Achtung! Cthulhu: The Trellborg Monstrosities by John Houlihan for Modiphius Entertainment [Review]

When you think of H.P. Lovecraft, what do you think of? For me, it’s his story “At the Mountains of Madness,” which forever merges Antarctica and Cthulhu in my mind. So I have to say I became a little giddy when I heard that Chris Birch and the talented crew Achtung! Cthulhu were tackling that storyline with their wildly successful WW2 Keeper’s & Investigator’s Guides Kickstarter.
It’s going to be a while before we see the results of that project (and alas I was not a backer, but am excited to check ’em out anyway), but that doesn’t mean we can’t explore some cold Lovecraftian horror before that…

Achtung! Cthulhu: The Trellborg Monstrosities - Modiphius EntertainmentModiphius has been exploring the combination of the occult and World War II for a while now, but their latest release – The Trellborg Monstrosities┬áby John Houlihan – takes our Nazi villains to the northern front of the war in 1943 to Norway and Finland in search of a powerful weapon from Norse myth. Can the Allies stop the madness or will the German occultists release something into the world that may even be a bigger threat.

The adventure takes place over a few days, offering a great variety of encounter types. Everything from simply surviving the elements and avoiding obvious traps as they travel behind enemy lines to establishing contact with a wary group of allies, evading capture, and saving the day. The sense of dread builds palpably from beginning to the explosive climax, with fun NPCs and challenges to keep the PCs busy along the way. Add to that a bit of WWII history and you have another brilliant combination of reality and fantasy to make for a solid gaming experience.

What I was struck by as I read through the module was how easily the adventure could be migrated to other systems, genres, and settings. Imagine a classic fantasy campaign caught in the middle of a war Game of Thrones style where one king is trying to keep another king from gaining some ancient power to tilt the balance. Or a science fiction campaign along the lines of interstellar expeditions like they had in Babylon-5 where alien technology or biology could be unleashed on an unsuspecting universe… For me, that’s the sign of the brilliance of the story – that potential portability across time and space for some creative GM to scare the crud out of an unsuspecting group of players.

Production-wise, this is another gorgeous product from Modiphius Entertainment. With Michael E. Cross on layout and design and Gregor Kari and MKUltra-studio on artwork, the style really lends itself well to an adventure with a historic WWII flair. The pictures “taped” onto the pages of the book, the worn yellow paper, and the black and white art bring the whole adventure to life.

So if you’re a fan of Lovecraft, enjoy playing Call of Cthulhu or Savage Worlds, and are ready to go back to WWII Europe, I can’t recommend the Achtung! Cthulhu line from Modiphius enough. The Trellborg Monstrosities is only the latest in what I hope is a long line of products to come. And I can’t wait to investigate the Mountains of Madness when they mount an expedition to Antarctica!

For more about the Achtung! Cthulhu world…

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