Call of Chicago: Pulling Strings, Part 1

In 1996, an RPG appeared in which you played agents of a secret conspiracy within the Federal government, one that battled Grey aliens, black magicians, and rival government programs. It was perfectly tuned to the late-90s X-Files ambiance, and won plaudits for its deep dives into the cryptic worlds of anomalous science and government bureaucracy. I refer, of course, to Conspiracy X by Rick Ernst, Shirley Madewell, and Chris Pallace.

The system was kind of all over the place (the 2nd edition ported it over to Unisystem with good results) but it had a couple of nice touches. One of them was a mechanic called “Pulling Strings,” which amounted to cool discounts and activities your characters could buy depending on their originating agency. In very broad strokes, the Agency and Bureaucracy abilities in Fall of DELTA GREEN model that sort of behavior: calling in favors, carefully wording a field report or phone call, or just filling out a TPS form and waiting for the machinery to grind out a result. But the corebook leaves matters up to the players’ imagination, which may not always reach to the upper tiers of Pentagon mission prep.

Your request is very important to us

So here are some strings your Fall of DELTA GREEN Agents might pull, some outcomes they might pursue. The relevant ability is always Bureaucracy (FoDG, p. 063). Difficulty varies by department, and assumes at least a colorably plausible excuse. Remember, you can spend relevant Agency points (for double their value!) on Bureaucracy tests against a given organization; when Cooperating (FoDG, p. 081) the Agent (if any) in the relevant organization always counts as the “leader.” Remember the standard Difficulties: Diff 4 (you have clearance/jurisdiction/tasking already; it’s part of your normal job), Diff 6 (you have to pull strings), Diff 8 (you have no business asking). And the standard modifiers: Raise Difficulties by +1 for state or local agencies or rival divisions of your own agency, +2 for other federal agencies or military branches, and by +3 for agencies of other governments. Add +2 to cut turnaround time by an increment: weeks to days, for example. Equipment requisitions (FoDG, p. 135) have similar, overlapping modifiers and Difficulties. As with all Difficulties, the Handler should apply them based on her notion of game reality and the needs of the mystery.

Aircraft Access

To borrow a restricted hangar or just get a hangar of your own for a week: AFOSI, CIA DPlans domestically, any CIA overseas (Diff 4); other USAF personnel (Diff 5; Diff 4 overseas); Customs, FBI, FBN (Diff 6). Borrow a USG (US Government) helicopter or small plane, like a Forest Service or Customs aircraft (with or without pilot; the more expensive the plane, the more likely you have to borrow a pilot also): Customs (Diff 5); FBI, FBN, US Marshals (Diff 6; Diff 5 with Cop Talk); ARPA, AEC, CDC (Diff 6). Requisition an armed aircraft, only in a war (or active training) zone: Active duty Army or USMC, CIA SOD (Diff 5 for a Huey helicopter gunship, +2 or more for more powerful craft); other CIA (Diff 6); other Defense Department (Diff 7). Getting an armed aircraft off a domestic military base requires a falsified training order: Diff 8 minimum, and certain discipline if you fire its weapons outside an established firing range.

Air or Artillery Strike

To call in an air or artillery strike, only in a war zone: active duty military officer, MACV-SOG (Diff 4); CIA DPlans or SOD (Diff 5). Agents can also task a bombing run (1d weeks delay) through the Pentagon: any DoD (Diff 5); CIA (Diff 6). Outside pre-established bombing and “free fire” zones, an air strike ensures an investigation.

Dossiers

By and large, getting a photograph and dossier on a person of interest reduces the Difficulty of General tests (or at least Stealth surveillance tests) against them by -1. Dossiers on Americans: FBI (Diff 4 or 5); US Marshal (Diff 5); CIA (Diff 6). Dossiers on foreigners: CIA (Diff 4 or 5); DIA, ONI (Diff 6 unless specific mission calls for it). Specific types of dossiers might come in handy. A counter-intelligence (CI) dossier analyzes a US subject’s foreign contacts and weak points: FBI (Diff 4 or 5); AFOSI, CIA, NSA, ONI (Diff 6). Criminal record: FBI, FBN, US Marshal (Diff 4); other Justice Dept (Diff 5); other USG (Diff 6). Financial records: FBI, FBN, Treasury Dept (Diff 5); Customs (Diff 6). Medical records: CDC (Diff 6). Security clearance reports: FBI (Diff 4); AFOSI, DIA, ONI (for military personnel, Diff 5); AEC, AFOSI, ARPA, DIA, NASA, NRO, NSA, USAIC (Diff 6); any Defense or Justice Dept (Diff 7).

False Papers

DELTA GREEN supplies you with the credentials it believes necessary. If you disagree, many Federal agencies provide cover credentials of various sorts. Fake civilian papers: CIA Domestic Ops (Diff 5); FBI, FBN, USAIC (Diff 6). Fake US passport: CIA DPlans or PAD (Diff 5); other CIA, State Dept (Diff 6). Fake foreign civilian papers (foreign passport, +1 Diff): CIA DPlans or TSD (Diff 5); other CIA (Diff 6).

Fingerprint File

Since 1924, the FBI has maintained a card file of fingerprints of everyone who has: been arrested for a federal crime, served in the military, applied for or received a sensitive position, legally immigrated. State and local law enforcement often send duplicate copies of their own fingerprint files to the FBI. It takes weeks to match a set of fingerprints if a match exists. FBI Lab (Diff 4); other FBI, FBN, US Marshals, Justice Dept (Diff 5); other USG (Diff 6). To quash or “lose” a fingerprint card: submitted from outside (+2 Diff), already in system (+4 Diff).

Interrogation Suite

Agents may need to interrogate suspects or persons of interest. Borrowing a room in a federal facility: FBI, FBN, US Marshal (Diff 4; Diff 3 with Cop Talk); USAIC, AFOSI, DIA, ONI, NRO, NSA (Diff 6; Diff 5 with Cop Talk). Borrowing a CIA facility: CIA (Diff 5; Diff 4 with Agency (CIA)); USAIC, DIA, ONI, NRO, NSA (Diff 7). Borrowing a trained interrogator (+1 Diff per point of Interrogation, and a good enough story to fool a trained interrogator). Access to truth drugs (only available at CIA facilities; see FoDG, p. 153; +2 Diff).

Laboratory Testing

Sending something off to a government lab for testing runs the risk of exposing outsiders to the Unnatural, but sometimes that beats the risk of testing a volatile Whatever in the high school science lab. Turnaround and response time is 1d weeks. A laboratory qualified to test the substance or evidence in question: ARPA, AEC, CDC, CIA Sci & Tech, Customs, FBI, FBN, NASA (own agency request Diff 5; other agency request Diff 7); other USG (+2 Diff).


The Fall of DELTA GREEN adapts DELTA GREEN: THE ROLE-PLAYING GAME to the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system, opening the files on a lost decade of anti-Mythos operations: the 1960s. Players take on the role of DELTA GREEN operatives, assets, and friendlies. Hunt Deep Ones beneath the Atlantic, shut down dangerous artists in San Francisco, and delve into the heart of Vietnam’s darkness. Purchase The Fall of DELTA GREEN in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

One Response to “Call of Chicago: Pulling Strings, Part 1”

  1. Jakob Schilling says:

    This is amazing! Thank you for improving on an already great game! I look forward to new products in the FoDG line – perhaps something à la Double Tap for NBA? Perhaps a GM screen (truly great art design in FoDG!)?
    High regards, Jakob

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