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DystopianCollective

WWII Call of Cthulhu Campaign

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DystopianCollective

As anybody had experience in running a WWII Cthulhu campaign? If so, are there any good bits of advice or recommendations? I would be interested in other Keeper's experiences with this.

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GHill

Calling Gil_Trevizo‎, Calling Gil_Trevizo‎.

 

Gil's not only one of the most knowleagable guys I know with regards WW2, he's the main man cheerleader behind "Our Darkest Hour" the unpublished Delta Green WW2 supplement.

 

He's also a Black Sealer so he can't be all bad.

 

 

... Hold on did I get that the wrong way round, oh well no matters.

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DystopianCollective
Calling Gil_Trevizo‎, Calling Gil_Trevizo‎.

 

Gil's not only one of the most knowleagable guys I know with regards WW2, he's the main man behind "Our Darkest Hour" the unpublished Delta Green WW2 supplement.

 

He's also a Black Sealer so he can't be all bad.

 

 

... Hold on did I get that the wrong way round, oh well no matters.

 

Thanks.

 

Where can I find "Our Darkest Hour" ?

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GHill
Our Darkest Hour, rumours abound that it may finally see the light of day.

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Gil_Trevizo

I'm not the main man behind Our Darkest Hour. I've worked on it for a very long time in various capacities, but I figure I'm really just the lead cheerleader on this more than anything else. Both Scott Glancy and Shane Ivey are interested in doing it, and Shane has even posted to that effect recently on the Delta Green Mailing List:

 

Quote
The next full-size DG book beyond that is probably (probably; I don't promise anything) going to be Our Darkest Hour, which has for years had vast amounts of material prepared already. The only reason it's on the back burner yet again is because of the nature of the secret project -- the one that I mentioned without describing it because I'm just that much of a dick.

 

What kind of WWII campaign are you interested in?

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WiseWolf
I'm not the main man behind Our Darkest Hour. I've worked on it for a very long time in various capacities, but I figure I'm really just the lead cheerleader on this more than anything else.

 

I hope it sees the light of day soon.

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kin242

I ran a 3 session WWII cthulhu game last year. Unfortunately we didnt get to run the third part, because of people's damn schedules!!!

 

I wrote the scenario and it seemed to go down really well- the players were SIPO investigators who had been strong-armed into investigating the theft of some books. It was set in Bavaria and the foothills of the alps and basically explained Rudolf Hess's flight to Scotland. The finale was at the TeeHaus, Hitler's Eagles nest.

 

Did MASSES of research for it and it went down really really well. Just a shame we never got to finish it.

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DystopianCollective

Hi Kin242,

 

That sounds really good mate. I may be borrowing some ideas from you there =)

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Taavi

There is a CoC Monograph with 4 WWII scenarios, rules for parachute jumps, etc called "Shadows of War" which you might find useful. Also David Conyers' free scenario "The Colony" which is here on Yog-Sothoth, and Wick's Curse of the Yellow Sign Act I (the latter has produced very polarised reviews) are both WWII "one shots" you might find useful.

I'm currently writing up a campaign outline for running Masks of Nyarlathotep during WWII ("Gasmasks of Nyarlathotep"); I'm making notes in my Yoggie blog here as I go along; may be helpful to you, maybe not.

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WiseWolf
There is a CoC Monograph with 4 WWII scenarios, rules for parachute jumps, etc called "Shadows of War" which you might find useful.

 

Thanks, Taavi. I will take a look at it.

 

EDIT: I found this game by the Insmouth House Players (Patron's area). It is Good Night Vienna from that monograph.

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CuCuhulain

For a WW2 campaign all I can say is 'Tim Powers, Declare'...

 

SOE, KGB, Wartime London, occupied Paris, post war Berlin and the Middle East and the Cambridge Spy ring, all with a central mythos type thread that only slowly becomes clear, excellent.

 

Generally, read up about the SOE and OSS operations, and real agents, in Europe and Far East. What some of these agents achieved was astonishing.

 

Also recomment the Shadows of War monograph. Also 'Where Byhakee's Dare'. beefed up the background and hand outs a bit and ran it as a Christmas Special for my regular group who loved it.

 

Like the Bavarian scenario, any more details?

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Badger

I have a World War II one-shot scenario that has gone through one round of playtesting; the next round is set for next month. After that, and a manuscript polish, i'm going to be sending it off to Scott Glancy for review (Gil, you know which one this is).

 

-=badger

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Mysterioso
For a WW2 campaign all I can say is 'Tim Powers, Declare'...

 

SOE, KGB, Wartime London, occupied Paris, post war Berlin and the Middle East and the Cambridge Spy ring, all with a central mythos type thread that only slowly becomes clear, excellent.

 

Please tell me this book does get good! It gets raves but I am 150 pages into it and does not feel like it is picking up any steam at all.

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heresiarch

I've been working on a WWII campaign for a while. The biggest challenge I have found is how to avoid it turning into a shooting match or a skirmish wargame.

 

There are several sources I would recommend:

 

Most Secret War: British Scientific Intelligence 1939-1945, RV Jones, 1978.

 

RV Jones was scientific adviser in the Air Ministry in London during WWII. He worked on radar countermeasures, the extraction of heavy water from Norway, countering the V1 and V2, and the ALSOS mission. It is wonderful background for both MJ-12 and DG type operations. He was pretty heavily involved in SOE, as the dedication from Amniarix - a French SOE agent - makes clear. Jones' book was written just after the revelations about Bletchley Park, and there are some wonderful throways about how he would get copies of signals because the cryptographers knew him and used his office when they were in town (they were at Oxford together in the 1930s). By the way, if you read Declare you will notice than the London locations are taken straight from RV Jones.

 

T-Force: The Race for Nazi War Secrets, 1945, Sean Longdon, 2009.

 

About (some of) the British units that were sent ahead of the Allied forces towards the end of the war to find advanced military technology. The US equivalent operations were ALSOS, but they were specifically focused on nuclear technology.

 

Himmler's Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, Christopher Hale, 2006.

 

Those kooks in the Indiana Jones movies, in Tibet and the Middle East? Well this is where they came from, and what they (thought they) were doing. SAN roll.

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Gil_Trevizo

It's interesting that this thread has almost automatically turned towards the espionage side of the war. A "WWII Call of Cthulhu campaign" can encompass a great deal of genres and settings, everything from a National Guard company from Arkham fighting its way through Europe (and internally filled with various individuals with strange interests) to everyday civilians trying to survive in occupied Paris while a great unseen evil rises amidst the great seen evils of Nazism and collaboration. But occult espionage is the angle I've also focused on with the war, so if you're looking for resources, here's what I'd suggest.

 

In terms of existing material, the Shadows of War monograph is your best bet. I've only run "Goodnight Vienna" from it, and wasn't impressed (it felt underwritten on the Mythos stuff and was rather prosaic), but it wasn't horrible and the other scenarios look very good so I'd still recommend it. I bought Toying with Humans just for the "Where Byakhees Dare" scenario, and, while I haven't played it, it doesn't read very well...

 

 

It's basically Where Eagles Dare (without any of the plot or character intrigue of the movie/novel) with a Nazi zombie/summoning plot tacked on. All the investigators do is wander around the Nazi castle like a WWII dungeon crawl until they come upon the evil Colonel summoning "The Master of All," and the only way to stop the summoning is to kill the Colonel, so there doesn't seem to be much point to what happens before except to show up and shoot the Nazi. Maybe it's better in play.

 

Curse of the Yellow Sign: Act I is one of the worst game products I've ever purchased. It hides lazy writing and an essential lack of plot behind being a "sandbox" scenario. It's also not particularly about WWII. You're playing Nazis in Central Africa, but you could just as easily be playing modern-day blood diamond mercenaries or colonial German (or British or Belgian or...) soldiers in the late 19th century.

 

The Delta Green books provide a lot of WWII background in-&-of themselves, particularly Countdown (which goes into the WWII history of both the British and Soviet organizations). And then there's Denied to the Enemy, Dennis Detwiller's novel that is all about WWII. It's the best thing we've got until Our Darkest Hour comes out.

 

I haven't fully read The Laundry yet, but I imagine it'd be quite useful for a game oriented towards occult espionage.

 

The No Man's Land scenario set in WWI could easily be refitted to work as a WWII scenario. I could see it working with American soldiers in the Hürtgen Forest, or with Soviet soldiers at pretty much any point of the Eastern Front. No Man's Land gets a little Mythos hoe-down-y in one part, but is an otherwise excellent scenario.

 

Taavi already talked about converting Masks of Nyarlathotep for WWII. A prime candidate would be Beyond the Mountains of Madness, considering it already has Germans involved, and when I ran the game, I directly connected them to the Thule Society. Considering the exigencies of the war, it'd probably be difficult to run the Starkweather-Moore Expedition during the war, although, as an American-financed operation, it could take place pre-Pearl Harbor. I've done a little bit of brainstorming about running a WWII sequel to BTMOM set during Operation TABARIN, but I'm miles from doing anything with it.

 

Outside of Call of Cthulhu, there is the Weird War II book for Savage Worlds. I'd avoid the first edition (which is very Deadlands-ish and rather tongue-in-cheek) and go for the second edition, which is packed with good material and takes a more serious approach. The GURPS WWII line could also be helpful, in particular Ken Hite's most-excellent Weird War II supplement. Godlike might also be of use, although it's very tied into its setting of superhuman soldiers. You might also be able to find copies of Gear Krieg in used bins, which can be raided for Nazi weird science ideas.

 

In terms of fiction, besides the aforementioned Denied to the Enemy, Tim Powers' Declare is a good example of occult espionage (and no, I'm afraid it doesn't really get better after 150 pages, though I like it). There is a book called Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz that is about British witches versus the Nazis, and I believe there are a couple of occult WWII novels written by Dennis Wheatley. I think Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archives might involve some occult Nazi stuff, but I haven't read it. Probably the best movie that I've seen to depict a weird WWII is Castle Keep: even though there's nothing technically supernatural about it, it's strange atmosphere almost feels like an Ardennes version of Carcosa. A European comic called I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun is really good, and finally available in English as a collected trade paperback. And then there's always video games like Wolfenstein or the zombie levels of Call of Duty for inspiration.

 

As for non-fiction, the single best work in English on the Ahnenerbe is Heather Pringle's The Master Plan, while in German there's a better work in Michael Kater's Das Ahnenerbe der SS. There really isn't a good comprehensive book on the Office of Strategic Services, though the official War Report of the OSS is fully available on-line. M.R.D. Foot's SOE: The Special Operations Executive is a solid one-volume history of the agency. Probably the best one-volume history of the war is Gerhard Weinberg's A World At Arms. I just finished watching the powerful BBC documentary series A World At War, which is quite long and rather old but still holds up.

 

And please, if you're considering playing a German campaign, do some reading on the Holocaust and other crimes carried out by Nazi Germany and their allies. Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners is controversially written but factual. Omer Bartov's Hitler's Army is pretty much required reading for anyone laboring under the myth that the SS alone was responsible for the atrocities committed by Nazism and the Wehrmacht was clean.

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Haukehaien
In terms of fiction, besides the aforementioned Denied to the Enemy, Tim Powers' Declare is a good example of occult espionage (and no, I'm afraid it doesn't really get better after 150 pages, though I like it). There is a book called Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz that is about British witches versus the Nazis, and I believe there are a couple of occult WWII novels written by Dennis Wheatley. I think Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archives might involve some occult Nazi stuff, but I haven't read it. Probably the best movie that I've seen to depict a weird WWII is Castle Keep: even though there's nothing technically supernatural about it, it's strange atmosphere almost feels like an Ardennes version of Carcosa. A European comic called I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun is really good, and finally available in English as a collected trade paperback. And then there's always video games like Wolfenstein or the zombie levels of Call of Duty for inspiration.

 

The Atrocity Archives does include some really nice occult/Lovecraftian Nazi stuff; the title story would make a really disturbing DG or modern-day CoC scenario. (In fact, it might be quite horrifying if set during WWII as well, with some implications and knowledge that the characters would not enjoy discovering). If you intend the campaign to carry on past the end of the war, then his short story "A Colder War" is an absolute must-read. F. Paul Wilson's The Keep also deals with the occult during WWII, pitting German soldiers (and others) against an evil force in a castle in the Carpathians. (I haven't read The Keep, but got a great deal of RPG goodness out of Wilson's related work The Tomb {alt title Rakoshi}, so I'd be inclined to look at it.)

 

From a non-occult standpoint, Alan Furst's Night Soldiers series is an excellent look at pre-war espionage.

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zackspacks
Taavi said:
"Gasmasks of Nyarlathotep"

 

Awesome title, count me in !

 

Regarding the other posts, bizarrely I never thought of using military type characters, but I like your ideas. Regarding the Laundry, I do have it, and have read it, but TBH there is not a lot in there regarding the SOE that isn't in the novels themselves. You could basically create some fanon very easily.

 

I did start writing a con scenario last year based on the Blitz, with the characters being members or the ARP / Auxiliary Fire Brigade/ Police & Salvation Army, entitled 'Blackout and Die'. I have loads of props that I bought at Leeds Armoury last year in the shop, loads of replicas of cigarette cards, ration books, air raid tips and the like. This post has reminded me about it, better dig it back out...

 

cheers

Paul

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Taavi

With regard to Gil's point, I think espionage and the occult (which after all means "hidden") are a match made in hell, and get along like a house on fire. Both spies and occultists work for "secret masters" which the world has never heard of, do things no sane person would want to do, maintain false identities to hide their true selves from the world, lie compulsively, and believe that they know "the real truth" behind the headlines, the politics, the march of history, etc. Of course, spies are in the real world while occultists are just fantasising... OR ARE THEY?! (duh-duh duuhhh!!!)

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DystopianCollective

Thank you all, that is very helpful.

 

Is there a concise list of all WWII bullet calibres and their subsequent damage values anywhere ?

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heresiarch

One great source for characters for this period is the Daily Telegraph. For those outside the UK, the Telegraph is a UK broadsheet newspaper, similar to the New York Times. The Telegraph regularly publishes obituaries of military officers, diplomats etc. and you could not make up some of the things that happened.

 

Today's paper has this one of an SOE officer:

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/special-forces-obituaries/8464307/Captain-Hamish-Pelham-Burn.html

 

As a junior officer, he found peacetime soldiering very dull. Climbing, fishing, shooting and driving sports cars occupied his leisure moments but, in 1940, he accompanied his battalion to France as part of the BEF. During the withdrawal he managed to get hold of a BSA motorbicycle and, travelling by roads crammed with refugees and strafed by German bombers, reached Cherbourg.

To escape from the tedium of regimental soldiering, Pelham-Burn volunteered for a temporary transfer to the RAF and was sent to flying school. He became adept at crosswind landings, sideslipping, stalling, spinning and aerobatics and was the first on the course to be allowed to go solo. But he disliked the strain of having to fly in formation.

 

And of course there is Baroness Park, the quotation is perfect for a CoC character.

 

She was posted to the Belgian Congo ... On one occasion, when living alone, she chased off an intruder by leaning out of her window and shouting: "I am a witch! And if you don't instantly go away your hands and feet will fall off!"

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/special-forces-obituaries/7521245/Baroness-Park-of-Monmouth.html

 

Here are pointers to the Telegraph archives:

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/special-forces-obituaries/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/

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PoC

Nice find! Indeed there aren't many World War II scenarios around. I managed to dig up a little more information on Gareth's scenario.

 

Verboten: Operation Faust by Gar Hanrahan

 

In the closing days of the Second World War, an elite team of Allied soldiers parachute down behind enemy lines. Their mission - destroy the SS research facility at the so-called "Black Monastery". In a time when humanity makes its own horror, who would willingly call up even darker forces?

 

Written for Warpcon XII

 

Source: http://www.gameeire.com/Scenarios/coc.html

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DystopianCollective
heresiarch said:
One great source for characters for this period is the Daily Telegraph. For those outside the UK, the Telegraph is a UK broadsheet newspaper, similar to the New York Times. The Telegraph regularly publishes obituaries of military officers, diplomats etc. and you could not make up some of the things that happened.

 

Today's paper has this one of an SOE officer:

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/special-forces-obituaries/8464307/Captain-Hamish-Pelham-Burn.html

 

And of course there is Baroness Park, the quotation is perfect for a CoC character.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/special-forces-obituaries/7521245/Baroness-Park-of-Monmouth.html

 

Here are pointers to the Telegraph archives:

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/special-forces-obituaries/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/

 

Excellent resource, thank you.

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vonkeitz

While WWII sounds just delicious to run (and read about, I'll certainyl snag it), I just don't see how it won't turn into an epic gunfight (if not battle) over-and-over again pretty much everybody is armed, being wartime of course. Not that such a thing is bad, its just that I don't personally like to try and run such adventures. The guns are the appetizers and possibly (just) desserts, not the main course.

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Gil_Trevizo
While WWII sounds just delicious to run (and read about, I'll certainyl snag it), I just don't see how it won't turn into an epic gunfight (if not battle) over-and-over again pretty much everybody is armed, being wartime of course. Not that such a thing is bad, its just that I don't personally like to try and run such adventures. The guns are the appetizers and possibly (just) desserts, not the main course.

 

In an espionage campaign, not so much. Undercover agents aren't going to be toting around rifles, machine guns and other infantry small arms, and may not even be carrying weapons of any kind to avoid having to explain their presence if they're searched. Many Allied agents were also taught to never use firearms against the Germans, but instead to use their hand-to-hand training when necessary and then only to get away, as a dead German would mean heightened attention against resistance activity and could mean reprisals against the native population.

 

Sure, there might always be commando raids against the secret Axis base involved in summoning dark forces, but that's no different than a group of investigators raiding cult headquarters in a Classic Era game. And the Keeper can and should scale the opposition based on how much combat they want to involve in the game, so if they don't want a lot of firefights, they simply don't have the commandos having to deal with several encounters with guards.

 

If you choose to play regular infantrymen, then yes, you'll have lots of combat. But firstly, that's the choice you've made to play in that setting, and secondly, that combat isn't going to take nearly as much time as with other systems because CoC doesn't have the kind of slow, highly-detailed, "realistic" rules that other systems do.

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