First Things First – Delta Green: Need to Know w/ Handler’s Screen

Delta Green:

Need to Know w/ Handler’s Screen

Written By: Shane Ivey, Bret Kramer, et al.
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
Page Count: 48
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF (DTRPG) – Pay What You Want
Print – $24.99

Born of the U.S. government’s 1928 raid on the degenerate coastal town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts, the covert agency known as Delta Green spent four decades opposing the forces of darkness with honor, but without glory. Stripped of sanction after a disastrous 1969 operation in Cambodia, Delta Green’s leaders made a secret pact: to continue their work without authority, without support, and without fear. Delta Green agents slip through the system, manipulating the federal bureaucracy while pushing the darkness back for another day—but often at a shattering personal cost.

Need to Know is Delta Green’s Quickstart, although it is not branded as such. It provides new players and Handlers (Gamemasters) with the core rules stripped down to the basic level needed to play without losing the game’s feel. The booklet is broken into four chapters: “Welcome to Delta Green,” “What Is an Agent?,” “Game System,” and “Last Things Last.”

This set of basic rules comes in four formats, all of which contain the same content: softcover, softcover with a hardboard Handler’s screen, digital, and audiobook. For this review, we’ll be looking at the version packaged with the Handler’s screen.

“Welcome to Delta Green” defines Delta Green specific terminology, dice conventions, tips on being a good player or a Handler, and a short example of play. “What Is an Agent?” covers all the basics about an Agent’s character sheet and provides definitions and meanings to the various parts that comprise an Agent (i.e., bonds, what skill ratings represent, etc.). It also includes Agent creation rules, but unlike the Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook, options such as professions are limited. Six sample Agents are provided for those that want to jump right into the action. “Game System” provides readers with all the essentials game mechanics without any extraneous extras. The functional basics of combat, damage and death, sanity, insanity, preserving sanity, willpower, bonding with Delta Green, and home (between operation scenes) are all covered.

Finally, “Last Things Last” is an introductory Operation for one to five players, which should easily be playable in a single evening. Agents are dispatched to sweep the apartment of a former Delta Green agent and later “friendly” who died four days ago. They are to locate and remove all mention of the organization if any exists before the man’s family arrives in 48-hours. What Operation is ever this straightforward? Agents have a limited amount of time to conduct the sweep, wherever it may lead them.

The actual play podcast, The Lovecraft Tapes, features “Last Things Last” as part of Case 10 (starting with episode 5). Those interested should note that they are using the Call of Cthulhu rules, not Delta Green.

The Need to Know booklet has a similar look and feel and an identical layout to its big brothers, Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook and Delta Green: Handler’s Guide.

Handler’s Screen

The Handler’s screen conveniently collects and presents only the essentials that the Handler should need at hand during a session. The arrangement of the table, charts, and reminders are well thought out and easy to read. The screen itself is thick hardboard and built to last, unlike a Delta Green Agent!

The Handler’s screen conveys a similar look to other products in the product line. The player-facing art is thematically on point, disturbingly grotesque, and wonderful all at the same time.

Conclusion

The bulk of the Need to Know booklet is the rules and sample Agents. Everything here is, although basic, very well presented with just enough information to get a group up and running with minimal effort. This booklet is a wonderful quick reference for seasoned Delta Green players who don’t have or want their Agent’s Handbook at the table.

The included Operation is well written and gives new players just a taste of what the full game range offers. Bret Kramer and Shane Ivey are both accomplished scenario writers, and while this is only an introductory scenario, it’s top-notch. I suspect veteran players who have not experienced “Last Things Last” would also enjoy it.

The Handler’s screen is hands down one of the best I have come across in many years. It has just what’s needed without any extraneous information. This laser-focused approach results in a screen that is easy to read and easier to reference when the time comes.

~ Modoc

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