Call Of Cthulhu was one of the first roleplaying games. In fact, it was the only game I’ve ever played that led to me winning a prize. My school had a roleplaying competition and I placed second for being the second to last person to get killed in a Cthulhu scenario.
The real strength of Call Of Cthulhu is how adaptable it is. Call Of Cthulhu itself can be anything from Romans battling the gods themselves to horror out in the far future, and way past the edge of the Solar System, the tone and nature of the text changing depending on what the GM asks for. For all Lovecraft’s faults – and he had plenty – his work remains one of the most mutable, adaptable bodies of horror in recent history.
Which brings us to Achtung! Cthulhu , the glorious new World War 2-era Cthulhu RPG from Mophidius Games. Using a new system, the game repositions the mythos to World War 2 and explores how that changes everything we know about the conflict. Their KickStarter campaign began a few days ago and I talked to Chris Birch, of publisher Mophidius Games, about how it’s going, their revival of classic game Mutant Chronicles and what the plan is for the future.
How did you get started?
“Modiphius was started after I realised I wanted to be able to control the kind of games I put out, how they were promoted and how we paid everyone involved in the process. I wanted a family-style business that looked after its creatives and could develop exciting new worlds. I had previously written Starblazer Adventures for Cubicle 7 and then Legends Of Anglerre with Sarah Newton before taking a well-earned break with those monsters of games! The Modiphius name comes from my first RPG – a sci-fi set inside an engineered star system called Modiphius that I and writer friend wrote in the ’90s. It stuck with me and just felt right for our actual serious adventure in the industry.”
“Well it's this gonzo techno fantasy RPG from the ’90's that was a serious competitor to Games Workshop; it had this cool European style to it, a very twisted dark future history, massive shoulder pads, desperate last stands, the evil Dark Legion advancing across the solar system and the whole look has come back in to fashion with the diesel punk craze. There were boardgames, miniatures, a war-game called Warzone now being re-booted as well, two editions of the RPG, a massive-selling card game called Doom Trooper , two video games, novels and comic and much more.”
Is the game accessible to people who've not played or encountered it before?
“Absolutely. We're going to be re-introducing it in stages, focusing on the background story, the lead up to this major war with the Dark Legion via a terrible technological crash driven by the dark forces at work. The rules are going to be super faithful to the storyline – letting you play the world as it was intended and still appeal to the core fans.”
“The world has, of course, been compared to 40k , but with a much more cool European style, firmly entrenched in the Solar System of Earth with a much more crazy over-the-top feel, without any fairy tale aliens to get in the way. It's very diesel punk: tons of WW1/WW2-style art and technology littering the pages of the books and this makes it really cool these days.”
What’s the release schedule for Mutant Chronicles ?
“3rd Edition will be out in stages, starting this side of Christmas, and we hope to have something to show off at Gen Con in the US in August. It will feature a full re-write of the rules plus a conversion or two to popular systems. There will be some stunning floor plans, tons of setting material and we'll really be bringing the world to life through the game.”
Let's talk Lovecraft. A chtung! Cthulhu is a gloriously batty idea that works perfectly. What led to its development?
“A mix of things. I've been a long time WW2 fan. I've been playing Flames Of War , the 15mm miniatures game, and we always wanted to add some zombies or other cool dark creatures in to the mix. I had also discussed the idea of a FATE weird war game with Sarah Newton while we working on Legends Of Anglerre . Early last year I was planning to launch my own games label working on some concepts and had been toying with the idea of doing a Cthulhu WW2 project and Sarah Newton had a bunch of scenarios in the works so we decided to dive straight in! It's grown a lot since: a whole world arc plot, three campaigns including a return to HP Lovecraft’s Mountains Of Madness , a board game, miniatures line and the whole RPG setting...”
How does the game deal with the idea of insanity like traditional C all Of Cthulhu ?
“It's still there and going strong. If anything, the world is an even more dangerous place what with all the fighting going on around you, or the conspiracies on the Home Front.”
I'm seeing a little Hellboy in there in terms of the fantastic artwork and styling. What were the influences on it?
“We wanted a cool propaganda poster-style look and out of that grew the graphic novel style artworks with the dark tonal feel that helps convey the atmosphere of Achtung! Cthulhu .
Tell us about the Kickstarter campaign. How's it going?
“Well amazing. 100% funded in 26 hours and we're climbing towards our second Stretch Goal to give everyone full-colour hard cover books. We've got this amazing deal at £35 and upwards that gets people every single PDF unlocked by the stretch goals as well as the main two books so we're hoping this will grow and grow so we can fund the really cool extra books and content, even some miniatures and more!”
Where can people take a look at what you have to decide about donating?
“ Here. ”
Thanks for talking to me, Chris. Achtung! Cthulhu looks to be a fantastic system that fans of Call Of Cthulhu, Hellboy or classic World War 2-era pulp will get a lot out of. Mutant Chronicles looks equally impressive and as a former player of Doom Trooper , I’m really excited about what Chris and co have planned. Look for more on that shortly.