Set in the darkest days of World War 2, when it seemed that Britain stood alone against the Nazi hordes, this book provides six fully-developed adventures, missions the party might be sent to complete, all somewhere in mainland Europe. Each combines real war action with additional menace posed by the Mythos and human agents thereof, and all pose real threats to the physical and mental well-being of the party. A couple of them are even based on real events, others are more Mythos based but the war still poses a very tangible threat. The adventures will take the party to northern France, Italy, Norway, Belgium, Greece and Spain (the last being ostensibly neutral, but it's still a dangerous place for British service personnel!). Refer to World War Cthulhu: The Darkest Hour for more extensive details of 'Section N' for which the party is assumed to work.
First up is Sleeper Agents, set in mid-1941 in France. Something untoward is stirring, disturbed by the bombing of trains heading towards the coast for the Dunkirk evacuation the previous year. It's drawn the attention of some very dangerous people... and now it's caught the eye of N, the party's boss, who sends them to find out what's going on and to put a stop to it, under the cover of helping the Resistance establish a network of agents in the area. With detailed NPCs - both friends and foes - and the town of Rennes to investigate, the party should be kept busy for some time... especially once the assassinations start.
Next comes The Play is the Thing, set in Italy sometime before 1943. It all begins with the British suspecting that an Italian biological warfare experiment has gone wrong and sending the party to investigate. Beginning with a briefing in Malta, the party is inserted into the area... but from then on it's somewhat of a sandbox mission as they investigate the outbreak of a rather strange plague. While British Intelligence think it's an experiment gone awry, N reckons there may be cultist activity taking place: whatever the cause, the party is tasked with putting a stop to it. The adventure begins as they parachute in... and with a haunted wood and dismembered body parts they'll soon realise that something's very, very wrong here despite a festival in progress and even a movie being made.
The third adventure is We Will Remember Them. Based on actual historical events, this sees the party sent to Norway to demolish power stations but begins in media res with them waking up in the back of a crashed truck after the attack. Things only get worse... It's an unusual and exciting (and scary once the truth comes out) adventure, with earlier parts of the mission replayed in flashbacks - make sure that you do this, it's an integral part of the plot - and then things slowly become horribly clear. Probably better run as a one-off, as characters will be irrovocably changed and some players may not feel comfortable using them again.
Next up, Lift Not Thy Hands which sends the party to occupied Belgium in 1942 in a mission to retrieve an amulet and investigate the demise of the people who were transporting it, although ostensibly they are there to train the local Resistance. Eavading the Gestapo whilst conducting investigations into occult matters should provide plenty of excitement as the body count rises.
Then The Angel of the Abyss is set in Greece, also in 1942. Again loosely based on historical events, it involves friction between different groups of Greek partisans as they seek to disrupt German supply lines heading south towards Africa. There's plenty of background and a whole host of fascinating and detailed NPCs. The ostensible mission is to aid the Resistance, who have some bridges to demolish, with a side of investigating some unusual religious activity which might attract inconvenient attention from Italian troops. With military duties as well as investigations, the party will be kept busy... then bodies begin to pile up!
Stoways comes next, set in the Mediterranean Sea during the late October of 1943. The party is charged with searching out saboteurs on a hospital ship involved in the exchange of POWs, but there's a nasty bug going around as well. The party will have to deal with sick and injured Germans, British medical personnel and Spanish Red Cross observers. Events are fluid but based around a timeline that ends when the ship makes port... and any mistakes will lead to diplomatic turmoil.
This is an interesting and varied set of adventures that should provide for many sessions of intriguing play for you and your group. With the possible exception of We Will Remember Them they could be played in sequence with the same party - or at least those who survive with bodies and minds reasonably intact - and even that adventure is provided with an alternative that could allow continuation. For ready-made adventures these are excellent, just the right balance of detail and background whilst leaving plenty of scope to run events as you see fit.
Return to Europe Ablaze page.
Reviewed: 8 December 2017