RogerBW's Blog

Cthulhu Eternal WWII 27 February 2023

Also known as "more stuff by me that you can buy".

Though this time it's pay what you want. For those of you who aren't as far into the Lovecraftian gaming community as I am, Cthulhu Eternal is a set of free rules (originated by Dean Engelhardt) for running Lovecraftian adventures; it's based on Delta Green and ultimately on the Mongoose version of the RuneQuest mechanics. It's broadly compatible with (pre-7e) Call of Cthulhu: you can run a published CoC adventure with CE, or vice versa, with only minor amendments on the fly.

But, since it's free, anyone can publish their own adventures for CE, without having to dance around the Chaosium licencing minefield (which essentially means either publishing through them, with a low cap on sales, or being a partner with a very high minimum sales level to make it viable – it's notable that most of their former publishing partners have stopped licencing material from them since the new terms came in).

So these System Reference Documents serve a dual purpose: they're a bare-bones set of rules, and they're something you can incorporate (either directly or by reference) into your own published materials. I rather like them: they're much lighter weight than later CoC, with straightforward mechanics that can easily be generalised, rather than specialised mini-games like the chase system and the dreadful bore of automatic fire resolution.

Each SRD contains all the relevant material for a specific era (so you only have one rules-book to consult in any single game), and this is where I come in: to go along with the existing ones by other people (Age of Revolutions, Victorian Era, Jazz Age, Cold War and Modern Age), I've written a WWII iteration. Obviously there could be some overlap with Jazz Age or indeed early Cold War characters, but this book focuses on military and espionage operations in the wartime context.

By definition, there isn't a huge amount of detail here, but I've tried to pin down how this is different from other games in similar time periods: military life and how it affects investigations, but also what I think is the key element of this sort of thing, that human evil and Lovecraftian terror exist on different axes. Friends can uncover dreadful truths in the scrabble for anything that promises victory; enemies can be frightful even before they start to exploit eldritch horrors. And considering how much more front-line operatives tend to have in common with their counterparts on the other side than with their respective superiors, what will happen when both high commands insist that they cannot afford to discard anything that offers a hope of shortening the war? (Consider Churchill's recommendations on poison gas in this context…)

The WWII SRD is available from DriveThruRPG.

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 09:12am on 27 February 2023

    Being a pussycat of little brains I'd missed these contributions to the Cthulhu mythos by you. Now rectified and bought.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 09:20am on 27 February 2023

    This is the only one I can take any credit for - the rest of the work was done by Dean Engelhardt and others. (Though I do have Plans.)

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