The first edition of Achtung! Cthulhu offered an alternative setting for Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds and later also Fate. The new edition is based on the 2d20 system from Modiphius and offers pulp action more in the style of Indiana Jones than classic investigations. The Second World War is in full swing and the world must be saved from darkness.
Achtung! Chtulhu (A!C) is set in an alternate version of our world during World War II. With the help of eldritch magic, dark knowledge and unearthly technology, the Nazis drove the war forward and seem almost invincible. Especially the cult of the Black Sun with its connection to the dream world and the dreaded Nachtwölfe terrorize the battlefields. They are opposed by the British section M and its American counterpart, Majestic. They recruit the best scholars, magically gifted and fearless soldiers to turn the warfare around after all. The players slip into the role of these heroes and try to avert the disaster.
A!C uses the 2d20 system from Modiphius. As always, the rules have been adapted to the setting, but the basic mechanisms are the same. For a test, you roll two 20-sided dice and try to get the same or lower than the sum of your attribute and skill. A one is a critical success and generates two successes. The number of successes must be equal to or higher than the difficulty of the test. Excess successes generate momentum, a pool that all players can use and, for example, buy additional dice for tests. If a character has a focus on a skill, then a die result that is less than or equal to the skill value is also a critical success.
Characters, NPCs, but also vehicles or scenes have truths. These can make tests easier or more difficult or even make certain tests possible in the first place. These truths are reminiscent of aspects from FATE and give a small description of the whole. Complications work just like truths, but are negative in nature and can be caused by rolling a 20.
In combat, the game master divides the place of the action into zones, which are used for rough orientation of distances. Everyone has a minor and a major action, and additional actions can be purchased. If you are hit, the Challenge Dice known from the other 2d20 are used. With these special dice, a one and a two do one and two points of damage respectively, the three and four are empty and the five and six do one point of damage and create an effect. With these effects, you can activate special features of weapons, such as area damage, armour penetration and the like. The damage is caused in the form of stress. If you suffer more than five points of stress from an attack and / or if the stress bar is full, you will get an injury. These injuries work like the truths described above. Mental attacks, fear and insanity work on the same principle, which I find very elegantly resolved. Injuries can be healed, but some leave traces in the form of scars that have mechanical effects.
Characters have six attributes (Agility, Brawn, Coordination, Insight, Reason, and Will) and 12 skills. There are eight archetypes to choose from, such as the Boffin, the Infiltrator, or the Occultist. The attributes and skills are adjusted via the archetype and you get a selection of equipment, foci and talents. The character is further individualized via nationality and background. There is a large selection of equipment and weapons and the vehicle fleet offers a lot from motorcycles to half-track vehicles to heavy battle tanks. Vehicles are also given their own rules for combat.
The characters can work magic through certain talents, a distinction is made between traditional magicians, researchers and dabblers, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Since the work of magic wears you away, you get stress while doing magic; this is normally rolled using the Challenge Dice. Celtic and runic spells are introduced in the player’s manual; there is more in the game master’s book. Here you can also find other traditions and of course the magic of the Mythos and the Old Ones.
The game master’s book also gives a lot of background knowledge about the various factions, their structure, their approach and important personalities. The player’s manual has stats for the usual weapons, game masters receive a large selection of Weird Science equipment and weapons with which players can be rewarded.
The 2d20 version of A!C plays significantly differently than the CoC version, for example. The heroes felt very heroic and pulpy in our sessions )I was part of the playtest). Personally, I like the new edition a lot more, the feel of the game was great and the rules have the right amount of complexity.
Achtung! Chtulhu is full colour, in English, the players’ book has 187 pages and the game master’s book has 269 pages. The layout is very clear and easy to read. All rules are in the player book, with the character generation, equipment and the above-mentioned selection of magic. There are also some stats for NPCs, but only for allies. You get significantly more stats in the game master’s manual, here you can find the Weird Science equipment and a lot more spells, rituals and magical books. There is also a detailed history and information on the factions involved. Of course, the game master’s book also goes into more detail on tests and balancing and provides assistance to really bring the alternative version of the Second World War to life.
Who might be interested in A!C:
- Players and game masters who like a good balance between crunch and freedom
- People who want to experience an alternative World War II
- Players who like to start with competent characters
Who might not be interested in A!C:
- Players and game masters who who like detailed and highly tactical combat
- People who like realistic rules
- Players who want to experience more classic Cthulhu adventures
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