,
is hardly new. From the Red Heifer of telling of times of joy, change, dark-
Hebraic myth to the fascination with ness or death.
36 MYTHOS MAGIC
There are other forms of sortilege the fall of rain to the blood spatters
that are less about telling the future of murder can be augured.
and more about finding out specific
The most common form of augury is
information about particular events,
asking a direct question and then
Inyanga, Zulu traditional healers, interpreting the auguries in
throw bones and interpret their whichever form the magician uses.
fallings to tell more about diseases, a The more specific the question, the
practice known as Amathambo. more likely the magician is to find an
Other sortilege may involve discover- answer ‘Is Tom a Cthulhu cultist?’ is
ing if curses have been placed on a valid question. It is yes or no, with
people or areas, who wishes harm clearly defined parameters. ‘Who out
upon the caster and other simply of Tom, Dick and Harry are Cthulhu
answered questions, if the answer cultists?’ is harder to answer but
can be summarized in a word or less. doable. ‘Tell me who in town is a
Cthulhu cultist’ is not a question.
Applying sortilege to a game is sim-
ply done. Shamans and medicine Dowsing is another form of augury,
men may throw the bones for because it has specific parameters to
Investigators, hinting at trials to its inquests. Finding water through
come. Magicians learned in this sort the use of hazel sticks is the classic
of magic may wish to divine the form of this technique. Other forms
intentions of entities or learn if some of dowsing may be looking for gold
spell is active in a place or on a per- or other precious metals.
son. It should be a magical form of Augury is complex and should be
the Idea roll. It must be done in learned as a separate skill. It takes
Gnosis. time and discipline to learn the enor-
Sortilege may be a discrete skill, a mous variety of patterns and their
specialization of an Occult roll or various interpretations. The higher
perhaps merely an Idea Roll for those the skill, the more abstract the ques-
tions should be asked. Under 50%
who have 10% or more in Occult.
and only yes or no questions should
be asked. To 75% indicates the
augurer can set greater parameters,
Augury such as answer to one word ques-
Unlike the hints and broad defini- tions. Above 90% would indicate the
tions of sortilege, auguries are the magician can learn considerable
answers to specific questions information concerning a subject.
answered in messages from the
world around them. Astrology is the
most famous augury, reading the Spontaneous
patterns of the stars and taking Some people can simply see the
direct messages from them. The future. These Cassandra’s sights are
entrails-reading Haruspex of ancient not bound by time or distance. They
Rome, who would divine messages can channel information clearly and
from the gods in the guts of animals if they are lucky, clearly interpret
and the flights of birds are, augurs. what they see. This is lonely Michel
Any kind of random pattern that De Nostrade, writing prophecies in
occurs naturally, from tea leaves to his quite house. The powerful, mad-
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 37
eyed Ezekiel talking of the coming of need of it. The superrational Mi-Go
the Man of Sorrows or even three have no need for it. Deep Ones may
children beholding the Virgin, whis- cast the bones and cry out to father
pering the fates of a world to come. Dagon to inspire them but they have
Even the Mad Arab himself was a no greater skill with this magic than
prophet, his visions were inspired by any other race. The Carcosans are
the whispering of gods. fiends for tarot cards and astrology
but they are ultimately human.
Some of the fortune-tellers stare into
Indeed, bound by time as surely as
crystals balls or write elaborate steel, it might be that humans are
mathematical models that take into the only race that require this power.
account all human history, culture
and behavior, finding ways to Of the gods, many may grant
express the future in numerals and prophecy. The future may be clear as
symbols. Some see auras, colors that glass to beings of their intelligence.
hover around a person, promising Perhaps the world seems utterly pre-
fortune or glory or doom. The Belly ordained, a slave to causality in the
Talkers listen to the monsters and sight of the Great Old Ones, which
flora of the gut and others simply may explain their malignancy. The
enter trance states, automatic writ- Hounds of Tindalos, who work
ing whispering back secrets to them. against any breach of linear time,
take a special interest in the destruc-
Spontaneous Divination should not tion of prophets. Perhaps it was them
be ruled on. It is not a skill to be who tore apart poor Alhazred. But
learnt, unless perhaps a Keeper for true prophecies, two gods are
wishes to rule it a psychic power, sought after, Yog-Sothoth and
which is outside the scope of this Daoloth. Daoloth constantly expands
book. It should be used as a plot through many dimensions, not
engine. A young girl has visions of merely space. Therefore it is privy to
her town devastated by monstrosi- events that happen in distant futures
ties. An investigator begins to dream and pasts alike. Divining its will is a
about a friend’s demise. During an job done by priests, specially trained
Invocation to speak with a spirit, it in the bizarre Gnosis-rites of this
mutters dark hints about the future god. Interpreting the god’s second
or a being captures people in a city hand information is a grueling,
solely to have prophets to its prophe- hideous process and requires a SAN
cies. Ancient scrolls recording future check, as well as an Idea roll to even
events seem to tie into investigations remotely translate the symbolic logic
the players have undertaken. And of its answers.
always, always, the gods watch and
whisper into the hearts and minds of Yog-Sothoth, the all in one, is coter-
select men and women, for amuse- minous with all time and space and
ment’s sake. therefore directly has knowledge of
all futures, everywhere. And all
pasts. One of the many reasons he is
The Mythos and Divination the god most worshipped by magi-
cians is because of this fact. As
Even amongst the Mythos creatures, always, deals are hard done with
the gift of prophecy is rare. Some, Yog-Sothoth but nowhere else can
such as the Great Race, have little humans gain such uncannily accu-
38 MYTHOS MAGIC
rate information about the universe. Ritual magic can be either learned
Deaths of presidents, returns of old rote or devised. Often, ancient books
gods, football results and more are and evil scrolls will have unfath-
for the having. The price Yog-Sothoth omable instructions. Take this work
extracts for its services are discussed for example:
elsewhere.
Hail! Asi! hail, Hoor-Apep! Let
For a truly Lovecraftian notion of the
The Silence speech beget! Two
future, fate should be long preter- strokes on Bell.
mined. Free will should be a joke the
tiny monkeys tell themselves to Banishing Spiral Dance.
make the future bearable. Hard to
The Words against the Sons of
pull off in a game but foreshadowing Night
can make the process rather more
effective. Let an investigator be Tahuti speaketh in the Light.
granted visions of themselves in an
Knowledge & Power, twin war-
elaborate sacrificial chamber. One of riors, shake
the investigators allies is slitting
their throat. During the course of The Invisible; they roll asunder
their career they’ll be looking out for
The Darkness; matter shines, a
the chamber and terrified when they snake.
finally encounter it. Certainty would
indicate that now is the time for their Sebek is smitten by the thunder
execution but it may be that emer-
The Light breaks forth from
gency surgery is needed to free the Under.
prophetic investigator of some mor-
bid parasite lodged in the trachea. He goes to the West, in the centre
On the other hand, if done well, the of the base of the Triangle of
Keeper may simply decide that fate THOTH (Maim), ASI (Aleph), &
has decreed this is the terminus for HOOR (Shin).
the luckless investigator and have O Thou, the Apex of the Plane,
them killed. If arranged with a player
before hand, this can be a powerful With Ibis head & Phoenix Wand
moment in the game. And Wings of Night! Whose ser-
pents strain Thou in the Light & in
the Night!
Freeform Workings
Written only 60 years ago, not only
Magicians are not static and are free does this initiation rite require
to create their own spells. Spells knowledge of the gods of Ancient
from antiquity are awesome, often Egypt but also the language is highly
handed down from days when gods symbolic. Yet it is a simple initiation
more freely roamed the earth and ritual. Imagine then the difficulty of
magic was not a hidden art but trying to reconstruct the language
magic is a vital discipline. Magicians and mental processes of half-mad
like to make their own ways and may scholars from before the time of
not be satisfied with works centuries Christ, let alone decipher the magical
old. workings of schizophrenics, who
CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 39
have no capacity to separate the reckon it will work,’ is probably not
symbolic from the actual. going to be enough preparation and
research to power a new spell.
Therefore, magicians with a Cthulhu
Ritually drowning a victim, submerg-
Mythos or Occult skill may decide to ing themselves naked in the freezing
create their own Workings, skipping sea or other such powerful emotional
the process of learning long dead gestures might. This is at Keeper dis-
lore. Likewise, magicians may not cretion.
have the time or resources to dis-
cover an appropriate and extant Depending on the elaboration of the
Working. This means creating a rit- rite, the Keeper may give up to 20%
ual. chance for the spell to function. In
the above scenario, conducting the
Successfully creation a rite has a per- entire Working in a lake on a glacier
centage chance equal to the design- while drowning animals might give
ers POW, so a wizard with 12 POW the entire spell +20% bonus. Sitting
has a 12% chance to effectively in the bath may give none. Also,
design a rite. imprecision will give penalties to the
Firstly, the division of the rite must spell. Mistaking Atlach-Nacha for a
be decided upon. Wanting a kind of god of spiders, for example, may
slave beast, communing with a god give -10% chance for the magic to
who will advise on the creation of work.
life, a spell to find hidden paths, the If the spell directly affects Mythos
effect is what is important. Then the beings, a Cthulhu Mythos check
category of magic, spell, and must be made to represent the magi-
whether it is Evocation, Enchant- cian’s ‘understanding’ of the biology
ment, Divination or Invocation is cho- and mind-set of the creature.
sen.
Spells take 52 weeks, less a week for
Then the sorcerer must design the each point of INT. Therefore a magi-
rite, creating a performance appro- cian with an INT of 10 will take 42
priate to the conditions of the spell. weeks to design a spell. At least an
A Working to summon a fearsome hour a day must be spent at work.
war beast might involve the offering Each week the magician chooses to
up of meat. A spell to hypnotize spend designing the ritual over the
might involve the agency of soothing minimum time required will add 1%
music. success to the Working.
An Occult roll must be made to see if Lastly, the proof lies in the doing.
the magician has the basic under- The first time a ritual is cast, no mat-
standing of magic theory to success- ter how much effort has been put in,
fully create a rite. If this is failed, a successful Idea roll must be made
they simply do not have successful to ensure there is no last minute slip
kinds of ideas that lead to the cre- ups that cannot have been previously
ation of magic. Similarly, a player predicted. All Workings performed
might have to impress the Keeper for the first time are at a -10% chance
that their spell is effective. ‘I heard to work. An expenditure of Magic
about these things called the Spawn Points may ameliorate this, 1% for
of Cthulhu who live under the ocean each MP. Entry into Gnosis also suf-
and so if I stand in a bathtub, I fers a -10% penalty as even the most
40 MYTHOS MAGIC
experienced magicians will find does not strike the Keeper as partic-
themselves uncertain when creating ularly hard or inspired but she has at
a new form of magic. least captured some of the elements
of the Byhakee so he give her a dis-
cretionary bonus of 5%. She then
Example makes an Occult Roll, which suc-
ceeds so she believes her spell is the-
Sarah wants to Evoke a creature that oretically sound.
can fly her through space. The
Keeper decides that the spell she is Sarah has an INT of 13 which means
casting is in fact Summon Byhakee. she has thirty nine weeks worth of
Sarah decides upon an Evocation as work to do. However, she decides to
she needs it to perform a service work a full year, so gains 13% to her
rather than share wisdom. Sarah success.
makes her Cthulhu Knowledge roll to
Realizing that she will only have a
understand the existence of such
23% chance to cast the spell with the
creatures. She can continue her work
-10% first time penalty, she puts in all
and has a base chance of her POW, in
her Magic Points into the spell, 15.
this case 15%.
Now she has 27% chance to cast the
Deciding to stare into the heart of a spell correctly the first time. Sarah
night sky while dressed up as a bat had best find some friends.

CHAPTER 3: ANATOMY OF MAGIC 41


Chapter Four
Shamanism

Perhaps the oldest form of magic lands than other men and bring back
known to humanity is Shamanism. some of that strangeness with them.
Shamans have been with us since at
Clearly, shamans conform to the cul-
least the era of the Stone Age and
ture they exist in. The Celtic
perhaps longer. This is the medicine
Shamans, druids and Áes Dana,
man, the outsider who stands
offered up human sacrifice to the
between the tribe and the Outside,
gods to keep their tribes safe. They
the healer and protector. Nearly
acted as mediators with the fay races
every culture on earth has a
and the bloodthirsty gods. In
shamanic figure, a primitive priest
Malaysia, the shamans are figures of
who serves as a link with the other
dread, interceding with their people
realms that touch on to ours. It does
against the dangerous animals of the
away with the complexities of the
jungles and the terrifying ghosts of
ordered universe of the ‘civilized’
ancestors. The shamans of Siberia
world and makes magic out of dust
are respected, keeping the traditions
and bones, out of the world of flesh
of the tribes alive in song and story,
and the spirit only those who dwell
protecting the house and hearth and
far from city lights can know.
offering wisdom on all matters.
Shamanism expresses itself through-
It is not an actual specific practice
out the world, through the medium
that links together shamanism;
of witch doctors and kaditchas and
rather it is one broad technique,
tang-ki and more. These are the men
known as Ecstasy. It is very similar to
and women who have forever been
Gnosis but demonstrates some dif-
with us, healing us, saving us, always
ferences in practice.
there but never at ease with us, or us
with them. Shamans, no matter the Ecstasy comes from the word
culture they spring from, are special- Ekstasis, to break outside, to be new
ized holy people, serving the tribe in places, to go against stasis. In prac-
matters spiritual. They are respected tice, it represents the shamans’
by the tribe, supported and needed capacity to go outside the body, to
but are rarely a comfortable figure. have the soul migrate into other
Tribal peoples often have strict roles places, worlds, things. It is in this
for each member of the community Ecstatic state that the shaman
and the shaman’s is a strange and encounters the spirits of the world,
off-putting one. They are looked the ancestors, the Outside. Shaman
upon with a mixture of fear and bring back knowledge of the spirit
respect. Shamans walk in different world, prophecy and healing from
42 MYTHOS MAGIC
their adventures. Shamanic Ecstasy is tion from the worlds beyond. Trees
a way of walking wholly in the realm and hills, dales and lakes are inhab-
of the gods. They touch the madness ited by, create or exist symbiotically
just enough to taste it, without with magical creatures. This ani-
drowning. mistic worldview informs everything
the shaman thinks or does. It also
Ecstasy is usually accomplished
adds to the shamanic reputation for
through trance states, through the
strangeness. Winds whisper secrets
usual Gnosis-achieving activities of
to the shaman, the birds sing in
extreme physical and emotional
explicable tongues. A shaman may
exercise. The key to shamanic
break off a conversation to speak to
Ecstasy, like most magical praxis, is
an animal, plant or spirit. The more
that it takes the participant out of
ordinary reality and into the world of experienced the shaman, the greater
spirits. The usual tricks of dance, their capability to enter into Ecstasy,
chanting, pain rites and drugs are the more they become aware of the
variously used. Ecstasy is also known spirit world’s effect on the physical
to create emotional disturbances in world.
those who undergo it. Shamans often What that means for investigations is
exhibit anger, fear, joy and depres- that shamans can gather information
sion after such an experience. from areas closed to mundane
Ecstasy takes its toll. research. Spirits witness all in their
Shamanism is not easily entered into domain and can gossip like fish-
by modern practitioners. So much of wives. They are aware of magic
the dynamics of becoming a shaman affecting their world and some may
revolves around concepts of tribal- even know when mortals and mon-
ism, naturalism and animism. sters are even thinking of them.
Especially for 20’s era investigators The spirit world may be a place
in the West, there are strong cultural where humans can even travel. This
prejudices against the sorts of soci- is a place experienced through the
eties that create shamans. perceptions of beasts. Time does not
Shamanism is therefore perhaps not exist there; things are experienced in
a form of magic easily accessible to the primal forms as food, mates,
Westerners before modern times. danger or safety. Spirits are not sub-
Even then, many city-dwellers claim- tle and their world is stripped of
ing to have access to shamanic tech-
human notions of degree. Things are
niques must be judged warily. Being
or aren’t.
a shaman is more than taking natural
hallucinogens and dancing, while From the spirit world, the material
seeing spirits. The social mecha- world is hard to affect although there
nisms in our societies do not offer a are certainly ways to do so. Mighty
way to truly take up the role. spirits have only to think of a change
in their spiritual environment and so
it will be done upon the reflective
The Spirit World material world. Lesser spirits can
only do so in smaller ways. Humans
For the shaman, the world is alive in the spirit world are primarily hope-
with spirits, fraught with imminence. less without shamanic training in
The landscape buzzes with informa- how to survive these changes
CHAPTER 4: SHAMANISM 43
because in the spirit world, human Spirits are first and foremost imma-
perception is irrelevant. terial. They are not physical beings in
the world and cannot normally be
Strong emotions in the either world touched, or touch. They are invisible,
can warp its counterpart. Murders although many have the capacity to
and crimes committed in the physical be seen and heard under certain cir-
world may make its spiritual counter- cumstances.
part take on a violent flavor. Spirits
warring in their place might reflect What makes spirits so useful and ger-
upon the physical world, making a mane to shamans is that they are
often of the wild places. Spirits are
place suddenly restless, creating a
personifications of grass and woods,
sense of unease and making humans
of caves and rocks and sands. They
in it more belligerent. Shamans in
have their own agendas and their
Ecstasy can see into the spirit world
own desires and can be malevolent
and diagnose such things. but usually respect shamans. They
are also amenable to control and
enslavement. What makes a spirit is
Spirits context. They are not abstractions,
they are reflections of the real. There
Throughout the world, there are crea- is no spirit of existential doubt, or
tures that touch both the higher, lower wanting to go home early on Friday
and our world. They have no bodies, because these are not real, primal
are beings of immaterial state and things that dwell in the minds of
they exist outside of the bonds of primitive cultures.
mass and gravity. They are called spir-
its and they are everywhere. If the
Keeper wants them to be. Totems
Spirits come from a multitude of Another area of commonality
places with a plethora of purpose. between shamanic figures is the use
They are ancestors, animating intelli- of Totems. Variously called
gences of areas, specific and Dreamings, guardian spirits or power
regional; they are protectors, preda- animals, many shamans create
tors and ghosts. It is hard to link bonds with spiritual entities. These
together such amorphous groups are not gods, rather allies, beings
such as spiritual beings but they all who share wisdom and strength with
share certain traits. the shaman in return for obedience.

Ecstasy is Dangerous
Entering Ecstatic states seems very similar process to entering Gnosis.
Superficially, it is, with one considerable exception. Ecstasy is not a pas-
sive state. Gnosis is relaxing the mind while Ecstasy is exciting it.
Investigators should quickly figure out that entering into pagan orgies,
while perhaps pretty fun, are dangerous. Spirit possession, madness, hal-
lucinations are all side effects of Ecstasy.

44 MYTHOS MAGIC
Often, these are animals but other a desert or tree spirits on an ocean
forms of Totem can exist. Sky, Rock, voyage. Totems do not answer
Tree are common and less so are prayers, do not set down rules.
mythological figures or revered Instead, they work with the shaman
ancestors. to achieve the shaman’s goals, so
long as it coincides with the Totem’s
Totems bring with them a specific set
own. This is the most essential role
of attributes, often culturally con-
of the Totem, to aid humans and pro-
structed. Bear is a spirit known to
mote their own agenda.
communicate ideals of patience and
skills at healing. Raven is a trickster, It would be wrong to call the Totem-
teaching the shaman guile and human bond symbiotic. It seems
stealth. Bear in mind that these more big and little brother, junior
Totems may have different connota- and senior partner. The Totem com-
tions from shaman to shaman, cul- municates empathically, but faintly,
ture to culture. The relationships is continually with the shaman. This is
not that of priest to worshipper. not a constant stream of information
Totems are found in an area where and commands but simply an aware-
flora and fauna of that kind abound. ness of the needs of the Totem.
It would be foolish to call on Shark in Totem spirits are not as aware of

CHAPTER 4: SHAMANISM 45
45
their supplicants and only those A shaman, or anyone who manages
shamans in truly diabolical need, or to enter Ecstasy, may work with
held in deep regard by these spirits, another Totem not their own. A
are aided on the Totems own initia- shaman sworn to ferocious, implaca-
tive. This is simply because spirits ble Shark may need information from
see the world only dimly, as we see Sequoia. Though the relentless
theirs. nature of Shark may seem at odds
with the majestic, senescent mood of
Totems often choose the shaman, Sequoia, the tree Totem will work
rather than it being the other way with a foreign shaman only if the
around. Finding a Totem varies from shaman is working absolutely in the
shaman to shaman, although it is strange interest of trees. Totems are
always an extended rite, focusing not human and do not bow to things
around an extended period of like necessity. If the shaman is in any
Ecstasy. Fasting, solitary hunting and way offensive to a Totem, they will
communion are all means of opening not work with said Shaman, despite
communication with a Totem. It is clear and present dangers. Humans
not something that can be done in a may find this logic counterproductive
hurry when an Investigator needs or even foolish but this is what sepa-
some spiritual heavy fire power. It is rates shamans from their fellows.
a holy rite that will start a spiritual
relationship that will evolve over the
rest of the shaman’s life.
The Geas
There are two ways a Totem will start
a relationship with a shaman. The The Geas is a symbol of the bonds
first is that the shaman looks for a between Totem and shaman. It is an
Totem that suits his need. If one oath that curtails the behavior of the
needs the power to hunt, to battle, shaman in some way. Dog may ask
the shaman may seek out a ferocious that the shaman never, ever go
Totem like Lion or Wolf. If he desires against the wishes of his tribe, or
to protect his people or a place, he pack. Spider might ask that no spider
may wish to work with Turtle, who is ever be killed and that the shaman’s
patient and armored. If he needs house is never cleaned of cobwebs.
stealth and to be at one with dark They are often simple tasks that
places, Bat may be his choice. become complex in the actual prac-
tice. If the shaman breaks the Geas,
Conversely, a Totem may decide the the Totem may cut of all aid or even
shaman needs them. The quick tem- work to keep the shaman out of the
pered and fiery young woman may be spirit world. If the breaking of the
chosen by Stone and the icy killer may Geas is accidental or could
be contacted by the friendly, loyal absolutely not have been helped, the
Dog. If an investigator seeks a Totem, Totem may relent but only after
the Keeper may wish to award one insisting the shaman place them-
based on role-playing criteria, rather selves at the Totem’s disposal
than need. An investigator who sees utterly. If the shaman consciously
magic as just a weapon might find her- broke the Geas, it is doubtful the
self paired with Owl, the wise hunter, Totem will ever reforge the relation-
who will attempt to teach caution and ship. Other Totems will view the
respect, for example. shaman with suspicion and perhaps
46 MYTHOS MAGIC
seek to harm the shaman in a bodily view as much as they are divine
way. The conscious betrayer will beings.
probably never be chosen by a Totem
Totems therefore cannot be Evoked,
spirit ever again.
though they can be Invoked. They do
not offer the same services or require
the same loyalties as gods. Nor do
Influence shamans actively worship or serve to
propitiate their Totems. The priest of
Totems wield limited influence on Odin may offer up the torturous
their own kind. Stone could cause Blood-Eagle to the gallows god and
minor earthquakes, Snake might other magicians may burn sacred oils
cause his children to seek out and and offer up souls for Hastur but a
bite those who she takes a dislike to. shaman has no need to bind or bribe
It would be a mistake to think of his Totem. The bond is far more inti-
Totems as gods or masters of their mate than that, alliance more than
own kind though. Rather, Totems are service. A Totem will seek to aid its
ideas, accessible, intelligent and ani- friend, even if it cannot manifest
mate. They can communicate with itself as a great force for violence.
the physical world, either in lan-
guage or with empathetic telepathy.
Shamans and Spells
For example, a healer could quite
easily convince Bear to aid with
magic to cure disease or mend a bro- Shamans most commonly guide their
ken leg or even with something people by interacting with the spirit
along the lines of forest rejuvena- world. Spirits can tell of where to
tion. Asking Bear for an intercession hunt and fish, what people are
for murder would be pointless and friendly and hurtful, all the other
would perhaps lead to retaliation. things their culture may be con-
They can certainly make their wishes cerned with. Yet shamans also are
and warnings known but they are not spell-casters. They point the bones at
all seeing oracles or super beings enemies of tribes, bringing death.
who can come to earth and battle They cast out evil spirits and cleanse
their opposition. Totems are things the tainted spirit world, they heal and
to be talked to, points of view, not they initiate the young men and
active creatures. These aren’t those women. They stand between our
white hat Elder Gods world and the others.
Shamans therefore have access to
sorcery, the same as any other magi-
Totems vs. Gods cian. They can certainly Invoke and
Evoke minor spirits and may even be
Totems aren’t gods in any sense. able to do so with certain Mythos
They are abstracted ideals, spirits of beings. Those shamans whose tribes
great magnitude, or perhaps mental live nearby ghoul-haunted boneyards
constructs, ways for humans to cre- may have ways to contact the canni-
ate avenues to deal with certain bals. Australian indigenes who might
occult phenomenon. They are not have reason to pass near certain
present in the world the way gods basalt towers might know spells to
are. They are ideas and points of speak with the Great Race of Yith,
CHAPTER 4: SHAMANISM 47
47
who can teach them of the Flying not employed and treat their office
Polyps. Not all communication with with the religious respect it is due.
the Mythos is instantly corruptive,
after all.
The key element of learning magic in Shamans and the Mythos
a shamanic context is that everything
In a Lovecraftian worldview, the
is shared verbally. Pre-literate cul-
shaman becomes a figure of consider-
tures have remarkable abilities of
able interest. Walking with the spirits
memorization and so they have little
takes on an entirely sinister new mean-
need for writings. Those who wish to
ing. Shamans, therefore, access the
study with shamans must be pre-
beings of the Mythos in ways other
pared to throw away notepads and
humans, even other magicians, can-
dictation machines. This also not. They are trained to encounter
ensures that wisdom is considered a weird creatures, protected by their
precious commodity and shamans own capacity to enter into Ecstatic
remain revered figures. Those who states. Because of their own long
somehow manage to learn the magic standing habits of touching madness,
of shamans may learn spells that dealing with strange beings, they are
have never left the hands of their better capable of dealing with Mythos
tribes and so are rare wonders. entities than even other magicians.
This makes them both potent allies
and fearsome enemies.
What’s in it The traditional image of the Cthulhu
for the Shaman? cultist is the very image of the
shaman. In tribal communities, from
Shamans are essentially a religious the bayous of Louisiana to the isolated
figure. They serve spirits not because communities of Tora Tora, the rites of
they are handing out powers and the He Who Sleeps are frighteningly simi-
shaman wants to throw a fireball. lar. Indeed, those witnessed by
Shamans serve out of a sense of duty Inspector LeGrasse mirror precisely
to both the spirit world and to the the states of Ecstasy. Primitive yelling,
tribe. They are the ultimate bridges orgiastic bacchanals, screams to
between the people they live with pagan beings, these are all shamanic
and the ancestors who have gone practices.
before. Many shamans don’t even
have a choice and are selected from What makes them so dangerous, so
an early age, never being given much more appalling than other
chance to question, let alone shirk, shamanic states, is the presence of
these duties. Always separate from alien Totems. Mythos Totems.
the tribe, never a figure of welcome,
shamans are lonely and strange men

Mythos Totems
and women. In return, they are given
wonders to see, knowledge and con-
versation of worlds very few will ever
be aware of, let alone visit and have Lovecraft describes the activities of
alliance with marvelous, canny and cults and rites as primitive, blasphe-
holy creatures. Shamans are called, mous and bordering on the obscene.
48 MYTHOS MAGIC
One can either view this as an exam- the shamans and so they are ulti-
ple of cultural bias against rituals of mately tools, puppets and worse. No
shamanic Ecstasy or one can imagine matter how grandiose or strange a
it as the literal truth. To a sheltered Mythos shaman might see them-
Westerner, a ‘normal’ shamanic rite selves, they can never truly partake
may be considered as such and cer- of the macrocosmic malevolence of
tainly, Lovecraft held views about their kings. A normal Totem spirit
race and culture that would foster always views the shaman as an ally, a
such a view. Alternatively, one can partner. Robbed of that support, at
accept that sometimes, when it bor- the end, the Mythos shaman is
ders the unspeakable malice of the always going to be used up and spat
Mythos, shamanic magic is blasphe- out.
mous, destructive and wholly terrify-
ing. Mythos Totems, unsurprisingly, are
not as easily defined and bordered as
Direct contact with the Mythos is others of their kind. They Mythos
obviously psychically offensive and smashes all sanity, offers no salva-
creates total insanity in those unfor- tion, demands no alliance. The kinds
tunate to suffer it. Shamanism, like of relationships that are built up with
all magic, is a way to interact more terrene Totem spirits are simply not
safely with the servants of the Old possible with Mythos entities. Nor
Ones. Unfortunately, shamanic con- are the creatures of the Mythos com-
tact is a great deal more intense and
mon, part of the physical and cultural
intimate than that of other forms of
landscape of the shaman who would
magic. There is no way to completely
work with them.
insulate oneself from the soul-blast-
ing entities. Worse besides, the Nonetheless, there are always meth-
Mythos damage humanity even by ods to approach power.
standing close to us. Mythos
shamans often have terrifying disfig- Shamans enter the upper world and
urements and elaborate mental ill- it is there alien powers abide. When
nesses and perversions. The bad part the initiation begins, when the first
is, they are often all the more effec- attempt to contact supernal powers
tive servants to their masters are made, it’s not always something
because of it. friendly that responds. Shamans can
be as much trapped by the Mythos as
The Mythos shaman is, therefore, much as sought out. Alternatively, if
perhaps the most terrifying mortal a Shaman has knowledge of such
creature on earth. Because they have, creatures, they can turn their back
consciously or unconsciously sought upon their human heritage and look
out close bonds with utterly inhuman for a power creature of a darker
gods and spirits. They can control stripe.
and interact with the uncontrollable.
They can use magic and rites no sane Like all Totems, Mythos specific
magician would even think of. In Totems have specific purlieus and
addition, they are the most utterly domains in which they dwell and
doomed of all humans. The Mythos communicate. One doesn’t seek
beings know nothing of reciprocity answers concerning the secrets of
and grant no favors. Their goals are quantum computing from a Dark
too unhuman to ever overlap with Young. And as always, the Totems
CHAPTER 4: SHAMANISM 49
have their own agendas, concerning muteness, eventually losing an abil-
their spheres of influence. ity to speak at all. In time, they lose
all capacity or desire to communicate
in any way, even with body language,
Totem Entities making them even eerier.
Hunting Horror – Of all the beasts
Byhakee – When dealing with the
that make up the Mythos, the
Byhakee once must think of their
Hunting Horrors are perhaps the
three fold appearance, bat, corpse
most consciously cruel. As such, the
and insect. They teach transforma-
shamans who serve Hunter are sadis-
tions and a melding. They are many
tic, given over entirely to the chase,
foul things, wrapped into one and
the kill. Hunter demands his servants
teach a shaman how to accept con-
emulate his chosen beings, the
tradictions and transfigure oneself
Horrors and so his shaman are
into something new. Byhakee
devoted to tracking, to hunting and
teaches magic that allows mutations
butchering. These shamans are given
and changes. Byhakee also operates
magic that allows them to track, to
as a symbol of mobility. Capable of
see prey no matter where they might
moving through the vast gulfs of the
hide. Their senses are greater than
void, it gives the magic and knowl-
animals, their eyes see into higher
edge of how to move throughout the
and lower spectrums of light, given
universe.
spells of murder and they can endure
Byakhee’s geas is that of a terrible great hardships on this hunt. They
curse. The shaman begins to take on are sadistic killers and for them,
the physical aspects of the Totem death is the thing, hunting merely
itself. The skull begins to lose flesh, prelude. The geas they accept is that
the hands become claw like and a of mutation. Their eyes take on bes-
fine black layer of hair appears over tial form, their ears shift on their
the body. These shamans often heads and their noses elongate into
hunger to leave the earth far behind muzzles. They stink of meat, that all
them. but themselves gag at.
Nightgaunt - Unlike many other Dagon – Father Dagon is not a god,
Mythos beings, Nightgaunts are not yet he is clearly something more than
wholly malicious towards human simple gigantic example of his
beings. Of course, does this not species. Dagon might be a kind of
make either the beings or the Totem Totemic spirit for the entire Deep
particularly charitable, either. One race who is, tragically, capable
Nightgaunt teaches the art of silence, of dealings with humans. Father
of darkness. Shamans sworn to Dagon seeks mates for his breed and
Nightgaunt gain magical prowess so his Shamans, male and female are
over both shadows and silence. They often seekers after unnatural con-
move invisibly, undetectably, con- gress. They believe in extreme loy-
trolling the stuff of darkness. alty to tribe and to community, so
Nightgaunt shamans might not be long as this protectorate serves the
actively cruel or insane but they are goals of Dagon. Many of the more
still utterly chilling to be around. The primitive shamans of the dark places
geas of a nightgaunt shaman is of the earth serve Dagon in this ideal.
silence. They become laconic to His shamans are also adept in the
50 MYTHOS MAGIC
magic of water and darkness and ancient secrets out of the old ices
storm. The sea beasts are their ser- that have destroyed the world in the
vants. Not only do many Dagonic past. The Geas of Gnoph-Keh takes
shamans have the famous two shapes. The first is a very serious
“Innsmouth look” but their geas aversion to any warmth. The other is
accentuate this. After only a few a pathological need for privacy in
years of service, regardless of their which to search out secrets.
bloodlines, these shamans bear the
typical ichthyic marks. If they have Hounds of Tindalos – There are no
Deep One ancestry, they may also shamans of these Totems. Any who
take on more extreme examples of could enter into the mathematical
change. Great size, tentacles, bio- upper worlds they exist in would
luminescent lures and even less earn a quick death.
savory images.
Fire Vampire – Normally, intelligent
creatures make poor Totems but the Fallen Totems
alien nature of the Fire Vampire Areas of the world are corrupted by
makes it appropriate to the human the Mythos. The whippoorwill cries
psyche. Fire, or Flame, or however it mark where beasts have walked
is called, is a creature of profligate throughout the natural world. Dogs
love of destruction. It’s shamans are
may cry and cats shriek in the night.
geased to always have fire around
The Mythos leave a spoor, corrupt all
them and to take any excuse to burn
that they come across. Some spirits
or at least destroy precious things.
may be touched by the Old Ones and
These shamans are bound by a reli-
gious need to consume, to use changed forever.
things up. They may then become Totem spirits in areas that have seen
enormously fat, needlessly addicted Mythos activity may change, may fall.
to substances, unable to not expend Not even the strongest of these
their resources. Their magic is not beings has the power to stand before
only that of fire but of any kind of a god.
consuming, entropic style.
Boar may no longer be a welcoming
Gnoph-Keh – Cold, ice, hunting, the
creature that teaches fierceness and
Gnoph-Keh are on the surface a
strength. Instead, it might become a
remarkably terrene creature of the
ravening entity that brings lessons of
Mythos. Indeed, aside from the
stunning ferocity. Dog may take on
unusual number of limbs, they are
little different than polar bears. The the nature of the rabid betrayer, the
Gnoph-Keh are ancient beasts, as biter of a feeding hand. Those
much as cold as of it. They are wan- Totems who have fallen retain ves-
derers amongst all manner of wastes tiges of their original personality.
and see ancient secrets. The Snake is still a figure of healing but
shamans of the Gnoph-Keh are there- now it may emphasize a perverse
fore equally cold, loners, happily pleasure in the examination of the
schizoid in their detachment from sick, the bodies of the dead. Shark
the world. While their magic is cer- may forget that it hunts only for food
tainly useful in mastering the cold and begin to take perverse pleasure
and the ice, it is also used for prying in murder.
CHAPTER 4: SHAMANISM 51
Places of considerable Mythos activi- Totem become committed to the
ties are often shunned by spirits and goals of alien things.
native tribes alike and this is part of
the reason. The strange altar at
Sentinel Hill, the weird ruins of Other Spirits
Cambodia, the eerie Severn Valley,
more besides are a host to many, The Keeper should feel free to
many fallen spirits who now serve expand beyond the scope of extant
the gods who have overwhelmed Mythos creatures when creating
them. Shaman who try to contact Totems. Not all of the Mythos crea-
their Totems in this are may find tures appropriately fit in to the basic
them suddenly changed. If the Totem patterns of human shamanism, after
stays long, they may never be able to all. An Inuit clearly has a link with the
manifest to that shaman without a polar bears of his region. He watches
Mythos taint again. them, learns from them, coexist with
them and then finally create mystic
Shamans who spend too long in the bonds with them, forging communi-
places where their Totems are poten- cation on a deep level where none
tial victims for the Great Ones are in was possible before. That is a part of
a very great danger of falling them- the mysteries of this form of magic.
selves, no matter their intentions. Whereas many Mythos races are
This is not a process of one night or intelligent and sentient. Therefore,
even one week’s work. Shamans can spirits of truly alien motivation, from
enter into the black world of the far realms, trapped or foreign to
enemy to fight. Those who stay on, earth, are very appropriate to Mythos
or fail to perceive the Mythos at shamans. Spirits with diseases, mad-
work, will find their sanity slowly but ness or just given over to man-hunt-
surely under attack, their bodies ing may work equally as well as the
prone to changes until they are their patrons to these terrible foes.

52 MYTHOS MAGIC
Chapter Five
Lovecraftian Magic

There is a long standing debate as to cretion of the Keeper, with this pro-
what precisely constitutes real magic viso: Lovecraft invented magic to be
in the Mythos. Many believe magic is used as he wished, without giving a
simply an alien science and that phi- tinker’s cuss to validity or historical
losophy of rationalism Lovecraft existence. No matter the decisions
ascribed to does not permit mystical taken by the Keeper, Lovecraft him-
forces. No matter what the writer self had more magic than simply
believed personally, he certainly summoning the great beasts down to
included obviously supernatural ele- our frangible world.
ments in his stories.
There are many elements of magic
There can be no systematic decision within the original stories, overt or
concerning what is inherently otherwise, that bear especial exami-
Lovecraftian, Mythos-specific magic. nation as they are cornerstones of
The Dunwich Horror contains spells the feel of the Cthulhu Mythos. These
and powers that seem to come from are the kinds of ideas, themes and
the folklore so beloved by Lovecraft. elements that were the primary inter-
Dreams of the Witch House suggests est of Lovecraft and so are of espe-
that magic is a form of higher, per- cial interest to the game.
haps the highest mathematics. The
Dreamlands stories see magic as far
less threatening, far more in the
nature of folklore and fairy tale. True
magic might be an intrusion of The Magic of
‘stronger’ physical principles from
higher or lower dimensions. It may Language
be that the Dreamlands and their
The links between magic and lan-
own anarchic physics can be, be the
guage are ancient and old. The first
trained human mind, used to isolate
recorded definition of ‘spell’ with
and supersede our own Newtonian
magic overtones is 1579, in the
worldview.
Glossary to Spencer's Shepherd's
In keeping with the central themes of Calendar, The anonymous writer
Call of Cthulhu, we will define the records Spell is a kinde of verse or
‘pure’ magic of the Mythos as that charme, that in eldre tymes they vsed
which increases the true knowledge often to say ouer evry thing that they
of the universe i.e., if it causes a SAN would haue preserved, as the
loss, it is valid as magic. Otherwise, Nightspel for theeves, and the wood-
any other ‘true’ magic is at the dis- spell.
CHAPTER 5: LOVECRAFTIAN MAGIC 53
Old High German, Old Norse, French, Goetia
all have words like spel, spiel and
spell, meaning story or discourse. More pertinent to Lovecraftian magic
Words like glamour and charm have is the notion of the Barbarous
Names.
long associations in their early incar-
nations with magic. Grammar and Magic as we know it in the West,
Grimoire share long etymological came down from antique traditions
history. of Persian, Egyptian, Hebrew,
Babylonian and other long ago civi-
Magicians often study etymology, the lizations. From there, it was inter-
understanding of the history of preted by the Greeks and Roman
words. It gives great insights into our scholars and translated to Latin and
way of thinking. Lovecraft most cer- other classical tongues. Those
names of angels, demons, monsters
tainly understood the power of
and spirits were unorthodox even in
words and the effect it has upon our
the original language. Passed down
thinking. Certainly, he used complex through four or five languages and
etymologies to hint at the nature of over thousands of years, the names,
his own monsters and phantasms. words and terminologies became
Tcho means ‘black magician’. Mi-go utterly lost even as the entities where
was the original word for the Yeti, or still Evoked and Worked with. Spirits
abominable snow-man. Magic is a like Asanexhexeton and
puzzle box, hinting at the truths our Sesengenbarpharanges became a
part of the magical lexicon.
monkey-language cloaks and a good
Keeper can hide in plain sight. They are linguistic mongrels and so
it was that a whole school of magical
An example: An old ancient sorcerer thought dealt with the Barbarous
has been unleashed and is causing Names, magic words divorced from
the usual havoc as livestock and their original meaning, yet still effec-
eventually children sicken and die. tive.
Local doctors believe it is a new dis- Even classical scholars agreed that
ease. Investigators, doing their thing, the meaning of the words were no
discover the truth and that the male- longer important, it was the sound,
factor is an old Viking wizard called the feelings that chanting them gave
Erik the Forsworen. At first glance, us. In modern occult terminology, we
this would seem to suggest that he could say that the Barbarous Names
by their own insensibility lend them-
was named the Forsworn, someone
selves to entrance to Gnosis. The
who has broken an oath or given
process is know as Goetic magic, the
false testimony. Further research using of garbled, barbaric language
gives us an even earlier meaning of to more easily work magic.
that word: Forswerian, to rob of
Lovecraft himself used a very similar
power by a spell. It may be that the
principle in naming his gods and
plagues draining the surrounding monsters. Although with gods like
countryside of its strength is a spell Hzioulquoigmnzhah and
Erik is using to return himself to life, Cxaxukluth, his contemporary Clark
draining souls for his own purpose. Ashton Smith rather outdid even the
54 MYTHOS MAGIC
master for obscurity of pronuncia- Skill – Speak Aklo: The dread tongue
tion. The principle is the same, of of Aklo is perhaps the language of
course. Words like Cthulhu and the gods themselves. Simply speak-
Nyarlathotep are even today debat- ing it involves taking on their
able as to pronunciation and are still thoughts and ideas, their values. It
nonsensical in the strict definition. In may allow very primitive communica-
his letters, Lovecraft suggests that tion with some creatures and from
the word Cthulhu cannot be pro- more rational races, such as the
nounced by human tongues and that Serpent People, bestow grudging
we only have the faintest approxima- respect towards the speaker.
tion. However, the alien concepts that are
communicated by Aklo has a slow
The Mythos uses the notion of and steady effect on Sanity. For each
Barbaric Tongues often. Time and three points the character has in
again we see words like Ia and Aklo, one point is permanently lost
F’htagn and we are given smatterings from maximum Sanity. For each
of the dread language Aklo. three points the character has in
Aklo, they gain one bonus Magic
A Keeper may wish to capitalize on
Point in regards to magic dealing
the language of Aklo. In the story
only with Mythos beings.
Haunter of the Dark there are hints
that it may be the tongue that the E.g. A magician has a 45 Sanity and 9
Great Old Ones speak to each other power. Learning Aklo to 6% would
in. It may be that certain Workings take maximum Sanity down to 43 but
are only possible with the use of this grant the magician 10 Magic Points
language and so it be a Skill that for the purposes of Evocation or
occultists seek to learn. Perhaps Invocations.
using this language is a way to
quickly enter Gnostic states or earn

Necromancy
command of the Mythos.
An example: On trying to Evoke a
Byhakee, a magician believes she
knows the proper pronunciation of 'The essential Saltes of Animals may
the creature’s name. An Occult or be so prepared and preserved, that
Linguistics, or perhaps even Speak an ingenious Man may have the
Aklo role succeeds and she gains a whole Ark of Noah in his own Studie,
percentage bonus to the overall role. and raise the fine Shape of an Animal
out of its Ashes at his Pleasure; and
As language plays a part in defining by the lyke Method from the essential
the characteristics of mind, learning Saltes of humane Dust, a Philosopher
the magical dialect of the Gods may may, without any criminal
shape Sanity. Even hearing one of the Necromancy, call up the Shape of
words of Aklo, pronounced properly, any dead Ancestour from the Dust
may require small Sanity checks. whereinto his Bodie has been inciner-
Fully translating the concepts of the ated.'
Old Ones into human terms may be
- Borellus
impossible for the sane but give
magicians tremendous spells and Joseph Curwen and Herbert West,
rites. perhaps even mysterious Al Hazred
CHAPTER 5: LOVECRAFTIAN MAGIC 55
55
himself are all part of a long tradition know what lurks beyond death or to
of those who have passed back and gain spies in heaven or hell.
forth beyond the walls of death.
Necromancy, either mystical or scien-
tific, are both conscious themes The Taxa of Death
Lovecraft works with several exam-
ples being presented in his stories. For necromancers, the biological
Death, resurrection and undeath are world can be divided into the Dead,
recurring mystical motifs returned the Living and the Undead. The living
to, perhaps exemplified in the cou- are creatures who have a soul and a
plet ‘That is not dead which eternal body. The Dead have had their souls
lies and with strange eons even removed from their bodies. The
death may die.’ Traffic between the Undead are any creature that does
living and the dead is absolutely the not fit with this definition. Soulless
work of the sorcerer. bodies are zombies and vampires for
instance and ghosts are souls with-
There are two ways to look at Mythos
out bodies. No matter what manifes-
necromancy and the first is strictly
tation or name, that is the basic
materialist. Death is simply a medical
breakdown.
state, an illness that we have not yet
dealt with. Mankind has the
Promethean duty to conquer death
and become godlike in our capacity Creating Undead
to create life. The second is the grey Undead are created through many
and grim magic of souls and the res- methods. The Voudou houngans trap
urrection of the flesh.
the souls of the deceased with sor-
There are many reasons sorcerers cery. Some Native American witch-
may wish to resurrect the dead. doctors have been known to bury
Simply wanting a return of their bodies in grounds touched by awful
beloved, refusing to allow an enemy Manitou spirits. Others still use weird
to surcease of oblivion, the desire to blends of magic and technology,

The Soul
Lovecraft had no need of heaven or hell or resurrections, so his murky
cosmology remains silent on the final disposition of the dead. Those who
did return from death where seen as transgressors of the natural order.
The Keeper must therefore decide, when dealing with necromancy, if
souls exist as more than ghosts in the machine and where we go when
we die. It is suggested that Elysian Fields and Brimstone Prisons be dis-
couraged. The idea of a judgment based upon our moral deeds flies
against the chilling philosophies of Call of Cthulhu. It is curiously inap-
propriate to think of the human soul, with a Mythos context, as being a
heavenly body that escapes after death to find a final judgment. It is per-
haps better to think of the soul as a kind of essential intelligence, an ani-
mating energy.

56 MYTHOS MAGIC
bringing the dead back to life conditions or their Workings may go
through the application of electricity wrong on them.
and surgery, carving runes upon
corpses which act as topological The Undead, being creatures wholly
maps for the dead to sight their bod- reliant on magic for their existence,
ies from the dark universes their are relatively easy to work against
dying has thrust them in to. Others with the same techniques. Spells like
recite spells that draw forth souls, Bad Corpse Dust and various other
some realize that the dying human hoodoos are common and simple to
mind may be unable to transition use. Those who know spells to create
properly if killed in particularly brutal undead may be able to use them,
circumstances. Others believe the their POW contested against the POW
soul is an electric field that must be of those who raised the dead in the
stored and expressed in the move- first place, allowing the opposing
ments of particles. No matter the magician to destroy the undead.
method, bringing the dead to
undeath is surprisingly easy.
Intelligence
Summoning undead with their origi-
Rules for Creating the Undead
nal personality or intelligence is an
In Call of Cthulhu, the spell Raise entirely different process than creat-
Zombie is a useful guide to the cre- ing corpse and spirit soldiers. Those
ation of undead. It requires one point who want to know what lies beyond
of POW and 1D10 sanity points to death and converse with the plain-
cast. Creating a ghost should be sim- speaking undead have a far more dif-
ilarly simple. Drawing the soul out of ficult path in front of them. Even if
a living human might be only be a lit- the Keeper wishes to allow the Ouija
tle harder. Those with more ambition boards and channeller of grandmoth-
than one undead servitor may wish ers, truly cognizant undead are an
to use arcane machinery or human altogether different process to cre-
sacrifice, draw POW from others and ate. Time, considerable amounts of
so prevent their own depletion. The body parts, at least ten Magic Points
creation of monstrosities from vari- are all elements needed. Then, when
ous body parts is simply a matter or created or summoned, the Undead
more time, material and POW. creature returns to the earth aware of
its past. Even the hardiest of souls
may find inhabiting its ancient
The Undead mummy or bereft of its flesh hard to
The Undead are often biddable, the deal with. SAN checks for the Undead
magician will create redundancy sys- must be made at 1D10/1D50. Giving
tems to ensure this is so. Ghosts may the Undead back their minds is a far
be controlled by relics of their bod- cry from making them docile and
ies. Corpses may have collops of willing to discuss the antique past of
their flesh behind them that influ- far shores of death calmly. Most
ence them. Magicians learning spells come back with only murder in their
to create undead will need to be thor- shriveled hearts, eager to ameliorate
ough in their understanding of such their pain by sharing it.
CHAPTER 5: LOVECRAFTIAN MAGIC 57
57
Surviving Death This may require pacts with god or
unholy necromantic surgery.
Many magicians take up the practice Mummification might be one such
of the mantic arts with just such a black technology we have fatally mis-
goal in mind. Some create alchemical understood. Often, fresh blood,
elixirs that retard aging and some souls or even body parts may be
bind their minds in objects, waiting needed to fuel such a state and the
to possess new flesh. Others hide zombie sorcerers who have found
from the reaper by ensuring their themselves in such a state may need
souls are easily channeled back to a large amount of fresh victims to
the earth and some make their bod- continue their works. These kinds of
ies useable long after their natural undead make worthy adversaries for
spans are done. Some magicians may Investigators. They may be stopped
have elaborate ways to fool death. with violence but never killed as they
One traditional way is hiding the are inoculated to death. Shot,
heart. Another may be curses from stabbed or burnt, so long as they
gods. However, there are two very have life to feed on they might never
practical and fittingly Lovecraftian die again. Archaeological expedi-
methods we will examine. tions might unearth long catatonic
undead or the Investigator might
Spirits may linger after death, look-
simply stumble upon their plans. Not
ing for new vessels. Often the terms
all the undead are shambling corpses
of the magic involved might dictate
after all and that beautiful client with
the possessor have something in liv-
the thrilling blue eyes may have their
ing with the possessed. A family con-
own plans. The servants of
nection and the sharing of DNA
Mordiggian have a particular hatred
traits, a strong physical resemblance,
for such creatures and endlessly pur-
having read the same obscure books,
suit them, looking to take them to
all are a part way to become a victim
the Charnel God for their overdue
of some long dead magician’s ghost.
rest.
Obvious plot devices will follow these
attempts at a magician seeking to Investigators might decide upon
maintain their life. Investigators may such a course, feeling the urge to
find their friends acting strangely or become undead. The makings of an
may suffer blackouts themselves. A unusual campaign might be found in
long family curse may be activated these motivations. A powerful
when a possessing spirit is released Mythos entity like a Serpent Folk can
from a bottle or vase or portrait that live forever. From the Neolithic past
bound it. Magic is often effective of the high days of Cimmeria, a
against these beings as their hold on group of primitive investigators may
reality is tenuous. Of course, they have made a pact to hunt the beast
might exist outside their vessels but down through eternity.
then they are mere ghosts, forever
locked away from the world of the
senses. Rules
A more vulgar but no less effective Turning oneself into the Undead is a
means of surviving is to resist the drastic step and requires a terrible
transmigration of souls and simply will and considerable magical
remake the body as an undead one. resources. Only those with a POW of
58 MYTHOS MAGIC
18 can even attempt such a state. The closest that humans have to fully
Then they must voluntarily end their transcending death is the spell
own lives by suicide. Keeping the ‘Resurrection’. This will return its tar-
intelligence intact after death get to full biological life but even
requires the immediate expenditure then, the spell can be easily reversed
of 25 Magic Points and a resisted and no power can prevent that sec-
POW roll against 30 POW. There are ond death. There may be other meth-
many individual techniques for these ods of returning to life. Abhoth and
Workings but all are morbid and maybe Chaugnur Faugn might have
require the sacrifice of souls. The the capacity to return a body to full
Keeper is encouraged to think mor- function, even after massive trauma
bid thoughts when designing such but they cannot return the soul.
Workings. Mordiggian may conceivably have
the knowledge of how to wed body
Possessing ghosts must have made
and soul but this would be against its
an already agreed upon condition as
precepts. Perhaps the Mighty
to which bodies it can inhabit, as
Messenger knows the secrets of how
suggested above. They may also
to resurrect the body but it shares
have a place in which their soul is
nothing without a price.
stored between possessions.
Corporeal undead must have some Perhaps the truly glorious return
living humor as fuel. The corporeal from death is a thing no magic can
undead will lose 5 POW per week. achieve clean and clear. Even if the
When they have 0 POW they will fall Keeper did rule such magic was avail-
into a catatonic state. A living being able, death would cling to the unfor-
can be drained of its POW for by tunate creature like a shroud. Agents
these creatures in the medium of of death would send forth hounds
blood, meat or magical energy. This and harriers. The living would trem-
can be done all at once or at the rate ble in the presence of this traveler.
of 1 POW a day. Something in the resurectee’s gaze,
having looked upon oblivion and
A possessing spirit can be unhoused returned, would be too terrible to
for one second for each point of bear.
POW. If it has failed to find a new
host by that time, it will be destroyed
permanently.

Geometry
True Resurrection
In Call of Cthulhu, the island of
Some magicians desire more than R’lyeh is said to be constructed of
the half life of the undead or are too non-Euclidean angles. In Dreams of
smart to risk those they need the Witch House, the witch Keziah
returned to a state of insanity and has made for herself an escape from
vicious hunger. These magicians this dimension out of mathematics
require a true resurrection, giving a and geometry. Often we find descrip-
full life to the dead. tions of wrong or obscene angles.
Such a thing is impossible. There is As is usual, Lovecraft has worked
no full return from death. with ideas that are millennia old.
CHAPTER 5: LOVECRAFTIAN MAGIC 59
Religion and magic both have often as ever, in the game we are ignorant
dealt with the world of mathematics and wrong. The number theories that
and especially the discipline of the Great Ones use are utterly incom-
Sacred Geometry. The basic belief is prehensible to the human mind and
that all possible shapes that can the confusions and obfuscations of
exist in both space and time are quantum physics is simply the very
organized according to the absolute tip of a huge and frightening iceberg.
rules of God. In studying geometry, Especially when one realizes that
one studies the underlying codes and numbers themselves have a bleak
blueprints of the universe. Perhaps kind of sentience. Mathematicians
the most common use of Sacred speak of the beauty of theorems but
Geometry is in the Golden Ratio. Two what of ugliness?
quantities are said to be in the
Magicians who choose Working with
golden ratio if the whole (that is, the
numbers may discover entities that
sum of the two parts) is to the larger
only exist as complex and abstract
part as the larger part is to the
mathematical equations. There may
smaller part. Most great works of
be gods whose name can only be
architecture, such as the Parthenon,
used in Evocations as equations that
the Pyramids and many, many other
must be solved. Architects who have
buildings exist in the Golden Ration,
some knowledge in the Mythos may
as does the pentagram.
try to construct buildings that are
Mathematics has also been used for built to numeric scales that please
4000 years as an aid to astrology and the Old Gods. They may act as attrac-
Divination, especially on amulets, tors, or places in which beings can
periapts and diadems. They are sim- enter the world without many of the
ply squares which are divided into complexities of traditional summon-
row and columns. A number or letter ings. Constructing a building that is
with magical properties, is assigned based on the ratios of a god’s body
to each square within the square, and the god may come to live in that
and when read horizontally, vertically place. The converse may be true and
or diagonally the same sums or only mathematical equations are
words are produced. They were used capable of trapping certain beings.
as protection against demons in Byhakee and Hunting Horrors, who
China, India and Arabia, later moving roam the universe freely might be
throughout the world. frightened by the mathematical
implications of zero. Famously, the
An example of a magic square Hounds of Tindalos are unable to
4 9 2 work in curving spaces. Other simple
tricks of space and perception may
3 5 7 be equally repugnant or attractive to
Mythos beings. Imagine a monster
8 1 6
summoned by the complex mathe-
As Mythos magic is wholly unreliant matics implicit in simple soap suds,
on human perception, this gives the quite by accident, or the unique crys-
Keeper a chance to introduce many talline properties of a snowflake.
forms of strange mathematical What if the linear properties of cracks
magery to play with. Numbers and in the plaster of an old warehouse
mathematics are the keys to human have somehow formed the most
understanding of the universe and, powerful Ward in human history.
60 MYTHOS MAGIC
Generating enough fractals might Rules
pierce the universe in a way that
information leaks through from the Magicians who choose to work in a
mathematical model of numbers had
membranes between realities. The
best be skilled mathematicians. A
priests of Daoloth are said to be able
mathematics or general Science skill
to see objects too large or strange to
might take the place of Occult in
exist in only four dimensions. deterring successes of certain spells
Therefore, they can bend space cast. Generally speaking, if a spell
around those objects and so reach can be expressed as a mathematic
alternate realities. It may be that cer- equation, then allow these techno-
tain magicians, trained in the arts of logical magicians the same chances
Dho-Na geometry, can find entry as an occultist. The creation of
points to other worlds in non-ordi- sacred or unhallowed geometry must
nary expression of physical space. of course be accompanied by
Strange optical illusions and visual Geometry skills.
tricks might represent terrible paths
to hell. The Yellow Sign and the Elder

Gates
Sign might be topologically attractive
or repellent to certain Mythos beings;
creating conditions in spacetime
whereby the Great Ones themselves The most common example of the
are made uncomfortable. Certain Supergeometry of the Old Ones is the
strings of prime or irrational num- creation of Gates, spatial distortions
bers might be effective Wards that link regions, theoretically infi-
against some entities. nitely distant in both time and space.
The ancients, Plato and Plotinus, in
Clearly, this kind of magical thought their ignorant droning about inter-
lends itself best to the game where secting solids and Five Forms, had
magic is a kind of alien superscience. the faintest notion that the universe
This is magic done in labs and on was simpler than what humans expe-
blackboards and in calculating rienced and they were wrong.
engines. Infinitely complex, it takes the

Non-Euclidean
Lovecraft used the phrase non-Euclidean geometry to try and express the
notion that angles and curves used by the Xothians and witches were
somehow alien to human understanding. This type of geometry is in fact
a way to graph parallel lines that join, itself a paradoxical notion that was
ground-breaking in its day as M-Theory is in ours. The notion is extremely
counter intuitive to any but the highly trained. Seeing non-Euclidean
geometry does not drive one mad. Seeing the abstract, the foreign, the
total alienation and anti-intuitive Godly numerical principle put to work,
is a powerful way to illustrate the idea that the universe is always a for-
eign, foreign country.

CHAPTER 5: LOVECRAFTIAN MAGIC 61


arcane science of the Mythos to The Xothians and Mi-Go both fly
remove the false burdens of process through space and therefore have lit-
and motion from physicality. With tle use for them. Cthulhu and his
certain designs, certain tessellations kind may use hypergeometry as ways
and equations, gravity and dimen- to deliver sacrifices to the Ultimate
sionality can be transcended. Time Throne of Azathoth, however, or per-
and space, at least to human senses, haps simple as forms of grotesque
are like a river flowing with a fast cur- alien aesthetics. The Great Race
rent. The swimmer can only move transmigrates time at will. Indeed,
one way along it. A Gate is like the the only times in Mythos fiction we
river bank and those who stand on it truly see Gates are those worked by
can transcend the flow of water, humans, Carter and Mason. It may be
moving forward, backwards, even that Gates are a kind of magic that
skipping from bank to bank. Gates humans have created for themselves.
are not simply tame wormholes or Such a reading could indicate that
things that use the suspected physi- Gates are the only effective, native
cal principles of black or white holes. tool humans have. This possibility
They utterly contravene four dimen- hints that Gates are a wretched, weak
sions. means of traversing the cosmos.
Surprisingly, Gates are a form of With enough time and Power at the
magic not known to all Mythos races. disposal of a magician, Gates could

62 MYTHOS MAGIC
conceivably lead anywhere or any- great enemies of the Hounds and
when. Alternate universes where his- only the Great Ones have seen those
tory has changed, completely foreign epic wars. To travel through such a
dimensions, into the picoseconds Predator Gate is to be venesected in
after the Big Bang when time itself time, stripped and strewn across the
was being hastily rigged, the Red universe, looking forever to recon-
Shift future, areas where the expan- nect with their various selves…
sion of the universe has not yet
reached, the Big Crunch, or even the

Arcane Tomes
jagged, shift-torn reaches where the
Daemon Sultan itself endlessly
writhes.
Gates are not consistent. There are Books, tractates, exordiums, tomes,
one, two and more way Gates, Gates no matter the names, Lovecraft inex-
the only operate at certain times, tricably linked the written word with
keyed to certain species or individu- horror. Knowledge brings terrible
als, Gates that are sentient and Gates costs with it and there is no more
that are random. The entity that cre- effective a symbol for the horror of
ates a Gate may choose the particu- awareness than the ancient book.
lars during construction. Unless they There are many famous books in the
fail… Mythos, none more famous than the
Necronomicon. Nameless Cults, the
Book of Eibon, the Seven Cryptical
Failed Gates Books of Hsan, the Shrewsbury
Codex and many more are all recur-
Gates that have been imperfectly cre-
ring themes in the stories.
ated are imminently hostile. They
attract the attention of such beings Books are precious to the magician
as the Hounds of Tindalos, can because for unnumbered centuries
deposit travelers into any number of they remained symbols of the art,
hostile environments or simply available only to a highly trained few,
refuse to spit out those who walk hiding rare and terrible secrets in
their paths. Faulty gates may create plain sight only for the lettered. With
perfect or imperfect copies of those books, magicians could find a kind of
who walk them, merge together dif- immortality beyond that of their
ferent entities who have walked physical existence, share thoughts
them, creating terrific collisions of and theories and record spells, allow-
flesh, collapse down into a black ing them to grow in power in expo-
hole, be inhabited by the forlorn and nential leaps. Magicians crave knowl-
mad lost men and monsters or, at edge and books are nothing but
best case, simply waylay the traveler, records of such.
losing them in time and space.
Books have remained the primary
Some Gates achieve a weird and dim method of magical communication
sentience. Like Dholes of infinite for millennium but are not the only
length, they roam the four dimen- one. In the modern day, occultists
sions, looking to feed on life, excret- are often eager to create websites
ing it, digested, into other realms. with their findings. Indeed, many
Invisible to the eye, they are the magicians also have an interest in
CHAPTER 5: LOVECRAFTIAN MAGIC 63
computing, the two both being Books Can Find Their Own Life
arcane knowledge manipulated by
symbols and ordered logic of weird Any book that can impart their
languages. Cthulhu Mythos Knowledge can
come alive, given the right condi-
Voice recordings are also useful to tions. There may be several ways for
magicians, who may imprint their this to come to pass but the most
chants on wax or in digital formats. common is simply contact with its
Video diaries are often made of rites own kind. Only the most powerful
with commentaries explaining tech- libraries are likely to undergo this
nicalities. Pamphlets have been made eerie phenomenon. If books whose
and for five hundred or more years total Mythos Knowledge skill is
have been a cheap way to print small greater than 100% are kept in the
amounts of paper very quickly. same library, there is a chance they
Nevertheless, the book, the primal will stir to life. This is left to the
symbol of knowledge, will always Keeper’s discretion.
remain.
The books cannot move or talk. They
No matter how a magician gains for-
will not flap as bats or read them-
bidden knowledge, the results are
selves out loud. Instead, when han-
the same. Casual perusal means
dled and read they will disclose what
nothing and there is no amelioration
they want the reader to know. They
to Sanity loss if the terrible spells are
will lead their readers to the most
read by candlelight in ancient castles
perilous and dangerous sections.
or under fluorescent lights in the
They will attempt to control the
office.
tastes and philosophies of their
Books might not be a particularly keepers. Many a librarian of dismal
important part of the actual technical occult tomes has found themself
processes of magic. They are not the mad, unable to resist picking up the
only way to learn how to Work. book bound in weird leather, reading
Despite their lack of ubiquity they of how to torture, of how to talk with
are the focus of dark forces, simmer- the Others. Magicians whose
ing with secrets. Books are traps, for- libraries come to life are prone to
ever snaring knowledge. They remain never leave their precious books. As
items of talismanic force for magi- they are proud and envious of their
cians, almost fetish objects. No books, so are their books jealous of
magician worth his salt has else but them. Books do not loan out their
a rich library, often well protected. readers.

Books and Life


Magicians and investigators alike Artifacts
tend to love collections of old manu-
scripts, notes, case files, magical The eerie crowns of the Deep Ones,
diaries, what have you. Books have the Shining Trapezohedron and more
their own agenda and own lives and beside are important to Lovecraftian
whisper each other secrets that not fiction. The inventive Keeper will be
even the most careful reader will ever sure to add their own weird items.
hear. Sinister music boxes that call bad
64 MYTHOS MAGIC
things to wake. Cell phones that call pared to do the legwork in the cor-
the wrong rooms and vases painted rect circles and libraries of ill-repute.
in Grecian themes that on closer
The Maquis would claim that smoke
inspection display appalling themes
filtered by the black holder gave him
and more are all fair game.
potent hallucinogenic visions of the
Artifacts should be disturbing in future, the past and the ‘secret
more than one way. The music box chiefs’ of the earth.
might cause curtains in the rooms to
Then there is the personal worth to
flutter and lights to dim and candles
either the Investigators, or the adver-
to waver. The black Faberge egg
sarial groups, often cult, who long
might feel sickly slick and warm to
for the item. This tussle back and
touch. It may oh so gently pulse.
forth for the artifact, each trying to
They may have strange scientific
find it, then the losing and gaining of
effects, such as distorting gravity or
it, might make up an adventure or
sending out regular radio pulses. even the bulk of the campaign.
The fetish mask may have demon-
strated effects at treating psychosis. Catherine Ds, the last living heir of
the mad Maquis, believes he left
Finally, artifacts are created with a behind writings on how to contact
purpose in mind. They might be the chiefs, who gave him much of his
Magical Tools that are designed legendary political and mystical
specifically in use for the Invocations strength. To gain the long hidden
of certain gods. The music box might papers, she must smoke through the
be required if one wishes to contact holder and so gain revelations.
the King in Yellow. The weeping vio-
lin might be of immense use in con- Finally, there is the truth of the arti-
tacting Servitors of the Outer Gods. fact, known to none, or at least to the
principle players seeking the item.
Other artifacts may have only one Only the ragged and frightening
purpose. The Trapezohedron called experts, who have delved too far into
the Haunter of the Dark. An old lamp the hidden history of the world know
might create visions of the past that these things. This information may
are in fact a two-way window. A small come out near the endgame, or
and ugly statue may be an incubating never.
god.
The holder was in fact a tiny god and
When designing artifacts that will it was its breath, not the cigarette
have some significance, it is best to smoke, the Maquis inhaled. It sends
create a double-bluff. The mundane men mad and makes butchers of
history of the item may be known. them. But more importantly than
The cigarette holder of the Maquis that, it does not simply provide
of Ds was known to be carried by the visions of other times; it slowly strips
away sections of the soul, throwing
ruthless nobleman until his peasants
them far and wide throughout space
rose up against him. Made of onyx
and time. The holder is currently
and gold, it was said to be an item of
haunted by the flayed ghost of the
rare and precious craft.
Maquis, who will use his consider-
Then the common occult history of able power and sadism to gain the
the item, easily found out by any pre- holder back. And he is getting closer.
CHAPTER 5: LOVECRAFTIAN MAGIC 65
Lovecraftian artifacts can be beauti- who do not treat such items with the
ful or ugly, rare or surprisingly com- utmost respect and caution are
mon items somehow touched by sor- doomed. They are not monkeys with
cery but they are always remarkable bombs because in the end, the worst
in their effect. They cannot be mis- a monkey can do is cause its own
taken for an ordinary gem, crown, death by explosion. No, a human
pen or pot. And they are always with a Lovecraftian artifact is a bear,
exceedingly dangerous. They are poking its nose into a trap, all the
designed to interact with the Old while unaware of the rusty iron jaws
Gods, or serve functions for fathom- aching to spring.
lessly outré alien beings whose every
day thoughts we can scarcely con-
ceive. What then would these crea-
tures consider a miracle? What would
cause awe in a Flying Polyp. We
might recognise some of the func-
tions of these artifacts but they are
always truly beyond us. They go one
for centuries, secure in power and
legend, snuffing out the lives of
humans like candles in a void. Those

66 MYTHOS MAGIC
Chapter Six
Magic and the Gods

Magic is, ultimately, a way to enter


into different realities, different
states and to do so sanely and safely.
On the other side, on the farness of
all other possible worlds, live the
gods. One of the ultimate goals of
the magician is to walk with these
entities, to discover their secrets, to
walk in their worlds, to deal directly
with the ultimate men behind the
curtain. It is gods who define the uni-
verse, who shape it and who under-
stand it better than any other being.
Magic is the way to the gods and to
the mysteries of everything.

What Are the Gods?


Modern magicians have been clear to
point out that gods tend to conform
to archetypes of human thoughts,

What Kind of God?


The division between Great Old Ones and Outer Gods is not a satisfying
one to the magician. Cthulhu himself may be no more than an alien king-
priest but is he not prophesied to reward his people at the end times?
Does he not award his faithful with dreams and power? The problem, of
course, is that Lovecraft had no use for systemic mythologies and elabo-
rate taxonomies of divinity are anathema to a truly bleak vision of the
Mythos. For the purposes of the discussion below, little distinction is
made between Outer Gods and Great Old Ones. If it is vaster than you, if
it can be served, if it can give wisdom, it is god enough.

CHAPTER 6: MAGIC & THE GODS 67


personalities and roles. Loki, matically inappropriate to have Thor
Prometheus, Raven are obvious ones, show up and fight off a rampaging
Tricksters who steal fire from gods, Howler in the Darkness, after all.
refuse to be bound by any rules. Indeed, for humanity, the best and
Zeus, Odin, Yahweh are judge gods brightest that we can hope from our
from the sky who make stern rules protectors, our rulers, our beloved
for human and god alike. Father fig- friends, the gods is that they are in
ures and bosses. Other gods deal fact no more than a reflection of our-
with the intricacies of human knowl- selves.
edge. Thoth, the Ibis-headed god of
All human prayer and worship, every
the Egyptians was the sacred scribe,
atrocity committed from the Stone
the teacher of spells and writing, as
Age onwards has been in the name
was Saraswati. Artemis taught the
of nothing more than our primal
secrets of the hunt. T'shai-Shen was
minds. Indeed, the more mechanisti-
the god of money-making, of work-
cally minded Keeper could determine
ing with bureaucrats. Ixtab, the sui-
that magic is in fact no more than the
cide goddess shows the way to
hallucinations of the ill-aligned bi-
heaven through self-extermination.
cameral mind. There are no boss-
All of these are things that can be
spirits on mountains or under the
related to human endeavors, to the
sea, just our ancestor minds, still wet
day to day existence of people. Even
from the water we pulled ourselves
gods concerned with cosmic, the uni-
out of, poorly evolved.
versal gods, such as Brahma or
Organza are still concerned with rec- Of course, even if the gods are only
ognizably human curiosities. As parts of us, magic is still a good way
humans wonder what creates the uni- to answer and question them.
verse, what powers it, so we create Invocations may be no more than an
gods to give us answers. elaborate trance but there is much
evidence that under extreme states,
Modern occultists of particular
the human mind is indeed an odd
schools freely admit that gods are
thing.
not objective beings but rather com-
plex matrices of thought, ideas, If the Keeper decides to view gods in
inherited wisdom and archetypal this form, then of course they have
thinking that humans can access and very little power. The magician can
deal with in Gnostic states. This, for confront them, can control them and
the purposes of Call of Cthulhu, at can question them. They all have
the first glance, seems to be rather their own specialties of information.
unsatisfying yet it is actually a very For example, one does not ask Mars
useful idea for the Keeper. For the War Lord about ancient writings
starters, it avoids questions along or how to be beloved. The gods are
the lines of “if Bast is real, does that not just experts, they are entire areas
mean that the Egyptian creation of the human experience and that is
myth is really real?” The Gods are all they are.
conceptual entities who we approach
The gods know many things and the
as living fictions.
source of their wisdom is ultimately
It also removes any ideas that there human. Yet, no matter if it is they are
are gods as supernal creatures who unconscious self or not, the gods
love human kind. It seems rather dra- know things ordinary humans can-
68 MYTHOS MAGIC
not. Within their sphere of influence, the life of a magician, who often
there is little a god cannot advise on must swear by them, serve them and
or clarify. Be that a strategy in times create bargains and the like. Below is
of war or simply animal husbandry or a list of what the human gods may be
engineering, the gods exist to give and how to fit them into a game.
humans insight. If it is conceivably
within the grounds of human knowl-
edge, the gods can tell of it. Weak Gods of the Dreamlands
Of course, much knowledge of the There is evidence that the gods of
Mythos beings is simply beyond our world are simply dwellers and
human ken. Before the Pabodie dreamers of that alternate universe,
Expedition, it could be argued men the Dreamlands. What humans have
had no knowledge that Shoggoths worshipped on earth may be spirits
were still on earth and so the gods of that realm, some of whom are for-
may not know them. Certainly, gotten or remembered poorly by cul-
secrets concerning the Dreamlands tures from the Stone Age to the pre-
and extraterrestrial locations such as sent
the Great Library of Celano may be
A way to view traditional human gods
beyond even what the gods know.
is to perhaps see them as Great
The gods have wants – the human Ones. Beings that dwell outside but
word for the meeting of these wants can come inside. They may indeed
is worship. Gods want to be recog- have an active presence in the world.
nized, to be treated with respect. They can be contacted and dealt with
Perhaps this is a conceit of the but are forever merely shadows of
human mind’s eagerness for suppli- their terrifying keeper.
cation to higher powers but the fact In this imaginal realm are the Great
remains, gods reward those who Ones, who are derisively, called the
reward them. Worshippers of the "weak gods of earth" by Mythos
gods often bring acceptable offer- beings. Few are named, such as
ings. Pluto may require rare metals; Oukranous. This hints that perhaps
Sutehk may appreciate sacrifices of the Greek God Uranus is only a
red-headed children. Gods, no mat- reflection of a real being that exists
ter how merciful or loving they may in another world. It may be that all
be, are venal creatures. Nothing is gods of earth are misremembered,
for free. poorly understood Great Ones.
Human gods may not fit readily into If the Gods are the Great Ones, some
a Lovecraftian framework. With Bast echo of them the waking human
and Nodens being the only ‘real’ mind recalls from Sleep, then there is
gods introduced into the Mythos, it good news and bad news. The good
seems that historical gods had little news is that the gods are objective
fictional use for Lovecraft. Certainly, beings, either spirits or somehow
the God of Abraham is conspicuous powerful, perhaps awesomely so
by his absence and so we must ask if Dreamers. They have an affect upon
other gods, long since consigned to the world and can be called upon to
curiosities in history books would act in the names of their common
serve much purpose to a magician in humanity and the Dreaming. The bad
the game. They remain a constant in news is that they are utterly subject
CHAPTER 6: MAGIC & THE GODS 69
69
to the Outer Gods, who view them the machination of the Crawling
with the contempt the wolf shows Chaos. If a god manifests to do bat-
the lapdog. Sinisterly, the Mighty tle with some monster or alien, or
Messenger, Nyarlathotep sneeringly grants a jug of Space Mead or some
shepherds Great Ones, part keeper, other favor, easily and readily, the
part protector in their Dreamlands chances are good that you are work-
home. ing in the interests of the Mighty
Messenger, who knows your name.
The Weak Gods, therefore, can be
summoned, controlled, can be used
as weapons and oracles against the
Gods as Spirits
forces of the Mythos. They will com-
mand and influence much of their Gods may be no more than local spir-
chosen realm. Hypnos, the god of its who have somehow made good,
sleep, captain of the Great Ones, can as it were. They are merely simple
control who sleeps, who dreams, intelligences, without flesh, who
what they dream, for example. He exist in the physical world. There is
can visit madness upon humans in no real difference between the mean-
their vision, or remove their ability to est spirit of loch and dale and the
dream at all. The Great Ones are just August Jade Emperor except perhaps
that: Great. They might not be the scales of power. A god may have
universal gods such as Yog-Sothoth risen in prominence due to its
or the planet conquering aliens like strength, its particular skills with
Cthulhu but they are gods and they persuasion, or simply because it ful-
are worthy of all respect by humans. filled a role that resonated with
earthly worshippers.
Because the Great Ones are close to
earth, the Dreamlands being, after Such gods are arrogant, bombastic
all, only a nap away, they are easy to but are hardly powerful. The old
contact. The extravagant rites to tricks of burning bush and such
summon the Old Ones are not as other miracles might have had
necessary. Simple Invocations and tremendous affects four thousand
Evocations will contact them. years ago but seem less impressive
Sometimes, perhaps even prayer may to the modern mind. Today, gods are
reach them. Impossibly arrogant, dis- clever, powerless things, hunting
dainful, well aware of their power down whatever worship they can.
over humans, the weak gods require Any magician who knows the correct
worship. However, because of their Rites can contact and deal with spirit
closeness to humans, they are actu- gods.
ally quite well composed towards our
race. They will act in the best inter-
ests of humans when they can. And Gods as Avatars of the Old Ones
that’s the key, when they can.
There is, of course, the terrifying
Luxurious though it might be, they notion that everything that mankind
remain slaves, however pampered, of has ever aspired and hoped to, every
Nyarlathotep, who remains aware of thing we have bowed down in love
all their movements. To make deals and slavish certitude to is in fact no
with, request boons from, the Great more than a mask, an avatar, that the
Ones, is to ultimately be snared in outer gods wear. Indeed, if one views
70 MYTHOS MAGIC
the Outer Gods as kind of cosmic sonal identity totally. After all, the
forces, it makes sense. Behind the Nuclear Chaos refers not to the split-
mask of Frigga, Tzlatotl, Arianrhod, ting of atoms but rather to that of
Gaia, Demeter and the other god- the nucleus in the cast of the
desses of fertility and love, perhaps Daemon Sultan. Perhaps the highest
we can see the Black Goat with a human spiritual destiny can offer us
Thousand Young, staring back at us. is absolute fraternity with Chaos.
In the stern patriarchs of Zeus, Odin Perhaps those Servitor Gods who
and the other sky gods who can see pipe madly at the gates of infinity
and judge through space, is that not have a terrestrial origin amongst
Yog-Sothoth? Or worse, Azathoth or brave magicians.
a garbled mix of both. The trickster,
The truth of what the gods are
every satyr, rogue fire god and joker
should be decided on early in a Call
is in fact no more than a comforting
of Cthulhu campaign that features
lie we tell about the naked, sick truth
magic heavily because it will forever
of Nyarlathotep’s contempt.
reflect on how magic and faith is
If this is the view of the gods, the viewed and used. If terrene gods are
humanity is truly a doomed species. no more that little spirits writ large,
The gods are spectacularly malign then the magician will be a figure of
but almost as unconcerned. They do great power. If there are no gods but
not grant boons, give visions or wis- the Outer, then magic will be a terri-
dom, answer or even hear prayers. If fying supplication. A barking in the
this is the truth of the gods then dark.
there is no justification ever, in any
way, for religious art or crusade or
genocide or fevered prayer. All we Magic and Worship
have is a faulty brain, misfiring reli- of the Outer Gods
gious impulses at us.
What separates the worshipper from
One of the true goals of any magician the magician, then, is that while any-
is to have the power and the will to one foolish enough can venerate the
converse with the gods. They are the Great Ones, the magician seeks
holders of truth of the universe and power from the gods. A worshipper
the ultimate symbols of power. In may be a magician but a magician is
any form of magic that has a god- not necessarily a worshipper. Mages
head, a supreme god, it is uniting are Promethean figures, stealing fire
with this archetype that is the final from the gods, walking amongst
action of magic. There, perfect them, courting their favor, daring to
knowledge and contentment can be bargain with eld Powers. For the
found. Indeed, this unification with magician, gods are not only holy
the gods is a perfect and holy state, beings, they are allies.
almost indivisible from apotheosis,
The magician bargains with gods for
the act of becoming a god.
knowledge, for power, for things
In a Lovecraftian universe, joining unavailable to them in their mortal
with god means something rather life or for skills and abilities, for holy
different than wisdom. It means experience. No two magicians are
becoming wholly subsumed into the alike. Some may lust after sensual
chaos of Azathoth and giving up per- experiences, others for arcane schol-
CHAPTER 6: MAGIC & THE GODS 71
71
arly knowledge, some for sadistic the ends, the gods get their due and
power over their other men. They receive the greatest benefit from any
may seek to know the ways to defeat relationship they may enter into with
death, end life, travel through the humans. As basic law of cosmology
cosmos, bind terrible entities to do is at work in the Lovecraftian uni-
their will, or simply to know. verse, never truer than in the context
of magic: the House always wins.
What the gods gain is mostly a mat-
ter of guesswork. Very few of the Old
Ones have motives that significantly
overlap with that of the human mind. Sacrifice and Prayers
It has been guessed that the Mighty Even the Outer Gods have areas of
Messenger delights in the damage specialty and purlieus that interest or
his gifts cause but to what purposes define them. Shub-Niggurath is the
do Yibb-Tsill and Glaaki grant suppli- fertility goddess and Cthulhu seems
cants gifts? linked with creativity and hedonism.
Perhaps magic is the ultimate bar- Magicians have long since discovered
gaining chip. The ancient rites of sor- when approaching the Old Ones that
cery may perhaps in some ways bind aid for specific goals is more forth-
the gods. After all, there are spells coming if it involves that god’s par-
that prevent them from entering our ticular domain. While none of these
world unfettered, working their terri- beings are easily approachable by
ble will. Perhaps the stars are wrong human magicians, those Invoked
for the Gods because of some truly may be less inclined to malignancy if
ancient magic eons old. A kind of the sorcerer can offer agency in an
universal binding. This is a comfort- area that pleases the god.
ing thought to the mage who
approaches the Old Ones. Of course,
for some gods, entrance into this Abhoth
world is conditional and they require
Dealing with the god Abhoth is an
the co-operation of magicians and
unusual choice for the magician.
other traitors to their kind to enter.
After all, fertility is the demesne of
Yog-Sothoth, the highest of the sor-
infinitely stronger Shub-Niggurath. It
cerer gods, forever seeks to enter
is precisely this lack of power that
into our ordinary reality to dwell
makes the Unclean Source attractive
amongst a low three-dimension.
to the sorcerer. It is not as risky to
Hastur seeks out those who wish to
contact Abhoth, lurking forever in its
experience the slow decay of the
lair beneath Mt. Voormithadreth, as
spirit and needs those prepared to
to Evoke the Black Goat. In fact, since
indulge in grim arts. Cthulhu him-
the god is in the Dreamlands, it
self, trapped under the sea, delights
requires little preparation to do so,
in the worship of humans and Deep
merely sleep. Abhoth is knowledge-
Ones. Y’golonac is pleased at the
able in many of the same areas as
sacred ruttings of humankind and
Shug-Niggurath and understands too
longs to see the performance of his
well the mysteries of fecundity and
black tantra.
growth. Magicians seeking to experi-
No matter how clever, powerful or ment in the creation of biological life
competent the magician may be, in go to the god. Abhoth accepts sacri-
72 MYTHOS MAGIC
fice of living tissue, regardless of can do but approach Azathoth. There
sentience and specializes in cloning, are several reasons for this but chief
the creation of homunculi and magic amongst them is that most magi-
regarding one’s own offspring. cians are temperamentally unsuited
to understanding that the Godhead
One other area the Abhoth has
of the Universe is an idiot. Many
knowledge to spare is in the undoing
magicians come to the Mythos
of one’s own handiwork. After all,
through complex magical systems.
Abhoth continually, saturninely, eats
Even shamans of the most primitive
its own offspring. Curses upon one’s
type are used to working with and
own bloodline, the death of one’s
sacrificing to spirits with certain
children or perhaps one’s inheritors
kinds of cunning. Of course, the fact
and any other magic that consumes
that the Daemon Sultan is mad or
the genetic material the magician
stupid is not widely known. Indeed,
may have spawned.
his name seems to reflect that of the
most civilized of gods, Thoth, the
ibis-headed scribe god.
Atlach-Nacha
Discovering that the single greatest
The spider-god is uninterested in the being in this or any universe is mind-
doings outside of the cavern in which less and grotesque tends to mentally
he perpetually spins across the vast derange magicians. Sadly, the best
gap. Indeed, his doings are mysteri- way to learn the truth of Azathoth is
ous even to the other Old Gods. to have seen it, with your own eyes.
However, his role as a spider, if Retaining Gnosis in the face of mas-
viewed through human mythology, sive existential crisis is, of course, a
would make him either a god of wis- tad difficult.
dom or a trickster. That latter role
seems to befit the grim, obsessive This mindlessness is another reason
god not at all. Indeed, it may be a that Azathoth is a poor choice of
common mistake magicians make, patron god. It cannot hear, under-
looking to overlap human cultural stand or answer supplications. Its
concerns with the spinner of apoca- idiocy is not a joke or a sham. One
lypse. Sorcerers who go looking for might as well beg might favor from a
Aunt Nancy may quickly be fungus, clam or lightning storm. It
destroyed for their temerity by a god has no gifts to give. All it can do is
who shares at least the digestive whirl and writhe in greater or lesser
habits of its look-alike. states of agitation. Some say that
Nodens, the Elder God, somehow
Those who do the research will find stripped this great evil of its sanity
Atlach-Nacha willing to discuss enor- and capacity for reason. Other
mous disasters, the time of the Right Mythos scholars, including those of
Stars and the nature of the death of prehuman origin such as the Serpent
time. And little else. People, are coldly amused by such
nonsense.

Azathoth The primary use for contacting


Azathoth is, therefore, mad, unpur-
There is perhaps no greater stupid, posed destruction. The Daemon
no more foolish a thing a magician Sultan is like an idiot child who
CHAPTER 6: MAGIC & THE GODS 73
breaks its toys in mad abandon. It is who seek rulership under the
a sad thing, that the greatest of all Daemon Sultan quickly see their
gods truly only has one purpose. magic horribly failing, with all due
Modern interpretations see the fatal consequence.
Nuclear Chaos as precisely that,
being in some way a being of nuclear
radiation, or modern phenomena Chaugnur Faugn
such as a ‘sentient’ black hole. In
which case, those modern wizards To those who would worship the god
swear by the name of Azathoth when with an elephant’s head, there must
they endeavor to work magic that be a warning. Chaugnur Faugn is
relies upon the stars, or the unseen cruel and capricious, living only to
forces of the universe. When gravity feed off sentients. He is approached
no longer pulls, when particles stop by magicians who seek to manipulate
their restless dance, when fire no human life, especially in controlling
longer ignites, the Idiot God is there. evolution, using magic to make
Science-mages often use the name of
choices over which traits to select
Azathoth in dangerous experiments.
for. Faugn is particularly pleased to
Others seek out Azathoth as a source raise up life for its own worship.
of pure power. If the premiere Magicians can appeal to the god’s
scholar Sadowsky is correct and the vanity. It is also a god for whom
being ‘mercifully cloaked under the blood is delicacy and can be offered
name of Azathoth’ is in fact a human
the red humor as a sacrifice and gift.
term that semantically indicates the
Human blood may do but blood from
Daemon Sultan is in fact little else
than the engine that fuels the cruel other Mythos creatures is perhaps
efforts of Nyarlathotep, then more acceptable, the more outré and
Azathoth exists to increase the puis- dangerous, the better. The Tcho-
sance of other’s magic. It is difficult Tcho magicians, whom ultimately
to see the circumstances under owe their existence to this god, serve
which a magician could summon the it in hopes of being evolved into
god for greater power and then con- higher life forms.
tinue other endeavors but it is from
such miracles that apocalypses are Chaugnur Faugn is a god to whom
made. predation and worship are givens of
existence. Those who seek domi-
It is possible to see Azathoth as end-
nance over their fellows, who seek to
lessly manipulated by his lessers in
might but superiors in lore, such as pervert natural forces biological cre-
Nyarlathotep. He is therefore popular ation best seek him out. Rousing this
amongst madmen who see them- senescent god from his slumber
selves as persecuted. Vengeance requires fabulous sacrifice and elab-
against ones nemeses is sworn upon orate ritual pleading, including self-
its name. A common mistake made is mutilation.
to view Azathoth as a ruling god, a
kind of king of kings, lord of cosmic The rewards are worthwhile, as he is
lords. A fatal error, as it is antitheti- a powerful, active being who enjoys
cal to the cosmic irony that sees the watching little conquerors about
greatest actually the least. Those their work.
74 MYTHOS MAGIC
Cthulhu Pleasure seekers, sensates and those
who want magic to create extraordi-
Of all the dread powers who lurk in nary mental states in themselves and
the hidden places of the earth, there others work with the Great Old Ones.
is no single one closer to us in spirit Any primitive, almost infantile need
to us than Great Cthulhu. Nor are in humans is served by the Sleeper.
there any closer to coming amongst Cthulhu, who has winged his way
us in all glory. Cthulhu has a special between galaxies, is a patron of
plan for this world and as a magician those who go their dark way in
and priest of the Outer Gods, his dis- safety, and magic concerning travel-
tant cousins, he is close to magi- ing can also be made in his name.
cians. Not for Cthulhu the antiseptic
high magic of the refined magi. No,
the Great Lord is a shamanic, theri-
Cthugha
omorphic figure who plans to bring
to humans a Paradise in which we Those who approach Cthugha have
shall laugh and revel and kill. Latin one and only goal – destruction. The
chanting and passes Lord of Fire
with magic wands Vampires is so
avail not the magi- utterly alien as to be
cian seeking the unapproachable on
attention of Cthulhu. any psychic or com-
The magic of blood municative level. The
and bone, orgy and god seethes with the
psychotropics, forces of suns and
unbound hedonism even the most minor
and algonaic dancing of his manifestations
are how one walks is enough to scar the
with this god, who world. Magicians
plans an eschaton of who seek after fire
pure spiritual agony do so for power, for
and Ecstasy the desire to make
anew, destroying
Cthulhu manifests
what has come
himself on the earth
before. Drastic acts of healing may
through dreams and perhaps, there-
be possible under the annealing,
fore, has ties to the Dreamlands.
destructive power of Cthugha. This
However, artists, poets, fringe scien-
is a desperate action as fire heals in
tists, psychics and other ‘sensitive’
violent fashions. Cthugha delights in
kinds of humans are receptive to his
its capacity to destroy, to burn and
touch. Indeed, many a magician has
he is most easily persuaded to under-
been set on their course by the
take such actions. When it is about
Sleeper in R’lyeh. Magicians seeking
its work it cares not for any higher
inspiration may Invoke Cthulhu for
loyalty or goal and so has been used
techniques involving Dreamlands
as a weapon of last resort for those
magic. Cthulhu might be a common
seeking to defeat the Mythos,
figure of worship amongst
although the god is, of course, indis-
Dreamlands magicians, who see the
criminate.
way he effortlessly shapes the stuff
of that dimension.
CHAPTER 6: MAGIC & THE GODS 75
Those who seek various kinds of worlds curry their favor. Those seek-
rebirth also seek out Cthugha and in ing power over other mortals also do
his name ritually destroy all that was well to deal with the crowned heads
their own life. of the seas. Simple magic such as
safe travel is also in their power to
A curious side-effect of summoning
give, a sign that the lords of the
the god is that, if it goes wrong, the
Deeps are not yet beyond mundane
shadow-god Yomagn'tho may
concerns.
appear. While seemingly sharing the
fiery nature of its twin or nemesis, Dagon and Hydra are easy gods to
Yomagn'tho takes the shape of a Evoke and will come in person easily
flower. Why this should be is to deal and barter with mortals. They
unknown but it is taken as a sign by are strange and ancient but not
some magicians of a symbol of ran- imponderable. However, to create
domness and therefore some gam- favorable alliance, terrible costs
blers also approach Cthugha. must be paid. The Deep Ones forever
need healthy humans of breeding
age for their terrible program of mis-
Dagon and Hydra cegenation.

Neither god nor mortal, the immortal


rulers of the Deep Ones represent Daoloth
something new and potent from the
point of view of the thaumaturgist. Surely there are few gods as strange
Some believe they are on the point of as the Render of the Veils. Daoloth
ascending into a new thing, Great exists outwith entirely the very
Young Ones, if you will. Others sus- notion of three-dimensional space,
pect that some mystery of faith, vanishing upwards into areas of con-
shared and acted upon by their ceptual space the human mind is
species across millions of years, is mechanically unequipped to imag-
forcing upon them an apotheosis. ine, yet alone understand. Its lack of
Others think they are simply big concern with any biological concern
Deep Ones. In the world of magic, means it is only approached in cer-
the symbol is often as important as tain circumstances. Those who are
the reality and many sorcerers have interested in cosmogony and cos-
begun to pray to and work with these mology are foremost as Daoloth
beings seeing results. This is an iso- holds many secrets about the forma-
lated occurrence, almost entirely tion of the universe. Daoloth’s capac-
confined to Deep One crossbreeds ity to expand infinitely means it can
and the organizations that rally outrace time effortlessly and so seers
around them, such as the famed and prophets might also attend the
Esoteric Order of Dagon. God.

Magic worked in their name is that of


the ocean, brutal and chilling.
Eihort
Secrets uncovered, mysteries
plumbed. The sea, the ancient hid- There are few gods more active than
den world, the ultimate threshold, is the alien god Eihort. Locked away in
their place of power and so those the Severn Valley, the god ceaseless
seeking to cross over into new roils, cursing its imprisonment and
76 MYTHOS MAGIC
longing for sacrifice. Eihort is a coming, species die under its gaze
sadistic god and best not and where it goes, Old Ones wake
approached at all in the flesh. It has joyously, the stars made right at last.
no use for humans except as recep-
tacles for its brood. Cunning magi- Sorcerers love Ghroth. He is vastly
cians who can contact the god find powerful with a consciousness the
that it will grant certain favors in size of a planet, utterly unable to
return for sacrifices of humans who focus on something as miniscule as a
will bear its young. Those desperate human. Or even in some cases, other
to bear young or reproduce in any Old Ones. However Ghroth’s every
form are best serviced by the god.
action, thought and motion is one of
Those imprisoned, longing for free-
cosmic significance and therefore is
dom might also pray to this trapped
god, of course, how they will sacri- of severe magical potency. While
fice is another matter. Curiously, Ghroth cannot be approached in any
despite the famous ‘Eihort’s sense of the word, Invoking his name
Bargain’, the god is utterly uninter- adds considerable power in any rite.
ested in any form of barter except His existence is a secret even other
that which allows it to breed. Eihort races of the Mythos know nothing
grants much power, much knowl- about, so any human aware of the
edge of the bearing of children to
Nemesis Star has a source of great
those who bring it lives.
occult power. This translates in gam-
ing terms to a simple boost in suc-
Glaaki cess to any magic, simply by men-
tioning the name of the god. Great
Glaaki, amongst the least of the astrologies are predicted by these
Great Old Ones, is a god that magicians, especially those that deal
approachable by minor sorcerers and
with colossal devastation. Other rites
those who have no time or leisure to
associated with Ghroth include initia-
approach the greater gods. Glaaki
has no interests except in spreading tion of the magician and he is
its cult and being freed from its Invoked at the beginning of truly
durance. Those budding necro- great works.
mancers attempting to create
Working with Ghroth gives great
undead are often aided by Glaaki,
powers but also risks great danger.
who has long had the dead perform
its work. Indeed, his expertise in cre- The Harbinger is not as unaware as
ating zombies and such like cause he may seem of those who use his
many practitioners to seek out the name. His great eye, big as conti-
inhabitant of the lake. Otherwise, nents, sees through interstellar
Glaaki has little truck with magicians. space. Those marked by him are
marked also by other agents of the
Old Ones, who will instantly note the
Ghroth magician as something to be swatted
There are few beings in the universe aside. Not all the Mythos races desire
that inspire such awe as the Nemesis the End Times and those who work
Star, Ghroth. Madmen prophecy it’s with Ghroth are their enemies.
CHAPTER 6: MAGIC & THE GODS 77
Hastur Sooner or later, even the strongest of
wills breaks down while in contact
One of the most mysterious of all the with the King. It is, after all, his
Gods, Hastur is nonetheless a popu- nature.
lar god to work with. Hastur has pop-
ularly become known as the god of The Yellow Sign is Hastur’s personal
entropy but has also been closely seal and magicians Invoke it when
identified with concepts surrounding they need to focus his attention, or
decadent and transgressive art. Due marshal magical forces. Magicians
to Hastur’s love of using powerful use it in rites often as it magnifies
symbols and metaphors to drive the strange entropic energies of the
humanity deeper into black mental god.
states and his usage of books and
It would be wrong to summon Hastur
complex virtual theatre, many magi-
for the purposes of devastation. The
cians feel Hastur is a fine patron.
God acts slowly and with a lethifer-
Hastur, in his little understood role
ous, subtle grace. The King In Yellow
as both King in Yellow, universal
serves to sever bonds and break
decay, and the Dweller in Hali, also
hearts and open minds, not kill and
serves as a god of mystery. When
maim. Those who do call upon
things need hiding, or revealing, it is
Hastur for such action may find the
Hastur who is Invoked.
god taking offence at such crudities.
Magicians who believe Hastur a use-
ful god are of course right and terri-
bly wrong both. Hastur will give Ithaqua
power to magicians who seek to
influence the mind and hearts of Fear, ice, the hunt. Ithaqua is the god
other humans. Wizards who create of those magicians who turn their art
Workings that destabilize the human into a weapon. Few sorcerers are cru-
heart of, even better, educate society eler, or more dangerous, than those
about the nihilistic truth of the uni- who turn to the Windwalker for their
verse will receive his support. Those magic. If one is dealing with the
magicians who seek to create gri- magic of ice, what is in it, creating it,
moires or complex spells that exist destroying it, Ithaqua is the logical
within art (hidden symbols in paint- patron. But this god’s true love is to
ings, strange phrasings with poems, hunt and to destroy living things.
that sort of thing) are quickly There is no subtlety to the god, no
rewarded by Hastur. Unfortunately, compassion. It has no interest in
the god’s idea of reward is damag- deals, in occult knowledge or the
ing: Hastur feels that magicians are complex degradation of the soul. It
amongst his preferred worshippers wants to kill things and it wants
and enjoys teaching them personally, things killed. When the magician
often in Carcossa, his bleak surreal requires the strength for murder,
home. Many a time has the King In here is the god that will grant such
Yellow, Hastur’s avatar, manifested power. A warning: Ithaqua has no tol-
to magicians, whispered secrets to erance for patience, elaborate plots
them, only to have a broken servant and such like will only see him
beg to be taken back to that strange angered. None of which will disgust
world Hastur calls his domain. him as much a failure.
78 MYTHOS MAGIC
Ithaqua is known to be linked with Mordiggian
the Wendigo, a myth of anthropo-
For the magician, Mordiggian is a
morphized cannibalism. When
complex god. The lord of the ghouls,
human flesh must be eaten and the
the eater of the dead, the destroyer
ghoul gods are not approachable,
of undead, the Plague King is a mas-
Ithaqua makes a useful substitute. ter of many domains the magician is
He grants the memories of skills of conceivably interested in. Death
the eaten to the eater. magic, immortality, gaining memo-
ries through anthrophagous practice,
knowledge, strength, these and all
Magnum Innominandum other necromancies are all in the
domain of Mordiggian. Yet the
The Great Unnamable is a being ancient god is a fierce protector of
about which much is written but little his charges and refuses to allow sim-
is known. Some scholars link it with ple blood feasting. For Mordiggian,
Hastur, some nominate it as the hus- death is a complex, morbidly beauti-
band of Shub-Niggurath. Others go ful affair. Therefore, while the necro-
so far as to say it is the lost mind and mancer wishing to tamper with death
soul of Azathoth and should body must approach this god for power,
and corpus be reunited, the Stars will any blasphemy will be met with swift
come right for always. Others still punishment. Ghouls work
name it the heir of Azathoth, a Mordiggian’s will with a zealot’s
Daemon Prince. The only thing truly pride. Approaching the Ghoul God
known about the Magnum is that it too often bears a unique curse, a
cannot be named. Whatever condi- slow transformation into a ghoul.
tions govern its birth, it suffers the Many a necromancer has the canine
features of that race.
singular curse or blessing that no
being, god or mortal, has found what Mordiggian has a personal distaste
to call it and so it exists only hidden for the corporeal undead. If he
by titles. For magicians, it is there- encounters those who wander the
fore the ultimately dangerous entity wrong side of the grave, Mordiggian
and should never, under any circum- attempts to feast upon them.
stance, be Evoked. Magicians who have a reason to face
Sorcerers are not known for their off against Glaaki and its servitors
and allies are often rewarded by the
obedience to rules and for those mad
Ghoul God.
or brave enough to attempt that
Working, singular power may be their It is also important to note the
reward. While this being cannot be Mordiggian is not interested in spiri-
mastered by normal Summoning, tual matters. Those who seek to con-
those who somehow had the Power tact the dead, if such a thing is pos-
to bind it to their will could conceiv- sible, must seek out an altogether
able gain access to spells and knowl- darker god.
edge that no other being in the cos- Entering Mordiggian’s good graces
mos can lay claim to. For some mad requires the internment of corpses. A
mages, here is the holy grail of simple funeral might not suffice, but
Evocation. the grim rites of the Air Burial per-
CHAPTER 6: MAGIC & THE GODS 79
haps will. As would, say, mass cre- great demon Choronzon, who
mation and the like. Mordiggian has destroys the ego of those magicians
no use for murder. unready for enlightenment. It may be
that Nodens is only a face of some
great evil, joyfully presenting an easy
Nodens mask to dissuade magicians from
drawing on the full power of the
The universe is filled with malignant, Dweller in the Abyss.
puissant beings. Many of these are
dangerous to even think of, let alone
approach or swear by. Nodens is per- Nyarlathotep
haps the only one who has goals and
needs that are remotely beneficial to There is no god more complex, moti-
humanity. Many claim that Nuadda vated and hard to fathom as
Silver Hand, the great Faerie King is a Nyarlathotep. Contemptuous of the
remembrance of or mask of Nodens. masters he utterly serves, bringing
It is a mistake to view Nodens as a power and secrets to a humanity he
friend to humans but his great rivalry sneers at, the Crawling Chaos is
with Nyarlathotep means the magi- unbound by human cognition. Yet,
cians who choose to work against the he is also the cornerstone to the
agencies of the Mythos, especially magician concerned with the Great
the Crawling Chaos, will receive gen- Ones.
erous rewards. The Lord of the There is one key to keep in mind
Nightgaunts freely distributes his when dealing with Nyarlathotep and
silent host to magicians who serve it is that he delights in giving power
him. Part of the reason Nodens is a and secrets. Magicians can Invoke,
popular god for magicians is the perhaps Evoke (although this is a
ease of his summons. The clarion call trick the god plays) Nyarlathotep
of a hunting horn is often all he with surprising ease. The Crawling
requires. Chaos is inclined to swap what it con-
Nodens is often referred to by the siders baubles of power in return for
ancients as Snarer or Catcher. wholly personal sacrifices. Mothers
Nodens aids all magicians who hunt slitting the throats of their children,
or seek out lost things. Those who wizards throwing spell books onto
seek out barbaric war with lesser fires, politicians insulting the base,
minions of the Old Ones may also businessmen burning monies, all of
gain power if they approach Nodens. these things will buy his favor. Then,
yes, he will give you what you want.
A warning: many assume that Nevertheless, Nyarlathotep is the
Nodens title, Lord of the Great Abyss proverbial monkey’s paw, the Djinn
is actually that of Da’at, or Daath, a out of the bottle and he is why the
complex cabbalistic notion meaning magician is careful with what they
‘Reason’. This would indicate that wish for. The Mighty Messenger is
Nodens is in fact devoted to snaring delighted by failure, strife and more
more than monsters. Modern magi- than anything, wasted effort. When
cians, noting that Daath sits upon a the scientist’s research is co-opted
Great Abyss, a rift on the Tree of Life, by the military, when the five years
believe Nodens may be more sinister sober woman goes on a binge, the
than noted. Daath is guarded by the god is there. Magicians are granted
80 MYTHOS MAGIC
Evocations without bindings, the with the principles behind biological
keys to resurrecting loved ones but life, the mystery of cell division and
only as ghouls, the power to slay osmosis. Where life exists on any
monsters but only if those monsters scale, the womb of Shub-Niggurath is
have mothers who come looking for at work.
the slayers of their children.
Nyarlathotep often laughs but never Many cults have prayed and Invoked
smiles and lives in the heart of black in the Black Goat’s name and often
irony. are ignorant to the truth behind the
matron they think they serve. Shub-
Those who Invoke Nyarlathotep are Niggurath is notable as a god that
seldom in a position to do so twice. will often seek out worship, not
Magicians who view him as a patron because she requires it for the sake
are few. Accomplished magicians few of vanity but rather she is evangelical
the summoning of the Mighty
in her desire to create life. Her Dark
Messenger as a thing left only to the
Young, special children and emis-
relentlessly amateurish and stupid.
saries are, often sworn over to her
Only the desperate and ignorant do
worshippers. Rites of the Black Goat
so. Yet all magicians are wise to
centre around sex and fertility.
praise the name of Nyarlathotep.
Those magicians who Work with the
goddess look to her for the creation
Nyogtha of life. While many gods are eager to
work changes upon biological organ-
In the deep caverns, miles below the
isms, only Shub-Niggurath can create
surface of our planet crawls Nyogtha.
life spontaneously and in enormous
The Dark god is useful for assassin
abundance. What she comes in con-
sorcerers, who know that Nyogtha
tact with enjoys massive growth as
favors those who walk silently, about
the doings of their own cruel will. Shub-Niggurath promotes perma-
Appeased with screams of pain over nent growth and expansion. She acts
dark gulfs, Nyogtha rewards any with a completely practical nature,
undertaking which is done in dark- devoid of sentimentality, to protect
ness, which requires secrecy. The creatures that are pregnant. Those
black oozing god will also aid those who seek to protect their own life will
who seek out the truly ancient also call on the Goddess as she
secrets in the honeycombed crust detests killing. She will not retard old
and mantle of the world. age and she will not act to protect
her magicians except against mur-
der. The work of entities that advo-
Shub-Niggurath cate only destruction and death will
tempt her intervention.
Except for Cthulhu, the Black Goat
enjoys perhaps the most widespread Sorcerers who work with Shub-
worship on earth. Mother-goddess Niggurath tend to mutate as the
figure, since the days of the Stone god’s luxurious bounty is given to
Age humans have looked to her all. These magicians might grow to
fecund mysteries as sources of awe great height, well over seven feet,
and wonder. Contemporary cultists put on tremendous weight or even
have come to link Shub-Niggurath grow extra limbs or organs.
CHAPTER 6: MAGIC & THE GODS 81
Shudde M’ell occult lore of the gods and races and
secret histories had best swear by
Like Dagon, there may be some con- him. Like many of the gods, he also
troversy over the deific status of this
knows much about the creation of
being and like Dagon, it is ultimately
life.
irrelevant. Giant Chthonian or god, it
matters not. Shudde M’ell is potent A note about this strange god is that
enough to provide power to those he prizes politeness, etiquette and
willing to seek it. Those who seek to manners. Sorcerers either swearing
shake the earth and who long for by his name or invoking him had
breaking may also approach this
best do so with respect and consid-
sadistic being.
eration. Sacrifices of rare gems, oils
The Great Worm is often confused and such like will find his rewards
with Crom Cruach, the Earthdog and worthwhile.
shares similar concerns. Those who
seek out things buried, geological
mysteries and suchlike would be Yig
wise to call upon M’ell. However, the
god is fond of destruction and it is Of all the Great Ones, Yig is perhaps
often the only thing that will attract the closest to normal earthly life.
his attention. Ancient, even by the reckoning of
other Gods, Yig is served by reptiles,
some of the oldest extant biological
Tsathoggua life forms on the planet. By exten-
sion, birds too are his domain. Yig
There is a difference between malig-
nity and apathy and Tsathoggua fits represents power over the world of
clearly into the latter division. This animals, especially any which is
god, long sort out by sorcerers is scaled or feathered. More than this,
only rarely concerned with the Yig is perhaps the being which has
doings of the world beyond his lair in existed on earth for the longest
Voormidraeth and then, it is only unbroken period of time. Some see
when magicians seek him out. It is this as indicative that Yig is in some
because of his disinterest in little way protective of his ancient brood
beside rest and sleep and his willing- and would work against the more
ness to let petitioners and visitors macrocosmically destructive Powers.
live that he is often worked with by Yig grants his rewards to those who
magicians. A renowned interstellar therefore seek to prevent the extinc-
traveler, Tsathoggua is sought out by
tion of life. He enjoys control over
diviners who want his knowledge of
some of the most dangerous natural
the stars, those who seek to travel
animals on the earth. Due to his
through the great voids of space and
those who wonder at the ancient his- close association with longevity,
tories of things. This god is old and those who seek to extend their own
from a family even older and has life, as well as those who require
seen much. Tsathoggua, despite his access to titanically ancient recollec-
own laziness and sloth, is something tion come to Yig. In return, the Snake
of a scholar of the true history of the Father demands the magician care
universe and those seeking out for and defend his own.
82 MYTHOS MAGIC
Yog-Sothoth survive its dangers, there Umr at-
Tawil, the veiled and almost human
‘Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog- face of the Outer God can be
Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is approached and bargained with. The
the key and the guardian to the gate. Ancient Ones, who attend the avatar,
Past, present, and future are one in may be those magicians lucky
Yog-Sothoth.’ enough to take service with the God.
Yog-Sothoth is the God of Sorcerers. No other god, with the possible
Supreme deity amongst those who exception of Nyarlathotep, is so
crave plundering the secrets of all approachable and all skilled magi-
time and space, opening up the hid- cians know the Crawling Chaos has
den like it was butcher’s work. Yog- agendas no mortal can long tolerate.
Sothoth exists in all places, immune The fact that Yog-Sothoth is
to trickery and treachery. Forever approachable, perhaps even reason-
outside of the universe, forever inex- able and sensible makes it unique
tricably linked to it by pale avatars, amongst all the Outer Gods.
Yog-Sothoth and its million spheres Of course, the benefits are weighed
are the ultimate devil, willing to by risk. Yog-Sothoth has two agen-
make pacts with humans in return das that it pursues with geological
for knowledge. patience. The first is the desire to
Long rumored to be, in terms we somehow enter fully back into the
understand, a king or Archduke to four-dimensional universe. Some
the Court of the Daemon Sultan, Yog- believe it seeks to consume all life,
Sothoth is considered, with Shug- all energy, all fission, all expansion,
Niggurath and Azathoth, to be the all, until void remains. Some believe
mightiest of beings the universe has Yog-Sothoth simply wished to effect
ever seen. Not Yibb-Tsill or Daoloth enormous changes in the ordering of
or any other god has the minute and that universe, ushering a new era
magnificent understanding of all upon all of creation. Of course, few
process this god does. would believe that this could be per-
ceived by anything less than apoca-
Human magicians have long linked lypse. Magicians dealing with the All-
Yog-Sothoth with the Yuga, the time in-One will eventually be called to act
of great change. Perhaps the very upon this agenda in daring, ulti-
notion of time and change, especially mately sickeningly insane, missions
on cosmic, aeonic levels, are the faint that fracture all understanding of
traces of the God left from before it reality.
barring from the universe. Yog-
Sothoth cannot ever bring his full The second of the God’s agendas is a
power to bear as he seems to suffer simple curiosity concerning the laws
of the four dimensions. Yog-Sothoth
from some Great Old One-like ban
invests part of the worlds with its
from action and can only wear faint
essence, breeding children if only to
masks to act in four dimensional
see what a fragment of an infinite-
space.
dimensional entity can achieve in
These avatars are one of the reasons four. The Dunwich Horror was such
why the All-in-One is considered the an experiment. Those sorcerers who
greatest of patrons for magicians. If aid the god may find themselves
one can travel to the Dreamlands and called upon to act contrary to the
CHAPTER 6: MAGIC & THE GODS 83
most basic human morality as the he should receive the required help.
god toys with the physics of our uni- In mechanics terms, this will means
verse. temporary boots to skills, SAN, POW,
whatever the investigator requires
Those sorcerers who do approach
will the Operation is taking place.
and swear by Yog-Sothoth are per-
The gods are not limited in what they
haps the greatest of their kind.
can offer a magician. They will
Physical laws of the universe, time
reward service as they see fit, after
and space, life and death and all
the service has been performed.
manner of vast secrets belong to the
They may grant a magician power at
All-in-One. Travel to times and
the outset of a mission for the god,
dimensions, worlds and galaxies, the
making the magician an agent of
stuff of stars and black holes and
inhuman powers. Remember, always,
more can be given to these brave
that the Old Gods version of rewards
magicians. All for the cost of betray-
tend to vary considerably from what
ing the space-time we know.
humans might expect.

Rules for Rewards


The gods reward what they find
pleasing. There is of course no hard
and fast mechanism for deciding
this. The Keeper must decide on
what would appeal to their own
imagined version to the god.
Sometimes this is easy. (“We want
to Contact Cthugha to help us
drown the valley!” “It says no”) but
other times might be complex.
Ultimately, if a magician keeps in
mind the ultimate attributes and
goals of the god, plus makes all his
rolls and keeps his sanity together,

84 MYTHOS MAGIC
Chapter Seven
Mythos Races and Magic

Lovecraft used magic sparingly, Of course, traditionally, Call of


keeping it as a force expressed only Cthulhu games rely heavily upon
in times of great need, powerful and spells and artifacts, allowing the
strange. Often it is a corrupting pres-
Investigators to use magic of their
ence. The sorcerer Waite possesses
own to defeat the Mythos and their
bodies and destroys lives in his quest
for immortality. In common with human pawns. Nor do games tradi-
Noah Whateley, even his own family tionally have to include cosmic hor-
is unsafe from his machinations. rors. A haunted house betimes works
Whateley, of course, gave up even his as well as a reality incursion from
daughter to Yog-Sothoth, in a partic- beyond Venus or a giant space lob-
ularly horrid manifestation. Curwen
ster prepared to eat Paris. In these
killed magically at whim.
more subdued cases, it is not unrea-
Yet Henry Armitage used his own few sonable for a gentle ritual of exor-
sorcerous abilities to stand against a cism, persuading rather than forcing
demi-god. This is perhaps the only
a ghost to move on, may be the goal
example in Lovecraft’s work wherein
magic is a force for ‘good’. Magic is of a game session. It’s not always
almost always a tool of ruthless men squid gods.
and women who have goals that are
Of course, games are games and not
antithetical to a sane human.
Immortality, congress with demons, novels and rare is it to find the player
knowledge and the conversation of who does not long after occult
titanic gods beyond the scope of secrets. Especially in a game like
spacetime are all goals of the magi- Cthulhu in which the odds are long
cian. and the rewards slight, the notion of
Even magicians who manage to keep getting their hands on real power, a
a hold of their sanity, strictly speak- real weapon against the malign gods
ing, rarely maintain ideals and values seems to be one hard to resist. Plus,
congruent with civilisation after too the role of occult investigator is a
much contact with god and mon- popular one amongst the latter writ-
sters. A game based strictly on
ers in the Lovecraft circle. From
Lovecraftian principles should, there-
fore, have little to no direct contact Shrewsbury to Crow, figures armed
with magic except as a threatening with mystic forces standing against
force. the dark gods is the order of the day.
CHAPTER 7: MYTHOS RACES & MAGIC 85
Magic & the Investigator is fine, of course but it is unreasonable
to expect that Investigators, who keep
Magic, from the point of view of the seeing this kind of thing in action,
Investigator, is often a constant never preempt their enemies and come
source of harassment and a last ditch with spells blazing. So let them. The
weapon against the forces of the game isn’t about constantly losing,
Mythos. Any brave soldier in the war after all. It’s about only winning the
against the Old Gods can tell of small battles, only being able to sal-
winged horrors sent against them in vage a little bit of hope while the stars
the night or last minute Operations shift ever righter. Giving the players a
that sent companions mad, all to weapon every now and again is a good
keep some nameless thing asleep. change of pace and, of course, no mat-
Some investigators may have even ter how powerful the magic they will
learned a spell or two, an ace in the never enable them to blast Cthulhu
sleeve or a constantly primed with a D20 fireball. Allow them the
grenade. After all, most Investigators chance to wield strange forces now
are sooner or later going to find an and again and let them be satisfied.
ancient tome or the scrawled notes Occult detective is a popular archetype
of a madman or a strange code on a and an Investigator who has chosen to
compact disc or mimeograph. Yet, devote their life to the magical and
funerary customs of, say, the Tibetan
magic is often denied Investigators
Book of the Dead is going to be well
and Keepers are suggested to keep
disposed to the practice of Bon Magic
its appearance and utility sparing. It
anyway. It’s not a stretch that sooner
is the tool of the villain. Yet in a
or later, this fellow will take the book
world where all victory is only mean-
down off the shelf and begin to sketch
ingful subjectively, perhaps the
out some sigils… Lovecraft himself
Keeper can be encouraged to let
gives us the perfect antecedent for this
magic out and into the world, now
in The Dunwich Horror. Professor
and again.
Armitage cracks the books, finds the
Powder of Ibn Ghazi and does away
with the beast. An ancient sorcerer has
Magic as a Weapon his spell reversed and so he falls into
salt in another tale. If it was good
For an investigator, there can be few enough for the master, it’s good
joys more visceral than summoning enough for us.
up something terrible and having it
obey. After a career in which mon- One of the great problems with magic
sters are dodged, people implode is that it is unpredictable. Cthulhu is
without warning, weird chants are first and foremost a game of investiga-
heard in cemeteries and rites are tion. Finding the scribbled telephone
foiled at the last second, the thrill of number, realizing she wore a wig all
gaining power is a heady rush. along, gauging the depths of the foot-
Perhaps it should be. prints, digging up local town ord-
nances to see why the church was
It is something of a cliché that a Call of rezoned. Magic can have a dangerous
Cthulhu adventure ends with the cre- impact on the progression of an
ation of a magic sword/whistle/amulet Investigation and can take all the real
or perhaps the last minute perfor- mystery out of the game. The simple
mance of a rite, or its destruction. This answer is, don’t include spells that can
86 MYTHOS MAGIC
damage this. No X-ray eyes or telepa- threatening a small Welsh town with an
thy. No psychometry or spells that old rite. Blast that cult with a lightning
basically stuff up the flow or informa- storm they control. However, never let
tion players can access. This is rela- magic overshadow the fact that there is
tively easy. Evocation and Invocations no victory to be had. That Star Spawn
are the two main forms of magic every may be utterly defeated but allow a
Cthulhu game should be based on. denouement wherein the jubilant, vic-
Both of which are likely to aid an inves- torious investigators realize it was sim-
tigator in dodging the police or ques- ply the first of a colony just off shore
tioning the small man with the bowl and the weakest of its kind were buried
haircut and sharpened teeth. most shallowly.

If you do want spells in your campaign

Magic as Trap
with the potential to unbalance game
play, simply cheat. Investigators are
meant to get the clues anyway and ulti- Having troubles bringing down the
mately solve the riddle so let them. In prominent local Senator who you
the end, machine gunning the master know but can never prove is in the
of the Hastur worshippers or smashing Cthulhu Cult? Curse him. Want to
him to bits with the Grasp of Nyogtha break into the local university library
makes little difference. Sending a but know the security guard has
Spectral Hunter into a museum to steal been briefed about you? Hire a
the stellae is not going to truly disrupt Dimensional Shambler and steal it.
the flow of the game if they would oth- Or why not just go the whole way and
erwise burgle the joint. have a Shoggoth tear a hole through
If the Investigators grow too reliant on the wall, kill the guard and take what
magic, they may seek out more and you want? After all, you’re
more of it, taking more risks, crossing Investigators and mages and the end
lines they previously dared not. justifies the means.
Perhaps an interesting twist to a cam-
paign may be the realization that, all of
a sudden, Investigators are investigat- Magic Can Be
ing them.
a Slippery Slope
The Keeper may also wish to elevate
his game, ramp it up, as it were, with If you want to examine themes in
the use of magic. While this can be haz- your game regarding power and its
ardous to the overall theme of Call of corrupting presence, introduce
magic. Allow your players some
Cthulhu, magic is a way of interacting
‘easy’ wins. Let them hypnotize the
with the gods and monsters of the uni-
local police, mayor, drug dealer,
verse. Don’t be afraid of its power. It is
whoever. Let them blast a Sand
of course foolish and contrary to have
Dweller or ghoul into powder. Give
an Investigator face of Cthulhu on a
them a bound servitor. Magic is
bridge with a sword and staff but
power and let it be powerful.
magic may allow a game to go places it
normally wouldn’t. An investigation of Plan it out, though. Throwing magic
the Isle of R’lyeh, or an extended vaca- in randomly because you want your
tion in Leng for example. Allow a players to win some is a fast track to
group to face down a freed Star Spawn a less than Lovecraftian fantasy
CHAPTER 7: MYTHOS RACES & MAGIC 87
87
game. Setting things up for a tragic Magic corrupts on a less than spec-
fall, however, is fine storytelling. tacular scale. It can change the magi-
Hubris and Nemesis are old ways to cian. If you’ve passed through a gate
tell a tale. to a far world, if you’ve screamed out
words in perverse tongues that
An example: Using a few spells, the forced ancient colors to do your bid-
investigators have shut down the ding, if you’ve forged a sword that
local ring of decadents who are using cuts through reality, sometimes it
drugs from Carcossa, so bringing becomes easy to view people without
terrible things into the world during your skills as complete lessers.
their fugues. Banishing spells, sum- Joseph Curwen, the mad mage of The
moning lesser monsters to fight the Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward
figments, even going so far as to was certainly of this breed of wizard.
destroy a chapter house of a cult
with magic. Locally, the forces of the
Mythos are dealt a resounding
defeat. The investigators feel confi-
dent in their abilities as sorcerers. Alien Magic
Later, Deep Ones are haunting a local
Humans are, of course, not the only
fishing village. A Deep One sorcerer
ones capable of performing miracles.
is present who is able to counter the
There are many, many races through-
Investigator magic. The Keeper then
out the vast universe and other
cleverly allows a Deep One fetish to
domains. Some are rationalists, like
fall into Investigator hands. Re-
the Great Race, dealing with the pre-
newed, relying once again on magic,
dictable certainties of cause and
the Deep Ones are soundly thrashed.
effect. While their skills and domi-
But our old friends, the Hastur-wor- nance over time may seem miracu-
shippers are back and hungry for lous, they view them as natural a
revenge. Their god has changed reflex as we view clenching our fists.
them, given them power and influ- Others, such as the Mi-Go, may have
ence. All through the city, the King in concepts of rationality that are
Yellow corrupts officials. The unfathomable to the scientific laws
Investigators are under siege both of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.
legally and supernaturally. Some- Sand Dwellers might have a primitive
thing must be done as not even the folk magic belief system. Others still,
new Deep One magic is going to get like the Serpent Folk, are aware that
them out of this. Research leads the there are powers in the universe that
Investigators to be aware of the feud only approach those who use the old
between Hastur and Cthulhu. Already ways, the luring of blood and suffer-
reliant on magic, it shouldn’t be hard ing. The following section tries to
capture the mood and feel of some
for the Investigators to make the leap
of the races of the Mythos who would
to looking for the magic of the
use powers that they would consider
Sleeper. Of course, making sacrifices
existing outwith the four dimensions
and looking for the favors of Cthulhu
of measurable reality.
have their own dangers. Hedonistic
orgies, even ritual human sacrifice When designing magic used by
might be the only way to gain the Mythos races, more important than
power to survive this. lists of spells and rites and loot the
88 MYTHOS MAGIC
Investigator can take from the bod- magic is based around their own sur-
ies, is a theme. A kind of unifying vival and continuance of their reli-
series of images, moods, motifs and gious goals.
sensations. The Deep Ones, masters
Deep One sorcery is a reflection of
of the oceans, are hardly likely to be
these racial strivings. It places an
worshipping flames. The technologi-
emphasis on control of the environ-
cally advanced, utterly moral Yithians
ment, on stealth and on the com-
are not about to be screaming out to
mandment and seduction of the
Shub-Niggurath. Again, take a leaf
human race. Their spells include cre-
from Lovecraft’s book and view the
ating currents, creating waves, creat-
cultural, racial magic of the Mythos
ing storms. Their priests and
as a series of plot devices and the-
shamans use their powers to delve
matic elements, rather than trying to
down into the dark places beneath
make up spell lists and modifiers for
the sea where even monsters fear to
race. What feels right will be right.
swim and emerge with dark treasure.
Seventy percent of the earth is theirs,
in realms inaccessible to humanity.

Deep One Magic


More, the Deep Ones have knowl-
edge not their own, access to the
ruins of civilizations ancient, predat-
In a civilization where there is no fire, ing the Age of Reptiles and the ear of
no electricity, all physical interaction the Great Old Ones.
takes place in three dimensions and
proof of horrible gods exist all Deep Ones do not often use a written
around, magic tends to be rather language. Clearly, paper and ink are
more readily available. The Deep not suitable tools with which to
Ones, ancient servants to Cthulhu record information. Our one glimpse
and their own lord, Dagon, are at the Deep One city of Y’ha-Nthlei
inured in magic and a particularly refers to a place of phosphorescent
brutal magic it is. The ‘palaeogean many-terraced mansions with gar-
magic of the forgotten Old Ones’. dens of strange leprous corals and
grotesque brachiated efflorescence.
The Deep Ones deal with their physi- Stone is the medium by which the
cal environment in a way humans Deep Ones build and as such com-
never truly have to be concerned municate literally with hieroglyphs
about. Rising too high leaves them in and other permanent writing.
the upper air, where they are more Because of the difficulty of physically
vulnerable to exposure. Sinking too creating such scribing, the Deep
low and they have to deal with the Ones also have a strong tradition of
crushing pressures and even more oral history. Rites are remembered
dangerous predators than they. The rote down the millennia of the Deep
Deep Ones also have an urge to mis- One’s lives and do not change. Deep
cegenation, which would indicate Ones who wish to learn magic must
that the reproductive habits of the contact another powerful sorcerer
Deep Ones are unstable or that they and be tutored over time. This is a
are working to some grand unifica- process that takes hundreds of years
tion between their species and as the Deep Ones are leisurely
humanity. With all this to consider, it beings. With a lifespan of many hun-
is no wonder that the Deep Ones dreds of thousands of years, there is
CHAPTER 7: MYTHOS RACES & MAGIC 89
89
no need to rush. Private tutoring is of the elements the Deep One
the only way to learn in this culture occultism take. Often great beasts of
and then all information is passed on the seas are summoned both as
orally, from master to student. watchers and participants in these
events. Sharks wheel and dive with
Younger Deep Ones might turn their
military precision, eager for blood-
attention to the strangely primitive
shed. Whales are tortured into pro-
yet advanced biotechnology of the
viding haunting music with which
race, or volunteer for the breeding
Deep Ones enter their fine Gnosis.
schemes rather than be attracted to
Giant squids link tentacles to provide
the occult arts. Deep One society
summoning circles and demark ritual
places strong emphasis on family tra-
spaces. Slowly and surely these ritu-
dition and so it may be that only
als take place over hours, days mov-
those firstborn or some other prop-
ing leisurely and ponderously to a cli-
erty of birth may be allowed to study
max.
magic. The others have roles to fill as
required by the family need and pro- The most common form of Deep One
bity. magic is summoning up the true
beasts of the seas. Krakens from the
hadal plains, breeds of sharks
Deep One Rites thought long extinct to the surface
dwellers and other horrifying sea
The most important part of Deep creatures no marine biologist has
One magic is propitiating Father fever dreamt. Even the dreaded
Dagon and Mother Hydra and Shoggoths serve the great magicians
Cthulhu himself. The masters of the of this race. The Deep Ones use the
Deep Ones are alien even to them beings for many tasks and services.
and must be served perfectly. Defense is just one, as the USS
Because the Deep Ones live so much Thresher discovered to its dismay.
closer to these mighty beings, they The batrachian ones also Evoke the
must serve them with care and per- Star Spawn frequently, from their
fection. Indeed, there is hints in dark beds and restless imprison-
Lovecraft that the Great Old Ones ment. Through dealing with such
sometimes ‘check’ the Deep Ones. malign beings, the Deep Ones better
However, there is much to gain from serve the will of the Gods. There are
this service. no finer sorcerers than the Deep
Ones at binding these leviathans.
Deep Ones are a sardonic race,
immortal, surrounded by beauty, Because of the importance placed on
waging a silent war upon humankind race, hereditary and breeding by the
for their own reasons, willing to wait Deep Ones much of their magic is
hundreds of years for their sadistic focused on biological concerns.
breeding programs to subvert local Although the Deep Ones have no
populations. As such, the rituals of concept of DNA as we know it, they
the Deep Ones are slow and beautiful maintain uncanny powers over it.
things. Elaborate dances that can Sorcerers in possession of a frag-
only take place in all the dimensions ment of human skin, hair, teeth or
of the ocean, decorations of coral any other DNA-bearing sample can
and fabulous gems, ancient songs of cast Call Human, which works pre-
transcendental purity are only a few cisely in the same way as Call Deep
90 MYTHOS MAGIC
One, only reversed. This spell works What spells the Deep Ones do cast
on even fragmentary or diluted fam- are practical in nature. Divining
ily heritage and may affect the dis- water currents, bringing lights to the
tant ancestors of the sample’s dona- dark depths, or temporary control of
tor. They might be able to diagnose water are all spells used commonly.
or cure diseases medical science can- Deep Ones rarely use magic for com-
not touch. In their roles as cuckoos bat, which they disdain anyway.
and cuckolded the Deep Ones have Those ancient living fossils, the
developed magic for seduction, for elderly Ones, have little use for fight-
fertility amongst their own kind as ing or are often physically capable
well as in humans. Deep Ones have a enough to not need them.
gift for telepathic communication,
especially with those humans who
bear some of their own blood.
Deep One Artifacts
An aspect of the racial magic of these
beings is their immortality. A Deep The Deep Ones create fantastic jew-
One does not age and may in fact elry, most famously crowns, often for
never die except through violence or religious and magical purposes. For
possibly disease. This allows a fabu- all their alien ways, one thing that
lously long period in which to study they share with the human species is
magic. They understand truths about a sense of aesthetic and this shows
plate tectonics, marine biology and in their construction of Magical
the nature of the hydrosphere Tools. With a lack of writing equip-
humanity has yet to guess at. If a ment, ceremonies become of more
Keeper decides to include Platonic pronounced importance, as does the
notions such as elemental beings regalia used within it. With a lack of
and folkloric ideas such as spirits, anything resembling industry, each
the Deep Ones are known and well- one of these items is hand crafted
feared by such beings. over years, being selectively eroded
by sea pressure and manual labor
If the Deep Ones are indeed kept in and shaped by the heat from smoker
check by the Great Old Ones, it may vents. They are forged from
also be that, from time to time, they hematite, diamond, silver and other
have had to work against the gods beautiful materials that are easily
and their servants. It is conceivable available under the water. The tech-
the Deep Ones have access to magic niques for the creation of these
that works similarly to the Elder Sign
devices can only be handed down
and other prophylactic measures.
from one master wizard to another.
No records for the creation of these
Tools exist, except perhaps to
Deep One Enchantments favored students of the maker. The
forging of these items is a significant
The Deep Ones do not often use investment of time and effort.
spells. They are creatures of slow
and subtle thought and motion, tak- This is balanced by the Deep Ones
ing all the time in the world to per- having some of the most powerful
fect their magic. The sudden crash Magical Tools on earth. Often used
and bang of Enchantments run over dozens of millennia, they
counter to their viscous psychology. absorb the powers and personalities
CHAPTER 7: MYTHOS RACES & MAGIC 91
of those who use them. Human For all its alliance with the undersea
wielders of Deep One Tools often race, the Esoteric Order is not a train-
gain a feeling of cold cruel amuse- ing school for magicians. It mainly
ment. They work explicitly to serves as an intermediary for the
strengthen the spells and rites of the Deep Ones. Magic given to the Lodge
Deep Ones, especially those which works only to the advantage of the
act upon the upper-air men. Having Ones and is carefully prescribed as
full ceremonial panoply also works in needed. Still, it remains one of the
rites of Evocation. Bringing up a easiest and surest ways to gain
Xothian for a human involves locat- magic concerning the beings of the
ing a sleeper, sacrifices and hours of abyssal ocean.
rites. A Deep One can do the same More rarely, humans come across the
thing, with its Tools, in less time and magical tools of the Deep Ones.
with less effort. Many servants and Mainly the items humans gain are
agents of the Great Ones will respect simply decorative but under rare cir-
the Deep Ones who have possession cumstance, items of real power end
of these items. Humans may be up in mortal hands.
dimly perceived as playthings or
infestations to those beings but the These artifacts work just as they do
Deep Ones, through many billions of for the Deep Ones. They aid
years service to the High Priest Evocations significantly and give
Cthulhu, are known and noted, their humans power over tides and storm.
magicians most of all. Any cultist or sorcerer lucky enough
to have come into possession of one
of these precious things will no
Humans and doubt be in contact with, or have
mastery over, many aquatic horrors.
Deep One Magic The downside to the possession of
The Esoteric Order of Dagon repre- Deep One magical tools is that their
sents a collection of the most capa- creators will stop at nothing to get
ble of all the human magicians prac- them back. These are not trifles but
ticing Deep One magic. This Lodge genuine expressions of Deep One
often confers with their patrons, power and pride. A human so much
learning the ways of Dagon, being as gazing upon, let alone using these
given the occult equivalent of beautiful, fetishsed things is repug-
crumbs from a rich man’s table. nant and blasphemous to the Deep
Senior lodge members, almost Ones. They are also dangerous in the
wrong hands. Sooner or later, over-
always of Deep One blood, are given
confident, the human magician will
private training in the proper ways to
try to summon something no one
worship Dagon and sometimes
could ever hope to control. The
Cthulhu. The most senior, most
death of the human is, of course, not
capable and most ruthless of all
the problem but it is the Deep Ones
Dagonites are given spells to bind
who will have to live in an ocean with
Shoggoths, though this is rare. The
unbound horrors awake and agi-
most common magic taught is, of
tated.
course, Summon Deep One. A few
braver lodges may be granted access Finally, Deep One magic corrupts.
to the Star Spawn. Slowly, the alphabet of any human
92 MYTHOS MAGIC
DNA can be written over, reparsed. style and capacity of magic of the
The exact mechanics of the Change average Serpent Folk changes. There
from homo sapien to Deep One is are thought to be four kinds of
complex and little understood but Serpent.
anyone with even a touch Deep One
Degenerates – Fallen Serpent Folk,
DNA will undergo an accelerated
devolved to primordial ways. They
mutation into a monster if they use
have no capacity with magic.
this magic. If no cross-breeding is a
part of the magician’s genetic inheri- Lurkers – Modern Serpents, unwill-
tance, perhaps something worse lies ing to retreat to their old fastnesses
in wait. Any dementia that develops and holds. They are young and vital
as a part of using magic will manifest components of their culture but
as a desire to become part sea-crea- often too young to be grand powers.
ture. A madness that might see radi-
cal surgery used to fuse ocean ani- Dreamers – Many millions of years
mal parts to the magician’s own ago, some of the race located and
body. The Deep Ones tell with arch begun to worship Tsathoggua. Yig
joy about a magician who had the cursed the race but some moved to
temerity to master their magic, who the Dreamlands to continue service
now swims in eternal agony, sea to their new Lord. The Dreamers, due
urchins and starfish nailed to his to their advanced age, patronage and
skin, rough gill slits cut into his neck, location are great sorcerers.
dorsal fins sewed to his back… Sleepers – Modern day Greenland is
all that exists of the once vast empire
of Hyperborea, long since destroyed

Serpent Folk Magic


by the restless float of continents.
The First and Second Empires of the
Serpent Folk are long destroyed but
Of all the Mythos races, the serpent buried throughout the earth are
men stand supreme as sorcerers. For Serpent Folk who hid themselves,
three hundred million years, the sleeping like a snake in winter, wait-
Serpents have been known as magi- ing for a time to rise. Those Serpents
cians and scientists, often disregard- who have risen in our age are
ing any difference between the two Sleepers. Some are shocked by the
professions and philosophies. They new world; some see it as a challenge
have known the favors of two of the to be taken up and conquered. The
Great Ones themselves, Yig and Sleepers, some of whom have rested
Tsathoggua and known their curses for 250 million years, are amongst
as well. They have haunted every the greatest magicians the world has
human civilization that has ever ever seen.
existed, as shadow puppeteers, as
Many of the Mythos races are unfath-
enemies, as wary allies, as hostile
omably alien: the star vampires are
foes. Throughout the enormous span
blood seeking bags of plasma. The
of geological time the Serpent Folk
Dimensional Shamblers walk through
have existed, they have forever been
superstrings like a man walks
studying magic.
through rain and the Star-Spawn are
Because of the extreme age of the magnificent monsters from truly dis-
race, it is important to note that the tant planets. Next to these species,
CHAPTER 7: MYTHOS RACES & MAGIC 93
the Snake Men are like brothers in Most Serpent Men of any rank,
our heads. They are another species, throughout their career and chilliad
slow and deliberate, almost emotion- lifespan learn magic. It is considered
less but they display cognition that the high point of academia for the
at least overlaps with human notions species, the noble state that all
and as such, Serpent Folk and human learned and sophisticated beings
magic are freely interchangeable. move towards. Unlike the Deep
Although their magic is much more Ones, who all strive towards a racial
widespread, much more elaborate and theological purpose, the Serpent
and generally much stronger and Folk coexist in a state of harmonious
deadlier than our own. The cool, anarchy. Theirs is a society of indi-
refined intelligence of the race sees viduals. Emperors and Priest Kings
them working towards goals for cen- are deviations in their history and
turies, gaining power and knowledge most of them therefore are free to
over aeons. study at their own pace and their
own inclinations. Serpent wizardry is
The Serpent People have several the- eclectic and done at the whim of
matic components to their magic. each individual practitioner.
First and foremost, the Ophidian
ones work on long and complex
ritae. The image of bubbling caul-
drons, obscure languages and elabo- Serpent Folk Rituals
rate temple-laboratories is very much To understand Serpent Folk Working,
that of Serpent magic. They are one must understand the religious
obsessed with the creation of new schisms that have taken place over
life, refining old life, cross-breeding, their ancient history. The Serpents
studying and cataloguing biological were risen up over the rude beasts
phenomena. Unlike the Deep Ones, and given sentience and will by the
the Serpent Men have little truck with Old God Yig. For what purpose this
the Old Ones aside from polite reli- was done, we can never know but
gion and alliance, from a studied dis- speculation by both rare human
tance. Alchemy is another specialist scholars and the Snake People them-
area of the magicians of the race, selves leans towards notions that Yig
who are forever looking for new poi- wished for himself a race of worship-
sons, new philters of transformation, pers. For some two hundred and fifty
targeted hallucinogenics and opiates million years, the Serpent Folk
and potions of immortality. The key walked the earth, studying, watch-
to understanding the magic of these ing, manipulating… and all the while,
cold beings is that they seek to dom- Father Yig watched over them. The
inate and manipulate, wanting not to relationship between Yig and his
subvert or destroy as other races but Children is one that is lost to time.
rather to be in a position where no Was he an active god? An indifferent
other race can ever damage them. one? Who can know? The centre of
They do not seek rulership or politi- his cult was located in the enormous
cal power, merely a kind of splendid underground cavern complex known
isolation where they cannot be inter- as Yoth. There, the Serpent people
fered with, ever. Well do they remem- experimented with the stuff of life
ber the Vault of Zin and the Curse of itself. They engineered the destruc-
Yig which saw them fall as a people. tion of their terrible enemies, the
94 MYTHOS MAGIC
dinosaurs and saw the rise and fall of people have created it, ever inching
whole taxa of species. They cast closer to the power to magically
great astrologies and spoke with dominate even the tiniest secrets of
spirits of the past and future. life. Many Ophidians also seek out
power to use against the Great Ones,
Around five million years ago, they coldly determined to never allow
delved in N’Kai, the ancient pit where themselves to be so casually
Tsathoggua dwelt and many formed destroyed as when Yig destroyed
a cult based around the new found them.
god. Tsathoggua, of course, was
amused that these creatures who For the Serpent people, all rites are
would immediately see him as a done with the purpose of knowing
patron and source of the race’s great more, understanding the world and
addiction, information. The toad-god beyond the world, rooting through
accepted the new cult, who the guts of death and life, time and
approached him with impeccable space. Having been made fearful of
respect and formality and granted the Curse of Yig, which destroyed
them power. Soon the ancient wor- their species, the Serpent Folk are
ship of Yig was on the wane. Of amongst the most cautious of magi-
course, the Father took this dimly, cians and their capacity to bind and
cursing his children with devolution. banish Mythos entities are the most
As a species, only a fragment of the advanced of any creature. Many are
Serpent Folk kept intelligence, as also fabulously devoted to Yig, see-
well as arms and legs. It was the ing reptiles and the gods’ other cho-
destruction of the race as a power on sen creatures as holy animals, taking
the planet. elaborate geases to protect and wor-
ship that kind.
Knowledge is what the Serpent Folk
crave and all their magic is directed The Dreamers, who fled the Curse
towards that end. Their rites involve and went to the Dreamlands, never
creating prophecies, which in this learnt the caution of the earthly
case, amount to guesses Yig and Snake people. Instead, they seek to
other gods are preternaturally gifted expose all secrets recklessly, yearn
at making, based on their knowledge for ever greater perfection. Those
of history and stochastic phenome- who seek to stand against them are
non. Serpents are researchers, track- snuffed out by magic of Biblical pro-
ing spirits and powers from the high portions. They wield powers to rival
the seven plagues the assaulted
realms and low. Under conditions
Egypt and have command of the
that seem half prayer, half vivisec-
strangest of beasts.
tion, they take apart and reassemble
life. Ancient metals and gems are
ground down to create new philters
and potions with radical effects upon Serpent Folk Spells
consciousness and biology.
Perhaps more than any other Mythos
This last is a specialty of the snake race, the Ophidians excel at empty-
people and their necromantic cre- handed magic. Individually, they
ations are bleakly fabulous abomina- have an almost eidetic memory
tions. Any collation of animal and allowing them to have thousands of
plant, any size or shape, the snake spells on hand. It is not inappropriate
CHAPTER 7: MYTHOS RACES & MAGIC 95
for a Keeper to rule that a Serpent armament of a Snake mage. If could
may have any kind of minor magic on be that Serpent folk magicians are
them at need. These spells will close to creating firearms and mis-
include personal defenses and ways siles of magic. It is also probable that
to assault enemies as well as magical these magicians are the most adept
diagnostic tools. These enchant- at creating wards against the Mythos.
ments perform as security for the The Elder Sign is a spell most magi-
Serpent Folk’s personal lair. All cians will know, especially the
Sleepers have access to magics Dreamers, who have reason to fear
which will allow them to transform the attention of Father Yig.
into the semblance of other races
and move undetected in their cul-
tures. Researchers will often and fre- Humans and
Serpent Folk Magic
quently use spells such as Consume
Memory and other information gath-
ering techniques. They are the mas-
Ophidian sorcery is the only Mythos
ters of a kind of magical surveillance
magic that humans can genuinely
technology and feats such as telepa- use and understand. If nothing else,
thy and psychometry are not beyond biology dictates much of this com-
them. monality. Serpent folk have a pathol-
Serpent folk spells tend to reflect ogy roughly consistent with humans
their personalities. While at some and similar anatomy. Thumbs, lungs,
points in their history the Ophidians the need to eat and excrete and so
have tended towards decadence and on. Thinking patterns also roughly
luxury, at their hearts they remain overlap, although the Ophidians are
reptiles, passionless and patient, far more logical, long term ‘right
moving between frenzied action and brain’ in their thinking than are the
senescent conservation of effort. emotion-soaked Homo sapiens.

Long ago self-exiled to the The prototypical wizard from human


Dreamlands, Dreamers are capable fictions serves very well as an idea
of the kinds of magic long since lost for what the Serpent Folk magician is
to humanity. The feats ascribed to like. Their fascination with toxins
Eibon and Haan-Dor, the control of their bodies produce has lead to a
weather, the summoning of demons rigorous study of alchemy and so
and the undead by the legion, the philters, unguents and ointments
eldritch bolts of power and cursing with spectacular effect are often a
of kingdoms are all part of their part of their magic. Rare and fabu-
repertoire. lous reagents are found in the labo-
ratory/sanctums of their magicians.
Due to their own long history of Elaborate banishing circles, sacred
involvement and sometimes hostility spaces decorated with gold, onyx
with Mythos creatures, the Serpent and sapphires please their aesthetic
Men have also involvement in the eyes and here ancient spirits of ser-
creation of mystical weaponry. pents are summoned. The undead
Swords and spears that can wound are often guardians of the race who
ghosts, arrows that do not miss their are so morbidly fascinated by their
mark, wands spitting fire and more own ancestors. Ancient weapons,
beside are often part of the personal scrolls of antiquity, death curses,
96 MYTHOS MAGIC
reptilian gods and immortality who are considered the greatest of
potions are the order of the day. If their kind.
the Keeper wished to introduce a
more flashy magic into their game,

Carcosan Magic
the Serpents are a good way of doing
so. After all, they have been alive
long enough to plague humans since
the ancient days of iron and might Of all the various entities, plenipo-
before the rise of the sons of Aryas. tentiaries, powers and principalities
And so it is that humans are capable in the cosmos, few are as misunder-
of recognizing and using Serpent stood, obscure and ignored as the
Folk sorcery. While the Ophidians are King in Yellow. When there is corrup-
more than capable of summoning up tion of the spirit, a slow sink to deca-
and dealing with the titanic races, dence, a collapse of families, a
they are, like us, aware of their own lover’s quarrel, the arsonists torch,
insignificance. Not even their ties the slow heat-death of a universe,
with Father Yig or Tsathoggua there is the court of the Xanthic Lord.
change this. Unlike humanity, they Very little can be said of Carcossa
have long experience with this that is factual and indeed the truth
nihilistic fact and no capacity for self- may be so subjective as to be non-
doubt, therefore the Serpent folk are existent, yet several suppositions
masters of anti-Mythos magic. hold up. There is a planet, or realm,
Assuming that humans could learn or a dimension, a place and it is lit by
the sibilant tongues and elaborate two suns during the day, strange
hieroglyphs of these people, humans moons and black stars by night. A
could learn much in the ways of a magnificent lake, Hali has two cities
more traditional magic and have upon it, Yhtill and Carcossa. There,
access to powers like the Elder Sign. dressed in ancient fineries, a slow,
Of course, Serpent People have stately, Machiavellian war takes place
watched humans evolve from fish, let between the nobles of those cities.
alone apes, and find the notion of Sometimes, a figure known as the
sharing their magic faintly ludicrous Phantom of Truth walks this place, or
at best. another, more dreadful thing known
as the King in Yellow seeks to make
In the Dreamlands, the exiled
itself known. Sometimes, rarely, does
Serpent Folk are magicians of leg-
Carcossa spread to other worlds, cre-
endary status. Great balls of fire
ating zones of collapse, soft reality.
explode at their reckoning, towers
The citizens of Carcossa walk our
and castles rise in one night and
earth and sometimes, rarely, do they
plagues destroy nations at their
bring their own magic.
whims. Magic used commonly by
these creatures has virtually no This magic is based upon entropy,
expression on earth and never may upon the art of undoing, science that
have. While this kind of power is seeks to break down bonds and ties.
inappropriate to horror gaming, if a It is not grand, it is not violent but is
Keeper chose to interpolate obvi- rather subtle, slow, corrosive rather
ously fantastic elements to their than flagrantly destructive. It moves
game, it is these mighty sorcerers quietly and surely. Using the strange
CHAPTER 7: MYTHOS RACES & MAGIC 97
arts of Carcossa, a sorcerer could not is Carcosan magic served, as despair
destroy buildings or rip the hearts and awareness of fault and paucity
from men’s chest or summon down are made apparent to the aspiring
shrieking horrors. However it can magician. Those who use these
cripple with self-doubt, work to Sacred Tools find themselves capable
weaken foundations of buildings and of greater magic than they ever sus-
institutions alike and most impor- pected of themselves. This leads to a
tantly, create fine madness. Not for terrible dependency on ever more
this magic the ways of bloodshed elaborate and rare Tools.
and horror but rather a slow aware-
Aspiring to create them is a haz-
ness that all things die and things
ardous undertaking. Not only is it
not only tend, rather they absolutely
costly and dangerous, at all times
work towards, falling apart.
seeking to make something to wield
the power of entropy risks the atten-
tions of the mysterious King in
Carcosan Ritual Yellow. Most of these devices have a
terrible purpose, all of which seeks
The Carcosans are a people given to
low, slow uncreation.
grand spectacle. Balls and feasts,
salons and operas, showy and lavish The rituals are, as is all Carcosan
displays of ostentation. It is said that magic, designed to bring about dis-
it is a way for that doomed folk to may and disintegration. Political fig-
forestall awareness of the awaiting, ures acting recklessly, popes and
inevitable worm. So it is that their exarches who seek to bring their
rare magicians are fond of high rites. faiths into the modern world, elabo-
Incense, pentacles drawn with rare rate ritual suicides that damage psy-
inks, cloth-of-gold robes, candles ches, clashes of culture and more are
drawn from tallow of exotic animals, the end result of these lengthy
liturgies in strange and dread undertakings.
tongues, there is no excess too great
One use of rituals often undertaken
for these folk. The simplest of rituals
by those who practice this strange
take hours to achieve but might be
magic is, oddly, that of art.
extended into different Operations
Sometimes through a Mephistoph-
that take months of even years to
elean pact with dark powers, some-
complete.
times simply through simply painting
Carcosans, given their intimate the wrong thing, a magician finds
knowledge of mighty Tools such as themselves blessed with great cre-
the Pallid Mask, are well aware of the ative powers given to them by the
power of panoply. Scepters and King. These may be in the written
wands of platinum, encrusted in arts, sculpture, painting, dance or
gems, crowns of exceedingly precise increasingly, modern conceptual art.
workmanship, goblets of ancient lin- No artist who has undertaken these
eage and more are a part of this rites has done anything less than
magic. Indeed, even if a human was become at least a renowned cult fig-
aware of the rituals of Hastur, it is ure in their field. It may be strange
conceivable that they may simply be that magic so devoted to corruption
unable to afford such luxuries and so would grant this power yet, always,
Carcosan magic is rare. Even by this no matter the intent of the author of
98 MYTHOS MAGIC
such works, the art itself is always scholars than Cthulhu. High priest of
nihilistic, consuming and leaves the the Outer Gods, yet perhaps sealed
viewer with a lingering sense of in his ancient city by Them, widely
malaise. Suicides and murders break considered the greatest of the alien
out after a new work is released from Great Old Ones and yet a prisoner for
an artist with the King as his patron. a million years, his status as magi-
cian and god is questioned and puz-
zled over by human and monster
Carcosan Spells alike.
If one views Cthulhu as the champion
These magicians have elaborate or king of an alien race, he can be
names for their spells: suite, suit, viewed as perhaps the single great-
tricks, dandies, spiels, feints, chords est sorcerer to ever live.
and other beside. There is rarely
destructive powers attached to them Great Cthulhu and his people came
but rather a rapid ability to create down to earth more than three hun-
dissension, madness, slow rotting. dred and fifty million years ago, flee-
These are spells to cheat at cards, to ing the planet Xoth. His people,
befuddle followers, to introduce ran- called the Star-Spawn, warred upon
domness into machines, sing white the Elder Things, and presumably
noise not smite enemies or bind other races. Then their capital, the
creatures. It is done with a whisper wicked city R’lyeh was sunk beneath
in old tongues, a movement of the the waves. Some claim that it was the
hand, a straightening of the tie. benevolent Elder Gods who sealed
Carcosan Enchantments are easy to away Cthulhu, although some schol-
learn but not strong. ars see no proof that it was not the
Outer Gods.
Cthulhu might then be viewed as a
Humans and kind of Satan figure in the Miltonian

Carcosan Magic
sense. Perhaps Cthulhu, priest and
wanderer, is a great figure in the war
against the Outer Gods. After all,
There is no difficulty in learning
while his role of priest would be con-
magic of that strange demesne. The
sidered one of submission, possibly
rich and difficult to procure materials
the first scholars to interpret his
of the Sacred Tools and the procure-
actions saw Invocations as worship,
ment of grimoires from Carcossa are
not understanding that Cthulhu wars
the only impediment. Otherwise,
upon the Outer Gods, trying to force
Carcosan magic is a human magic.
them into magical slavery. Or per-
haps this is wishful thinking and
Great Cthulhu is indeed the favored

Xothian Magic
child of an indifferent cosmos.
Thematically, the powers of the
Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can Xothians seem to be an extravagant
capacity for migration and comfort in
he spy Them only dimly.
desolation. From the impossible radi-
There is no figure more contentious ation of the binary star of their home
in the annals of the mighty occult planet, through to the infinite black-
CHAPTER 7: MYTHOS RACES & MAGIC 99
ness of space and the crushing depth unearthly but ultimately physical
of the ocean, the Xothians have composure, Cthulhu is not linked
thrived. They are also linked with the Outside the way Yog-
ineluctably with grand buildings of Sothoth and the other true gods are.
black basalt. Indeed, the living cities He must rely on rites and rituals just
of the Deep Ones are only the as much as a human when dealing
with them.
However, due to his dubious kinship
with the Outer Gods, they may
choose, or have no choice but to,
obey and serve their high priest. It
may be that Cthulhu has access to
Summons and Evocations that can-
not ever be dismissed or unbound.
Perhaps Cthulhu is even working
towards an Evocation of the Daemon
Sultan itself.
Assuming the other Xothians are
similarly inclined, they and their mas-
ter may have access to the Outer
Gods and their might in ways no
other beings in creation are capable
of having. Xothian rites would be
faintest mockery of R’lyeh and the
incomprehensibly alien, involving
other colossal civilizations of these
beings. The Xothians are also mas- transformations only their plastic
ters of occult geometry. It is appro- bodies are capable of and precise
priate for such mighty beings that mastery of their ancient and sicken-
scale is also often linked to their ing language. They may command
powers. The Xothians are perhaps spirits and gods even more dreadful
the most defiant beings in the uni- than themselves, a thought which
verse, or the most blessed by malign has driven sages to suicide. Due to
gods and therefore whatever their Cthulhu’s predicted role as being a
powers achieve must be Herculean. messiah of hedonistic pleasure (‘to
These are puissant creatures and laugh and revel and kill’) Xothian
their magic is equally great. rites may involve Gnostic states
revolving around joy and sensual
delight. One can only imagine for a
Xothian Rituals moment what must arouse or inspire
such beings....
Luciferian rebels or worshipper of It may be that the Xothians do not
the fellest powers, the title of ‘High have the capacity for interstellar
Priest’ suggest several things about travel under their own power. It is
Cthulhu and his relationship with the known that Cthulhu bought his chil-
Outer Gods. Whether or not he wor- dren to earth from other planets and
ships them or Evokes them, Cthulhu perhaps this was done by magic,
has access to unique rituals dealing
rather than under their own motive
with the Outer Powers. A being of
effort. Perhaps truly stupendous
100 MYTHOS MAGIC
Gates were required, or a kind of easily influence the human dream-
physical translocation. scape.
Xothians, with their penchant for the
Titanic, may take days, years, per-
haps even centuries to complete Humans and
Workings. The grand cities in which Xothian Magic
these peoples live may be infused
with magic. R’lyeh, their capital, is It is perhaps utterly impossible for
far beyond limited human capacity to humans to learn the magic of the
see, let alone bounded by our laugh- Xothians, whose minds are immea-
able notions of geometry and engi- surably remote. Only the most dedi-
neering. Capable of surviving in cated of cultists would even try to
abysmal depth, architected with pow- open their minds to such outré learn-
ers that drive humans mad to even ing and even the faintest touch of the
contemplate, the ancient dwellings consciousness of the children of
of Cthulhu bespeak a power that Cthulhu could ruin the strongest
sculpts terrestrial matter into shapes human in an instant. Their spells are
of incomprehensible strangeness, unusable by humans, who are not
that accesses dimensions and realms biologically equipped to cast them.
only Cthulhu and his Star-Spawn can Nonetheless, if one could read the
describe. language of R’lyeh or Aklo, perhaps
they could gain insights into the
building techniques or transporta-
Xothian Spells tion powers of this race. A kind of
retro-engineering of magic might be
Cthulhu and his kind are not a subtle possible, as magicians ape the won-
race. Given to war, eager to lead oth-
ders of the Star-Spawn. Despite pos-
ers into their own barbarism and
sibilities, the secret arcana of the
decadence, hungry for violence, the
Xothians should come at the highest
Xothians do not have the strange
price, leaving even the smartest, the
powers of their servants the Deep
most devoted human hollowly and
Ones, or the queer slow madness of
irrevocably insane.
the Carcosans. Xothian Enchantment
is destructive, cruel and simple. It is
war magic. The one moment of

Tcho-Tcho Magic
human contact between Cthulhu and
mankind saw Cthulhu react violently
and vindictively and so it should be
no surprise that their spell craft is But the evil ones left seeds on the
this same. What they achieve with plateau, on the island in the Lake of
devastation, they may also achieve Dread which the Old Ones caused to
with sybaritic capabilities. The be put there. And from these seeds
human nervous system and brain can have sprung the Tcho-Tcho people,
be shutdown, overwhelmed or the spawn of elder evil, and now
destroyed by pleasure as equally as these people await the day when
pain. Xothians have also displayed Lloigor and Zhar will rise again and
enormous telepathic power and can sweep over all Earth.
CHAPTER 7: MYTHOS RACES & MAGIC 101
Lair of the Star Spawn knowledge that beneath Maya, the
illusion of the world, lurked a terrify-
The Tcho-Tcho are a dreadfully near- ing reality of monstrosity and malev-
human race of tiny people, superfi- olence. The Tcho-Tcho path of magic
cially resembling Asians, who have was as dark and cruel as they saw the
long been connected with Mythos true world is. Indeed, the Tibetan
races. While conjecture runs amok word for black magician is Tcho.
over whether or not it is correct to
call them humans, mutants, or some- Even amongst this corrupt race, the
thing else all together, the Tcho- magicians are feared by their own
Tchos live mainly human lives, walk kind. Though not always leaders,
in human societies, forever tainted these magicians are always
on a genetic level by their progeni- respected and listened to in policy.
tors. Thematically, Tcho-Tcho magic
They were formerly native to Tibet, a emphasizes shamanic behavior.
plateau of great horror known as Guardian spirits, ancestor worship
Tsang. The folk religion of the region and a direct experience with cruel
was Bon, a faith that placed great and benign supernatural beings, a
emphasis upon magical action. knowledge of the spirit world and
Indeed, it was a deeply shamanistic other typical elements of shamanism
and animistic culture the Tcho-Tcho are present. It stresses the unimpor-
came from, that extensively inter- tance of human ego and importance
acted with a world of spirits and of supplication to the Mythos. Even
gods. When the Tibetans accepted Tibetan magic shows a distinct dark
Buddhism in the 14th century, they side, with such rites as biting the
created their own brand of that ven- tongue out of a zombie to gain mag-
erable philosophy strong enough so ical Tools, so Tcho-Tcho magic
that today Tibetan Buddhism is a should be even more brutish and
vibrant wing of the religion. Tibetan vile. The essence of Tcho-Tcho magic
Buddhism embraces the central idea is ugly strangeness, an experience
that the world is an illusion. It and intimacy with Otherness.
espouses a belief in reincarnation
and elaborate rituals to propitiate
spirits and ancestors. A strong Bon
tradition has survived, almost at
Tcho-Tcho Rituals
odds with Buddhism, allowing wor- The Tcho-Tchos have an elaborate
ship of such beings as Mahakala, the system of belief, many hundreds of
Great Black One and Yama King of holy books and scrolls and parables
Death. The end result is a stately, and dizzying array of religious fig-
hierarchical faith which openly ures and gods. Many of these are
acknowledges magic belief to this simple human constructions, fictions
day. at worst, weak Other Gods at best.
Unwilling to be culturally singled out, Core amongst the magic works of
Tcho-Tchos similarly accepted the these folk are the Black Bodhisattvas.
syncretism Buddhism placed upon The great work of these magicians is
them and created a religion similar to to gain enough power to become a
that of Tibet’s. The key difference kind of minor god and stay on as a
was that the Tcho-Tcho had certain sort of saint to the living Tcho-Tchos.
102 MYTHOS MAGIC
Every magician from this culture ulti- cultists. Forced cannibalism, expo-
mately strives to this blessed state. sure to Mythos beasts, prolonged
torture and other rites have long
All Tcho-Tchos raised in the ortho-
been used to recruit for their cult. As
dox culture serve the gods zealously.
has showing a gentler side of their
They believe, and may not be wrong,
magic, slowly luring other peoples
that they Great Ones themselves
down their dark path.
mated with their ancestors in the dim
past. Therefore, they possess the Necromancy is another feature of
holy words and truths of the Gods Tcho-Tcho religious life. Elaborate
themselves, the very essence of them rituals to create zombies and ghosts
flows in Tcho-Tcho blood. This has are known to almost all of these wiz-
led to a deeply arrogant and xeno- ards, who use them as sentinels and
phobic culture. servants to hold command and
respect over their own people, as
Tcho-Tchos believe in as much possi-
well as intimidate rivals. Possessing
ble interaction with the beings they
spirits are also routinely used, often
worship, making pacts and alliances
Binding powerful, hateful beings into
with them. Through human sacrifice,
innocents, allowing intelligences to
torture, cannibalism, sexual assault, roam the world cloaked in flesh.
self-mutilation and other sadistic
acts, Tcho-Tcho shamans gain favor
with alien monstrosities and do their
will. Tcho-Tcho Evocation is effective Tcho-Tcho Spells
and horrible. The priest-magicians
Most of the more horrible spells
often utilize gory forms of panoply,
available in Call of Cthulhu are
such as robes made of human skin,
known to the Tcho-Tcho magicians.
Tools made from body parts, drink-
The Death Spell and Clutch of
ing of blood and copulation with ani-
Nyogtha are classical examples.
mals or even aliens.
Enchantments to warp the mind, cre-
Terrible curses are placed upon ate confusion and terror, as well as
transgressors and enemies of the hurt and maim are all a part of their
gods and the Tcho-Tcho in these repertoire. Centuries of battle and
rites. So too are blessings. Tcho- feuds with their neighboring tribes in
Tcho magic is amongst the most the old country, being drafted into
effective sorcery in the world for tor- wars in the 20th century, now fight-
ture and killing. Sympathetic magic, ing for territory on the streets of the
requiring the fluids, skin, hair and First World, all have made the Tcho-
bones of the victim are taken, Tchos masters of war magic. All of
danced around and chanted over in their spells are quite brutal in nature.
the weird language of this folk and
results are usually spectacular and
horrible. Humans and
Not all Tcho-Tcho magical rites are Tcho-Tcho Magic
as visceral. Due to their belief in the
bleak notion that becoming entirely Humans can easily learn Tcho-Tcho
non-human is a blessing, the Tcho- magic. It is, after all, significantly
Tcho have many grim practices to human magic in and of itself.
break down the ego and create However, these sorceries are vicious
CHAPTER 7: MYTHOS RACES & MAGIC 103
and hateful, powered by the suffer- ity. Adepts in Tcho-Tcho magic serve
ing and death of people, the more the racial goal, or die.
innocent the better. Few investiga-
Another problem is the sheer horror
tors will meet a more sadistic crea- of this magic. Gnostic states certainly
ture than a Tcho-Tcho wizard bent of insulate a magician against madness
making account of his enemies or but the Tcho-Tcho sorcerer spends a
more foul and hateful than a Tcho- life hip deep in atrocity. Sanctums
Tcho shaman given completely over filled with body part, ritual murder,
to a Mythos Totem. The difficulty in study of torture techniques and act-
become tutored in Tcho-Tcho powers ing in service of beings who wish
is that these magicians are xenopho- nothing but comic malevolence upon
bic and unwilling to share their abili- humanity sends most non-Tcho-
ties with others of their own kind, let Tchos stark raving mad quickly. Even
alone an outsider. To these shamans, a determined sociopath does not
humans are batteries of agony who have the cultural conditioning and
exist only to serve their ambitions legacy of service to evil of a child of
towards becoming one with their this race. The truly, gibbering mad
dark masters. Even other Tcho-Tcho are of no use to the Mythos and are
often culled by their practice.
are barely noticed by the arrogant
magicians. Tcho-Tcho magic should rarely, if
ever, be practiced by Investigators. It
Any who do manage to ingratiate
is a cruel and hateful sorcery,
themselves with the culture and learn
marked by suffering and genuine
the difficult, linguistically remote sadism. Unless a Keeper wishes to
Tcho-Tcho tongue, soon become introduce certain moral quandaries,
aware of the overarching desire to or play a particularly dark Cultist
become a Black Bodhisattva. Those campaign, Tcho-Tcho magic serves
who cannot commit to this ideal will as a warning as to how corrupted
soon run afoul of some ancient spirit humans can be by the Outer Gods,
who can see the truth of them and rather than a weapon to use against
viciously punish their lack of temer- them.

104 MYTHOS MAGIC


Chapter Eight
Magic in the Campaign

Part of the creation of a strong game embrace Thelema, new Buddhas and
is giving players what they want. Scientology. The 1960s saw the West
While having five shadowy loners become enraptured in the Tantras,
chain smoking in trench coats, Yogas and Sutras from the East and
loaded down with hexes and a map presently, Wicca and other forms of
to the ghoul temple under Times connections with magical practice
Square, each refusing to work hacks have grown popular enough to
and amateurs is a quick way to rather almost be called chic.
dramatically dull campaign, there are Basing a group of Investigators in
several ways to interpolate magic in some sort of coven or lodge is there-
relatively large doses a game, fore simple and expedient no matter
depending on period and goals of the time period. Before present day,
the players. these groups worked as social salons
as much as magical temple. They
were places for the quality to meet

Mystical Group
and perhaps share gossip about
other members of Society and chat
about events of the day. Often with
Every few decades in the West, a new luminaries of the government and
form of spirituality emerges. The rea- leading cultural figures who were
sons for this are complex. Some often drawn to occultism. The histo-
believe it is a response to changing ries of these Lodges are hotbeds of
technology, some to mere faddism internal politics, genuinely ground-
some to solar winds and the complex breaking magical work and saucy
tides of magic itself. Regardless, in stories of historical notables. Using
the 1880s, the like of Madame them as a basis for games suggests
Blatavasky and Spiritualism rose. A that such campaigns should revolve
mania for trance mediums and spirit around internal politics, rogue mem-
photography swept the parlours of bers delving into black magic, rare
the rich, winning adherents through- invitations to work with the authori-
ties as expert investigators in bizarre
out the world. In the 1920s many
crimes and of course, the great
Lodges and Temples arose, pre-emi-
works of the group itself.
nent amongst them being the
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, The Keeper should decide what the
bringing together poet and politician overall group goal of the Lodge is
alike to experiment in the black arts. before the campaign starts.
The 50s saw the US, LA in particular Magicians may seek to contact the
CHAPTER 8: MAGIC IN THE CAMPAIGN 105
dead, transmute lead to gold, share of the organisation. A proscription
knowledge, immanetise the escha- over the moral character of the kinds
ton, or contact or worship a god. Of of magic used by the group immedi-
course, not everyone in the group ately creates plots for a Keeper to
may seek the same deity…. Then, of use. Contravention of those ethics
course, there is the true goal of the may be undertaken by magicians
high ups, which have used such desiring greater power, in disputes
groups as dupes since time immemo- over authority or simply by mistake.
rial. Suggestions include the obvious Of course, the Intent of the group
role of hidden Cthulhu cultists but may be a front for sinister leaders in
also the Lodge may in fact be zealous service to terrific Secret Chiefs. Rival
minions of Nodens, unprepared for groups may decide the goals of the
the true nature and power of the Investigator’s organisation threatens
Black Lodges they intend to battle. or disrespects their own. Once, mag-
ical battles raged fiercely throughout
The Lodge game allows non-Mythos Europe as Mason warred on
magic to take a larger role. Christian Rosicrucian and the Church warred
mysticism, Jewish arcana and the on everyone. Later, these became
hermetic secrets of Egypt have known as Psychic Wars and may play
played large roles in Western magic a useful role in the Keeper’s plans for
for centuries and more. It is appro- a game based around an occult
priate to introduce traditional gods, Lodge.
research historic magic and rites.
More familiar elements of magic can One of the advantages of this kind of
be used here, such as curses, mum- group is that it lends itself to a wide
mies, voodoo dolls and what have variety of characters. The Golden
you. Dawn included Peers, doctors, politi-
cal agitators, explorers and influen-
A classic theme of horror fiction is of tial poets amongst its ranks. Modern
the keeping of secrets. The group day occultists tend to come from the
who comes together to work magic arts, from the world of computing
in the name of the great Mother may and even scientists looking for
be formed with all good intentions. access to new forms of study. Not
One day, a member of the Temple only are occult interests fostered by
asks an innocent question… ‘Have this campaign structure but so are
you ever heard of the Old Ones?’ traditional Call of Cthulhu
Sooner or later, human curiosity Investigator professions.
leads down dark places. Within
months heterodoxy may form within Modern day ritual groups tend to be
the cult, searching to serve the Gods rather different from ones of the
beyond Gods. Words like Shug- past. The great societies of yesterday
Niggurath are whispered… Sooner or tended to be focussed very specifi-
later, a Black Man is called upon, cally on formal goals such as re-
offering his hind parts to be kissed. enactment of the magic of antiquity,
experimenting on one form of magi-
Some groups have a kind of magical cal discipline, such as Tantra or
code of ethics, Intent magically alchemy or Invocations. Whereas
agreed upon at its formation. This modern day groups, while still often
may be useful for a Keeper to intro- being specifically tradition oriented,
duce. It firmly creates the character are much more willing to bring
106 MYTHOS MAGIC
together disparate magicians. A haps something is called up that can-
chaotician, a follower of Astratu, an not be put down and is killing the
Alexandrian Wiccan and an eclectic coven members one at a time, eager
mage working with the Thothian for release from a Summoning spell,
Current might all find reason to unbound.
come together, even Work together.
There are also many hundreds of well

The Cult
organised groups available to the
curious. Many, many organisations
are prominent online, even evangeli-
cal and as simple to contact as send-
It’s always fun to be the bad guys
ing an email.
and not every Cthulhu Cultist is a
If the Keeper decides to use the tra- half-breed degenerate lurking in the
ditional model of, say, the witches’ swamps. Indeed, the stereotype
covens, then decisions need to be might amuse the powerful, who owe
made. What the name of the group is prominent positions and lucrative
can be an important one. Clearly employment to their allegiance with
Worshippers of the Severed Eyeball grimmer gods than the world sees.
brings up imagery that Servants of The Cult game works, in set up, very
the Pacific Moon does not. The goals similarly as the Lodge game, except
of the group should be well-defined. that the goal is rather darker.
Worship of the Goddess, communica- Maturity of the players and the intent
tion with outer worlds, cursing ene- to which they will happily play the vil-
mies, exploration of other states of lains is obviously the benchmark of
consciousness or any other goal this game. Don’t try and force a
imaginable that can be achieved with game of human sacrifice and mur-
magic. Basic guidelines of who can derous infighting upon people who
be involved with the coven, who can want to foil the bad guy’s evil plot.
assume positions of authority and
Worship of a central figure is what
the genuine commitment of follow-
ties these groups together.
ers, must all be decided upon as well
Magicians seeking powers will turn
as who is genuinely skilled and who
to gods such as Tsathoggua or Yig or
is there to make friends and meet
even Yog-Sothoth, who are willing to
girls.
trade powers for service. The doing
Mundane plots may involve trouble of these deeds will make up the cam-
with the police not understanding paign. A large sacrifice, the elimina-
the nature of the organisation, tion of a rival cult, the summoning of
drama within the group itself as egos certain monsters into the world and
and interests clash, as well as simple more are the demands made upon
money troubles. More supernatural these characters. Due to the nature
elements include rituals going spec- of people who willingly collude with
tacularly right, infiltration from the forces of annihilation, these
Mythos cultists or perhaps occult- deeds could indeed be dark. As such,
aware police and the ever popular be sure to amplify the vicious nature
role as consulting detectives to the of backstabbing and double-dealing
authorities. Ambitious but misguided in a Cult. Those who fall out of
members of the Coven may wish to favour with the Cult, or simply can-
steer it in darker directions or per- not protect themselves, may end up
CHAPTER 8: MAGIC IN THE CAMPAIGN 107
107
as lunch for something hungry. Rival tered will of humanity. The
worshippers of other gods should be Dreamlands are a place where magic
a constant threat as should cults of works as if, well, in a dream. Here
the same god, eager to destroy any magic shifts moons in their courses,
who would rob prestige, unaware brings down ice ages and causes the
this discord fuels the laughter of the dead to rise in the numbers of
Mighty Messenger. nations.
Of course, SAN losses may be promi- While it is possible to set a heroic
nent in these games and should not fantasy in the Dreamlands, there are
be shied away from. One may perhaps games that better service
become used to the Formless Spawn the needs of such a campaign. While
in the basement but sooner or later, the Dreamlands are certainly a place
the ritual murders, the drugs from to give people access to power
other galaxies, the simple lack of unavailable to their day lit selves,
ability to relate to human beings will make no mistake, it is not a place
turn to Cultist from person willing to where omnipotence is there for the
serve evil for power into a genuine taking. The Dreamlands are a place
figure of madness. It may be inter- of escape for the human mind where
esting to explore the effects such a hope can be grasped at as it cannot
life has on a character’s family and in the real world.
friends. While they are still around.
A Dreamlands game works well if it is
Nyarlathotep, for one, demands sac-
also presented as a dream, with the
rifices that cost.
slight surrealism of dream logic and
As a game like this promises to be so too should its magic. While it may
short-lived, feel free to hand out the be nice to have your janitor by day be
gifts from the gods. Spells can be a grand magus to the tenth degree in
awarded readily and Cultists should his dreams, it is perhaps more effec-
be free to examine and use those tive to give player particular skills
powers. Of course, this will attract that have their inspirations in the
the attention of Investigators and, if peculiar narratives of dream. ‘It was
the Keeper is of a mind, the Elder you but not really you’, a common
Gods themselves. The gifts of the statement dreamers make might
god are more than just magic, how- indicate a power to shift bodily
ever and if they do not please their forms. Flying is clearly a well-beloved
recipient, it is doubtful the Great fantasy, as is the ability to move over
Ones are concerned. Mutations, great spaces and times with ease.
intense psychological conditions and These powers might be charms or
complexes and other nefarious ill- spells or an inherited power.
nesses may plague the Cultist.
Don’t shy away from great feats of
magic, though. Allowing characters
powers they should never have in the

Dreamlands
Waking World is encouraged in the
Dreamlands, where our optimal self
image may be presented. Villains,
Beyond the Walls of Sleep lies gods and monster have the same
another place, where miracles exist access to these powers too. If games
that can be worked only by the unfet- move between Dreamlands and
108 MYTHOS MAGIC
Waking World, be sure to play up the kind of ‘On the Road’ feels as players
sharp differences in powers and drift, forever drawn towards powers,
potency the players experience in moving from town to town, cleansing
either world. a country one petrol station and
roach motel at a time.
Of course, one of the most effective

Deus Vult
weapons against the Mythos is
magic. As Investigators are forced
into more extreme stances against
With magic being presented as a sorcery, or perhaps less extreme, will
threat, it may be entirely possible they be tempted to use magic? Is this
that the Investigators base their defensible to people who have killed
activities around destroying magic magicians? Can magic ever be a pos-
and magicians. They may be agents itive moral force? And what happens
of a church, victim of magic or sim- when seemingly good people use
ply concerned citizens out to stop magic for good purposes?
meddlers with powers best left
undisturbed. The kinds of threats
presented by this sort of campaign

Tinker Tailor
subtly differ from the regular mon-
sters and cults. Magic can be dab-

Soldier Sorcerer
bled in by innocents as well as
devoted devil-worshippers and aid-
ing victims of this sinister force as
well as punishing the wicked might In games in which espionage and
be one of the goals of the military service play a part, there is
Investigations. certainly a place for Beaurux of
Paranormal Investigation and Occult
Incursions of magic may come from Special Forces. It is not inconceivable
unusual sources. Use of number the- that agents are trained specifically in
ory in a university lab might some- magical techniques. While this kind
how re-enact an ancient spell. of play leads more to action games
Neighbourhood children might learn than terror, military horror is a per-
an obscure rhyme that conjures what fectly valid expression of Call of
should not be remembered. A local Cthulhu. It is one thing to lead a
history teacher, returned from a hol- group of mercenaries in to a forgot-
iday to Egypt with a new secret may ten plateau in a war-torn hell and
bring troubles with him. Old folk sto- deal with rebels who have forgotten
ries of the things in the woods, the their political beliefs in the service of
glow in the caves outside of town a new power. It is another when
and the young men who tried to talk trained combat-magicians have the
to them with ouija boards are all capacity to hunt and kill those pow-
sources for threats. The old widow ers. One true example from the early
who feeds the thing in the woods,
days of Operation: Phoenix is useful.
the alchemist putting something into
the beer at the pub he owns, the In the Fillipines just after WWII, sol-
nerdy kid casting spells she found on diers were having problems contain-
the wrong website and more. This ing local rebels, who were skilled
style of game may also support a guerrilla fighters. CIA operatives, on
CHAPTER 8: MAGIC IN THE CAMPAIGN 109
109
researching legends of the area, dis-
Everyone Uses
Magic—Not Me!
covered stories of a vampire who
haunted the lands around the insur-
gent’s lair. They captured one of the
guerrillas, drained his blood and left Keepers wishing something different
his body to be discovered by his and prepared to do the work might
imagine worlds where magic is
compatriots, who cleared out on
known to everyone. Perhaps this is
learning a monster operated in the
the alternate history of Robert W.
area. Later, in the Belgian Congo, the Chambers’ Repairer of Reputations,
Operation raised support for a in which America is given over to
backed revolt by convincing shamans monarchists and prey to a certain
to make ‘magic armour’ for tribes- book. Or a post-WWII America, where
men. The rebels were confident of a magic is a trendy new consumable
product and demon-labour fuels a
victory because of their new
thriving primary industry. Here,
Enchanted flack jackets and went Investigators may be specialist magi-
back to war with raised morale. If a cians, necromancers and seers,
Keeper simply decides to substitute policemen working pathology labs
the fake for a real thing, adventure consulting astrology for clues to
possibilities open up. And there are murderer patterns or even robbers
stealing souls. Criminals war on each
few villains more classic or despica-
other with curses and death spells
ble than Nazi sorcerers. and even modern technology is
Game adventures are easy to plot changing. This can be effective in
any time period, as transom cabs
out. Undead enemy platoons, mad
may be pulled by nightmares and El
wizards castles that need to be Caminos are fuelled by blood. New
assaulted, now populated with churches, once condemned as crack-
fiends, remote areas of bush where pot cults gain thousands of adher-
guerrillas are trained in unspeakable ents the world over. Pope Crowley
powers, Shoggoths being used as reaches détente with President
LaVey…
tanks, arms deals with Mi-Go and
many more beside. Feel free to cre- As magic becomes more widespread,
ate complex dynamics between the perhaps even taught in schools, what
squad members as lives are saved, was once a frightening change of the
way of life becomes increasingly
friends are killed and grudges kept.
familiar. And familiarity leads to con-
Sub plots may involve platoon com- tempt. This is when a few brave souls
manders becoming too involved in become aware that there is a higher
the dark side of magic, being sold order to magic, a truth beyond the
out by corrupt leaders and missions prosaic world of spell and paperback
going terribly wrong. More down-to- grimoire. One of those new lodges
goes by the name of the Starry
earth plots may involve offers to
Wisdom and there is more to their
become mercenaries, time away from beliefs than most know. There is an
families or simple friction over the order of beings, known to magic but
levels of force required in missions. beyond all but the strongest, rarest
110 MYTHOS MAGIC
of it. Older than sorcery. The Great simple housecleaning glamours. The
Old Ones are being disturbed by the local werewolf tribe might be agitat-
new, constant shift of power around ing for civil rights as rednecks pre-
the world and astronomers declare pare to clean up their town, the
weird new findings in the stars. newly created information super-
highway might be interfacing with
The scope for adventures in this
world is enormous. Working as conceptual spaces inherently hostile
Investigators in this world is in many to humans. David Hanging, the
ways far easier. There is no need to famous director who has cast angels
convince the local police that a in soap operas may be planning to
Mummy is on the rampage when they do a new television mini-series called
have a Mummy on staff, after all and the King in Yellow. The Reader’s
the Mayor courts the vampire vote. Digest version of Nameless Cults
Working as government agents of goes to press.
powers might make a nice change in Perhaps a new world of magic is a
this respect. mistake, or part of a plan by
Ness’ Untouchables might war upon Nyarlathotep to play even with time
the illegal alchemy labs of Capone and all must be set right, reality itself
and his army of Maldanti and Strega. written over. Perhaps this time of
A door-to-door salesman may be unrestrained power is a time where
offering bored housewives more than the stars grow righter.

CHAPTER 8: MAGIC IN THE CAMPAIGN 111


MY
THOSMAGI
C
••

Anex aminati
onofwhatmagi cis,
whatitcando,howi tworks,andhow
investi
gatorsandadventur er
s
canmakei tworkforthem.
Ofcourse,humansar enot
theonlyoneswhocanus e
thi
smy ster
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Fi
ndot
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www.
chaos
ium.com