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Delta Green: The Engagement of Rules (by Shane Ivey)

Each Delta Green volume includes optional rules that tweak traditional Call of Cthulhu so it plays with a very particular Delta Green style. Call of Cthulhu is oriented primarily toward academically-inclined investigators in the 1920s, after all, while Delta Green is all about modern-day federal agents and their accomplices. In both cases the investigators face horrible cults and try to thwart terrifying alien gods, but they use very different tools and techniques.
 
The original Delta Green book, from 1996, included a host of new skills (and a number of old ones that Call of Cthulhu abandoned in its fifth edition) and stacks of modern-day occupations and firearm stats. Delta Green: Countdown (1999) added rules for psychic powers, a few more skills, and an even more massive list of occupations. Delta Green: Eyes Only (2007) added rules for interrogation, hacking, and the emotional toll of murder.
 
Delta Green: Targets of Opportunity, coming as soon as humanly possibly in a limited-edition hardback, adds its own set of options to bring Call of Cthulhu closer to Delta Green. 

Combat Options

First we have a number of options tailor-made for players who love the heavy firepower available in some Delta Green games. There have been many Delta Green games set in World War II and in Vietnam, for example, where entrenched firefights are inevitable. The new combat options include:

Burst Fire: A change to the way automatic fire is handled, so the number of bullets that hit in a burst depends on your accuracy, not blind luck.
 
Disabling Wounds: An option for critical wounds that makes them an interesting alternative to losing massive hit points, rather than a player-hating punishment that adds insult to injury.

Taking Cover: Details for using cover to keep yourself from getting shot. Taking effective cover while attacking accurately requires skill and luck; if you fire blind, you’re probably a lot safer.

Called Shots: A short rule that allows a skilled fighter to get a dramatic result without waiting for that “1/5 of what you need” attack roll.
 
Suppressing Fire: Rules for laying a ton of bullets down to disorient and intimidate opponents. It’s terribly inaccurate but it has a chance to force enemies to keep their heads down rather than shooting back.

Martial Arts: Rules that tailor the Martial Arts skill to particular styles and give it a few more options.

Stress Disorders

Next we have a section on stress disorders, which make the most common symptoms of terrible trauma—PTSD, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, depression—a more prominent part of the game. These rules give the player and GM the option of taking one of these disorders as an indefinite insanity rather than taking the short-term but more severe debilitation of temporary insanity. I look forward to seeing how playtest groups receive that choice.

This section also includes much more detailed rules for the effects of those disorders, adding to the cursory treatment they get in the Call of Cthulhu sixth edition rules, and—my favorite section—adds rules for the measures investigators are likely to take to find relief from those disorders when they get them. If you’ve ever wondered why Delta Green agents in the novels and short stories seem to always be getting drunk, these rules will tell you.

Background Options

Finally we have a new set of rules for character backgrounds: Relationships and flashbacks. If you use them, many investigators will have one or two of each.
 
Relationships are close personal ties that an investigator can call upon for help through a crisis, whether it’s talking down from a panic attack or getting help out of a legal bind. The more you use a relationship, though, the more strained it becomes. Investigators who want to build and maintain those personal ties do it at risk to their Delta Green operations. Of course, if your investigator is a hard-as-nails type who needs no personal ties, you can take minimal or no relationships and load up on flashbacks instead.

Flashbacks are important memories of past operations, left completely undefined until they are played out. When a flashback comes into play, it’s a brief remembered scene from that character’s past, played out then and there, that provides some specific clue to the present investigation—at the cost of Sanity from the remembered trauma. This section includes guidelines for coming up with the details of brief flashback scenes on the fly. Flashbacks are a perfect way to say “My character is a Delta Green veteran” without coming up with the details of your past history before play begins.

These rules options will be the first thing to go to the playtesters for Delta Green: Targets of Opportunity, who are already gathering on a new Google group for just that purpose. I really look forward to seeing what they make of these ideas and what suggestions they have for improving them.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere In the Book

In the meantime, all the writers of Targets of Opportunity are in the last stages of work.

Warren Banks has submitted his chapter on M-EPIC, a Canadian police group dedicated to investigating and exploiting the paranormal and is putting the final tweaks on it.

Greg Stolze is now giving a final review to the massive Cult of Transcendence, which he wrote many years ago and has now updated with the help of Kenneth Hite.

Dennis Detwiller is long since finished with Black Cod Island. I’ve added a few bits and pieces to it—it’s fascinating, creepy stuff—and am now working on a Black Cod Island scenario.
 
Scott Glancy has finished The Children of the Worm (speaking of creepy) and is in the last few pages of The De Monte Clan, his treatment of Delta Green in post-Katrina New Orleans.
 
Having seen all this material come together, I’m very excited about sharing it and seeing the finished book. With Delta Green: Eyes Only we brought out material that had been published, in very limited numbers, long ago. With Targets of Opportunity, everything is new. Your Delta Green agents have some nasty surprises ahead.
Tags: arc dream publishing, call of cthulhu, delta green, dennis detwiller, greg stolze, kenneth hite, pagan publishing, ransom, scott glancy, shane ivey, targets of opportunity, warren banks
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