Waging War Against Unimaginable Terror with Delta Green

The stars are almost right. Alien creatures out of time and mind have infested our world, making dark packs with national governments that trade sanity-rending secrets for a freehand in human experimentation. At the dawn of the 21st century only one force stands against the vast conspiracies ensnaring America: Delta Green.

Originally begun as a paramilitary group within the U.S. Government dedicated to investigating and combating paranormal phenomenon. Over the years, as certain factions in the government grew more powerful, and began their dread negotiations, Delta Green became a problem. It was officially disbanded, but its leadership realized that the threat was far from over. Now Delta Green has gone underground, fighting the government’s manipulations with a conspiracy of its own. It recruits new members slowly and carefully, picking like-minded, expertly-trained individuals from the United State’s alphabet soup of agencies as well as from the private sector.

Delta Green is a sourcebook for Chaosium’s legendary Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. It combines horror, conspiracy and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos in a detailed, well-designed and excellently written 296-page book. The book’s divided into six chapters, the first one giving an overview the campaign, and the subsequent ones detailing its major players. Among these players are the protagonists, Delta Green, allies, like the UFOologists of SaucerWatch, the governmental conspiracy of Majestic-12, and the neo-Nazis comprising Karatechia.

Supplementing these core chapters are nine appendixes that give the sort of fine details — terminology used by intelligence agencies, classifications for security documents, and “top secret” manuscripts — essential for running this sort of campaign. There are also three ready to run adventures (one told in two parts)

Cthulhu with a purpose

The combination of modern-day “gray” alien conspiracies with the 80-year-old Cthulhu mythos insures that Delta Green doesn’t become yet another X-Files rip-off. The book does have some of the feel of the X-Files — particularly the first three seasons, before the series broke down into a muddled morass of contradictory conspiracies.

It’s the Cthulhu mythos that transforms Delta Green into something more than just a conspiracy re-hash. Much of H.P. Lovecraft’s original fiction took place during the 1920s and involved isolated cultists or madmen dabbling without insanity-inducing aspects of alien, god-like entities. Delta Green logically carries Lovecraft forward to the present day, entangling the mythos into America’s modern psychoses. It’s does far more than just try and shoe-horn Lovecraft’s creations into the Cigarette Smoking Man’s shoes. The Cthulhu mythos was always about two things: secrets that no man was meant to know AND a corruption of all that is good, true and sane in our world.

The rise of moral relativism, the disintegration of the concept of absolute values, the abolishment of reason — all of these things play into the hands of the Mythos. They make humanity malleable and far more agreeable to their corrupting suggestions. The writers’ insight — and what really makes this work — is that they realize that the individuals who created the Heaven’s Gate cult and sacrificed themselves to a comet would gladly offer themselves up to mighty Cthulhu or any of the other ancient monstrosities of Lovecraft’s pantheon.

The authors’ purpose in creating Delta Green was to give Call of Cthulhu purpose. Traditional Cthulhu games are usually geared towards one-shots or short story arcs — the adventurers learn about some mystery, spend some time digging around town for clues and then finally confront the cosmic evil, which they either destroy or are driven insane by (sometimes both). Worse, the characters usually come from a variety of divergent background — there’s no real reason for them to be ëinvestigating’ with each other.

Delta Green gives the game an overriding purpose, and that makes running a campaign considerably easier. Why are the characters together? That’s easy — because they’re members of Delta Green. Why are they going on all these strange missions? Why do new people join their team? Where do they get their funding? Delta Green provides the answers. It makes it easy to organize a long-running game.

A Libertarian Shade of Green

It’s not hard to give Delta Green a libertarian edge. It’s namesake organization is already one that’s fighting an authoritarian enemy that’s betrayed America’s fundamental ideals. They’re fighting for life, liberty and the pursuit of sanity, and who can’t like that? The only question for players is whether or not they want to reveal the secret of the Mythos to the world at large. And then there’s always Delta Green‘s battles against the fascists of Karatechia and the ever popular crusades against mad cultists. Has it ever been so easy to strike a blow for reason?

For those who would rather not play federal agents gone rogue, there’s the independent SaucerWatch organization. Admittedly they have access to a lot less firepower than Delta Green, but it is devoid of government intervention, dedicated to the rational exploration of the supernatural phenomenon, and is privately funded. Think of it as a sort of paranormal Cato Institute.

Details

  • Publisher:Pagan Press
  • Written by Dennis Detwiller, Adam Scott Glancy and John Tynes
  • $27.95
  • Buy it from Amazon