By John Houlihan
The Serpent and the Sands, the new combined guide book and campaign, for Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 has been a long time in the making, but it’s finally ready to launch and we’re hugely excited to share the fruits of nearly 18 month’s work with you.
The Serpent and the Sands is a bit of an experiment. Just like Section M’s boffins we’re constantly trying to refine and improve Achtung! Cthulhu’s formula and in this case, this is the first combined guide and campaign book we’ve ever done. It weighs in at a meaty 280-odd pages and is designed for both players and GMs alike.
In the guide component, we’ve repurposed a little bit of the useful content from the former Guide to North Africa from the Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds editions. But for GMs we’ve provided an absolute wealth of new material, including background chapters on both the conventional and Secret War, with briefs, adventure seeds, bases and locations for all major factions in theatre.
The centrepiece is a double page map and guide to Nachtwölfe‘s top secret “Adlerhorst” Eagle’s Nest in Tunisia which was illustrated by the excellent Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design. It’s a great location and gives you a complete breakdown of the desert wolves’ base of power.
But there’s a load of new options for players too. Agents can explore new character creation options like adventurer, gambler and diplomat, plus a host of new North African-themed backgrounds, characteristics and talents to expand their characters in the North Africa Needs You chapter. You’ll also discover a raft of new NPC allies and adversaries in the Heroes and Villains of North Africa chapter, and you can also arm yourself with new tools of the trade, including weapons, vehicles and creatures native to the desert.
Once you’ve absorbed all that, it’s time to tackle an epic 10-part campaign which takes you from Alexandria to Cairo via Tobruk, visiting lost Alexandrian temples, bizarre oases, sinister caravanserais, and forgotten temples. Dare you foil the machinations of Alom Shallar, a newly awakened Ophidian sorceress who is intent on realising the destiny of the Evolved Serpent and resurrecting the long-lost Ophidian empire? With a climax that plays out on the deadly streets of Sethopolis, the newly arisen Serpent capital city, this is thrilling, heroic, pulp adventure at its finest, even if we say so ourselves!
GMs will also find a complete guide to the Serpent People, their history, culture, creatures, cultists technology and equipment, including a major new spellbook of Yig and a wealth of Ophidian NPCs to power further adventures. Talking of which, we’ve also got dedicated chapter called The Great Waste devoted to rules for desert traversal to randomly generate adventures through deserts in North Africa and throughout the world. We’re also pleased to be able to include another first, a Free digital map pack for Virtual Table Top play, and the original Tomb of the Aeons, my novella which was the original inspiration for this campaign.
I had real fun designing and directing the narrative, but this book’s really bought home to me what a huge team effort making such an ambitious publication entails. Massive thanks to all the writers including Richard August, Brad Bell, Jason Brick, Nathan Dowdell, Bill Heron, Patrick McNally, Meric Moir, and Mari Tokuda who bought this vision to life. There’s also a ton of artists like Andre Meister who did the cover, Glynn’s maps, and all the hugely talented interior artists who have illustrated the book so beautifully. And that’s not even counting all the backroom staff at Modiphius who did a ton of work behind the scenes to support the book from inception to birth.So, as always, I hope you have an absolute ton of fun playing it, as well as using the resources within to create your own further adventures. Be sure to let us know how you get on via all the usual social media channels and don’t forget there’s loads of activities to celebrate the launch as part of our Season of the Snake, including the chance to create your own Section M Priority File. There’s live plays of the first mission Dying to Meet you with the excellent Skyhammer Games who explaines how Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20’s rules work, and you can also come join me for a couple of AMAs on Discord, where I’ll be discussing Serpent itself and the future of the Achtung! Cthulhu line.