Cultes des Goules

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The Cultes des Goules is the title of a fictional book created by Robert Bloch. Both H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth have claimed to have been the book's creator. The fictional Comte d'Erlette, created by H.P. Lovecraft, is an homage to August Derleth, and said to be the author of the infamous tome.

The Tome

Description

Cultes des Goules is a book of black magic and necromancy written by Francois-Honore Balfour (Comte d'Erlette) in 1702. It was published in France (Paris?, 1703) and later denounced by the church for its lurid and abhorrent depictions of necromancy, necrophagy, and necrophilia as practiced by a secret aristocratic Libertine cabal of Ghouls.

Only a handful of copies of the book remain in existence. One of the known copies was kept for 91 years in an arcane library of the Church of Starry Wisdom in Providence, Rhode Island. After Robert Blake’s mysterious death in 1935, Doctor Dexter removed the grimoire and added it to his library.

Timeline

  1. 1635: Antoine-Marie Augustin de Montmorency-les-Roches is born. According to some, he is later known as the Comte d'Erlette, author of Cultes des Goules. (Ex Libris Miskatonici, Stanley)
  2. c. 1665: If Antoine-Marie Augustin de Montmorency-les-Roches is indeed the Comte d'Erlette, then Cultes des Goules is probably completed around this time. (Ex Libris Miskatonici, Stanley)
  3. c. 1700: According to some scholars, the forgery of the Ghoulish second part of the Tome, "Among the Ghouls", is completed. ([User:Ywhateley|Y.Whateley]])
  4. 1703: François-Honoré Balfour, if he is the Comte d'Erlette as some believe, probably publishes the original French Cultes des Goules in this year, before shutting himself out from the world. (Call of Cthulhu 5th Ed., Petersen and Willis et al)
  5. 1724: The Comte d'Erlette Francois-Honore' Balfour vanished. Four days later he was found 'torn apart by animals' on the grounds of his estate. His burial instructions included being sealed in a solid brass casket and placed in a newly-constructed concrete vault. ("Down in the Delta", Scott Glancy, 2014)
  6. 1737: According to some, the expurgated French and Italian Cultes des Goules by the Comte d'Erlette is published in Rouen, France.
  7. 1750s?: According to some scholars, alchemical embellishments to the original text are forged. (Y.Whateley)
  8. c. 1793: The d'Erlettes flee France and settle in Bavaria at the time of the French Revolution. They change the family name to Derleth. (Factual)
  9. 1830s: Derleths arrive in America. (Factual)
  10. 1850s: The "LaPorte Edition" of Cultes des Goules is published privately in a small run of perhaps a dozen copies by textbook publisher Lemuel LaPorte in Madison, Wisconsin. LaPorte's small publishing house is raided shortly after a courier is intercepted attempting to transport one of these Tomes to Austria-Hungary; a rumored decades-long private "war" waged against the Tome over the next few decades by a loosely-linked alliance of small detective agencies, Secret Service agents, members of the Roman Catholic church in Wisconsin, and other vigilantes is said to account for the seizure and destruction of all known copies of this Edition. (Y.Whateley)
  11. 1909: August Derleth is born. (Factual)
  12. 1926: August Derleth begins corresponding with H.P. Lovecraft. (Factual)
  13. 1926: A "complete" hand-written French version of Cultes des Goules surfaces briefly in Providence, RI; this edition is said to contain all known original and forged occult material attributed to the Comte D'Erlette (except the recantation), written in D'Erlette's own hand or in a particularly good forgery of same, shortly after Lovecraft began corresponding with one August Derleth. (Y.Whateley)
  14. 1926: H.P. Lovecraft writes "Pickman's Model", and begins work on The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, to be finished in 1927. (Factual)
  15. 1934-1935?: H.P. Lovecraft writes The Shadow Out of Time and begins writing "The Haunter of the Dark", to be completed the following year; both stories contain direct references to Cultes des Goules, Lovecraft would later claim that the Tome was a fictional invention of Robert Bloch. (Factual)
  16. 1936: Robert Bloch's story "The Grinning Ghoul" is published.
  17. 1937: H.P. Lovecraft dies. (Factual)
  18. 1939: August Derleth forms Arkham House to help preserve and promote Lovecraft's fiction. (Factual)
  19. 1957: Reclusive loner Ed Gein is discovered to be responsible for the disappearance of the owner of a hardware store; upon raiding Gein's remote farmhouse, they discover the house in shambles, containing furniture made from human corpses. (Factual) A bizarre, hand-made copy of Cultes des Goules, bound in human skin, is also found in the house, and is secretly removed by investigators. (Y.Whateley)
  20. 1969: August Derleth publishes Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (anthology), including a forward in which Derleth boldly claims to be the creator of Cultes des Goules. (Factual)
  21. 1971: August Derleth dies. (Factual)
  22. 1976: A large and influential UFO cult begins distributing altered copies of the tome, retitled To Serve Man, to members of its inner circle. In the decades to follow, digital versions of the text would be leaked from time to time on the internet, apparently supplied by a defector from the cult to UFO conspiracy sites and sites critical of the cult. (Y.Whateley)
  23. 2016: Suspicious never-before-seen content from Cultes Des Goules appears on an Internet "weird fiction" wiki, where it is dubiously characterized as a "posthumous collaboration"; responsible investigators agree it is almost certainly a forgery. (Factual)


Tome Contents

Catalogues a large cult practicing necromancy, necrophagy, and necrophilia in France.

Depending on the version, the contents may include two or more of the following known sections:

The Investigations of Ghoul-Cults

The main part of the text is an account of the Comte D'Erlette's apparently objective and restrained observations on mysterious "ghoul cults", and their shocking habits, rites, diets, and lifestyles.

  • Part of this section is a crude lexicon or glossary of the odd, meeping language that D'Erlette calls "Pnathique" and claims is spoken by the Ghouls he observed and studied.
  • Part of this section also describes the complicated religion of Ghouls, which in part involves vague and elliptical descriptions of the god Mordiggian, and a promised return or re-establishment, "when the stars are right", to an Edenic paradise that the Ghouls call the "Garden of Midian", described loosely as a beautiful moonlit cemetery that covers all of the Earth and Dreamlands at once, from which the Ghouls fell at a time of trouble they call the "Beginning of Days".

Among the Ghouls; Ghoulish Frolics

A second, auto-biographical part, even more grotesque than the main part, allegedly by the same author, is usually appended to the tome, describing his conversion to - and gleeful participation in - the activities of a ghoul cult; textual clues reveal that this section was written much later than the original part, long after the original author should have died, and does not appear in older versions of the tome; thus, this section is generally considered by responsible historians to be a skillful forgery or hoax built on the model of the works of both D'Erlette and De Sade.

  • Part of this section, attributed to the so-called "LaPorte Edition" and considered lost by the end of the 19th Century, is also the most infamous aspect of the tome, referred to in passing in vague but tantalizing footnotes of a number of contemporary books on vampirism, cannibalism, and necrophilia as the so-called "Ghoulish Frolics" or "D'Erlette's Recipes", described as luridly-illustrated elaboration on the diet of the "highly refined palate of the Ghoul cult", and on the monstrous and unspeakable "games" which the author claimed that the cultists ritually abuse corpses with.
  • Many versions that include this section also include a final note, uncharacteristically hysterical in tone yet still attributed to D'Erlette and allegedly written in blood on the final page of D'Erlette's own copy of the tome, in which the note's author claims to recant his involvement with ghouls and begs the "elder gods" for protection, forgiveness, and mercy against his many transgressions and crimes; most serious occult scholars agree that this note is certainly a forgery.

Genesis of the Cult of Ghouls

Some versions of the tome include a short section describing the secrets and mysteries of the cult's inhuman and mystical origins as the descendants of "angelic fire-spirits", "djinn", or "elder gods" who were "cast out of paradise" after a "war in heaven" for practicing "Black Magic". This section was allegedly narrated by the cult's elders and transcribed by the Comte D'Erlette, though experts are divided on whether this section was genuinely written by D'Erlette: there is some indication that the extravagant faerie tale portrayed in this section might have been a "posthumous collaboration" completed by a descendant or follower, imaginatively elaborated with complete and poorly-written fiction from a few scant notes written by the Comte D'Erlette shortly before his death. By some accounts, this section might have been concocted from excerpts from the rumoured English translation of the second of the Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan, crudely re-translated into French; this claim is supported by rough similarities in structure and content.

Table of the Elements

A heavily-criticized and unlikely alchemical section is sometimes appended, filled with tedious catalogues of the names of mysterious creatures, spirits, and gods arbitrarily categorized along the lines of classical alchemical elements (earth, air, fire, and water) with unique additions of the "elements" of aether, light and shadow, whose confusing and heretical interactions are portrayed through some strange allegory of cosmic alchemy. As such, this section describes a pantheon of unknown gods that includes the "aether-beings" Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth, and the elementals Nyarlathotep (earth), Cthulhu (water), Cthugha (fire), and Ithaqua (air).

This section appears to have been a forgery written by the Comte D'Erlette himself in imitation of a genuine alchemical work, and, though often ignored or omitted from the tome and generally considered poorly-researched nonsense by experts on classical alchemy, it is sometimes believed by cultists to hold the keys to understanding some of the more mysterious references found in earlier sections of the tome, perhaps a secret key to unlocking deeper mysteries encoded within the Tome; however, many sober and resonsible critics have dismissed this section as the work of a man desperately attempting to place some order on the chaos in which he was immersed.


Known Versions

Most surviving versions of this tome are based on the Expurged French and Italian versions.

Most surviving examples of any version found outside of certain rare book collections tend to be especially filthy, foul, stained, sticky, battered, gnawed, and abused, even by the usual standards of Tomes, due to their having been created and owned by Ghouls living in grimy tunnels and hidden vaults and cities beneath cemeteries and tombs.

Original French Version

French, by François-Honore Balfour, Comte d’Erlette, 1702? Published in 1703 in France (Paris?), in a quarto edition.

Consists of "Investigations" and an unexpurgated text-only version of "Among the Ghouls"; at least one known version of this book includes an allegedly forged "death-bed recantation" by D'Erlette of his participation in the activities described in "Among the Ghouls".

A limited number of copies of this edition survived the French Revolution. Only fourteen copies are known to have existed by the end of the French Revolution; at least one well-preserved copy of this edition is believed to be held in the Vatican secret library. Some other copies may exist in the libraries of private collectors, and in secret collections of large European universities and libraries.

Expurged French Version

French, by François-Honore Balfour, Comte d’Erlette, 1702, published in 1737 in France, in an octavo format.

Consists of "Investigations" and an expurgated text-only version of "Among the Ghouls".

Italian Translation

Italian, by François-Honore Balfour, Comte d’Erlette, 1702, published in 1737 in France, in an octavo format.

Same as the Expurged French version, translated into Italian.

LaPorte Edition

French, by François-Honore Balfour, Comte d’Erlette; Published in the early 1850s in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, in octavo format. Perhaps as many as a dozen copies were privately published by LaPorte, before his scheme to distribute these books to cultists around the world was discovered and interrupted by vigilantes. The total number of copies created by Laporte, and the total number seized and destroyed over the next half-century by vigilante groups, is unknown, but it is believed that no known copies survived into the 20th Century.

Consists of "Investigations", a version of "Among the Ghouls" embellished with graphic illustrations of cannibalism and necrophilia, and includes the rare Mythical "Genesis of the Ghouls" and alchemical "Almanac" sections of the book.

To Serve Man

English and Pnathic; anonymous, self-published in the 1970s by private press. Fewer than a dozen copies of the printed text appeared in the 1970s as "secret" manuals released to the inner circles of a UFO cult, and the book has since been available to the public in digital format through UFO conspiracy and contactee websites, with the total number of copies of the digital text unknown.

This heavily expurgated and altered version of Cultes des Goules consists of rewritten portions of D'Erlette's "Investigations" and "Among the Ghouls", as well as a heavily altered version of "Genesis of the Ghouls", with additional content added. The content drops all references to Ghouls as D'Erlette would have known them, and instead refers to aliens from the star, galaxy, or planet Midian (the book confuses these terms). Most of the added content is the usual New Age UFO contactee utopianism and warnings against nuclear war and other man-made disasters. Among the content borrowed from D'Erlette's original text, To Serve Man bizarrely includes an encrypted "cook book" of recipes for preparing and eating human flesh, written in "Pnathic"; this alteration of Cultes des Goules seems to have been made in conscious - and ghoulishly sardonic - imitation of the Twilight Zone story featuring a book of the same name, with much the same plot and content as that implied in this version of the tome.

To Serve Man contains no useful spells, but does require a small sacrifice of sanity to fully study and understand, granting the original tome's minor reward of Cthulhu Mythos ranks.

Other Versions

Misc. languages and origins; most are hand-written in French, English, or both, in various formats at different points in history.

Since the 1800s, several unique versions of this tome have surfaced from time to time, held in the private libraries of investigators, cultists, and private collectors. Most such versions have been incomplete, hand-written copies of the book apparently cobbled together from various sources by diverse hands; investigators who have examined these copies have speculated that cultists - often actual Ghouls - in possession of different parts of the book have traded with each other hand-written (and sometimes photocopied) sections of the book in their possession for parts they did not have, in order to assemble these rough, incomplete copies of the infamous Tome.

Some examples of these assorted copies of the tome include:

  • A bizarre translated forgery of the Original French edition with the addition of "Genesis", handwritten in English the 1920s in an excellent imitation of the Comte D'Erlette's own handwriting, was discovered by amateur ghost-hunters in an abandoned house in Minington, NH, and donated to the Orne Library at Miskatonic University, Arkham, MA.
  • A gruesome, reeking, stained clot of assorted papers, bound in what proved to be human skin, surfaced in Plainfield, Wisconsin in the 1950s, where it was allegedly found in the home of necrophile and murderer, Ed Gein. It proved to be a copy of Cultes des Goules handwritten from various models by several contributors apparently over many decades. This edition, consisting of most of "Investigations" and "Genesis", as well as an amateurly-illustrated "Among the Ghouls" apparently created in shocking imitation of the infamous LaPorte edition, was said to have passed through the hands of several local investigators, characterized as "cursed" by several investigators and collectors who kept it, before this Tome was lost to theft or arson in a break-in in the 1960s.
  • Another mongrel assembly of handwritten pages was allegedly found in the hands of a "death cult" operating in California in the 1940s, apparently copied mostly from the Expurged French version, with translation of selected passages into English in the margins, a section written in English apparently sourced from part of the rumoured English translation of the Second Cryptical Book of Hsan, followed by a heavily mutilated section of pages copied from what appears to have been a more mundane alchemical book, heavily modified in mysterious ways by an unknown editor with what appear to be corrections and additions inspired by the LaPorte Edition of the alchemical almanac section of Cultes des Goules.
  • A photo-copied version of the Expurgated French Edition was retrieved by investigators from an abandoned Ukranian mansion in the 2000s, and is currently held by the Carnacki Institute. This version is unremarkable, aside from a number of unsettling childish drawings in crayon on many of the pages, depicting horrific mutilations, tortures, experiments, and/or rituals performed on strange-looking people and animals dwelling in brick labyrinths full of machinery crowded into what appear to be caverns beneath the earth.
  • A remarkable, apparently convincing and genuine-looking handwritten copy of the Original French version, including all four principal parts of the "LaPorte Edition" as well as the final note of "recantation" said to be written by D'Erlette on his death bed, allegedly surfaced in Providence, RI, in 1926, shortly after "weird fiction" author H.P. Lovecraft began corresponding with one August Derleth. Lovecraft first mentions Ghouls that year, and refers to Cultes des Goules by title in stories written in later years. The existence of the tome has been attested to by several of Lovecraft's correspondents, but the current location of this tome is unknown, presumably returned to its owner before Lovecraft's death.


Keeper Notes

Role Playing Game Stats

Original French Version 
Sanity Loss 1D10/1D4; Cthulhu Mythos +12 Percent. Average 22 weeks to study and comprehend/ 48 hours to skim.
Expurged French Version 
Sanity Loss 1D8/1D4; Cthulhu Mythos +10 Percent. Average 17 weeks to study and comprehend/ 34 hours to skim.
Italian Translation 
Sanity Loss 1D8/1D4; Cthulhu Mythos +9 Percent. Average 15 weeks to study and comprehend/30 hours to skim.
LaPorte Edition 
Sanity Loss 2D6/1D4; Cthulhu Mythos +14 Percent. Average 30 weeks to study and comprehend/ 48 hours to skim.
To Serve Man 
Sanity Loss 1D8/1D4; Cthulhu Mythos +9 Percent. Average 15 weeks to study and comprehend/ 30 hours to skim.

Spells

Spells: the Black Binding, Call/Dismiss Nyogtha, Call/Dismiss Gaia, Contact Lesser Ghoul, Resurrection, Shriveling, Summon/bind Lesser Air Elemental, Summon/Bind Children of the Earth, Voorish Sign, Call/Dismiss Father Mordiggian

Pnathic Language

This tome includes enough information for a reader, with study and practice, to develop a small, crude, working vocabulary, barely suitable for rough and very basic communication in the Pnathic language (the strange meeping tongue spoken by Ghouls), describing such common phrases such as "take me to your leader", "I come in peace", "I seek trade", "I bring gifts", "take me outside/above", "where is food", "I'm not dead yet", "big danger is coming", etc.

First Impressions

Impressions of the Core of the Tome

For most readers, the first part ("Investigations") appears to have been written by a Mythos Investigator, for investigators, about Ghouls: it consists of a young Comte D'Erlette's covert observations of the flesh-eating monsters, his best efforts to transcribe and translate their bizarre language, his notes on the locations of their warrens in Paris, and their celebrations, habits and customs, diet, appearance, populations, and philosophies and beliefs, to the best of an obsessed outsider's ability to understand such things through observation alone. D'Erlette begins with the impression that his "Ghouls" are a degenerate religious cult, or possibly a subhuman "race" of men twisted into animals by their unnatural appetites and diets. By the end of this first part, D'Erlette has begun to regard these creatures as highly intelligent, sensitive, and sympathetic creatures, the equals to or perhaps superiors of humans, separate from men only by a difference of customs, culture, and diet; in his closing paragraphs for this section, D'Erlette expresses his wish to gain the trust of the creatures, in order to infiltrate their number and learn the deeper secrets of their "repulsive, yet noble" kind.

None of this quite prepares the reader for the second part of the Tome ("Among the Ghouls"), in which D'Erlette, his wish apparently fulfilled, is inducted into a Ghoul cult. This portion of the Tome becomes a quick spiral into depravity as D'Erlette at first reluctantly, but soon gleefully, participates first in the cult's rites of necromancy and worship of Mordiggian and other unspeakable horrors, and then in increasingly monstrous acts of grave desecration, corpse mutilation, necrophagia, cannibalism, and at last necrophilia. For those readers unfortunate enough to be reading the Laporte Edition or other illustrated versions of Cultes des Goules, the horror is only magnified by the grotesque and obscene illustrations which accompany D'Erlette's text.

A Ghoulish Influence

For those investigators who might have Ghoulish ancestry or inclinations, the combination of these two parts tends to glamourize the Ghoulish lifestyle, perhaps serving as a gateway temptation to fantasize about, and eventually participate in Ghoulish art, culture, cuisine, and all other aspects of life as a Ghoul, before completing that mysterious final degeneration and physical transformation into a Ghoul.

Sanity Effects

For most investigators, the sudden shift in tone and betrayal of humanity are shocking, and contribute to the sanity loss incurred by the Tome. This may inspire paranoia and phobias relating to Ghouls and their qualities, ways, haunts, and cultures.

For investigators who are inclined toward Ghoulism, or who fear they might be in danger of becoming a Ghoul, the shock may quickly give way to an obsession with or fear of becoming a Ghoul.

Like any other Mythos tome, the greatest toll taken from the reader's sanity is paid to fully comprehending and internalizing the outrageous implications of the Mythos content hidden within the tome: a revelation of blasphemy against religion, morality, ethics, history, biology, evolution, physics and reality itself as we like to think we understand and perceive them.

Suggested effects on sanity include Paranoia, Xenophobia, Necrophobia/Necrophilia, Nictophobia/Photophobia, Claustrophobia/Agoraphobia, Mysophobia/Mysophilia, Misanthropy (or Misogyny/Misandry relating to the suspicion that women or men might be Ghouls or necrophiles), Cotard Delusion (the belief that you are dead or becoming a corpse, or developing corpse-like qualities), Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Carnophobia, Mycophobia/Mycophilia, Species Dysphoria, Teratophilia, Phagophobia, Vorarephilia, Delusions of persecution or grandeur, etc.

Curses and other Effects

Some investigators (and some cultists) who have handled certain copies of these tomes have later claimed that the tome is "cursed", citing various seemingly random and unconnected mysterious and unsettling experiences to support this conclusion: owners of the tome have described bad luck, illnesses, sinister presences, sensations of being watched or followed, vague feelings of threat or danger, sinister smells, strange sounds, infestations of vermin, etc.

These effects are possibly a combination of sanity effects, and (in the case of illnesses, foul smells, infestations, etc.) consequences of the often filthy and unsanitary state of these tomes, especially those which have very likely been in the possession of Ghouls before falling into investigators' hands.

Cultes des Goules has also been associated with mysterious disappearances and suspicious deaths. It is very possible that some of these disappearances or deaths are caused by Ghouls, or are the result of the owner, having read the tome and becoming obsessed with it, dropping out of society or faking a death to join a cult of Ghouls in anonymity.

In an effect of text fluidity familiar to readers of certain other Mythos Tomes, scholars studying Cultes des Goules have reported that the text and arrangement of their copy of the tome seems to change between readings, with the location of specific information moving from chapter to chapter, specific details and descriptions changing to say something very different, allegorical devices altering completely, etc. Compared side-by-side with other copies of Cultes des Goules, the alterations can be obvious, but perhaps explainable by the erratic and consistent nature of the publishing, editing, and copying of the tome. Some scholars have put forward the theory that much of what the tome says actually depends on what the reader chooses to see, and thus varies from one reading or even glance to another, with the vagaries of the reader's state of mind, expectations, experiences, etc.


Impressions of Rarer Parts of Tome

The Third and Fourth parts of the tome, involving the Ghoul cult's elaborate origin myth and D'Erlette's alchemical philosophy, respectively, are not as commonly encountered in common editions of Cultes des Goules.

Most "experts" believe these bizarre and fanciful elements were the products of forgery after D'Erlette's death, but others believe them to be the genuine "post-mortem" work of D'Erlette, surviving long past his human life-span on a diet of human flesh.

The third part, "Genesis", may represent the Ghouls' actual mythology, though it is, perhaps, filtered through D'Erlette's point of view and beliefs, and some (or all) elements of this portion of the Tome may have been the result of the author's wishful thinking or imagination, or a hoax constructed by a forger or "posthumous collaborator".

The controversial fourth part, the Alchemical "Table of Elements", if created by D'Erlette, is especially frustrating and bizarre to those who attempt to understand the Tome: on the surface, it appears to represent D'Erlette's sincere belief in an Elemental universe of Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, and Good and Evil. Yet the inconsistencies, apparent hidden jokes and double-meanings, and other, more puzzling aspects of this section have suggested to some commentators that this section may actually be a hoax perpetrated by D'Erlette or his forgers, or possibly a hidden "key" to a cipher or riddle concealing deeper secrets to the nature of the Ghouls. For example, this part of the Tome has no less than three places where the phrase "See below for..." is used to refer the reader to an important spell, key piece of information, or answer to a puzzle or secret, only for the reader to find that the book contains no such content anywhere on its pages. Some researchers believe that these are monstrous pranks or traps built into the Tome by its author, but others believe that D'Erlette is instructing the reader to seek colonies of Ghouls (to be "seen below" the surface of Earth) for the answers in person.

Hooks

1700s

While a bloodthirsty revolution of starving peasants ravages France and secret societies conspire to guide French government into a new age through the gaping jaws of the Guillotine and pitchfork-wielding mobs, a group of aristocratic Libertines are suddenly accused of being sadistic, grave-robbing, cannibal monsters who feed on the poor. Many of the accused attempt the flee the country in the chaos, others use their power, wealth, and influence to manipulate the courts, and still others commit terrible atrocities against their accusers. Against this backdrop of conspiracy, social disorder, bloodshed, and terror, the investigators become embroiled in sinister plots involving Ghouls, Illuminati cults, and worse....

Gaslight

In 1830, up to a dozen copies of the LaParte Edition of Cultes des Goules are discovered to have been printed privately in Madison, Wisconsin, for distribution to selected cultists around the world, when a copy bound for the Austria-Hungarian Empire is seized before it leaves the country. "Vigilante" groups of investigators are tasked with finding copies that have escaped into the wild, and with stopping the sorcerers and cultists the Tomes were being sent to. Investigators might then be tasked with finding out the origin of the Tome this edition was copied from, perhaps ultimately leading to a confrontation with its monstrous author, The Comte D'Erlette himself....

1920s Classic

A rare occult book collector has obtained a copy of Cultes des Goules, and approaches the investigators for help in dispelling the curse the collector believes the book has unleashed upon him. The investigators soon discover that the collector is being tormented by a cabal of Ghouls who seek to obtain the tome for their own secretive and sinister purposes, while the collector has his own secrets to conceal....

1930s Meta

Some keepers seem to enjoy using Lovecraft and his friends and other real-life celebrities as characters in their Call of Cthulhu stories. What if the author known as "August Derleth" is actually, as he claimed, the author of Cultes des Goules - an 18th-century aristocrat turned flesh-eating monster? What connection does H.P. Lovecraft actually have with this Tome? What dangers does its sudden reappearance among an eccentric circle of writers of morbid fiction pose for humanity's struggle against the Mythos?

1950s

A copy of Cultes des Goules is found among the grisly contents of Ed Gein's farmhouse, and falls into the hands of investigators, revealing unexpected clues to a terrible Mythos secret. (I would suggest keeping things fresh by using the Ghouls' mythology and folklore to reveal hidden clues to a seemingly unrelated Mythos threat, perhaps involving flying saucers or the Deros....)

Modern

The investigators are called in as expert consultants when a raid on a violent UFO Cult compound results in the confiscation of a strange book entitled To Serve Man, which the investigators confirm to be a strange, heavily revised, retitled variation on Cultes des Goules. The consequences of the raid, the investigators' detective work, and the threatening intervention of Men in Black soon reveal a hellish conspiracy from outer space....


Notes

Rumors and Speculation

  • Dr. Laban Shrewsbury apparently derived much of his understanding of the Cthulhu Mythos from this tome. (fan conclusion/theory based on August Derleth's Mythos fiction)
  • The Cultes des Goules contains a lexicon or glossary for speaking Ghoul. (YSDC forums)
  • Cultes des Goules is an "academic tome", of more use to the investigator than the cultist: the ghoul cult it describes has little use for such a book; they already know anything it might tell them, and at most would only want the book to keep its secrets away from investigators. (YSDC Forums)
  • The Comte d'Erlette was an 18th-century Mythos investigator whose repulsive tome was an ill-advised expose' of the activities of a secret cult of Ghouls hidden in upper-class French aristocracy; d'Erlette's investigations resulted in his death by their hands. ("Down in the Delta", Scott Glancy, 2014)
  • The Comte d'Erlette was a Ghoul, and the shocking activities of the Ghoul-Cults in his tome are auto-biographical. ("Down in the Delta", Scott Glancy, 2014)
  • At least two parts of Cultes des Goules detail the Comte d'Erlette's controversial "Elemental Theory" of Mythos sorcery:
    • One part describes a sort of "family tree" of the Great Old Ones and supernatural creatures categorized by the classical elements (water, fire, earth, wind) Comte d'Erlette believed they represent. (August Derleth)
    • One part describes the origin and history of the Ghouls, which Comte d'Erlette claimed were fallen "fire elementals" ("Djinn"), banished by "Heaven" to Earth, where they exact vengeance upon their heavenly persecutors by possessing and debasing human flesh. (Arabic folklore)
  • The book's publication and the public outcry that resulted from its revelations before the Church intervened and suppressed it resulted in a crackdown by Paris magistrates on alleged practitioners of the cult, with dozens of accused members hanged, and others fleeing Paris or committing themselves to obscure insane asylums and convents where they seem to have disappeared under suspicious circumstances. ("Down in the Delta", Scott Glancy, 2014)
  • The alchemical/elemental section of the tome concludes with a brief and enigmatic reference to "The Drowners", including Bugg-Shash and Yibb-Tstll; D'Erlette seems to regard these beings as "aligned to water", and as such "antithetical to fire and light"; this passage claims that "The Drowners" can be summoned to vampirically weaken and control so-called "Great Old Ones" and that a special invocation to the "fire elemental" Cthugha can be used in turn to control "The Drowners"; this invocation the author promised to provide "below", but, maddeningly, it does not appear in any known version of this tome. Some cultists claim that the invocation is encoded in some way in the tome's text, while a few occultists believe that by "below" D'Erlette was not referring to later in the tome, but to some subterranean meeting place deep in the Earth among the ghouls where the undying D'Erlette himself will teach the invocation to worthy scholars in person; however, most serious occultists seem certain that no such invocation ever existed, citing their belief that D'Erlette is "unreliable". (Y.Whateley)
  • The alchemical/elemental section of the tome also includes a brief mention of "earth elementals" D'Erlette called "Satyrs", which are described in terms resembling Faeries or Worms of the Earth, "Sylphs" which are described as "unclean spirits or demons of the air" in terms similar to Poltergeists which D'Erlette claimed are "fundamentally opposed" to Satyrs, and "Nymphs" or "Mermaids" which seem to be a form of Deep One which D'Erlette claimed to be "fundamentally opposed" to Ghouls. (Y.Whateley)

Quotes

  • "All of the cult's legends, unconnected as they may be, are based on the fundamental lore or legend that this world was inhabited at one time by another race who, in practising black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live outside ever ready to take possession of the Earth again." - Comte D'Erlette
  • "Comte d'Erlette's Cultes des Goules? An invention of Bloch's. The name Comte d'Erlette, however, represents an actual (and harmless) ancestor of August W. Derleth's, who was a royalist emigre from France in 1792 and became naturalised in Germany under the slightly Teutonised name of Derleth. His son, emigrating to Wisconsin in 1835, was the founder of the Derleth line in America." - H.P. Lovecraft
  • Comte D’Erlette comments on the scandalous murders in the Danish Castle of Count Magnus De la Gardie (around 1660): "I wonder what it was that the creature that came from the Count’s cursed box harvested from its victims? Did such harvesting assist its escape? Or is it another evil this Pandora’s Box has loosed upon the world?" - Pandora's Box (scenario by Glyn White)

Appearances