Prologue Overview

By Chris Birch


Centurion Marius crept through the mists. Around him, formless shapes morphed into looming trees and thick undergrowth—but he feared worse yet lurked in the gloom. He kept stumbling across the bodies of his legionaries, lying where they had fallen as they had fled from the ambush. 

It had been a normal patrol until the strange mist swept in from all sides. Then, without warning, a vicious melee broke out as inhuman shapes swarmed through the fog. With no time to form up, the Romans had found themselves beset from every angle by strange creatures with serrated tentacles that groped over their shields. Chaos and carnage descended on the hapless Roman patrol, and before Marius had even drawn his gladius he found himself alone amongst the trees, the distant, piercing sounds of soldiers screaming ringing through the gloom. Icy sweat dripped from his brow. His blood ran cold.

Then, shapes formed ahead. Marius steeled himself to fight, but as the foul fog thinned, he saw three of his legionaries back to back, trembling with terror. Their look of relief was cut short by another nearby scream.

Marius will have to use all his skills to help them escape!

Cohors Cthulhu: Tactics is a solo or co-op adventure wargame designed to follow your hero, uncovering dark secrets, upgrade their abilities, unlock their story and gradually draw more soldiers to your cause. The evolving storyline is procedurally driven by your actions and choices, you will be up against the corrupt cult of Mormo as they try to summon eldritch forces to attack the Roman frontier. Be careful, if you’re too successful you may attract the attention of the Outer Gods themselves who will send powerful Avatars to hunt you. 

You can get a taster by trying the free PDF for the Cohors Cthulhu: Tactics Prologue at the following: 


This tells its own self-contained story and teaches you the core rules step by step as you play. You’ll follow Centurion Marius on a vital mission to bring news of an incursion to his commanders. 

Cohors Cthulhu: Tactics started life inspired by the rules of Clash of Spears ancients rules by Alvaro and Francisco Erize. Chris Birch took these as a starting point and worked to simplify the gameplay for solo play, developing new AI mechanics, and building in the procedural campaign and heroes journey. The Modiphius development team led by James Hewitt (Necromunda, Adeptus Titanicus, Fallout Factions) have further rewritten the game to refine and speed up gameplay.

The core book sets its first campaign in the dark forests of Germania, against an alliance of Outer Gods eldritch forces with the evil cult of Mormo. Missions will start with a handful of miniatures and lead up to larger forces, with the game’s difficulty scaling to match your forces. 

Units consist of heroes, soldiers or monsters and can take two actions. Soldiers could take a third action but Fear starts to build up (it starts at 1 due to the ominous atmosphere in the dark forests of Germania). Nearby creatures and certain reactions or responses can increase your soldier’s Fear and if it reaches 6 they’re very vulnerable. Thankfully your heroes are able to help, with differing abilities helping to reduce that Fear and inspire your soldiers to greatness. 

Roman soldiers benefit from being in close order, but the dense trees of the forest will make it hard to maintain that as they explore deeper into the woods in search of their enemies and ancient sites to explore. There are many leftovers from past ages; crumbling abandoned villas or forts, ancient standing stones and even stranger still, the magic-like remnants of the Hyperboreans and Atlanteans. Some are focal points for eldritch energies that can be used by your enemies, or gifted heroes, but beware they gain too much power as this will open portals for summoned creatures to join the Cult of Mormo’s allies. Exploring ruins can be dangerous but lead to great rewards - fortunes to fund your growing force or ancient artefacts of power for your heroes!

Just before you activate a unit, you’ll test to see whether your movements have disturbed dark things in the mists, you’ll find out if so, what is activated, in which direction and how far. Then you have the choice to react to the new enemies or focus on the objectives for this mission. Enemy Leaders are a dangerous addition to the table, they may exhort nearby units to additional actions which can be a real threat as you find yourself deeper into the enemy-controlled forest. 

Combat is simple: Roll a number of attack dice for each model—typically one for each soldier and two or more for heroes—attempting to roll equal to or higher than their Combat or Ranged ability. Each successful hit must be saved by the target's save ability, and some creatures may be harder to target or destroy due to their eldritch powers. When attacked, player units have three choices - do they simply take the hit, or increase their fear by counter-attacking or trying to defend against the onslaught.

Each turn, the Threat will increase and may trigger a variety of events that may build up the magic in any ruins on the table, and if it reaches 6 will cause something much much worse, allowing the Cult of Mormo to spawn a truly terrifying monstrosity amongst the ruins. The challenges will be hard, but retreating off the map with any rewards for enemy units destroyed is still worth it, you can return with more soldiers next time. There will be shorter or longer battles to fight, depending on the time you have, and secondary objectives could give you greater bonuses in Story Points which let you make choices on your Heroes Journey. Will you uncover your legend, your legacy, your heritage, your future? The choices made will bring potentially powerful new abilities but also greater threats and risks. 

You can simply spend Story Points to increase your skills and Traits, becoming a better commander, monster-hunting champion, auxiliary commander, priest or mage. 

The game is played in three acts, in Act I you will lead a rag-tag band of survivors trying to get back to the fort after a terrifying ambush. In Act II, you recruit more soldiers and return to the battlefield seeking evidence and intelligence on the growing threat. You’ll be moving small formations of Roman legionaries and auxiliary archers and discover how formidable the Roman lines can be even against such otherworldly threats. Finally, in Act III the might of the Roman Empire will come face to face with the powerful forces of the Outer gods and the choice you have made on your hero's journey might be the difference that turns the tide.

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