“They say much of blood and bloom, and of others which I comprehend not, though I guess what they mean; but nevertheless they tell us all things which we want to know.”

— Abraham Van Helsing, in Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Through the persons of writer-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the BBC (and its pals at Netflix) has vouchsafed to us in this year of our Lord 2020 yet another tilt at the Dracula windmill, this time in a three-episode limited series. (Hereafter, “D2020“. Also hereafter, spoilers.) The specific merits of this iteration aside (which include a rich, Hammer-inspired camera palette and a credibly terrifying Dracula when he shuts up) it also — as with every version of Dracula, or of Dracula — provides a fair few gameable spins on the myth, and on vampires. For example, the bite of D2020 Dracula creates revenants (they look like zombies, but probably use mostly Feral stats (NBA, p. 150)); only a few of his victims survive Infection with enough personality to become true self-willed vampires themselves. The many, many boxes and crates (and habitrails, and fridges) of ferals work very effectively on screen, and likely works well at the table — it makes those warehouse fights more interesting, that’s for sure.

So let’s settle in and dip our fingers in the BBC’s goblet, shall we?

Dracula, hungry for learning

New Power: Drain Knowledge

When Dracula drinks any blood from a human in D2020, he knows their name and something of their background almost immediately. When he drains them, he picks up their entire knowledge base, possibly even including physical skills. (In episode 3, he complains of the taste of a physicist and a professional tennis player.) His language patterns shift, and he even (briefly) picks up a meaningless exercise habit from modern Londoners. Even by smell, he can detect members of a familiar bloodline and something about them.

Vampires with Drain Knowledge gain immediate, surface knowledge of any human whose blood they taste. A big sip (at least 1 Health) gives them the equivalent of a 0-point spend, or a few minutes’ Google search: name, background, emotional state, family connections, etc. Bigger drinks burrow deeper, uncovering closely held secrets; when the amount of Health consumed equals the target’s Stability (or kills the target), the vampire knows every aspect of the target’s thoughts and memories, including buried traumas or brainwashed secrets. (An Agent can resist giving up a secret with a successful Stability test against a Difficulty equal to 4+ their lost Health.) Even a quick gulp (2+ Health drained) provides language and social skills that allow the vampire to briefly blend into the target’s society (the equivalent of 1 point in High Society or Reassurance or another relevant Interpersonal ability); completely draining a suitable target provides technical skills if needed (e.g., a Transylvanian warlord can suddenly use Skype). As a rule of thumb, each point of Health drained past the first provides the equivalent of 1 point in an ability.

In D2020, this seems like a free (almost unavoidable) power; if the vampire can control it, it costs 1 point of Aberrance per target or per scene.

Node: The Jonathan Harker Foundation

The third episode also shares a liter or two of DNA with The Dracula Dossier, not least its covert vampirological operation. In D2020, this secretive medical charity operates out of (and beneath) Cholmely House, a crumbling Victorian building in Whitby near the Abbey ruins. Named for the dead fiancée of Mina Murray, built on the infrastructure of the nuns’ order at the Hospital of St. Joseph and Ste. Mary (DH, p. 230), and backed by mysterious financiers, it conducts hematological research and searches for the body of Dracula, presumed lost at sea with the Demeter. Its staff includes doctors and mercenaries, and its facilities include a glass-walled prison with a remote-controlled sun roof.

EDOM: Obviously, this was the first version of the vampire prison, before EDOM built the holding facilities on HMS Proserpine. In some campaigns, this might be the only vampire prison, or a staging area for Proserpine transfers (DH, p. 178). This also fits a much smaller version of EDOM (even Dustier or more Mirrored than on EFM p. 58), one that has to contract out mercenaries (via a shell corporation) for security instead of depending on the SAS’ E Squadrons. Either way, its guards use the Special Operations Soldiers stats (NBA, p. 70).

CIA: Or the Russians, or the Chinese, or whomever. Some other agency runs the Harker Foundation, tasked to steal a march on EDOM by trawling the seas off Whitby for lost vampires — either prisoners escaping from Proserpine, or vampirized sailors from the Demeter crawling anoxically over the bottom of the North Sea. Or perhaps, as speculated on DH p. 178, Whitby is one of the magical gates to England, so anyone looking to snare a vampire does well to set up shop here. Either way, they have to keep things to one building and use deniable mercs to avoid MI5 or EDOM noticing.

Conspiracy: Boy, Dracula got ahold of a WiFi-enabled tablet pretty easily in that show, didn’t he? What looks like an idiot plot is actually the action of Dracula’s sleeper agents, left behind in Whitby to infiltrate just such a facility. He funds it through cut-outs, and allows it to operate on the “keep your enemies closer” school of thought, and as a way to release useful blood samples or lore into the British medical stream.

Connections: At one point, the Foundation canonically has a Vial of Blood (only a single tube rather than the jar on DH p. 284), and a Legacy (Zoë Helsing instead of Dr. Jacqueline Seward (DH, p. 47) but you can switch those out). Given the number of vampiric revenants lying around (nine in Highgate Cemetery alone), the Foundation may have synthesized any of the Seward Serum (DH, p. 51), Serum V (DH, p. 162), Blomberg Serum (DH, p. 282), or Luria Formula (DH, p. 114). If it’s EDOM, it’s part of Dr. Drawes’ operation (DH, p. 50); it may also employ the Pharmaceutical Researcher (DH, p. 128). Its charity work could overlap or partner with Heal the Children (DH, p. 150). Its mysterious backer might be the venture capital group (or government black budget) behind Nox Therapeutics (DH, p. 162), which might have memos or (apparently) even regular Skype session logs documenting their connection. Since we know it runs human trials on the surface, its tunnels potentially even hold Camp Midnight (DH, p. 252) or the British (or private-sector) equivalent. Given its connections to the Budapest hospital, the Hungarian (DH, p. 94) likely knows enough to set Agents (or the Journalist; DH, p. 120) on its trail.


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

 

“I could but tell them how I had just emerged from dungeon and jacket in the morning, and without rhyme or reason, so far as I could discover, had been put back in the dungeon after being out only several hours.”

— Jack London, The Star Rover

The only problem with dungeon crawls is there aren’t enough of them. I don’t mean that in a lived-experience sense, or even in a per-game sense. I mean, when you’re running a 13th Age game, as I have been for a good while now, there just aren’t enough dungeon crawls available that fit: a) your party’s level; and b) the general parameter of where the campaign sits at the moment. To say nothing of the paucity of dungeon crawls set in the Hellenistic-era Seleucid Empire, but I admit I’ve pretty much made my own bed in that particular case.

Don’t get me wrong: the dungeon crawls we do have are great! If your characters are ready for them, go right ahead and toss them into the maw of a living dungeon and wait for the chewing to commence! But any given dungeon, no matter how great, might not be right for your campaign, or at least not right now. For more impromptu encounters, I have put the Battle Scenes books to good use everywhere from a volcano in Sicily to Mt. Hermon in Coele-Syria to a dusty provincial capital in Parthia, but they’re necessarily somewhat open-ended and thus require a bit of chivvying the PCs that a good old “march down there and kill ’em” dungeon doesn’t.

A really great 13th Age dungeon. Everyone says so.

Fortunately, there are approximately eight billion other dungeon adventures available for Those Other F20 RPGs, and after a bit of skeptical poking I have become a total convert to totally converting them to 13th Age. And by “totally converting,” I mean, “doing just enough.” (If you want to see Whoa Plenty Converting the other direction, allow me to point you at Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s 5e conversion of Eyes of the Stone Thief.) Let me provide you guidance on such enough-ness, by way of three examples from my own campaign.

For the first dungeon, the characters were 4th level, in Ephesus in Asia Minor. I knew I wanted a drowned city, as Lysimachus drowned Old Ephesus by re-routing a river in 292 BC. (In my history, it was a siege; in our history, it was exuberant urban renewal.) On the advice of Will Hindmarch, I converted Dragons of Despair, an AD&D 2e adventure (Levels 4-6) by Tracy Hickman (the first of the Dragonlance series) to the city of Old Ephesus. For the second dungeon, I needed a fire temple, as my players (by now 6th level) were headed to the Zoroastrian shrine Adur Gushnasp to recover their occultist and the Ark of the Covenant, which the duplicitous Persian magus Gaspar had stolen with a dimension door. At Dark Side Comics & Games in Sarasota I thumbed through all the Pathfinder adventures (on the grounds that a fire temple should be jam packed with Stuff) until Legacy of the Impossible Eye (for 11th level PCs) fell into my hands. At ChupacabraCon in Austin, meanwhile, I had picked up a pretty cheap copy of the original AD&D 1e Against the Giants compilation, and I confess to planting the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl (for Levels 8-12) deliberately in the (7th level) characters’ path on Mount Kaukasos. So, how did I do it, and how can you? Easy, that’s how.

Step One in dungeon conversion: Find a module that fits where your characters are already going. This might just be “a dungeon,” if they’re that kind of wandering monster-killers, but in my case it needed to be a drowned city and a fire temple. I just held on to the glacial rift until the PCs decided to go gather Prometheus’ blood from the top of Mount Kaukasos, and turned it into the “front door” of the mountain.

Step Two in dungeon conversion: Convert or replace the monsters. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. First, most dungeons only use a few monsters, and many of them already have direct 13th Age versions. Second, 13th Age monsters are very easy to shift up or down the scale if need be. As it was, for example, I took the Dragonmen and Gully Dwarves from Dragons of Despair and made them Drakonae (blackscale kroma dragonics) and Khudi (my Greekified name for c.h.u.d.s, but using kobold stats). Frost giants are pretty much frost giants, so no swapping required. I did swap Indian giants, or Daitvas (re-skinned ogre magi), in for the fire giant ambassadors in the original G2, mostly because we’d just had a lot of fire giants in Legacy. Swap (or stat) out as many as you think the players will encounter that session, or do it all at once if you’re fancy. I didn’t change numbers appearing, treasure (except to cut back on permanent items in favor of gold or healing etc. potions), or traps, because a dungeon is supposed to be pretty grueling. Well, I lie; I added a garrison to the fire temple in Legacy, since it was supposed to be active not abandoned, but I left everything else in place, just changing “former council chamber” to “council chamber” and the like.

Step Three in dungeon conversion: Find the “special thing” in the dungeon and replace it with whatever your PCs are looking for. In Dragons, it’s the Disks of Mishkal; they became the Tablets of Cadmus, the first writing. Also I put the mummified Queen Thalestris of the Amazons (and her Sword) in an otherwise empty chamber because the Amazon PC needed something special, and Ephesus has always been an Amazon city so an ancient queen mummy fits in. The temple in Legacy came with a prison (for the occultist) and a treasury (for the Ark instead of the Eye), so that was easy. The giants are just there to man the killing gauntlet in G2, and the exit is the special thing, so it became the passage to Prometheus’ cave.

And that, can you believe it, is literally it. If you’ve ever run dungeons before, you’ll find all the old reflexes coming back: add wandering monsters, tangle with the PCs like the inhabitants would under attack, use the terrain tactically, make the players work for those empty rooms where they can get a little rest. You don’t even have to sweat levels if you don’t want to: 13th Age characters are insanely robust compared to D&D hobos, so even twice the level isn’t really stretching it. Remember, monster conversion has already done most of the work up-gunning the dungeon, and traps aren’t supposed to be a thing in 13th Age. So delve into those used module bins, and escalate without fear.


13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

They were a chance assembly of people who all happened to have some curious story current in their own family or neighbourhood which had puzzled them, and deserved (as they conceived) further investigation. Each had supposed that his own particular problem was a unique one, and was surprised when he found someone else with a similar or parallel story. It was the discovery that there were so many such tales abroad, far more than anyone had expected, which induced the original founders of the society to form themselves into a club for the investigation and testing of alleged manifestations of the supernatural.

— Sir Charles Oman, “The Old Oxford Phasmatological Society,” JSoc.Psych.Res. 33:622-23 (March-April, 1946)

In his ghost story “The Mezzotint,” M.R. James mentions “the Phasmatological Society” in passing. Often dismissed by Jamesian scholars as another of the master’s fertile inventions, this real ghost-investigating group was founded at Oxford University around 1874 (Oman recalls the date as October 29, 1879, but other sources differ). It continued operating at least until 1886, at some point establishing a chapter in London. The Society appeared in the London Truth as late as 1894; its members included the military historian Sir Charles Oman, Lord Haldane, the Bishop of Gloucester, and other eventually eminent personages.

The phasmatologist at work

They were less eminent as Oxford undergraduates, of course, though still quite well connected. The player characters might be such dilettante investigators, following up on the kind of tales James’ narrators recount as having safely occurred in earlier days or on queer stories that happen to their own peers or dons. The real Phasmatological Society took testimony from ghost witnesses and other paranormal experiencers, and then investigated the reports. Player character Society members might even investigate earlier James stories themselves, letting the GM invent sequels to the various horrors, or follow up on clues left by their great forefather the clergyman, philosopher, and ghost-breaker Joseph Glanvil (1636-1680). Like James’ protagonists, they encounter treasure hunts, cryptograms, mazes, and other puzzles with the clues hidden in church architecture or manor house bookshelves.

Jamesian adventures can take place entirely in the Victorian milieu of the original Phasmatological Society, of course, or in James’ own Edwardian era. A revived (or covertly continued) Society might investigate ghosts in the Trail of Cthulhu 1930s; its antiquarian membership makes ideal foils, marks, or clients for the Bookhounds of London. A swinging ’60s mod-occultist scene follows the guru and impresario “Chorazin” in London and San Francisco (FoDG, p. 304), and a modernized Society could emerge in Soho, Chelsea, or Berkeley to investigate the phasmatic wreckage in his wake. (Use the Activist or Scholar backgrounds; FoDG, p. 044.) The modern-day Phasmatological Society makes an ideal framing device for Fear Itself adventures or a cover group for an Ordo Veritatis “station-watch” squad hunting Esoterrorists.

A Pleasingly Random Ghost

Jamesian ghosts, while nicely tailored to their individual stories, don’t have any determinable order or logic to their abilities. In GUMSHOE mechanical terms, they have one to three Abilities: Aberrance (for all ghosts), Health, and and Scuffling (the last two for material, materialized, and possessing ghosts). All ghosts can spend Aberrance for minor effects such as cold spots, poltergeist activity, weird noises, and so forth; such effects cause damage or other mechanical effects, if any, equal to the spend.

Their ratings depend on their power, which is measured in dice. Most Jamesian entities have two dice in each Ability; minor ghosts have only one die in each Ability; major specters such as Count Magnus have three or even four dice in each. Each time the ghost appears, roll its dice in each Ability; the total is the pool it has available for that night. All Abilities fully refresh each sunset unless the ghost is exorcised or otherwise destroyed (usually by burning its remains).

Roll the ghost’s highest dice pool, take the highest two dice rolled, and divide the total result among its Alertness, Stealth, and Stability Loss bonuses. (Jamesian ghosts deal heavy Stability Loss penalties, as a rule.) For one-die ghosts, roll one die, add +1, and divide the result as above.

Roll one die on one Power table for each die in the ghost’s abilities. The number after the Power name is its Aberrance cost to use. A one-die entirely immaterial (Aberrance-only) ghost probably only rolls on the Oppressive Powers table, but the GM might pick a suitable power from one of the other tables if desired. Ghosts with any dice in Health or Scuffling can automatically materialize once in a scene for 2 points of Aberrance, even without the Materialize power. Those ghosts also roll one die and split the result between attack damage bonus (default is +0) and defense bonuses while material (expressed as minuses to damage). Materialized ghosts almost always have the Corpse quality (damage halved, shotguns do 2 pts, firearms do 1 pt).

Combat Powers

1  Disgusting Touch (2): foe must make a 6-point Stability (Difficulty 5) test to touch or when touched by the being during the scene

2  Disquieting Touch (1): attack using Scuffling, damage (+0) comes off Stability

3  Foetor (0): Forces a 5-point Health test (Difficulty 5) in close combat

4  Freezing Terror (1): attack using Aberrance, damage (d+0) comes off Stability

5  Grapple (2): forces test of its Aberrance or Scuffling vs. foe’s Athletics or Scuffling; if foe fails, foe cannot escape for a number of rounds equal to margin of success and their Hit Threshold drops to 2

6  Materialize (2): may materialize to make physical attacks (damage comes off Health) with Scuffling, spend 2 again to dematerialize into foul vapor immune to material attacks

Movement Powers

1  Abduction (2): may carry (or Apport, if it also has that power) an unconscious or Grappled victim to one pre-ordained place (usually its grave)

2  Apportation (1): may teleport to its own death site, gravesite, image, and/or name

3  Familiar (1): may appear as, or operate through, a rough beast such as a cat, owl, rat, spider, or similar creature

4  Follow Victim (1): automatically follows target; spend only required when victim changes conveyance or significant direction

5  Inhabit Matter (2): may possess and animate organic matter such as linen sheets, wood carvings, trees and vines, corpses, etc. with a Health pool either equal to the ghost’s Health or to 1d per point of Aberrance spent

6  Spider Climb (1): can climb up walls (if ghost is immaterial, applies to inhabited matter, familiars, or ghost in materialized form)

Oppressive Powers

1  Confusion (2): on a failed Stability test, target is dazed or struck forgetful

2  Create Darkness (1-3): increases Difficulty of visual tests (including Hit Thresholds) in the area by amount spent; spend of 3 further increases Difficulty of all Stability tests by +1

3  Desolate Cry (1): triggers 3-point Stability test in hearers

4  Oppression (1): lowers victim’s Stability pool by 1, cannot be refreshed by normal rest, usable once per week

5  Send Nightmare (1): triggers 4-point Stability test in one victim

6  Terrifying (2): +2 to Difficulty of Stability tests

 

“[S]ome day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall … go mad from the revelation …” — H.P. Lovecraft

“Total paranoia is total consciousness.” — Charles Manson

Like a certain recent Quentin Tarantino movie, The Fall of DELTA GREEN juxtaposes the romance of the Sixties with their deeper horrors, very much including spree killings along with the various institutional heinousness of the era. Like all horror, both Tarantino’s film and Fall of DELTA GREEN perhaps perform a certain exorcistic function, allowing us to confront the real world through a ludic lens and ritually or fictively rectify some wrongs. By the way, if you haven’t seen Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood yet, it provides a lyrical time capsule to the Los Angeles of 1969 that Handlers and players should slurp up like one of Rick Dalton’s margaritas. Its Spahn Ranch scene, meanwhile, may be the best short horror film inside a larger film since The Devil’s Backbone, and should give Handlers lots of ideas for cults and cultists. This column offers only the mildest of spoilers.

Cultists. Robes not included.

So how do we use Charles Manson in a Fall of DELTA GREEN game? Before we answer that question, let’s ask the question before that: “Should we use Charles Manson in a Fall of DELTA GREEN game?” That, of course, is up to you and your players to judge: whether the murders of nine people happened too recently (or remain too memorious) to have become history instead of tragedy. If so, then replace Charles Manson with some fictitious cult leader: Louis Maddox, let’s say. Growing up poor and abused in rural Massachusetts, “Louie” drifts in and out of prison, where he encounters the Church of Interlife (FoDG, p. 302) or the True Love Study Group (FoDG, p. 305) and gets turned on to the Unnatural. (Another possibility: Maddox is one of the Annealed (FoDG, p. 302), the child of Kathleen Bishop, a witness to the 1928 “Dunwich Horror” incident, who raises her son to listen for the noises under the hills and the sound of whippoorwills.) He uses Liao instead of LSD, perhaps, to brainwash his murderous Flock. Stumbling on Maddox’ “little birds” soliciting and begging in the streets of whatever warm city the campaign visits regularly slowly leads the Agents to investigate him. Just as happened with Manson, when the authorities (in this case, the PCs) close in, Maddox goes apocalyptic and sends his Flock on a killing spree.

The trouble with using “Maddox” or the equivalent is that you don’t get the immediate ludic charge of the demonic true name, while still leaving yourself open to accusations of gamifying a real-life murder. At some point, however, gamifying murder sort of goes with the horror-mystery territory. Fall of DELTA GREEN, and the Delta Green universe in general, already make use of a lot of specific horrible things in the real world from the quotidian cruelties of MK-ULTRA to the mass-scale horrors of the Vietnam War. If we can fictively re-direct USAF napalm strikes, I would argue that we can fictively or ludically treat a murder cult that, as it happens, seems to spring straight out of Lovecraft’s nightmares: “laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and reveling in joy.”

One advantage of using “Maddox” or the equivalent is that you get to move the murders around from their inconveniently late date (August 1969) to suit your campaign. Another advantage is that you can make up a bunch of wild stuff about “Maddox” — although plenty of people have done the same about Charles Manson, as it turns out, starting perhaps with the prosecuting attorney who put him away for seven murders he didn’t actually commit himself. Vincent Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” theory of Manson’s motivation makes a superb Lovecraftian plot: a work of art (White Album, King in Yellow, six of one …) initiated Manson into a secret understanding of the world. Once enlightened with the aid of drugs and occultism, Manson plotted to release his own poisonous artwork, trigger an apocalyptic race war, and emerge in the new aeon as its ruler. Lots of people, from the Family on down, have described this as a prosecutorial fantasia.

But it gets wilder still. In the “weird stuff” part of Fall of DELTA GREEN‘s Sources section, I recommend two works, Sinister Forces by Peter Levenda and Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon by David McGowan, which both confidently assert (among other things) that Manson was the creation (accidental or intentional) of the CIA via its various mind control projects. (I personally tend to doubt this theory, not least because if the CIA had programmed Manson, they would surely have sent him to Roger Vadim’s house, not Roman Polanski’s.) Comes now investigative journalist Tom O’Neill, whose new book CHAOS makes the same argument in a slightly less unhinged tone. O’Neill turns up a dubious character named Reeve Whitson in Polanski’s orbit and hints he’s CIA; he notes that former MK-ULTRA psychiatrist Louis Jolyon West worked at the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic while Manson hung around there in 1967. Levenda, characteristically, brings in former OSS psych-warrior Hans Habe, the father of the murdered Marina Habe who some have called another Manson Family victim, and also notes that the Beach Boys recorded a Manson song on the B-side of “Bluebirds Over the Mountain,” a clear reference (if you’re Peter Levenda anyway) to the MK-ULTRA precursor Project BLUEBIRD. So is Manson, or “Maddox,” an accidentally-Annealed MAJESTIC killer?

Or is he serving Something Else? Levenda, nothing loth, recounts Manson’s youth in Ashland, Kentucky, in the shadow of the ancient Adena mounds around and under that town. Do we detect the psychic hand of K’n-Yan, or a Serpent Folk fledgling? Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski both made movies involving Satanism, and the hippie-magician crowd they ran with included plenty of Children of Chorazin (FoDG, p. 304) types. Manson’s Family had its own satanic survivors, from Susan Atkins (former Anton LaVey dancer) to Bobby Beausoleil (star of Crowleyite filmmaker Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising). Lurid tabloid reports at the time morphed into sensationalistic works such as hippie bard Ed Sherman’s The Family and investigative journalist Maury Terry’s Ultimate Evil, which both fingered the Satanic-Gnostic Process Church as part of Manson’s process. Terry’s book further tied Manson to the Son of Sam case and the Mafia (or the Fate? (FoDG, p. 288)) and eventually a vast cult network that more resembles the Cult of Transcendence (FoDG, p. 298) than anything in the real world. Such total paranoia has no place in the real world, of course. We must relegate it for our own sanity to a game we play, a tale we tell ourselves that begins “Once upon a time … ”


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.

Rung Sat swampThe upcoming Borellus Connection is a gigantic, titanic, cyclopean campaign for Fall of DELTA GREEN. It’s so huge, in fact, that it could not (in its original form) be contained by any binding ritual that could be worked by our printers. It was just huge. Therefore, we’ve a got a wealth of cut material from the campaign that we’ll be presenting as Page XX articles in the months to come. As a taster, here’s a write-up of hazards from the swamps of Vietnam and Ken’s Operation ALONSO, where the Agents are sent to investigate the remnants of the Cthulhu cult that might be lurking in the Rung Sat…

Handlers may not feel the Rung Sat deadly enough with just the provided Encounters, or may wish to throw something more in for flavor or tension-building. Alternatively, Agents who operate carelessly (or roll a natural 1 on an Athletics or Stealth test, making noise and waves) may invite dramatic retribution.

Cobra

Abilities:Athletics 7, Fighting 9, Health 4

Hit Threshold:4 (quick)

Stealth Modifier:+2

Weapon:strike (Diff 6 Health test; minor:d+2, Hurt; major: L2; -2 Health and -1 Athletics every hour)

Armor:none

Deadly Strike:A cobra automatically spends 3 points of Fighting (if available) when it strikes.

Crocodile

Agents encounter d+2 crocodiles at a time.

Abilities:Athletics 8, Fighting 17, Health 13

Hit Threshold:4

Alertness Modifier:+0 (+1 for splashing targets)

Stealth Modifier:+1 (+2 mostly submerged)

Weapon:bite (d+4), tail swipe (d+2 to a foe in the rear, can be combined with another attack)

Armor:-5 vs any (thick scaly hide)

Aquatic:Crocodiles have contest advantage (FoDG,p. 086) in the water.

Primal Horror:Being attacked by a crocodile triggers a 4-point Stability test (Violence).

Flies

A swarm of flies (or other insects) cannot be effectively hit. As long as targets remain inside the cloud, each person suffers d-3 damage per round. In the normal course of things, a cloud of flies is only d-1 rounds “wide.” (Use this same damage for red ant bites, but ants only spend one round on a victim unless he’s tied down.)

Being inside a swarm of angry insects triggers a 3-point Stability (Helplessness) test; those who fail must attempt to leave the cloud, throwing down heavy equipment or leaving the trail to do so.

Flame weapons (white phosphorus grenades, flamethrowers) can briefly damage or disperse a cloud of flies. Only chemical fog permanently disperses an insect swarm.

Scorpion

Among other hideous things, the Rung Sat houses the giant forest scorpion. Any good hit on one of these six-inch monsters (Hit Threshold 3) kills it, but if the Agent fails a Sense Trouble test (Difficulty 5, or 4 if the Agent has Survival) it stings first.

Onset:d-2 hours (minimum 5 minutes); Health test Difficulty:4; Minor: d-1; Severe:Hurt (paralyzed), d+2 to both Health and Athletics

Sucking Mud

A layer of mud covers a sinkhole or fumarole, producing a sucking vacuum when an Agent steps through it. It takes a Difficulty 6 Sense Trouble to notice the slight depression in the middle of the mud flat (Difficulty 5 with Survival).

Anyone who fails becomes stuck in the mud, sinking rapidly as the low pressure below sucks him under. It requires an Athletics test (Difficulty 3) to avoid going under; +3 Difficulty to escape entirely. Reduce the Difficulty by -1 if they have a rope to cling to or climb up. Each round, the Difficulty increases by 1. Someone stuck in the mud can Cooperate on this test, but only with someone on firmer ground – and on a failed 1, both go into the mud.

Someone who goes under the mud begins drowning immediately, losing d+3 Athletics and Health (divided however they like) each round from inhaling mud.

VC Booby Trap

Punji stake traps (FoDG,p. 140) don’t work without soil to dig in, although the VC might booby trap a seemingly solid section of ground that way.

In the Rung Sat, the guerrillas prefer grenade traps triggered by tripwires around trees or in the shallow water near their bases. Spotting a tripwire requires a test of Conceal or Demolitions (Difficulty 4) or Sense Trouble (Difficulty 5). Not spotting a tripwire triggers a grenade (L1*). Disarming it takes a quick snip of the wire (Mechanics Difficulty 3 or Demolitions Difficulty 2); stepping over it just takes a round of otherwise undistracted movement.

“Fly the ocean in a silver plane
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain
Just remember till you’re home again
You belong to me.
I’ll be so alone without you
Maybe you’ll be lonesome too, and blue.”

— Jo Stafford, “You Belong to Me” (1963 cover version)

In March 1952, U.S. Air Force General Charles P. Cabell established Project BLUE BOOK, tasking its commander Captain Edward J. Ruppelt with investigation of the UFO phenomenon. BLUE BOOK was meant to collate, investigate, and analyze UFO sightings and encounters, but not to theorize about the nature or origin of the UFOs themselves. In February 1953, the USAF issued AF Regulation 200-2: USAF personnel may only discuss UFO cases if they have been resolved; unresolved cases receive a Classified security rating.

Your Agent team. (Before the burning.)

General Nathan Twining (commander of Air Materiel Command during the Roswell crash; Air Force Chief of Staff 1953-1957; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1957-1960) removed unsolved UFO cases with a higher potential classification (those with national security implications or touching on intelligence operations) from BLUE BOOK entirely, to the 4602nd Air Intelligence Squadron — a.k.a. Project MOON DUST, which is to say, MAJESTIC-12. (After some bureaucratic convolutions, the 4602nd AISS becomes the 1127th Field Activities Group in 1960.) Twining thus de-fanged BLUE BOOK almost before it got started, reducing it to a mere public relations office.

Or did he? If Twining was in fact on the DELTA GREEN ExComm (FoDG, p. 164) he may have run a double bluff. BLUE BOOK still gets huge tranches of UFO data, including the first reports of cases transferred to MOON DUST. Not even MAJESTIC knows which UFO reports might turn out to be Unnatural cases, so BLUE BOOK often has a 24- or even 48-hour jump on them. Although infiltrating program assets into MOON DUST itself remains very risky, MAJESTIC depends on the Air Force and its Foreign Technology Division (FTD) to support its operations — and DELTA GREEN can still get agents into the MOON DUST support system. MOON DUST itself falls under ACS/I (Air Force Assistant Chief of Staff/Intelligence); use AFOSI Investigators (FoDG, p. 030) for program Agents in ACS/I. The program (and the Handler) can easily second FTD assets to BLUE BOOK work, either as a contrived punishment or in response to angry accusations of UFO coverups.

BLUE BOOK operates under the remit of the FTD, based out of Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio. The BLUE BOOK staff remains relatively small (roughly the size of the player group, as it happens), although every Air Force base has a designated BLUE BOOK officer to channel reports and to liaise with analysts and investigators.

Project BLUE BOOK Directors in the 1960s:

1958 – August 1963, Maj. Robert J. Friend
August 1963 – 1970, Maj. Hector Quintanilla

Foreign Technology Division

The U.S. Army began analyzing captured German aeronautical technology at Wright Field in 1917, and the USAAF did likewise in the Second World War, most notably perhaps the T-2 team at Wright Field that reverse-engineered a V-2 from crashed parts. Starting in 1944, Colonel Harold Watson headed units tasked to capture, salvage, or hunt down German aircraft and other items on the “Black List.” Even before V-E Day, Watson’s teams accelerated their efforts in Operation LUSTY, seizing prototypes and recruiting German engineers. Eventually LUSTY brought 16,000+ pieces, 200 scientists, and 1,500 tons of documents back to Wright Field; in 1951 under Watson’s general command, that collection became the core of the Air Technical Intelligence Center at the newly expanded Wright-Patterson AFB. Following the 1961 reorganization of military intelligence efforts that produced the DIA, the ATIC moved under the Air Force Systems Command as the Foreign Technology Division.

The mission of the FTD, and ATIC before it, is to obtain, assess, and analyze intelligence on foreign aircraft performance and technology. This incorporates traditional intelligence analysis, especially of aerial and satellite IMINT, as well as evaluation of foreign aircraft in flight tests at Wright-Patterson and (after 1962) at the Tonopah Test Range Airfield in Nevada. Beginning in 1968, FTD takes part in the HAVE DOUGHNUT MiG combat tests at Area 51. Needless to say, DELTA GREEN salivates at the possibility of inserting its agents into MAJESTIC turf like Area 51 on a “legitimate” basis. In addition to the main command at Wright-Patterson, FTD detachments operate from Edwards AFB in California, Ft. Belvoir VA, USAF HQ Europe (Wiesbaden), Yokota AB in Japan, and Buckley AFB in Colorado.

FTD Commanding Officers in the 1960s:

February 1961 – July 1964, Brig. Gen. Arthur J. Pierce
July 1964 – August 1966, Brig. Gen. Arthur W. Cruikshank, Jr.
August 1966 – November 1968, Col. Raymond S. Sleeper
November 1968 – July 1974, Col. George R. Weinbrenner

BLUE BOOK Investigator

11 Investigative, 18 General

You are a serving Air Force officer, but need not be on Active Duty. You can take either Pilot (FoDG, p. 027) or Soldier (FoDG, p. 028) as your previous Military Service template. Your Psychotherapy ability derives from your extraordinarily calming presence, useful when dealing with flying saucer cranks or suspicious MOON DUST officers.

Astronomy 1, Data Retrieval 1, Fringe Science 1, Reassurance 2

Bureaucracy 3, Psychotherapy 3

Pick Six Investigative: Agency 1, Cop Talk 1, Cryptography 1, Fringe Science 1*, HUMINT 1, Intimidation 1, Military Science 1, Notice 1, Photography 1, Physics 1, Reassurance 1*, SIGINT 1

Pick Four General: Bureaucracy 3*, Conceal 3, Pilot 3, Preparedness 3, Psychotherapy 3*, Sense Trouble 3, Stability 3, Stealth 3

FTD Analyst

10 Investigative, 16 General

Agency 1, Data Retrieval 1, Foreign Language (Russian) 1, Physics 1

Bureaucracy 2, Demolitions 2

Pick Six Investigative: Astronomy 1, Chemistry 1, Cryptography 1, Data Retrieval 1*, Foreign Language 1*, Fringe Science 1, HUMINT 1, Military Science 1, Photography 1, Physics 1*, Reassurance 1, SIGINT 1, Traffic Analysis 1

Pick Three General: Bureaucracy 4, Conceal 4, Demolitions 4*, Heavy Weapons 4, Mechanics 4, Pilot 4, Preparedness 4, Sense Trouble 4, Stability 4

FTD Recovery Specialist

You deploy anywhere in the world to recover crashed aircraft or aircrew, especially those hostile to the United States. Sometimes, you must investigate — or negotiate — to determine exactly what crashed, and where. You can use this template for DELTA GREEN Agents embedded in MOON DUST’s recovery program BLUE FLY, if you don’t mind a high-stakes campaign where exposure means “died in a training crash.”

Prerequisite: You must be on Active Duty with the USAF, but may use either Pilot or Soldier as your base template.

10 Investigative, 20 General

Agency 1, Chemistry 1, Foreign Language 1, Notice 2, Photography 1

Demolitions 3, Drive 3, Filch 3, Mechanics 3

Pick Four Investigative: Agency 1*, Anthropology 1, Astronomy 1, Chemistry 1*, Cryptography 1, Foreign Language 1*, Fringe Science 1, HUMINT 1, Interrogation 1, Intimidation 1, Negotiation 1, Notice 1*, Photography 1*, Physics 1, SIGINT 1, Survival 1, Tradecraft 1

Pick Two General: Athletics 4, Conceal 4, Demolitions 4*, Drive 4*, Firearms 4, Heavy Weapons 4, Mechanics 4*, Ride 4

FTD Test Pilot

With minimal tweaking, this template works for test pilots in other departments such as ARPA, CIA OSI, and NASA.

Prerequisite: Pilot template for your Military Service. You must be Active Duty.

8 Investigative, 31 General

Astronomy 1, Inspiration 1, Physics 1, SIGINT 1

Athletics 2, Health 3, Heavy Weapons 3, Pilot 3, Sense Trouble 4, Stability 4

Pick Four Investigative: Foreign Language 1, Fringe Science 1, Inspiration 1*, Military Science 1, Photography 1, SIGINT 1*, Survival 1

Pick Three General: Athletics 4*, Drive 4, First Aid 4, Health 4*, Heavy Weapons 4*, Mechanics 4, Pilot 4*, Sanity 4, Sense Trouble 4*, Stability 4*, Unarmed Combat 4


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.

Last month we began our perilous exploration of that darkest of all Fall of DELTA GREEN labyrinths: the Federal bureaucracy. More specifically, and contra JFK, we explored what that bureaucracy could do for you — or for your Agent, as he deploys his Bureaucracy ability  in the course of the campaign. (See our previous installment for the standard Difficulties and disclaimers.) We’ve covered everything from Aircraft Access (you have a plane!) to Laboratory Testing (we found out what was in your plane!); this month, we press ever deeper in.

No sir, this spawn is far from form-less

Legal Pressure

When you’re sniffing around a cult leader or dodgy laboratory, this lets you open up a diversion — or even a second front — by putting other government hounds on their trail. This might take the form of an FBI loyalty check, an IRS audit, an FBN raid, an internal affairs investigation or squeeze on their government support, or anything else suggested by your warrantless search and inadmissible nightmare visions. (Just calling the local cops or arranging a roadblock is more in the Cop Talk bailiwick.) Even more than most of these string-pulling maneuvers, this can backfire. Trying to law-bully a MAJESTIC contractor, for example, likely triggers counter-pressure in the form of heavy GMC Bureaucracy shots aimed at the Agents and their ostensible superiors, which upsets DELTA GREEN very much. Response to clear evidence of criminality or treason: FBI, FBN, Customs, US Marshals (Diff 4); Justice Department, Treasury (Diff 5); AFOSI, DIA, ONI, CIA DPlans Counterintelligence Staff, other military or natsec internal security (Diff 4 for military/natsec targets; Diff 6 to tip off civilian authorities); other USG (Diff 6). Simple harassment or fishing expedition: FBI, FBN, Justice Department (Diff 5 for your own agency, Diff 7 for another agency such as the IRS or Customs); Treasury, U.S. Marshals (Diff 6); other USG (Diff 7+). Re-open a closed investigation: +2 to regular Difficulties.

MAJESTIC Access

Agents may want to enter MAJESTIC facilities, read reports, interview witnesses, and so forth in the course of their investigations. MAJESTIC doesn’t want them to, but we’re all still on the same team, right? Right? Each MAJESTIC Project has a “patron agency”: MJ-1 operates under the NSA, MJ-2 under State, MJ-3 under the NRO, and so on (FoDG, pp. 167-173). Working within (or through) those departments can open some doors, narrowly and briefly, for DELTA GREEN investigators. Access can be divided into three sorts: one-time access, white-badge (MAJESTIC) clearance, and black-badge (MAJIC) clearance. Most DELTA GREEN missions only require one-time access to “outer” MAJESTIC sub-projects, personnel, or materiel: you get badged in, escorted around by security, ask your questions or read your folder, touch the meteorite or look through the lens, and leave. One-time access: Relevant MJ patron agency (Diff 6); USAF, AEC, CIA (Diff 7); other MJ patron agency (Diff 8). Agents need white-badge clearance to even get supervised, temporary access to “inner” MAJESTIC sanctums like Area 51 or MOON DUST hangars. Temporary white-badge clearance: Relevant MJ patron agency (Diff 8); USAF, AEC, CIA (Diff 9); other MJ patron agency (Diff 10). Black-badge clearance looks behind the curtain; MJ-3 doesn’t grant it often. Temporary black-badge clearance: Relevant MJ patron agency (Diff 10); USAF, AEC, CIA (Diff 11); other MJ patron agency (Diff 12).

Military Transport

The U.S. military ships millions of men and billions of tons of materiel all over the Free World, and then some. Your Agents can hitch a ride on a truck convoy, fly in the belly of a C-130, or stage from a Coast Guard cutter. Point-to-point within the US: Military, USAIC, DIA, AFOSI, ONI, Defense Dept, NASA, NSA, ARPA, AEC, NRO, CDC (Diff 4); CIA (Diff 6); other USG (Diff 7). FBI, FBN, US Marshals, and other law-enforcement generally fly commercial and use agency motorpools; Diff 4 or 5 for regular travel, Diff 6 to get a military transport anyhow. From the US to a foreign destination: all +1 Diff except CIA (Diff 5; DPlans Diff 4) and State Dept (Diff 5). Foreign origin-US destination: all +2 Diff. Use the same Difficulties to just ship cargo. Add at least +2 Diff if a special mission has to be planned to accommodate you (search from a carrier, ride on a submarine, parachute drop, etc.).

NCIC

In 1967, the FBI launches the National Crime Information Center. This computerized database contains over 350,000 records of stolen vehicles and license plates, stolen or missing guns, and wanted, fugitive, or missing persons; all linked by teletype to state FBI offices and state police and investigative bodies. Accessing a record: FBI, US Marshal, FBN, Justice Dept (Diff 4); Customs, ONI, AFOSI, DIA (Diff 5); other USG (Diff 6). Deleting or altering a record requires FBI access and is at least Diff 9.

Project Jacket

Provides at least the high-level summary of a given project, its funding, end user, personnel etc. Sometimes you can back into a project jacket (or at least discover its existence) by researching seemingly innocuous government programs (cover programs, or programs with overlapping personnel or facilities) or facilities. Difficulties depend on project classification. Unclassified: Originating agency, Library of Congress (Diff 4); other USG (Diff 5). Sensitive: +1 Diff except CIA, ARPA, NSA (Diff 5). Confidential: +2 Diff except CIA, NSA, ARPA (tech projects only), DIA (military projects only) (Diff 6). Secret: +3 Diff except CIA, NSA, ARPA (tech projects only), DIA (military projects only) (Diff 7). Top Secret or code-word clearance: Requires specific action and investigation by Agents, as passive Bureaucracy can only turn up overlapping jackets and even that at +4 Diff.

Quarantine

Worried about unnatural contamination? Want to seal off a UFO crash site? Declare a quarantine, or a restricted zone! This requires some kind of trigger: lights in the sky or mysterious deaths might already be happening, of course! AEC, CDC (Diff 5); NASA, ARPA (Diff 6); USAF, FBI (Diff 7). Add +2 Diff and re-test for each 12 hours of quarantine; if the population or area sealed off is large, that adds another +2 Diff at least. Quarantine a block of Brooklyn or a hundred miles of interstate, you’ll get phone calls from your boss.

Spy Plane

Getting access to imagery or other intelligence product from an existing mission is easier than re-tasking a whole flight (+4 Diff or higher). RB-57F “weather” reconnaissance flight product: AEC (domestic, Diff 6); CIA PAD or SOD (overseas, Diff 6); CIA OSI (Diff 6); Defense Dept, DIA, NRO, CIA, ONI (Diff 7). SR-71 Blackbird strategic reconnaissance product (after 1964): NRO, USAF (Diff 6); CIA DInt, Defense Dept (Diff 7). U-2 spy plane product: CIA DInt (Diff 6); CIA, NRO, NSA, USAF (Diff 7). Spy satellite product: NRO, CIA OSI (Diff 6); NASA, AEC (Diff 7). Re-tasking a satellite takes at least +8 Diff, and requires weeks and likely a continuing challenge (FoDG, p. 082).

Surveillance

“Don’t we have guys who can watch the cult compound?” Indeed you do, my fine Federal friend. DELTA GREEN doesn’t like having outside eyes on the unnatural, but it’s better than nobody’s eyes on it. With plausible cover, supervisory (or advisory) Agents can task small non-player teams to follow targets or watch a structure, but not to interfere or interact. Domestic: USAIC, FBI, FBN (Diff 6); US Marshals (Diff 7); Overseas: CIA, DIA (Diff 6). Re-test every 24 hours. Wiretapping a suspect requires a court order, except when it doesn’t: FBI, NSA, CIA Division D (Diff 7).

Translation

Don’t ask some poor GS-5 to translate the al-Azif. It won’t end well, for you or her. But cult scriptures, witness testimony, and garbled wiretaps all yield their bounty to the linguistically qualified. Older, more obscure languages and dialects add to the Difficulty of course. Library of Congress (Diff 4); State Dept (Diff 5); CIA, DIA, NSA (Diff 6); FBI (Diff 7).


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.

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.

“My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.”

— “The Rifleman’s Creed,” as quoted in Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 1987)

Spy stories, war stories, and horror stories: The Fall of DELTA GREEN contains all of them. And all of them contain, encompass, even (ahem) fetishize weapons. While every player knows that bringing a gun to a tentacle fight may not always be the best idea, every player in their secret heart of hearts thinks to themselves, “But what if I brought a better gun to a tentacle fight?”

Herewith a few of those better guns, guns emblematic of the decade or just too cool to ignore. I weep at giving short shrift to the standard Communist bloc small arms (the Kalashnikov AKM 7.62mm assault rifle (d+0; L1 on full auto) and the Makarov PM 9mm pistol (d+1)), bypassing the fun Czechoslovak “Skorpion” SA Vz. 61 7.65mm submachine pistol (d+0; L1 on full auto but only at Close range unless fired from the shoulder with stock attached and extended), and avoiding the temptation to gun-neepery about the 1962 re-vamp of the venerable FN Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol (d+1).

I’m less busted up at ignoring the ridiculous GyroJet 13mm rocket pistol (d+0 Point-Blank and Close, d+1 Near and Long, no Point-Blank damage bonus, natural 1 an automatic miss) despite its appearance in You Only Live Twice. If the finicky Stoner 63A 5.56mm LMG (L1* on a bipod mount) actually had any advantages besides being convertible to an assault rifle or carbine (30-round box magazine, d+0, L1 fully auto) I could convince myself to write it up. The Navy SEALs liked it a lot and carried it for 20 years after first deploying with it in 1967, which I suspect comes down to its 150-round drum magazine and low weight compared to the M60. DELTA GREEN probably has some use for a 10-pound assault rifle that can become a light machine gun in less than a minute (Mechanics test Difficulty 4, Diff 3 with Firearms or Heavy Weapons).

The gun writeups I did get to here include their potentially applicable “Gun Cherries” (Double Tap, pp. 74-75), any special rules to more closely model their action, and even a clue that Agents can plink with the relevant Investigative Ability.

AAI QSPR Tunnel Weapon .44 Magnum pistol

Do you feel lucky, Pickman?

For the extremely close-quarters fighting in the Viet Cong tunnels, “tunnel rats” needed a weapon that was silent (in a tunnel, echoing gun blasts deafened shooters and warned foes), deadly, and most of all easy to draw and fire in close quarters. Silencers made guns longer and clumsier, and a kludged-together .38 Special with an aiming light and suppressor (part of the 1966 LWL “tunnel kit”) was hard to draw, misaligned, and still too loud.

In 1969, Aircraft Armaments, Inc. (AAI) came up with something different. The Quiet Special Purpose Revolver (QSPR) milled a .44 Smith & Wesson Magnum revolver down and sawed off the barrel, for less bulk. Instead of a normal bullet, the gun fired a plastic-cased buckshot shell, using a “captured piston” system that essentially launched the shell at the enemy. Effective range was only 25 feet, but in the tunnels, that was enough. The piston system sealed off the gases, so the gun fired with no more noise or muzzle blast than a cap pistol. The tunnel rats didn’t trust another experimental gun, but the Rangers loved it for covert action and night ambushes. Only 100 QSPRs were ever made — unless DELTA GREEN ordered up a few hundred for anti-ghoul action and other night fights.

The QSPR does d+1 damage and cannot reach beyond Close range. Given its much lower stopping power compared to regular bullets, all Armor adds 2 points (-1 Armor becomes -3 Armor) against it at any range (not just at Close range as with regular shotguns). Treat QSPR shots as silencer shots (FoDG, p. 141), but foes without a positive Alertness Modifier get no bonus to hear them. Possible Gun Cherries: Handy, Smooth Action.

Carl Gustav “Swedish K” Kulsprutepistole m/45 9mm SMG

Sanitized sanitizer

This Swedish submachine gun dates from 1944 and features a simple, hardy steel-frame design. Low cyclic rate means low recoil, and even though it technically only fires full auto, squeezing off a one-round “burst” is easy for even new users. Its 36-round magazine has a slight trapezoid outline, making for a secure fit and smoother feed for ammo in filthy field conditions — Swedish and Irish troops used it in the Congo, and the Egyptian and Algerian governments licensed it for desert operations. A folding wire stock made it relatively compact (21 inches long) while still packing lots of firepower.

The Navy SEALs and the CIA loved the “Swedish K,” which could fire immediately after being submerged in water, and easily out-performed the balky early M16 models. The CIA even manufactured a variant with an internal sound suppressor for covert operations, and (Tradecraft) literally filed the serial numbers off (“sanitized”) whole shipments of “K-rifles” for CIA operators, MACV-SOG troops, and guerrilla armies around the world. This kind of behavior gets Sweden to embargo shipment of the m/45 to the U.S. in 1966, so the Navy hires Smith & Wesson to build a knockoff, the M76. (The CIA probably just starts buying them second-hand from Indonesia, which also licensed the weapon.)

The Swedish K does d+1 damage (L1 on full auto, roll of 1 fires on full auto regardless of your intent). CIA variants with the internal suppressor count as silenced (FoDG, p. 141). Possible Gun Cherries: Handy, Rugged Reliability, Smooth Action.

GE M134 “Minigun” 7.62mm LMG

Not on MY doorstep

To provide helicopters with more reliable (and heavier) firepower to cover landings and takeoffs, the Army tasked General Electric to scale down the Vulcan 20mm Gatling cannon to fire 7.62mm NATO machine gun ammo. This smaller, lighter six-rotating-barrel electric-powered gun (nicknamed the “Minigun”) enters the field in 1963 on helicopter door mounts and weapons pods. The standard mount comes with a self-contained 1,500-round magazine, but with a delinker (Mechanics test Diff 4 or 3 with Heavy Weapons to jury-rig) it can take up to a 5,000-round ammo belt.

Contrary to its later cinematic depiction, a single human cannot carry and fire the M134 simultaneously: not only would the recoil knock him down, the gun requires a power source and attached cable.

The M134 does L1* damage. Electrically powered and mounted, each 1 Heavy Weapons point spent firing it counts as 2 points. It can only be Shot Dry after two unmodified 6 rolls, and does three instances of damage to up to three targets if so. Possible Gun Cherries: BFG, Stopping Power.

 


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.

“’Wait a minute!’ the man hissed. ‘Are you after more books like that? I know where we can get some.’”

— Ramsey Campbell, “Cold Print” (1969)

The 1960s were a great decade for occult books, featuring waves of bestsellers launched by Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels’ million-selling Morning of the Magicians in 1963. Some of those books show up not just on bookstore spinner racks but on DELTA GREEN task sheets — or in the dorm rooms, cult compounds, and forest cabins those task sheets point the Agents to.

The Black Diamond Séance

“A.K. Porlock” (1939; English)

In 1936, thriller writer Dennis Wheatley began writing a series of “murder dossiers” intended as party games. Containing all the clues and handouts needed to solve a murder mystery, the first one sold over 100,000 copies. Rival publishers Sandestin Press rushed out their own “Sensation File” series. This one, the third and last in the “Sensation File” line, contained instructions for holding a séance complete with an “occult ritual” intended to awaken the Black Diamond (a milled shard of obsidian included in a paper packet). Fortunately the War intervened and very few copies sold. The American reprint edition (from Harmonica Publishing) comes out in 1967, riding the booming interest in witchcraft and the occult.

Hypergeometry Potential: Contains one hypergeometric ritual, which awakens a Black Winged One and ties it to a nearby shard of obsidian. Fortunately, the American edition does not include actual obsidian, replacing it with colored glass.

Dedicated Pool Points: 1 for Occult, usable to hold or otherwise interact with a séance.

The Case For the UFO (Varo Press Edition)

Morris K. Jessup and unknown annotators (1957; English)

The pre-Varo edition

Jessup, an auto-parts salesman who studied astronomy in college (M.S., University of Michigan, 1926), wrote The Case For the UFO in 1955. Parties unknown mailed a triply-annotated copy of Jessup’s book to Admiral Frederick R. Furth of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in early 1956. Jessup recognized one of the annotators’ handwriting as that of “Carlos Allende,” a correspondent of his who had described witnessing the Philadelphia Experiment (Project RAINBOW). Captain Sidney Sherby of the ONR had government contractor Varo Press print thirty spiral-bound copies of the annotated volume (displaying each annotator in their own color of ink), including two Allende letters, and gave Jessup four of them. The annotations hint at many things that MAJESTIC does not want mentioned, even in such limited circulation; the fate of the twenty-six ONR copies remains unclear. Jessup died in 1959 in Florida, an apparent suicide by motor exhaust inhalation. Not all of his copies have been recovered.

Unnatural: 1 if the reader has experienced the ultra-violet, time travel, or communion with Yog-Sothoth.

Dedicated Pool Points: 1 for Fringe Science, especially MAJESTIC research into UFOs or Project RAINBOW

Dhol Chants

Unknown authors (c. 200 B.C.; originally Pyu?)

This set of chants supposedly “spoke themselves” as the “yin reaction” to the introduction of Buddhism to Burma in the third century B.C. The structure of the chants themselves indicates a Sino-Tibetan original, probably the extinct Pyu language of central Burma. Commentaries in Burmese date from some time around the Mongol invasion (c. 1300), and ascribe the chants to “men of Linggu.” The eccentric Sinologist Jerome Harkniss translated and edited a complete corpus of Dhol Chants and commentaries in three volumes in 1891-1899.

Unnatural: 2

Hypergeometry Potential: 3 (1 for readers illiterate in Burmese)

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 for investigations involving the plateaus of Leng or Sung.

Marvels of Science

James Morryster (1960; English)

Hasty edition in modern English of Morryster’s 1708 original Marvells of Science, bulked out with more “strange but true” facts from a variety of sources. Many of Morryster’s anecdotes involve devils, reptiles, birth defects, murderers, angels, sea monsters, and magnets. Morryster briefly quotes the Pnakotika when discussing the theory that time and Creation repeat themselves. The credited editor, Lois Gould, provides a lengthy preface siting Morryster in the intellectual disputes of the Royal Society, which mentions the Mathers and Ward Phillips. Originally a doctoral dissertation by Gould, the publisher (Stellar Press) cut the manuscript down and tarted it up with UFO and Bigfoot sightings.

Unnatural: 1 at most

Dedicated Pool Points: 1 for Fringe Science.

Randolph Carter: A Look Behind the Attic Window

Lin Carter (1969; English)

Unimaginative but completist survey of the fiction and poetry of Randolph Carter (1890-1928?), in a paperback original from Ballantine Books with a lurid cover showing ghosts and monsters cavorting across a dreamer’s face. It attempts to explicate and unify Carter’s various imaginary, dream, and theosophist settings and concepts, and includes two chapters of biography including a chapter on his mysterious disappearance in 1928. Contains a “Glossary of Randolph Carter’s Cosmos” listing and defining every place, entity, dimension, and so forth mentioned in his fiction, including several names of Unnatural import.

Unnatural: 1 if the reader has already entered the Dreamlands or otherwise had an Unnatural experience while asleep.

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 for any investigation involving the Dreamlands.

The Tablets of Nhing

Rebecca Aspinwall (1964; English)

This channeled magical text supposedly originates from the planet Yaddith. Rebecca Aspinwall drops out of Tulane Law School on the basis of her contactee experience and self-publishes her book the next year. In 1966 she sells it to Chaplet Books, who retitle it Love Visions of Nhing and, based on her “continuing revelations,” insert much sexier rituals such as “The Joining of Three Souls” and “The Orgy of the Spheres.” Aspinwall lives in Houma, Louisiana, although she often travels to college campuses to incarnate a new group of Joiners of Yaddith and draw reliable condemnation from church groups and anti-obscenity crusaders.

Unnatural: 1

Hypergeometry Potential: 1 (3 for self-published 1964 edition)

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 points for any investigation involving Yaddith, bholes, or Yog-Sothoth; also grants 1 point of HUMINT for New Agers and free-love cultists.

Überreste Verlorener Imperien

Otto Dostmann (1809; German)

Romantic prehistory of the Mediterranean world after the sinking of Atlantis, sporadically treating sites from Scotland to Romania to India wherever Dostmann believes the evidence supports his theories. His arguments range from linguistic and epigraphic oddities to antiquarian finds to folktales and songs. Needless to say, the Ahnenerbe reprinted it in 1940 as a triumph of German scholarship. The only other edition of Dostmann is the Spanish-language Residuos de Imperios Perdidos (Buenos Aires, 1954).

Unnatural: 1

Hypergeometry Potential: 2 (after undergoing a vision at one of the sites mentioned)

Dedicated Pool Points: 2 for Anthropology, Archaeology, History, or Occult involving the relevant region of the world (northern Africa, Europe, western Asia).

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