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05 June 2014 @ 05:50 pm
One last Night at the Opera  
Choose federal law enforcement. Choose the military. Choose NASA or the CDC. Choose lying to your superiors. Choose to ruin your career. Choose no friends. Choose divorce. Choose life through the bottom of a bottle. Choose destroying evidence and executing innocent people because they know too fucking much. Choose black fatigues and matching gas masks. Choose an MP5 stolen from the CIA loaded with glasers, with a wide range of fucking attachments. Choose blazing away at mind numbing, sanity crushing things from beyond the stars, wondering whether you'd be better off stuffing the barrel in your own mouth. Choose The King In Yellow and waking up wondering who you are. Choose a 9mm retirement plan. Choose going out with a bang at the end of it all, PGP encrypting your last message down a securely laid cable as an NRO Delta wetworks squad busts through your door. Choose one last Night at the Opera. Choose Delta Green.

— Anonymous
Yesterday was the end of my long-running Delta Green game. I didn't get to run through all the content I had planned for it due to scheduling conflicts, but in the end I only had to cut out two scenarios from the list of 16 I had planned out, which is pretty good. One of those scenarios did involve a trip to Carcosa that we never got to play out, and that was kind of sad because early on I ran F Cell through Night Floors (PDF warning), which is probably my favorite Delta Green scenario ever and involved F Cell investigating a building that was on the threshold of Carcosa and the extra floors of the building that only existed at night. I wrote another scenario based on The Repairer of Reputations, involving alternate realities(?), a wish-granter, and another brush with the entity Delta Green refers to as TATTERDEMALION. For the endgame of that minor plot, I was going to run F Cell through a heavily-modified The Past is Doomed, but I didn't get the chance. Ah, well. There's always more than could have been done.

TATTERDEMALION was my favorite recurring antagonist/thematic element, but F Cell also learned to hate MAJESTIC, who they ran into in "Puppet Shows and Shadowplays" before they had formally been inducted into the conspiracy; then again in "A Fall of MOONDUST," where they were actually captured by MAJESTIC before being broken out of military prison by the entity dubbed PARIAH, who they had previously had dealings with in a case in New York ("Water/Retention"); in "Convergence" they narrowly avoided being spotted in the aftermath of the barn; and in "A Victim of the Art," they bungled the case so badly that MAJESTIC rolled into the town, sealed everything off, and threw them out.

I also ran two long-form, more epic scenarios, one of which was stolen from Allan Goodall's excellent M Cell campaign--look at "Provenance," though my version, called "The Emperor is Missing," eschewed the End Time setting that Goodall used in favor of pulling from Cthulhutech and The Night Land--and the other of which was based on the Younger than the Mountains PbP game run on the RPG.net forums. And for my players (and anyone else who has time), I recommend both those links to see what was the same in our game and what turned out differently. "Younger than the Mountains" is especially good, though it does starkly illustrate how much more badass, eloquent, and tightly-plotted everything is when you have a whole day to think between posts.

I realized that even just counting published scenarios I have plenty more Delta Green left in me. I didn't get to finish what I wanted with TATTERDEMALION and I could easily run that arc again. I didn't even touch the Karotechia at all, and there's an entirely separate beginning scenario ("Dead Letter") I could use to induct a cell to do a more Karotechia-focused group. Or I could focus on the mi-go, starting with PX Poker Night (PDF warning), moving on to "A Night on Owlshead Mountain" and culminating in "A New Age." And that's not counting anything I want to write myself.

F Cell accomplished a lot in their career, and all with no deaths! Part of that is because I added a Luck mechanic (backported from Wild Talents) that they used to save their bacon occasionally--and I was totally vindicated when the 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu added a Luck mechanic--but a lot of it was just good planning on their part. Over the course of 14 operas, they got into combat situations maybe 6 times, and while FENTON did get shot in the head twice and clawed up by a byakhee once, FELICITY and FIONA escaped without any major injury. At least, not any major physical injury. Psychologically, well...FENTON read quite a lot of books, and at the end was working his way through a copy of Unaussprechlichen Kulten given to him by PARIAH and FIONA had had her digestive system replaced during "Convergence" and developed psychic powers after "The Emperor is Missing." Also, while FELICITY had a husband and a son, FENTON and FIONA basically only had each other as friends, meeting every Thursday to watch X-Files while FENTON ate take-out Thai food and FIONA didn't eat because she could only eat one small meal a day due to her hyper-optimized digestion.

Delta Green--not a job you want your kid to aspire to.

Every long game I run, I learn something. The Vampire game I ran in university taught me to set out expectations during character creation so I didn't end up with a group of mismatched yahoos with wildly different competencies and skillsets. The Exalted game I ran for years taught me how to float the plot over the sea of the character's past actions and the importance of not letting social skills devolve into which player was personally a more charismatic speaker. The Delta Green F Cell game taught me that often the most interesting part of the mystery isn't finding the clues, it's what the investigators do with the information they've found. This is the whole point of the Gumshoe system, but I started doing something similar, because when you're agents of the government you can't always just go in shooting, and when you work for Delta Green you have no indication of whether your bullets will even have an effect. Also, wild conjectures from incomplete information are fun, but players are perfectly capable of coming up with hilariously inaccurate conjectures from complete information as well. They don't need any extra help.

The ending was way better than I expected. No deaths, except FENTON's faithful Taurus that had been with the group since the beginning. An alliance forged between Delta Green and the Queen of Sarnath-in-exile. Next Opera might always be a tragedy, but for the moment, everything is coming up roses.

Be seeing you, F Cell.

Edit: The rules system I used for the game wasn't Delta Green's version of Call of Cthulhu, it was NEMESIS, available for free here, along with Cthulhulike to convert creatures from one system to the other.
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
softlykaorusoftlykarou on June 6th, 2014 12:09 am (UTC)
Let it be known that at the end of Victim of the Art FELICITY (My character...this is Rachel) rolled 3 10's and out the fear of FELICITY into MAJESTIC so I got my vengance!