Achtung Cthulhu: Zero Point, Part 1: Three Kings
Reviewed by: Ron McClung
Achtung Cthulhu: Zero Point, Part 1: Three Kings is a new RPG Campaign Adventure from MODIPHIUS.
When I was first exposed to Call of Cthulhu, 1920s era seemed like the perfect setting for the game. Of course, there was modern and 1890s versions but I really was partial to the 1920s setting. As time has gone on, however, I have seen the appeal of other settings but nothing intrigues me more than war time settings of either World Wars.
The Achtung Cthulhu! Zero Point series of adventures for Call of Cthulhu is set in World War II. The first of these adventures, the award winning Three Kings, takes the players in the early days of the war, into occupied Czechoslovakia. In 2013, this adventure won the Silver Ennie for Best Adventure. It is an amazing simple adventure that leads the character into a dark and real place, allowing the players to experience classic war time cloak and dagger with the local resistance as well as dark secrets of Nazi experimentation into the occult.
From the website:
“Achtung! Cthulhu brings you a two-fisted wartime CALL OF CTHULHU roleplaying game setting packed full of fiendish Nazis, terrifying ancient mysteries, legendary war machines, and enough writhing tentacles to fill ten Reichstags!”
I promise not to give too much away in this review since players and game masters may read it. Achtung Cthulhu: Zero Point Part 1: Three Kings is surprisingly simple and also elegant. From the stunning layout to the perfect melding of real life events and locations, this adventure has it all.
The premise of the adventure is that the players are a team of intelligence agents working for the British “Section D” (otherwise known as MI-6). It is set in the summer of 1939 and for those not well versed in World War II history, this was before Britain declared war against Nazi Germany. The agency has received intelligence from a contact known as Codename ANGEL that there are some atrocities being committed in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. The title of the adventure refers primarily to the three major resistance leaders within Czechoslovakia – real people that did exist – Josef Masin, Vaclav Moravek, and Josef Balaban. These men are held in high regard as heroes and are given a nice and deserved nod in the text.
From page #3:
“Section D has assembled a special operations group to parachute into occupied Czechoslovakia to contact the resistance.”
The meat of the adventure takes place around an old (and real) castle called Castle Karlstein. I recommend doing as much research about that castle as you can because any added historical facts about it will not only make it real to the players but also add to its mystique.
The start of the adventure goes along as one would expect. The characters investigate around the various locations around Castle Karlstein while at the same time dodging Nazi Heer patrols. This is where one might get the first inkling that this adventure could be violent (as if being in a World War II setting was not enough). The Keeper needs to be prepared for some combat, perhaps more than he is used to in a standard Call of Cthulhu adventure.
It is in the latter half of the adventure that things really get interesting and exciting. I won’t give a lot away but what I will say is that something is going on at Castle Karlstein and the investigating players could potentially have their hands full. There is also a big twist that the players may not see coming unless the Keeper clues them in on it early. That twist will test the investigators even further.
The adventure could potentially end in a rather violent and intense blaze of glory, depending on how the Keeper approaches it. It is rather open ended in that way, giving the Keeper a lot to work with in terms of finales.
From the point of view of an experienced Keeper as well as a World War II buff, this adventure, in a very simplistic and elegant way, has everything you need for exactly what it is billed as – a two-fisted war time adventure into the dark side of the second world war. I only have two major complaints about it, and I did not count off too much for them.
First, there are aspects of the adventure that are a little clichéd. I don’t want to give away too much by detailing them, but when a Keeper reads the adventure and gets to them, they will know exactly what I am talking about. A Keeper simply has to work hard in some ways to make the cliché seem fresh and new. Or conversely, he can obfuscate them with red-herrings so that the players don’t predict them. It’s just important to me to surprise the characters in a Cthulhu adventure and I feel that this certain aspect would be easily predicted by the players.
Secondly – and this is probably me nitpicking it – it only provides 4 pre-generated characters. I run a lot of convention games and four players is not enough. When I prepped for this game, I created two more characters to round out the standard six that I expect in a game.
In conclusion, it is a phenomenal adventure with a lot of potential for a campaign. It even delves into the various ways you can be made into a campaign, including the basis of the Zero Point Campaign that this was written for. Also, the fine folks of Modiphius have expanded their appeal by converting this adventure to other systems like Savage Worlds, Trail of Cthuluhu and PDQ. The layout is gorgeous and presents the adventure in a very interesting way. This is a fine piece of work and I look forward to running it because there is no way a Keeper can read this without feeling the desire to run it.
For more details on MODIPHIUS and their new RPG Campaign Adventure “Achtung Cthulhu: Zero Point Part 1: Three Kings” check them out at their website http://www.facebook.com/modiphius.
Codex Rating: 18
Achtung Cthulhu: Zero Point Part 1: Three Kings
Type of Game: RPG Campaign Adventure
Written by: Sarah Newton
Artwork, Cover & Castle Map by: Dim Martin
Design, Layout & Cartography by: Michal E. Cross
Produced & Art Directed by: Chris Birch
Number of Pages: 44
Game Components Included: One complete CoC adventure with 4 pre-generated characters (PDF).
Game Components Not Included: Core CoC rulebooks
Retail Price: $9.99(US)
Reviewed by: Ron McClung
Achtung Cthulhu!Call of CthulhuHorrorModiphiusWorld War 2
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