Wherein all shall be revealed.

I will explain at the start that my style as a GM tends to be sandboxy, to present situations, background and themes, rather than running PCs through a detailed linear plot. So the answer to some "where was that going" type questions may be "I expected that to become clear as you explored it".

The Missing Mummies

The mummies are those of Hakim the Dyer of Merv, aka "The Veiled Prophet of Khorasan", and his lover and/or twin sister.

The Veiled Prophet was a quite successful (and dangerous) schismatic leader in the early Islamic period, who blended Islamic teachings with older fire-worshipping traditions and his own messianic pretensions. He crops up as a cultural influence in a number of implausible places. His enemies claimed he wore a veil because he was leprous and hideously disfigured; his allies that his face had been touched by God and the sight of it would be fatal to mortal men. In this game, he is an avatar of The King in Yellow. He was raised from the dead in the tomb by the thieves.

The sister/lover I hadn't developed a distinct role for yet, but was thinking about a "The Mummy" sub-plot in which her resurrection (or reincarnation in a PC or ally) proves crucial in defeating him.

The Thieves

The thieves are members of a splinter group of Akromiya, an Islamist organization founded by Akrom Yo‘ldoshev, who took Akrom's ideas about mathematics as a way to approach the divine in a rather unexpected, that is to say sorcerous, direction. As a result of the various permutations and combinations of the Great Game/War on Terror, they have become allied with the obscure Central Asian/Afghan cult of Nestar, which continues the ancient religion of the Magi, that is to say fire/djinn worship (in Cthulhu terms: they worship Cthugha). As part of their effort to raise the Veiled Prophet, they have been behind various thefts worldwide of relics associated with his reign in Khorasan, his teachings, and other supernatural beings/occurrences linked to the area.

Airman Smith

The late Airman Clark Smith, mentally-disturbed petty crook, was recruited by Akromiya and was under the impression that they were a simple criminal gang, and that the raid on the Tomb of Timur was a smash-and-grab for valuable antiques, which he planned to smuggle over the Afghan border to a gang-buddy of his in the US forces in Afghanistan (this connection and back-story can be discovered at the airbase).
He was sacrificed to bring about the resurrection of the Veiled Prophet, which involved his body having the mummy's last thousand years of aging transferred to it, reducing him to dessicated dust. This was the luckless airman's second, and final, brush with Mythos forces - details of his first can be found in Pagan Publishing's scenario "PX Poker Night" (free!).

Smith's dust is infected with the Weeping Death, a supernaturally enhanced virus which infects the tear ducts. Pus oozes from the eyes and spreads to cover the face, hardening the skin into a masklike yellow visage, beneath which the flesh slowly rots, while the mind is opened to the King in Yellow. I got this from the rather good James Lowder story "The Weeping Masks", a Cthulhu Mythos/Sherlock Holmes pastiche about Watson's adventures in Afghanistan.

The Robbery

Akromiya killed the guard and entered the tomb using a bound djinn, an entity of living flame (a fire vampire for those up on their Cthulhu mythos). Once inside, they destroyed the various wards set in place to keep the Prophet in his grave and conducted a rite which raised him from the dead, destroying Smith in the process. They then fled westward towards the old Soviet Biological Weapons testing ground (yes, very nasty), where the Prophet intended to establish himself. When Karimov's cops came on the scene, their first reaction was to try to clean the place up (Uzbekistan is not really big on forensics), so they started to hose it down. Water + dessicated human dust = puddles of blood, which, as mentioned above, is infected with the Weeping Death. A panic about supernatural manifestations ensued.

The World-Conquering Villainous Plot

Akromiya and their allies the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have a covert deal with one of the oil companies seeking to exploit Uzbekistan's reserves, who have become fed up with the amount of baksheesh-extraction and general corrupt non-cooperation they get from the Karimov regime. They protect the company's pipelines & extraction sites from local gangsterism and terrorism and destabilise the regime to the point where it is more in need of cash and hence more willing to deal, and are paid well to do so.

The Prophet will turn this deal on its head. Once the oil is flowing, he plans to infect the oil itself with the Weeping Death; the virus is very hardy and a sufficient percentage will survive the various stages of extraction, purification, burning, etc to infect a large number of people along the oil supply chain, which is worldwide in scope. Global pandemic ensues.

How the PCs were going to stop this I hadn't quite decided, but one angle would be to work on splitting the Islamic heretics (Hastur) and the fire-worshippers (Cthugha). Fire and plague are not natural allies and the forces of supernatural fire could purify the infestation.

The time travelling option

This is just the most recent time that the King in Yellow has manifested as the Veiled Prophet of Khorasan, and I was considering running the campaign through a number of linked scenarios at various stages of history, perhaps with earlier re (or rather pre) incarnations of the same PCs: infiltrating the (real life) Order of the Veiled Prophet in 1920s St Louis, Missouri (Cthulhu Classic), who based themselves on Thomas Moore's poem Lalla Rookh (about the Veiled Prophet); with the British troops in Afghanistan under Victoria (Cthulhu Gaslight), based on the story The Weeping Masks mentioned above; at the Samarkand court of Ulugh Beg, Timurid sultan, astronomer and mathematician, where you would get to meet the immortal Abdul Alhazred and seal the Prophet in the tomb (Cthulhu Dark Ages); and marching with Alexander the Great's legions (Cthulhu Invictus), based on the Robert E. Howard Conan story "The Black Colossus", which itself is based on the Veiled Prophet myth.

OOOOOH, SPIFFY. glad i was so buttoned-up and squared-away about contamination risks ….

I certainly do wish that I had the time to play this. I imagine it could make a fun scenario/mini-campaign to pitch to Pagan (if you were so inclined). This should not be lost to the dustbin of history.

- Robert

Still trying to digest how awesome this would have been if I hadn't flaked out. The good(ish) Dr. Lowell was, IIRC, taste-testing the Weeping Death in the crypt; and even if he hadn't, he probably would have eventually. Because really, what kind of threat does something non-textual pose to someone like him? I'm trying to triangulate on just how out of his depth he was. His particular brand of methodologically rigorous and rigorously narrow intellectualism — however conspiracy-theory-flavored — seems like it could be a very… dense? powerful? armor against the entropy of the KIY. Yeah, "dense", that's the word for it. OTOH, time travel? For him, quite a lure. I have to say, I have a couple Parsi friends, and the way they keep getting written up as Cthugha-cultists is a little disconcerting. I could never even get them to light off firecrackers in their enemies' mailboxes.

Are you thinking of writing this scenario/campaign up for publication or at least distribution? I really like it.

The Veiled Prophet stuff especially — I remember it coming up on the DGML some years back, but had forgotten all about it when this game came up, and it would have been an extremely good kind of nasty surprise. Oh hell, who am I kidding. I wouldn't have found it nasty at all. Ultimately fatal, maybe, but then that's thermodynamics for ya.

- Kim


This is about my 4th attempt to respond - the page keeps crashing!
Thanks all for the comments.

Never mind the Weeping Death; you should have been worried about whether you drank the lousy embassy coffee. I did warn your characters that it was Moccona instant; and Moccona is just the anglicised name of Al-Muqanna, the Veiled Prophet himself… (I think they picked it because it sounded exotic and middle eastern and those are good for coffee marketing purposes. Unfortunately, some symbols are weapons-grade).

Another thing I intended to do as we got up and running was (as you got deeper into the weirdness) go back and start gradually altering the early pages; the briefing and such; to represent the King In Yellow altering and distorting your memories. Wikis are good like that.

I hoped it would be a while before someone noticed and said something like "uh - do any of the rest of you remember Ms Aldones wearing a yellow silk robe and holding a skull during the briefing?"

I now have the Bookhounds campaign up and running, but could still do with more players if anyone wants another go:

Thanks again for playing!


PS Who said the plot was implausible? Archaeology magazine special report: The Tale of the StolenPersian Princess:



Thanks for the update! In the same spirit, let me point out this entry on Central Asian astro{nomy/graphy/logy} in the always cultural-cringe-inducing and well-illustrated Poemas del Rio Wang:

I particularly point out what is obviously Yog-Sothoth, a mass of greenish globes, extruding a mockery of a human head, in one manuscript page. In addition — Samarkand's peculiar scientific monuments, built by the suddenly-murdered grandson of Tamerlane, and brotherhoods of Eurasia-spanning scholars of extra-mundane secrets.

Also:, a sketch (again beautifully illustrated) of a field linguist and folktale collector of the Caucasus & points east, who was involved in the hunt for Mysterious Alpine Hominids(?) during the Cold War… (And while Soviet academicians had certain subcultural peculiarities, compared to Dr. Lowell's "issues"… !!)

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