Tuesday 28 June 2022

black books

 what if I ran a Call of Cthulhu game where the players were rare book collectors in New Orleans

1. Kitab al-Hufra. Book of unorthodox medical techniques from 9th-century Baghdad. Contains instructions for ectopic necromancy, the cultivation and extraction of kidney opals, and returning oneself to a childlike state of fluid consciousness through the practice of autotrepannation.

2. The Chaldean Agriculture. Farming manual from 9th-century Baghdad. Supposedly a translation of a 20,000-year-old Mesopotamian text. 1500 pages, mostly on how to grow crops, mixed with descriptions of Tammuz worship and the pagan rites of ancient Babylon. Mentions a spell for capturing dead souls in clay.

3. Mothallah Fragments. All that remains of an alien library that once orbited the star Mothallah. Secretly compiled by Omar Khayyam from transmissions received at his observatory in Isfahan. Histories of alien civilisations and a frustratingly incomplete recipe for interstellar travel.

4. The Necatrix. Written in medieval Andalusia by Fátima de Madrid as a reply to al-Ghazali’s Destruction of the Philosophers. Proves using pure reason that nothing can or could possibly ever exist. Contains instructions for “escaping history”, using only a wild lion and a labyrinth of mirrors.

5. The Book Of Melchizedek The Mage. 15th-century grimoire about a German Jew who travels to Jerusalem and meets an ancient warlock who teaches him the divine science of immortality, in exchange for his service to a Canaanite god. Summoning rituals in the form of word squares.

6. The Devil And His Dam. Manuscript of a 17th-century play, tentatively attributed to John Webster, in which an aspiring sorcerer sells his soul to the devil only to find that the devil owes its own soul to an even greater power. All known performances have ended with the theatre burning down.

7. De vermibus sub mundo. 17th-century scientific treatise on the nature of life below the Earth. Thought to have been written by the scholar Athanasius Kircher, following his descent into Vesuvius’ crater. Contains reference to a “reptilian empire” that lives in fear of something vast and coiled at the Earth’s core.

8. Le dictionnaire céleste. 19th-century catalogue of angels. Compiled by the occultist Jacques de Plancy shortly before his death, with the aid of an anonymous priest who the text describes only as Père Oeil. Striking illustrations. Officially repudiated by the Roman Catholic Church.

9. Confessions Of A Stowaway. The tale of an Irish opium addict who, carousing one night in Limehouse, climbs inside the hold of a mysterious black ship to fall asleep. He spends seven years sailing the dark oceans of the cosmos before returning to find only a single day has passed.

10. Mantua Codex. Found by detectives in the basement of an Italian aristocrat, shortly after his execution for the crime of nonconsensual immurement. Depicts the worship of the Spider-Faced-Queen-Of-Many-Holes. Likely translated from pre-Mayan texts by scribes of the Howler Monkey God.

i keep thinking about the Tarsioid Psalms and a secret tribe of tarsier men in the Philippines. bulging eyes in the forest at night. slowly unpicking the mosquito net and reaching in through the window with their long hooked tarsier hands