Unveiling the Mythos in Weimar Germany
In the aftermath of the Great War, Berlin has a reputation for licentiousness. A place where anything may be had for the right price. It is both a city of hedonism and a city of business; its streets overflow with disabled veterans, prostitutes, destitute immigrants, and political agitators—all rubbing shoulders with buttoned-down businessmen, scholars, and artists. The gutters run with the blood of political assassinations, where Communists and völkisch Nationalists clash with each other, as well as with the police. Long into the evenings, Berlin’s world-famous cabarets offer music, dance, and titillating entertainment in stark contrast to the gray buildings that run on for endless miles along the sprawling city’s byways.
Into this bubbling stew, Berlin the Wicked City introduces the weird elements of the Cthulhu Mythos. A hotbed of occult organizations, strange cults, and half-whispered lore. Amid the wicked air of the world’s capital of sin, the very nature of what it means to be human is questioned. And, as the city hurtles toward its inevitable dark destiny, the oppressive atmosphere pushes the sanity of investigators to its breaking point.
This book presents an overview of 1920s Berlin as it would be experienced by visitors and residents of the time. Guidelines are presented for creating investigators for a Berlin-centric campaign, as well as investigator organizations to help bind groups together. Notable personalities, key locations, and a system for generating details of the urban landscape on the fly are provided. With crime and punishment, the city’s underworld, and also its high culture detailed, the tools provided help the Keeper gain an understanding of what makes Berlin unique.
Three scenarios, spanning the history of Berlin between the end of the Great War and the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, contain colorful details of Berlin and its inhabitants and may be run as stand-alone adventures or linked together to form a mini-campaign.
Chaosium Unveiled: Inside Berlin: The Wicked City
The Wickedest City on Earth
“The city of Berlin, I recognized, had a definite color of its own; it had, plainly, become a world metropolis… now Berlin had acquired an authentic entity. It resided in the young, and was composed, mostly, of a direct recognition, a faintly bitter but undisturbed acceptance, of all, all, the realities of existence. It was an attitude nowhere, that I could see, irradiated by hope. The customary optimism, the romantic confidence, of youth, were absent in Berlin… So much, the bearing of the young showed, had failed them, turning out false or hypocritical or insubstantial, that they had concluded all the celebrated reassurances and rewards were lies.”
—Joseph Hergesheimer, Berlin
Chapter 1: The City, presents an overview of 1920s Berlin. Creating investigators for a Berlin-centric campaign, as well as advice for bringing in existing player characters. Investigator organizations and Experience Packages are designed to add new dimensions to investigative groups. The chapter includes an overview of Berlin’s history, as well as its topology, identifying key districts that best reflect the city’s character. Details are provided on travel, communications, housing, crime and punishment, drug abuse, the city’s underworld, and its high culture.
Chapter 2: Uncovering Berlin containsa range oflocations of interest for investigators, from libraries and museums to cafés and nightclubs. Due to the city’s sheer size, we eschew a block-by-block description, instead highlighting locations of interest and filling in the blanks with a system for generating details of the urban landscape on the fly. Berlin’s predilection for hedonism centers on the city’s relationship with prostitution, food and drink, and cabaret. Guidelines are provided for a range of investigator contacts and the chapter concludes with details on neighborhood street encounters, all providing the Keeper with inspiration for cabarets and clubs, architectural details, and businesses. With the tools provided in this chapter, the Keeper gains an understanding of what makes Berlin unique and has the tools to bring the city to life at the gaming table.
Chapter 3: Oh! You Pretty Things details notable historical personalities to provide color and insight into the city. Whether Marlene Dietrich or Joseph Goebbels, short biographies highlight the time certain individuals lived or worked in Berlin, providing inspiration for encounters and scenarios.
Chapter 4: Strange Berlin considers how the Cthulhu Mythos festers in the dark corners and shadows of the city. A range of scenario seeds and cults ensures the Keeper has the material for creating a decade-spanning campaign of horror.
Three scenarios spanning the history of Berlin include more of Berlin’s colorful details. Each scenario may be run as stand-alone episode or linked together to form a mini-campaign.
In The Devil Eats Flies Germany teeters on the brink of economic ruin and political chaos. The ghost of a madman stalks the city, turning its own citizenry against itself. To stop a demonic spirit and save a Russian princess in exile, the investigators must strike a bargain with other sinister forces and ask themselves: who else are we prepared to see die in order to save the city?
Dances of Vice, Horror, and Ecstasy takes place in the city’s golden years, when things have become superficially stable and prosperous again. A bungling sorcerer, a debauched dancer, and a strange cult of gnostic Saturn-worshippers threaten to put all of that to an end and turn Berlin into a pit of madness and depravity.
Schreckfilm sees Berlin racing toward its grim future. The investigators come face to face with a shadowy cabal of the city’s movers and shakers who are determined to turn the city’s world-famous film industry toward ill ends. Trapped in a labyrinth of their own making and hounded relentlessly by dark forces beyond their ken, the investigators must confront the fundamental question of what is real and what is illusion.
Concluding the book is a selection of inspirational media, including books, film, and websites for those wishing to delve even deeper into the mysteries, history, and geography of Berlin.
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What The Critics Say
"What a book! Call of Cthulhu might not be for children in the first place, Chaosium however has outdone itself here... Sex, drugs and cabaret, or probably the best sourcebook/adventure book combo that I have ever read." STYLE 5/5 SUBSTANCE 5/5
— Antonios S., RPGNet.
"I confess I’m blown away… Not only are the three adventure scenarios among the best I’ve seen for Call of Cthulhu, the detail provided for Berlin is on par with the best city modules or gazetteers for any RPG. Rating: 5 stars out of 5."
— The Busybody.
"One of their best and immersive supplements for 7th edition Call of Cthulhu to date… If you want to explore an already dark city made horrifically darker, definitely buy this."
"...sets the blueprint for what a good city or setting supplement should be like for Call of Cthulhu... it more than does the setting of the ‘Wickedest City on Earth’ justice and it enables the investigators to explore that setting in three tales that cover the influence of the Mythos in a decade of danger, dissipation, and decay."
"The whole book has superb production values, artwork is plentiful and appropriate to the setting... The subject matter is, without question, very dark, and there are several subjects within the book that are touched on briefly, but with the seriousness that they deserve. Multiple content warnings are present throughout the book and make it very clear that maturity is required when playing this game, it’s something that rewards those willing to delve into the background."
"I’ve been collecting Call of Cthulhu campaign books since I started, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen one with a mature tag. Much like an investigator in the game, the warning only served to fuel my curiosity, and I dove into the book with much gusto... Ten stars, two thumbs up – and everything else that ranks this as a great book. The writers did such a good job that it raised the bar for me and my expectations."
— Berlin, The Wicked City from a new Keeper’s point of view, Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer.
"Having run a couple adventures from it, this is my favourite RPG supplement ever. Hands down. My advice is this: Immediately go and buy a copy from your FLGS or from Chaosium's web store."
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PDF Product Name: [Berlin: The Wicked City - PDF]
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- Rule Set:
- 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu
- Year Released:
- Full Color Hardcover
- Page Count:
- David Larkins, Mike Mason, Lynne Hardy
- Cover Artist:
- Loïc Muzy
- Interior Artists:
- Sam Beck, Kristina Carroll, Caleb Cleveland, Emanuele Desiati, Trevor Henderson, Chris Huth, Pat Loboyko, Michelle Lockamy, Magdalena Mieszczak, Löic Muzy, Odessa Sawyer, Dimitar Stoyanov
- Matt Ryan, Vandel J. Arden
- Matt Ryan
- Nicholas Nacario
Of course, this is a quality book like always. The content may be excellent if you have the right group. You need to have people who are interested in the time period and are willing to read about the on their own off time. The quest are really verbose and require careful notes by the The Keeper. One final note, I have heard on other websites of this being overly political or sexualized content (SJW). That's nonsense. Anyone who read up on the period will know this book accurately depicts what berlin was like and does a good job of including the mythos. This just didn't work for my group, but it is an excellent resource for the right Keeper.
Maybe the best compliment you can give a setting book is to say you were writing a campaign set in one time and place, read the book and immediately decided, no that campaign should be set here, in *this* time and place. That's what Berlin: The Wicked City did to, or for, me. Inside you can find the history and geography of the city, a guide to creating Investigators, both local and visiting, as well as organisations rooted in the city's culture - and scenarios that span iconic stages of the decade, lacing the city's real history together with the Mythos. Atmosphere rises like a drugged haze from every page, and the city's mixture of culture, decadence and postwar psychic scarring offers a solid foundation for every flavour of horror you could want.