Location: Stored in an old shoebox beneath Janwillem Van Heuvelen’s bed in Cairo (The Black Cat, sidetrack scenario).
Physical Description: Ten fragile papyrus scrolls, handwritten in cramped Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Author: Luveh-Keraphf, High Priest of Bast. Researching the author reveals conflicting esoteric information about his role as an Atlantean priest alongside High Priest Klarkash-Ton, an alleged servant of Tsathoggua.
Publication History: 13th Dynasty Egypt (1786-1633 BCE), part of the larger collection entitled the Scroll of Bubastis. According to Egyptian scholars, most copies of the Scroll of Bubastis excluded the Black Rites, which were held in secret at the most closely guarded temples. Exceedingly rare and protected by modern worshippers of Bast. Rumors speak of a possible Greek translation, which may be held in storage at the British Museum.
The first scroll details the biography of the author, Luveh-Keraphf, who served as Bast’s High Priest for several decades during the 13th Dynasty. The subsequent scrolls detail the worship of Bast, including rituals for summoning Bast, contacting her feline followers, and the difficult process of bending them to the high priest’s will. Later scrolls discuss various Egyptian deities, which include Sebek and his temples located along the banks of the Nile. Near the end of the text, the author provides ominous warnings about the Black Pharaoh, an avatar of Nyarlathotep.
Spells: Contact Bast, Bind Cat, Call the Black Sphinx, Contact Nyarlathotep (Black Pharaoh form), Contact Ghoul, Contact Sebek, Bind Crocodile
Connection to the Broader Campaign:
Luveh-Keraphf discussed Nyarlathotep in his Egyptian forms as the Faceless God (an alternative title for the Black Sphinx) and the Black Pharaoh. The information provided in the Black Rites may supplement or be corroborated by Dr. Ali Kafour’s, as described in The Black Pharaoh in History and Legends of the Black Pharaoh, pages 324 and 325, respectively). As needed, the information may point the investigators to key Egyptian locations or foreshadow future scenes.
Consider allowing your investigators to turn to Bast and/or Sebek as deity allies similar to Nodens, who offer opposition to Nyarlathotep in exchange for favors. Negotiated arrangements may lead to sidetracks or future adventures following the conclusion of the campaign. Such an arrangement, brokered with Neris (p. 327), potentially allows the investigators to keep and study the scrolls as part of their collaboration.
If the investigators return the scrolls to Neris and the Bast cult, they still have access to Van Heuvelen’s translation, which potentially highlights interesting topics and spells (or simply mistranslates the original contents).
Summoning Sebek and Involving Crocodiles in Your Campaign:
England: Gavigan’s statuary in his secret workroom contains a broken wooden statuette, which may be interpreted as a smashed idol of Sebek (p. 276) rather than Children of the Sphinx (p. 381). This could be used to infer an adversarial relationship with Nyarlathotep.
Egypt: Investigators spot crocodiles lounging along the banks of the Nile, and may be encountered on the grounds of Omar al-Shakti’s. Crocodile-headed Children of the Sphinx offer tempting targets for the Bind Crocodile spell.
Kenya: Crocodiles can be found near the Colonel Endicotts Game Lodge (p. 416) in the Mbagathi-Athi River.
Australia: Freshwater crocodiles are found in Western Australia and the Northern Territory with habitats including freshwater wetlands, rivers, creeks, and billabongs (an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course). Also found in very arid and rock environments, which justify a rare encounter in the Great Sandy Desert or blind albino crocodiles hidden in subterranean pools located in the ancient Yithian city.
Bast & the Dreamlands:
Like Van Heuvelen, investigators carrying the scrolls find themselves experiencing strange and frequent feline encounters. Despite efforts to hide the scrolls, cats regularly identify the location and rest nearby or offer up blood sacrifices (mice, rats, and birds). If incorporating the Dreamlands into your campaign, contacting Bast potentially points the investigators in the direction of the Cats of Ulthar as a potential ally. Bast is also linked to ghouls by Saracen sorcerers, who refer to her as “the Chewer of Corpses.” Ghouls in and out of the Dreamlands potentially form cults devoted to Bast.
“Fierce and noble is my goddess, daughter of Ra and Isis, sworn defender of our great realm. A shield against the dark, corrupt and diseased. She gifts us with many sons and daughters. We honor her and her mortal brethren. She is the eye of the moon gazing upon us all and watching always for the return of the Faceless One.”
The worship of the cat-headed Egyptian goddess of pleasure, Bast, originated in Atlantis and continued following the continent’s sinking with the cult centered in the Lower Egyptian city of Bubastis. Out of reverence for their goddess, the citizens of Bubastis revered and mummified felines. At the end of the Third Dynasty, Nephren-Ka, the Black Pharaoh, undermined and subverted the cult of Bast during his reign introducing horrific violence and perversion to ritual worship. Most priests of Basts became agents of the Black Pharaoh, and the adherents of other gods descended upon Bubastis to wipe out the decadent and blasphemous cult. Some true followers of Bast escaped, and the cult underwent reformation.
“We must remain vigilant. The Black Pharaoh’s ways are subtle and insidious. He hides beneath the light of Ra’s sun while crawling in the darkness, lingering in the shadows. He has once before corrupted the rites of our blessed goddess. He opens the way for the insatiable Black Sphinx. We must be wary of his temptations.”
The Black Pharaoh also influenced the worship of Sebek, the Terrible Lord of the Riverbanks, during the Third Dynasty. Originally, a fertility god also associated with death and burial before becoming a major deity and patron of kings in the Middle Kingdom. His riverside temples are described, along with the rituals for sacrifices made in his name. Cautionary chapters, devoted to the darker members of the Egyptian pantheon, are also included.
“Look upon the Terrible Lord of the Riverbanks, Sebek, green of plumage with alert face and raised fore. He eats with his mouth as he splashes in the Nile. He takes women from their husbands according to his heart’s fancy. The faithful must feed the lusty River God in his Memphis sanctum or face his jaws. He is the patron of departed Amenemhat, and flies as a twin with Horus to assert the might of the Pharaohs.”
Mythos Significance of Bast and Sebek:
Bast is incorporated into several stories written by Robert Bloch, including “The Brood of Bubastis,” “The Mannikin,” and “The Suicide in the Study.” Lovecraft, a devoted cat enthusiast, may have been a secret Bast cultist.