During World War Two, a child amused local SS officers. They enjoyed having him around and asked the boy to run errands for them. The kid would quickly return with the requested items and continue to amuse them with his whimsical charismatic nature. One day, the boy returned to the SS offices. The guards smiled and waved him inside as he slung the bulbous sack over his shoulder — obviously another shopping mission successfully completed. He passed through door after door, past guard after guard, into the central command of the regional office.
“Ah, you have brought us the magazines?” the General asked.
The boy nodded.
The General noted beads of sweat trickling down the boy’s scalp.
“Did you run all the way back?” the General asked, and the boy exploded. The General and everyone in the room, all high-ranking SS Officers perished.
The boy had taken it upon himself to charm his way into the trust and hearts of the SS Officers. He had made it his final contribution to humanity to wrap himself in explosives and sacrifice his life…
At the end of the war, a piece of bark was discovered alongside a backwoods road. Earlier in the war, a squad of Russian troops had been sent down that lonely road with the mission of holding back German tanks headed for Moscow. Carvings on that bark told of the squadron’s demise. “There are four of us left now,” a piece of it read.
Eventually, according to the bark, the squad was reduced to a single member. He probably didn’t make it out alive.
“We want to bring out some of those incredible stories through the storytelling we’re doing. If it takes a couple monsters to get people interested in real peoples’ sacrifices, I think it’s a good thing.”
Achtung! Cthulhu is a roleplaying game set against the drama of the front lines and home fronts of World War Two. Unlike usual war games, this one involves the imaginings of H.P. Lovecraft. The Germans and other Axis powers search for weapons and devices to give them an edge.
Perhaps the Ark of the Covenant?
Last year, Modiphius released two modules in the Zero Point Campaign for Achtung Cthulhu: Three Kings and Heroes of the Sea. Both are available for the PDQ and Savage Worlds systems. The games include rules summaries, maps, pregenerated characters and setting information.
Birch explained his surprise over the overwhelming success of the Zero Point Campaign. “Those of you who’ve made games, you’ll know people always tell you not to start with adventures. One in six potential gamers will buy adventures, because the others are players. Focus on core books, because that’s what everybody buys, right? We went against the grain, because that’s what was ready first, and it was a big success. We knew we’d really hit the nail square. Great quality. Great research. Great writing. Great artwork. Two different rule systems. Nazis and Cthulhu. All those ticks were in the box. As we thought about it and talked to people, we realized we needed to get the core books together to set the foundations for the new rules and the new setting.”
Birch launched a kickstarter to publish Achtung! Cthulhu - The Investigator’s Guide & Keepers Guide to the Secret War. With 42 days to go, the game is 221% funded. Followers of Edition Wars’s success knows this is where kickstarters get interesting. Stretch goals become coveted targets. Investors get more and more for their money. Achtung! Cthulhu’s first stretch goal extended the setting rules and statistics to be extended beyond 6th Edition Call of Cthulhu to also include the Savage Worlds/Realms of Cthulhu system. Mission accomplished.
The next stretch goals will upgrade the published books from black and white paperbacks to color hardbacks. Beyond that, Birch said he’ll start adding sourcebooks as stretch goal rewards. The first one will be The Eastern Front, which will include details of Russia’s Great Patriotic War. Plans are already in the works for a War in the Pacific sourcebook and an extensive campaign called Shadows of Atlantis.
Birch said he wants to reward contributors with tomes of content with amazing story lines. “At the end of this I want people to realize how much value and content they got and go crazy over it. This is one of the best deals they ever had!” Birch said.
Achtung! Investigators are not limited to front line soldiers or traditional professor/reporter builds. Character creation mechanics incorporate a basic training template to standard doctors or teachers to make them effective in a firefight.
Lorekeepers have the choice to run an action-packed James Bond or front lines adventure by using the Savage Worlds/Realms of Cthulhu mechanics. For Lorekeepers who want that slow build to madness, the setting rules can be used with 6th Edition Call of Cthulhu. Advice is also provided for Lorekeepers running 6th Edition to allow game play to last for an entire campaign and not have every module close the book on the investigators with a trip to the asylum.
Beyond the kickstarter, Birch said his group was designing an Axis and Allies meets Cthulhu board game. Then miniatures will be released, including Allied heroes and Nazi villains, plus Lovecraft-inspired monsters. Those miniatures will get poster maps and map tiles, including underground bunkers. A pack of gaming aids will include original Third Reich ID documents and telegram briefings that can be filled out and given to players.
Telling monster stories in a setting plagued by atrocities that affected people worldwide demands extreme care. Birch said, “The Cthulhu mythos is never an excuse for what the Nazis did. It’s about the Nazis meddling with it and finding ways to give them other ways to win the war, looking for other weapons, other devices. Actually, on the cover of the Keeper’s Guide, you have a French Resistance guy driving a motorcycle, an American soldier with a bazooka in the side car and actually standing on the back of the motorcycle shooting back at the creature is a German officer. The idea of that scene is to show Cthulhu is everyone’s enemy. Of course the fun angle is Cthulhu and Nazis, but really it’s everyone versus Cthulhu. He’s laughing because we’re all too busy fighting each other.
“There’s obviously a lot of sensitivity about the war we have to have. We’re very careful about how we deal with atrocities. War is a terrible thing. In a sense the war is being gradually forgotten, but there were so many people who fought incredibly hard and sacrificed themselves, it would be a shame for that to be lost,” Birch said. “In one sense, it’s boring. It’s history. It’s all about soldiers. I hope that by adding a few monsters to it, we’re creating real interest in that period.”
Each of the books in the Achtung! Cthulhu line will include pages describing where players and Lorekeepers can find memorials and museums to learn more about the war. Birch said, “I hope we spark some interest. [A players might say] ‘I remember my grand dad was in the Airborne. Maybe I should check out what he did.’”
You can support Achtung! Cthulhu on Kickstarter.
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