Achtung! Cthulhu: The Secret War
In order to play Achtung! Cthulhu, players first need to create their characters, also known as Investigators. World War Two brings together people from all nations and all walks of life, meaning that there is a great deal of scope in choosing where your investigator originally hails from, what they are doing when war breaks out, and what they plan on doing to thwart the ever growing evil that threatens to engulf their world.
Although we expect that most players will choose to play either American or British characters, investigators can hail from any of the Commonwealth and Empire nations as they rally to Britain’s cause, or members of a displaced nationality seeking asylum on friendly shores.
You may choose or randomly generate your nationality (see you Keeper for details).
What did your Investigator do before being drafted into the Secret War? You will choose (or randomly generate) an Occupation from one of three backgrounds: Civilian, Covert Operative, or Military.
Note that some Occupations are repeated across two or more categories. Although the titles may be the same, the skill selection will be somewhat different depending on your background.
- Antiquarian: A person who delights in the timeless excellence of design and execution, and in the power of ancient lore. Probably the most Lovecraft-like occupation available to an investigator. An independent income allows the antiquarian to explore things old and obscure, perhaps sharpening their focus down particular lines of enquiry based on personal preference and interest. Usually a person with an appreciative eye and a swift mind, who frequently finds mordant or contemptuous humor in the foolishness of the ignorant, the pompous, and the greedy.
- Artist: May be a painter, sculptor, etc. Sometimes self-absorbed and driven with a particular vision, sometimes blessed with a great talent that is able to inspire passion and understanding. Talented or not, the artist’s ego must be hardy and strong to surmount initial obstacles and critical appraisal, and to keep them working if success arrives. Some artists care not for material enrichment, while others have a keen entrepreneurial streak.
- Aviator: You don’t need to be in the military to learn how to fly, as the Aviator proves. Many young men and women, fascinated by the power of flight and the freedom it brings, fly for fun or profit and occasionally both. Civilian pilots like the Aviator can be seconded to military services, such as those flying for the British Air Transport Auxiliary.
- Black Marketeer: War provides many opportunities, if you know where to look for them. The Black Marketeer is a combination thief, smuggler, gambler, and entrepreneur, always on the lookout for a tasty bit of merchandise that he can sell on at a profit, with hidden caches scattered here, there, and everywhere. He is frequently only a few steps ahead of the law, who take a very dim view of his line of business.
- Boffin: Primarily a scientist or an engineer, the Boffin has a distinctly more practical bent than his academic brother, the Professor. Avidly researching ways to develop new objects and procedures, or to make existing ones better, the Boffin’s brain is constantly active, and he is never happier than when he has a new problem to solve. Purely a civilian, the Boffin is often seconded to the military in time of war.
- Clergyman: The hierarchy of the Church usually assigns clergy to their respective parishes or sends them on evangelical missions, most often to a foreign country. Different churches have different priorities and hierarchies: for example, in the Catholic Church a priest may rise through the ranks of bishop, archbishop, and cardinal, while a Methodist pastor may in turn rise to district superintendent and bishop.
- Comptographer: Although in their infancy, electromechanical code-breaking machines and computers have arrived by the 1940s in one form or another, including the German Z3 and the British Colossus. Specialists are required to program the settings and retrieve information vital to the war effort. This is the role of the Comptographer.
- Doctor: Most likely a general practitioner, surgeon, or other specialist, such as a psychiatrist or an independent medical researcher. Apart from personal goals, three aims—helping patients, gaining money and prestige, and promoting a more rational and wiser society—are common to the profession.
- Driver: Professional drivers may work for a company, private individual, or possibly have their own cab or rig. A chauffeur is either directly employed by an individual or firm, or works for an agency that hires both car and chauffeur out for single engagements or on a retainer basis.
- Entertainer: There are as many types of entertainer as there are stars in the sky. The Entertainer is a singer, a dancer, or a stage or screen actor, and quite frequently a little bit of everything. Each Entertainer has an important role to play in maintaining the nation’s morale. From repertory theatre and vaudeville to the silver screen, the public loves to follow the Entertainer’s up and downs. Any Entertainer worth his salt isn’t going to let an insignificant thing like war stop him from performing to his adoring fans, wherever they may be.
- Farmer: An agricultural worker who might own the land on which they raise crops or livestock, or who is employed to do the same. Rigorous and demanding, the life of the farmer is suited to those who enjoy manual labor and outdoor activities.
- Laborer: Someone has to do the dirty and dangerous jobs, or the world would grind to a halt. That person is the Laborer, frequently unskilled and, therefore, badly paid compared to a skilled Craftsman. However, the shortage of workers in war industries soon sees companies competing to recruit the best workers, and agriculture always needs more strong backs to bring in the harvest.
- News Correspondent: News is big. News makes money, and with the political situation all over the world being what it is, the News Correspondent is an important and well-respected link in the information chain, especially as only spies, diplomats, and journalists seem to be able to travel freely these days.
One particular specialist is the Photojournalist, who must also take pictures to go with his words. He works either freelance, for one of the highly popular photo-magazines, such as Life and Picture Post, or is part of a newsreel team.
- Merchant Marine: Plying the waters of the world, be they rivers, lakes, or oceans, the civilian sailor has a difficult and dangerous job, one that has only been made worse by the outbreak of war, roaming U-boat packs, and merchant raiders.
- Musician: May perform in an orchestra, group, or solo, with any instrument you care to think of. Getting noticed is hard and then getting a recording contract is difficult. Most musicians are poor and do not get noticed, eking a living by playing small venues as often as they can. A fortunate few might get regular work, such as playing a piano in a bar or hotel or within a city orchestra. For the minority, great success and wealth can be found by being in the right place at the right time, plus having a modicum of talent.
- Nurse: Doctors can diagnose the sick, but it is usually the Nurse who cares for them in the long run. The central tenets of nursing have not changed since Mary Seacole time, and the Nurse is still just as likely to be close to the front lines as she is to be nursing a wealthy, private patient.
- Parapsychologist: Parapsychologists do not pretend to enjoy extraordinary powers, but instead spend their efforts attempting to observe, record, and study such instances. Sometimes nicknamed “ghost hunters,” they make use of technology to try to capture hard evidence of paranormal activity that may be centered on a person or a location. A major portion of their time is spent debunking fake mediums and mistaken phenomena rather than recording actual evidence. Prestigious universities grant no degrees for parapsychology. Standards in the eld are based entirely upon personal reputation, and so the most acceptable representatives tend to hold degrees in related areas—physics, psychology, or medicine.
Some parapsychologists will specialize in the study of particular phenomenon, such as extra sensory perception, telekinesis, hauntings, and others.
- Police Detective: The plainclothes branch of police agencies, detectives examine crime scenes, gather evidence, conduct interviews, and try to solve homicides, major burglaries, and other felonies. They work the streets, often in close cooperation with a uniformed patrol. The detective’s crucial function is to marshal enough evidence to allow an arrest, in turn leading to a successful criminal prosecution. Detectives everywhere sort truth from lies by evidence and reconstruction. The offices of detective and prosecutor are separate, so that the evidence may be weighed independently before trial.
- Policeman: The uniformed police officer is employed by cities and towns, by County sheriff’s departments, and state or regional police forces. The job may be on foot, behind the wheel of a patrol car, or sitting at a desk.
- Private Investigator: The “private eye” usually acts in non-police situations, gathering information and evidence for private clients in impending civil cases, tracking down fleeing spouses or business partners, or acting as an agent for private defense attorneys in criminal cases. Like any professional, the private eye separates his or her personal feelings from the job at hand, and cheerfully works for the guilty and innocent alike, as long as the fee is paid.
- Professor: Professors are academics employed by colleges and universities. Larger corporations may also employ such academics for research and product development. Independent scholars sometimes help support themselves by teaching part-time courses.
For the most part, the occupation indicates a Ph.D.—a rank that can earn tenure at universities around the world. The professor is qualified to teach and to perform competent research, and may have a discernible academic reputation in his or her area of expertise.
- Secretary: Whatever films, including the 1936 movie More Than A Secretary, might think, the wartime Secretary is not just stuck in the typing pool waiting to marry her boss. She is involved in code-breaking and early computing, adventure and excitement (like Wild Jack Howard’s secretary Beryl Morden), and espionage (like the Double Cross committee’s secretary Gisela Ashley).
- Spiritualist: A student of the magical and mystic arts or alternatively, depending on your point of view, a gifted con-man or -woman, the Spiritualist researches into the unknown, whether for enlightenment, power, or slightly more mundane rewards. Dabblers and practitioners come from all walks of life; hence there is a wide spread of potential incomes associated with this Occupation.
Covert Operative Occupations
- FBI Agent/MI5 Operative: An agent of MI5, Britain’s internal security and counter intelligence department, the Operative works closely with his colleagues in the Police Force and Special Branch hunting down foreign agents and saboteurs. Occasionally his work will take him overseas, particularly to the colonies, which have become a hotbed of enemy espionage activity. The FBI Agent, famous from the war against organized crime, operates mostly in the United States and Latin America, but during the war fulfills the same function as the MI5 Operative, for the most part.
- MI6 Operative: As an agent of Britain’s foreign intelligence service, the MI6 Operative can be found in His Majesty’s embassies around the globe or working his contacts on the streets of foreign cities, gathering intelligence and engaging in acts of espionage whilst constantly evading the attention of enemy counter-intelligence agents. Though working to the same end, there is considerable friction between him and the SOE Operative, who MI6 see as “upsetting the apple cart” with their acts of sabotage and destruction.
- Military Intelligence Officer: Intelligence supports commanders making decisions. In peacetime, intelligence is gathered from public and less public sources, such as eavesdropping on wireless traffic, maintaining up-to-date maps, etc. In wartime, intelligence is gathered from patrols and photo-reconnaissance. Field security units gather battlefield intelligence, question informants, and interrogate prisoners of war. This Intelligence Officer works specifically for a branch of the armed force’s own intelligence service (Army, Air Force, or Navy), rather than an external agency, such as MI6.
- Resistance Agent: Her nation’s pride violated by the Nazi invaders, the Resistance Agent has devoted herself to the cause of liberation. Working with the support of British and American intelligence, she works as an unassuming citizen by day, but by night she fights the Germans. Dropped into her country after training in Britain, she is at constant risk of detection and execution, but this is a small price to pay for the freedom of her country. Working only with her local circuit to prevent the compromise of their network, she has limited resources and nobody to call on for backup.
- Air Force: Aircrew: Large aircraft such as bombers and transport aircraft need more than just pilots to operate effectively. Bombardiers drop bombs accurately. Navigators plan and advise the aircraft’s course, while Flight Engineers monitor systems and aid pilots. Gunners provide point defense.
- Air Force (RAF or Navy): Pilot: Pilots are the Air Force’s backbone—without them it cannot operate. In some forces only officers are pilots, whilst in others both NCOs and officers are permitted to fly. The bigger the aircraft and the more numerous the crew, the more likely it is that the pilot is an officer. All pilots train on single-engine aircraft. Those chosen for bomber, transport, and maritime patrol duties then train on multi-engine aircraft.
The fighter pilot has the most daring image, but bomber duty is the most dangerous. A fighter pilot with five kills to his name is classed as an Ace, whereas a bomber pilot who survives 30 operations is just considered to be lucky.
- Army: Artilleryman: Artillery is the Army’s most lethal weapon, and the Infantryman’s friend. Artillery provides support for advancing forces and eliminates opposition. Artillery can serve on the frontline providing direct support against targets, behind the lines providing indirect support on call, or providing air defense against enemy aircraft. World War Two artillery is crew-served, and artillery is operationally grouped in batteries.
- Army: Infantryman: The army’s weapon is the Infantryman. The basic infantry
doctrine is to close with the enemy, pin him down, and to destroy him.
- Army: Sniper: A Sniper is a highly-trained marksman. A sniper’s targets are enemy personnel, but they are tasked with reconnaissance and intelligence gathering as well. Normally operating with a spotter, a Sniper can operate alone if necessary. Contrary to what you see in the movies, the best spot for a sniper position is not always a church bell tower or perched high in a tree.
Only the Soviets start World War Two with snipers. The British quickly catch up, with company marksmen holding up the German advance on Dunkirk, and World War One sniper training schools restarted. The Germans also reinstitute World War One training programs, and the Hitlerjügend produce able but suicidal sharpshooters towards the end of the war. By 1943, most major combatants have snipers of similar competency.
- Army: Tanker: The tank was born in World War One, but came of age in World War Two. Heinz Guderian, German tank pioneer, said “Where tanks are, the front is”. Blitzkrieg proves that tanks can win tactical victories in a short time period, but the tank’s ultimate weakness is how it is deployed.
- Army Elite: Foot Guards: Some of the oldest, and the most able, infantry regiments of the British Army are the Foot Guards: the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards, and the Welsh Guards. Guardsmen have a reputation for doing things by the book, having a smart appearance no matter what the conditions, and of being expert marksmen. The Irish Guards are a preferred regiment for Roman Catholic officers.
- Army Elite: Phantom: Officially known as the GHQ Liaison Regiment, Phantom is a secret reconnaissance unit involved in gathering and disseminating accurate real-time battlefield intelligence. Its members are specifically recruited for their existing skills, and then trained in wireless operation and ciphers.
- Navy: Diver: Most naval capital ships carry sailors qualified to dive. They are required to inspect and repair damage, carry out maintenance, clear entanglements, and search flooded compartments, as well as undertake mine clearance and salvage duties.
Divers use standard hard helmet diving dress or self-contained breathing apparatus—early breathing apparatus gear has been available since 1900. This is a closed-circuit breathing device, or re-breather, that scrubs carbon dioxide and recycles oxygen. Re-breathers have a longer duration and are more easily available than the open-circuit breathing sets that appear at the end of the war.
- Navy: Sailor: Battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes, minesweepers, supply vessels, and submarines all need sailors to operate them. In wartime, the sailor does not wear the “tally” or the name of his ship on his cap. Naval gunners are often deployed on civilian ships to help protect them whilst in convoy.
- Army or Navy: Engineer: While Army engineers make garrisons work, camouflaging equipment and emplacements, creating fortified positions, and clearing roads and obstacles, their Naval equivalents look after and maintain the ship’s systems, and perform repairs after wear or combat. Army Engineers are also involved in breaching obstacles and defenses, clearing rivers and trenches, laying minefields, and blowing up bridges and other significant installations.
- Medic: Field medics give immediate first aid on the battlefield, and sustaining care to allow the casualty to be evacuated from the battlefront through aid posts and field hospitals. Combat medics are usually unarmed, but in some theaters like the Pacific they carry arms for self-defense.
Nurses serve in field and general hospitals, offering hospital care whilst patients are recovering from injuries. This is one of the few military occupations open to women in a historically-accurate campaign.
Doctors serve in aid posts and casualty clearing stations, performing triage and stabilizing patients. They also serve in field and general hospitals looking after the health of servicemen. Surgeons serve in field hospitals, treating the casualties evacuated there. Doctors can also serve as Ship’s Surgeons and Flight Surgeons.
- Signalman: Signals allow World War Two military forces to communicate, operate cohesively, and to co-ordinate attacks. Signals are an integral part of command and control. As well as wireless communications, there are also telephony (landlines), Aldiss lamps, and semaphore. Carrier pigeons are also still used in certain circumstances. Special forces signalers are also trained to use the S-phone—a ground-to-air communication device.
- Specialist: Some military careers just don’t fit in boxes. We call them Specialists. Three are available to choose from here: Bomb Disposal Expert, Musician, and Padre.