Oh, great was the sin of my spirit,
And great is the reach of its doom;
Not the pity of Heaven can cheer it,
Nor can respite be found in the tomb:
Down the infinite aeons come beating the wings of unmerciful gloom.

— H.P. Lovecraft, “Nemesis”

The ancient Greek goddess Nemesis existed to “give what is due” (nemein, in Greek) especially to those guilty of the sin of hubris: arrogance, specifically challenging the gods or shaming others for personal glory or gratification.

Nemesis, perhaps pointing out the Ridgway Report

Nemesis personifies not merely justice but payback, wielding a whip as well as holding the scales. In a fun mythic-Mythos crossover, Nemesis appears to have been the daughter of Night and Ocean, depending on which ancient source you read, possibly explaining her parentage of the Telchines, flippered “fish children” with the heads of dogs. (In another Lovecraftian touch avant la lettre, Nemesis was also known as Adrasteia, “the Inescapable.”) According to the lost epic poem Cypria, Nemesis’ daughter was Helen of Troy – who, of course, brought destruction on a powerful kingdom after a ten-year war.

All arrogance will reap a harvest rich in tears. God calls men to a heavy reckoning for overweening pride.

— Aeschylus, The Persians (underlined by Robert F. Kennedy in his copy of Edith Hamilton’s The Greek Way)

In the Sixties, hubris characterized both the counter-culture, which attempted to throw aside laws and morals (to coin a phrase), and even moreso the United States government and its belief that a planning document and a billion dollars could solve any problem — when guided by the golden hand of the elect(ed) of course. Kennedy and Johnson tried to simultaneously fight a war on poverty and on the Viet Cong, with very little understanding of either opponent, and with even less humility. Time and again, federal agencies confidently planned the end of one problem and spawned ten worse ones. One might also cast all manner of “tampering with the natural order” from Agent Orange to the CIA’s weather-controlling Operation POPEYE — even firing rockets at the face of the Moon — as hubristic, if one were in the mood to do so.

Thus, I incorporated hubris into The Fall of DELTA GREEN as a leitmotif and occasional theme. The clearest example is that of the DELTA GREEN program itself, which comes to believe that it can harness the unnatural to fight the unnatural and pays the ultimate price in Cambodia. The original Delta Green source material hinted at the horrid blowback against the reckless “cowboy” operation OBSIDIAN; later works revealed that the rot had set in earlier thanks to careless overconfidence. In my redaction, the disaster of OBSIDIAN springs from Col. Satchel Wade’s ambition, Robert McNamara’s reorganization, and even from the program’s “destroy the town to save us” tradition going back to Innsmouth – it’s hubris all the way down, in other words. But throughout the book other examples surface, not least DELTA GREEN’s polarized opposite, MAJESTIC – by 1970 not yet fallen, but clearly reaching farther than the gods or Nemesis allow.

The Handler can leave Nemesis in the background, of course, trusting to the players’ sense of historical irony to notice the parallels between fighting the Deep Ones and fighting Ho Chi Minh. Or she can translate it from theme to plot, hand-crafting the Agents’ fate just like Nemesis herself might have, with the occasional special squeeze from the mechanics. The Agents’ final fate depends on the Agents’ specific style of hubris.

Just a Lot of Talk and a Badge

The Agents surely aren’t the first or last law enforcement officers to succumb to the heady brew of legal cover for their outrageous actions. Players who rely on flashing a badge (or delivering an extra-judicial beating) to steamroll the opposition set themselves up not just for Internal Affairs investigations but for the poetic justice of an MJ-3 NRO DELTA team doing the same (or worse) to them. More subtly, they earn the contempt of those they claim to be protecting: one illegal search or unlawful beating looks like all the other ones, even if the perp in this case was harboring a necromancer. Perhaps they shed Bond points with other decent cops, or have to spend points for Reassurance responses they used to get for free. Even worse, they find themselves praised and “assisted” by corrupt and brutal Feds and cops – and maybe get invited to join the “Friends of Dom” (FoDG, p. 300).

The Sin of Faust

The classic fate of Cthulhu’s querents since time immemorial has been to destroy themselves with the knowledge they sought. When Agents feel confident that they know a Deep One from a shoggoth, it’s time to pull back a little and show more of the “skull beneath the skin.” The Handler can shuffle the signifiers around as the book suggests, introduce an educationally toxic contradiction, or just feed the Agents more tomes and bas-reliefs to batten upon. (Ritual Addiction (FoDG, p. 201) exemplifies the opportunity here perfectly.) Simply learning the truth about the universe’s malign un-nature corrodes Stability and Sanity, and in The Fall of DELTA GREEN your quest also ablates away those you most care about as Bonds break and burn. With the tight Stability economy of the game (which starts out generous but turns mean, speaking of policy echoes) the mechanics already drive home this punishment.

Literally, Overkill

It’s very possible that DELTA GREEN Agents can “summon fire from the sky” in the words of Colonel Kurtz, calling in B-52 airstrikes on targets in Indochina (and lesser strikes outside overt war zones). The Bureaucracy test Difficulty for an ARC LIGHT (or BARREL ROLL in Laos or Cambodia) mission might be as low as 3 if the Agents have a legitimate tasking for heavy air support, or as high as 7 if they have to pull some strings. That’s not actually very hard. But as Lovecraft might have pointed out, “there’s always a bigger fish.” Perhaps someone, or Something, in that jungle can call in their own apocalypse now, and has no incentive to hold back.

With The Fall of Delta Green having psychedelically burst onto the shelves of finer game stores everywhere and indeed of this very site, this column keeps on bursting the covers of that already overfull tome. This time, rather than throw more weird story meat out there for the Handler, it’s time to give the players some love. And what better form can love take than a steady government paycheck? No better form, in the 1960s or now, surely. So here are a few more Departments where Agents can hang their hats while they’re out hatlessly hunting the unnatural. All these appear in the same format as those in the core book; and as always, yes, some of these Departments are actually just agencies, offices, bureaus, commands, and so forth.

Ability ratings with asterisks add to the rating already in the template, if you pick that ability for your Agent.

Army Security Agency

Technically under the wing of the NSA, but commanded by a U.S. Army general, the ASA protects electronic transmissions by the U.S. Army and attempts to intercept enemy and hostile communications both in the field and from listening stations, satellites, and other technical means. The ASA also has responsibility for electronic countermeasures and electronic warfighting if needed.

Semper Vigile

In Vietnam, the ASA operates as the 3rd Radio Research Unit (509th Radio Research Group after 1965) out of Tan Son Nhut in Saigon, accompanying Special Forces and MACV-SOG units and providing ELINT to regular U.S. forces in country. ASA pilots fly Special Electronic Mission Aircraft (SEMA) over the jungles, locating and targeting Viet Cong and NVA transmissions … and perhaps other phenomena.

ASA Officer

Prerequisite: Begin by building your Agent using the Soldier template (FoDG, p. 028). You may be Active Duty.

Points: 9 Investigative, 12 General

Foreign Language 1, HUMINT 1, Military Science 1, SIGINT 2, Traffic Analysis 1

Bureaucracy 2, Mechanics 2

Pick Three Investigative: Anthropology 1, Cryptography 1, Data Retrieval 1, Foreign Language 1*, Interrogation 1, Photography 1

Pick Two General: Athletics 4, Mechanics 4*, Pilot 4, Sense Trouble 4, Stealth 4

Bureau of Customs

The U.S. Bureau of Customs doesn’t just collect tariffs and man airport checkpoints (or the other 300 points of entry into the United States) looking for undeclared bottles of wine. Its Office of Investigations combats art and antiquities smuggling, human and narcotics trafficking, and illegal weapons sales both at home and overseas; in 1969 it gets an Air Interdiction Unit. The Customs Bureau also maintains and secures bonded warehouses in ports and airports where almost anything might be stashed away by someone.

Customs Investigator

Points: 11 Investigative, 23 General

Accounting 1, Law 2, Cop Talk 1, Notice 1, Streetwise 1

Bureaucracy 2, Conceal 2, Drive 3

Pick Five Investigative: Accounting 1*, Archaeology 1, Art 1, Cop Talk 1*, Criminology 1, Foreign Language 1, HUMINT 1, Interrogation 1, Law 1*, Notice 1*, Streetwise 1*

Pick Four General: Athletics 4, Conceal 4*, Health 4, Pilot 4, Preparedness 4, Sense Trouble 4, Stability 4, Stealth 4

Central Intelligence Agency

Division D Intercept Specialist

Within the CIA’s Directorate of Plans, Division D handles the collection of electronic and signals intelligence, sometimes in partnership with the Office of Research and Development. The Division’s work happens overseas, in embassies and foreign listening stations such as Kagnew in Ethiopia and Teufelsberg in West Berlin. “The Shop” (FoDG, p. 033) most likely operates under Division D, which does not scruple to access foreign transmitters as well as passively intercept foreign signals. In 1978, Division D folds into the Special Collection Service (SCS), a joint NSA-CIA program.

Points: 14 Investigative, 25 General

Agency 2, Architecture 1, Cryptography 1, Data Retrieval 1, Foreign Language 1, HUMINT 1, Notice 1, SIGINT 2, Tradecraft 1

Bureaucracy 3, Firearms 1, Mechanics 5, Stealth 3, Unarmed Combat 1

Pick Three Investigative: Architecture 1*, Cryptography 1*, Foreign Language 1*, Photography 1, Reassurance 1, SIGINT 1*, Streetwise 1, Tradecraft 1*, Traffic Analysis 1

Pick Three General: Conceal 4, Disguise 4, Filch 4, Mechanics 4*, Preparedness 4, Stealth 4*

Office of Scientific Intelligence Analyst

Tasked with collecting information about scientific developments that could affect national security, the OSI remains something of an odd man out within the CIA. It supports U-2 flights and (until 1965) analyzes Soviet rocket launches, it monitors nuclear tests and provides grants to cooperative universities. In 1963 it moves from the Directorate of Intelligence to the DDS&T; in the confusion and bureaucratic infighting that follow, DELTA GREEN uses OSI as a seine for any hint of hypergeometric research overseas or inside MAJESTIC.

Points: 13 Investigative, 20 General

Data Retrieval 1, Fringe Science 1, Military Science 1, Notice 1, Physics 1

Add One Scientific Specialty: Astronomy 2, Biology 2, Chemistry 2, Physics 2*

Bureaucracy 3, Firearms 1, Mechanics 4, Sense Trouble 1, Unarmed Combat 1

Pick Three Investigative: Agency 2, Data Retrieval 2*, Foreign Language 2, Fringe Science 2*, SIGINT 2, Traffic Analysis 2

Pick Two General: Bureaucracy 5*, Network 5, Preparedness 5, Sanity 5, Stability 5

National Underwater Reconnaissance Office

Established in 1968 to take advantage of the sinking of the Soviet submarine K-129, NURO remains entirely classified for thirty years. Staffed by CIA and ONI personnel, NURO uses mini-subs and “special project submarines” like USS Halibut and USS Seawolf to carry out undersea operations against signal targets such as undersea cables and to penetrate both enemy and neutral waters for intelligence gathering. Prior to 1968 the ONI has a handful of officers tasked with undersea intelligence, but no dedicated program as such; the Navy has the “Oceanographic Systems” Commands (COMOCEANSYS) that operate the SOSUS deep-water sonar array.

The amount of intelligence product on Deep Ones alone that floods into DELTA GREEN with the establishment of NURO nearly drowns the program. Much of the planning of the abortive Operation POMPEY (FoDG, p. 185) comes from NURO sources. Meanwhile, program investigators backtrack the opposition to NURO to pressure from Exalted Circle-connected admirals and bureaucrats; another promising lead the dismantling of DELTA GREEN shuts off.

NURO Analyst

For COMOCEANSYS operators and officers, the Sailor template (FoDG, p. 027) is a prerequisite for your Military Service. Both COMOCEANSYS and NURO personnel may be Active Duty.

Points: 11 Investigative, 13 General

Cryptography 1, Military Science 2, Notice 1, SIGINT 1

Add 3 to any two of these: Bureaucracy 2, Drive 1, Heavy Weapons 1, Mechanics 2, Pilot 1

Pick Three Investigative: Agency 2, Cryptography 2*, Data Retrieval 2, Foreign Language 2, Physics 2, SIGINT 2*, Traffic Analysis 2

NURO Frogman

If your game uses Special Training skills, NURO frogmen should take SCUBA.

Prerequisite: Sailor template (FoDG, p. 027) for your Military Service. You are on Active Duty.

Points: 8 Investigative, 22 General

Add 1 to any two of these: Astronomy 1, Foreign Language 1, Inspiration 1, Interrogation 1, Notice 1, SIGINT 1

Athletics 4, Demolitions 3, Mechanics 2, Preparedness 3, Stealth 4

Pick Two General: Demolitions 3*, Firearms 3, First Aid 3, Heavy Weapons 3, Mechanics 3, Pilot 3, Stealth 3, Unarmed Combat 3

 

 

We are excited to be taking part in Free RPG Day again for 2018. This year’s free Pelgrane giveaway features both an adventure and quickstart rules for Cthulhu Confidential and The Fall of Delta Green.

 

Cthulhu Confidential – A Cable’s Length from Shore

A GUMSHOE One-2-One Adventure

You are Phyllis Oakley, a dealer in rare books.

You know all the tricks of the trade. You scour second-hand stalls, private auctions, secret bibliophile clubs, looking for what your clients seek. You have contacts all over London, lesser book-hunters and traders and barrow-rummagers who sometimes turn up something valuable. One of your most valuable contacts was Alf Fulbrow.

Six months ago, you attended his funeral. Drowned, his daughter said.

So who left that rare occult book on your doorstep last night?

What ancient force, awoken from the slumber of three thousand years, stalks the streets of London?

Cthulhu Confidential is a game for two – one player, and one Game Moderator. All alone against the darkness, can you navigate the mystery and survive the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos?

The Fall of Delta Green – On A Bank, By Moonlight

1968. Two people in the small town of Milltown, NY die on the same night. One was a tragic car accident; the other, shot in self-defence by the police. Both were members of the same commune of hippies and drop-outs that’s taken over a farm just outside town.

Police reports contain references to chanting. To carven idols. To strange ceremonies by moonlight.

As Agents of DELTA GREEN, a top-secret branch of the US Government, your mission is to investigate those deaths, find out the truth – and take whatever action is necessary to eradicate any unnatural influence. When your predecessors raided Innsmouth in 1928, DELTA GREEN saw what the unnatural can do if it takes root in America.

It cannot be allowed to happen again.

The Fall of DELTA GREEN is the GUMSHOE adaption of the classic DELTA GREEN campaign of government agents battling the Cthulhu Mythos. The Fall of DELTA GREEN is a complete game, set in the organisation’s heyday in the 1960s – before the occult disaster in Vietnam that led to DELTA GREEN’s dissolution and resurrection as an illegal conspiracy. Before the Fall…

 

Stock #: PELGDGCC01
Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Artist: Jen McCleary Pages: 40-page PDF