Unnatural sources of knowledge

Dear Visitor,

we are currently translating the FHTAGN rulebook and game world into English. You are reading a page that is in phase 1 of 3 of the translation. The text is a raw version and will most likely change. Please feel free to continue browsing the site or just come back later. You are also welcome to follow our Twitter account @FHTAGNRPG for news and updates.

Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!

records of unnatural knowledge

Unnatural knowledge can be hidden in various media and can take many forms. The outer appearance of such a source can already be horrifying, such as a tome bound in human skin, or completely inconspicuous. The contained knowledge, however, always accelerates the mental decay of the reader.


Unnatural knowledge is often preserved in ancient tomes, but numerous other media are also suitable as carriers of blasphemous secrets. Thus, ancient texts might be found on clay tablets, a disc covered with hieroglyphics, or a broken scripture stele. A fresco or a colorful mosaic in the vanished Pompeii can depict scenes of a ritual just as well as a medieval painting, on the back of which perhaps a note with instructions is still hidden. A gramophone record, tape recordings, or a self-burned CD can reproduce chants or bizarre music, and a shaky video film can show the execution of a ritual. Last but not least, individual rituals may be found in diary entries, letters, or on an insert forgotten in a book. In the present, unnatural knowledge may even be hidden on a USB stick, in a source code or program, or even in a computer virus.

In principle, each tome, record or tradition should be unique. Two editions of the same work are almost always different, for example, because pages are missing, illegible, or annotated by previous owners. Even the content may differ. Similarly, study of a source may yield new insights even years later. These things are beyond the control of the player characters and cannot be fully grasped or penetrated. A scientifically structured discussion of Unnatural knowledge should be nearly impossible due to these circumstances.

The description of knowledge sources includes the following aspects:

Language: the language in which the source is written must be fluent (skill score of at least 40) in order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the material.

Study duration: The duration specified (usually days, weeks, or months) measures the amount of time required to study the source.

SAN loss: Once a source has been studied, loss of stability occurs as a sign of understanding (without SAN test). This is unavoidable because the human mind normally refuses to accept such connections. If a player character's breaking point is reached in the process, this should have lasting effects. Study duration and SAN loss are summarized in the ritual description under Study.Unnatural Knowledge: Studying a source increases the skill value in Unnatural Knowledge by the specified value. The increase is usually equal to the SAN loss suffered.

Other Skills: Sometimes other skill values can be increased by study. The gain in unnatural knowledge and other skills is indicated in the ritual description under Knowledge Gain.

Rituals: The unnatural rituals contained in a source. They can each be learned individually after study. The source may contain no rituals, a few rituals, or many rituals, and these may be incomplete or incorrect.

Content: A brief outline of the actual content of the knowledge source.

How unnatural knowledge can be acquired can be found in the FHTAGN Rulebook.

needle's eye rare languages in scenarios.

Texts of unnatural knowledge are sometimes written in rare or ancient languages about which the player characters have little or no knowledge. Such a text then quickly becomes the notorious eye of a needle in a scenario, where there is simply no way forward without a solution. This situation should be avoided as early as possible when writing a scenario. For this purpose, the game master can fall back on the following ideas:

  • Someone has already made a (perhaps only rough) translation that can be found with the original text.
  • There are helpful and legible handwritten marginal notes on the original text that facilitate the translation.
  • Dictionaries or other helpful literature can be found on site.
  • A non-player character helps with the translation (perhaps as part of a favor).
  • The relevant excerpt is only a few pages, which at least reduces reading time.
  • The text or relevant ritual is available in other forms (e.g., video).
  • The text is accompanied by diagrams or other helpful illustrations.

tomes of unnatural knowledge

Books containing unnatural knowledge are mostly old, exceedingly rare, very dangerous and always unique. Just to track down or get hold of such a book should never be trivial. To study it in depth should always have consequences for the reader. Some books have another special effect, in addition to the SAN loss during reading, that occurs during study. Others overwrite an existing motivation of the reader with a new, perhaps strange or dangerous motivation. In still other books, study directly triggers a mental disorder that also overwrites an existing motivation.

Tome Language Study
Azathoth and other Horrors English days; 1d6 SAN
Book of Azathoth Unknown Months; 1d10 SAN
Book of Dzyan Senzar / English weeks / days (translation); 1d10 SAN/ 1d6 SAN (translation).
Brick Cylinders of Kadatheron Language of the Dreamlands (to be read only in the Dreamlands) months; 1d4 SAN
CTHULHU CULT English days; 1d4 SAN
Daemonolatreiae Libri III Latin weeks; 1d6 SAN
Ilarnek Papyri Language of the Dreamlands (to be read only in the Dreamlands) weeks; 1d6 SAN
The King in Yellow English (or any other language) hours; 1d20 SAN
Liber Damnatus Damnationum Latin weeks; 1d6 SAN
The Nameless Book Latin weeks; 1d6 SAN
Necronomicon Arabic/Greek/Latin/English (depending on version) weeks (English)/months (all others); 1d6 (English)/1d10 SAN
Pnakotic Manuscripts Latin/Greek/Language of the Dreamlands (depending on edition) weeks/months (Dreamlands version); 1d4 SAN/1d8 SAN (Dreamlands version).
The Scientific reports of Dr. Herbert West English days; 1d6 SAN
The Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan Chinese/Language of the Dreamlands (primal version) days/weeks (primal version); 1d4/1d8 SAN (primal version)

Table overview tomes

The rituals mentioned are always suggestions for the book in question, and the game master may deviate from them as she sees fit.

Azathoth and other Horrors

Edward Pickman Derby's collection of nightmarish poetry

Language: English.

Study: days; 1d6 SAN.

Knowledge Gain: unnatural knowledge equal to the SAN lost in study.

Rituals Included: Dho Hna Formula, Call Entities (beings of the game master's choice), Music of the Spheres (as a lyrical paraphrase, a music must be devised to accompany it, which can only be done by someone trained in music).

Description: The disturbing poems of Edward Pickman Derby, just 18 years old, appeared in 1908 and describe nightmarish journeys to faraway places and bizarre, terrifying creatures - yes, even the center of nuclear chaos itself. The slim little book caused a scandal when it was published. Those who read these poems will spend the next 1d10 nights having extremely dark dreams: of immeasurable black abysses, the cold emptiness of the universe, hideous creatures in the dark, and Azathoth itself, the insane center of the universe.

The reader develops the mental disorder Azathoth's nightmares by reading the book. Whenever the player character loses more than 1 SAN or is confronted with the subject of Azathoth, another SAN test is due. If this fails, an acute episode of the disorder occurs and the player character suffers 1d6 nights of nightmares again, leading to exhaustion. With psychotherapy, the acute episode can be shortened quite regularly.

Young Derby‘s odd genius developed remarkably, and in his eighteenth year his collected nightmare-lyrics made a real sensation when issued under the title Azathoth and Other Horrors.

– The Thing on the Doorstep,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1933

book of azathoth

The Book of the Black Man

Language: Unknown.

Study: Months; 1d10 SAN.

Knowledge Gain: Unnatural knowledge equal to SAN loss on study; Dreaming +10%, knowledge of the bogeyman and the witch covens that worship him (special training).

Included Rituals: Aklo Sabaoth (Elder Thing), Dho Hna Formula, Prolongate Life, Call Entities (Elder Thing), Call Entities (Black Man), Gate in the Angles, Domination, Annihilation, Voorish Sign.

Description: This book is not found in any library. Rather, the Black Man - an avatar of Nyarlathotep - brings it with him when he appears. Perhaps he appears in a dream to a person who has attracted his attention. Or a witch may seduce someone to meet the bogeyman. Usually the bogeyman is invoked by witches.

In any case, the bogeyman demands that those who worship him write their name in the book with their own blood. He may even allow a glimpse of the book before demanding the signature - but eventually he will demand it. With her signature, the worshipper irrevocably commits herself and her soul to the Black Man and gains unrestricted access to the Book of Azathoth - but not in a physical way. The study of the book is possible only in dark nightmares. She assumes a new secret name, gains knowledge of the secret meeting places of other worshippers (covens), and peeks behind the merciful veil that shields our world from cosmic horror.

Besides the included rituals, the study of this book grants in-depth knowledge about the Black Man and his rites and a way to contact the Elder Thing. It is also possible for the worshipper to grant access to her body and the Earth to other entities in this way.

Those who have made contact with the Black Man and have had a glimpse of the book, but have not yet signed it in blood, do not receive the full gain in knowledge, but only 1d4 SAN loss and gain in unnatural knowledge and a ritual from the book.

Those who have gone this far and met the bogeyman, even held the book in their hands, are only one step away from doom. The reader, who has not yet signed in blood, receives a new motivation Use the power of the Black Man. Every time she is in a very difficult or threatening situation, the Black Man appears at the edge of her perception and makes a tempting offer of help - in exchange for the signature. Whether the game master has a SAN test or the player herself (much nicer) decide whether to accept this offer is up to her.

He must meet the Black Man, and go with them all to the throne of Azathoth at the centre of ultimate Chaos. That was what she said. He must sign in his own blood the book of Azathoth and take a new secret name now that his independent delvings had gone so far.

– The Dreams in the Witch House,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1933


Contains ancient secret knowledge from Tibet

Language: Senzar/English.

Study: weeks/days (translation); 1d10 SAN/1d6 SAN (translation).

Knowledge Gain: unnatural knowledge equal to SAN loss on study, knowledge of the Brotherhood of Dzyan (special knowledge).

Included Rituals: Aklo Sabaoth, Elder Sign, Call Entity (being of the game master's choice), Domination, Cause Harm, Vision (in the original version). Domination and Harm are missing in the translation by Madame Blavatsky.

Description: According to the occultist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831 - 1891), the Book of Dzyan is said to be ancient, written in a language unknown on Earth called Senzar, and to contain extensive secret knowledge about the world and the gods. It is said to be kept by a secret brotherhood in Tibet. Madame Blavatsky translated and annotated the Book of Dzyan in her work The Secret Doctrine (1888). However, the translation is flawed and contains less complete rituals than the original. Nevertheless, Blavatsky's work also contains a great deal of information on the Great Old Ones (namely Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth) as well as rites and cults around the world.

Those who have studied Blavatsky's book will receive the new motivation Finding the Secret Brotherhood and will do their utmost to locate the Secret Brotherhood of Dzyan in Tibet in order to get behind all the secrets of the book and learn the forgotten language of Senzar.

He had himself read many of them—a Latin version of the abhorred Necronomicon, the sinister Liber Ivonis, the infamous Cultes des Goules of Comte d'Erlette, the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, and old Ludvig Prinn's hellish De Vermis Mysteriis. But there were others he had known merely by reputation or not at all—the Pnakotic Manuscripts, the Book of Dzyan, and a crumbling volume of wholly unidentifiable characters yet with certain symbols and diagrams shudderingly recognizable to the occult student.

– The Haunter of the Dark,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1936

Brick Cylinders of Kadatheron

Ancient knowledge, carved in stone

Language: Language of the Dreamlands (can be read only in the Dreamlands).

Study: Months; 1d4 SAN.

Knowledge gain: unnatural knowledge equal to SAN loss on study, dreamland knowledge + 15%.

Rituals Included: Aklo Sabaoth (game master's choice), Cure, Call Entity (game master's choice), Domination, Sign of Koth.

Description: The Brick Cylinders of Kadatheron, a city in the land of Mnar in the Dreamlands, contain extensive knowledge about the story of the Dreamlands, the creatures and places that live here. The stone cylinders are bulky and heavy, and therefore can only be studied on site. To do this, the reader must spend numerous hours in the Dreamlands.

Those who have studied them in depth will gain the new motivation to continue the story. In the future, in difficult or stressful situations (e.g., high SAN losses), it will seem more and more tempting for the reader to search for refuge in the Dreamlands to continue writing history on the stone cylinders.

It is told that in the immemorial years when the world was young, before ever the men of Sarnath came to the land of Mnar, another city stood beside the lake; the gray stone city of Ib, which was old as the lake itself, and peopled with beings not pleasing to behold. Very odd and ugly were these beings, as indeed are most beings of a world yet inchoate and rudely fashioned. It is written on the brick cylinders of Kadatheron that the beings of Ib were in hue as green as the lake and the mists that rise above it; that they had bulging eyes, pouting, flabby lips, and curious ears, and were without voice.

– The Doom that came to Sarnath,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1920


Prof. Angell's collected papers

Language: English.

Study: days; 1d4 SAN.

Knowledge Gain: unnatural knowledge equal to SAN loss in study, special knowledge of Cthulhu Cult (special training).

Rituals Included: Call Entity ( Starbreed). This ritual can only be pulled from the text through extended study and in-depth additional research.

Description: A tin box contains the papers and information collected by Prof. Gamell Angell and his great-nephew and executor Francis Wayland Thurston, titled CTHULHU CULT.

The box includes the following mostly handwritten individual documents:

  • 1925: Dream and Dream Work of H.A. Wilcox, 7 Thomas St., Providence.
  • Account by Inspector John R. Legrasse, 121 Bienville St., New Orleans, La. at the 1908 meeting of the American Archaeological Society in St. Louis & notes on this account & supplementary information by Prof. Webb.
  • Notes on unusual dreams of various persons between February 28 and April 2, 1925, and excerpts from Theosophical books (e.g., W. Scott-Elliot's Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria) and notes on long-standing secret societies and hidden cults with references to Frazer's Golden Bough and Murray's Witch-Cult in Western Europe.
  • Numerous newspaper clippings from around the world on outbreaks of group madness, panic, sectarianism, gloomy visions of the future, voodoo orgies and riots in insane asylums, and an increase in mental illness in the spring of 1925.
  • The handwritten travel journal, written in English, of Norwegian sailor Gustaf Johansen, who describes a maddening encounter in the Pacific from the spring of 1925.
  • Thurston's own notes and conclusions drawn from the manuscript Johansen found.
  • In addition to the documents, the box contains a clay bas-relief depicting a tentacled monstrosity with wings (see also Idol of Cthulhu).

That was the document I read, and now I have placed it in the tin box beside the bas-relief and the papers of Professor Angell. […] But I do not think my life will be long. As my uncle went, as poor Johansen went, so I shall go. I know too much, and the cult still lives.

– The Call of Cthulhu,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1926

Daemonolatreiae Libri III

The witchcraft treatise of Nicolaus Remigius

Language: Latin.

Study: weeks; 1d6 SAN.

Knowledge Gain: unnatural knowledge equal to SAN loss on study, +5% on occult, knowledge of witches, witch cults, and witchcraft (special training).

Included Rituals: Elder Sign, Cure, Powder of Ibn Ghazi, Harm, Voorish Sign.

Description: The Demonolatria or Three Books of the Cult of the Devil by the judge and witch persecutor Nicolaus Remigius (or Nicolas Rémy) was published in 1595 and soon replaced the Hexenhammer as the most important witchcraft manual. In addition to many innocent victims of witch hunts and supposed "devil worshippers," Remigius also managed to arrest a few real worshippers of the Great Old One, however, and so some true information about witch cults and knowledge about the bogeyman actually found its way into his treatise. However, the rituals contained are written down in an extremely cryptic manner and can only be extracted through extensive and careful study.

The reader develops extraordinary, even exuberant, compassion for the innocent persecuted witches and gets a new disorder taking revenge on guilty people, triggered by helplessness through appropriate situations or SAN losses. But who is guilty and who is innocent? The boundaries often do not run as precisely as one would wish.

Dr Armitage slept, but was partly delirious the next day. [...] He would shout that the world was in danger, since the Elder Things wished to strip it and drag it away from the solar system and cosmos of matter into some other plane or phase of entity from which it had once fallen, vigintillions of aeons ago. At other times he would call for the dreaded Necronomicon and the Daemonolatreia of Remigius, in which he seemed hopeful of finding some formula to check the peril he conjured up.

– The Dunwich Horror,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1928


Ancient knowledge about the Dreamlands

Language: Language of the Dreamlands (can be read only in the Dreamlands).

Study: Weeks; 1d6 SAN.

Knowledge gain: unnatural knowledge equal to the SAN loss on study. +10 points to dreamland knowledge.

Rituals Included: Aklo Sabaoth (Hypnos), Aklo Sabaoth (Nodens), Dho Hna Formula, Cure, Prolongate Life, Seek Vision, Sign of Koth.

Description: The Ilarnek Papyri contain manifold knowledge about the Dreamlands and their inhabitants and about ancient creatures like the Being of Ib and their idol Bokrug, about submerged cities like the unfortunate Sarnath, about the gods of the Dreamlands (Hypnos, Nodens) and also about the terrible inhabitants of the underworld of the Dreamlands like the hideous Gugs and Ghasts. The game master can use this book, which may be found in the library of the cat city of Ulthar, to bring any knowledge about the Dreamlands to her players.

After reading it, the reader gains new motivation to find and visit Sarnath and Ib in the land of Mnar. Each SAN loss makes the longing for the Dreamlands greater, and it is quite possible that at some point the reader will begin to use dream-inducing drugs or use other methods to lengthen her sleep cycles and get closer to her goal. But what will happen when she actually finds the dead Ib shrouded in mist?

It is also written that [the beings of Ib] descended one night from the moon in a mist; they and the vast still lake and gray stone city Ib. However this may be, it is certain that they worshipped a sea-green stone idol chiseled in the likeness of Bokrug, the great water-lizard; before which they danced horribly when the moon was gibbous. And it is written in the papyrus of Ilarnek, that they one day discovered fire, and thereafter kindled flames on many ceremonial occasions. But not much is written of these beings, because they lived in very ancient times, and man is young, and knows but little of the very ancient living things.

– The Doom that came to Sarnath,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1920

the King in Yellow

The play that spreads madness

Language: English (or any other language).

Study: Hours; 1d20 SAN. Seeing the full play as an audience member is enough for the play to be considered "studied".

Knowledge Gain: unnatural knowledge equal to the amount of SAN lost while studying.

Rituals Included: Call Entity (King in Yellow).

Description: This myth-encircled play by an unknown author is said to bring madness and is literally spreading like a virus. And although it is banned by governments and denounced by churches, it continues to find new victims. The author, according to some accounts, shot himself. Others, however, claim he is alive and kicking.

The play is set in the mysterious town of Carcosa and consists of two acts. The characters are Cassilda, Camilla and the Stranger. The first act is harmless, almost ordinary, and ends with Camilla screaming in the gloomy streets of Carcosa. The very first lines of the second act, however, draw the reader in, and reading the entire second act leads to complete madness, as can be seen in the sad example of the American Hildred Castaigne.

The play is full of glittering, lucid truths that penetrate the mind of the reader like poison and initiate them into the mystery of the Hyades. It inevitably establishes a connection between the reader and the King in Yellow, bringing to light the deeply buried, unpleasant truths in her soul - be they unfulfilled feelings, perverted desires, or unattainable ambitions that the King in Yellow particularly encourages.

Moreover, the true meaning of the Yellow Sign is revealed in this play, even though the relationship in which Hastur and the King in Yellow stand to each other remains completely unclear.

Those who read the play in its entirety or watch it as an audience member feel almost compelled to discuss the play's content with others. The reader also develops an obsession (new mental disorder) to indulge her darkest ambition with passion.

During my convalescence I had bought and read for the first time, The King in Yellow. [...] I pray God will curse the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with this beautiful, stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, irresistible in its truth--a world which now trembles before the King in Yellow. […] It is well known how the book spread like an infectious disease, from city to city, from continent to continent […]

– The Repairer of Reputations in: The King in Yellow,

Robert W. Chambers, 1895

Liber Damnatus Damnationum

The ancient book of damnation

Language: Latin.

Study: Weeks; 1d6 SAN.

Knowledge Gain: Unnatural knowledge equal to SAN loss on study; +10% occult.

Rituals Included: Aklo Sabaoth (Yog-Sothoth), Bond through the ages, Eredicate Memories, Cure, Prolongate Life, Body Swap, Sign of Koth.

Description: This medieval work by an unknown monk contains extensive occult knowledge from the realms of alchemy, Jewish Kabbalah, and Christian mythology about demons and angels. However, the damned book, of which both handwritten and printed copies are known in small numbers, also contains much unnatural knowledge. Thus it has information on various Great Old Ones such as Yog-Sothoth and Azathoth but also in-depth information on Ghouls. One copy is said to have been in the possession of the warlock Joseph Curwen and one is rumored to be kept in the "Poison Collection" of Miskatonic University in Arkham.

In fact, the name of the book says it all: those who have studied it in depth will gain an invisible shadow that will accompany the reader at every turn in the future, becoming a little stronger, more visible, and yes, more independent with each SAN loss. At the latest when the stress limit is reached for the first time after reading, the shadow finally takes on a solid form - a copy of the reader made of pure blackness, but with a will of its own.

And IT said, that ye III Psalme in ye Liber-Damnatus holdes ye Clauicle. With Sunne in V House, Saturne in Trine, drawe ye Pentagram of Fire, and saye ye ninth Uerse thrice. This Uerse repeate eache Roodemas and Hallow’s Eue; and ye Thing will breede in ye Outside Spheres. And of ye Seede of Olde shal One be borne who shal looke Backe, tho’ know’g not what he seekes.

– The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1927

the nameless book

A black book of horror

Language: Latin.

Study: weeks; 1d6 SAN.

Knowledge Gain: unnatural knowledge equal to the SAN lost in study.

Rituals Included: Dho Hna Formula, Body Swap, Call Entities (at the game master's option), Open dimensional rift, Seek Vision, and other rituals at the game master's option.

Description: Each edition of this book is bound in a black, unadorned leather cover and the first pages are always missing, so the title and author, as well as the year and place of printing, are equally unknown. The pages are stained, damaged, worm-eaten. This work deals mainly with the misty realms between dimensions and travel through space and time. It deals with portals to those unknown dimensions - some of them actual places, others rituals that open portals - and with the beings that inhabit those geometry-less, unimaginable abysses. The book could well include information about the properties of unnatural entities, as well as knowledge about unimaginable life forms such as Dhole or Colour Out of Space.

The reader of this book learns - whether she wants to or not - the ritual Seek Vision. No ritual rehearsal is required to learn it, but full SAN costs apply. The ritual activates on its own (for the full SAN and WP cost) in the future for SAN losses of more than one point, at the game master's discretion, and grants the (involuntary) ritual caster insight into the past or future of a place she is currently in, or an object or person she is currently touching.

These cycles of experience, of course, all stem from that worm-riddled book. I remember when I found it—in a dimly lighted place near the black, oily river where the mists always swirl. That place was very old, and the ceiling-high shelves full of rotting volumes reached back endlessly through windowless inner rooms and alcoves. There were, besides, great formless heaps of books on the floor and in crude bins; and it was in one of these heaps that I found the thing. I never learned its title, for the early pages were missing; but it fell open toward the end and gave me a glimpse of something which sent my senses reeling.

– The Book,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1938


The Book of the Dead - Abdul Alhazred's encyclopedia of unnatural knowledge

Language: Arabic/Greek/Latin/English (depending on the version of the work).

Study: weeks (English)/months (other versions); 1d6 (English)/1d10 SAN.

Knowledge Gain: unnatural knowledge equal to SAN loss on study, +10% on occult.

Rituals Included: Aklo Sabaoth (Cthulhu), Aklo Sabaoth (Yog-Sothoth), Elder Sign, Banish, Dho Hna Formula, Erase Memories, Essential Salts, Cure, Body Swap, Powder of Ibn-Ghazi, Call Entities (Deep beings), Call Entities (of the game master's choice), Harm, Gate in the Angles, Annihilation, Voorish Sign, and any other ritual the game master wishes. The English translation lacks the Aklo Sabaoth, Banish, and Annihilation rituals, and may be otherwise flawed and incomplete in various respects.

Description: The book, whose Arabic original is also called Al Azif, was penned by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. The latter is said to have been born around the year 700 in Sanaá in Yemen and to have visited numerous mystical and dangerous places before settling in Damascus, where he wrote Al Azif from 730 AD. He was considered insane, claiming to have found the fabled Irem, the City of Pillars, and to have discovered records of a race older than mankind beneath the city. He then began worshipping unknown deities, whom he named Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu. In 738, Alhazred died - or disappeared - in a terrible way: Supposedly, he was seized and devoured by invisible monsters in the bright light of day.

His book, already feared, was translated into Greek as the Necronomicon ("Book of the Dead") in 950 by Theodorus Philetas in Constantinople, but was banned and burned by Patriarch Michael just 100 years later. In the Middle Ages, Olaus Wormius produced a Latin translation, which was printed in Germany in 1228 and probably reprinted in Spain in the 17th century. The Arabic original has been considered lost since the Middle Ages.

The Latin and Greek translations were banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232. Nevertheless, another printing of the Greek version appeared in Italy between 1500 and 1550. The English scientist, astrologer, and mystic John Dee (1527 to 1608 or 1609) produced an English translation at the end of the 16th century, but it is incomplete and different manuscript versions circulate.

Title Author/ Translator Year Language Place of publication Publication Known editions
Al Azif Abdul Alhazred (author) ca. 730 - 738 Arabic Damascus handwritten manuscript, parchment is considered lost
Necronomicon Theodorus Philetas 950 AD Greek Constantinople handwritten manuscript, parchment is considered lost
Necronomicon Theodorus Philetas 16th century (between 1500 - 1550) Greek Italy printed edition copy of the Pickman family possibly burned in Salem in 1692 or disappeared with R.U. Pickman in 1926
Necronomicon Olaus Wormius 1228 Latin Germany handwritten manuscript
Necronomicon Olaus Wormius 15th c. Latin Germany printed edition Starry Wisdom church (Federal Hill, Providence); British Museum (London); owned by an American millionaire; Joseph Curwen (Providence); Kingsport.
Necronomicon Olaus Wormius 17th c. Latin Spain printed edition Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris), Widener Library (Harvard), Miskatonic University (Arkham), University of Buenos Aires.
Necronomicon John Dee 16th c. English England fragmentary handwritten manuscript Wilbur Whateley (Dunwich)

Table: Editions of the Necronomicon

As a printed edition, the Necronomicon usually represents a tome of more than 800 pages. The tomes, printed in black Fraktur script, are usually bound in heavy leather and often have a bronze metal clasp.

The Necronomicon probably represents the best-known collection of knowledge about myth from a human pen. Thus it contains, among other things:

  • A description of the city of Irem in the Arabian Desert, which Alhazred himself visited.
  • Knowledge and rites concerning the Great Old Ones Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu, as well as the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep.
  • Descriptions and knowledge of Deep Ones, Ghouls, Shoggoths, and numerous other unnatural entities.
  • An outline of the Elder Thing and their cities in Antarctica.
  • Descriptions of mystical places like the lightless N'kai or the dreaded Plateau of Leng.
  • Drawings and descriptions of strange Artefacts like the Shining Trapezohedron or the Jade Amulet of Leng.
  • Descriptions of dimensional and time travel including astrological calculations and diagrams.
  • The story of the Black Pharaoh Nephren-Ka.

This list is not exhaustive, of course. The Necronomicon can contain any information the game master wishes to present to her players. However, not every piece of information in it has to be correct.

Those who have studied the Necronomicon in depth, like Abdul Alhazred once did when writing his work, attract the interest of beings from the spaces between dimensions. Any loss of control, any reaching of the breaking point, and any temporary episode of mental disorder will draw a roll on the W100. The probability of the appearance of the transdimensional beings is 50%. If the transdimensional beings find the reader, they will try to snatch her into their dimension and the reader's further fate remains uncertain.

N’gai, n’gha’ghaa, bugg-shoggog, y’hah; Yog-Sothoth, Yog-Sothoth.

The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. YogSothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth‘s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread.

– The Dunwich Horror,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1928

That is not dead which can eternal lie,

And with strange aeons even death may die.

– The Call of Cthulhu,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1926

Pnakotic Manuscripts

Fragments of prehuman knowledge

Language: Latin or Greek/language of the Dreamlands (depending on edition).

Study: Weeks or months (Dreamland version); 1d4 SAN/1d8 SAN (Dreamland version).

Knowledge Gain: Unnatural knowledge equal to SAN loss on study; Dreamland knowledge +10% (Dreamland version only); knowledge of the Great Race of Yith and their time travel (special knowledge).

Included Rituals: Aklo Sabaoth (Great Race of Yith), Elder Sign, Seek Thing, Cure, Gate in the Angles, Call Entities (Shoggoth), Call Entities (Elder Thing), Annihilation, Vision, Sign of Koth (other rituals as desired by the game master).

The fragmentary transcripts in the Waking World contain a maximum of two rituals as requested by the game master.

Description: The Pnakotic Manuscripts contain knowledge from prehuman times. They were named after the lost city of Pnakotus, a central library of the Great Race of Yith in present-day Australia, and presumably parts of the fragmentary manuscripts trace back to even older Yithian writings. The original Pnakotic Manuscripts were preserved by the people of the land of Lomar, which was probably in the area of present-day Greenland. They added other parts to the scrolls. When the capital of Lomar, Olathoë, was overrun, the scrolls passed with the remains of Lomar to the Dreamlands, where one of the original scrolls is said to still be in the temple city of Ulthar. It is said that Barzai the Wise studied the Pnakotic Manuscripts before setting out to climb Mount Hatheg-Kla in search of the gods of the Dreamlands.

Because of their origin, the Pnakotic Manuscripts are not a unified work, but rather a collection of different writings of various origins in languages that are sometimes incomprehensible today. They include:

  • Knowledge of the cities and culture of the Great Race of Yith including a chronicle of their story.
  • Some details about the Elder Thing and Shoggoths.
  • Information about the subterranean places of the Waking World, such as K'n-yan, the red-lit Yoth, and the black, lightless N'kai from which Tsathoggua came.
  • Knowledge of the lost land of Lomar and its inhabitants.
  • Knowledge of the story and places of the Dreamlands, and of the gods of Earth.
  • Some evidence seems to suggest that Mount Kadath in the Cold Wasteland of the Dreamlands may have a counterpart in the Antarctic city of the Elder Thing.
  • An ancient, illegible portion of the fragments contains a drawing of a seal similar to the one found on Mount Hatheg-Kla when searching for the missing high priest Barzai. A cyclopean symbol, 50 cubits wide, had been cut into the mountain as if by a gigantic chisel: the seal of the other gods (by which are most likely meant Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth, etc.).

Besides the original scrolls, which are said to be in Ulthar in the Dreamlands today, copies and excerpts of the Pnakotic Manuscripts also circulate in the Waking World. These are certainly fragments of the original texts rather than correct copies, and will accordingly contain only a portion of the knowledge and rituals.

Whoever studies the Pnakotic Manuscripts in their original form will receive a mental disorder blurring of reality. If an acute episode of the disorder is triggered by SAN losses or appropriate triggers, dream and reality blur for the reader for 1W6 days as described in Lovecraft's story Polaris. During this time, the reader mistakes reality for the dream and lives in her dreams.

Now it is told in the mouldy Pnakotic Manuscripts that Sansu found naught but wordless ice and rock when he climbed Hatheg-Kla in the youth of the world. Yet when the men of Ulthar and Nir and Hatheg crushed their fears and scaled that haunted steep by day in search of Barzai the Wise, they found graven in the naked stone of the summit a curious and Cyclopean symbol fifty cubits wide, as if the rock had been riven by some titanic chisel. And the symbol was like to one that learned men have discerned in those frightful parts of the Pnakotic Manuscripts which are too ancient to be read. This they found.

– The Other Gods,

Howard Phillip Lovecraft, 1933

It’s from N’kai that frightful Tsathoggua came—you know, the amorphous, toad-like god-creature mentioned in the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon and the Commoriom myth-cycle preserved by the Atlantean high-priest Klarkash-Ton.

– The Whisperer in Darkness,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1931


Laboratory journal of the mad genius Herbert West

Language: English.

Study: days; 1d6 SAN.

Knowledge Gain: unnatural knowledge equal to SAN loss on study; +10 points on chemistry and medicine.

Included rituals: Vital elixir, Powder of Ibn-Ghazi.

Description: The laboratory journal and diary describes West's trials and experiments with his Vital elixir from about 1905 - 1920, from his beginnings as a medical student at Miskatonic University in Arkham, through his trials in the Great War, to his trials in his own practice. The records show that West did not believe in the existence of a soul, but regarded biological and chemical processes as the cause of life, and so, in his opinion, the "state of death" should also be reversible in principle through scientific procedure, which he wanted to prove with his Vital elixir.

He started his experiments on small animals, but the solution must be different for different species, sometimes even for different specimens of the same species, and only very, very fresh bodies are considered for the experiments.

Anyone who has read these notes falls for the captivating thought of defeating death (new motivation Defeating Death). Each time a close person (e.g., a bond, another character, or a close non-player character) dies, the reader of the book is tempted to use the Vital elixir ritual on the deceased person (SAN test) or, if she has not already done so, she will then be eager to learn the ritual.

Holding with Haeckel that all life is a chemical and physical process, and that the so-called “soul” is a myth, my friend [Herbert West] believed that artificial reanimation of the dead can depend only on the condition of the tissues; and that unless actual decomposition has set in, a corpse fully equipped with organs may with suitable measures be set going again in the peculiar fashion known as life. That the psychic or intellectual life might be impaired by the slight deterioration of sensitive brain-cells which even a short period of death would be apt to cause, West fully realised.

– Herbert West – Reanimator,

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1922

the seven cryptical books of hsan

7 scrolls of cryptic knowledge

Language: Chinese/language of the Dreamlands (original version).

Study: days/weeks (original version); 1d4/1d8 SAN (original version).

Knowledge Gain: unnatural knowledge equal to SAN loss on study. Dreamland knowledge +10% (primal version in dreamlands only).

Rituals Included: Elder Sign, Dho Hna Formula, Call Entities (Dhole), Call Entities (Winged Servant), Call Entities (Ghoule), Prolongate Life, Annihilation. Excerpted transcripts in the Guard World usually contain only the knowledge and ritual of a scroll of the game master's choice.

Description: The oldest and most complete version of The Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan is kept in the form of seven ancient scrolls in the Temple of Ulthar in the Dreamlands. Whether the work originated in the Dreamlands or took root in the Waking World is unknown, as is whether Hsan is a person or rather a place.

Copies of individual scrolls or incomplete transcriptions have also made it back to the Waking World through persistent Chinese dreamers. There, the books are mostly attributed to a Chinese scholar named Hsan from the first millennium BC. In addition to Chinese copies, there are said to be at least English copies as well (Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan).

  • Book 1 - The Great Old Ones, Elder Sign.
  • Book 2 - Dimensional Travel, Dimensional Gates, Dho Hna Formula.
  • Book 3 - The Underworld of the Dreamlands, The Silver Key, Call Entities (Dhole).
  • Book 4 - Space, the center of the universe, distant planets, Call Entities (Winged Servant).
  • Book 5 - Ghouls and Cannibalistic Rites, Call Entities (Ghouls).
  • Book 6 - Divination and Astrology, Prolongate Life.
  • Book 7 - Cthulhu and its cults, Deep Ones, the return of R'lyeh, when the stars are right, Annihilation.

Those who have read all seven scrolls in the original suddenly see a pattern in everything, cryptic becomes clear, and all the puzzle pieces of knowledge seem to fall into place. The reader is given the mental disorder megalomania. Who knows and has read all this, can actually never be wrong, right?

In Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, once dwelt an old man avid to behold the gods of earth; a man deeply learned in the seven cryptical books of Hsan, and familiar with the Pnakotic Manuscripts of distant and frozen Lomar.

– The Other Gods,

Howard Phillip Lovecraft, 1933