Running a Delta Green-Campaign – part 1

I have been running a Delta Green-campaign for a little over year with my old gaming group. For the next few posts I will cover how we play a Delta Green-campaign and how it was designed.

I have already covered several aspects of this in separate posts detailing various special rules designed for the campaign. This time however I intend to cover the campaign as a whole detailing the different elements and how they come together.

Delta Green

Delta Green is a setting to modern Call of Cthulhu from Pagan Publishing/Arc Dream Publishing. In the setting you play intelligence agents battling the Cthulhu Mythos in secret. It is sort of like shows such as X-files, Dark Skies or Fringe with an extra layer of conspiracy as the agents are involved with an illegal organization, Delta Green, battling for mankind’s safety.

The idea is that the characters belong to a cell, which are numbered using letters, and each member is given a codename. Each cell typically consists of three agents, and they are assisted by Friendlies, that are all sorts of allies and experts supporting Delta Green.

The organization’s purpose is to battle supernatural threats against the nation and to do so in secret, as the organization is in no way sanctioned. The closest thing to a sanctioned organization involved with the Cthulhu Mythos is MJ12, and they are the enemies of Delta Green.

The Group

I really like the setting, and for a little over a year I have been running a Delta Green-campaign. We play every fortnight with brief breaks around summer and winter and my group consists of four players plus the odd guest star. Before playing Delta Green, we played Transhuman Space using the rules from The Shadow of Yesterday/Solar System rather than GURPS, as GURPS did not fit our taste. Before Transhuman Space we played a long running Nephilim-campaign. My players are active participants at conventions and several of them writes scenarios for conventions – as I do myself.

Campaigns and Cthulhu

Call of Cthulhu is well-known for being a lethal campaign, and Delta Green is no different. Modern firearms and the training of a CIA- or FBI-agent does not improve the survival rate, when confronted with a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath or a Hound of Tindalos.

Delta Green provides a framework for the same investigators keep running into the Cthulhu Mythos without having strange family members with dire inheritances to suddenly appear. Instead the organization hands the agents new missions. The setting however remains as lethal as ever.

None the less I wanted a campaign with continuity – so the agents cannot keep dying and TPK will really be a problem, and I have played plenty of Call of Cthulhu to have seen plenty of investigators die – and with one shots it is okay, and it reminds one, that Lovecraft dit not write about the characters but about mankinds encounter with the Mythos.

But this campaign is to be different.

Designing the Campaign: Theme

I wanted a campaign that was more or less the Cthulhu-version of X-files. Character-continuity is necessary for that, and something more. Another aspect of the campaign was to reflect on mankind’s encounter with the Cthulhu Mythos. To live by the sword is to die by the sword, and even though it is done for best of causes, the encounter with the mythos will eventually corrupt you. In essence it is the theme of the campaign, and it posses a challenge, that each character – and thus each player – is forced to confront: Can you battle the Mythos without being corrupted? Can you stare into the Abyss unscathed?

Next up: Investigation, or rather, how not to investigate


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