Mythos Artifact – The Adornments of Nitocris

The Mummy adorned with her crown and necklace. Art by Israel Botelho.

The resurrection of the dark Queen Nitocris requires three separate magical items, which then serve to protect the restored ruler. The destruction of any of these items will prevent the Brotherhood’s plan; however, these powerful artifacts will not be susceptible to conventional methods, and only one of them, the Girdle, remains outside the protection of the Brotherhood when your Investigators arrive in Egypt. The two other adornments, the Crown and Necklace of Nitocris may be found either at the Altar in the Great Chamber of Nyarlathotep or stored in Omar al-Shakti’s safe. While the campaign books focus on the destruction of these objects, we elaborated upon their magical powers in our game to present a dangerous temptation for our Investigators, who struggled with the decision to destroy these items to prevent Nitocris’ return or keep them as tools for their future battles.

Clues Leading to The Adornments:

Justin Geoffrey’s poetry collection bound in hunting horror hide.

The Investigators can learn of the Nitocris’ regalia in several ways throughout the campaign. The first clue may be found in Amongst the Stones, and we provided our Investigators with a simple poem revealing each item without explicitly naming Nitocris. While several other characters possess information about the discovery of Nitocris by the Clive expedition, including Dr. Kafour and Van Heuvelen, only Agatha Broadmoor can name the three adornments required for the resurrection. We prefer to present this revelation from Broadmoor to incentivize their participation in a séance with her. According to the campaign book, Broadmoor cannot provide details about the location or appearance of the artifact, but if Investigators choose to participate in a séance, you can bend the rules depending on their questions and behavior. This may allow you to hint at the other items in al-Shakti’s vault or foreshadow the Great Chamber. We also use Broadmoor to imply that the combined adornments of Nitocris provide the ability to protect and restore, as we will discuss shortly.   

The most readily available item, the Girdle of Nitocris, can be found in the care of the ulama at the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. The clue trail to the Girdle originates in New York with Besart’s letter mentioning Najjar, who will point them to the mosque. One of the Mosque’s Islamic scholars, Ahmed al-Dhahabi, will reveal that they guard the Girdle to prevent the resurrection of the evil queen, but curious Investigators may wish to know how the Girdle came under their protection and what power it may possess.

The Hidden Adornment and an Ancient Theft:

We imagine that the Clive Expedition recovered the Necklace and Crown along with the mummified Nitocris during the Giza excavation; however, to the surprise of the Brotherhood, the Girdle could not be found. Through al-Shakti’s network of spies, they recently tracked the Girdle to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. Although the Brotherhood’s leader possesses many dark resources and has haunted Egypt for thousands of years, the ulama of Ibn Tulun have managed to hide the Girdle from him for many centuries. 

When our Investigators inquired how the magical item entered the Mosque’s possession, al-Dhahabi and Efti recounted a legendary theft of the Girdle just before the sealing of Nitocris’ burial chamber. According to their oral history, the Girdle disappeared from Egypt for many centuries only to resurface in the 13th century at the height of the Seventh Crusade. 

The Legend of the Pharaoh-Queen’s Girdle:

The Girdle of Nitocris, as depicted in the Necronomicon. Art by Israel Botelho

Once pressed by Investigators for details, al-Dhahabi will defer to Efti as he tells the story summarized here: 

After the death of her husband, Shajar al-Durr became the first female Sultan of Egypt with the full support of the Egyptian army. She reportedly wore the Girdle while defending Egypt during the battle at Damietta, where she and her forces crushed Louis IX of France. While wearing the Girdle, al-Durr appeared invulnerable and capable of instilling great terror in her opponents.

Despite her victories, the Caliph al-Musta’sim in Baghdad denied her the Egyptian throne and installed Mamluk Izz al-Din Aybak in her place. Rumors circulated about her growing dark powers and obsession with the ancient Pharaoh Nitocris. She eventually ordered her husband murdered by servants. In retribution, the son and former wife of Aybak had her stripped, beaten to death, and thrown naked from the top of the Red Tower. 

Remarkably, the Girdle could not be removed until she was recovered three days later from the surrounding moat and buried in a tomb near the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. The wise Islamic scholars, aware of al-Durr’s behavior and the legend of Nitocris, secreted the Girdle away beneath the Mosque for centuries to come. 

The Tomb of Shajarr al-Durr. Source: Archnet.

We imagine that the chaos of the Crusades distracted al-Shakti, who may have been serving Nyarlathotep elsewhere, and allowed the Islamic holy men of Ibn Tulun to secure the powerful artifact without drawing his attention. 

The Quest to Destroy the Adornments:

As presented in the campaign books, the Adornments of Nitocris present a quest to the Investigators wherein they must simply destroy just one of the items to prevent the resurrection of Nitocris. The most readily available candidate will likely be the Girdle, which requires the Space Mead for its destruction; however, this requires either the burglary of M’Dari’s apartment in New York or acquisition of Secret Mysteries of Asia from Madam Lin Yenyu in China. If your Investigators take the conventional campaign path and skip M’Dari’s apartment, the Girdle will survive to the final chapter. 

While recovering the Necklace and Crown may prove more difficult, the means to destroy them might be more readily available at this point in the campaign. The Necklace may be managed with the Sword of Akmallah (Egypt) or an Enchanted Knife (Liber Ivonis – England). One of the many solutions for the Crown may be found at Misr House in Song of the Djinn. You may also wish to include arcane drawings in al-Shakti’s safe to suggest that he may be attempting to recreate the lost Girdle and imply that he could possess the power to replace destroyed artifacts. 

The Dark Powers of the Adornments:

As we have discussed previously, we believe that dilemmas increase our players’ enjoyment and engagement. As written, the Adornments of Nitocris simply offer artifacts requiring destruction; however, by allowing Investigators access to the tempting powers of these items, you can introduce a significant dilemma with dangerous consequences. 

As mentioned above, the item most likely to come into the Investigator’s possession will be the Girdle. Based on the fictional legend we provided and Sharifa Rawash’s profile, we gave the Girdle the following effects if worn (or possessed):

Provides 3 points of magical armor and grants the owner the spell Implant Fear 

We described an aura of safety and protection to the Investigator who received the Item, which faded if they did not don the adornment. Tempted by the description in Efti’s tale, Lucia donned the Girdle and we immediately communicated the effects. Fearing ill-effects, she immediately removed it but recognized its utility. 

Similarly, the other individual adornments and complete set will provide the following protection and spells:

Crown: 3 points of magical armor and grants the owner the spell Gate

Necklace: 3 points of magical armor and grants the owner the spell Clutch of Nyogtha 

All Three Adornments: 12 points of magical armor and grants the owner the spell Call the Black Pharaoh (Contact Nyarlathotep)

For every point of damage, the magical armor prevents, the wearer will lose one Sanity and one POW point. We chose not to reveal this effect until the damage occurred, and allowed our player to make the association between the damage prevention and Sanity/POW loss. In addition to these effects, the wearer will draw the full attention of the Brotherhood. If al-Shakti lives, you may allow him to sense the location of the Adornments if used to prevent damage or cast spells. 

Some players may be Mythos-cautious enough to immediately destroy the Adornments, but others may decide to continue to evaluate the cost-benefit as their players slide deeper towards oblivion. If an Investigator becomes permanently insane while wearing the adornments, you may decide to use them as a vessel or agent for Nitocris and return the items to the Brotherhood.