Recently I had a chance to ask Chris Birch, creator of Achtung! Cthulhu a few questions about his newest project. The original press release can be found here: http://paperdragonink.com/?p=3331 and soon there will be a review of the first installment on this very site…but for now, lets get to the questions.
Q) How did you get into gaming? What inspired you to create Achtung! Cthulhu?
A) I was introduced to Basic D&D through my brother and his friends when I was about 8, I went on to play Metamorphosis Alpha and loved the post apocalyptic genre, picking up Gamma World and creating my own games in that vein. The OGRE boardgame from Steve Jackson games turned me on to the classic strategy ‘hex’ games and I went on to AD&D via Tunnels & Trolls and then Star Frontiers. I have always had a love for games, and was able to create my first with Starblazer Adventures and then Legends of Anglerre with Cubicle 7. I have since wanted to create and publish my own games and WW2 has always been my favourite genre.
Q) Cthulhu stories have been written in almost every genre and time period imaginable. Why did you choose WWII as the setting for this game?
A)More recently I’ve also been a wargamer and have been playing Flames of War with friends for a couple of years. We had always talked about how cool it would be to create weird war rules for Flames of War. My love for WW2 themes and zombie games led me to come up with the idea of transposing the Cthulhu mythos to a wartime setting which would allow quite a wide range of monstrous and terrifying weird war encounters.
Q) I’m always excited to try a new gaming system. Achtung! Cthulhu is using a new system called Expeditions. What can you tell us about that?
A) Yes we’re developing Expeditions in the background whilst we release the Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds and Trail of Cthulhu versions. We’re playtesting every wednesday night and it’s so much fun to see people getting excited about it. We’re developing it for Achtung! Cthulhu with the Mountains of Madness campaign in mind but it will work for fantasy and science-fiction where ‘expeditions’ are just are important. Most games turn real life characters and experiences into a bunch of boring numbers so I decided to create a game that tried to create characters with interesting experiences. The idea is characters are built from a series of life experiences, immediately telling you their backstory, and contributing numbers to a range of simple attributes. The goal with Expeditions is not to please every gamer but to make it easy for non gamers to ‘get it’, reduce the amount of rules and make it more about telling drama packed stories. Expeditions also has a kind of board game or meta game that you can play too. Basically you outfit your expedition and lead it through a series of dangerous places. When encounters happen the heroes have one chance to stop or reduce the danger before it passes through to affect the expedition members. Imagine your heroes spread out trying to take down the Ice Wolves before they burst through them and attack the expedition. Or they get one chance to alert the snow tractor to the opening crevasse before the crew must test to see if they can survive. Of course encounters can then focus in on the roleplaying at any point.
Q) Your press release also said that Achtung! Cthulhu is written for some of our favorite RPG systems. Can you give us an idea of what those will be?
A) Yes it will be Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds and Trail of Cthulhu
Q) Will the game consist of entirely per-generated modules or will there be room for GMs to create unique scenarios for their players?
A) The scenarios are designed to allow a lot of variety of play – for example in Three Kings you can start as agents parachuting into occupied territory, professors in the local university or partisans. We’re trying to avoid the linear, ‘kill the guards, rescue the guy, cross the crevasse, steal the information’ type of adventures. There are all kinds of ways to experience the adventure. The campaigns will provide all kinds of supplemental material, story ideas and suggestions to extend the adventures.
Q) This is the first product from Modiphius. What can we look forward to in the future?
A) We’re already working on ‘Dreams & Machines’ a kind of post apocalyptic science-romance inspired by things like Sega’s Phantasy Star, Gamma World and more recent mecha storylines. There’s a fantasy setting and a heavily starship focused sci-fi setting being developed. We’ve been lucky to partner with some really amazing artists who are inspiring some stories I think people are going to love.
Q) Besides the obvious http://www.achtungcthulhu.com/ are there any other places on the web where our readers can go to view your work or learn more about you, the game or the company?
A) We’re focusing our community at www.facebook.com/modiphius for the moment, as it helps us reach out to people more easily however there is of course our RPGNow.come store athttp://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=4329
The proper Achtung! Cthulhu website will launch in a month or so with a lot more resources for people.
Final four (questions we ask all interviewees)
Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
A) Our big grocers in Notting Hill with a canal and boat centre next door and shot gun factory around the corner!
Q) Jedi, Ninja, vampire, were-wolf, pirate, fairy or Spartan?
A) Gotta be SPARTA! Without them the world would have been a very different place. They were real life examples of heroes for all of us who didn’t for one moment doubt what they had to do.
Q) What one piece of art, be it music, book, film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
A) I have to say reading Lord of the Rings, it was one of the most profound pieces of work I have experienced. The depth of story; love, poetry, myth and thrills is fantastic and will live on for centuries.
Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
A) I can read the Russian cyrillic alphabet and speak some Russian (thanks to my beautiful Commissar’s training techniques)