Shoggoth’s don’t live forever, you know. They are built specifically for tasks that have timebombs programmed into them, meaning: every shoggoth has an expiration date, and if you thought they they were bad to be around on a normal day, I promise you, you don’t want to be there when they expire.
See, the instruction manuals that wizards use to conjure these things, they don’t come with the warning on the package anymore, at least not since that al-Hazred guy got his hands on the recipe 1500 years ago. At the time, he owed a lot of people a lot of money (like, A LOT a lot) and he saw getting his hands on these ancient texts and putting them into one big book as his ticket out (if you thought owing money to the New York mafia of the 1970s was bad, you don’t know anything about 8th century Damascus money-lenders). Not only would he get his debts paid off, but if anyone got any of the ceremonies wrong, then that would be one less debt Al-Hazrad had to pay. Gotta give the guy credit for thinking outside the box.
So al-Hazred is going to hand off this big collected book of all the crazy shit that he’s found after a year wandering the desert, looking in caves and other less desirable places, and he realizes that once he finishes the job, there’s a good chance of them whacking him anyway. But he’s a thinking man, and he’s thinking about what’s going to happen once he’s gone, how he can make these folks pay, right? Then it hits him—these monsters from another dimension, the ones used by Elder Things as servants, they expire. In their original form, many of these spells have a built-in timer that turns them off after a while, or at least they did before he put them into the Necronomicon (which is, I have to say, a fine piece of marketing—Book of the Dead seems too easy now, too on the nose, but back then it really was an open market and we think it would be easy to pick a great name, but do you know how hard it is to pick a name that sticks? My agent’s always telling me, “you need a name with hooks, something that people remember, then you can fill it with whatever you want, but it’s the name that matters.” Anyway, golf clap to you al-Hazred, on picking a name with hooks, both figuratively and, I guess, literally.)
But I digress. Where was I? Right—expiration dates. So, he’s playing the long game, wants people to really remember him once he’s gone, like, really make his point about feeling wronged with this whole money loan betrayal. So when he translates these shoggoth spells into the book the first time, he leaves out all the information on how to take care of your shoggoth before it expires. That way, when these money lenders pass on this book to their wizards, they don’t get the whole spell and then poof! Now there’s a expired shoggoth wandering around town, killing and eating and no one knows what to do with it because they killed the guy who wrote the instruction manual just days before! Oh, the irony is rich.
I bet you’re not here for a history lesson though, as you probably have a shoggoth problem that you need fixing, and now you’re listening to me ramble on. Sorry—so, what to do with your expired shoggoth? First thing, don’t go near it at all. Yes, I know it’s off traipsing through your neighbor’s shrubbery and destroying the countryside, but trust me, you want to do this from a distance. Oh I know, Armitage got right in there and faced off the beast himself, but he also had the Powder of Ibn-Ghazi. Do you have any of that? Didn’t think so. All you have is me and your busted instruction manual. Plus Armitage likes that sort of thrill—whew, talk about an adrenaline junky. Some day they’ll invent a way to safely throw yourself out of a airplane and I promise you ol’ Henry A will be first in line.
The key here is not to panic, even when it’s likely that everyone around you is doing just that. Go get your pages of the Necronomicon—you know, the ones that got you into this mess in the first place—and lay them out in front of you, like on a desk already stacked high with other ancient documents or a table covered with boiling beakers of colored liquids (I get that some people think that the messy desk represents mad genius, but personally, I’d like to just once see a purveyor of hidden magics in a story that has a tidy and well organized desk! Some of us actually have the ability to keep ourselves and our research actually in order, you know, like a professional. But noooooooooooo this whole Dr Jekyll mad and messy scientist happens just once in pop culture and now a clean desk somehow means that you’re not mad enough. I’ll tell you what will get me mad: a messy desk!) So, we’re almost there, stick with me.
Clean desk, messy desk, it doesn’t matter, just lay out the six or seven pages of the shoggoth summoning spell (there should only be six OR seven pages—no more, no less. If you have more, then you have the wrong spell (duh) but if you have less, then you, my friend, got ripped off and neither I nor al-Hazred can help you…maybe see if Armitage is around?) Now that you’ve got them laid out, you should see along the borders of each page the same little symbol that looks like a feather with a sharp tip. Every page should have this symbol, which is the original and only truly authentic Elder Sign (don’t get me started on…just, don’t), and if you line up all the symbols on each page, and then hold the stack of pages close to a candle (but not too close cos fire), then the hidden spell of Shoggoth Recovery will be exposed.
This spell does not need a blood sacrifice of any sort, but instead requires you to cast all your records of debt and money lending into the same fires you used to summon the shoggoth in the first place. And that, my friend, is the final trick that al-Hazred played on everyone. He actually did include the ‘Off Switch’ for shoggoths, it just requires you (or your money-lending wizards if you’ve gotten yourself into that sort of trouble) to release all bondage of debt in your books. It seems so easy, doesn’t it, to just take all your records of debt and pitch them into the fire in order to save the neighborhood?
But I’m guessing that the owners of that debt will not be so easily convinced, and that’s where the real work begins. Maybe you’re able to set it up ahead of time, but more likely you’re now having to run around to all your financial backers trying to convince them to forgive your loans in order to do the right thing for the community at large, and you and I both know that’s a curse even worse than the shoggoth itself. And we’re not even talking about 8th century Damascus money-lenders or 20th century mafioso here—we’re talking 21st century student and car loans! A curse that truly no person should bear. Come to think of it, maybe Armitage had the right idea…I wonder where I put that powder….