What is D-Day: The Darkest Day?

By John Houlihan
Art by Paulo Puggioni


When we were planning  the next big campaign book for 2024, the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings loomed large. 

We’ve always opted for a dual approach with Achtung! Cthulhu, alternating epic late war campaigns like The Forest of Fear with early war books like Shadows of Atlantis and The Serpent and the Sands to appeal to novice and veteran agents alike and give a good historical spread to the series.

D-Day was always going to be a key campaign though and indeed even way back when we first redid the 2d20 version, it was one of the first books on the drawing board. 

Not only is it one of the iconic moments of World War II, beginning the liberation of Europe  and the end of the appalling Nazi regime, but with the 80th anniversary falling this year, it felt like the most appropriate time to deliver this pivotal late war campaign.

D-Day has long been one of the most popular World War II settings for books, movies, TV and wider culture and there was no end of inspiration to draw on when it came to researching the campaign—which indeed was a rare pleasure in itself. 

Books like Stephen Ambrose’s D-Day and Pegasus Bridge, and movies like Saving Private Ryan and TV shows like Band of Brothers were big influences amongst a host of others. But probably the largest of all was The Longest Day. This amazing 1962 black and white movie based on Cornelius Ryan’s book featured a galaxy of British, American, French and German stars and told the epic story from a number of perspectives in a well balanced and entertaining watch which was laced with veracity and even a little humour. It’s still one of the most compelling and accessible accounts of the landings.

As for the D-Day: The Darkest Day itself, the first part of the book is a guide for GMs who want to create missions and adventures based around the Normandy landings using the innovative vehicles, weapons and equipment which were developed for the campaign. There’s also a new selection of creatures favoured by the Deep Ones who have a big part to play in proceedings.

The second part of the book consists of a dozen adventures which form the main campaign. There’s three set pre-invasion which cover the build up to D-Day, while "Down with the Deep Ones" is a linked set of four adventures set both above and below the waves amongst Cthulhu’s chosen children. Finally, "The Darkest Day" presents five loosely linked missions set on and around D-Day itself featuring Nachtwölfe’s attempts to thwart the landings under the guidance of Professor Kraft Heimberg. 

You can play all 12 of these missions in order for the full immersive experience, or dip in and out of them as you see fit. Some are minor diversions, others will have a major impact on the course of the Secret War, but all provide a stern test of your agents’ abilities – especially the epic finale where Black Sun prepares to Unleash the Hellish Horde.

Naturally, when we were making this book, sensitivity was also a major issue. Although Achtung! Cthulhu is a pulp TTRPG and The Darkest Day is a work of fiction, when we were creating it the true heroes of D-Day were never far from our minds. As the 80th anniversary dawns, we wanted to remember in our own small way, 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 personal cost. 

As a tribute to those brave souls, a percentage of The Darkest Day’s profits will be donated to veterans’ and D-Day charities, so that we never forget and help keep the true spirit of D-Day alive.

The Darkest Day is available for pre-order now.


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