Aces Up – A Review of Delta Green: PX Poker Night

Delta Green:

PX Poker Night

Written By: Dennis Detwiller & A. Scott Glancy
Revised By: Shane Ivey
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
Year Published: 2020
Page Count: 34
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF (DTRPG) – $4.99
Print (DTRPG) – $14.99

Delta Green scenarios focus on the modern era—the 1990s to the present. Each scenario centers around a conspiracy that is often weird, strange, and disturbing, which keeps with the ethos of both the game and Delta Green’s operations.

Delta Green: PX Poker Night was first published in 2013 by Pagan Publishing for Delta Green, a licensed variant for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. The 2020 version was revised by Shane Ivey and published by Arc Dream Publishing for the Delta Green roleplaying game, now a stand-alone game.

PX Poker Night is an introductory scenario designed to introduce new players to the world of Delta Green. It can be run as either a one-shot or as the opening scenario of a larger campaign whereby the main characters of this story get inducted into Delta Green. The scenario should play out in one or two evenings, depending on how the Handler paces the story and the players’ decisions.

Scenario Synopsis

The characters for this scenario are all United States Air Force misfits, each with a litany of misconduct charges or perhaps a short stay in the stockade. They have all been reassigned to Platte Air Force Base under the command of Major Louis Jones while they await their inevitable departure from the Air Force.

Welcome to Platte Air Force Base… The place where planes and personnel go to be decommissioned. The base itself is in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska, and quite small. It contains a small number of buildings, some of which are decommissioned, two airstrips, and a temporary aircraft “boneyard.” There is little work to do at Platte, and those stationed here have an abundance of time on their hands and boredom. When not screwing up, ordered to guard duty, or some other crappy task by Maj Jones, the highlight for the base’s personnel is the weekly poker night at the PX—Saturdays at 8:00 P.M.

Early one Saturday afternoon, a large dark van bearing USAF markings arrives at Platte Air Force Base. The van, the size of a large UPS truck, parks out near the boneyard. These are MAJESTIC personnel operating under the guise of the Air Force. Maj Jones directs personnel via the base’s public address system to avoid the area and not interfere with ongoing classified operation. It’s at this point the story begins to get weird for our misfits.

Armed guards in strange-looking helmets guard the van and prevent anyone from getting close. As the day wears on, speculation about the van’s classified mission amplifies, and the tension among base personnel begins to run high. Stress levels are elevated. Fights break out. Maj Jones is pissed! As things reach a crescendo for the Airmen, there is a horrible whine and an electrical sizzle in the air. Above the van, something can be seen hovering in the air when a pulse of energy shoots between it and the van; a stray bolt also hits a transformer, and the base is plunged into darkness.

Not only will the player characters have to make some decisions on what to do now and how to do it, but they will also encounter otherworldly things that might just send them over the edge. You’re going to have to play to find out more!

The Good, The Bad

I need to preface this section with I am retired from the United States Air Force and spent the majority of my career as an aircraft mechanic. A number of thematic and situational inconsistencies stood out for me. Nothing noted below negatively impacts the scenario in any way, but if anyone at the table is an Air Force veteran, these things may affect their immersion into the story.

  • Military rank abbreviations never use punctuation (Maj / SrA / A1C / etc.)!
  • Under no circumstances would public acknowledgment of a classified mission/operation be announced over a public address system—no matter how remote the base is.
  • The PX is only open two days a week, while plausible, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service owns and operates all Army and Air Force “exchanges.” They are a business, and it’s unlikely they would realistically operate two days a week.
  • The terms PX and BX are defined, but Air Force bases in the late 90s used the term BX (Base Exchange). The Air Force has bases, and the Army has posts, hence the difference in BX (base exchange) and PX (post exchange).
  • Air Force misfits awaiting discharge would not be sent to place like Platte AFB; it’s doubtful they’d be given weapons and ordered to guard base access points. In the 90s, they would have been given menial “details’ to keep them occupied.
  • The base is described as having two airstrips (better known as runways), but the included map is mislabeled. What is labeled as “runways” are, in reality, a taxiway and a singular runway.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to all the positive things going with PX Poker Night. The scenario is well-written and easy to read, making it very easy for the Handler to grasp all the moving parts. As the story plays out, the characters will have to make decisions, formulate plans with limited resources, and hope to hell they can survive. While this may sound daunting, it will be challenging as their sanity erodes; it does create a wild and fun situation for the players to navigate.

This is obviously a work of fiction, as there is some liberal license taken in the design. For example, where the weapons are stored is not unrealistic in its physical design, but the physical location is not realistic. That said, it doesn’t detract from the scenario. It only serves to make it more interesting from both a player and Handler perspective.

As this is written to be an introductory scenario, there are six pre-generated “Airmen” provided. There are also three “Sanity Loss Handouts” for each of the pre-generated Airmen. These are meant to be given to the player as their character’s Sanity drops.

The saddle-stitched book is nicely laid out and well-illustrated, which really captures the feel of the scenario. If playing online, there are enough images that could be “snipped” out and used to good effect.

Conclusion

Delta Green: PX Poker Night is a nice (is nice in the Delta Green lexicon?) introductory scenario for both new players or to kick off a new campaign. Its design and story premise is plausible, but it’s not a deep conspiracy like those that Delta Green is known for. However, Delta Green recruits Agents who have experienced some form of Unnatural, and this scenario definitely fits that criteria.

If you’re a new Delta Green Handler looking for a good scenario to run, you can’t go wrong with PX Poker Night.

~ Modoc

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. errindel says:

    The first time PX Poker Night was published was in Polyhedron magazine (#155) in January 2003, as an adventure for d20 Modern. I didn’t realize this until very recently myself. The 2003 version is very similar to the most recent release, I was leafing through old back issues for Dungeon, and was surprised to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. modoc31 says:

      Thanks for sharing; I too was unaware of that. When I did my research about the scenario’s origins, I found no mention of an earlier version pre-dating the 2013 Pagan Publishing.

      Like

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