Carla knelt, the verses propped open next to her knee. It was difficult to keep her place, as the printer had been on it's last legs as she had printed out the Austere Verses from the TOR site. She felt disgust rise in her throat as she thought about her life before she experienced the Verses. She had been so blind, so absorbed by the great illusion. None of it mattered, love was just a biochemical reward system to ensure the propagation of the species. Accomplishments meant nothing, glory is transient, monuments crumble. Her children were merely the next rung on the ongoing ladder of reproduction. Money was worthless, only holding the illusion of value because everyone agreed that one shiny metal was more desirable than another shiny metal. A diamond was just a rock, a clear hard rock. It was all a massive joke, a prank on the cosmic scale, and that wasn't even scratching the surface of the so called pillars of society. It was all a horrid joke.
But it was time to break the cycle. She started reciting the Verses, litanies of emptiness and worthlessness. The knife was ready, and her victim was too. She kissed him on the head. A bit of her old stupid nostalgia reared its head, she would miss him. It was that same weak voice that convinced her that it would be better to drug his oatmeal and sacrifice him in his sleep.
The Austere Verses
In the vein of the King in Yellow and the Necronomicon, the Austere Verses is a cursed and evil book that is brimming with occult mythos. The book is a modern invention, and rather than being thousands of years old, is just about a year and a half old. It is operating in a guerilla publishing mode, with various parties being contracted to print the book, ranging from radicals and survivalist groups with printing presses to no questions asked print on demand companies, and the bulk being printed by former pornography publishers. The book is also being distributed online as a downloadable PDF, free of charge. The book and it's contents pull no punches and are surprisingly straight forward. With the sudden spike in occult related crimes, ritualistic murders, rapes, and cases of torture, cannibalism, suicide and other horrible things, there is not much surprise that the government quickly banned the book. Government agencies are typically on the look out for the book and potential publishers and distributors. The siezed books are quickly and ruthlessly burned. The publishers find themselves facing terrorist or obscenity charges. The websites that distribute the PDF are prone to shut down, and the servers have been manually seized and confiscated.
The book is a long collection of anecdotes, parables, and irregular prose, and functions as a sort of nihilist's book of psalms. Each section of the Verses takes and deconstructs the things that man as individuals and as a whole holds as valuable. Love, wealth, material power, organized religion, entertainment, and most every other aspect of modern culture is laid bare in a brutal fashion. A reader who finishes the Verses from cover to cover has to make a mental health check (however you would do that in your system of choice) or otherwise be afflicted with a mental derangement. Depression, paranoia and dissassociative orders are the most common, but a few readers suffer stranger maladies and breaks with reality. If the mental health check is a critcal failure, the reader has lost the will to live and will attempt to commit suicide. A reader who makes a successful mental health check retains their sanity but is depressed by the shear bleakness of the material, and possibly by the poor manner in which the Verses are written.
Harley scowled at the people walking up and down the street, shuffling through their music players, fiddling with their phones to avoid human contact, getting in and out of their effete little hybrid urbanista cars. He loathed them all, their fake plastic lives, their fake smiles, and fake LOL comments when no one really laughed. But most of all he hated Henderson and his little yellow Prius. The sanctimonious prick with his save the planet bumper stickers, and his hormone free chicken sandwiches, and his bicycle in the elevator when everyone else just walked or took a cab. Harley finished the cigarette, the first in 20 years before he tossed it back on the roof. He heard the WHOOSH of the gas soaked piles of the Thornton's and the Bellman's laundry go up in flames. Freedom was letting go of everything, letting nothing of the illusion contain you. Harley stepped up onto the edge of the roof and looked down, he could see Henderson pulling into his usual parking spot. He didn't notice the wet spots were soda bottles had been tossed from the roof. Six stories up John C. Harley, 47 and the superintendant of the 117th Street Apartment Complex jumped. Witnesses were horrified as his aim had been true and all 215 pounds of him went through the top of a 2010 Toyata Prius G.
The accidentally captured video went viral in a matter of hours.
Origins of the Austere Verses
The Austere Verses are new, having only in the last two years been put to paper. This is the work of a single man, a former holy man of the Church driven to madness. After having abandoned his potential bride on their wedding day, this man fled to join the Church. Once their, his zeal lead him to relic hunting in the service of the Faith. Nominally covered by the guise of missionary work, he and his team would travel to wild and often Islamic areas to search out Christian relics. Afghanistan and other such countries were favorites. It was on such a trip that the group stumbled quite by accident onto the Temple of Kelizok, a long dead, long forgotten god. They took shelter inside to avoid a desert sandstorm and the madness lurking within overtook the group. in fits of paranoia they one by one killed each other, all the while surviving by eating the flesh of their slain companions. Eventually the author was the only survivor left and with the supply of 'food' almost gone he was forced to make an escape from the Temple. An avatar of Kelizok escorted the sunburnt explorer to a military patrol near the Pakistani border where he was rescued, given medical attention, and sent back to the United States. After a lengthy recovery period, the man vanished into the American underground.
He started writing the Austere Verses at the behest of the Artisan of Kelizok. It was then that the book was first published in a very limited run. These books were hand delivered, and the Cult of Kelizok started growing from there. The author is still writing the gospels of the Butcher of Truth, as well as phamplets and manuals of alien sorcery that can be used to summon the attention of the minions of Kelizok to bring them closer to the Earth plane of reality.
What is a Mythmeme? Like a meme, it is a repeatedly used series of basic images or conceptual ideas. Hastur's mythmeme is the King in Yellow, while Cthulhu has Dead and Dreaming, the Necronomicon, and other familiar adages. The Mythmeme is the repitition and mutation of something associated with the Mythos. It is easily overlooked, like a small theatre putting on a performance of Anna and the King(in yellow) or a scrawl on a water treatment plant wall, IA IA. The Austere Verses are half of the Mythmeme for the god Kelizok, the Butcher of Truth. The Butcher of Truth is the second half.
The basis of the Austere Verses is that exposure to them is intended to cause a stripping away of values. People can often be defined by what they hold to have value, be it bonds of family, material wealth, religious piety, or anything else. Once they are exposed to the Verses, these core ideals are laid bare, and the psyche is damaged, as it suddenly lacks support and points of reference. This is where the cult insinuates itself. 'Money is worthless and love is hollow, but do you know what is real? Do you know what cannot be proven false? The Truth.' Of course, this being the Mythos, the Truth is an eldritch cosmic horror that exists to reduce things to madness.
The Writing is on the Wall ~ A local graffiti artist has fallen in with the cult of Kelizok, and has been spreading the Austere Verses around, one passage or quote at a time. Will the investigators/PCs even notice the blasphemies written out in letters four feet tall on their daily drive. The areas where these sections are written (overpasses, retaining walls, the sides of bridges, highway noice reducing walls, etc) slowly become the sites of crimes, suicides, and the like. A verse extolling the false virtue of true love becomes a place where betrayed lovers go and jump to their deaths, the reporters dutifully cover the incident, and the on site action news person makes sure to get the controversial graffiti framed in the shot behind the yellow tape, onlookers, and police officers.
The Bullet's in the Gun ~ A militia group/survivalists sect/radical sect that has a private compound has started stockpiling weapons, and gaining a nasty reputation. They might have had a long history of being peaceful hippies living on a commune, or luddites convinced that the end is nigh. Attempts to investigate have been stonewalled, and the situation is escalating. While in the real world, this turns into the conventional compound stand off. In the mythos, the charismatic leader has taken the Austere Verses and is now communing with the denizens of Kelizok, exploring the realms of magic and when the men with guns show up, his followers not only have zeal and fervor, they have automatic weapons, and then the leader of the cult laughs and summons the beast-hounds of Kelizok who appear howling, mouths full of shark like teeth and hide that all but ignores the small bullets fired by local and state law enforcement. Can the compund be infiltrated by stealth, or does it turn into a bloodbath?
The Film Festival ~ A local director has taken and turned the Austere Verses into a short film that he intends to show at the local film festival. He has had hundreds of copies made to hand out to visitors and guests who watch the film. He knows that the highly critical viewers will not instantly fall to the nihilism of the film, but the seeds will be planted, and a month after the festival, dozens of attendees individually go off the deep end. Suicides, multiple murders, arson, and the like abound. The director laughs and packs his bags to travel to the next film festival. With a little luck, he might get into one of the big ones... The film is available as a black market item, or a guerilla press offering sitting on a street vendor's table with dozens of chinese knock off movies and illegally downloaded and burned films.
A great use of Graffiti artist hook would be to make the PCs The neighborhood watch, dont use a horror game system use something like GURPS low level . Make like a 3 game arc where the players think they are actually coming up against gangs in LA.
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? Responses (8)
Fun for a sci-fi, our time, or fantasy world.
I definitely want to use this item. The subtlety and simplicity of the book make it more believable. I like how the depression plays on basic ideas that everyone has considered at one point or another. The book confronts hope, which is the domain of heros.
The plot hooks are very good, and I really like this take on the forbidden text. I also think the introduction really sets the tone for the piece and probably describes as much in itself as all of the non-italic text. I am unsure if this is the place to discuss it, but it is a worthwhile question that could be explored through gameplay:
If stripped of all that a person values, what really is left?
Obviously there are those that have to survive the verses, how do they do it? What makes their mental state different?
IMHO, person stripped of all their personal values is a blank slate, ready to have new seeds planted. Of course people were never meant to be blank, and as such said blank slate is highly agitated, instantly irritable, and likely suffering from a psychotic breakdown. The mind will create things to protect itself, such as delusional states, basic catatonia, paranoia, etc.
There are plenty of people who read the verses with little to no ill effect. They do it by reading and 'not getting' the message. Maybe they skim it, maybe they find it boring, for whatever reason the text doesn't speak to them. maybe they are too dumb to catch the undercurrents of the writing, or they are smart enough to see 'what it did thar'. Consider it like any religious text, many people read the Bible, Torah, or Koran and are unmoved, uninspired, or filled with any religious spirit, while others become fanatical believers.
What an interesting idea.
Ohai Necronomicon-expie. How are you? Ah, still spreading madness and chaos, I see. Good! Keep up the good work!
4.5/5 Basicly just a modern update to Necronomicon, so we are not really covering new territory, this is what keeps this masterful piece from being a full 5 really would like to split the score on my 2 scales of usefullness(3.5) and art(5) Extremly well writen. Once again I say' Typical Scras'
oh almost forgot Liked Graffetti artist plot hook a lot, That is how I would use this