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Play Matt: Delta Green The Role-Playing Game Review
Call of Cthulhu has always enjoyed an exalted reputation among role-playing games, despite being based on the stories of the arch-racist H.P Lovecraft. But my early experiences didn’t chime with that acclaim. Despite some fantastic scenario design, the 1920’s setting felt difficult for modern players, at once too far to easily internalise and too close to just fantasise. Player motivation felt forced, and giving stat blocks to unbeatable extra-dimensional deities cheapened them.
I have some very, very tangential relationship to Delta Green, as The Unspeakable Oath was originally being produced at Mizzou when I was going there, and I interviewed some of the people who worked on it for a journalism story. So I have a DG soft spot, as it were.
That kind of stuff was always more Howards field, or the other ancillary mythos guys like Derleth. As much as I love "guns guns guns", when paired with cosmic horror it always falls short, at least in creating tension (Monster Hunter International is a lot of fun to read, tense and creepy it is not). I think I've read some DG stuff, might be confabulating it with Lumley, Stross, or someone like that.
Does this have a lot of occult artifacts or magic items? Things like the Laundry Files basilisk gun? That kind of stuff is always fun to read even if I don't play the game that comes along with it.
Generally I think DG is the only coherent way to run modern CoC. Between the internet and cellphones, everyone would know all about the mythos UNLESS you had an active conspiracy suppressing knowledge of it.
Shellhead wrote: I'm a big fan of the Call of Cthulhu rpg, at least up until the 5th edition or so. But I didn't like the Delta Green material that I saw in issues of The Unspeakable Oath, primarily because I felt that the government conspiracy stuff was what eventually ruined the X-Files tv show.
This is why I'm glad to see it's been sidelined in this new edition. But at the same time ...
Shellhead wrote: By contrast, the modern world is too comfortably familiar, and the GM will need to thwart mobile phones in many situations.
... the fact it's still presented as a secret government agency makes this much easier to deal with. That's not a comfortably familiar world for most players, especially with the secrets of the mythos, and the fact it needs to be contained makes mobiles and the internet as much of a liability as an asset.
It may be that the '20s are more familiar to US players than to me as a Brit. When running games in the '20s it's hard to remember that things like prohibition even happened, because it's not my history, let alone how it might impact the unfolding narrative.
jason10mm wrote: I always thought that if a Lovecraft story could be resolved with a Thompson submachine gun it was a failure as a story
I don't feel that's too much of a problem here. Despite the presence of automatic weapons, a lot of the entities that players encounter are too tough for them to shoot their way out. And there's a clear emphasis in the scenario design away from firefights and toward investigation and containment: it's hard to keep things quiet if you're going to have a mass shootout with an unspeakable entity from the nether dimensions.
It’s not just Lovecraft’s personal baggage. The genre has been so heavily worked . . . I don’t know. Maybe everyone still loves it in spite of the overuse and the racism.
Every creator is problematic in some way, or will become so in time. Every creation is at least partially rooted in the culture and times of its birth and good or bad ideas come with it.
Just remember that Cthulhu hates all of us equally
I do agree that cosmic horror could use more fresh air. In time more stuff will enter public domain and make it easy to source from.