Against doomsday cults, ancient secrets and super-tanks - a Mephisto review
Forest of Fear
With Forest of Fear, a more extensive campaign for Achtung! Cthulhu has been released. The story arc spans eleven chapters and takes place in the late years of World War II, more specifically against the backdrop of the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. The campaign is aimed at both experienced players and battle-hardened characters and recommends that agents have completed at least ten other missions. Not only does the campaign's length provide a challenge, but also the fact that several hostile parties operate here and get involved in a dangerous conflict. Moreover, the themes of this scenario and the strong correlation with one of the historic battles of World War II are responsible for the fact that this is a challenging scenario in any respect.
The agents are sent out to contact the Resistance in the Ardennes. At first, the campaign starts quite simply, with meeting a member of the Resistance and moving into a temporary headquarters. Thereafter, however, the plot quickly gains momentum and shows the agents that sinister forces are at work. The players are supposed to investigate the Black Sun's activities in the area, which initially starts with an archaeological outpost. Soon it turns out that ancient secrets rest beneath the Ardennes – or rather, rested until the Black Sun unearthed them to abuse them for their purposes.
But before the player characters can focus on this task, a second storyline takes them in because, in addition, a dangerous and ancient cult is also active in the area. These cultists are preparing their own rituals to unleash a terrible threat to the region. Thus, the player characters get caught in a battle against two opponents, as both the Black Sun's and the cult's activities keep growing, making for increasingly dangerous missions. Sometimes it is about out-of-control summoning rituals. Then there are far-reaching caves to explore, created by ancient mythical creatures, to learn about the sinister plans of the Black Sun finally. The stakes are nothing less than stopping a secret weapon that could turn the tide of war against the Allies again.
However, the cult goes even one step further, preparing to conjure a doomsday scenario. Fortunately, the agents are not entirely on their own, though, because in addition to the members of the Resistance, they also find the influences of a Celtic deity and her otherworldly followers working against the cult as the Wild Hunt. If the agents can establish good terms with these potential allies and pass their tests, they will receive much-needed support for the upcoming challenges.
The missions are varied and diverse – and often not designed to be solved by a simple frontal attack and fighting everything that moves. Often, it is mainly about gathering information and surviving to understand the enemies' activities and plans. Thus, sometimes caution is more useful than daredevil action. But, of course, there is room for hard fights and dynamic action. Towards the end, players will have to face extremely dangerous enemies in the two final missions.
Forest of Fear is an extensive and challenging campaign. Player characters will deal with dangerous enemies and face a wide range of brutal cthulhoid horrors. They definitely have chances to fail in the missions as the stakes are high and the Black Sun's plan could set the Allies back greatly. However, not only the Black Sun and the Nachtwölfe play a role, but the players must also deal with a Celtic deity, a medieval cult, and the lost civilization of a mythos race and its secrets. In addition, they can meet some signature characters of the game and complete the storyline that started with Assault on the Führer Train.
From my point of view, the campaign has a good dramaturgy and offers varied missions that increase coherently and are not always simply decided by force. In fact, there are a few intermediate adventures that have entirely different goals. I found only the introduction of a Celtic deity into this scenario a bit atypical and not well suited to the mythos – even if it increases the player characters' chances of survival. Of course, the secret plan of the Black Sun and Nachtwölfe is both bizarre and coherent for Achtung! Cthulhu in equal measure, so Forest of Fear manages to combine cthuloid horror with the horror of World War II. Personally, I do not always find the latter combination a suitable scenario for a role-playing game, but those who get involved with the setting of Achtung! Cthulhu will probably have no problems with the fact that real war events are used as background for the fiction here. So if you are looking for a long, brutal campaign set against the backdrop of World War II, Forest of Fear will provide you with a campaign of adventures that will challenge the agents for many evenings of play.