Delta Green: Countdown

Originally written August 1999

Pagan Publishing has a history of producing incredibly good product. Indeed, some of the best stuff ever released for Call of Cthulhu has come from them. Chaosium is the only company I know of that allows another publisher to produce “official” material for their game. I personally think that other companies would do well to emulate this relationship. When you’ve got people who love the game producing material for it, you almost invariably get superior product. Even the old Judges Guild stuff for AD&D outshines most of the things released by TSR today.

Pagan Publishing‘s Delta Green is one of the best modern-day conspiracy/horror settings ever. It was one of the largest books ever released for Call of Cthulhu, and received an absolute mountain of critical acclaim (check out the reviews of it at RPGnet if you don’t believe me).

The guys at Pagan have followed up with Countdown — the first Delta Green supplement. This book is even larger than the original. At over 400 pages, it would be worth the forty bucks it costs even if the material wasn’t quite up to Pagan’s usual standards.

But it is. I think this may be one of the best things Pagan has ever done.

Like the original Delta Green, this book consists of several chapters, each devoted to a different mythos threat or potential ally. Each chapter can provide a campaign in itself! The world of Delta Green is filled in even more, providing a wealth of information for even the most unimaginative gamemaster. There are some spoilers of the material presented, so be warned!

Chapter 1 details PISCES, the British equivalent of Delta Green and Majestic-12. They have a bit more in common with the latter than the former, however. See, the group has been infiltrated by the Insects from Shaggai (also known as the Shan) and the Shan have turned PISCES into a group devoted to two things: protecting the Shan from discovery, and getting the Shan temple ship off of the earth (where it has been trapped fro some time).

Also detailed is a small pseudo-terrorist group called the Army of the Third Eye that knows of the Shan infiltration of the British government, and is hoping to expose the conspiracy.

Chapter 2 details GRU SV-8, the “Russian Delta Green” although to call them that is to oversimplify their role. Their history and goals are worked up, and they provide an interesting possibility for allies or enemies, depending on where the investigators end up.

Chapter 3 continues the Russian theme with the Skopti, a cult dedicated to Shub-Niggurath that operates out of southern Russia.

Chapter 4 is devoted to The Outlook Group, the organization responsible for training the elite operatives of Majestic-12. The psychological conditioning they describe in this chapter is sure to make any Delta Green agent shudder.

Chapter 5 describes Phenomen-X, a hack media news show that actually knows the truth, but unfortunately nobody is willing to believe them.

Chapter 6: Tiger Transit describes a company that is a front for not one, but two mythos related cults, including the infamous Tcho-tcho people.

Chapter 7 describes the D-Stacks; the collection of “unexplained” artifacts and other related archaeological findings stored at the American Museum of Natural History. The curator of the stacks is a Delta Green friendly, and can be a valuable source of information.

Chapter 8 is about the Keepers of the Faith, a ghoul cult that operates under New York City.

Chapter 9 provides an interesting new take on the Hastur Mythos, making it something a great deal more eerie than a big tentacled creature living in deep space. Also included is The King in Yellow Tarot, certain to add atmosphere to a Delta Green campaign.

That closes the main text of the book. Then we get into the appendices, which include several adventures and a mini-campaign (just as the original Delta Green did), as well as a remarkably comprehensive listing of international government agencies. There is also an appendix on bringing psychic powers into a Delta Green game, a few useful handouts for players, and a comprehensive index.

Like I said, this book is incredible. There is more than enough information here (particularly when combined with the first Delta Green) for ten campaigns. Personalities, secrets, and strange goings on abound.

Not only that, but the material is actually pretty easy to adapt to any modern day horror game. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Chaosium system (which is what all the book’s game statistics are in), but I would convert this information to use in an Unknown Armies game. Heck, you don’t even need the original Delta Green book — though I recommend it highly anyhow.

Couple this wealth of information with a clean layout, no glaring editorial gaffes, and artwork that helps evoke the mood of the setting wonderfully, and you have a required addition to your gaming library. Go out and get this book. You won’t be disappointed.

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