The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia
A Guide to H.P. Lovecraft’s Universe, Updated & Expanded Third Edition
Author: Daniel Harms
Publisher: Elder Sign Press
Page Count: 382
Available Formats: PDF & Print
Print – $17.95
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the Mythos? Or maybe the cosmic horrors from which amazing tales are derived? What about the people and places of Lovecraft’s universe? If you have ever wanted to learn more about these topics to broaden your knowledge base, or perhaps to enhance your next Mythos based game, this is a book you might want to check out.
The Cthulhu Mythos Encylopedia is a comprehensive body of work that any Mythos gamemaster might fund useful. In fact, several years ago, it was suggested to me by a number of Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game Keepers as a must-have resource. The entries of the encyclopedia are presented alphabetically for ease of use and reference. Each entry conforms to one of two layouts.
- Entries that refer the reader to a “main” entry (see example image)
- Entries present the who, what, when, and where of the subject matter, bracketed text (if any) will give historical details, a list of sources used to compile the entry, and a list of cross-references (“See. . .); if applicable. Entries with multiple definitions, cross-references, and/or sources specific to an individual entry will be listed in a separate paragraph at the end of an entry. (see example image)
This book presents one author’s perspective on the Mythos-at-large, the people, places, fictional monsters, books, and other definable elements extracted from the works of H.P. Lovecraft and other authors who have written within the “Cthulhu Mythos” genre. Gamemasters and Mythos fans should be able to find almost anything they might need in this book. Here are two examples, one is an organization (thing) and the other a place, I happen to be researching for a game idea.
- MAJESTIC-12 (MJ-12). [abstracted] According to its entry, it’s a top-secret government organization dedicated to retrieving and studying alien life and technology. Historically, it’s a legend within the UFO community, relating to a series of leaked documents. This entry is sourced from none other than Delta Green (Dewiller, Glancy, and Tynes). (Harms p.175)
- LENG (or PLATEAU OF LENG). [abstracted] Its entry provides a summary of where it’s located or thought to be located and an overview of what Leng is and what visitors might encounter. There is also a short paragraph on the possible historical real-world location of Leng. Finally, there is an extensive list of cross-references and sources listed.
The book concludes with three appendices and a robust bibliography. The appendices are; Chronology of the Necronomicon, Locations of the Necronomicon, and Contents of the Necronomicon. Each of which is a great resource unto itself. The bibliography spans twenty-two pages, and while it’s robust, Harms does acknowledge it falls short in being a “complete” bibliography. He lacked the time and space to include publication information for the works listed. He does, however, point readers to Chris Jarocha-Ernt’s A Cthulhu Mythos Bibliography & Concordance for those seeking publication information.
It’s impossible to provide a comprehensive review of an encyclopedia such as this, but I want to give you an overview of what it contains and my thoughts regarding its usefulness as a resource for gamemasters. This book has, for several years, been a resource for me as I’ve read Mythos-based scenarios for a variety of game systems. I have even referenced it a time or two when reading works of Mythos fiction as a way of learning a little more about specific topics. Thus, providing me with a little more context.
For the gamemasters out there, if you’re running any game that takes inspiration from the Mythos; whether it be Elder Gods, ancients tomes, strange places, or captures the essence of any notable person from Lovecraft’s universe, The Cthulhu Mythos Encylopedia is going to be a book for you. I would go so far as to say, even if your game is not Mythos inspired, there is more than enough material within these pages to spark your creativity.
If you’re a Mythos fiction fan and you don’t already have The Cthulhu Mythos Encylopedia, you’ll want to get it as a tableside reference book. As I mentioned earlier, it’s been very helpful in providing me with context and a wider understanding of a variety of subjects.
I only have one gripe, there are just a few weird paragraph indents that should have caught during the layout approval process but were not. The encyclopedia is devoid of any artwork which is understandable but is a shame nonetheless. Some beautiful artwork would really spice it up.
No matter what your “thing” is, this is a fantastic companion book and one that is well worth the price.
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