“A cult on present-day Earth aids and abets Great Race visitors. In exchange, the visitors share technological and magical knowledge”. Call of Cthulhu, Edition 5.6
Table of Contents
Structure and Rationale
The Fraternal Order of Librarians (FOL) is one of the less sinister organisations to be involved with the Mythos, but that’s starting from a very low basis of comparison. The order is divided into two levels, plus an auxiliary body.
The Outer Order
The Outer Order (as the other groups call it) is all that 95% of the members ever see, or are even aware of. It is an international fraternal organisation, which, like most such organisations, exists to let librarians, archivists, curators, archaeologists and other such professionals hold an annual conference at which they dress up and eat large dinners, plus conduct occasional charitable activities and overseas trips.
The Inner Order
The Inner Order, who also refer to themselves (against the objections of some female members, who prefer the original name of the Daughters of Hypatia) as the Pnakotic Brotherhood, exists to facilitate the visits of members of the Great Race of Yith. As well as places to stay, stipends, and other such material support, they assist individuals possessed by the Great Race in their quest for knowledge by providing unrestricted access to all the collections, libraries, galleries, museums, and other such institutions over which they have influence. The unparalleled knowledge of humanity’s entire history that the Great Race can impart ensures that members of the Inner Order can excel in their academic careers.
The Inner Order’s primary motive for being is an altruistic one. The Inner Order has learnt enough from previous Great Race visitations to know that biological humanity will end. However, through helping Great Race members experience and record as much of human culture as possible, they know that at least the history and culture of humanity can live on after the species itself is rendered extinct.
The Great Race have refused to give details of, or a time for, the extinction event. From their own knowledge (which, given that they have the world’s libraries to draw on, is quite extensive) and details that Great Race members have let slip, the Inner Order has inferred that humanity will be destroyed by an uprising and/or invasion of alien creatures, in a similar way to the extermination of the former Great Race vessels by the Flying Polyps. From the increasing frequency of Great Race visits, they have also inferred that it may happen some time in the near future. Inner order members nervously scan the newspapers, keep their pantries well stocked, and often join UFO spotters groups.
Membership of the inner order draws upon members of the outer order and the wider professions who have shown exceptional dedication to the cause of uncovering and preserving knowledge, and/or those who have previously encountered the Great Race or other Mythos entities. Former victims of Yithian possession are often targeted for recruitment. Usually the relief of being among those who understand what they have been through, plus knowledge of the greater altruistic purpose of the Order, is enough to quash any lingering resentment towards the Great Race the former victim may have. The Order also works to help restore the memories of these victims, in order to better understand their erstwhile patrons. Requests to the Yithians that they should cease wiping the memories of former victims have so far been met with refusal. In general, members are quite dedicated to the Order and their cause. However, since their cause is providing access to stores of knowledge, of which they are usually the custodians, they rarely have to employ violence or any illegal activity – with a few specific exceptions, listed below.
The Inner Order is headquartered in Perth, Western Australia, which is the major western metropolis closest to Pnakotus (the ancient city of the Great Race, located in the Great Sandy Desert). They also have members in Canberra, as they do in the capitals of most Western nations, where they hold positions in national libraries, museums, et al. At the world HQ in Perth, the Order hold the world’s largest collection of various versions of the Pnakotic Manuscripts, with which all Inner Order members are expected to be familiar, and an extensive collection of ancient Greek and Egyptian texts (some believed lost by the rest of the world), including a Greek version of the Book of Eibon (unfortunately fire damaged – study of this manuscript has been discouraged by Great Race representatives, who do not wish their servants to inadvertently Summon Azathoth) plus a miscellany of other texts in which the Great Race have expressed an interest or are mentioned. A copy of The King in Yellow is also kept locked away, requiring special dispensation from the leaders of the order to be consulted. The Inner Order also possesses a few lightning guns, a memory wiping unit (sometimes used by the Dark Brotherhood against their enemies) and a temporal communicator, usually held by the President as a sign of office.
One reason the Order has relocated to Perth is that possessed victims usually make at least one journey to Pnakotus, consulting records there and ensuring that nothing has disturbed the stasis cubes in which the records are held against the Great Race’s physical return. The Inner Order also monitors the area of Pnakotus for any signs of Polyp activity, often by sending representatives on mining or prospecting trips as consulting archaeologists or the like. There is general agreement that governments should be alerted and told the whole story if there is irrefutable proof of a Polyp rising, but until then everything Great Race or Polyp related should be kept out of the media.
The Inner Order is only tangentially aware of the other races, beings, etc, of the Mythos. Great Race representatives have exercised a mix of caution and chauvinism and assured the Order that the other intelligent alien races with an interest in earth (Cthulhu’s Star Spawn, The Elder Things, The Mi-Go) were thoroughly defeated by the Great Race and driven off the planet many aeons ago.
The Dark Brotherhood
The Dark Brotherhood (who have given themselves an intentionally melodramatic and sinister name) is the “action oriented” auxiliary wing of the Inner Order, consisting of those members who are young, fit, and not automatically repulsed by violence or covert activity. This tends to result in more members from the fieldwork oriented disciplines like Archaeology and Anthropology. Those who have had some experience with the Occult or the Mythos aside from the Great Race are also sought, as advisors if their physical or mental health does not allow active participation.
The Dark Brotherhood exist to combat The King in Yellow and his cult, the Secret Senate, who poison the art and culture of humanity in the service of Hastur. The Great Race have emphatically indicated that they have no interest in learning, preserving, or even being exposed to any human knowledge or cultural activity that bears the taint of the King. Such poisoning of the wells of human culture is therefore a source of intense anger and shame to members of the Order, who do what they can to combat it.
In most cases this is merely an intensification of the petty rivalries, jealousies, backstabbing and Old Guard versus Art Nouveau confrontations that permeate the world of art, literature and culture. Grant applications are denied, gallery space is unavailable, and other such obstacles are thrown up. This phase of the struggle tends to involve all members of the Inner Order, as they are often well placed to throw such spanners in the works.
In some cases, however, particularly when the play of The King In Yellow itself is somehow involved, the Dark Brotherhood takes direct action to destroy the work and ruin, mindwipe or even kill the artist behind it. When conducting a “critique”, The Dark Brotherhood usually pose as a Hastur worshipping cult themselves, in order to point any investigators in the direction of their enemies. Brotherhood members are often trained in hypnosis or psychoanalysis in an effort to combat any influence the King may try to exert over their psyches.
The Dark Brotherhood are utterly convinced of the rightness of their cause. Having glimpsed the activities of the Mythos through their exposure to Hastur’s malignity, some members of the Dark Brotherhood have inferred that the King is behind the expected extinction of the human race and become thoroughly homicidal in their efforts to stop him. Although they do try to minimise collateral damage or harm to bystanders (or other works of art in the same gallery, etc), when the survival of humanity’s heritage is at stake sometimes one must cut corners. Or throats.
Owing to the ancient connections between librarians and cats, the order as a whole is also occasionally watched over by the Elder God Bast, Goddess of Cats, although most members are unaware of this. Some records indicate that Hypatia herself was a priestess of the goddess. Several members of the Dark Brotherhood swear that a cat has alerted them to the unexpected return of a Secret Senate member or given some other such timely warning or indication.
History of the Order
Like many fraternal orders, the Fraternal Order of Librarians claims a history stretching back to antiquity and even to ancient Egypt, but most records date no further than the 17th century. In their case, their legends are largely correct.
The Order was founded by Hypatia of Alexandria in 391 AD, although some historians of the order propose an earlier founder, Callimachus of Alexandria, a senior librarian of the Library of Alexandria circa 270 BC. One argument is the similarity in title between Callimachus’ lost master work, "Pinakes", and the Pnakotic manuscripts. It is suggested that Callimachus may have collaborated with the Yithian possessing Theodotides, a minor official of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (most of which is within modern Afghanistan) known to have visited the library. Others have argued for a secret founding by Emperor Julian the Apostate.
However, Hypatia is the best-authenticated founding figure. Hypatia was an exceptionally gifted and strong willed woman who had the dubious fortune to be possessed by a member of the Great Race during her youth. Her will was sufficient to overcome the amnesia enforced by the Great Race. Rather than being repulsed by her experience, she was inspired by the sexless race who devoted themselves to knowledge. She compared their lives favourably to the ignorance and loveless marriages forced upon many women of her time, and resolved to become a philosopher and continue the quest for knowledge that she had already pursued as a possessee. Her grounding in Neo-platonic philosophy, which included the doctrine of transmigration of souls, may also have helped her overcome the mental shock inherent in her condition.
In the year 391, the library of Alexandria, which encompassed the nearby Temples of the Muses and of Serapis, was destroyed by a Christian mob as part of a campaign by the Emperor Theodosius I to wipe out all remnants of paganism. Hypatia, whose father Theon had taught mathematics at the museum, was still a young woman, but was already beginning to make a name for herself as a philosopher. She was outraged by the destruction and fearful of the consequences when the next member of the Great Race should visit and find the library destroyed. Gathering her family and friends and hiring bodyguards, she rescued many of the most precious manuscripts from the buildings before they could be put to the torch. With these, she established a secret collection and tradition of knowledge preservation. Those of her students who showed similar dedication and a belief in the philosophy of transmigration were told of her experience with the Great Race and urged to watch for the next visit by one of these Muses. Such a visit evidently occurred at some point, for the cult survived, though Hypatia herself would be burned by another Christian mob in 415 AD.
Originally opposed to Christianity, Hypatia’s heirs eventually came to believe that there was no future in continuing paganism in the face of imperial persecution. The increasing adoption of Platonist and other Greek philosophy by the Church as it became the dominant spiritual and intellectual power of the ancient world also helped to reconcile the Hypatians. Within a few hundred years, the church was somewhat embarrassed by the memory of their persecution of Hypatia and the other philosophers, and the cult of the (fictional) St Catherine of Alexandria was created to try to obscure Hypatia’s memory. The Daughters of Hypatia changed their name to the Pnakotic Brotherhood to hide their origins and infiltrated this sub-cult of the Church. The doctrine of transmigration of the soul of a muse became one of possession by one of God’s angels, sent to ensure that humanity stayed true to the learning delivered by God. However, as the Dark Ages passed with only one recorded visit by the Great Race, to a Florentine who promptly went insane, the Brotherhood dwindled into a largely purposeless mystery cult within the Church, venerating old knowledge and scorning all new learning or change. A Yithian visit to Cromwellian England was completely missed until the recovered victim, James Woodville, published an account of his experience, which was promptly condemned as heresy.
The Brotherhood was reorganised, galvanised and effectively refounded by another great philosopher possessed by a member of the Great Race at a young age: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Although his memory of the experience was not as clear as Hypatia’s, Leibniz retained the memory of an ideal society organised around the accumulation and ordering of knowledge, in which psychic ability rather than physical energy or violence was the dominant talent of the great. This vision would inform his idealist philosophy of monadology and the elementary nature of souls, as well as his dedication to founding learned societies and organising libraries. For their part, the surviving remnants of the Pnakotic Brotherhood, who were facing dissolution and irrelevance in the face of the Reformation, recognised Leibniz as the one prophesised in their hidden doctrines and pledged themselves to his service. (According to some records, a breakaway faction refused to accept that Leibniz had been the vessel of the “Angel of Yith” and attempted to use magic to contact a true angel themselves. This group is believed to have been destroyed by what they called, which may have been a Hound of Tindalos). This greatly appealed to Leibniz’ ego as well as his vision of a Church reunited by knowledge, since the Brotherhood were still nominally Catholic while he himself was a Lutheran.
Unfortunately, the calculus dispute with Newton resulted in Leibniz’ influence being confined to the margins of the Enlightenment, and the Brotherhood remained a hidden order rather than becoming the dominant order of learning as they had hoped. The crown passed to Newton’s Royal Society and the Fraternal Order of Librarians lurked in the shadows, administering the library of the House of Brunswick and Leibniz’ philosophical journal Acta Eruditorium (now a strictly in-house publication). To this day, the FOL’s influence is far stronger in continental Europe than in the English speaking world, except for Australia.
The Modern Era
The FOL sat through World War II without getting involved. Although they had strong Germanic roots, they found the Nazi’s anti-intellectual attitude and destruction of books repulsive. The looting of various museums, galleries and archives by greedy high-ranking Nazis also ensured that few FOL members would consider siding with the Axis or collaborating with the Karotechia. Professor Hans Utrecht of the Inner Order was forcibly recruited by the latter due to his knowledge of ancient mystical writings, and spent his time attempting to sabotage the Nazi occult research effort from within. He was executed for disloyalty in the closing months of the war. He is revered as a hero by the Inner Order, who have struck a medal in his honour. This is awarded to members of the Dark Brotherhood who display exceptional heroism in the struggle against Hastur. It is rare for the award to be other than posthumous. Sadly, Professor Utrecht’s heroism was counterbalanced by the actions of the young Klaus Scholz, who used his new connections to obtain some of the Nazi’s cultural loot for himself in the aftermath of the war.
In the twentieth century, the Order has severed its ties with the church and become a largely secular organization. St Catherine remains the patron saint of the order, although the Dark Brotherhood campaigns to replace her with Indiana Jones or Doctor Who. The Order has been disturbed by the rise in visits from the Great Race, the increasing number of King in Yellow related incidents, and humanity’s own increasing obsession with occult knowledge and conspiracy. The order fears that the endtimes are approaching, and if they act openly to prevent or delay this then they may become the object of some tabloid journalism frenzy, a la the Da Vinci code. Oblique hints about the order were in fact published recently in a prominent historical novel.
The Dark Brotherhood itself was almost exposed recently when they assassinated a potential Nobel Prize for Literature winner who had produced “a postmodern interpretation of The King in Yellow”. In order to combat the possibility of exposure, some of the younger Dark Brotherhood members have recently taken the unusual step of publishing a humorous fictionalised account of the order, in the form of a comic book called Rex Libris. While many of the older Inner Order members think this a rash step, they accept that they are part of an artistic and cultural organization that ultimately exists to preserve humanity’s creativity, and appreciate the value of protective camouflage.
Friendlies and Enemies
The FOL is largely unaware of the other agencies and powers of the Mythos. This is partly due to a narrowness of vision. The FOL tends to assume that they know “The” truth, and that other accounts of ancient alien races visiting the earth and/or monstrous gods corrupting humanity are simply distorted renditions of the Great Race and/or Hastur. Apart from some of the most jaded members of the Secret Order, they are blind to the true breadth of horror encompassed by the Mythos.
The Secret Senate and the Dark Brotherhood are certainly aware of each other, but due to the Brotherhood’s disinformation campaign, the Senate believes that the Brotherhood are another Outer God or Great Old One cult, serving a rival aspect of Hastur or possibly Nyarlathotep.
One of the Inner Order’s permanent rivals is Miskatonic University. Due to a series of miscommunications occurring during and after Professor Dyer’s possession, the Order is convinced that Miskatonic is entirely controlled by a cult of Hastur, while the Mythos scholars of Miskatonic believe that the FOL serves the Mi-Go/Elder Things/Great Race, and through them Nyarlathotep (the staff of Miskatonic tend to lump “sinister alien races described in the Necronomicon” into the one basket marked “do not open”). Miskatonic has used its limited influence in the world of academia to bar known members of the FOL (most of whom are entirely innocent) from some academic and related cultural institutional positions in the USA. This is one reason the Order’s influence in the New World remains limited.
Some members of the Inner Order are also members of UFO spotters groups associated with Saucerwatch. The relative scepticism and care with which Saucerwatch and its allies investigate alien related activity appeals to the academic mindset of most FOL members. They are also interested in the research Saucerwatch has done into the hypnotic recovery of repressed memories, as enabling former Great Race victims to recover their memories and thus learn more of their patrons is a priority of the order. However, there has been no direct or official contact at an organisational level between the FOL and any of these groups.
The Dark Brotherhood has occasionally clashed with agents of the United Nations taskforce Resolution Zero (or The Starkweather Foundation if you prefer). Resolution Zero’s primary interest is in the Elder Things, but remnants of 500 million year old alien races are not easy to tell apart after all this time. Usually the DB have yielded the field to Resolution Zero’s superior firepower. RZ has written the group off as “more crazy occultists – leave it to Pisces”. As both RZ and the Inner Order operate from Australia, they would probably clash at a policy level if circumstances ever forced one or both to go public.
Creating a member of the Order
Outer Order Member:
Any of the templates for an Antiquarian, Author, Artist, Dilettante, Missionary, Parapsychologist or Professor is appropriate. Members should have a high EDU and a good Library Use skill.
Sample Outer Order member: Adam Crossingham.
Adam is an innocuous heritage professional, working in a minor museum in London. 2 years, 7 months, 19 days, 13 hours and 3 minutes from now, he will be possessed by a member of the Great Race. One day later, a meteorite bearing a Colour Out Of Space will destroy his house. These things happen. Should he survive, his future membership of the Inner Order is assured.
Inner Order Member:
As Outer Order Member. Cthulhu Mythos skill is raised to 13% (12% from study of the Pnakotic Manuscripts + 1% awareness of the King in Yellow). SAN loss of 1d8+1d4. Greek, Occult and Hypnosis are added to the list of professional skills.
Inner Order Members have an Int*2 chance of having learnt 1d3 spells from the Pnakotic Manuscripts.
Sample Inner Order Member: Dr Marissa Beranta.
Young and lively, Marissa is an atypical Inner Order member, who was recruited not because of her Great Race experience or dedication to the preservation of classical knowledge but because of the relevance of her work. She works as an English and Media Studies lecturer at Perth’s University of Western Australia. Her research on “Utopian lost race romances in Australia” was so uncannily close to the truth of the Great Race that the Inner Order believed she was an amnesiac victim of possession and approached her for recruitment. In fact, Marissa is an unconscious Dreamer – that is, she regularly visits the Dreamlands, but is unaware that they have any existence beyond her imagination. This provides her with great insights into the collective unconscious as expressed through modern culture. Humanity as a whole unconsciously knows of the Great Race (and much of the entire Mythos) even if no individual human does so, and Marissa has tapped that knowledge. While in the Dreamlands, she speaks and reads Aklo. She doesn’t know what the language is called, but would recognise it (and take a SAN hit as her dreams impact the real world) if she saw it.
A committed postmodern feminist, Marissa finds the order’s history (especially Hypatia) fascinating but its membership hopelessly stodgy, reactionary and, well, dull. She suspects that the so-called “King in Yellow cult” is a product of the Order’s own paranoia about generational change and youth culture rather than an actually existing sinister organisation.
In annoyance at the Order’s insistence that she study “magic”, Marissa has learnt what is believed to be the most useless spell in the entire book: Call Thionadelos Kuon (Hound of Tindalos). Out of respect for the Order’s great founder, she has also learnt Hypatia’s Ankh. She has never cast either of them (but does wear the Ankh occasionally). She is considering learning Call Bast, just to see what happens.
Creating a Dark Brotherhood Member
Members of the Dark Brotherhood are expected to be physically as well as mentally active. At least two of STR, CON or DEX should be average or above. The typical Brother is a young academic or post-graduate student. Some financial support from the order for their dangerous service offers them the time and opportunities to learn Hide, Meditate, Sneak, Fast Talk, and a combat skill (usually Martial Arts or Handgun). Due to their recruiting grounds being the fieldwork oriented professions, Brotherhood members are likely to have such useful skills as Make Maps, Pilot, First Aid, or anything else that might come in handy on an archaeological dig or anthropological field trip. Members of the Dark Brotherhood are encouraged to train as reserves in their nations’ armies. A few of these, located in Australia, have been trained in the use of Lightning Guns.
Although the Dark Brotherhood do not receive a regular salary, they are usually assured of jobs, grants and other patronage by Inner Order members. The Inner Order also maintains extensive life and health (including mental health) insurance coverage for members.
Many Dark Brotherhood members suffer from some form of neurosis as a result of their struggles with the Mythos, and take up odd hobbies like stamp collecting, comic book writing, train spotting or fantasy roleplaying games to compensate.
Raise Cthulhu Mythos to 15% (12% from the Pnakotic Manuscripts, + 3% familiarity with Hastur and the King in Yellow (first act only)). Decrease SAN by 2d8. Raise POW by 1 (Dark Brotherhood members are trained to strengthen their wills against outside influences).
Dark Brotherhood Members have an Int*2 chance of having learnt 1d3 spells from the Pnakotic Manuscripts. In addition, any member of the Dark Brotherhood who is capable of using magic will be taught Dismiss Hastur.
Sample Dark Brother in training: James Haughton.
Rakishly charming, devilishly brave, irresistible to women, incredibly quick witted and intelligent – these are just a few of the terms used to describe the heroes of the sci-fi and fantasy novels James reads constantly. Still, he gets by.
James is an anthropology student in Canberra, Australia. He first encountered the forces of the Mythos when a group of Tcho-Tcho dropped by for lunch at the village in Laos he was studying, and brought their pet Byakhee with them. Luckily for him, he owned the only motorcycle in the village.
After several months gibbering in hospital in Australia, he recovered enough to start trying to figure out WTF happened. Hitting the archives searching for records of man-eating space monsters attracted the attention of a particular librarian, who happened to be a member of the Inner Order of the FOL. The Order offered him a framework in which to explain his experience, counselling and the opportunity to act instead of being helpless.
James has now learnt a certain number of basic sabotage tactics and two spells: Hypatia’s Ankh and Dismiss Hastur. Still, he worries that there isn’t any mention of Tcho-Tcho or Byakhees in the Pnakotic Manuscripts, and wonders if the FOL really know what’s going on.
Keeper level Information
The following documents are classified TOP SECRET DELTA GREEN KEEPER CLEARANCE. If you have somehow obtained these documents, please return them UNREAD to the member of your cell with KEEPER level clearance. TO READ THESE DOCUMENTS WITHOUT CLEARANCE IS A SERIOUS OFFENCE. Penalties including fines, prison, death, and having your brain scooped out by a giant multicoloured buzzing lobster may be applied.
Important Person: Professor Emeritus Klaus Scholz.
On The Ecology of Time Travelling Species
An essay on trans-temporal ecology by Emeritus Professor Klaus Scholz (translated from the Greek by James Haughton).
Flying Polyps, Mark II