With both the PDF for our adventure anthology for World War Cthulhu, Europe Ablaze, available now and the print edition available to pre-order, we caught up with some of the writers to find out what inspired their scenarios.
Sleeper Agents – Nick Robinson presents the machinations of a small network of occultists in northern France who have had their minds touched by a lost Mythos deity. N has dispatched a team to contain the situation at all costs. Keeping the true nature of this mission hidden is the tricky part, and the investigators will soon be drawn into a large-scale programme of assassinations.
“Deciding the mission would be a cover for N to eliminate some nasty sorcerers, I started to delve into the history of Rennes and discovered the (true!) details of the devastating air raid, the murderess Jégado, Lumpf and his POW hospital, the Breton fascists and the Gestapo headquarters (with the practice of dumping their dying victims at the hospital). The whole thing began to morph away from the initial, simple idea of a series of assassinations into something more dangerous.”
The Play is the Thing – Walt Ciechanowski takes us to Italy, where a troupe of players prepares to perform a radio adaptation of a supposedly harmless derivation of The King in Yellow. Of course nothing relating to the Mythos is ever harmless, and the agents will have to avoid the watchful gaze of the Italian authorities as they try to stop the creation of a permanent gateway to Carcosa.
“One of the things I wanted to do with this scenario is get away from Nazis and Occupied France. I liked the idea of setting it in Italy because it gets the players out of their comfort zone and explores an Axis power that (I feel) gets a bit neglected in WWII settings. My favourite bit about this scenario is that the Italian military is just as in the dark about what's going on as the investigators, and are trying to do the same thing that the investigators are doing – neutralise the threat. Of course, each side suspects the other of being the cause, which is all very true to the genre!”
We Will Remember Them – Paul Fricker presents a mission to sabotage a power plant in Norway, inspired by the real SOE Operation Musketoon. This is only the beginning, as the team is diverted to investigate a Norwegian scientist's unwholesome experiments with alien technology, and what the agents discover will leave them changed forever.
“I'd had the idea for this scenario in my head for years. It relies upon a specific set of circumstances, but I just couldn't figure out how to write it. While researching actual SOE missions I found liked the sound of Norway. It provides a wonderful combination of cold climate, isolation and paranoia. Then it dawned on me that my old scenario idea and wartime Norway went together like a hand in a cold, black leather glove.”
Lift Not Thy Hands – Andy Nicholson sends the investigators into occupied Belgium, ostensibly to help the Belgian resistance wiretap a telephone exchange and learn the plans of the local Gestapo. Being part of N’s network, things are not so simple, and they also need to recover a lost Mythos artefact. This would be hard enough, had said artefact not resurrected a long-dead evil in the Wallonian countryside.
“Writing something that, even in just a small way, allows me to tip my hat to the brave men and women (of all nationalities) who daily risked their lives to make the world a better place has been a privilege.”
The Angel of the Abyss – Matthew Sanderson takes inspiration from the real Operation Harling, when SOE united disparate factions of the Greek Resistance, ahead of the assault on the Gorgopotamus Bridge. In this version of events, the mission is complicated by the resurgence of a forgotten death cult and their inhuman allies.
“I wanted to present a whodunit scenario amidst the political differences of the various factions of the Greek Resistance. Rather than being a murder mystery, I thought it would be interesting to have the investigators track down a saboteur in their ranks, especially as Operation Harling (the real-life mission the scenario is set around) was one of the most famous sabotage missions of the war.
“Hand in hand with this, I wanted the antagonists of the piece to have an understandable agenda. Giving the main antagonists a very human face (at least to begin with!) allows the scenario to have more of an emotional impact. During playtesting, action scenes were well balanced against some wonderfully intense scenes between the investigators and the NPCs. When the investigators found themselves confronted by the same problems the NPCs faced, some hard choices had to be made, creating some of the most memorable moments I've had at the game table.”
Stowaways – Scott Dorward offers a spin on the first exchange of Allied and Axis prisoners in neutral Spain. The Intelligence Corps in Alexandria believe that they have uncovered a plan to sabotage the British vessel repatriating German POWs, and N has had reports that there may be a hitherto-unknown alien parasite on board. The investigators need to find a way of containing both threats without creating a diplomatic incident.
“With the other scenarios in the book revolving around missions behind enemy lines, I wanted to provide a contrast by having the investigators operating on home turf, but finding no safety in it. The structure of Stowaways is as much a horror story as a military mission, with the investigators trapped on board a hospital ship with an alien menace that threatens to spiral out of control, and owes obvious debts to some classic films. After having run Stowaways several times, I’ve found that while victory is possible, it will most likely come at a terrible price.”
Europe Ablaze is an anthology of six Call of Cthulhu scenarios set in the Second World War. Softcover, 144 pages, written by Walt Ciechanowski, Scott Dorward, Paul Fricker, Andy Nicholson, Nick Robinson and Matt Sanderson. Cover by Jon Hodgson, interior art by Scott Purdy, design by Paul Bourne.