The Romanian Imperative - Writer Q and A

Hello Everyone,

My name is Pat McNally, writer of the latest ready-to-run adventure for Achtung! Cthulhu “The Romanian Imperative”.

I thought it would be nice to introduce myself here on the forum and I’ll be around for most of today, and beyond, ready to answer any questions about game design and adventure writing.

So whether you’ve got questions about the adventure or would like some advice about structure and inspiration for your own stories, or how to deal with difficult in-game decisions, feel free to share what’s on your mind and we’ll see if we can help.

Happy Gaming All



Hey Pat! This may be outside of your wheelhouse, but Transylvania of course made me curious about Vampires and consequently how to handle players being or becoming supernatural creatures. Is this something that could happen in the Romanian Imperative, and if so how should that figure into advancement and/or retraining?
Also excited to see Zeppelins in action!

Hello diversionArchitect! If that is your real name!

Whilst trying to avoid spoilers I will say that Vampires in the classical sense are not a feature of The Romanian Imperative, despite the setting. There may well be legendary monsters lurking in the mountains that may have added to or inspired Vampire myths however.

In terms of applying supernatural traits to player characters in Achtung! Cthulhu I think it would certainly be possible, but doing so in a way that maintains balance between the players would be important to bear in mind.

I think if I was going to look at the mechanics of adding a vampire PC I would start by asking myself what traits from Vampire tropes I want to use in my game. There are, after all, as many flavours of Vampire as there are Ice Cream - Immortal Nobles, Feral Beasts, Sparkly Emo’s etc.

I would probably write a little bit of history for Vampires as they exist in my setting and work from there. Are they social creatures or solitary hunters? How do they maintain their mythical status if they really exist? How are they created and what strengths or weaknesses do they possess compared to normal humans. Then I would prepare a stat block for a baseline Vampire, starting from a human baseline and looking to add the abilities I need through the existing framework of the rules where possible (this is important if you are writing for publication - obviously in your own games anything goes!).

So lets say we want to add the classic “Dracula” Stereotype to the game. What makes them different from humans?

  • Aversion to Sunlight
  • Need to consume human blood
  • Difficult to Kill through conventional means
  • Aversion to Holy Symbols
  • Supernaturally Fast

I would probably handle most of the more minor traits by adding them as Truths. Or indeed a single Truth - “Vampire”. That Truth could then be invoked whenever it would become relevant to a scene. For example the character may have to make a Resilience check in sunlight to avoid stress, a Willpower Check to resist the sight of fresh blood or an enemy may be granted the ability to make a Mental Attack using a brandished holy symbol.

For NPCs I would cover the other traits using the Common NPC Special Abilities section in chapter 5 of the Gamemasters Guide as a starting point;

Extraordinary Attribute (Agility and Coordination) should cover the speed and some combination of Fast Recovery X, Immunity (Suffocation), and/or Invulnerable should cover it, with the caveat that the “Vampire” Truth could be invoked under the right circumstances - not invulnerable to a stake through the heart for example.

For a PC turned into a Vampire during the game I think I would be inclined to require them to spend 10xp to gain the “Vampire” Truth described above (it comes with downsides and upsides so I do not think that it alone would be unbalanced). I would probably allow them to retrain their stats a couple of times to boost their physical scores at the cost of Willlpower, Reason or Insight to represent the increased strength and speed at the cost of their mental faculties due to the change. I may also be tempted to give them a scar “Obsessed with blood” or similar to represent the thirst. Depending on the method of their transformation I may also be tempted to add “In the Thrall of the Master” as a Truth to represent their sires control over them (if that’s they style I was aiming for). Further vampiric traits could then be added through future advancements as special talents, abilities or Truths to represent the character gaining control over their new nature. Perhaps they want to learn to turn into a bat - for which I would add the “Fly” trait for short periods of time at the cost of fatigue and with the size change and carrying limitation that being a tiny bat implies. The ability to summon wolves could be a re-flavoured spell easily enough. Fast Healing would be simple to apply between scenes, being flavoured as fast but not that fast and may come at a cost of fatigue if the vampire does not get proper rest.

If a starting player wanted to be a vampire character I would look at creating a profession template for Vampire broadly following the ideas above and progressing in a similar way. The only thing that I think may prove problematic is the resilience to bullets and death issue. However if we treat vampires as damageable rather than invulnerable the impact of this could be minimized, after all Dracula didn’t go up against enemies with machine guns and tanks. The idea of being immortal, but spread out over 300 square metres of battlefield by a PIAT, is pretty horrific.

To avoid balance issues I would be tempted to go the whole hog and run a slightly more powerful group of PCs. Like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or DC Comics “Frankenstein and the Agents of S.H.A.D.E.”. It would be a very different style of Achtung! Cthulhu from the usual but could make for a very interesting one with the right group. It would require some work from the Gamemaster to keep everything balanced but a team including say; A First World War Vet who is secretly a 100 year old vampire,
A Werewolf from Finland working for British intelligence in return for a cure to his condition,
An Irish Witch with the power of the Banshee using Section M to search for her stolen heart,
and Britain’s First (Cthonically Powered but don’t tell anyone) Super-soldier could make for a fun time and would all be perfectly possible with proper planning during character creation.

Those are just some thoughts off the top of my head. I hope they help give you some ideas. One of things I’ve really come to like about the Achtung! Cthulhu system is how flexible it is. Using Truths especially are very elegant way of demonstrating powers/abilities/traits without worrying to much about a fixed mechanical effect. They only become relevant if they are going to have an impact on the scene.

All the best.


Thank you so much for the incredible response! This is perfect! A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen style group sounds like an excellent fit for my friends. :smiley:

Haha and the real name’s Dave :stuck_out_tongue:

Hi Dave,

You’re welcome. One suggestion, if I may, is that if you do go for a higher-power group is to let them feel more powerful than their opponents, at least for the first few games. If you immediately start challenging the “Monster Squad” with powered-armour soldiers, demonic sorcerers and the hordes of darkness straight away then it could just feel like a regular game but with bigger numbers.

Send them on a “Milk Run” first. Something like a covert assault against an isolated German position so that “the Brass” can evaluate their capabilities. Let them chew through a platoon of regular grunts and generally feel unstoppable.

Then on the second mission ramp it up a bit with some mythos creatures or a reasonably powerful magic user who can hit some of their weaknesses. Gradually introduce the idea that the Black Sun are not only interested in the squad but actually fear them, and are desperately researching and developing countermeasures.

Eventually a mission in progress is revealed to be an elaborate trap and the squad face enemies who are prepared for them and their specific weaknesses (perhaps even “Dark Monster Squad” featuring tropes and archetypes the players haven’t used themselves).

The Secret War works both ways and this team will need to keep themselves out of the public eye - something the enemy could use to their advantage.

I’m really into my comics and this style of game could lend itself well to that style of high-action, high-stakes storytelling.

Best of luck with it. And make sure to write a report here on the forums and let us know how it goes if you do.


Those are excellent suggestions! It will let them flex and learn the system in relative safety. I also love the idea of the rival squad built to address their weaknesses. Gives a great feel of a supernatural arms race. If I can swing it, I’ll try to get them dropping in on Saint Sulac as our first game. I’m making new pregens anyway to match the updated rules in the core.