I just finished my re-reading of Achtung! Cthulhu Keeper’s Guide on Sunday, and here are my thoughts on it as well as information on what the book contains, now that it is fresher on my mind.
We start off as we did with the player’s guide with a brief portion of a story to set the tone and then move on to a blurb about the book (how to tell which rules are being referred to in the section) and the setting premise. After that we get a timeline of events for the secret war. We also get little notes about people, places, and other items. The timeline covers similar information to the one in the player’s guide, but it seems to go into more details for the German events.
Chapter two contains a timeline of events that are more specific to Germany and the politics leading up to the Battle for Berlin. There is also a section in this chapter about making sure that you run the average German soldier as a real person who may or may not believe in what the Nazi’s do to drive some of the real horror of the war home as well as to juxtapose it with the horror of the Cthulhu mythos creatures that are also involved in things.
Chapter three covers the German military structure and ranks. After that we get a section on life in the army and here is where we get the first rules in the book. The rules cover things like using your supplied First Aid kit, requesting supplies from the quartermaster, replenishing your ammunition. After that we go into a long list of example members of the military forces in both Call of Cthulhu 6th and Savage Worlds formats. In many ways I wish that the rules specific information in this chapter had been split into chapters for each rules system instead of combined into one. As it is just feels like it is going to be more difficult to find and make use of the particular information with both systems alternated like they are.
Chapter four covers the various intelligence services and the French resistance. It is a fairly short chapter that contains a lot of really good background information for the setting.
Chapter five covers various secret and occult societies. These societies are based in one of the countries covered in this book (America, Britain, France, and Germany). The one in America seems intent on keeping something hidden to keep the world safe. The British one defends the British leaders from the occult assault of the Germans. The French and three German societies are all your more typical cults for a Call of Cthulhu game all set to cause trouble for the world at large. The chapter ends with overviews of the Majestic and Section M organizations (the intended player organizations) and information on the Black Sun and Nacthwolfe (the rival organizations that support the Germans in the war. We get the leaders of the groups and in the case of Black Sun and Nachtwolfe, we get sample lower ranking members for use as opponents. This is my favorite chapter in the book. I love the background on the Black Sun, and parts of it could easily be used in a Weird War I game with Weissler being part of the conspiracy behind World War I.
Chapter six covers methods of transport and specialized equipment. We get some information on ports and distances between the ports, but this is mostly all about the vehicles. We get some further details on the various tanks, trucks, aircraft, and boats. We also get stats for the different vehicles described. The chapter moves on with descriptions of the standard equipment that squad members might be issued and the more esoteric items that the Black Sun and Nachtwolfe make use of. We end the chapter with a couple of examples on how to eye-ball non standard equipment.
Chapter seven covers the Call of Cthulhu rules for larger scale war encounters with sections on aerial dog fights, battles between and with tanks, ship battles, attacking bunkers and other things that soldiers might be expected to do. The rules are okay, light on detail, and needed since large-scale battles are not in the wheel house for Call of Cthulhu.
Chapter eight covers the needed rules for Savage Worlds. There are just a couple of pages in this section on battle rules, but since Savage Worlds already covers them, this is not an issue. The majority of the rest of this is chapter covers the new rules on sanity and the three levels of fear (nausea, horror, and terror). We also get rules on recovering from dementia and insanity.
Chapter nine covers artifacts and tomes, mostly mythos tomes though. The information in this chapter is mostly for Savage Worlds because the system doesn’t have rules for reading/studying these books. There are also a couple of pages on various artifacts that can be used in play as well. There are a couple of completely new books that get rules for Call of Cthulhu as well. I like the Savage Worlds rules for reading these books that are introduced.
Chapter ten covers the new Savage World skill Knowledge Mythos which is used for identifying Mythos creatures, casting spells. It also reduces your sanity as you would expect from a mythos game. This chapter also gives us the rules on learning spells. The chapter concludes with a selection of spells suitable for the setting and a handful of new spells for both Savage Worlds and Call of Cthulhu. One thing of note for casting spells is while the system doesn’t use power points, the spells do have costs that must be paid as well as penalties to the casting roll. Some spells might require you to spend a point of Sanity to cast which is a high cost because you don’t get those back while others just require you to roll on one of the fear tables.
Chapter eleven covers the monsters and gods of the Cthulhu mythos. The gods do not get stats for Savage Worlds being to powerful to kill, yet still defeat able. As with the last several chapters, most of the information is for Savage Worlds, but we do end the chapter with a selection of new monsters in both formats. I particularly liked the augmented migo. All of the Savage Worlds versions of these creatures seem like they will be of some challenge even considering the power that a wildcard has.
Chapter twelve starts with biographical of the major players in the war, and then moves on to sample members of various professions to be used to fill in minor NPC roles. After that we get descriptions of various locations that the players might find themselves at along with a list of the earlier types of characters that might be found there.
Chapter thirteen has a number of adventure seeds some of which I really like and all of them have multiple levels of complication and multiple options for what is actually going on. Most of them also have some sort of in-game information prop that could be printed out and given to the players such as a newspaper clipping or a set of military instructions. All in all there is a lot of good that can be mined from here.
Chapter fourteen is called the quick play rules, but is really a rules reference section. It gives the page numbers for where to find various rules in the Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds, and Achtung! Cthulhu rules books. It also briefly covers the new rules introduced in this book.
Chapter fifteen is the last one in this book and it contains an extensive list of suggested resources to gather more information on World War II, or to get information on what the time period is like.
I am really glad that I backed this kickstarter, and even though I had read both the Investigator’s Guide and Keeper’s Guide before, I didn’t realize how much more stuff was in the Keeper’s guide until I got physical copies of the books. I am particularly happy with chapters five, nine, ten, eleven and thirteen. I think that each of these chapters brings a lot to the table for setting the tone of the game and giving the players worthwhile challenges to face.