Delta Green – A game that nearly didn’t happen

Of course, like most things, it is all Partridges fault!!

You see I had long been under the impression that it was not going to be possible to run a moody, investigation focused type game in the club environment. As far as I was concerned there were too many factors that made it an infeasible prospect at the club.

You could not readily control the environment for one thing, I mean our caretaker is an understanding sort but I think candles for mood lighting and black drapes hung on the wall might have been a bit of an ask.  Then there is the noise from other groups detracting from the atmosphere, which also meant that you could not play spooky background music for fear of disturbing them.

Then there was the players themselves. I had long drawn the conclusion that the only games groups of random players flung together were good for are the kind of extended shopping trip where many combats were involved. Plot was that something that players made an active effort to avoid in an attempt to give the GM a hard time.

Truth be said I had long ago given up on the idea of running my favourite genre of an investigative horror game in the club environment, I had tried once in the past at another club with players I had known better and it failed….so if at first you don’t succeed…give up!

Then Partridge and ‘Cthulhu Japan’ comes along and proves me wrong. I was fortunate enough to play in one of the best investigative horror games of my life and it was in an environment that I had convinced myself that such a thing was not possible. If you are any kind of budding writer then I am sure that you have heard the advice, ‘write what you know’, sound advice I am sure, however I do not know much of use. Neither have I ever visited Tokyo yet following the run of ‘Cthulhu Japan’ I did feel that I had.

You see John did a very clever thing (actually he did a couple but his ego is large enough already). He used his knowledge and experience of Tokyo to bind the ‘whole’ of the investigation together. Things like the kind of food they eat, the type of shrines people worship at and the fact that train tickets are made to be collectable. This all became the glue that held the actual story together. You sat at the table not only wanting to solve the case but also to see new aspect of somebody else’s culture, kind of an investigative horror travelogue.

I was in total awe, it was an inspiration and a reminder of the amount of effort I was not putting into my games because it was a club environment. I felt like I had been shamed in some way, that I had been letting myself and my players down.

How could I possibly run an investigative horror game after that! I could not match that standard, so why even bother! As I said at the start, its all Partridges fault.

As it does to so many, real life interfered with the comfortable club existence and |John was forced to leave us for a while. Without him about there was not much of a threat of another investigative horror game. Maybe now was the time to kindle the adventure that had been rattling around in my noggin. I went for it in July 2011 and declared my intention to run:

How deep does the conspiracy go? You thought it was just a local murder, a homicide with no agenda. Yet now it looks like the local Senator is involved but his backing is coming from a large corporation which in turn is funded by some unknown ‘off-shore’ concerns….

In Delta Green you will be playing a character that is either employed by or retired from the American Federal Government. These characters will be thrown into a world of alien abductions, cattle mutilations, strange murders, conspiracy and secret societies

I had interest quickly and I proposed pre-generated characters (a trick from Cthulhu Japan). But once I had buy in from the players and had an idea of what was wanted, I took this a stage further. All characters not only had statistics but also backgrounds and ties into other characters, allowing the start of the story before a dice had even been cast.

The other thing I had learned from Cthulhu Japan was that props, no matter how simple, really added to the experience. Effort had already been put into the characters to help the game get started and so more effort had to be put into the props. I scouted (virtually) a real hotel to used for the location, created letterheads for it, maps and other physical props.

I thought about the environment and requested the use of the lounge, the only area of the club that is carpeted and has by far the softest acoustics. I could then sit people in a semi-circle so all had even face time with the GM and use tone of voice more effectively.

With this much planning, what could possible go wrong?!

Partridge only comes back to club and signs up to the game!!!

How can I run now? Johns game was so much better than mine! Will he just be judging me? Do I have enough props? Why do I keep feeling sick?

Truth be told when I went into that first session I had never ever felt such real trepidation before running a game. I was genuinely nervous that I could not run a good enough game for the man who had shown me ‘Cthulhu Japan’….apparently though I could.

Delta Green has now been running at the club since March 2012. To date I think that it has been 7 months worth of sessions. In that time I had been able to have the player drown in paperwork, investigate cattle mutilations, witness strange murders, be abducted by aliens, get involved in conspiracies and deal with corrupt senators.

It is the most fun I had running a continuing game at the club and I can only thank its excellent players for that. It is also the most amount of work that I have ever put into a game that I have run.

Truth be said though…..its all Partridges fault!

About Davros Mandrake
Longstanding Club Member, longerstanding role-player.

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