Product– Delta Green
TL; DR-Great RPG with one big problem 87%
Basics– ia ia cthulhu fhtagn- BUT NOW WITH GUNS! Delta Green is Call of Cthulhu if run by the government as secret agencies vie for power and try to keep the horrors from beyond time and space from destroying the world or taking over the United States! Can you handle the truth?
Mechanics or Crunch-Let’s break the mechanics up and give the basics as well as my assessment.
Base Mechanics-Delta Green is a classic percentile based system. You have a skill or an ability rating, and you roll under that number to succeed. As I grow older, I like this no fuss/no muss methods of rolling dice to avoid overly math-y systems.
Difficulty-When a situation is harder or easier than normal, the GM might ask you to add or subtract 10% or 20% to or from your skill or ability total. Again, it’s a simple and easy way to modulate difficulty.
Combat– Combat is basically simple. Characters act in dexterity order from high to low. On your turn you do one action. These actions range from move, shoot, or aim among other things. For actions that require a roll, you roll under a skill as above. There is no given dodge roll if you are attacked. If you haven’t acted in a round, you can forgo your next action to try to dodge an attack by rolling under the attack roll. Damage is a single dice roll that subtracts from a hit point total. Go too low on the hit point total and you pass out. Also, some weapons have a lethality rating. If you roll in that range, the weapon just kills the target in one go!
Personal Life and Sanity- Just like other horror RPG, Delta Green has a sanity system. Characters lose sanity and gain mental illness as they go crazier and crazier dealing with horrors beyond time. This system throws in bonds as a serious component as men and women lose family members, friends, and loved ones. Think of the PTSD struck veteran, but now add the fact that he/she deals with monsters beyond human ken. Players may lose family members or whole families as they slowly go deeper and deeper into the world of Cthulhu slipping away from normal. That level of commitment to roleplaying in the mechanics is awesome.
Advancement-Advancement is a snap in this game as well. When a player attempts a roll in this game and they fail, they mark the skill with an X. At the end of the game session, any skill that you failed that you had at least 1% in, you gain an additional 1%. Also, between sessions, a character can gain 1 in an ability or they can gain 1d10 in a skill if they spend time working on it. If they do, they lose 1 level in a bond as they lose touch with someone they felt was important!
Summary- I really want to like this game more than I do. The addition of solid role-playing psychology makes this a great way to blend the theme and mechanics of a world where things just can’t be and can’t be dealt with rationally. However, combat just makes me irrationally angry. I don’t like systems where you can’t move and act. That’s a minor issue as if all the players and monsters abide by this rule, I can deal. However, the rules as written basically make it better to have a lower dexterity. You get to react to an attack, but people who go fast can’t. I can understand not being able to take your next action if you dodge, but this game penalizes people who go first. Sure, it can be a minor issue if you don’t fight much, and I can deal with not having a dodge roll at all. But, this irks me deeply to my core. Therefore, it’s an ok system with a serious flaw. 3.5/5
Theme or Fluff-I mentioned above how much I love the commitment to theme the game has in its mechanics. This game might even be darker than Call of Cthulhu as this game brings the role of sanity and psychology to the forefront in a very post-9/11 way as the psychology of the soldier is experienced first hand. The book is full of stories and fragments of people trying to handle the unhandable. It’s deep and immersive in a way I can really dig, safely and from afar. 5/5
Execution-This is a well put together book. It flows well, has great art, and the PDF is well done and hyperlinked. I like the index, the layout, and the whole book overall. Some things could use a bit more organization, but the book is an exhaustive reference on both the government and the paranormal for new players. 4.5/5
Summary-Delta Green is a great RPG with one serious flaw. Now, as a gaming group, you can play this however you see fit. It’s a flaw that you can fix by all deciding that this is how the game runs. It’s a flaw I will fix instantly in my tables, but the rules as written make me spitting mad. And it’s just that one part. The rest is amazing. I love the depth of little extra bits that the authors throw in about government jurisdiction and random trivia that are in the book. The art is great and the treatment of psychological factors in our veterans is phenomenal. Sure, this is a just a game, but the level of depth that game goes into to use these conditions as things a person would experience if they experienced Lovecraftian horrors is excellent. I like everything in this EXCEPT one thing. If you can get past that one thing, this is a great RPG that really updates Lovecraft to the post 9/11 world. And since it’s under $20, it’s well worth the look even if you just use it for a guidebook to government organizations in your horror games. 87%