Sourcebook for Call of Cthulhu
298pp - [sterling]18.99
This book is brilliant. Buy it.
[Is that it? - Ed.]
Well it's true. And I thought the readers would appreciate a simple,
from-the-heart response rather than a longwinded descriptive one.
[And I think the readers would appreciate a new face on the review panel. -
Ahem. Delta Green is Pagan's second foray into campaign
sourcebooks for Call of Cthulhu - the first, Golden Dawn, was
reviewed in Valk 13 and, like Golden Dawn, this latest offering
presents a new perspective on the jaded conceit of a bunch of eccentric
academics being accidentally drawn into the Mythos. Delta Green itself is an
illegal, top secret conspiracy within the US Government to identify and destroy
the supernatural threat to national security. The Feds have been wise to the
Mythos, y'see, ever since the 1928 raid on Innsmouth, which led to
hybrid Deep Ones being held at a maximum security bunker for
experimentation. The PCs are government agents (FBI, CIA, US Customs, Postal
Inspectors, whatever), part of a Delta Green cell combining the resources of
their respective agencies. As federal agents, the PCs have great freedom of
movement, research facilities and certain powers to use force or coercion; on
the other hand they have to be subtle and very very paranoid.
Paranoid because Majestic-12 is out there. Since 1947's "Roswell
Incident" the US Government has been cutting deals with the alien Grays,
and Majestic is a secret conspiracy which covers up the abductions and conducts
research into alien technology; sometimes they bring a new President into the
loop (Reagan and Bush both knew), and sometimes they don't (Clinton doesn't).
Naturally, the Grays aren't all they seem; in fact, the whole crashed-saucer
refugees-from-a-dying-star spiel is a load of hooey and Majestic have fallen
for it hook, line and sinker. I'm not going to reveal which Mythos beasties
are behind the Grays, honest I'm not (does "Yuggoth" mean anything to you?).
Majestic are powerful, armed with immeasurable resources, alien science and
Mythos allies. Be afraid.
After an outline of the Mythos in the 1990s (very apocalyptic, the
stars-are-almost-right) and an excellent history of US
intelligence/law-enforcement, we get big chapters exploring Delta Green
and Majestic-12: what they know, what they can do, what's pulling the
strings and NPC profiles of the top dogs. Plenty of thought has gone into
NPCs' motivations, making this conspiracy theory more engaging than most. A
chapter also goes to SaucerWatch, a civilian organisation which
investigates the UFO sightings and is close to the Truth.
So now you've got your default option for a Delta Green campaign: the
PCs are Government agents (or allied "friendlies") who, in the course of their
duties, stumble upon the Mythos in its 1990s incarnation; recruited into a
Delta Green cell, they peel away the layers of lies and misdirection,
discovering that their greatest threat is from their own administration. A
scenario, Puppetshows & Shadowplays, follows this pattern, inducting
new agents into the conspiracy while tracking an alien parasite. The second
scenario, Convergence, starts to reveal the puppetmasters behind the
scenes: Majestic-12 and their Gray allies. The New Age is more of a
mini-campaign, catapulting agents into outer space to confront the power behind
the Grays. Agents have great powers to bring to bear but must act with immense
secrecy, covering their trail and disguising their true interests. The Truth
is out there. Trust no one.
But maybe you don't want a wheels-within-wheels political campaign. Maybe you
want to crack heads together. How about the Karotechia, a cult of
near-immortal Nazis dedicated to a Fourth Reich? This nasty organisation has
lots of Mythos links (think about Narylathotep disguised as Hitler's
ghost) and offers exotic globe-trotting adventures and enjoyable Nazi-stomping.
Or the Fate, a cartel of Mythos sorcerers running the New York criminal
underworld and operating out of Club Apocalypse? Have fun gangbusting,
but watch out: the Fate are top-of-the-range shoggoth-summoners and you'll be
damned lucky if you don't end up face down in the Hudson (or worse . . . much
Detailed and imaginative campaign background? Two cracking introductory
scenarios? An end-of-the-world campaign? Interested? Even the Appendices are
noteworthy: information on security procedures, modern Mythos tomes, dozens of
Federal Agencies with investigator templates and, of course, guns. Lots and
lots of guns.
Pagan have been providing excellent Call of Cthulhu supplements
for years, but last year's Golden Dawn marked the start of something
more ambitious. In Delta Green, they're giving Chaosium a run
for their money. I'm eagerly awaiting to their next offering, The Cult of
Overall: Look, it doesn't get better than this. Delta Green
does a superb job of synthesising the confusion of modern UFOlogy myths and
Lovecraft's secret world into a well-written and compelling campaign setting.
This is Call of Cthulhu for the 90s.
In short, this book is brilliant - buy it.
Reviewed by Jon Rowe