So, the next book that I read from the Achtung! Cthulhu package that I purchased was the Guide to the Eastern Front. I choose this book first of the guides because it covers the area that I knew the least about during World War 2. I did find it interesting that there are several references to Baron Roman von Ungern-Stermberg who I first heard about in Charles Stross’s The Fuller Memorandum, and who was a very bad man. You can find some information on him here. Anyway, lets move onto the book
Chapter one is exactly what you would expect from this setting. It starts with a short intro fiction piece, moves onto how to identify the rules and to set expectations for what the setting covers. Then it goes into a timeline starting in 1831 and ending in 1945. This makes some of the information useful for a Weird Wars 1 campaign by giving you more important people and events through that time frame.
Chapter two gives information on the different locations and the societies along the eastern front. We also get more information on how the German forces treated those areas they conquered on the eastern front. I knew some of the things that happened here from various history classes and World War 2 documentaries, but I didn’t really have a coherent idea of what happened in these areas, and this book really gave me a good idea about who did what and what all happened during the war. All of which means that it provided a lot of solid information and a framework to handle this area of the war.
Chapter three covers the military structure and ranks for the red army and NKVD. It also gives information on the education levels of the soldiers and the lack of experience that the officers had. We also get a discussion of some of the issues that faced the military (Senior Commanders are always right), and the book makes it sound like Stalin only signed a non-aggression pact with the Nazis so that he would have time to build up his forces for the war he expected, but the Nazis attacked sooner than he expected. I am not sure how much of this is true or not, but it does make a fair amount of sense (most of this information was not covered in any of the history classes I took).
Chapter four covers creating Soviet Union characters. This part follows the structure found in the Investigator’s Guide, and we get a couple of new occupations specific here. We also get a new knowledge sub skill for Savage Worlds, two new Hindrances, three new edges, and one new training package. The chapter ends with a section on awards and medals. The one difference in this book from the Investigator’s Guide (and I am assuming that it will be similarly done in the other Front Guides) is that the Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds rules are both in the same chapter instead of split.
Chapter five covers gear and weapons. There is a lot of descriptions of real and fictional weapons including a bomb that explodes and summons a Fire Vampire to cause extra chaos. We also get a new weapon quality (Unreliable) for Savage Worlds. In the setting, the Soviet Union has recovered some Mi-Go tech and figured out how to make energy weapons.
Chapter six covers the different vehicles that might be encountered. These vehicles include those of Soviet manufacture, those acquired as part of the Lend-Lease program, and those of German origin. We also get a side bar about the Soviet Anti-tank Dog which I had never heard of (dogs strapped with explosives trained to run under enemy tanks and blow themselves up). We also get a couple of experimental and fictional vehicles to add into the war.
Chapter seven covers the various occult organizations involved in the war. My favorite part of this chapter might just be the Brain Institute who have instituted some sort of Pharaonic cult for Lenin with his living brain in a jar. We have all heard the urban legend that Hitler’s brain is in a jar somewhere, well in this setting Lenin’s brain is alive and well in a Mi-Go brain canister (though Lenin doesn’t realize this). We also get rival Soviet occult agencies that mirror the Black Sun and Nachtwolfe organizations (Institute 21 and Otdel MI). After that we get a few independent occult groups and then a breakdown of occult sites including an explanation for the Tunguska blast.
Chapter eight covers artifacts, books, and spells. We get three new items, eight new books nine new spells for Savage Worlds (some of these are already included in the Call of Cthulhu rules). I do like that the books are all in either Russian, Chinese, or Sanskrit (and the Chinese ones were translated from Mongolian editions which are all lost). With the new spells, you could setup an Angleton like NPC from the Laundry Files which I think is cool.
Chapter nine covers new monsters, and gives alternate (Soviet) names for some of the existing monsters. Some of the monsters are only new for Savage Worlds. I particularly like the Matreshka.
Chapter ten covers import people on the front including various German commanders that are put in charge and replaced. We also get various important Soviets and some other assorted nationalities. After that we get a section on example NPCs from various walks of life including Cavalrymen, Penal Combatant, Soviet Piolets, and different civilians. There is also a side bar on the Night Witches bombers (Soviet Women pilots who flew bi-planes and dropped bombs on the Germans at night). This chapter also gives some sample allied and enemy troops.
Chapter eleven has three adventure seeds, one is about dealing with interference on a transport route for planes from Alaska to the Soviets. The other is dealing with trouble at the largest winter port in Russia, and the final one which is my favorite is dealing with rats during the Battle for Stalingrad.
Chapter twelve is the last one in this book and as has been traditional, we get a list of suggested resources. Movies, books, and museums are all included.
Overall I am really pleased that I got this book and that I read it first. There are so many things that I would like to look for more information on that this book has given me hints about. I know so little about Russian/Soviet history, and I would like to learn more.