The Books of Life, vol. 1: Touch Me Not

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Welcome to our new series, “The Books of Life,” wherein I’ll take real-world books and turn them into Mythos tomes. (This post also feeds into the April RPG Blog Carnival theme, “Journals, Grimoires & Spell-Books,” that you can find over at Hereticwerks.)

While you might find copies of something called the Necronomicon at your local bookstore, you’re not likely to lose any sanity over a reading of it. But there are books, real books, out there in the world that can negatively affect the human heart. When I read Infinite Jest, (albeit over the course of a very long and dreary Washington winter) it plunged me into a deep depression. When I read American Psycho, I felt like my mind had been corrupted to its core (the novel isn’t the same 80s satire you’d expect from the film). So this week I’ve taken a real-world book, published in the eighteenth century, and statted it up for use in Call of Cthulhu. While these might normally be considered “Occult Books” under the rules for the seventh edition, there’s nothing saying we can’t push the boundary between the occult and the Mythos in our games.

The full title of the tome, in Latin, Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros. Anno 1057. Noli me tangere., translates as A most rare compendium of the whole magical art, systematized by the most famous masters of this art in the year 1057. Touch me not. The phrase “touch me not,” or “noli me tangere,” occurs in John 20:17, after Jesus has risen from the dead and encounters Mary Magdalene, instructing her not to touch him–take that little nugget and weave it into your scenarios for extra effect!

I first encountered Touch Me Not through a post at Hyperallergic that announced the release of a new facsimile edition. So yes, dear readers, you too can own a copy of a book that promises “horrifying consequences,” but you can also find a free digital version at the Wellcome Library, to browse to your heart’s content (and to make handouts from).

Because the text is more descriptive than instructional, it comes with a very high study length and relatively low Mythos Rating. That said, the Keeper can make its information vital to progression, and pass thirty weeks of study with something of a montage effect that shows the investigator going progressively insane.

–Noah

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Touch Me Not

(Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros. Anno 1057. Noli me tangere.)

German, anonymous, 1795

Written by an unknown but incurably insane author, this tome describes the use of psychoactives–“entheogens”–in the performance of evil rites. Its spells cover a hodgepodge of the Mythos, with no discernible link between them. The book has an ancient-feeling, worn black cover, and its pages have yellowed with age. Its illustrations are demoniacal, in brilliant, gaudy color, detailing human sacrifices, human-eating devils, magical runes, and aspects of the Grim Reaper who awaits the unwary reader. Languages within it include German, Latin, and Hebrew, and prove something of a linguist’s nightmare. Performing the rituals it describes always comes with a Sanity loss of 1D6.

Sanity Loss: 1D6+1

Cthulhu Mythos: +5/+10

Mythos Rating: 10

Study: 35 weeks

Suggested Spells: Prepare the Soul for Sacrifice (Apportion Ka), Aspect of the Demon Asmodai (Summon Byakhee), Aspect of the Demon Tiphour (Implant Fear), Fury of the Gorgon (Evil Eye), The Red Witch (Find Gate to Proxima Centauri), Shimmer of the Butterfly (Mirror of Tarkhun Atep), The Wizard in White (Mind Transfer)

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