Adolph Hitler and Cthulhu. There’s a combination worthy of a few nightmares. Whether Hitler’s fascination with the occult is true or not is something for historians to decide, but as gamers I think it’s an area ripe for exploration. Ever since seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark, the idea of the Nazis on a quest for relics of legend and myth has been roaming around my subconscious. And since then, other films such as Hellboy have kept it alive.
So when I saw that someone was exploring the themes of Nazi Germany, World War II, and the Cthulhu mythos, I was more than a little intrigued. Designer Sarah Newton (Mindjammer) and Chris Birch at Modiphius have joined forces to bring the Achtung! Cthulhu world to life, and I have a feeling Three Kings is just the tip of the iceberg.
Chaosium‘s Call of Cthulhu game has been around a long time (first released in 1981) and though it’s been quite a few years since I played last (1989/1990), I fondly recall playing in a 1920s setting where my character went insane and mowed down his party with a Tommy Gun. Nothing like getting a glimpse of something mortals aren’t meant to see and going mad as a result. So the combination of CoC‘s rules with a paranormal Nazi Germany sounds like a perfect combination to scare the bejeezus out of a group over the course of a few adventures.
It starts innocently enough. The party is made up of a group of heroes working to help the budding resistance behind enemy lines in occupied Czechoslovakia at a place known as Castle Karlstein. And whether or not you parachute in, the feeling of free fall is probably something that won’t go away the deeper you get. As you might guess, not everything is quite as it seems even if things are bad… But can you stop things from getting worse?
No spoilers here, but suffice it to say things are about to from bad to worse. And if you can’t stop them, Hitler may be the least of the world’s problems. No pressure though. :)
Three Kings comes in as a 44-page PDF, with 39 pages of that being content. Every page is designed to appear like a stack of papers on a table. Notes are taped or paper-clipped virtually to every page, offering historical facts and GM tips along with the horror. And it’s that attention to detail, whether fact or fiction, maps, advice, or encounters, that manages to impress me. The story by Newton alone is fantastic, but all the little touches make it so much more. Not only is it a great adventure with plenty of wiggle room, but it treats the actual history with the honor it deserves.
The book itself is gorgeous as well. Not just art by Dim Martin (cover, interior art, and castle map) but the layout by Michal E. Cross (who also did the rest of the fantastic maps). The cover gives a glimpse at the darkness within and each piece of interior art manages to use light and shadow to continue that dark theme. Really the only color of any kind in the book is the fantastic maps.
If you like to mix some history with your Cthulhu, you really can’t go wrong with Achtung! Cthulhu and the first adventure of the ZERO POINT series – Three Kings. I can hardly wait to see what else Sarah Newton has cooked up for us in the darkness. Will the party survive to stop an unspeakable evil? Or is it already too late?
For more about the Achtung! Cthulhu world…