For use with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and similar Fantasy Role-Playing Games.
Welcome to the Mythos. As you may know, the original edition of the AD&D book called Deities & Demigods contained godly critters who, for copyright reasons, had to be omitted from later editions.
(Apparently even flimsy intellectual property right laws hold some sway over these otherworldy entities.)
This original "Cyclopedia of Gods and Heroes from Myth and Legend" is now a collector's item. You'll know if you have this rare book by simply turning to its table of CONTENTS (on page 3) and scanning for the excised sections.
If present, they would be the Cthulhu Mythos (starting on page 43) and the Melnibonean (page 86). But for our purposes here, we shall only reveal the hard-to-find texts concerning our dreaded Lord Cthulhu and His cacodemonical ilk:
The Cthulhu Mythos was first revealed in a group of related stories by the American writer H.P. Lovecraft.
Beginning with "The Call of Cthulhu" in Weird Tales, Lovecraft began referring in his horror stories to a pantheon of beings known as the Old Ones, who had descended to Earth from the stars in pre-human times.
First worshipped by the non-human races of the planet, the Old Ones were later banished or locked away by the elder gods. The elder gods do not enter into the stories much, and their identity is a mystery.
They left the Old Ones weakened, but not destroyed. When man appeared, he found traces of the older civilizations and remnants of the pre-human races.
Religions grew up around the Old Ones and legends of their imminent return to power -- especially around Cthulhu.
Bits of the old lore were discovered and transcribed into books, extremely dangerous books.
Lovecraft's friends (who included Clark Ashton Smith, Frank Belknap Long, Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard and August Derleth), wrote stories that "tied in" with the discovery of pre-human relics, the revival of ancient worship, or
the consequences of finding a "forbidden book" dealing with the Old Ones and their secrets. No great effort was made to keep these stories consistent with each other. After Lovecraft's death in 1937, August Derleth founded Arkham House publishing company to reprint his works.
Derleth also wrote a number of stories dealing with Lovecraftian themes or based on fragments of Lovecraft's writings. Since then a number of younger authors, outstanding among whom are Lin Carter, Ramsey Campbell and Brian Lumley, have written stories based on the growing Cthulhu mythology.
Most of the creatures presented here were introduced by the earlier authors: Lovecraft, Derleth and Smith. Derleth introduced the concept of a struggle between the Old Ones and the forces of good.
Lovecraft's original concept was far less [sic] sanguine -- all of his gods were evil and chaotic, and the best mankind could expect from them was indifference.
If you have not read any stories in the Cthulhu tradition, start with Lovecraft himself.
Many of his stories are straight supernatural tales and do not deal with the Old Ones, but "The Call of Cthulhu," "The Whisperer in Darkness," "At the Mountains of Madness," "The Dunwich Horror," and "The Shadow Out of Time" give the flavor of his work.
Then read the imitative writings of Derleth and the modern writers. Fortunately, most of these stories are gathered into collections of Lovecraft's work and published in paperback.
Cults of men, and particularly of non-human creatures, keep alive the worship of the Great Old Ones and anxiously await their return to power.
Various evil magic-users and priests, desirous of superhuman powers, experiment with some of the forbidden books (such as The Necronomicon) and occasionally unleash some horror on themselves or their surroundings.
Merely speaking the name of one of the Old Ones results in a 5% chance that the god named will hear, for these deities are quite attuned to the Prime Material Plane.
If the god does hear its name spoken, it will appear and attempt to kill the being so rash as to speak its name (some of the greater gods will send minions to accomplish this).
All creatures of nature are very sensitive to the presence of all creatures of the Cthulhu Mythos. They instinctively call out their warning sounds and flee if any of the Old Ones or their minions come within range of their senses.
This small grey (sometimes greenish) stone in the shape of a five-pointed star is a powerful protection
against all minions of the Old Ones. The true potent Elder Signs are few in number and incredibly ancient, having been made by the elder gods.
They have the following powers: they are 100% protection against psionic attacks; they are a force that will drive off all Shoggoths, Byakhee, Flame Creatures, Deep Ones, and Mi-Go, when strongly presented;
and while they will not stop the persistent efforts of any of the more powerful masters, they will provide a +6 protection against their attacks (as a ring of protection).
The Elder Signs are highly resistant to destruction -- armor class -2, broken only by magic or by some incredible force.
The Elder Sign was used by the elder gods to seal off those places where the Great Old Ones were imprisoned or where they had a chance of "breaking through" in force to the Prime Material Plane.
The Necronomicon is a powerful and perilous magical tome of ancient origins. It was originally written by Abdul Alhazred, a great magic-user known to some as "the Mad Arab."
After ten years alone in the desert he wrote a book called Al Azif -- words used to denote the nocturnal sounds of insects which may be the voices of demons.
Alhazred was later seized in the streets of a desert city by invisible demons and devoured horribly in front of many witnesses. Those who have studied his writings have sometimes met a fate nearly as terrible.
The book was banned and all known copies were destroyed, but a few translated editions, retitled The Necronomicon, still exist.
The book gives a description of the pre-human worship of the Old Ones, their banishment by the elder gods, and their imminent return.
The revelations of cosmic horror contained within its pages are so intense that there is a 40% probability of characters below level 5 changing alignment to chaotic (d6, 1-3) or going mad (4-6).
This probability decreases by 5% for every level of the reader above 4th.
It would appear that spells are given for summoning all of the Old Ones and their minions, and some spells for their control and dismissal, although these latter are not always effective.
The spells are very long and complicated, and not entirely comprehensible without long study and research.
In fact, only magic-users of 18 intelligence have a chance of understanding (and thereby using) them, and that chance is only 5% per level, starting at the 6th level.
Many of the spells require that the "stars be right," and can only take place at certain times of the year or in certain places.
Attempting to cast any of the greater summoning spells will result in a straight 30% chance of the caster going insane.
The spells don't always work: in particular they often fail to protect the magic-user from the thing he or she has called from the outer darkness.
Such unfortunates are rarely seen again, although simulacra or zombie-like imitations sometimes appear.
In addition to The Necronomicon, there are a number of other magical books giving information on the Old Ones and their minions, including:
The Book of Eibon, the Celaeno Fragments, Cultes des Goules by the Comte d'Erlette, De Vermis Mysteriis by Ludvig Prinn, the Dhol Chants, the Pnakotic Manuscripts, and Unausprechlichen Kulten by Von Junzt.
Most of these are histories, but some have powers similar to, but less than, The Necronomicon itself. These lesser books are not as dangerous to the magic-user or his surroundings.