Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
Written By: Dennis Detwiller, Christopher Gunning, Shane Ivey and Greg Stolze
Delta Green is about cover-ups, insanity, and death. You are a government agent temporarily assigned to the Delta Green agency to go on a mission to deal with an aspect of the occult, likely Cthulhu related. Now, the Delta Green agency borrows resources from other arms of the government dependent on what the current mission requires. Your character is a DEA or FBI, CIA, IRS(yes them too), ATF, Border Patrol, whatever but you’re called on to do your duty for a greater good. Delta Green was founded to handle the stuff outside the rules, the weird, the strange, the … other, specifically things related to the Cthulhu Mythos.
Delta green: the setup
The Agent’s Handbook has the character creation rules and full rules for running the game, while the setting information and guidelines for creating and running adventures will be in the upcoming Case Officer’s Handbook. Characters are described by their statistics, attributes, skills, and bonds. There is a section of the character sheet for listing motivations and mental disorders. Yep, part of this game — well the underlying hook and eventuality — is that the longer you live and get exposed to the things in the cosmos that man was not supposed to know, the more likely you are to go insane. Sanity is a mechanic in the game to handle overloads on your mind whether it’s suffered through Violence (both suffering it and inflicting it), Helplessness, and the Unnatural.
DELTA GREEN: THE mechanics
The game is played using a task resolution mechanic of percentile based skill checks and ability checks to determine success or failure. Checks are only made if there is pressure on or it’s a challenging task like combat, reading arcane texts, or some other specialized tasks. Oh, and combat is pretty deadly. Regular folks aren’t too bad to deal with, but if you run into a cult leader with a giant worm in his head giving him psychic ability then you better watch out and play it smart. If it turns out it’s something more like a Star Spawn or some other unmentionable horror from space, just run like hell. Or die, or go insane. Probably both.
Choosing your character’s profession determines what skills you start with and you’ve got some choices to add in other skills to fill out what your character would know through personal interest, hobbies, or history. The interior art is creepy, true to the genre and just plain unsettling. The rules are written in an easy to read format: 2 columns per page with tables and art throughout. Examples are numerous and accompany both the crunchy parts and the more nebulous sections where the Handler has to make determinations in the game such as how long actions/tests take or when to call for a skill check vs. an ability check. Helpful stuff if you’re not comfortable with on-the-fly rulings. The combat section is covered in about a dozen pages and handles ranged, thrown, area of effect, and melee combat. As mentioned above, do not enter into combat lightly as it isn’t hard to get wounded, disabled, killed or scared out of your mind, which leads to the next chapter, Sanity.
Now the stuff you run into in a Delta Green game tends to mess with your head. Mechanically, a character can only take so much stress and your threshold is your Sanity score. The rules give as much page real estate to sanity as they do to combat so you should get a sense of its importance. Both temporary and permanent insanity and disorders are here for inflicting on your characters after suffering enough sanity loss. One of the catch-22s is that learning about the supernatural that you’re out there fighting against is one of the major causes of sanity loss, so the more you know about your enemy the less mentally stable you are to deal with it… hence the Sanity Spiral that feels like death by quicksand when you realize you are in one.
If you survive the mission and can get away, you’ve got options at Home. Home is where you take stock of what happened to your Agent during the last operation: Bonds changed, injuries, disorders, legal issues, and work. Bonds, Therapy, and work allow you to recover some sanity provided you can relax, get a therapist that believes you or get some much-needed support from a co-worker or family member. Home also allows a place to make some skill or statistic improvements through studying or training.
delta green: the OUTFIT
The next section of the rules deals with gear and equipment and outfitting your Agent for missions. Charts abound and tables full of gun stats and the like. Guidelines for getting special equipment through requisitions and favors are included for a high-powered blow-stuff-up kind of day.
delta green: the agencies
The last section covers Federal Agencies and goes over the ones you’ve all heard of and then the smaller or more secretive ones. Profession and skill suggestions are all in here along with agency cooperation and security clearances. A real basic how-to and ‘get to know your government splinter groups’ kind of chapter. It’s a great overview of how they work together and/or are at odds with one another.
The appendices cover tradecraft and how to use your skills to accomplish some rather unsavory tasks, and a glossary for all sorts of things you may encounter during your exploits. Overall, a great addition to the Cthulhu family of horrid character deaths and insanity inducing afflictions. Recommend.