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Delta Green: Need to Know

Delta Green: Need to Know

After a slightly disorganised start (you have to wade through the product blurb, a page of densely-written copyright notices and the Open Gaming Licence before you actually get to the contents!) we start off with Welcome to Delta Green, which explains what the game is all about - fear. Fear and having the courage to stand up against horrors no matter what. Then there's a brief explanation of what role-playing is and how to play, including the terminology: the Game Master is called the Handler and players take the role of Agents (of Delta Green), and adventures are known as Operations. To play, you'll need dice (or a die roller app), with percentage dice playing a major role. There's a whole page on 'How to be a Player' which covers the basics like describing actions, speaking as your character and not holding things up... and of course working with the other members of the party. There's another page for the Handler (with some ominous blood-splatter on it) and an example of play. A scary one...

The next section is titled What is an Agent? This goes through the character sheet explaining what everything is and how it is used in the game. This leads into a section describing how to create an agent. The assumption is that characters are Americans employed by one of the 'Alphabet' agencies, but it's quite easy to see how to extrapolate to other nationalities or professional affiliations. The basic professions available (which suggest the skills that you have) are Federal Agent, Anthropologist/Historian, Computer Scientist/Engineer, Physician (i.e. medical doctor), Scientist or Special Operator (i.e. someone with military training). The way everything is put together helps you build a rounded individual with friends and some personal history, and a reason why he's in Delta Green and doing what he's doing. There are six pre-generated characters which can serve as examples, get customised or just used for play... there are outline notes and full character sheets for each.

Then comes a section called Game System. This explains the game mechanics in a straightforward (if slightly patronising) style. It covers general task resolution and combat, then goes on to discuss damage, death and sanity. Like Call of Cthulhu (which these rules resemble), hanging onto your sanity is well-nigh impossible in this game. This leads on to rules for insanity... and, fortunately, some notes on ways to preserve your character's sanity. The bit about going to see a therapist is quite amusing: do you lie about what you've experienced or sound really delusional by telling him... and risk him going a bit mad as well? A lot of this is a cut-down version of what's in the Core Rulebook, it says, but even this is pretty comprehensive.

Finally we have the operation (adventure) Last Things Last. In this, the party is despatched to check the home of a recently-deceased retired Delta Green agent to make sure no incriminating evidence is to be found (remember that Delta Green regards keeping the existance of supernatural horrors completely secret as important as actual defeating them). It's a fairly simple mission that serves just to demonstrate a little of the system and give the group an inkling of what to expect...

Unless you are completely new to role-playing you may feel that you are being talked down to a bit in some of the explanations, but apart from that this provides a good introduction to the game, bringing out the flavour well. The adventure is rather too basic and is aimed at complete novices, Handler as well as players, but can be used to whet the appetite for more... provided the agents don't completely lose their sanity over what they have to do! Support for a novice Handler is good, however, and there's the potential to make it quite atmospheric. There are a couple of good handouts... but the purely illustrative page that follows could have been used to provide more resources to lead to further adventures if the items there weren't piled on top of each other quite so much.

That said, this work does give a good feel for the game and ought to enable you and your group decide if it's for you (or not). I'll be looking out for more...

Return to Delta Green: Need to Know page.

Reviewed: 5 March 2016