Jump to content

CU: Cursed Books To Avoid?


Recommended Posts

This is a query to those more knowledgeable on the Mystic World of the Champions Universe than I.

 

Marvel has the Darkhold as its scary book to avoid, and the Cthulhu Mythos has ones like the Necronomicon and The King In Yellow.

 

What are titles that have been used in the Champions Universe for naming tomes of the darkest magic?

Link to post
Share on other sites

For the current official published Champions Universe, darkest magic book #1 would have to be the Liber Terribilis, aka "the Harrowing Book," discovered by Luther Black the founder of DEMON, which relates (metaphorically) the history of the five Kings of Edom whom Black sought to free in his apotheosis scheme, as well as the rites and rituals associated with them which form the basis for the most important initiations in DEMON. Black retained the Harrowing Book, but however his scheme fell out may have affected where it is now. You can read more about the Liber Terribilis in DEMON: Servants Of Darkness pp. 7 and 28.

 

There are some other possibilities from Hero publications which are more peripheral, but I'm a little pressed for time this morning. I'll be back later with more. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, Steve, let's see if we can find you some more dark light reading. 😈

 

The Mystic World pp. 90-91 sidebar names and briefly describes several artifacts from myth and legend, of such power that good-aligned mystics will use them only in extreme need. Power-hungry evil mages are more likely to seek them. Two of them can be counted as "books" (or at least written upon).

 

The Book of Thoth: Egyptian tales tell of a grimoire written by Thoth, god of magic. The spells in this scroll make its owner the master of all the powers of nature, gods, and the dead; he incidentally understands the speech of birds and beasts. A terrible curse protects the Book from mortal hands, though. The last person to seize the Book, the priest Na-nefer-ka-ptah, lost his entire family to the curse, and ended up as the grimoire’s ghostly guardian.

 

The Tablet of Destiny: The primal chaos-dragon Tiamat was the first owner of this tablet that ordains the laws of the universe and the social order. When the Mesopotamian gods defeated Tiamat’s army of monsters, they took the Tablet as well. When the storm-bird Anzu stole the Tablet, the gods lost their power. Perhaps the Tablet controls the relations between gods and the mortal world, in which case it could overthrow the Ban at a stroke. The tablet’s power comes from the Dragon, however, making it perilous in the extreme for mortals to wield.
 

A great deal of the text for The Mystic World was transcribed from an earlier Champions source book for 4E Hero, called The Ultimate Super Mage (on sale in the website store). That book actually gives Power stats for the Tablet of Destiny. Because of the strong continuity between TUSM and TWM, I believe it would be reasonable to mention an original creation from the former, also game-statted:

 

The Clavicle Infernalis: Translating as "the Key to Hell" or "Nether Key," this book is described as "the premier text of black magic." The spells it confers mostly involve the summoning and control of demons, and transporting beings to or from Hell, even transporting some of Hell's environment to Earth. But its spells take considerable time to cast, and if interrupted the caster suffers a disaster "of Biblical proportions" (specifics left to GM).

 

Finally, casting back into the pre-super history of the Hero Universe, we find:

 

The Bloodstained Scroll of Thronek: This item was the premier source on the lore of necromancy, inscribed by its namesake wizard, the first "master villain" of the Turakian Age -- see the book of that title for more info. After the defeat of Thronek, over centuries his Scroll would sometimes magically appear in the fastness of some great wizard, disappearing again after part of it was read. Thanks to that trick it's possible the Scroll could have survived to the present day. Kal-Turak/Takofanes long sought the Bloostained Scroll, so it might be in his possession. If it's elsewhere the likeliest place to look would be the closed stacks of the Library of Babylon, which has some Turakian-era volumes.
 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, I remembered another tome that might qualify, the Scroll of Andrith, the mystic writings of Andrith the Golden, prince of the Lemurians and one of their greatest sorcerers. Andrith was responsible for the spell that extended the Lemurians' life span at the cost of their native reptilian forms and shape-shifting powers, and that is among the spells in the Scroll. The Scroll was discovered on Monster Island in three fragments, each held by a different party. (See MI for more details.)

 

BTW Steve, were you interested in any of the "good books" of magic?

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is also The Diary Of Archmago, which seems to be a normal diary of a mystical supervillain. It is full of personal thoughts about shopping runs in Babylon and other mundane things.

 

...but under the right spells and circumstances and equipment reveals each and every part of his dark workings, and a few spells which makes the reader who is not Archmago crazy. Assuming they can decipher the spells which hides the true text away.

 

This is an original thing. You won't find this in any Hero book...yet.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In general, the notebooks and tools Archimago left behind are much sought after by mystics looking for an easy route to power. But the many debts he incurred in life to the great occult powers are still being paid through the influence of those items, so they're risky to use. (The origin of Evil Eye, in Champions Villains Volume Three, is an outstanding example.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ultimate Mystic p. 173 describes the Raudhskinni and Graskinni, or "Red Skin" and "Gray Skin," legendary books of black magic from Iceland's folklore. They aren't formally part of the CU, but as folklore they can be grandfathered in. Instead of posting the relevant text, I suggest supporting HERO Games by buying the actual book.

 

Dean Shomshak

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Oh, I remembered another tome that might qualify, the Scroll of Andrith, the mystic writings of Andrith the Golden, prince of the Lemurians and one of their greatest sorcerers. Andrith was responsible for the spell that extended the Lemurians' life span at the cost of their native reptilian forms and shape-shifting powers, and that is among the spells in the Scroll. The Scroll was discovered on Monster Island in three fragments, each held by a different party. (See MI for more details.)

 

BTW Steve, were you interested in any of the "good books" of magic?

Sure, I am interested in those too.

 

My initial post was to inquire if there was an equivalent to the Necronomicon or Marvel's Darkhold in the CU, to find out what is the most legendary tome of darkness in the setting. It sounds like Liber Terribilis is the CU equivalent of those two books.

Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Steve said:

My initial post was to inquire if there was an equivalent to the Necronomicon or Marvel's Darkhold in the CU, to find out what is the most legendary tome of darkness in the setting. It sounds like Liber Terribilis is the CU equivalent of those two books.

 

I am inclined to agree, particularly in dealing with Things Man Was Not Meant To Know.

 

55 minutes ago, DShomshak said:

Ultimate Mystic p. 173 describes the Raudhskinni and Graskinni, or "Red Skin" and "Gray Skin," legendary books of black magic from Iceland's folklore. They aren't formally part of the CU, but as folklore they can be grandfathered in. Instead of posting the relevant text, I suggest supporting HERO Games by buying the actual book.

 

That book is an excellent reference for anyone interested in adapting real-world myth, legend, and occultism to gaming -- thorough and well-researched, but not overwhelming in detail and interestingly written. It's actually light on Hero-system stats, being mostly devoted to background information and suggestions, and isn't tied to any particular genre or setting, making it useful as a general gaming resource.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Lord Liaden  I want to thank you for being such a tireless cheerleader for the Champions Universe and keeper of the lore.  I've never been a big fan of the CU, but it's starting to grow on me more.  And thanks to @DShomshak for writing The Ultimate Supermage, which eventually became The Ultimate Mystic, The Mystic World, and Arcane Adversaries!

Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, Steve said:

Sure, I am interested in those too.

 

In that case, the Krypticon (Mystic World, p. 57, 88-9) is the CU's equivalent of the Book of the Vishanti. Held for millennia by Earth's Archmage, presumed destroyed with the last Archmage, but you never know. Would I have statted it if it was meant to be lost forever?

 

Here are some unofficial books of magic and lore I posited for my playtest campaigns, so some references are campaign-specific and not CU-compliant. I don't think any of them turned up in play, though. I can spin out this stuff by the yard.

 

SEPHER GILGALIM
    The "Book of Whirling Motion" teaches thaumaturgy from a foundation of Hebrew Kabbalism. Mages have kept it secret for centuries. Understanding the Sepher Gilgalim requires an expert knowledge of kabbalism. The book is specially meant to carry on from the Sepher Yetzirah or "Book of Formation," which tells how cosmic forces link the realm of archetypes to the worlds of physical manifestation, but a student also ought to read other kabbalistic texts such as the Sepher Raziel, Sepher Sephiroth and of course the great Zohar. Sepher Gilgalim tells how to put this theory into practice.

 

LIBER ASCLETARIONIS
    The "Book of Ascletarion" is the grimoire of a Roman mage. It has become one of the most popular handbooks for thaumaturgy in the western world, thanks to the copious annotations added by later mages. Ascletarion was an early Neo-Platonist and describes his magic in those terms. The later commentators added comparisons to Hermetic and kabbalist magic theory.


    Ascletarion's grimoire is a good source of information about magical doings in 1st century Rome, because the magus also tossed in anecdotes about supernatural people and events around him. Ascletarion was also a prophet: He correctly predicted that the emperor Domitian would be eaten by dogs after his death. Liber Ascletarionis incidentally includes twenty prophecies about the future, all of which have been fulfilled. The last one to be fulfilled concerned the establishment of a lineage of Guardians of Light to oppose a lineage of Sons of Darkness.

 

PATTERNS OF GEOMETRICAL SYMBOLISM
    This eight-volume monograph by folklorist I. O. Morlinger (Oxford University Press, 1922) is one of the last examples of a particular academic genre: the exhaustive, cross-cultural study that attempts to Explain It All. Modern anthropologists and ethnologists reject this universalist approach, and charge that the 19th and early 20th century savants who used it relied on their imaginations more than on hard data. Nevertheless, Morlinger's book is the most definitive study of its kind.


    Morlinger studied the meanings that different cultures ascribe to shapes and patterns such as circles, triangles, stars, crossed lines, and so on. He drew his examples from dozens of archaic and modern cultures, including their occult traditions. Morlinger claimed to find universal patterns of such symbolism. Some he decided were the result of common experiences: For instance, the horizon is circular, so every culture uses the circle as a symbol of totality and completion. He thought that other patterns of symbolism, however, indicated a "primitive and intuitive awareness of forces and motions in the æther," with some rather strained comparisons to physics.


    A thaumaturge realize that Morlinger almost figured out some of the basic principles of thaumaturgy. His book is useful for magicians who investigate the fundamentals of their craft.

 

DU PLESSIS CANON
    The premier thaumaturgical textbook of Tetragrammaton was written in 1638 under the patronage of Cardinal Armand du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu. The famous Cardinal Richelieu was not himself a sorcerer but his librarian Jacques Gafferel was. Even master thaumaturges find political connections and royal funding useful: Tetragrammaton and Richelieu allied to curb the Spanish and Austrian Hapsburgs and the Hermetic ritual magicians they supported. When Gafferel and other Tetragrammaton members wrote a new textbook of thaumaturgy and mystical cosmology, they dedicated it to their patron.


    The Du Plessis Canon consists of six thick volumes, organized according to Zoa cosmology and the six days of creation. The first volume, associated with the 1st day's creation of light, deals with magic that does not call upon extradimensional beings. The succeeding four volumes introduce the Four Zoas and magic that calls upon dimension lords aligned to each Zoa. Volume Two associates Urthona (Art) with the 2nd day (separation of waters). Volume Three associates Tharmas (Nature) with the creation of dry land and plants. Volume Four (creation of sun, moon and stars) is linked to Urizen (Order). Volume Five (birds and fish) is linked to Luvah (Chaos). Volume Six (beasts and man) discusses various unaligned dimension lords and magic that calls upon them. Much of the symbolism in the Canon is Christian Kabbalist; for instance, the Four Zoas are described as the four Holy Living Creatures from Ezekiel's vision, while dimension lords are called Sons of God.


    Authentic copies of the Du Plessis Canon are written in Latin. They bear the Richelieu arms on the cover, and are enchanted so that they reveal their true contents only to someone who touches the heraldic device and says the four Guiding Words of the Magus: Scire (To Know), Velle (To Will), Audere (To Dare), Tacere (To Keep Silent). Otherwise, each volume appears to be a copy of Richelieu's autobiography.

 

SELEUCID SCROLLS
    During the Hellenistic period, the School of Antioch was the largest alliance of thaumaturges in the Western world (just as the School of Alexandria was the largest alliance of proto-Hermetic ritual magicians). The School of Antioch preserved thaumaturgical texts dating back all the way to Shamballah and Agharti, including texts from empires erased from history. The thaumaturges also wrote extensive commentaries on the elder texts, and accounts of all sorts of supernatural events in the eastern Mediterranean. Some of these books are noteworthy enough to receive titles of their own.


    Later magicians call the books collected and written by the School of Antioch the Seleucid Scrolls because the School flourished most during the 4th-3rd centuries B.C. when Antioch was the largest city of the Seleucid Empire. Tetragrammaton estimates that it owns about 1/3 of the Seleucid texts. The others are lost and most probably destroyed. Tetragrammaton goes to considerable lengths to recover lost Seleucid Scrolls, if any should turn up.

 

BLOOD ANNALS
    This ancient book is a first-hand account of vampiric activity in the eastern Mediterranean region. The author, a vampire called Enceladus, dwelled in Antioch during the 3rd century B.C. In his diary, Enceladus records the activities of himself and other vampires. Since Antioch was one of the largest and most important cities of the Hellenistic world, nearly every Western vampire passed through the city at least one in that century. They gave Enceladus reports of their activities from Persia to Spain. Even better for later scholars, Enceladus compared accounts and pointed out where they contradicted each other or information he gained from mortal travelers.


    In passing, Enceladus gave much information about the origin and history of vampires, their relationship to the Dragon, and all manner of other supernatural events in the Hellenistic world -- including the School of Antioch, which was a continual threat to the city's vampires. According to the Blood Annals, the 3rd century B.C. saw a struggle between vampires who remained loyal to the Dragon and undead who sought power for themselves alone; Enceladus himself was an independent vampire of little ambition, who preferred to keep a low profile.


    According to the introduction to the Blood Annals, the School of Antioch eventually destroyed Enceladus and added his diaries to the Seleucid Scrolls. The Blood Annals remain the single best source of information about vampires in the Classical world.

 

TESTAMENT OF IALDABAOTH
    Occult scholars believe that the mage Menander, a pupil of Simon Magus, wrote this anonymous Gnostic gospel and grimoire. The Testament calls the Four Zoas and other cosmic conceptual entities the Pleroma -- the sum of the truly transcendent powers -- and refers to the gods of Greater Earth as the Aeons. The Testament describes the Aeons as "reflections" of the Pleroma within the "mirror" of human thought and the Astral Plane. Yahweh is another name for Ialdabaoth, the most powerful of the Aeons. Although Ialdabaoth and the Aeons try to limit humanity and bind souls to themselves, powers from the Pleroma sometimes possess Aeons to reveal higher truths to saints and prophets. The Testament presents itself as one such revelation, granted by the Christ through the medium of Ialdabaoth.


    Both thaumaturges and ritual magicians find the Testament useful -- if they can make sense of its opaque writing, which combines allusions to Jewish, Christian, Greco-Roman and Egyptian myths and gospels with the obscure jargon of Gnosticism itself. The Testament tells how magical power flows from the Upper Planes through the Outer planes to the Inner Planes and ultimately to Earth. It also describes the state of the spirit world in the Classical era. Many grimoires tell how to call upon spirits, but the Testament is almost unique among Classical texts in explaining precisely how ritual shapes the Astral Plane and compels spirits to serve.

 

AVERNUS CHRONICLES
    This book tells about demonic and Satanic activity in 17th century Italy. The author was a Florentine apothecary whose brother channeled Zontar Bok in a partnership that lasted almost 30 years. The Avernus Chronicles tell about the rise of the Sylvestri clan. They also give an account of Caibarien of Agharti, who possessed a Florentine woman and deceived Zontar Bok into becoming her lover for a short time.

 

PROPHECIES OF HYDATIUS
    In the late 10th and early 11th centuries, the Byzantine monk Hydatius wrote this book of prophecies about events a millennium in the future. Hydatius describes airplanes, automobiles, genocides, skyscrapers and superbeings, though he focuses on supernatural events such as the greater plots of the Devil's Advocates. He included a prophecy about the end of the Guardians of Light lineage and the concomittant Second Coming of Christ -- or the birth of the Antichrist, he's not sure which. Hydatius did not understand much of what he saw, and so his poetic imagery is hard to interpret.


    Hydatius was burned as a heretic. His manuscript has remained little-known since then, chiefly because sorcerers who knew of it also knew that it would not become relevant for centuries to come.

 

RECORD OF THE BIAFRAN WORKINGS
    From 1969-70, Archimago dwelled in Nigeria, where the Biafran Civil War caused massive death from war and starvation. Archimagi used the concentrated misery to power many potent rituals, including rituals of prophecy. He wrote accounts of 12 times in the next 100 years when the world could end. Naturally, he wrote his prophecies in deliberately obscure fashion, using a code of symbolism keyed to Satanic, Edomite and Qliphothic cults and magic. Archimago meant the Biafran Workings to be an instruction book, not a warning. In the ensuing decades, however, copies of the Biafran Workings fell into the hands of sorcerers who did not want an apocalypse. As usual with these things, the prophecies only make sense once it is almost too late.

 

Dean Shomshak

Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, DShomshak said:

In that case, the Krypticon (Mystic World, p. 57, 88-9) is the CU's equivalent of the Book of the Vishanti. Held for millennia by Earth's Archmage, presumed destroyed with the last Archmage, but you never know. Would I have statted it if it was meant to be lost forever?

 

 

Another grimoire in that category is the Book of Z'orr Z'ann, scribed by a powerful wizard of ancient Atlantis. Apparently intelligent to some extent and telepathic, the book "chose" Catherine Hayes, wife of the first Meteor Man, to learn its secret spells and become a champion of Order. Catherine took the identity of Lady Mystery, a member of the world's first superhero team, the Defenders of Justice. (See Golden Age Champions.)  After retirement she passed the book on to a young heroine called Hex, but it's said to have later been destroyed. But as with Dean's example, in comics a plot device being destroyed is as guaranteed as a character being dead. ;)

 

I should also mention that the Irish super mage Dweomer tricked the arch-devil Mephistopheles into giving him a powerful book of magic, The Illumination of Kalchizadek. That datum is recorded in Champions Universe: News Of The World p. 154, but with no further details and no description of the book itself. One gets the impression that it isn't evil, though.
 

50 minutes ago, Tech said:

Let's see... cursed book to avoid? Howabout the original European Enemies with your 5d6 Energy Blast with +1 Stun Multiplier? :D

 

TBH that was the first book that came to my mind when I saw the thread title. :snicker:

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Chris Goodwin said:

@Lord Liaden  I want to thank you for being such a tireless cheerleader for the Champions Universe and keeper of the lore.  I've never been a big fan of the CU, but it's starting to grow on me more.  And thanks to @DShomshak for writing The Ultimate Supermage, which eventually became The Ultimate Mystic, The Mystic World, and Arcane Adversaries!

 

You're too kind, Chris. 😌

 

I also want to tout two more of Dean's 4E books, the Super Mage Bestiary and Creatures of the Night: Horror Enemies, both of which can be purchased in PDF from the website store. Elements from those were also woven into the fabric of the current CU, but they both also contain a great many splendid characters and much other cool stuff which didn't get reprinted for 5E/6E. I highly recommend them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Let us not forget the most accursed tome of them all--Seduction Of The Innocent.  The work of the conformist scholar and covert magician Frederic Wertham, contained betwixt its lines of text and "scholarly" arguings, are subliminal incantations and charms designed to bewitch the unwary and the weak minded into following along with his miserable, deplorable campaign to suppress creativity and freedom of thought, to stifle beyond reviving the notion that great power could--and should--be used to protect the weak and defenseless, and advance the greater good.  All in the name of instilling and promoting "Appropriate Behavior."

 

A thousand thousand curses upon Wertham and all his Dark Disciples!  May they be condemned forever to reside in the pseudo-intellectual prisons of compliance and repression they have constructed for themselves!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...