D-Day: The Darkest Day Campaign Focus

By John Houlihan
Art by Jens Lindfors


It’s launch day for D-Day: The Darkest Day and to celebrate its release in print and PDF, this week we’re going to take a look at the epic 12 part campaign which forms the bulk of the book. 

When it came to designing the campaign component (and see previous blog posts for details on the Guide aspects of Tools of the Trade, Vehicles and Creatures), we took on board some interesting feedback from last year’s big campaign release The Serpent and the Sands.

While there’s always space in our hearts and minds for huge, multi-part, linear campaigns, the many challenges of modern life mean we’re all a bit time-poor nowadays. Getting four to six people around a table to play together regularly is hard enough, but getting them to commit to a full six month plus campaign can be even trickier.

So this time we decided to take a more modular approach which would give GMs and players more flexibility in how they wanted to play. How to achieve this? Well, we settled on a more modular style, which could still give that epic campaign feel, but would allow GMs to choose a more episodic method, effectively allowing them to pick and choose which of the 12 missions they’d like to play. 

There was also the question of setting. Most people think of D-Day as the storming of the invasion beaches or perhaps parachuting behind the lines into the heart of a small French village. While both are iconic images, they’re quite limited in scope for designing an actual campaign. The events leading up to Operation Overlord involved the whole of South Eastern England becoming a fortified military zone, the entire expanse of the Atlantic Wall, plus much of inland France where Resistance operations and sabotage paved the way for a successful invasion. Utilising all of these settings provided a much broader palette and allowed a wide array of different kinds of missions and adventures.

There was also the question of the Achtung! Cthulhu timeline and how the Darkest Day would fit into its continuity. D-Day was certainly a pivotal moment in the second world war and rightly hailed as the start of the true liberation of Europe and the beginning of the end of the loathsome Nazi regime. In the Secret War it would be the start of the endgame but also signal the last chance for the Nazi occult organisations to attempt to delay or destroy the vast Allied invasion. Their success or failure would ultimately influence how the final years of the war played out and when the eventual fall of Black Sun and Nachtwölfe would take place. 

So those were our guiding, rather lofty, design considerations, but when it comes to designing any book or campaign, you should never forget the fun factor too, and it was also a chance to go off piste a little and explore some of the lore and heritage established in the original Gamemaster’s Guide. There, an apparently innocent almost throwaway few paragraphs about Major Desiree Jones’ visit to the Deep One enclave of Tep-Ditha and the dire warning she returned with, became the inspiration for a major narrative arc.

With all this in mind, we divided The Darkest Day campaign into three main sections. The first section is Pre-Invasion and describes events in the lead up to Operation Overlord. Operation Red Herring opens with a mission behind the lines to a French village and a chance to plant intelligence Operation Mincemeat-style to misdirect German intelligence. Home Front takes place at Clemens Park, home of Section M and is a good old fashioned whodunnit requiring all your agents’ cunning and investigative skills. We round off with Operation Tsunami, an excursion to Alderney in the occupied Channel Islands and a chance to foil a Black Sun scheme to sink the invasion before it’s even begun.

The middle section, Down with the Deep Ones, is a four episode narratively linked mini-campaign which gives agents a chance to interact much more closely with Cthulhu’s children. The story begins with a training exercise going horribly wrong at Poyton Sands, continues with negotiations with a troublesome hybrid village, and finishes with an unlikely alliance as the agents travel into the ocean’s depths and help defend a Deep One undersea enclave from Mi-Go attack.

The final section, The Darkest Day, is a sequence of loosely linked but ever more challenging missions which pits the agents against a series of sophisticated Wunderwaffe, wonder weapons, which Nachtwölfe deploys to stop the invasion in its tracks. Super subs, robotic vehicles and automatons, advanced thermobaric rockets and massive calibre railway guns are your agents’ primary targets. But Black Sun also has a trick or two up its sleeve and a climactic confrontation sees agents face a Black Sun prior in a race against time to prevent a hellish horde being unleashed which would wreak havoc amongst the invading troops.

With all the different missions which comprise this campaign, we hope we’ve managed to capture something of the authentic flavour of the greatest seaborne invasion in history. 

While Achtung! Cthulhu is a pulp TTRPG and this book is a work of fiction, when we were creating The Darkest Day, the true heroes of D-Day were never far from our minds. As the 80th anniversary dawns, we pay tribute to the heroism and sacrifice made by people of all nations who engaged in the liberation of Europe, who faced appalling tyranny and stood up against it—often at great cost. As a tribute to those brave souls, a percentage of this book’s profits will be donated to charity, so that we never forget and keep the true spirit of D-Day alive.

The Darkest Day is available now.


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