If you encounter something indescribable and weird and can keep your wits about you, you may be approached and asked to join Delta Green.
In 1997 Delta Green was born as a sourcebook and setting for Call of Cthulhu, introducing a setting for secret federal agents into the universe of the greater system. And in 2016 it was re-released as a standalone system, published by Arc Dream Publishing after a successful funding campaign on Kickstarter. Since the game has gone on to win six ENnies Awards. This game has pedigree, player support and love, and the awards to back the clout.
Based on Lovecraft’s story The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Delta Green tackles the concept of an incident where the Federal Government storms a small coastal town in Massachusetts and killing and/or imprisoning its population who had become infected by a supernatural entity. This incident sparks the creation of a secret intelligence agency within the federal government designated with handling the dangers of the great old ones and the creatures from the deep.
The 2016 release’s book itself is aesthetically beautiful and spot on with artwork and page layouts that are equally beautiful and unsettling. Pages are designed to look like mission briefs, top-secret information, incident photographs, and a hundred years worth of history briefings pulling from all of Lovecraft’s works. Meaning that for a fan of Lovecraft’s stories and the Cthulhu mythos, leafing through the Handler’s Guide would itself be an enjoyable experience full of Easter eggs and knowing nods while still being informative enough for the more casual fan or RPG newcomer. The monsters and elder gods are all described in satisfying detail with a bestiary consisting of 48 different creatures as well as an extra page for creating your own flavor of horror if none of the creatures provided are quite right for your game.
As a game that was based in and later inspired heavily by Call of Cthulhu, gameplay may feel very reminiscent for those who have been fighting the unknown horrors for years now. The classic percentile dice system has been modified slightly to fit the setting a little better, leaving room for the bureaucratic feel that agent work would come but with a more streamlined combat system. Because who wants to be bogged down with crunch when you’re trying to fend off monsters from the deep?
All in all Delta Green is what would happen if you tried to mix Men in Black or X Files with Lovecraft. There is mystery and intrigue and excitement and the feeling of saving the world. But there is also the struggle to keep your sanity (Yes, Sanity is a measurable stat in this game, too.) and every variety of horror you could expect from a game set in this universe. This is a specific game for a specific group of players looking to play a game with a very particular flavor. But for that group, joining Delta Green promises to be the most fun part of their week.
Have you played Delta Green? How did your character fare? Which game in the Lovecraft family is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!