Recreating Famous Movie Scenes in Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20

By John Houlihan
Art by Andre Meister

Action scenes are the bedrock of Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20’s thrilling pulp adventures, but some people can find the 2d20 system a little puzzling initially.

Never fear, we’re here to demonstrate how a big screen action movie can easily be translated into the 2d20 system providing thrills, spills and a whole world of electrifying adventure!

So let’s begin with our player character who we’ll call Savannah Smith (ahem), an archaeologist, adventurer and explorer who has long been on the trail of the Golden Idol of the Elder Things. 

Savannah has traced the artefact to a lost jungle temple and accompanied by a pair of guides she is about to dive in and try and secure this valuable artefact for posterity… you might even say she is a raider of lost art... 

Savannah stands outside the temple entrance consulting her map, but one of her guides has been waiting his chance and suddenly turns traitor, reaching for his gun to shoot her in the back and claim the treasure for himself. 

When something interesting or unusual happens in Achtung! Cthulhu, the situation usually calls for a skill test. 

This means consulting Savannah’s relevant Attributes and Skills to get a target number for the test. In this case Savannah and the GM agree it’ll be an Insight + Observation test with scores of 10 + 3 which sets a target number (TN) of 13 (Insight of 10 represents her perception and instinct, while Observation her awareness). 

The difficulty of the test is 1, meaning Savannah’s player needs to score 13 or under with just one dice. When she rolls 2d20 she comes up with 12 and a 7 which equates to two successes! Because she got one more success than is required, she also banks a point of Momentum, a valuable player currency which we’ll come to in a moment. 

Savannah hears the guide’s revolver being cocked and turning in a flash, she uses her bullwhip to attempt to knock it out of his hand. This time it’s her Coordination + Fighting skills which are put to the test, but the difficulty goes up to 2 now as it’s quite a skilful trick she’s trying to pull off. With a Coordination of 9 and a Fighting of 2 she has a TN of 11. 

Quite a tricky proposition, but Momentum is a currency that can help your agents achieve extraordinary things, so she decides to use that point of banked Momentum to buy another die and roll 3d20 this time. She scores 12, 13 and 2. Two dice fail, but any dice which rolls on or under an agent’s skill (in the case Fighting of 2), scores a critical success, doubling its value. Savannah whips the pistol clean out of his hand and he runs off into the jungle. 

Pausing only to brush off some spiders from the hideous cobwebs which infest the temple (thank goodness it wasn’t snakes), Savannah proceeds deeper into the temple, but something feels wrong and sets her instincts twitching again. 

Another successful Insight + Observation (Instincts) test at difficulty 1 warns her to stay out of the light and with two successes she banks another point of Momentum. She’s too cool to phased by such things, but when she deliberately triggers the spear trap, her guide has to pass a Will + Resilience test at difficulty 1, or panic and run screaming when a speared adventurer makes his appearance. Savannah’s sang froid seems to rubs off on him though and he makes it (although only just).

Now two quick difficulty 1 tests in succession, Coordination + Athletics, then Brawn + Athletics allow her to wrap her whip around a handy beam, then swing across the pit, earning another point of Momentum in the process. Her guide follows.

After detecting pressure plates in the floor with further Insight + Observation tests and earning more Momentum for a total of 4 in her pool, Savannah finally makes it to the pedestal where the golden idol awaits, licking her lips at the prospect of securing such a valuable historic artefact. 

But the ancients don’t give up their treasures so easily and a Reason + Observation test at difficulty 1 alerts her to a suspicious pressure plate underneath the idol. 

Truths are in-game facts and properties which can apply to characters, NPCs, locations and environments usually making skill tests easier or more difficult. However, they can also be changed by using Momentum and Savannah spends a couple of points to alter a scene truth, conjuring a bag of sand which she had forgotten to pack, to act as a counterweight for the pressure trap. 

Now the tricky part. It requires a Coordination + Engineering test at difficulty 2 to successfully replace the idol and with an Engineering skill of 1 she has a TN of 10, not great odds so Savannah buys another d20 sweats nervously as she throws the bones. She rolls 4, 9, and 20. The good news? The test is passed! The bad news? The 20 results in a complication, an event that is designed to make characters’ lives more interesting, difficulty or in this case dangerous. The GM rules that Savannah has inadvertently set off the trap and now the whole temple starts to shake and shudder and collapse around her ears!

Can Savannah escape this erm… temple of doom? When she makes a run for it, is she agile enough to dodge the poison darts as she runs? Can she persuade her remaining guide to throw her the whip when he too turns traitor? Will she be able to leap the pit and slide under that rapidly closing rock door? Worst of all can she evade the giant rolling ball of death before she’s squashed like a bug? 

Well find out more about this amazing world of pulp adventure with the Achtung! Cthulhu Starter Set which contains Basic Rules, an explosive three act campaign Among the Wolves, quick reference sheets, six pre-generated characters, six full colour maps, over 120 tokens, and an exclusive Elder Sign dice set! 


Or check out the whole Achtung! Cthulhu collection in the UK and US for the full core books, dice, accessories, missions, campaigns and much more!

Head on over to the dedicated Achtung! Cthulhu page to learn more, or join a host of existing fans on our official Modiphius Discord Channel. There’s a friendly and welcoming fan group on Facebook and you can sign up for the newsletter to hear all the latest news and take advantage of some very special offers!

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