In a back alley of Thanksgiving Town, a black-clad figure sidles up to you. “A great horror approaches! You must stop the rise of a terrible evil!” it hisses. It presses a moldering letter into your hand before vanishing down a side passage. A fetid, gamey odor wafts from the pages. You flip through them:

A twilit gathering of half-seen figures huddled in the gloaming. Their leader raised his arms, and a ghastly ritual began. With haunting strains of ancient music piping hideously at the edges of hearing, the bodily forms of the conspirators dissolved into shapeless mists and quivering striations. These gave way in turn to a hallucinatory succession of dreadful visions. A reckless seeker after forbidden knowledge tore into the natural order, loosing a flurry of forgotten horrors upon the world. Imbuing inert tools with a wretched semblance of life, he forced them to perform his bidding. They quickly escaped their master’s control, and brought forth great waters in an unstoppable inundation. Deep Ones crept forth and covered the earth. Time itself was wrenched awry, and eons passed in an instant, vanished life arising once more, and the planet’s mastery given over to great leathery beasts. Strange, chimerical creatures that never were ran amok, watched over by forgotten gods. At last a cyclopean fiend arose from restless slumber, and called forth daemoniac hordes of the dead and accursed, to chitter and gambol about the blasted ruins of once-holy places.

A family of hapless travelers set out on an ill-fated journey. Unknowingly, they stumbled beyond the thin veil that separates the world we know from the much deeper reality beyond. Eldritch forces quickly transfigured two of them into brute creatures, leaving the third, a young girl, alone and at the mercy of spectral enemies seeking her destruction. These phantoms stole her name and forced her into servitude. She struggled with unutterable labors and perils, including the cleaning of a foetid waterway, the grooming of a Hound of Tindalos, and a confrontation with an all-devouring entity which had been kept safely beyond the bounds of her refuge until her disastrous error of welcoming it within. Her efforts ultimately succeeded in restoring the other travelers, though at the cost of their memories of the ordeal, which otherwise would have sent them descending howling into madness.

A young man traveled to foreign lands in search of a bride. To ensure success in his suit, he sought the help of a warlock who consorted with blasphemous powers. This necromancer offered him an artifact, the Shining Trapezohedron, promising that it would grant his fondest desires. But at the amulet’s touch, the man dwindled away to take the loathsome form of a slimy beast. In the grip of the curse, he accosted a passing woman. The touch of the batrachian creature transformed the unfortunate woman into a second creeping horror, and the pair slipped away to the unwholesome fens that gnaw at the edges of the town, where they fell into the company of the other noisome beings lurking there. Not content, the wizard summoned a host of tenebrous fiends to destroy the two. But he overstepped his reach, and in turn was dragged into the stygian depths to an unutterable fate.

A mysterious gateway appeared in the home of a young boy. Drawn by fatal curiosity, he passed through and found himself in an indescribable realm that seemed innocuous at first, but quickly revealed itself to be in the grip of a terrible madness. His journeys took him through indistinct fields populated by amorphous creatures that lulled him into slumber before seeking his destruction; to a city populated by inhabitants obsessed with lexical arcana, and another whose unhealthy devotion was to numerology; and at last to a prison high above the earth where powerful entities were confined. He was aided by allies including Randolph Carter, a fellow traveler in dreams; a mongrel driven by a soulless arrangement of clockwork; and a chitinous insect the size of a man. Their travels were opposed by a legion of evil spirits embodying the blackest faults of humankind.

Desperate to elude his own mortality, a porcine hellion determined to go to any lengths to live forever. To achieve his foul aims, he conspired with a company of vile creatures, including a Mi-Go interloper from planes beyond; a rat whose only concern was for his own insatiable appetites; and above all, an arachnid sorceress whose spells were most directly responsible for his unnaturally prolonged life. In the end, the boar’s immortality was secured, but the enchantress perished from her efforts; yet in her dying throes, hundreds of gibbering offspring burst forth from her body, loosing a new generation of unspeakable horrors upon the world.

An antiquarian scholar in a New England university town delved too deeply into ancient magics. Reading from the Liber Ivonis, he was torn from his home and plunged into a nightmarish world of battling entities beyond the comprehension of mortals. As a result of a skirmish between these beings, his mind was cast into the body of a great winged lizard. He struggled to encompass these events within his comprehension, particularly the ability of these behemoths to escape the fetters of earth, as well as to spark infernos with their unclean exhalations. This slow wit proved his salvation when he found himself in confrontation with an antediluvian entity of malignant power; his stolid denial of the reality of his predicament ironically led to his expulsion first from the body of the squamous reptile and then from the mystical realm altogether, never to return.

One of the colossal beasts in Professor Henry Armitage’s famous menagerie gave birth to a hideously malformed monstrosity. The mother, driven mad by the grotesque aspect of her offspring, was imprisoned in an asylum. The abomination, scorned and outcast by all around it, by chance slaked its thirst from a dank cistern containing an occult elixir. It fell into a swoon, and wandered through scenes of spectral delirium for an age. When it awoke, it possessed a terrible new power allowing it to ignore the bonds of gravity and visit destruction upon its enemies from above. Exulting in its newfound puissance, it tormented and harrowed all those who had once opposed it, ushering in an unstoppable reign of misery.

An unknowable and unspeakable force infused an unholy semblance of life into a roomful of child’s playthings. Unsettled by the loss of two of their number, a pair of others set out into the wider world in the hope of retrieving them. The duo were joined by a reeking beast with rugose joints and a blue pelt, who was scourged by visions of others of his kind beckoning him onward to eternity. Led astray by these phantoms, the travelers were ensnared by an amorphous horror seeking to devour a living heart to satiate its unappeasable maw. Barely escaping this danger, the three investigators next fell into the clutches of a sinister monarch whose sadistic glee at the suffering of others would distend his physical form in disproportionate tumescence. He was aided by a familiar called forth from the deepest trenches of the sea, a noisome, gargantuan cephalopod whose numberless tentacles tormented all within their immeasurable reach, to the unwholesome delight of the ghoulish king. Hideously swollen, he loomed over the realm. At last a rupture to the fabric of reality brought the journey to an end. The other wanderers fell into a swirling vortex and descended into darkness.

A house infested by rodents was destroyed by a vicious exterminating force. Nevertheless, the vermin escaped, and made their way across the vasty deep toward a new world. Though harried by the very elements, which attempted to expunge them from creation, the loathsome rodents clung ineradicably to the detritus of the heaving seas; they flowed ashore to defile the city beyond, infiltrating its underside where they swelled the ranks of the inhuman creatures already plaguing the unhappy land. The antediluvian knowledge they brought from the accursed cradle that spawned them was seized on by the chthonic fiends first present, and together they raised a titanic blasphemy, a soulless construct brought to an obscene mockery of life by inscribing an elder sign upon it. The bloated monster drove out their adversaries in terror and flame. Yet even this was only the start of the blight: with their diabolical lore, they ended by creating a gangrenous colossus, which ensured an endless influx of the wretched creatures from the realms beyond in an unstoppable flood.

A young girl was carried by malevolent forces from our world to a phantasmagorical land. There she was haunted by unnatural creatures given terrible life by unhallowed rites, including a flabby manlike form lumpy with decaying plant matter; a hollow metal automaton; a sentient equine statue carved from timber; and a cadaverous figure with an orange, fungoid growth in place of a head. The band was accompanied by a hound from our world, and by the cats of Ulthar, which wander freely between both. They were beset by the schemes of a baleful witch and her army of warped, beastly servants. At last, having destroyed the witch, the girl was confronted by another sorceress, who summoned a howling wind that carried her bodily from the realm.

A degraded recluse living in a mildewed tower carried out fearful rites invoking the spirits of the foaming deep. Visited for a time by dripping, webbed agents of that netherworld, he was left with two progeny of those dalliances, apparently human at casual glance but in truth slimy half-breeds true to their ichorous origins. One took the flayed skin of a sea-beast and transformed to conspire with her aquatic brethren. On the night of All Saints’ Eve, she sounded a triton horn to summon the daemoniac beings of the unseen realms. A clawing hag, queen of the night birds, sought to leach the emotions from all living things. Cast up on a rocky outcrop, the half-human creature intoned a wailing ululation conjuring the full power of the briny depths, raising a fey army and freeing the dreadful Nyarlathotep from the stone prison to which he had been confined.

A young boy, trespassing in forbidden domains, uncovered an ancient evil: a gargantuan behemoth of metal from the voids between the stars, whose insatiable voracity ravaged his hometown and threatened to lay waste to the entire nation. One heroic man, alerted by its depredations, sought to warn the countryside, but was thwarted through subterfuge by the titan’s human thralls. At last the man was able to rouse the military forces of the land against it, but it was too late: its power had so grown that the armed might of the entire land was of no use against it. Only a proscribed weapon of ultimate devastation could oppose it, at a terrible cost. And even then it was not truly defeated, only checked; like great Cthulhu himself, it lies even now slumbering in the inaccessible wastes, waiting for the day when it will awaken and reclaim this earth for its own.

The world was overrun with gibbering monsters of every shape and color. Adventurers of fortune wandered the land, capturing these mumbling creatures and forcing them into violent conflict for their own twisted amusement. An unscrupulous doctor, obsessed with raising his daughter from the dead, drew on the essence of one of these bestial excrescences to create a grim, remorseless assassin. Contaminated by a vial of golden mead, the doctor’s other experiments decomposed into glutinous, oozing detritus; and the murderous creature, driven mad by the sight, shattered the laboratory and swore to eradicate all human life. It used its vast powers over the elements to thwart those who would stand against it, and ensured its final victory through its ability to manipulate time itself.

Delving deep below the tallest mountain in the land of the origin of the sun, a young man discovered an artifact left behind by the Great Race of Yith: a grotesque mechanical colossus, with an artificial homunculus within, and a weapon capable of devastating the entire earth. An insane scientist, long thought dead, arose as though resurrected from the diabolical underworld that gave him his name, and schemed to take control of this endless power for his own unnameable ends. Only another lumbering metal construct could oppose this infernal plan, or enable its completion.

A young boy fell into delirium and wandered in unknowable ways through feverish visions. He was summoned by the monarch of the sleeping world, invested with nameless powers, and commanded into a liaison with the spawn of the corpulent ruler. Tempted by a repellent, baboon-like familiar, he read from the Necronomicon and unwittingly summoned an appalling entity, which abducted the sovereign and threatened to darken forever the protean realms of hallucination. Roaming in ungovernable paths among disordered fantasies, and accompanied by a host of abhorrent fiends and chittering beasts, the boy descended into the entity’s lair and, invoking an unspeakable incantation, rent it apart bodily into utter annihilation.

A diseased rodent’s kindred set out to subvert a peasant’s ability to work his farm. Aided by a tenebrous bird of carrion, and hunted by a creature named for a squamous predator of legend, they sought out and joined forces with a furtive horde of vermin infesting the dark places of the earth. These last had once been wholesome beasts, but had been twisted by sinister researchers meddling in the natural order. The abominations escaped their captors’ control, assimilating their knowledge and technology and using the silver key to unlock the bonds keeping them pent. Now free to spread their perverse influence throughout the world, and led by a withered elder possessed of eldritch powers, the rodents helped their brethren to undermine the plans of the farmers, as well as those of the skulking experimenters that had created them and still sought to cleanse the earth of their festering corruption. Roiling clouds obscuring the gibbous moon, they set in motion the awful machinery of their plot. Treachery from within threatened to sabotage their intrigues; but the unleashed power of a demoniacal talisman, pulsating with pallid iridescence, brought their depraved schemes to ghastly fruition.