Delta Green: The Conspiracy
Author: Dennis Detwiller, Adam Scott Glancy, John Scott Tynes
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
Page Count: 231
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF (DTRPG) – $24.99
Print – $49.99
Come with me back to the 1990s. It was a weird time. The United States had just won the Cold War. Democracy was flourishing across the globe. Everything was all fine and dandy. Or was it? The mid to late-1990s was a time of conspiracies. The Truth Was Out There, and the government was hiding things from us. Into this environment came about Pagan Publishing’s Delta Green, a series of adventures, articles, books, and stories for the Call of Cthulhu RPG. The first of these appeared in 1992, well before the 1993 debut of the X-Files. Eventually, Pagan Publishing released a full sourcebook for Delta Green, detailing a modern Call of Cthulhu organization, a secret, cell-based conspiracy within the US government, dedicated to fighting the Cthulhu Mythos.
Some twenty years later, Arc Dream Publishing released the Delta Green RPG—no longer a licensed supplement for Call of Cthulhu, it was its own (BRP-derived) RPG. At long last, the timeline was updated, moving Delta Green from the no-longer present day of the 1990s but having a default setting of the new modern day of the late 2010s and early 2020s.
Delta Green: The Conspiracy is a revisitation of the original Delta Green supplement, bringing us back to the 1990s and now using the Delta Green RPG rules. In PDF form, it is 231 pages in length and is full color. In this review, I’ll assume minimal experience with Delta Green and its RPG as, while it is no longer fully compatible with the Call of Cthulhu RPG, it would not be difficult to use it as a supplement for it as well.
Note: Arc Dream Publishing provided Rolling Boxcars with a review copy for this article. Please visit our Product Review Request page if you have an item you’d like Rolling Boxcars to review.
The two-page introduction is worth looking at as it gives us a two-paragraph mission statement of sorts for the campaign and organization—and, to the best of my recollection, this was the first long-term organization created for Call of Cthulhu, giving characters an excuse to be together and on the case:
Born of the 1928 raid on Innsmouth and the Nazis’ occult studies of WWII, Delta Green existed as an official intelligence-gathering and espionage group from 1942 to 1970. After a disastrous operation in pre-invasion Cambodia, Delta Green was shut down.
Unwilling to accept this, many of the group’s members continued to investigate the unnatural on an ad hoc basis, but—owing to a nonexistent command structure and the lack of any central files—many operations resulted in failure. In 1994, following the assassination of a long-time Delta Green leader, the group reorganized into a classic insurgency-style cell structure.
Agents and Friendlies
This chapter introduces players to the cell structure of Delta Green. Once an officially sanctioned organization, most Delta Green agents are carer employees of the United States federal government. They have been “fully” briefed on Delta Green (as fully briefed as one can be on an illegal conspiracy organized into cells that are intentionally isolated from each other). This chapter also deals with the various intelligence and law enforcement activities of the United States federal government and a timeline of essential activities and operations from 1789 to 1996. This chapter is relatively mundane—it deals with activities like the World Trade Center bombing, the Unabomber, Ruby Ridge, Patricia Hearst, etc. Indeed, the section on recruitment discusses how potential agents are vetted to ensure they do not jump at shadows and see boogeymen everywhere. A Delta Green campaign is firmly rooted in the world outside our door (or what was outside our door back in the 1990s…)
While later chapters will go into much deeper dives, this chapter gives a high-level overview of the major players in a 1990s Delta Green campaign. It also discusses how a Handler (GM) might make use of all the stuff in this book, what a Handler might choose to emphasize or drop, and what the consequences of Agent operations might be as the campaign progresses.
Unsurprisingly, the titular Delta Green organization gets a lot of attention. It was born in the aftermath of the US raid on Innsmouth—and investigations of the treasure trove of intelligence gained from that raid.
It took some time for the Delta Green organization to fully emerge. With the Wall Street crash, President Hoover wasn’t in much of a mood to hear official reports on this, especially given the Office of Naval Intelligence made use of the Black Chamber, which became embroiled in scandal for existing, as “gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” The Office of Naval Investigation was still interested and moved many operatives to a paranormal investigation arm no one had heard of, P4.
P4 spent over a decade gaining information and eventually became part of the OSS, the World War II predecessor of the CIA. They battled the Nazi organization Karotechia, which researched the occult and weird in the service of the Third Reich. The organization outlasted its regime and remained an enemy of Delta Green up to the present-day 1990s.
After the war, P4 officially became Delta Green. It had its triumphs and disasters and became agency rivals with Majestic-12, dedicated to investigating the Greys from the Roswell Incident. Delta Green gained a reputation for being cowboys, which blew up on them during the Vietnam War. Three hundred servicemen were killed in a rogue Delta Green operation, resulting in the official deactivation of Delta Green.
By 1971 a number of Delta Green veterans had illegally reactivated the organization. Until 1994, it functioned as an unofficial and secret fraternity—until its leader was assassinated by MAJESTIC in 1994. In the aftermath, Delta Green was reorganized into the cell-based illegal organization it is today.
In addition to this history, the current leadership of Delta Green is detailed. I rather like the idea that its leader is a 78-year-old librarian in the Library of Congress. However, other leaders, agents, and friendlies are detailed, all of them useful for insertion into campaigns, and many of them are quite traumatized, physically and mentally, by what they have faced.
The Roswell crash of 1947 proves to be a major event in the Delta Green setting. It appears to be a crash by the infamous “greys” of various UFO conspiracies. A government agency, MAJESTIC-12, is formed to deal with them. For the most part, Delta Green isn’t all that interested in this, though some Delta Green agents do cross over to MAJESTIC.
From the saucer crash, there was a single survivor. However, it soon went into torpor. Some decades later, the Greys returned and made contact with MAJESTIC, offering genetic knowledge and intelligence—absolutely conclusive intelligence—on global military forces. This proved key to the United States winning the Cold War. All the Greys wanted in return was secrecy and full access to the United States. Maybe the occasional harvesting of humans.
The gotcha—and we’re in spoiler territory—is the Greys don’t really exist. They are simply constructs built by the Fungi From Yuggoth—the mi-go. The mi-go are incredibly logical but lack humanity’s intuitive reasoning ability. It is, for this reason, they are interacting with MAJESTIC.
MAJESTIC is not the only organization interested in the Greys. In a land with freedom of the press, people often figure things out. The truth is out there, after all. And SaucerWatch is a civilian group trying to figure out what the hell is going on with the UFOs. They attract nuts, conspiracy whackjobs, and the like… but… they are on to something. Likely MAJESTIC will crush them as a lesson to Delta Green.
This is all split into multiple chapters for the various factions. Clearly, this is considered a likely focus of Delta Green campaigns. It fits in well with the conspiracies and fears of the 1990s—with our own government hiding things from us, different factions of the government at each other’s throats, and a totally independent civilian organization finding its way into the mix.
The old saying is true: Old Nazis never die; they just go to South America.
Karotechia is one of Delta Green’s oldest foes. During World War II, this occult organization served the Third Reich. It survived the defeat of Nazi Germany, with Delta Green operations in the 1940s and 1950s dedicated to wiping them out. However, a fraction of it survived and has rebuilt, using ancient rites to resurrect dead Nazis. The reborn organization is the Fourth Reich for all intents and purposes.
My recollection is the 1990s were the last gasp of the fear of Nazis from the 1940s resurfacing. The youngest of them would be in their seventies at the time of the Delta Green campaign, with most considerably older. Not that the hateful ideology doesn’t find its way to intrude in our real world even today. In the campaign, there are ancient Nazis who look quite ancient, ancient Nazis whose aging has been halted, dead Nazis who have been resurrected, and new recruits in the organization. They work with neo-Nazis, white supremacists, fascists, and anti-semites throughout the world.
From personal experience, this is an area where conversation with a group is important. Unlike the mi-go, the Nazis were quite real, and the horrors they brought into the world were real as well. Many players will likely have some strong opinions regarding the use of Nazis in a game—especially the idea of the resurrection of real Nazis. I wish the authors had included some discussion on this.
Really, it wouldn’t be a Cthulhu setting without Nyarlathotep. The Fate is a Cult that worships Nyarlathotep. They control a powerful, though not well-known, criminal organization, the Network, based in New York. In the Upper West Side of New York City, they control the Club Apocalypse—most of its upper-class clients who attend are unaware of the occult deals that transpire in its back rooms.
I could see the Fate being used for a major foe, albeit an amorphous one, difficult to take out. I could also see it used as an organization the agents might find themselves needing to do business with on occasion.
The appendices are a bit of a potpourri of information. It’s not divided into distinct appendices but rather covers various topics. It begins with a discussion on federal law enforcement of the 1990s—including the 1990s technology, communication methods, security classifications, etc.
This section also includes various occult documents/tomes—some of which are simply official classified government reports that double as occult tomes. Lots of sample “official” reports can be found in this chapter as well, making for useful handouts and sample formats to be used.
The bibliography is rather handy, covering a wide variety of topics, from the who’s who of Nazis to breakdowns of government agencies and careers to examples of containments of disease outbreaks.
At its core, Delta Green: The Conspiracy is a new look at the original Delta Green supplement. It’s been adapted for the new Delta Green RPG, made prettier (the original was in black and white, this is color), and tidied up. If you have the original supplement, the main new value to you will be its adaptation to the new RPG and improved appearance. While there was some editorial cleanup and some new material, I personally would have liked some more additions, though there was some discussion on 1990s technology. The original book had some adventures not found here (though I believe most are available as individual purchases).
With all that said… this is a superb supplement. The original had an enormous influence on the Call of Cthulhu RPG, especially with its focus on an overarching organization for characters to be a part of—something which has since become a standard part of the Call of Cthulhu RPG. It’s odd for me to be reviewing what is now a historical setting that I remember being a contemporary one. With distance, I can see just how well Delta Green captures America and the world of the mid to late-1990s. Technology and society are close to our own in many ways… but in others, it is incredibly far. It’s a great time for a campaign against the Mythos, and Delta Green is a secret (and illegal) conspiracy that is much in keeping with the time—and makes for great gaming opportunities.
It’s obviously of most value if you plan on running a 1990s Delta Green campaign, but it also has value in providing readers with a better understanding of the organization’s past before its official rebirth.
Legal notice: “Published by arrangement with the Delta Green Partnership. The intellectual property known as Delta Green is a Trademark and copyright owned by the Delta Green Partnership, who has licensed its use here. Illustrations by Dennis Detwiller are reproduced with permission. The contents of this review are © Daniel Stack and Rolling Boxcars, excepting those elements that are components of the Delta Green intellectual property.”
~ Daniel Stack
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