A Colder War

K-ThuluWhile looking for some inspiration for a Call of Cthulhu adventure I stumbled upon Charles Stross’ short story “A Colder War“. The story is set into an alternative timeline that follows the events in Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”. The novellete’s protagonist is the CIA analyst Roger Jourgensen who lives in a world that is on the brink of mutual assured destruction. And this time the world powers have more than mere nuclear weapons in their arsenals. But I don’t want to spoil the story here, so if you haven’t read “A Colder War” yet, please do so before continuing. You have been warned!

In this alternative timeline the major world powers agreed on not to reveal the existence of alien creatures and their technology to the public. But that doesn’t prevent them to research the possible military use of shoggoths or interstellar travel by portals left behind by the Elder Things. The novellete itself is rather short and pretty vague on different aspects of this world, but in my opinion it could be used as a basis for a Call of Cthulhu campaign set into the Cold War.
You could even do some “Stargate”-inspired adventures with a group of soldiers utilizing the portals to travel to the far reaches of space. The conventional space program is a thing of the past because of alien threats like the Mi-Go. Perhaps the Apollo missions stumbled upon things better left asleep.
In the end of the story Cthulhu is awakened by the Soviets and a temple of Yog-Sothoth in Basra is destroyed by an Iranian nuclear bomb while the remains of the US goverment flee to a planet near a dying star. Even that could serve as a starting point of adventures. The players could travel back to the radioactive wasteland that once was Earth in order to retrieve some ancient artifacts while avoiding creatures of the mythos (and Cthulhu himself).
What are your thoughts on “A Colder War” campaign for Call of Cthulhu?

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

3 thoughts on “A Colder War”

  1. This premise pretty much forms the basis of Cold City, which is an indie rpg about monster hunting in the bombed-out ruins of Berlin in 1950. It's not as sweeping in scope as what you describe above, but it's certainly a ready-made intro setting to launch the players into a full-on CoC campaign.

    On a related note, Cold City uses an absolutely beautiful "trust" mechanic to model the inherent suspicion that builds among the members of the special teams. Definitely worth checking out.

    <abbr><abbr>PatrickWRs last blog post..Cold City Recap: We Were Playing It Wrong</abbr></abbr>

  2. Thanks for the tip! Cold City looks very interesting indeed. But I think I will start to work on some "A Colder War" inspired campaign as soon as I have the time. It's just too cool.

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