What Do I Know About Reviews? Operation Snowstorm (Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20)
Allow me to step away from the World’s Most Hotly Debated RPG online for a bit, and take a look at the newest installment of the Achtung! Cthulhu adventure line. Operation Snowstorm is a little bit different from some of the other adventures in that it takes place in Canada, after the US has entered the war, and by default is a mission undertaken by Majestic agents.
I was sent a review copy of Operation Snowstorm by Modiphius Entertainment. I have reviewed several other Achtung! Cthulhu products. While I have not had a chance to play this adventure, I have had experience running and playing the 2d20 System.
Achtung! Cthulhu Mission: Operation Snowstorm
ACHTUNG! CTHULHU CREATED BY CHRIS BIRCH
Writing Ben Maunder
Editor John Houlihan
Cartographer Ute Gundacker
Graphic Designers Michal E. Cross, Matthew Comben, Richard L. Gale
Project Managers James Barry, Gavin Dady
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 Creative Lead John Houlihan
Operation Snowstorm is a 32 page PDF, including a credits page, a table of contents, four pages of handouts, and two pages of ads for other Modiphius products. The formatting of this adventure follows the same “worn pages” layout of previous Achtung! Cthulhu products, and includes several blueprints of locations that the player characters may visit.
This adventure is divided into the following sections:
- Mission Briefing & Goals
- Act One: Enter the Storm
- Act Two: The Lock and the Key
- Act Three: Choices
While there are Mythos shenanigans going on, sadly, there are no Nazis to shoot, punch, or blow up.
A Majestic research base has gone silent, and the PCs are sent to British Colombia to investigate the cause. To get to their mission objective, the PCs will need cold weather gear, and the ability to climb.
Upon reaching the research facility, the PCs will need to poke around to find clues. They may be able to find supplies and supplementary weapons, and with some luck and time, they can find a surviving member of the military, a Majestic scientist, and someone still alive in her lab that clearly shouldn’t be.
Eventually the team will find out that the scientist is experimenting with an ancient stone that was excavated from a site nearby. While she has managed to make her own, um, enhancement procedure from her experiments, the longer the stone is free from its burial place, the wider the scope of winter becomes, and the more those nearby are affected by The Presence.
The Presence is mutating people and animals into dangerous carnivorous berserkers. In some cases, the transformation is even more extreme. Eventually some of those infected by the Presence might transform into lesser Wendigos.
When the infected overflow the section of the base where they were trapped, the PCs have to survive until a group of Pathfinders Demon Hunters, Indigenous troops working with Majestic, relieve them. At this point in the adventure, the PCs have to make a choice between helping the scientist smuggle the tablet away from the outpost, against the wishes of the Pathfinders, or if they are going to face a Child of the Wendigo guarding the site where the tablet has been entombed.
From a mechanical standpoint, this adventure is engaging a few more rules than some of the other adventures in this series. Specifically, in several places it’s using the extended task rules to track journeys in rough terrain, and a potential race to escape with the tablet on a train.
I feel like this is a natural transition from “starter” products to get people interested in the line, to adventures that are designed to supplement groups that have the core rules and are playing ongoing games. This adventure notably does not include pregen characters.
I’m not overly thrilled with another adventure involving cold weather that equates to the presence of Wendigo related lore. I’m still a little conflicted knowing that some Indigenous people are uncomfortable with Wendigo lore being used in this manner, but also because it’s a note that’s been played a few times already. That said, I like the addition of the tablet as a potential harbinger of eternal winter, with the Wendigo effects being more of a side story.
I really like the idea that the PCs have to decide whether to support a clearly morally compromised scientist on “their side,” doing some unnatural things to create her own super-soldiers, or the Demon Hunters, who have much more moral clarity about dealing with dangerous supernatural things.
It’s also worth noting that many of the previous Achtung! Cthulhu adventures have had a higher “pulp” quotient. There are some horrific things, but for the most part, it’s evil Nazis using superscience and evil magic to do bad things, and PCs finding out how to blow them to Kingdom Come before their plans take effect. This is definitely more of a horror adventure than some of the previous entries in the 2d20 line.
While there is some gruesome body horror and cannibalism in the adventure, I feel like the real content warning I want to provide about the adventure is the surviving military officer at the base. It’s entirely possible that the character will use a gun to commit suicide in front of the PCs, and I feel like this may cross a lot of character lines. I know it’s a trope in horror stories when someone has “seen too much,” but it even hit me a little harder than I expected just reading the adventure, so make sure you’re using safety tools and respecting your player’s boundaries if you run this adventure. Its pretty easy to find other ways for this NPC to endanger himself in a manner that won’t leave the PCs helplessly witnessing a graphic suicide.
This is a very atmospheric adventure, using the isolation and the cold to tell the story, and adding in various charts and complications that can reinforce the dangers of traveling in blizzard conditions for an extended period of time. I appreciate the moral quandary presented to the player characters, even if I very much hope they don’t side with the soulless Majestic scientist.
I would have loved a more The Thing feel from some kind of mythos threat than going to the Wendigo well again. I wish there was a content warning up front for some elements of the adventure.
Qualified Recommendation–A product with lots of positive aspects, but buyers may want to understand the context of the product and what it contains before moving it ahead of other purchases.
I think this is a solid adventure, and switching to a more horror-themed adventure after some of the more pulp oriented adventures may be a nice change of pace. That said, it’s not a gradual transition to a horror story, it dives right in. If you want to keep your Achtung! Cthulhu stories focused more on saving the world from evil Nazi sorcerers, you might be able to put off picking this one up for a while.