East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Beyond the fence with Ken Hite: The Fall of Delta Green

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This year’s GenCon was a triumph for Call of Cthulhu, and in particular for Delta Green – and Kenneth Hite’s The Fall of Delta Green won the Best Setting Ennie Award.
A well deserved award, I think.

I have been a long-time fan of Delta Green – some of my material was published in some old handbooks, and one of my stories appears in a Delta Green collection, and I have met some of my best friends in the Delta Green underground at the turn of the century.
More: I have started writing fiction in English because of Delta Green – now you know who you can blame.
The Fall of Delta Green looks to me like the perfect celebration for an adventure I started twenty years ago.

For the uninitiated, Delta Green is a modern day game of lovecraftian horror in which the players assume the roles of members in a conspiracy within the US Government that is trying to keep the horrors at bay by any means available. As a game of sacrifice and resistance against impossible odds, Delta Green is the setting that best captures and updates the underlying philosophy in H.P. Lovecraft’s stories.

But the men and women of Delta Green were not always secretive members of a conspiracy: there was a time when “Delta Green” was simply the code name of an official clearance for members of the US administration that gave them carte blanche to officially fight the Mythos.
Those were the Cowboy Years, before the Fall, before an operation in South-East Asia went so horrifyingly pear-shaped that the deal was closed, Delta Green disbanded, and a lid was placed over the whole affair.

Back in the early days of the game, we had put together a set of quick-and-dirty rules, called Beyond the Fence (from the slang indicating the unexplored area beyond US control in Viet Nam), to play games set in the Cowboy Years. It was great fun.
But now Delta Green has grown up and matured.

The Fall of Delta Green takes the players back to the ’60s, when they had warrants and badges of officialdom, and the world was a simpler place.
Agents move both in the US and abroad to face the horrors of the Lovecraftian mythos, and can rely on resources and full government support.
It does not make any difference, of course, and we’re all doomed from the start, but there is something exhilarating about the idea of calling in an air strike over a cultist temple, or cordon off a whole town while the National Guard takes care of the ghouls…

Clocking at over 350 pages, The Fall of Delta Green is a complete and stand-alone game running on the Gumshoe system that was designed specifically to run investigative scenarios. I am not a big fan of the system (it forces me, as a keeper, to do a lot of work before the game), but it’s the material in this book that is absolutely superb – The Fall of Delta Green captures perfectly the spirit of the time and the increasing contradictions the characters will have to face. It’s full of ideas, wonderful to behold, and you can’t browse these pages without getting the buzz, the feel, the need to play this, right now.

At over 20 bucks for the PDF, The Fall of Delta Green is not a cheap game, and yet it is worth every penny, and it’s great just as something you read, and curse the day you left your hometown and your old team.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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