This mighty tome contains resources to empower you to run not just one but several campaigns weaving the Cthulhu Mythos into the horrors of the Second World War. The Introduction opens with a few words of fiction, as news of the discovery of Atlantis reaches Germany, then continues with background materials dogding neatly between what Achtung! Cthulhu is as a game and snippets introducing some of the many-layered complexities of plot that you have to play with in this book, before launching into a wealth of information about Atlantis itself... from Plato onwards, including many of the theories flying around by the 1940s which characters in the game could access as their interests take them in that direction. There's also an overview of the campaign as a whole, involving the search for Atlantis amidst a flurry of other groups who are looking for the same thing, many of whom will stop at nothing to be the first, the only, possessors of its secrets!
But what of the 'several campaigns' I mentioned? That's the clever part. The book is made up of three main sections, covering Europe and North Africa; the Middle East and Asia; and South America and the Arctic Circle. Now, you might have a very active and dedicated party who manage, even in wartime, to scamper around to all these places, but it's perhaps a bit more credible for multiple teams to be engaged in research. Each section has its own party of pre-generated characters supplied for use there, which can be issued to your players as appropriate. Or of course, if you prefer to use exsisting characters for all or some of it, there's advice on how to do that as well. The structure is very flexible so apart from the opening scene (covering Vienna and Rome) and the climax in Greenland, events can be run in pretty much any order that works best for you. If weaving it into other materials, start in late August 1939 as in, after Achtung! Cthulhu: Zero Point - The Three Kings but before Section M is set up in October 1939, which puts the characters in an ideal position to get embroiled in 'occult espionage' from the beginning. Unless you want to contend with the difficulties due to warfare, you might want to move quite swiftly and conclude the adventure by the summer of 1940 so that the party is able to travel around the world relatively freely without pesky U-boats and the like interfering!
Events in the first section, covering Europe and North Africa, start in Vienna and move through Fascist Italy before ending up in Egypt doing archaeology (what else does one do in Egypt, after all?). In the second part, the action is mainly in India and Tibet, whilst the third involves an expedition to darkest Peru. Then it's back home for a briefing in London before heading off to Greenland to discover what the Nazis are up to there and stop them in their tracks... if they can! If you have chosen to use separate parties (perhaps the proferred pre-gens) in the different sections, that London briefing can be used to draw the strands together in the hands of one group of characters (even if their players have been privy to everything!).
Each section is jam-packed with setting and background material which is of use whenever you have a party in that location, never mind when actually running this campaign. Throughout, NPCs are presented with stat blocks for both Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds, as are any other game mechanical parts of the book. Scattered throughout are some wonderfully-atmospheric handouts, which are collected together at the back of the book as well for easier access... certainly if you are using the PDF. Once the printed version is available, it might be a good idea to reproduce these as a free download on the Modiphius website, so you do not need to rip your book apart! Each section also contains several well-developed scenarios to provide access to the information that the characters will need to progress the campaign as a whole. Each is freeform enough to let the party wander pretty much as they please - or at least think that they can! - with notes about how to pick up any loose ends and ensure that they gain essential information and contacts.
Although there's much of use in these three sections, they are followed by a fourth one which includes the pre-generated characters (each group honed to one of the sections), adventure seeds for all the locations which are ideas arising from the author's research that didn't make it into the main plot arc but serve well as additional adventures, or for use on other visits to the same locations, additional rules and a collection of new enchantments and curses. The additional rules include notes on the perils of some of the terrain that the characters will be visiting as well as some of the creatures that they will meet. If you feel in need of additional inspiration there's a listing of books, films, web links and even other RPGs that might help.
Overall, this is a mammoth globe-spanning adventure to keep you and your players happy and engrossed for quite some time. I think I'd probably run it with a single group of characters - as many role-players prefer to hang on to their own, and to avoid confusion - or, if you know lots of people and like online gaming, you could run the sections concurrently using the pre-gens, then bring everyone together at the end to share notes and figure out how to defeat the Nazi plot! Whatever route you take, you ought to be in for some memorable adventures!
Return to Achtung! Cthulhu: Shadows of Atlantis Campaign page.
Reviewed: 14 December 2015