Cthulhu Companion (1983)

Nothing says Fourth of July like trying to climb out of a pit filled with gelatinous tentacles, right?

Chaosium’s Companion books (there’s at least one for most of their systems; this is the first of two for Call of Cthulhu) are strange saddle stitched potpourris, usually numbering about 64 pages. This one contains an essay on the Cthulhu Mythos in Mesoamerica, an essay on the Necronomicon and etymology, four adventures, a handful of rules additions and new deities, a selection of H. P. Lovecraft’s poetry and the lyrics to a parody song called “The Lair of Great Cthulhu,” set to the tune of “Chatanooga Choo-Choo.” If I bought this in 1983, I might be a bit puzzled as to the book’s overall utility aside of the adventures.

Most of this material would wind up incorporated into the Call of Cthulhu core rulebook starting with the third edition and has slowly disappeared with every revision. Some material wound up elsewhere. To my knowledge, though, the Mesoamerica essay has never been reprinted, which is a shame. Written by Richard L. Tierney, a mainstay of American Weird Fiction best known for his series of Red Sonja novels and his Simon of Gitta stories, the essay is a fascinating exercise in comparative religion, revealing the secret truth of the Cthulhu Mythos lurking in the hearts of human faiths.

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