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Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator's Guide $4.50 $3.11
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator\'s Guide
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/17/2014 08:35:13

Aimed at players - whether of Call of Cthulhu or Savage Worlds - this book contains a wealth of material to help them understand the alternate history of a World War 2 with added Cthulhu Mythos elements, and hence to play their characters more convincingly.

Chapter 1: Welcome to the Secret War sets out the basic premise, beginning with a timeline of events running from November 1918 to April 1945. Despite comments about Mythos involvement, this is straight history... the weird bits get mixed in later! After all, to begin with the characters probably know nothing about it.

Next, Chapter 2: Keep the Home Fires Burning looks at life on the 'home front' - as opposed to the battlefield - telling how the war affected those not actively involved in combat just as much as it did those in uniform. There's a lot here from working life to fashion and food, even popular music of the day. Again this is historically accurate without the merest taint of Mythos, just as is intended for the game: ordinary folk got through the war without hearing about such things (much as it was only after the war that many Nazi atrocities were revealed). Chapter 3: Home Sweet Home continues this theme with a timeline of events in civilian life. A few suggestions about the style of adventures you might have on the home front are included, but this book is really for players rather than game masters (although they too ought to read it, it does not duplicate the contents of the Keeper's Guide to the Secret War). It all goes towards putting your adventures into context, however.

With the Home Front adequately covered, what of those who took up arms? Chapter 4: In the Service of One's Country gives an overview of the armed forces, intelligence and auxillary services mainly from an Allied point of view, although the German military machine is also covered. (Indeed, the whole book assumes characters will be drawn from Allied countries.)

Now that the scene has been comprehensively set, Chapter 5: Your Country Needs You! delves into the game mechanics involved in creating a WW2 Investigator character. There's an overview of the different nationalities from which he might come and a review of civilian and military occupations. Skills, pay scales, everything that you need to know about various occupations are included... and there's even a section on how to introduce a modicum of Mythos knowledge even before play begins by creating a bit of backstory to explain it - and perhaps explain why it's YOU and not someone else who gets embroiled in the sort of missions that are the basis of gameplay in this setting. For those intending military characters there is a review of the process of character generation under Call of Cthulhu rules, which in the original cater well for having a military background but are less good if you want your character to be in service when play begins. There's even a (somewhat inaccurate) note on the decorations he might have received. It also covers the civilian who has just enlisted (or who will do so during the course of the game). Unless you have a much-loved character which the game master agrees, it's recommended that you use these rules in conjunction with your chosen ruleset to generate your Achtung! Cthulhu character, as they've been written with the era and setting in mind.

Getting down to nuts and bolts, Chapter 6: Getting Your Hands Dirty introduces and explains new skills appropriate to this game, with Call of Cthulhu mechanics. Fear not, Chapter 7: The Savage Practice of War covers similar material under the Savage Worlds ruleset, if that is your game of choice. Chapter 8: Tools of the Trade mainly concentrates on weapons, with a wealth of detail about the different ones popular with various nations and units, complete with statistics for both rulesets.

To wind up, Chapter 9: Quick Play Guide summarises everything you need to know to create and play your character under either ruleset, and Chapter 10: Suggested Resources covers books, films and more that will enable you to understand the period better and get into the right mood.

Overall, this is an excellent introduction to playing in the Achtung! Cthulhu setting and ought to be read by players and referees alike.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Justin B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/13/2014 05:52:02

Original Review with Artwork at http://www.fantasyliterature.com/games/the-keepers-and-investigators-guides-for-achtung-cthulhu/

This review is a combination of both the Keeper's and Investigator's Guide.

Game Review: The Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guides for Achtung! Cthulhu

The Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guide of Achtung! Cthulhu by Modiphius Games The Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guides for Achtung! Cthulhu by Modiphius GamesThe Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guide of Achtung! Cthulhu by Modiphius Games

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a character in your favorite story? I think everyone has wondered this at some point. Using the imagination to transport you to a place that doesn't exist in the real world is one of the fundamental reasons we read speculative fiction. It’s a chance to escape reality for awhile. You can take your imagination a step further by actually playing the role. I’m talking about Role Playing Games — games in which you become the character you’re reading about and partake in pseudo-imaginary adventures with your peers.

I was never into RPGs and wrote them off as mostly a past-time for the more “serious nerd.” I chose to occupy myself with way less nerdy endeavors like making Anime Music Videos or painting Steampunk robots. My introduction to RPGs really began at Gen Con. I started covering Gen Con for Fanlit when the convention was getting too big to for the speculative fiction industry to ignore. Since it’s primarily a gaming convention, it’s impossible not to get into some of the games at Gen Con. I’ve talked about a few of the ones I’m into or got to look at on this site in my annual reports. I’d never taken an interest in looking at RPGs from a journalistic/reviewer standpoint outside the convention, until now.The Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guide of Achtung! Cthulhu by Modiphius

Recently I was sent copies of the Investigator’s Guide and Keeper’s Guide, for Achtung! Cthulhu, a game published by Modiphius Games. Its meshing of World War II historical events and the nightmarish worlds of H.P. Lovecraft were irresistible to me. I did warn the Modiphius team I was not much of an RPG player and would be looking at their Achtung! Cthulhu universe from an almost pure storytelling perspective; they did not seem concerned by this. I soon realized why they were unconcerned with being scrutinized by a non-gaming book reviewer, it’s because Achtung! Cthulhu is extremely well written. This is not a typical set of books. They do not have a specific narrative. This is pure world building, and the players are the ones who tell the actual stories. These books are definitive guides to the Achtung! Cthulhu universe, and their scope is impressive. The opening segments of the Investigator’s Guide lay out the timeline of events — from the end of World War I in 1918 to the Battle of Berlin in April 1945. The abrupt ending of the timeline prior to the end of World War II is intentional since the stories you tell will quite likely change the ending of the war in some significant way. The timeline hits all the major high points of the war and gives the reader a basic summary of what happened at each crucial point. This will help “Keepers” build believable stories for their player to participate in.

You can get as detailed as you want with the accuracy of your story, and the guides make sure you have all the tools you need to go as deep as you want. There are entire chapters on the cultural issues of the time, so you’ll know how your character may react to seeing a woman or minority in your group. Or maybe there is no racism or sexism in your world — that’ll be for your keeper to decide. There is plenty more world-building information in the guides for equipment, jobs, and everyday life.

The guides are short on the mechanics and fundamental rules because Achtung! Cthulhu is based on the pre-existing rule engine Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition by Chaosium. Players are expected to be familiar with the Call of Cthulhu rule set in order to run a game of Achtung! Cthulhu. A good keeper will be able to assist new players with the fundamental rules. I would however recommend obtaining a copy of the Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition rulebook before embarking on you Achtung! Cthulhu adventure.

I also must mention the artwork in the guides, because it’s amazing. The cover art is done by Spanish artist Pintureiro, and has that War era pulp look that fits the content perfectly. That theme is continued throughout the book with equally amazing art by Dim Martin. I should also mention Michael Cross, who was the graphic design and layout person. I’ve rarely thought about how the overall look and design of a book is such a huge factor in my enjoyment of the work. However, Mr. Cross has opened my eyes. These page designs are on another level. The copies I have are digital versions. I desperately want these books in hardbound covers sitting on my shelf, even if I never play the game again. This is the first RPG I have reviewed, and I must say I’m impressed. They’ve certainly engaged my curiosity and my love of storytelling. The Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator’s Guide and Achtung! Cthulhu: Keeper’s Guide are very sharply put together and beautiful pieces to look at. I really was in awe of the effort that went into producing something like this. If you’re curious about the Achtung! Cthulhu game, check with your local game store and see if anyone is playing it. Even if you already play a particular RPG then maybe it’s time for your gaming group to try something new.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/04/2014 07:10:37

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/04/04/tabletop-review-achtung-cthulhu-investigators-guide-to-the-secret-war-call-of-cthulhu-savage-worlds/

When this first popped up I had to say I was compelled, not just by the fact that it’s Cthulhu, but also because it’s set during World War II which I’ve always had an ongoing interest in. This is the first part required to play Achtung! Cthulhu, the second part being the Keeper’s Guide which functions as the Gamemaster’s book if we were talking Dungeons and Dragons while this one would function as the Player’s Guide. This started life as a Kickstarter and I have to say the final results here are amazing. The idea of the Cthulhu mythos running side by side with the Nazi’s isn’t something we haven’t seen before. They’ve always been portrayed as being involved in some kind of cult rituals in a lot of different fiction over the years. My first real exposure to this was Raiders of the Lost Ark and more recently Hellboy which deals much closer with the Old Ones than just simply labeling it as an occult thing. But Achtung! Cthulhu goes a step further than that even, and while you won’t find a whole lot of information in the Investigator’s Guide about the Nazi side of the Secret War, most of that is reserved for the Keeper’s Guide, what you end up with in the Investigator’s Guide is a very detailed RPG that could easily be a World War II campaign without the Cthulhu mythos coming up at all. There’s a lot in here and I love the details.

01The whole book is laid out like you’re reading the case files of an investigator or a military brief. Artwork that’s on a page will be framed like it’s an actual photograph that’s been paper clipped to the pages you’re looking at. The pages look rough and like they’re laid out on a corkboard or rough desk from the period. The titles are set up to look like they were punched onto the page by a type-writer but they opted to give the main text you read a far more readable font, thankfully. When you are presented with a table or stat block, it’s done up like it was formatted on a large index card and hastily taped into place but is still legible. The look and feel is heavily tailored to look like it comes from the time period Acthung! Cthulhu is set in and if I wasn’t just looking at this as a PDF, the book alone would be amazing. Added to that, only 4 pages of the book are ads giving you a full 141 pages of content minus the covers, a splash page, several pages of thanks for the backers of the kickstarter and the index.

Achtung! Chtulhu is actually set-up to work with two different game systems, Savage Worlds Deluxe and Call of Cthulhu, 6th Edition. There are 4 chapters, 2 each dedicated to character creation specific to each system. You end up with 49 pages in Chapters 5 and 6 that are designed specifically for character creation in Call of Cthulhu and only 18 pages in Chapter 7 dedicated to Savage Worlds. That isn’t to say you can’t use some of the ideas in either, but if you’re only planning on running one rule set you’re going to end up with some wasted pages here. The nice part is that they’re full of content and sparing on a lot of stat blocks. Other than those three specific chapters, the rest of the book doesn’t bother separating everything out but will include a brief set of stats to apply to either game with text in differing colors to distinguish which game system gets what text and they’ve done a great job making sure it’s never confusing as to what goes with which.

02Chapter 1, titled Welcome to the Secret War, goes on for a short six pages to give an overview of the real-world events leading up to World War II as well as some of the bigger events through the war up to April 1945 which isn’t the actual end of the war, but who’s to say with the Secret War going on things won’t end differently? Germany was desperate at the end after all. There are mentions of two supplements coming at this point in the book as well, the Achtung! Cthulhu: Assault on the Mountains of Madness campaign and the Achtung! Cthulhu: Bye Bye Baby supplement. It’s really just a little blurb but it’s something beyond both books to look for if you’re enjoying these, which I really do love. The overview is pretty well done and actually reminded me of a film I hadn’t seen yet which I ended up watching shortly after going through the book for a few more ideas. Chapter 2, Keep the Home Fires Burning, goes on for ten pages and goes really in depth with what life was like during the period, both in Europe and in America. There are lots of tips on what was acutally available for food, what kinds of jobs for non-military people were available, mob ties, and even what kinds of entertainment were out there from music to films. When I mentioned details earlier and playing this as a straight World War II RPG even without the Cthulhu mythos, this is what I was talking about. It’s pretty well researched and helps set the tone perfectly. Chapter 3, Home Sweet Home, is a twelve page chapter that re-visits the chronology from Chapter 1, but goes into more specifics with it and details different events for Britain, titled Dear Old Blighty, France, titled The Not-So-Belle Epoque, and the United States titled Mom & Apple Pie. With the chronology is a bit more on life during the time and specific adventures you might go on if your part of the Secret War starts there and what you may end up doing. This is equally as well-researched as Chapter 2 and can really help with painting the picture for players and gamemasters alike with what life was like during the war.

Chapter 4, In the Service of One’s Country, goes in depth for 13 pages on France’s, Britain’s, Germany’s and the United States Militaries and breakdowns of their intelligence groups. There are some pretty good blurbs here on the different aspects of each and it touches on the French Resistance as well as several civilian actions taken during the war in Britain. It’s a decent overview of the different branches and what they do but doesn’t go too terribly in-depth into any of them. Chapter 5, Your Country Needs You!, gives the player the Call of Cthulhu character creation rules for creating your investigator for Achtung! Cthulhu. This is part one of Call of Cthulhu character creation and weighs in at a hefty 37 pages. That’s not to say that you won’t get anything out of this if you’re playing with Savage Worlds rules however as there is a lot of nice detail on military characters and other aspects of the war, but it’s definitely geared stat-wise for Cthulhu. Chapter 6, Getting Your Hands Dirty, is part two of Call of Cthulhu character creation that delves into updating skills since technology from the twenties and the world don’t quite mesh with the forties and the second World War all that well so you get 9 pages of updated skills for Call of Cthulhu which really won’t help you with Savage Worlds. Chapter 7, The Savage Practice of War, is the character creation section for Savage Worlds and weighs in at 18 pages. Savage Worlds is a fairly versatile game system already so it really doesn’t need all the extra pages Call of Cthulhu had to have for updates, and there is some crossover from what’s presented in Chapter 5, but tailored more for the one game system.

03Chapter 8, The Tools of the Trade, is what it sounds like, equipment. This chapter is 15 pages of equipment summaries and then stat blocks for both game systems that Achtung! Cthulhu is designed for. They delve into the different gear that each country was using, clothing options, and a variety of other weapons or technology that you might find at the time. Chapter 9, Quick-Play Guide, is almost a waste of 3 pages. All it really does is list all the pages and chapters you can find character creation rules in Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds. While it may prove useful, I can almost guarantee having the rulebook for either game will do the same thing, but this might speed it up a little bit. Chapter 10, Suggested Resources, is 4 pages of lists of films, books, television shows and games that might help get the flavor of World War II and the occult usage down. It’s a pretty decent list, but if you’re not looking for lists, well there you go. After that you’ve got the Kickstarter Backer thank-you’s which without them we wouldn’t have this book to review and use, a map of Europe and the borders when the war was going on, the index, and character sheets for both game systems.

Overall, there’s a ton of content in this book. It’s a phenomenal resource even if you’re not going to use it to run Achtung! Cthulhu as intended. I’m tempted to just run a spy or war campaign set in World War II just with this and see how it goes. It’s really well done and just reading through it gave me plenty of ideas for my own campaigns. I highly recommend this one as it’s very much worth the price for what you’re getting out of it. The artwork looks great, the layout is easy to read and look up, and you can use this in two different game systems right off the bat, both of which have either quick start rules for playing or offer an entirely free version of the rules to play with. Keep an eye out for my review of the Keeper’s Guide as that’s next on my list.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/28/2014 20:37:09

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=41426.

The Investigator’s Guide is the player’s handbook to the Acthung! Cthulhu setting, along with being a source for background material for characters within the Acthung! Cthulhu campaign. It contains mechanics for both Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds. While the original Acthung! Cthulhu campaign modules are designed for Realms of Cthulhu from Reality Blurs, the Investigator’s Guide no longer appears to require that setting guide. The book is really two parts: a look at life leading up to and during World War II and the types of common professions available to investigators within the setting.

Before going further, I would like to note that I did not back the Acthung! Cthulhu Kickstarter campaign. I considered it heavily, but in the end there were other things I wanted to back instead. Although I like the Acthung! Cthulhu campaign modules, I was unsure about how the two setting guides would turn out.

A large part of the Investigator’s Guide is dedicated to making the backdrop of the Acthung! Cthulhu campaign come to life. I say backdrop because the campaign is ultimately a Cthulhu Mythos investigation of the Axis delve into the occult during World War II (WWII being the backdrop). This book focuses heavily on life during World War II. This allows for a great amount of background material that can be leveraged during character creation, including defining what life is like back at home while the investigators are out chasing the Nazis and their cohorts. Timelines are provided to note the major events during and around the time in terms of the war and “what’s going on back home.”

The WWII backdrop also plays heavily into the character background information provided. If the characters are military personnel, there is a plethora of information regarding the different forces and divisions involved in the war, including intelligence. Support roles are touched on, but not significantly.

Fleshing out all this backdrop and background information from a mechanics standpoint is a large chunk of the book. Call of Cthulhu mechanics take up more than the Savage Worlds mechanics as a load of new skills are provided to represent the different skill sets each character background would feasibly have. Military occupations during WWII are provided in mechanical terms including elite and special forces. These backgrounds are considerably streamlined for the Savage Worlds mechanics and presented as quick-use archetypes. This is accompanied by new Hindrances and Edges. The book is capped off with a look at WWII equipment and a Quick Play Guide that sums character creation.

The Investigator’s Guide is a solid player’s book for games set in World War II. It’s quite obvious that the character focus is on those in the military as opposed to something more pulp-like. This is a good way of setting Acthung! Cthulhu apart from other settings during this era as it provides value in the hands of the players (they’re not getting a rehash of pulp heroes fighting Nazis). One thing I like the most about the book is that it presents the players with World War II and doesn’t really lead-on that much to what’s going on in the shadowy world of the Cthulhu Mythos.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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