[Delta Green] The Minor Cast – Players playing NPCs

When playing Delta Green I have the players to handle various roles in the campaign besides their own characters. This is quite common in my campaigns and we do it in different ways from campaign to campaign from session to session. I covered our use of playing alternate (N)PCs and allies in this post, and playing friends and relatives of the characters. This time I will describe a session, where some players played the PCs and others played the NPCs

A Small Needlestick

In episode six ‘A Small Needlestick’ the investigators visits a town with a large amount of UFO-phenomena (lights in the sky, Greys in the woods, Mothman sightings, native legends of mountain spirits, abductions and chip implants etc.) and a secret military project disguised as an inoculation project of the locals.

The agents were send to investigate all these weird phenomena and to see if they could find the cause of it. The episode lasted three sessions. In the first session I introduced a series of NPCs, who each had his own theory as to what was going on in the region and each NPC had hard evidence even though their theories excluded each other. During the first session one of the characters ran out of Decline-points and his character was taken in the wood leaving some weird evidence.

Playing the NPCs

For the second session we had an extra player partcipating. I gave the extra player and the player, who lost his character during the first session, the NPCs I had introduced in the first session. The NPCs in the first session presented solid clues for further investigation, but this time each one them would reveal, that they were unreliable and their claims not to be trusted. I gave the players some suggestions as to how it could be done, and then left them, so they could prepare, while I started playing with the others.

NPCs outside of GMs control

The two players returned, and we continued playing. As the players investigated the town, I handled the town and minor NPCs, and whenever the PCs entered a place, where the two NPC-players would take over the game-mastering and play the scene. Usually one would play the designated NPC and the other would play some minor NPC, and the PCs would witness the two NPCs interact, e.g. they would enter a bar, where they witnessed the designated NPC in his drunken stupor yell at the bartender, or at the hotel they would see the manager lay-off the designated NPC for being too unstable.

As the GM I knew the NPCs and I had an inkling as to where the NPC-players might take over, but I never knew for sure. This gave us a very special session and a very great one. In a sense it was like playing a computer-game, where you go exploring the setting never knowing when you activate a scene, that reveal the plot for you. The players could fully interact with the scenes in any manner they wished, they could stand back and watch the scene unfold, or they could address the NPC’s and interact with them. As the GM I would handle the part, where the players explored the setting, and the two other players would handle the NPCs on their own.

The NPC-players were given some specific facts, that they were supposed to offer the players, but otherwise their hands were free, when it came to improvising. Some of the scenes they set up were truly amazing, such as the scene with the paranoid schizofrenic, who claimed that the Black Helicopters were spying on him and following him, and that he knew their flight patterns (and I actually took a note of that, and used that information in the scenario, thus transforming the NPC-players improvisations to fact leaving the players uncertain as to what is true and what is false. They portrayed the paranoid NPC brilliantly in his cloak and dagger-way of contacting them and how his house were a mess with his medicine lying all over the place.

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