The Castaigne collection item CC-62592: ‘PRESPOS COITION’ (About Copulation)
This is a leather-bound book of slightly larger than folio size, 20” x 25”, consisting mostly of etchings of a sexual nature interspersed of descriptive text (in Italian). The cover is unmarked but a front piece bears a handwritten title. On the facing page is a bookplate stamped with the name Iacopo Castaigne and the Castaigne family crest.
An exceedingly rare book, this work is one of the most infamous collections of pornographic illustrations ever printed. Though often dismissed as a myth (the Sacred Congregation of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum denied it existed, for example) a number of works purported to be the Prespos have come down into the modern age; most experts dismiss these as forgeries however, and they only exist in private collections. According to rumor, the Prespos was written and illustrated by an unknown author or authors (alleged to have been either a priest or nun or dissipated noble) sometime about 1695.
This particular version seems to have been printed in Italy in the late 18th century, possibly at the Venetian press of Simone Brindisiano. The pages depict sexuality (human and otherwise) in a variety and in combinations that shock even the most jaded of readers. The text accompanying the numerous increasingly lewd engravings tells the story of Lady Giudira, a noble woman of unearthly sexual appetites and stamina, who engages in or observes the host of sexual relations depicted in the body of the work. By the conclusion of the book, the whole of the many depicted partners gather for an amorphous and unnerving orgy in which their bodies seem to almost form a singular entity. The sanity cost for reading the book is 1d3+1 / 2d4.
The work frequently inspires uncontrollable lusts in readers; anyone examining the Prespos is in danger of falling under its malign influence. Those failing a POW test versus the book’s POW of 14 finds themselves drawn to the obscenities depicted within and desire to continue to look upon them; anyone with a sexual phobia or repressed fetish should add the POW strength of their phobia to the book’s POW. Each day spent in fevered study of the book adds to the POW of the work (for the afflicted reader) and costs the reader an additional 1d2 points of Sanity and 1 point of CON. Each day’s failure creates a mania to read the Prespos worth a cumulative 1 point of POW each day that must be resisted on a weekly basis even after the book is initially resisted. Lost CON regenerates one point per week free from the book. Additional phobias of a sexual nature are gained for every five points of sanity lost to the book each with a strength of 1d6 POW.
[EX: Dr. Doe (POW 10) reviews the Prespos, and fails his roll against the book. He spends five days under the book’s thrall, losing 11 points of Sanity, until his companions rescue him. Thereafter he has a compulsion to examine the book again (with a POW of 5) that must be resisted weekly, a masochistic impulse with a POW of 8, and having lost 5 points of CON.]
Beyond the book’s ability to mesmerize readers, the Prespos also acts as a sacred text to the cult of Yidhra and if carefully studied the spells Contact Yidhra, Summon Child of Yidhra, and Rites of Lady Yidhra. In addition to the above mentioned Sanity cost, the book takes 1 week to study (if able to resist the draw of the book) and give readers a bonus of +1 point to their Cthulhu Mythos skill.
The Karotechia files suggest that the book was briefly in the possession of Hermann Göring before being restored to Karotechia possession for reasons unknown. A French cataloger reviewing the work disappeared in 1948, after the savage rape and murder of eight young people in and around Marseilles. Neither he nor the book have been seen since, though rumors suggest is in a private collection.