martes, 7 de mayo de 2013

Opinion: Achtung! Cthulhu

Achtung! Cthulhu might be the next big thing to happen in the Lovecraftian-gaming world, at least until Call of Cthulhu’s 7th Edition comes out one of these years, and it is already here. Achtung! Chtulhu! is Lovecraftian-World War II setting published by a young British company, MODIPHIUS. I say setting and not game because so far the two adventures published have appeared for Call of Cthulhu and Realms of Cthulhu (the Savage Worlds Mythos game) and PDQ (Prose Descriptive Qualities) system by Atomic Sock Monkey and it is expected that they will end up appearing for Trail of Cthulhu and their own game, Expeditions, that, if I am not mistaken, is based on FATE. This seems a lot of work (and probably a lot of money going to publishing rights) but it tells me one thing: those guys really want you to try their setting, regardless of what kind of player you are.

As I said before, so far the only two products that are on the market, and as far as I know, only in PDF, are the first two stories of a three-part campaign: Zero Point, by Sarah Newton (which I will analyze later). But there is more, a lot more. I know only half the story but it seems MODIPHIUS went to Kickstarter to fund the printed version of an Investigator’s Guide and Keeper’s Guide for CoC and Realms…but they had about 20 times more success than expected. Now there will be an endless list of products: from regional guides to campaigns, miniatures and crossover with other well-known WWII games such as Godlike or DUST Tactics (You can find a complete list here). I have read some legitimate criticism saying that maybe MODIPHIUS has had too much success and, since there is so much to publish, the quality of those books might not be what expected. I am sure that of the 8 planned books that are in the Kickstarter (not counting crossovers) not everything is going to be Sans-Détour’s-Masks-of-Nyarlathotep quality, but judging from what it is published, I have some really high expectations. If anything else, such a success proves that Call of Cthulhu fans were eager to enter WWII (or the other way around). According to the Keeper’s Companion Vol. 2 there is one Cthulhu Live adventure that takes place during the war, I know there is the Shadows of War MULA…and I do not know what else is there. So, thanks to MODIPHIUS for allowing us to do so.

One must admit that doing a Mythos game during the war is not an easy task. First, because I have the impression that if there is one period of history that interests almost everybody, it is WWII (and if you don’t believe me, go and check your local bookstore and tell me which other topic is more popular it the History section). This requires an additional effort from the writer or Keeper because there is always going to be a player knowing more history than any of them and that will start saying things like “That is not possible, the first PzKpfw IV F1 weren’t deployed in the Kursk front until July, 1943, and it is still June 30th." Second, because the war had enough horrors by itself (and all caused by us humans) that adding cosmic horror might be too much and I am sure there is going to be a lot of people who would not like to find out that Hitler is an avatar of Hastur (hence the swastika, ;)) and that Stalin only opposed the Germans because he was controlled by Cthulhu (don’t you think that Marx hid tentacles under that beard?) 1 and other non-canonical pulp stuff. Personally, I do not care, for me it is a game and if I have fun playing it (and if it convinces me to read some real history), that is enough, but I understand there are people who take things more serious and WWII was a very serious event. Having said that, I think it gives a world of opportunities to make some very good stories linked with real events, to know why certain events really happened and to make investigators feel important (Spoiler alert): “We know we should be helping everybody moving out from Dunkirk sir, but if we do not continue our mission, they might not even have a chance to get into the boats” (End of the spoiler). Sometimes I think investigators seem to be fighting the Mythos just for fun and there are no real implications in what they do (maybe because it is better to keep humanity ignorant from those matters. I think Achtung! Cthulhu has the potential of becoming a great campaign, not in the Mask’s sense (although I hope that there will be stories as memorable as this one) but giving as the opportunity to easily link non-related adventures and see the effects of Investigators failing to do their job. Say for example that all the investigators die trying to stop the Nazi byakhee-breeding project, the next story (with all new characters) might take place in occupied London, since the Germans were able to win the Battle of Britain with the helps of the winged ones2.

As you can see, I am pretty exited about this new setting. For a slightly more objective opinion, please wait for the reviews of the Zero Point campaign.

1 I am making this up, I do not know what is the main plot behind Achtung! Cthulhu, but I suppose there will be some kind of conspiracy at that level.
2 This is wishful thinking; I do not know what there will be in the books to come.

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