By Thomas Stratman, © 1994
[This article contained the second in our series of special inclusions or "goo-gaws," the first being the cardstock figures and pull-out maps of TUO2's "Grace Under Pressure." The following article presents an auction of occult memorabilia for investigators attend. In the center of TUO3 was a sheet of high-quality almond-color linen paper, on which we designed a brochure for the auction to use as a handout. Each item was accompanied by an illustration, and there was an introduction to the auction plus a crest and logo representing the auction house holding the event. When this article was reprinted in 1992's COURTING MADNESS we went a step further, and re-did the brochure on a special marbled brochure stock that was folded and slipped into the book. —John Scott Tynes, 1994]
In two Chaosium scenarios, “The Auction” and “Thoth’s Dagger,” the action centers around auctions of occult paraphernalia. The following is a set of items appropriate for just such an auction, all of which were formerly the property of an Hebrew/Egyptian historian. Keepers might wish to drop it into Horror on the Orient Express.
In the center of this issue of TUO you will find a brochure to the auction, being put on by the Ausbergs of Austria (see “The Auction” in Cthulhu Casebook for details). This brochure contains a few introductory notes for the bidders, as well as descriptions of the items offered for bid. It is printed on heavy stock, and should be removed from the magazine, folded accordion-style, and handed out to the players.
The descriptions in the catalog are repeated below. In addition, options are provided for making each item into a genuine occult or Mythos artifact with unusual powers. Keepers can pick and choose which items they wish to imbue with such powers, thereby ensuring that players will be kept on their toes. Making more than half of these items into powerful occult magic is not recommended.
Lot 1. Toy Barge
Circa 2000 BC (Egypt)
minimum bid: $200
Complete. Unusual. Child’s toy of Egyptian Burial Barge made of Sycamore wood. Workmanship is very fine.
Condition: Good. Several moving parts.
Optional: A History, Occult, or Egyptology roll will reveal that the barge is not a toy. It is a representation of the vessel that was used to carry the soul of the departed to the afterlife. These models were placed at the foot of the burial case for use by the spirit of the deceased for their voyage to the afterlife.
When someone is alone with this barge and opens the lid to the mummy case they will be immediately attacked by the spirit of the Pharaoh Uzrahotep, a ruler of Egypt before the drying of the Sahara. He has a vaguely cat-like appearance, owing to his worship of Bast. Uzrahotep will attempt to possess the investigator by draining their POW to zero through a series of POW vs. POW confrontations. Many game possibilities exist.
Spirit of Uzrahotep: INT 18, POW 26.
Goal: Protection of holy Egyptian sites.
Lot 2. Ornate Locket
Circa 1800 AD (Palestine)
minimum bid: $200
Redbud wood box with sturdy brass reinforcements and thick steel neck chain. Handmade by the deceased. Contents unknown. Locket does not open. Engraved designs of possible Kabbalistic origin. Unique item.
Condition: Very Fine.
Optional: Inside is the dried core of a Lloigor’s brain. If worn, it conveys a 10% bonus to all Luck rolls made by there wearer. If the locket is busted open, the contents appear to be an uncut ruby that will glow slightly in total darkness. It will lose its light when danger is imminent.
Carbuncle of Power: Twenty carats. Hit Points: 5 (locket), 20 (carbuncle).
Lot 3. Stone Pharaoh’s Head
Circa 1400-1300 BC (Egypt)
minimum bid: $400
Exquisitely carved Limestone head depicting an unknown pharaoh of both Upper and Lower Egypt. Unusual. Fair craftsmanship.
Condition: Good. Blemished on base.
Optional: The head represents an Egyptian mystic. A Geology roll will reveal that the blemish on the base is caused by an air pocket within the solid rock. A Mythos spell scroll is preserved inside; the only way to retreive it is to smash the stone head. An Archeology or Egyptology roll will suggest that the crown of the “pharaoh” is too short. A second roll will indicate that the figure is in fact of a holy man honored by the pharaoh with the authority to act in his name.
Scroll: Spell(s) left to the Keeper’s discretion. The stone head has 18 hit points.
Lot 4. Alabaster Dish
Circa 1300 BC (Egypt)
minimum bid: $200
Egyptian eating dish. Part of a 10 piece set. Known pieces on display at the Smithsonian, the Louvre, the Penhew Foundation, the Mueseuminsel, and the National Egyptian Museum of Cairo. Rare. Fine workmanship.
Condition: Very Good.
Optional: Each piece of this table setting contains 10% of a forgotten Lesser Other God known as Golothess. He was bound and separated into these ten pieces by Yig during a time of great battles. Multiple story possibilities exist.
Golothess: STR 40, CON 100, SIZ 18, INT 8, POW 60, DEX 10, HP 60, Move 5, Armor: blunt weapons do 1 point; -3 points from cutting weapons due to flabby rubbery skin.
Spells: can summon Moonbeasts at will.
Description: Golothess resembles and has a similar domain as the Greek god Bacchus.
Lot 5. Egyptian Ceremonial Dagger
Circa 2800 BC (Upper Egypt)
minimum bid: $350
Excellent workmanship. Formed of the purest silver. Handle design in the form of an Ibis head. Blade engraved in Demotic Hieroglyphs. One of a pair.
Condition: Good. Nicked on blade.
Optional: See “Thoth’s Dagger,” in Cthulhu Classics for details. Or, the dagger will always do a minimum of one point of damage against any mythos being it strikes.
Dagger: DAM 1D4, HP 15.
Lot 6. Book, Egyptian Grammar
Circa 1909 AD (North America)
minimum bid: $50
1500 pages, leather bound. Out of print first edition. Monograph on conversational Egyptian. Written by Alan Gardiner. Rare. Signed by author.
Optional: See “Thoth’s Dagger,” in Cthulhu Classics for details. Using this book will give a +50% in Hieroglyphics translation. The author’s inscription reads “read behind the lines, (signed) Alan Gardiner.” Hidden in the binding is a paper with four shifting magical heiroglyphs on it, 0/1 SAN loss to view. They generate a feeling of great wonder and fear. If deciphered and pronounced, the speaker must make a POW resistance roll versus a POW of 5. Failure leads to sudden death, due to a brain aneurysm. A successful roll sends the speaker into immediate slumber. When they awake, they will have gained great knowledge of the Dreamlands: +20 points of Dream Lore – and will know how to visit there again.
Lot 7. Papyrus Scrolls
Circa 1500 BC (Egypt)
minimum bid: $500
Unique. Six papyrus scrolls in excellent condition. Full copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, with marginal notes written in an unknown Demotic dialect.
Optional: Contains spells to help recently departed souls find their way to the afterlife. See “Thoth’s Dagger,” in Cthulhu Classics for details. The marginal notes are written in code. A successful Heiroglyphics roll and an impaled Know roll are needed to decipher and translate. The notes are written by a grave robber, and describe three trips he made into the tomb of Cheferin, a high priest of Ptah. The robber never got farther than the outer room, but took at least half of what was there. The directions he gives are sketchy at best. The tomb has not been found by modern archeologists.
Lot 8. Seal of Solomon
Circa 900 BC (Near East)
minimum bid: $500
Six-pointed, engraved star (Hebraic Star of David). Formed by two intertwined equilateral triangles. One golden engraved in Hieratic characters. One platinum engraved in Hebrew lettering. Exquisite workmanship. Unusual.
Optional: Provides its possessor with immunity to normal diseases and acts as an Elder Sign.
Lot 9. Ceramic Vial
Circa 1300 BC (Arabia)
minimum bid: $200
A yellow-brown ceramic vessel. Contains an unknown liquid. Sealed with wax cork. Inscribed in Ancient Hebrew. Very good workmanship. Common.
Optional: This liquid will cure up to five hit points of wounds at the rate of one per minute. There are three doses. Successful Chemistry and Botany rolls will reveal that the component plants are extinct and can not be duplicated.
Lot 10. Robe of Office
Circa 1000 BC (Judea)
minimum bid: $600
Exquisitely embroidered robe and cloak of light wool. Gold and silver threads sewn into design on front mantle. Symbols indicate office of Judge. A centerpiece addition to any museum or collection. Exquisite workmanship and fine condition. Unusual.
Optional: If, while wearing this robe, the investigator performs the ritual of burial (a good deal of research would be needed to assemble this), they will be granted 3 points of Mythos, Occult, or Egyptology in the form of a detailed answer to the first appropriate question that they form in their mind. There is a 1/1D3 SAN loss for this supernatural communication.
Lot 11. Jeweled Scarab
Circa 3000 BC (Lower Egypt)
minimum bid: $500
Mica stone beetle with eight gemstone settings: 2 diamonds, 2 pearls, 2 garnets, and 2 emeralds. Back inscribed in Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Common. Good workmanship.
Condition: Very Good.
Optional: If the wearer is slain while carrying this, the soul inhabits the scarab and will attempt to take over the body of the next living creature to touch it. To do this, it must succeed in a POW vs. POW confrontation. The losing soul is lost forever.
Lot 12. Ob
Circa 1700 AD (North African)
minimum bid: $50
Authentic shrunken human head created for use in Kabbalist Magic rituals. Very Rare.
Optional: Contains summoned spirit of a deceased rabbinical kabbalist of 18th century Spain. Voice (only heard by owner of Ob) will advise and speak if and when it wishes to. The voice will seem to come from nearby items but never from Ob itself. SAN loss of 0/1D3 the first time this happens. Ob may try to use its owner for its own ends, as determined by the Keeper.
Lot 13. Basalt Paperweight
minimum bid $50
Fake Philosopher’s Stone of deceased. Used as paperweight. Stone is convex without any facets. Deceased claimed gold he owned was made from this stone using modern chemicals and ancient alchemetical techniques. Curiosity item only.
Optional: It really is a philosopher’s stone. When immersed in a mixture of chemicals (though only a master alchemist would know which ones) it will change base metal into gold. This 8 oz. stone will make 16 lbs. of gold before it is dissolved.
Lot 14. Spice Box
Circa 2200 BC (Middle-East)
minimum bid: $300
Carob wood and camel bone spice box. Fourteen compartments, each separately numbered and operating. Numbered and inscribed in Ancient Arabic. Contains various dried seeds and powders, all quite aged beyond recognition. Small, silver utensils in some of the compartments. Common. Fine workmanship.
Optional: The contents of the drawers are listed below. At the Keeper’s discretion, One or more of these substances may be given occult properties.
1. Aconite, powdered leaf, small silver spoon. When eaten it acts as a pain reliever. User effectively gains 50% of their lost hit points back for 3 hours. At the end of that time, if the actual hit points have fallen below zero the user may make a CONx3 roll. If successful, the user will fall into a coma for 2D6 weeks, gaining back lost hit points at the usual rate. If the CON roll is failed, the user dies.
3. Lichen pollen, small silver spoon. When ingested, the pollen acts as a curious poison. A resistance roll should be made against a potency of 12. If the roll succeeds, the only result is nausea. If the roll fails, the user goes into a coma. Within six hours, the body will sprout roots and secure itself to whatever it is upon. In one day glowing lichen will appear on and around the victim. Each day that this progresses, the body loses a point of SIZ until death occurs when the victim’s SIZ reaches 4. The body is totally absorbed at 0. This pollen is native to the Dreamlands, and the only cure lies there as well, possessed by the Zoogs of the Enchanted Forest among others. This cure must be brought back from the Dreamlands through one of the magical entrances on Earth – it cannot be brought back through normal dreaming.
5. Allheal, small silver spoon. If eaten, it cures 3D8 points of wounds at the rate of 3 points an hour. Experiencing this effect costs 1/1D3 SAN. Observing it costs 0/1 SAN. 3 doses are present.
6. Opiate. This powdered remnant only has a 33% chance of being effective if smoked. If it works, the user will experience visions of the Egyptian afterlife. SAN cost is 1/1D3. User gains 1D3 points of Egyptology or Occult, their choice.
7. Polyidus herbs, cannula (tube for introducing fluid down unconscious patient’s throat). Must be mixed with water. When ingested by a person who has died in the previous 10+CON minutes, they are allowed to make a CON resistance roll vs. 12. If successful the person will be brought back to life, in a coma. After enough time has passed for double their hit points to have healed, they will awaken. There is a permanent loss of 1 CON point. SAN cost for the user is 1D10/1D20. Viewing this costs 1D4/1D10. 3 doses.
8. Juniper, stirring whisk. When this substance is mixed with a glass of water and consumed, the drinker’s skin becomes unpleasantly thick and rubbery. This provides 1 point of armor for the next 24 hours, by which time the effect will have ended. SAN cost is 1/1D3. 3 doses are present.
9. Jimsonweed, tongs. When chewed, this substance acts as a deadly poison of POT 10. It is safe if cut 10x with any edible substance, in which case it acts as a powerful narcotic. For the next three hours, all stats are reduced by 1D6, skills are at 50% of original. 3 or 30 doses.
11. Lotus powder, straw. When sniffed, acts as a deadly poison of POT 20. If cut 10x with snuff, it produces a stultifying euphoria. All stats are reduced by 2D6, all skills are at 25% of original, for the next hour. 3 or 30 doses. This substance may be used in some Egyptian Mythos rituals, and could be found mentioned in relevant occult tomes.
12. Mustard seeds, small silver spoon. When eaten, it provides a second resistance roll against poison, acting as if the user’s CON was 25% higher than normal. Active for 24 hours. 3 doses are present.
14. Empty. An impaled Spot Hidden roll will reveal one grain of an unknown organic substance. If it is touched, the grain will be absorbed into the skin. After one day the person’s hand will become numb. On the second day, their whole arm will go numb. On the third day, their entire body will be affected, and they will fall unconscious for 12 hours. When they awaken, their physical stats may be increased by 1 pont each – to determine if a stat goes up, roll higher than the present stat x5. SAN costs for each day: first, 0/1; second, 1/1D3; third, 1D3/1D6; fourth, 0/1D3.