TUO 4: The Annotated Unspeakable Oath 4

The Unspeakable Oath 4

The Unspeakable Oath 4

By John Tynes, © 1994.

The Unspeakable Oath 4 established firmly in my mind that it took an entire semester to produce an Oath. We began this issue right after GenCon as school started back (this was the fall of 1991, the beginning of my Junior year of college) and didn’t get it done til almost Christmas.

Somewhere in this time I learned from “the new Lovecraft circle” (Kevin Ross, Scott Aniolowski, Keith Herber and others) about a new Cthulhu Now book in the works at Chaosium called The Stars Are Right! I got busy and wrote up a scenario in record time, loosely based on a 1920s scenario I’d recently run, which was in turn loosely based on a 1980s crime novel called Because the Night (I think) by one of my favorite writers, James Ellroy. I got it written, submitted, and accepted in record time and then — wonder of wonders — TUO artist Blair Reynolds was selected to do the artwork! Nifty. So it was that “Nemo Solus Sapit” saw print in 1992’s The Stars Are Right! with a scenario by myself and artwork by Blair. That was fun, and also seemed like a sign that Pagan and the Oath were really getting somewhere.

TUO4 was also notable for something rather odd — frontal nudity on the cover of the magazine. Blair’s cover for this issue showed a priestess dancing about with her breasts exposed. We received no direct reprimand for this, a real taboo in gaming, although we had second-hand reports of some game shops selling it from behind the counter. I suppose it may have had something to do with the fact that the woman in the picture had six arms and a tentacle where her head used to be. Not exactly a pin-up queen…

This collection contains the complete contents of TUO4, lacking artwork and four articles. Missing are “American Shotguns, 1860-1940” by John H. Crowe, III (which has been superceded by his definitive work “The Weapons Compendium,” available in our mail order catalog), “From the Investigative Journals of Mikhail Aksakov,” (fiction by Blair Reynolds for which we could not secure permission to reprint), “Creatures & Cultists,” (which has been reprinted in a mass-market edition), and “Remnant” (Blair Reynolds’ serial graphic novel).

All annotations by me are enclosed in brackets, and are ©1994 John Tynes.


The Dread Page Of Azathoth
by John Tynes

Scream And Scream Again
by Divers Hands

The Paranoia Files
by Philip H. Garland

A Visit To Dunwich: A Typical Dunwich Farm
by Keith Herber and John Tynes

A Visit to Dunwich: Earth, Sky, Soul
by John Tynes

The Eye Of Light And Darkness
by John Tynes

From the Journals of Alexander Hale, Ph.D.: The Tablets of Destiny
by C. Raymond Lewis

Mysterious Manuscripts
by Thomas Stratman, Scott David Aniolowski and Brian Bevel

The Case Of Mark Edward Morrison
by Mark Morrison

A Tale Of Terror: To All The Shapes At Sea
by Per Okerstrom

Dark Denizens of Dreams and Beyond: The Mythos Additions of Clark Ashton Smith
by Scott David Aniolowski

Message In A Bottle
by Jeff Barber


So much for TUO4! And so much for The Annotated TUO; at present, this series will go no further. TUO5 through TUO8/9 all had the same print run (3,000 copies) and aren’t nearly as hard to find as the first four issues are.

In retrospect, TUO4 is a real hodge-podge. Late in development I tried to retrofit a theme to the issue, namely violence and mayhem. Despite a few moments of serendipity (like Mark Morrison coincidentally turning in a column on that very topic) I don’t think my half-hearted attempt at a theme succeeded.

However, the material is good. I think this was the most useful issue of the first four in terms of the variety and quality of the articles. Be aware, though, that the most notable inclusion isn’t included — Creatures & Cultists, our satirical card game, made its debut in this issue in all its cardstock glory. C&C didn’t receive proper playtesting until our mass-market edition with the perforated cards, and the early version that appeared in TUO4 was a bit of a mess. But it was a real stretch for us and a lot of fun besides.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little 4-part tour of our origins. There’s a lot of good stuff in these files that you may have never seen before. It’s not the same as being there in the first place, but it’s better than not being there at all. Be seeing you!

Introduction to The Annotated Unspeakable Oath

This is a series of freely-distributable text files that presents the textual contents of early issues of THE UNSPEAKABLE OATH, the world’s premiere digest for Chaosium’s CALL OF CTHULHU ™ role-playing game.

Each file contains the nearly-complete text from a given issue. Anything missing is described briefly with the file, and is missing either due to copyright problems or because the information has been or will be reprinted in a commercial product.

Everything in this file is copyrighted by the original authors, and each section carries that copyright. This file may be freely distributed provided that no money is charged whatsoever for its distribution. This file may only be distributed if it is intact, whole, and unchanged. All copyright notices must be retained. Modified versions may not be distributed — the contents belong to the creators, so *please* respect their work.

Abusing my position as editor and instigator of the magazine and this project, I have taken the liberty of adding comments to some of the contents where I thought I had something interesting or historically worth preserving to say. Yeah, right!

–John Tynes, © 1994

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