Delta Green by InShaneee
The Big PictureOriginal SA post
Major General Reginald Fairfield, US Army (Ret.) posted:
"We travel light, we probe deep, and we strike hard. We're Delta Green, and we may be outlaws and cowboys and fools, but we've kept this green ball of shit safe and sound for longer than most people have been alive."
Delta Green is an alternate setting for the Call of Cthulhu RPG which advances the timeline to "ten minutes in the future" and has the players be part of a rogue government group fighting the mythos. It contains little in the way of rules, assuming you've got the CoC corebook to use as reference. Originally published in 1997, it's seen only four full books released, mostly because Pagan Publishing moves slower than continental drift and has some serious cashflow issues. Consequently, there were never a whole ton of copies printed of the books (reletively), and getting a hold of the print versions can be a challenge. However, rightsholder and primary author Dennis Detwiller has promised that PDF versions of the books are right around the corner, and a new corebook has been announced, though no release date. But I'm getting ahead of myself. So long as there's interest, I plan to cover all four of the major books, starting here with the corebook. Also, since this is my first writeup here, let me know if anyone has any questions, or if I'm glossing over anything that sounds cool.
Chapter One - The Big Picture
The book starts out by explaining the original rationale behind creating Delta Green:
More logical groups - in Call of Cthulhu, your party is made up of a 'group of concerned and like-minded individuals', which means there was always a good deal of legwork needed to explain how these people met and why they keep hurling their lives at danger together. Having a ready-made organization (Delta Green) with a chain of command that sends members on missions lets you jump right into the game without worrying too much about that.
A modern setting - while a little material has been published for modern-day CoC roleplay, it's not much. Playing in the 1920s is cool and authentic, but some players would prefer something more familiar, with less homework needed ("Would my car have a trunk?" "Would a building like this have a telephone?").
Removing repetitive roadblocks - as point one said, in CoC, you're typically just a bunch of curious citizens. That can lead to you running into the same issues over and over again. For example: you can't investigate on private property without permission, you can't see police reports/evidence without a lot of Fast Talk-ing and bribery, too much snooping gets the police on your tail, ect. Again, working with an organization with official credentials side-steps all of that.
The Mythos in 1990
Before even starting to talk about Delta Green itself, we're provided with an update to all the recognizable baddies from the old setting, for anyone already up on the mythos. It starts off with a depressing, White Wolf-ish piece about how the monsters of the world had retreated from the outward spread of humanity, but are now crawling back to the surface since we're too busy killing each other and being corrupt morally and ethically to notice them destroying the world. There's also a sidebar here titled Why Aren't They On TV? , to answer the logical question of, "Shouldn't we have seen some of this by now?". The answers: there's not a lot of mythos entities out there, they're very secretive (and good at it), and it's a big planet overall (we still can't find giant squid, after all).
The Cult of Cthulhu is essentially dead, a relic of the old world. Not that Cthulhu gives a shit; when the stars are right, he's going to rise up regardless of who was paying attention for it. The text suggests that some of the world's rich and powerful may be secretly worshipping Cthulhu, though, and will attempt to form a new cult when the end times come.
The Deep Ones have fallen on hard times recently. The idea of an 'isolated coastal town' is pretty much an anachronism now, so corrupting a populace is out of the question. On top of that, they realize that any visibility can be a liability in the world of today, as shown when the army torpedo'd the shit out of them in 1928 (more on that later). Either way, they're pretty sure they've done their duty and the end times are at hand anyway, so they're content to just hide until things get started in earnest.
The Elder Things from the Mountains of Madness are gone. No one has ever found the city the expedition described, nor were the samples they took recovered. It's speculated the samples woke up, brought the whole race out of their long sleep, then picked up the whole city and relocated to who knows where.
The flesh-eating Ghouls have had to change how they operate. Many fled to conflict zones in Africa and Asia, where a few missing bodies don't cause as much of a stir. The ones that still live in the US tend to migrate towards big cities (for the space afforded in sewers and subway tunnels), and are divided into two groups: the old guard, who continue the practice of ritualistic grave robbery, and the younger generation, that prefers catching fresh victims off the streets late at night.
The Yithians (aka the Great Race) are still here, and in greater numbers than before, studying humanity through the population boom. Their favored methodology is still to swap bodies with human hosts, though they've refined their techniques; possessed hosts rarely raise suspicion anymore.
The King in Yellow , avatar of Hastur, is everywhere, his influence spread far and wide through artists, poets and writers. His mad themes of nihilism and sociopathy are commonplace in artistic mediums, and a recent Hollywood film went so far as to feature a brief glimpse of the Yellow Sign. Hastur et al is covered in more detail in the sourcebook "Countdown".
The Mi-Go are one of the major antagonists of the book, and as such, will be covered in greater detail later.
Nyarlathotep has been doing quite well for himself. He founded the Cult of Transcendence, which is gaining followers in all walks of life, and is covered in more detail in "Targets of Opportunity". He also has a hand in the New York nightclub Club Apocalypse, but how, and to what end, isn't clear (we'll talk more about the Club later, as well, but the material there is kind of weak).
The Shans (aka the Insects from Shaggai) are still taking over human minds and trying desperately to find a way off the planet. They're starting to build a pretty wide power base of influential hosts, but are starting to be opposed by The Army of the Third Eye, a small British cult who've forcibly removed Shan via self-trepanation. Ew. We'll find out more of what they're up to in "Countdown".
And if you don't know much about the Cthulhu Mythos, that probably doesn't make a lot of sense. Sorry about that. Future entries should be much easier to digest.
Next time: Fungi from Yuggoth!
The Big Picture (Part 2)Original SA post
Chapter One - The Big Picture (Part 2)
We start off now with the Mi-Go, also known by the very pulpy name The Fungi from Shuggoth. The first thing it stresses is that the Mi-Go are alien, and should act thus. Their actions shouldn't be the first thing expected of them, and should confuse the players. Not to say that they're crazy, or stupid, or anything like that. Their brains are just wired differently from ours.
The Mi-Go don't really know much of their history (nor does anyone else), except for the fact that they haven't changed almost at all since they originally showed up on Earth 160 million years ago. That's not just biologically, but culturally and intellectually, as well. Like the other mythos races, it's not known exactly why they're interested in Earth. We know they've launched mining expeditions (not for minerals, but to locate underground dimensional portals). We also know that long ago, they sporadically waged war with the Elder Things until continental drift made conflict a non-issue. During this time (and concurrently), they were also active on Yuggoth, better known to us as the
What we do know is that many of them worship Shub-Niggurath, possibly due to her role as a fertility diety having something to do with their odd biology. They also are known to worship Nyarlathotep and Ithaqua, but more as a matter of practicality. Nyarlathotep is known and feared by anyone on Earth who knows about the mythos, so they worship him just to keep him off their backs. As for Ithaqua, he's one of the few Elder Gods who is both active and concerned with affairs on Earth, so paying him tribute just seems like good business.
The Mi-Go are sentient piles of fungus. As a 'collective', they have some control over their shape, which the use to better function at certain tasks. They have few if any organs; instead, their individual cells can specialize as needed, and revert back to a generalized form when done.
As a rule of thumb, most Mi-Go have wings and some form of natural weaponry (like claws). They are capable of surviving in hard vacuum, and even flying in space (see, their bodies exist simultaneously in five dimensions, so their wings are pushing against matter in...you know what, whatever, it's magic). They are capable of functioning even when up to 55% of their body mass is gone. They can actually continue living with just 12% of their original mass, though they're not actually capable of anything at that point. When in great danger, they're capable of entering a 'trance' that makes their body appear to be dead tissue, even on a cellular level. However, they still can be killed just by physical trauma, by either doing enough pure damage to them, or splitting their body up into multiple pieces.
A full 40% of a Mi-Go's energy is dedicated to 'bookkeeping' in their brains. This is why they can't remember their origins: they long ago decided it wasn't worth the drive space and deleted all that information. See, the Mi-Go are capable of perfect recollection, but as a species, they're out of memory space; they're constantly having to delete things they perceive just to keep functioning. This has a couple effects on them as a people. For one thing, while clearly hyperintelligent, they can come off as naive, as they often discard as 'irrelevant' knowledge we'd take for granted. Secondly, they're incapable of intuitive leaps of logic. They must reason out every step of a line of thinking to properly process it. This makes them slow to react to new situations (a good weakness for players to exploit).
Beliefs and Goals
The Mi-Go hate and fear the Elder Gods, but are envious of their ability to control energy through will alone. If we were to guess what their goal is, it's probably somewhere along this path. In essence, they believe if they can control energy like the Elder Gods do, they'd be gods themselves. Their other apparent goal concerns us. The Mi-Go are fascinated with the way the human mind works, and want to keep studying it until they can figure out how to emulate it. This seems to put them at odds with the Elder Gods, who just want to destroy us. So wait, the Mi-Go are going to save us? Well...probably not. Instead, they're just ramping up their experiments and getting even more bold with their methodology...but we'll get to that later.
That's all there is on the Mi-Go for now, though we'll learn more about what they're up to in Chapter 3, and one of the adventures concerns them, as well. The last part of the chapter is called Big Brother from Then to Now , which is a essay and accompanying timeline of various intelligence agencies in the US and their more noteworthy and esoteric operations. It's a fascinating read, and useful to mine for story seeds, but as the entire thing is non-fiction, there's not much reason to cover it.
Next time: But wait, hang on, who was Delta Green again?
Delta GreenOriginal SA post
Chapter Two - Delta Green
MJ12 report posted:
No longer hampered by bureaucrats, they directed a kill-em-all policy motivated more by spite than pragmatism.
So! We're now 30 pages in, all fluff, and yet we're just now getting to the part about our titular organization. I always found that to be an odd organizational choice (especially considering we've already covered the Mi-Go in detail). But, we're here now, so let's do some history (WWII buffs, get ready)!
Delta Green was officially founded in 1942, but its origins go all the way back to 1927. That winter, a joint effort involving the Treasury Department, the Secret Service, and the FBI raided the sleepy Maine port town of Innsmouth, supposedly to round up communist elements. While there, they found widespread mutation of the local populace, as well as numerous bizarre artifacts connected to some sort of cult. This put everyone involved on edge, but the Coolidge administration decided to wait for everyone to compile their reports before taking any sort of action. In the meantime, all materials recovered, including an extensive Marsh family history and 5 conical tablets inscribed with strange glyphs, were handed over to the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).
In 1928, the military's cryptography unit, MI-8, codenamed Black Chamber, was making all kinds of waves decrypting Japanese communications. Impressed, the ONI handed them copies of the conical tablets, and by late 1929 had received a translation known as the Book of Dagon. As disturbing as the contents were, it had the bad timing to hit President Hoover's desk just after the stock market crash, causing him to personally order the disbanding of Black Chamber as a frivolous waste of time and money. Fearing a backlash, J. Edgar Hoover quickly swept under the rug all evidence of the supernatural from the Innsmouth raid. The ONI did likewise, but still recognised the threat a hostile aquatic civilization would pose to the US. Thus, they quietly shuffled veterans of the raid off to their P4 division, commonly called P division.
P division's stated goal was to investigate the strange and inexplicable. Assuming Innsmouth to be just a single data point, they set out to find more evidence of similar activity, and were soon awash in mythos treatises and evidence of other undersea horrors. So, they decided to try a more active approach, by conducting deep-sea bombings at suspected Deep One lairs in the Philippines in 1930, and outside Nicaragua in 1933. In the latter, the Navy discovered a spell to summon Deep Ones, and used it repeatedly to set up ambushes (the book later on mentions that as a consequence of this, the distrustful Deep Ones will now ignore any uses of the Call Deep One spell by PCs).
In 1942, the head of the recently created Office of Strategic Services, William "Wild Bill" Donovan, was briefed by P division for the first time. They decided to ease them in by starting out with evidence of Nazi interest in the occult. They'd manage to turn up disturbing information concerning SS Chief Heinrich Himmler's personal staff, the Ahnenerbe, specifically an occult-focused division known as the Karotechia. If nothing else, they had solid intelligence that some of the Nazi higher-ups were susceptible to psy-ops based around fortune telling, remote viewing, and other sketchy intel-gathering methods. Donovan was intrigued, and moved to incorporate P division into the OSS. The new department was given the security clearance DELTA GREEN EYES ONLY, which quickly got them the nickname Delta Green.
Delta Green wasted no time launching counter-ops against the Karotechia, primarily focused around obtaining and destroying artifacts they were interested in, particularly in the Middle Eastern theater. They ended up wiping out more than a few sites of great cultural significance, but the oldest members still remembered Innsmouth and were more than a little afraid of what could happen if the wrong artifact fell into Nazi hands. Seeing as how closely connected Karotechia was to high-ranking Nazi officials, information was hard to come by, but in 1942, they were fortunate enough to stumble upon and halt an attempt to use a mass sacrifice of war prisoners off the coast of France in an attempt to catch the attention of the Deep Ones.
The surrender of Germany was no cause for rest, either. Delta Green was forced to get boots on the ground quickly to capture former Nazi researchers and files before Stalin's forces could (this met with mixed results). What data they did recover showed that although the SS was planning to surrender, Karotechia was going to go over their heads with an attempt to recreate a failed mythos experiment on a much larger scale. It was immediately clear that for all the Karotechia learned about the power of the mythos, how to control it properly was not something they had even remotely mastered. For three terrible months in 1945, Delta Green fought the last remnants of German resistance, and were just barely able to prevent the uncontrolled opening of a massive, non-euclidean dimensional rift. They had won, but before long, they found themselves disbanded with the rest of the OSS. This would not last long.
Next time: Strange days in Roswell, New Mexico, and hard times for Delta Green
Delta Green (Part 2)Original SA post
Chapter Two - Delta Green (Part 2)
In mid 1947, something crashed in the New Mexico desert, and a group of former Delta Green members were the first ones called in to investigate. To the shock of everyone involved, it appeared to be an alien spacecraft, complete with several dead occupants...and one survivor. As a long term solution to deal with this new development, president Truman created a new division, Majestic 12, whose sole mandate was to study the craft and its inhabitants, and to cover up evidence of extraterrestrial life and activities (we'll talk about them in more detail next chapter). The old guard of Delta Green also used the incident as leverage to get themselves reinstated, this time officially under that name. Their new mandate: keep paranormal and alien artifacts out of the hands of the enemy, whomever that might include.
The new Delta Green wasted no time executing this mandate, starting with operation SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY, a broad effort to hunt down and execute former Karotechia members in hiding in South America. This met with significant success, and led to a strike on a Karotechia archaeological dig in Antarctica. The strike team and the diggers completely wiped each other out, though a cleanup team later went in and dynamited the site, burying whatever the former Nazis were attempting to uncover.
1955 started as Delta Green's worst year yet. Daniel Freis, one of the original Black Chamber cryptographers, suffered a severe mental breakdown and went on a rampage in Delta Green's central archives. Before he could be stopped, he had managed to burn almost all of the materials from the Innsmouth raid (including smashing the stone cylinders with a sledgehammer), as well as badly damaging the archives of P division. In an instant, Delta Green had lost everything they'd worked the last 14 years to build.
To survive, they began casting a wide net over other other governmental organizations, military and security divisions, and private research groups. Not only did this help bring in new blood, but resulted in a program to deputize 'friendlies'. Under this, civilians with useful knowledge who became wrapped up in mythos events could be temporarily brought in on 'need to know' ops in order to help, and then have their file flagged with a green triangle sticker as a possible asset in the future. This made Delta Green much more decentralized before, and began to foster a 'cowboy' attitude of act first, get clearance later.
What followed were several more significant Delta Green ops, primarily investigating suspicious ship sinkings and attacking suspected Deep One nests. While these met with relative success, things took a turn for the ugly in 1969, when a mission was launched against an apocalyptic cult in Cambodia. It was an unmitigated disaster, with over 300 military personal dying in action. Worse still, when the US officially invaded in 1970 and met with a well-prepared Viet Cong, it was Delta Green who got the blame for giving them early warning. It wasn't long at all before Delta Green was disbanded again, and all evidence of their existence swept under the rug.
Later that year, 40 former DG-cleared federal officials met secretly in Washington to discuss the ongoing paranormal threat to the US. Some were worried that MJ12 was unprepared for all that was out there, while others feared they would see the supernatural powers as things to be harnessed, not destroyed. They decided to made contact with other former members, and start operating again under the rader, off the books. Initially, there was no organization to this new group; members contacted who they needed when they saw something that needed doing, and funds and supplies were skimmed and stolen by those with proper clearances. This was inefficient, and fatal to many; without any information sharing, agents were charging at threats with little to no foreknowledge. The old guard didn't particularly care; they were tired of being held back by bureaucrats, and just appreciated being able to act unfettered. This went on for over a decade. Little is known about this period today.
The group received a huge shock in 1994, when retired Major General Reginald Fairfield, a member of the Delta Green old guard and major booster of the new group, was assassinated in his home by an MJ12 wetworks team who felt he was learning too much about their activities. Delta Green found themselves with no clear way to react. They looked around and saw their membership was dwindling, and operations were more scattered and haphazard than ever before. They now had a new threat, MJ12, who was apparently hunting them actively. If they were going to survive, they would need to completely change how they operated.
Next time: the Delta Green of today
Delta Green (Part 3)Original SA post
Chapter Two - Delta Green (Part 3)
Taking their cue from OSS-sponsored European resistance groups from WWII, Delta Green reorganized themselves into a 'cell' structure. Every member was now to be part of a 3-man cell of active field agents. To minimize the risks of an agent being captured and pumped for information, an agent will only know the other agents in their own cell. They will be able to contact the leader of the cell one above and below theirs in the cell structure, but will only know them by a codename. Cells are titled alphabetically, for a total of 26 cells in existence at any given time. For further security, all communication between cells is to be done via secure phone/email routing servers (the physical locations of which are known only to A cell, and no one member knows every location). In practice, though, things are a bit looser than this. Almost every cell has more than 3 members, and members tend to share more about their personal lives than they are supposed to.
Delta Green 'friendlies' are still in play, as well. Most know little to nothing about Delta Green, simply taking their cover identities at face value (in other words, they believe they're working with agents of a legitimate government agency on a routine job). Some end up seeing too much and get let in on some secrets, becoming de-facto part time agents, and sometimes even being brought in full time. For the most part, though, a friendly will never hear more than an agent's code name, at best.
The system has worked well thus far. Captured agents would have little to reveal, and any investigation into Delta Green would get bogged down chasing down wide networks of friendlies, keeping them from finding the actual agents. Still, DG knows MJ12 is out there, and actively striking back at them. Their current hope is the cell structure will buy them enough time to build a blackmail portfolio on MJ12 to force them to back off.
At present, Delta Green has 3 core objectives:
-Protect US citizens from paranormal threats
-Protect US security from paranormal threats
-Gather intelligence on paranormal phenomena
At the highest levels, there is also an unofficial fourth goal: investigate the extraterrestrial elements collaborating with the government, and eliminate any threats they may pose to US sovereignty (referring to MJ12). This is kept quiet because, on the whole, all information about MJ12 is considered 'need to know'.
Many agents (particularly the old guard) would like to see Delta Green go legitimate again one day. After all, they are still doing this all for the love of country. Others, however, prefer the ability to act on threats immediately, with no need to confer with a command structure. Still others think the only way to get enough resources to truly fight the threats they face is to go public with what they know (these agents are in the extreme minority, and Delta Green actively discourages recruiting agents with this mindset).
Delta Green agents are typically government employees by day, often part of a law enforcement agency. This has the benefit of providing plausible cover to any DG ops they run ("I'm here with the DEA, ma'am..."). When recruiting, they look for 'lifers' with at least 10 years of exemplary service. Recruits don't need to have any experience with the paranormal; in fact, it's often preferred to throw recruits at mythos threats under the guise of a routine mission as a test to see if they can cut it mentally. Requirements to be a 'friendly' are far different. In essence, anyone DG needs information from, from civil servants to retired army personnel to New Age corner store owners, can be brought in as needed, and if they are particularly helpful, they may be earmarked for further use later (earmarked where? On Delta Green's secure servers. Copies exist on all of them. Yes, this makes them more likely to be discovered and targeted than agents. Yes, this is intentional. And of course, no, the friendlies have no idea they are being shoved out front as fodder).
The first tenant of DG's operating procedures is to simply cover up their activities. This can't just involve taking sick days; that would raise too many questions if an agent were killed on a DG op. So, whenever possible, they try to cover up their DG work as something official, but as vague as possible. A black op from the CIA, say, or a hastily thrown together, informal information gathering mission from the FBI; anything that would show they were just doing their job if investigated. Oftentimes this is done for them; if some state police find some a dead body covered in fungal growth, all DG has to do is get their department to give them jurisdiction, and they can go in to investigate legitimately (mostly). This can also be used as a smokescreen to get legitimate law enforcement involved when greater numbers and firepower is needed (as an example, the book uses Waco: DG suspected the Branch Davidians of mythos worship and, knowing they were heavily armed, chose to just tip off the ATF and FBI about the more mundane problems and let them handle it. This is not meant to be a 'best case' example).
Lastly is the question of "how much does Delta Green know". In broad strokes, that's mostly up to the GM. A couple consistent things: of course, Delta Green has all knowledge of Deep Ones that was previously mentioned, though they aren't sure what their overall plan is. They're aware of the Greys, the creatures that crashed at Roswell and are communicating with MJ12 (we'll get to that soon), but they suspect they aren't who they say they are, and are fairly certain they're playing MG12 and the government for their own needs. Besides this, information on specific mythos creatures is sketchy, and can be hard to correlate to current investigations quickly. And for those who have been asking the broad question of why anyone would bother trying to fight the mythos, the simple answer is this: Delta Green has no idea what the mythos is. Deep Ones, as far as they know, are monsters, and the things they worship either don't exist or are just bigger monsters. They haven't given any more credence to stories of Cthulhu than they have to Bigfoot. That's what has kept them going for all this time: they have no idea what they're up against. And god help them, they think they can win.
Next time: the other side of the fight - MJ12!
Majestic 12Original SA post
Chapter Three - Majestic 12
A quick note before I start: I just heard that Dennis Detwiller, Adam Scott Glancy, Shane Ivey, Greg Stolze, and Kenneth Hite are scheduled to do a panel about Delta Green at Gencon Indy saturday night. I bet it's going to be fantastic, and I regret every life decision I've made that's led me to not go this year.
Majestic 12's story, as I said before, starts in July 1947, when a strange object crashed just outside of Roswell, New Mexico. The military was dispatched to investigate, thinking it might be a weather balloon or a downed aircraft. Instead, they found a disc-shaped craft, made out of a silvery material that was oddly resistant to damage. Inside the craft, they found several small, grey humanoids, with featureless bodies, small facial features, and large, almond-shaped heads. Three appeared to be dead, but one seemed to be alive still, just unconscious. As the soldiers set up a cordon, they were met by the CIG (successors to the OSS, and predecessors to the CIA, for you history nerds), who hauled the bodies and craft away, then 'debriefed' the troops until they claimed to have seen nothing out of the ordinary. Shortly afterwards, on September 24th, 1947, Majestic 12 was officially formed, with the sole mandate of investigating the alien craft. They were part of the NSC on paper, but in reality, they answered directly to the president.
The wreckage was transported to nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force base for engineering analysis, while the bodies (and survivor) were moved to Los Alamos (also home of the ICE CAVE, where P division had been keeping numerous Deep Ones captured in the original Innsmouth raid). MJ12 was told to treat the survivor as a 'guest' of the United States. As study of both began, MJ12 found their mandate updated, to include the investigation of all earthly incursions by extraterrestrial life forms.
MJ12 Special Studies Group 1 (SSG1) was in charge of the bodies. The preliminary autopsies revealed nothing conclusive. The creatures had several physical traits (fingerprints/fingernails, for one thing) that seemed oddly similar to human physiology. Not everything, of course: the creature's chest cavities were filled with a foul smelling green fluid, and several organs apparently designed for pumping and little else. Early observations of the survivor also revealed the creatures to be photosynthetic, growing sluggish when deprived of sunlight.
SSG1's attempts at writing a conclusive report were messy at best, as just about everyone had a theory. Some thought that all carbon-based lifeforms would simply evolve down similar paths, and that perhaps on the Grey's planet, plants and animals weren't separate kingdoms. Another popular theory postulated that they were humans from the far distant future, which explained the physical similarities, as well as explaining away why they would be travelling interstellar lengths with essentially no supplies. A few on the fringe even maintained that the irregularities could only be explained if the whole thing was a hoax, though possibly one created by aliens as a method of attempting first contact.
The next few months provided little new information. The alien seemed able to speak English and even read it, but would not write, nor did it seem to understand plurals (it would respond to the question "Who are you?" with "We are"). In an attempt to judge its IQ, a researcher administered it a verbal intelligence test. A short while later, the scientist in charge of scoring the math portion of the test committed suicide, after scrawling an equation the Grey had given as an answer on the wall in his own blood. The formula kept score of MJ12 mathematicians confused for more than 5 years. In the meantime, the creature lapsed into a sort of torpor, appearing by all measures to be dead (another mystery that kept MJ12 busy for quite some time).
Study then turned to the creature's language. The language showed some similarities to both ancient Mayan and Egyptian, with some glyph appearing to have the same meaning in both languages. Still, analysis of the language's meaning proved elusive; a few simplistic phrases were translated, but none of it made much sense, though statistical analysis suggested their translations were correct. In the end, the best they could figure was that they were reading some sort of 'pigeon', rather than a full, functional language.
In the end, the conclusions SSG1 turned over to the president were this: the aliens likely had some form of hive mind, meaning the writings were just ornamental. From conversations with the creature, they extrapolated that his race came from somewhere in the M-31 star cluster. Apparently, 3 million years ago, their world was destroyed by some cataclysm, and the survivors were forced to flee in a fleet of 'Worldships'. They moved from planet to planet, collecting genetic material from other creatures to avoid genetic stagnation (SSG1 found this questionable, but assumed the story was being dumbed down for their benefit). They discovered Earth around 2500 BC, and were surprised at how genetically similar we were to them. The decided to wait and observe us at the outer edge of the solar system, but the crash forced their hand, and they were now considering opening diplomatic relations.
With the alien unresponsive, SSG1 was eventually renamed to Project DANCER. Little other progress would be made in the next 30 years.
Next time: SSG2, the team assigned to study the spacecraft!
Majestic 12 (Part 2)Original SA post
Chapter Three - Majestic 12 (Part 2)
SSG2's task was simply to take apart and and descern the function of the spacecraft and its components (codenamed "The Bucket"). The ship was 30ft in diameter and 12ft tall top to bottom, yet weighed only 12lbs. It floated about a foot and a half off the ground at all times (though it listed a bit to the damaged section at the rear), and working lights on the interior suggested it was still powered. The outer hull was frictionless, and impervious to all forms of damage tested against it (and they tried everything). Additionally, the craft maintained earth-like gravity inside at all times, regardless of the orientation of the craft.
One of the craft's lead researchers, Dr. Stephen Courtis, made an early breakthrough regarding the craft's gravity. He noticed a series of sigils circling the ceiling of the craft that glowed when the craft's orientation was changed. He came to believe that he had discovered a sequence of sigils that would cause a localized bend in space/time, replicating some of the craft's effects. His colleagues became suspicious during this period; they found they were unable to confirm or readily verify his claims, and worried the craft was affecting him somehow. In late 1949, he ascribed a 14 inch sigil into a wooden plank of the ceiling of his workroom (this was more than a dozen times larger than the sigils in the craft). His body was found under the sigil the next day, crushed to death by a force of easily several tons. Further testing showed the plank was continuing to exert this force (with no counterforce apparent), and the effects appeared strong even several miles away from the sigil's 'line of sight'. Experimentation proved difficult, and after several more casualties and structural damage to the base, it was sealed away at Nellis AFB. Following this, SSG2 adopted a 'buddy' system where researchers were required to work in pairs, hopefully to prevent more of these incidents.
The 1950s came and went with little further progress. The only events of note were SSG2 being renamed to Project REDLIGHT, and having killed or driven insane some the the best engineers, scientists, and mathematicians in the country.
Early MJ12 Activities
To cover up extraterrestrial activities, MJ12 went through a number of fronts. First was Project SIGN in 1947, then Project GRUDGE in 1949, and lastly Project BLUEBOOK in 1959 (look these up on Wikipedia, they are real things and pretty interesting, too!). While the effectiveness of these programs in convincing the public that UFOs weren't real was dubious at best, MJ12 was able to use the premise of investigating UFO reports to locate and suppress actual evidence.
In 1952, eager for a bigger budget, more manpower, and higher authority, MJ12 briefed President Eisenhower on their findings. He was extremely skeptical of their claims, but was unable to deny what he was shown in Roswell. He granted their requests, including giving them a section of the then 'black book' NSA. This would establish etiquette for a time, up until Kennedy's assassination, after which MJ12 decided against briefing President Johnson, and instead to only brief future presidents on a need-to-know basis. While Kennedy had been a big supporter of the group (moon mission, anyone?), it was feared that sometime down the line, some president would get the bright idea to make their evidence public, causing widespread panic.
In 1972, study of the alien craft came to an end after an attempt to restart it caused the craft to explode, killing several researchers (and proving to be the only way they discovered to damage the craft). This would be the last major development until 1978, when an NSA cryptographer (part of MJ12's Project AQUARIUS) decoded several strange transmissions that had been picked up by listening posts in 1954. The message was from the Greys, saying they wished to initiate contact, once we were able to translate their message. This led to several messages exchanged, and finally a face-to-face meeting in 1980 (the 'survivor' of the Roswell crash was brought to the meeting at the Grey's request. When the other Greys arrived, the formerly 'dead' creature sat up, said "Thank you", and joined his companions).
The Greys made their point simple: they needed human test subjects (for genetic material and...stuff), and in return for the US helping cover up their abductions, they would provide advanced knowledge and technology. As a good will gesture, they provided a 3500 page tome that became known as "The Cookbook", which contained a complete study of human genetics, as well as other things that would keep MJ12 busy for the next decade. Additionally, they Greys offered a report giving a complete breakdown of foreign military forces...completely inclusive, down to the last guerrilla in his foxhole. The also offered to update this every other month, perhaps more if absolutely neccisary. MJ12 was floored, but realized they were now in over their heads. A week later, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president, and quickly brought into the loop. Finally, in 1981, after the accuracy of the Cookbook and Report were verified, an accord was signed, giving the Greys just what they asked for.
By 1984, however, it was clear the Greys weren't playing by the rules. MJ12 had specified that all test subjects were to be returned unharmed, but instead they were frequently mutilated or outright killed. Another summit was called, in which the aliens offered no explanations for their actions, and instead told MJ12 that the accord would continue as signed. MJ12 knew they had little choice in the matter; they knew from Roswell that the alien's crafts were impervious to all known weaponry, and on top of that, Reagan had used the Report to great successes against Russia, quickly establishing the US as the dominant world power. Humbled, MJ12 agreed.
When Reagan left office and Bush Sr. stepped in, he was already aware of MJ12 from his days in the CIA, and was happy to maintain the status quo. However, it was decided when Clinton took office to resume the 'need to know' policy until further notice (note Clinton was still in office when this was written).
Majestic 12 Today
MJ12 is still around today, and as big as ever. Its secrecy is maintained primarily through its diffuse nature; its budget and membership is split between the CIA, DOD, NSA, NASA, and the Intelligence Agencies of all 3 branches of military. At the top levels, there is still some disagreement over whether to continue honoring the accords though the Greys flagrant abuses continue, but so long as they continue updating the Report, MJ12 will keep the status quo pending any hard evidence of ill-will.
Current MJ12 projects include:
-Project AQUARIUS, MJ12's budget, logistics, and personnel arm
-Project PLATO, which manages relations with the Greys
-Project GARNET, which runs counterintelligence to cover up Grey activities (and were also responsible for MKULTRA in the 70's). They also provide MJ12's field operatives, known as NRO DELTA.
-Project SIGMA, which handles sending and reviving communication to the Greys
-Project MOON DUST, which recovers alien artifacts to keep them out of the public's hands
-Project PLUTO, which studies alien-provided tech for practical conventional uses
-Our old friends Project DANCER and REDLIGHT. Dancer continues to study xenobiology, and is now in charge of the ICE CAVE (though by way of reshufflings of personnel and classifications, they seem unaware that there are still Innsmouth specimens there). REDLIGHT now works to use what they learned of the spacecraft to use on new aerospace tech.
-Project OVERVIEW, which manages non-terrestrial observation and operations
-Project SIDEKICK, who works with allied countries on UFO related matters
-Project LOOKING GLASS, which attempts to determine how much other nations really know about extraterrestrials (no matter how friendly we are with other nations, the Greys and the Accord is still our secret).
-and Project DELPHI, which coordinates information from the other branches and runs hypothetical 'worst case' scenarios.
As for Delta Green, MJ12 (having some former members on staff) were aware of their 'rebirth' as a rogue agency from day one. Initially, they were content to treat them as well armed, but well meaning idiots, they were forced to reassess in 1994, when retired Major General Reginald Fairfield made it his personal mission to find out all there was to know about MJ12 and the Greys, and very quickly aquired a vast trove of very, very top-secret info. They were forced to assassinate him, though the effort cost them 5 agents, and his house self-destructed, destroying any information they might have gleaned. For the moment, MJ12 is not hunting DG actively, though they are quite content to execute them when they run into them in the field. In the long term, MJ12 has a contingency plan to expose Delta Green as 'domestic paramilitary terrorists' to the public, should they ever need a significant patsy.
God shut up already what about the Greys
They Greys aren't real. They are merely semi-autonomous constructs created and mentally controlled by the Mi-Go (and congrats to everyone who was in the ballpark about this).
Roswell was staged to see how humans would react to alien creatures, and the 'survivor' was a spy to assess our capabilities. Several more 'crashes' were then staged, confirming the Mi-Go's greatest hopes: not only were we willing to cover up any and all evidence of extraterrestrial activity (with no prompting), but we were quite good at it. On top of that, we had a marked willingness to ignore blatant warning signs if we believed a greater good was at stake. So, in 1978, the Mi-Go telepathically gave an NSA cryptographer the ability to decode their signals, and created a formal relationship.
The Mi-Go's deception is twofold. At the top level is the Grey's story of being a peaceful race who need genetic material to survive. Should this be seen through, it is likely that any untoward operations will be blamed on the Greys themselves, rather than the Mi-Go.
As said before, this all is part of the Mi-Go's effort to study the human mind. They are fascinated by the human's ability to be 'irrational', which allows for logical leaps they are completely unable to make. While an illogical mind seems inefficient, humanity's rapid technological progress proves otherwise. In the end, the Mi-Go believe that earth has little time left before the Stars are Right, and MJ12 provides an excellent means for them to ramp up human experimentation while still remaining largely unnoticed.
Next time: Surprise! Karotechia is still around!
KarotechiaOriginal SA post
Chapter 4 - Karotechia
It's no secret that some higher-ups in the Nazi party were big into the occult, SS Chief Heinrich Himmler being a prime example. Shortly after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, Himmler had a portion of his personal staff (who would later become the Ancestral Heritage Research and Teaching Foundation, or Ahnenerbe) to do some general research into the occult. Later, in 1935, he'd form a second unit, Sonderkommando H (Special Unit H) specifically to research Catholic witch trials in Germany. Officially, this was to find justification for a crackdown on the Catholic church, but while they worked, evidence of strange paranormal phenomena kept cropping up again and again in their research. This led to the creation of yet another group: Karotechia.
Karotechia was composed of a mix of academics and occultists, as well as members of the Ahnenerbe, Sonderkommando H, and Himmler's old pals the Thule Society (Thulegesellschaft). Not all members were willing, some even recruited straight out of concentration camps. Their activities were classified to even the highest ranking SS members, and they answered only to Himmler and Hitler himself.
Unlike Delta Green (who viewed magic as dangerous and unstable), Karotechia eagerly sought out magic to use to their own ends. They raided public and private libraries and museums all across Europe on the mere chance they'd find something with some occult power; even churches, synagogues, and mosques were targeted. The Vatican Library's Z collection was spared due to fascist Concordat with Pope Pious XII, though italian churches were not quite so lucky.
One of their first large-scale operations involved a massive sacrifice of Jewish prisoners in order to contact Deep Ones off the coast of Cornwall. Their plan was to form an alliance in order to blockade England in preparation for an eventual invasion. Talks stalled initially because the price the Deep Ones demanded...shall we say ran counter to the Nazi ideals of 'racial purity'. In the end, they instead offered an unlimited supply of Jews, Gypsies, and Russian POWs. The deal was almost carried out before it was stopped by a surprise attack by Delta Green. With several of their leaders killed in the attack, the Deep Ones refused all further attempts by Karotechia to contact them.
Another major project, Aktion Eisschloss (Operation Ice Palace) saw the German Navy sending hundreds of scientists and archaeologists to the Queen Maud Land region of Antarctica. No records exist concerning this expedition, so outside of its name and existence, little is known about what the Nazis were actually doing there, nor what became of those sent there.
One of Karotechia's overall goals was to use magic to aid the Nazi war effort, a goal which met with...mixed results. For example, in 1944, they discovered a Gothic translation of the Necronomicon. This version had cut out all the storytelling and 'mystery', and was essentially just a spellbook. They began experimenting with it before the translations were even finished, and it was immediately clear that they'd found a means to immense power, but not the means to control it. In an early experiment, 80 German soldiers were vaporized along with all of Naudabaum Castle in a poorly understood ritual that Karotechia was not entirely aware was meant to summon Azathoth (for those keeping score, this is the huge explosion that made Delta Green nervous).
One success they did have was replicating the results of one Dr. Herbert West on reanimating the dead. The resulting creations were mindless animals that were impossible to control, but the Nazis were still more than happy to ship their "resuscitated casualties" to the eastern front, where they caused mass chaos and large Soviet losses. Eventually, these would be used in defense of Berlin, causing mass casualties to the attacking Soviets as well as the native German inhabitants.
Karotechia's last official act came from a secret order from Hitler minutes before his suicide: Karotechia was to recreate the Naudabaum disaster on the biggest scale they could manage, as a last act of vengeance against the allies and the entire world. Horrifyingly enough, there were enough fanatical believers in Karotechia that this was put into motion. For 3 months in 1945, Delta Green fought their way through Germany, killing anyone even suspected of being with Karotechia. They ended up being disbanded before finishing them all off, but the damage was done; the ritual never happened.
After the war, only 37 members of Karotechia remained, and with help from ODESSA, were able to flee Europe for South America. This gave them a safe haven, but not for long: in 1948, the newly reformed Delta Green launched Operation SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY, hunting them across the continent. One by one, they were hunted down and executed, their plans laid to waste, until in 1956, Delta Green ended the op, content Karotechia was gone for good. They were close: 3 members remained alive, hidden on a large plantation in the Brazilian rainforest.
Known as "La Estancia", this massive rubber plantation became Karotechia's new base of operations and recruitment center. Its palatial estate had every amenity imaginable, and Karotechia additionally upgraded it with new wings and standalone generators. Here now lives the last gasps of Karotechia. There is Dr. Gunter Frank, who used his research to stay alive as a partial zombie, Oberfuhrer Galt, who remains young using black magics, and Dr. Olaf Bitterich, who is at a very advanced age and alive apparently by willpower alone.
Today, Karotechia styles themselves as the Fourth Reich. They rule an underground empire of fascists, white supremacists, anti-Semetics, and several criminal organizations all around the world. The remaining 3 keep power at the top of the organization. Under them are 12 Aryan Bischofe (Bishops), sorcerers loyal to the cause. Underneath them are several hundred Ritter (Knights), paramilitary toughs who know little of Karotechia's plans outside of their Nazi roots. At the very bottom are the Bauern (Pawn), your street level skinhead and the like who knows exactly nothing about Karotechia (typically not even that they exist at all; they believe they are working for the remnants of ODESSA to recreate the Nazi party). While essentially all major Nazi players died either in the war or of old age, Karotechia has been busy resurrecting them as thinking, but obedient zombies for the ranks of Ritter and Bauern.
Karotechia's current goal is to take over the world (of course). They are guided in this by none other than Hitler himself! But wait, you say, isn't he dead? Of course he is, but Karotechia has summoned his spirit from beyond the grave to guide them. Or, at least, that's what they think they did. Instead, the spell they used actually summoned Nyarlathotep, who immediately took the form of Hitler to
Their world domination scheme has two parts to it. Firstly, under the guise of ODESSA, they plan to network white power groups across the globe to 'spread the faith' and increase the size of their potential army. Secondly, they continue to seek out occult power, particularly the remains of ancient sorcerers who can be ressurected to tell their secrets.
So how does Delta Green fit into this? Well, the most likely way would be if some agents ran into some idiot skinheads with some heavy Mythos tomes and got really curious how the hell that happened. A few more incidents like that, and they'll start to connect the dots. What then? Well...why not give your group one in the W column? Indeed, the book suggests simply letting your players storm La Estancia and wiping Karotechia off the map. This makes them feel good, and clears out a relatively weak threat that's a cool part of DG mythology. Plus, you can always have one more Bischofe crop up somewhere in Europe should you want to revisit them later. Of course, if you were looking for something a bit larger in scale, I think a WWII era Delta Green campaign against Karotechia would be a cool idea. After all, I think a secret government unit going into Germany and striking against the most dangerous of targets sounds pretty badass .
Next time: Saucerwatch! ...are not as stupid as you might think!
SaucerwatchOriginal SA post
Chapter 5 - Saucerwatch
Saucerwatch is a privately owned and operated UFO investigation group, started (as many were) after the famous Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting in 1947 Washington. It was founded by one Howard Fender, a retired reporter who wanted to take a different tack with his group than most. Having heard stories of abductions and strange alien experiments, Fender was nervous about what the motives of such alien creatures could be. Thus, he decided to start gathering all the information he could, using a newletter called Semper Vigilus to spread the word. Specifically, Fender focused on finding and collating evidence of things like abductions, cattle mutilation, repressed memories, and unexplained disappearances. Perpetually underfunded and understaffed, the group muddled on nonetheless until Fender's death of lung cancer in 1961.
The next 20 years were difficult and uneven, with various leaders mismanaging the group to varying degrees. What seemed to be a huge boost, the addition of psychiatrist Dr. Denton Shaeffer in 1980, proved to be another bust when he lost his medical license in 1983, following allegations of molesting unconscious patients. In a bit to clear their name after the scandal, Saucerwatch took a more 'skeptical' approach to their investigations, polygraphing witnesses and training their investigators to spot obvious stage tricks. By 1990, they once again had a nationwide presence and public acceptance (within the UFO community, at least).
Today, they are one of the best funded UFO groups out there, thanks largely to major booster Sheridan Dunwoody-Smith, an abductee from an East-Coast old money family. She set up a 3 million dollar endowment to fund the group, which now constitutes almost all of its yearly budget, providing data processing equipment, a fleet of 3 vehicles, a forensics lab, and even a twin-engine private plane. Some additional funding also comes from member donations and subscriptions to Semper Vigilus, now published in full color bi-monthly with a comprehensive online presence. Additionally, they maintain liasons with other UFO groups, such as MUFON, CUFOS, Canada's UFOROM, and Australia's VUFORS.
Saucerwatch's files contain hundreds of hours of interview videos, as well as thousands of photos of lights in the sky, 'landing zones', mutilated cattle, ect. These are all filed under one of four classifications: "Credible Evidence", "Credible Circumstantial Evidence", "Credible Testimony", and "Bullshit" (depressingly, this is by far the largest section in their files). Given all the genuine evidence they've accumulated, Saucerwatch feels they're on the verge of something big, but they have no idea what. The stories of abduction and experimentation seem to be increasing in volume, while at the same time sharing many qualities among abductees. What does it all mean?
All Saucerwatch operations follow the same basic template. First, when the home office first gets word of a UFO case where humans were affected (if it's nothing more than "I saw a flying light", it's ignored), they first gather as much information as they can from media reports. If they happen to have a reputable investigator living nearby, they will request they check things out personally. If there are claims of remarkable evidence, Saucerwatch can be there in person within 12 hours. Case summaries are posted on Saucerwatch's website, with lengthy writeups going in Semper Vigilus. Saucerwatch maintains a very professional demeanor on-site, but will generally ignore any official requests to stay off the scene (a great way to get on Delta Green's nerves in a hurry).
One of Saucerwatch's main ongoing investigations centers around northeastern Vermont, where Dunwoody-Smith was originally taken. They've found a higher than expected rate of unexplained disappearances, including several particularly odd incidents. One case, that of Mike Childers, started with him falling asleep in a forest in 1919, and ended with him waking up in 1934 with no feeling or memory of any time having passed. Under hypnosis, he recounted terrifying tales of buzzing creatures taking him underground and removing his brain. After his death in 1995 of old age, an autopsy showed inexplicable evidence of major cranial surgery. Another involves the claims of the British-based Army of the Third Eye, a cult centered around trepanning to forcefully remove 'alien parasites' from their skulls (we'll talk more about them later).
It's important to note that Saucerwatch does have their share of enemies. First and foremost is the Dunwoody-Smith family, who believe that Saucerwatch has some sort of Svengali who has brainwashed Sheridan. They continue to do everything they can under the law to have Sheridan declared incompetent so she can be put away in a discreet private sanitarium for the rest of her life. Saucerwatch is also on MJ12's radar (anyone that guessed they're the ones that discredited Dr. Shaeffer, you were right). They have been using Saucerwatch's message board and mailing list to send them on wild goose chases away from real activity, but their large scope has allowed them to continue turning evidence up. Their current plan is to have Sheridan kidnapped by a professional 'cult deprogrammer' at the behest of her family, who will induce enough selective amnesia that she will forget her abduction, and can be convinced to dissolve her Trust. Should this fail for some reason, their backup plan is to use MKULTRA-derived hallucinogens to make Saucerwatch's paranoid IT specialist, Donald Lang, go on a shooting rampage in their central offices.
So how would a GM use Saucerwatch? Well, for one thing, you can have the PCs be members of the group, for a different flavor of campaign. They can also be used to interact with Delta Green PCs, helping or hindering as needed. Finally, their destruction by MJ12 could be used to send a message to DG players that things are about to get real, real ugly.
Next time: Who are The Fate (and why do I think they're the weakest part of the book)?
The FateOriginal SA post
Delta Green - Millennial New York posted:
The government of New York City has been known to take seven years to fill a pothole. Yet this same government has also allocated funds for workers who do nothing but pull corpses from the Hudson River - corpses drifting in the river, enough to keep a worker busy. Like roadkill, only bigger.
There's something wrong with New York.
Chapter 6 - The Fate
The first thing you need to know about The Fate is Stephen Alzis. Alzis is a "thin, fine-looking Arab with a chopped accent", and one of the most feared sorcerers on the planet. No one is sure where he came from, just that he seems to have always been around, and asking questions seems to be ill-advised. He's the kind of person who's seen all over the world, yet he never seems out of place. He's never seen to pay for things with cash, only bartering strange objects and promises of favors. Alzis, unlike everyone else in this book, has what appears to be a complete working knowledge of the Mythos, and he uses this to his advantage. He doesn't claim allegience or worship to any particular Elder God, instead working professionally with just about every cult out there towards his own ends. It seems to be working out well for him; he's known to have died at least 15 times in the last century, most recently in a plane crash in 1987 (an experience he breezily describes as "quite enlightening"). His only prized possession is a scrapbook containing hundreds of photos of himself, going back to the invention of the camera. He's rarely the subject of these photos, just standing around in the background. So who the hell is this guy? The book never commits to anything, though they note that some suspect he's an avatar of Nyarlathotep, an accusation he simply laughs off.
The second thing to know is The Network, the most powerful and least known of New York's crime syndicates. Like the other crime syndicates, The Network deals in drugs, prostitution, extortion, and the like, but only indirectly, acting as a middleman while the other syndicates do all the actual hands-on work. Why do the syndicates need such a middleman? Because The Network offers something unique: magic. What can't be done, they can do. Behind the scenes, The Network's true purpose is to provide a, well, network through which Stephen Alzis and the other higher-ups can acquire whatever they need, no matter how arcane and obscure it may be. Organizationally, The Network is comprised of 3 parts: the Lords, the Adepts, and the Fate. Since the Fate is the part running the group, many use The Fate and The Network interchangeably (hence the chapter title).
The Lords are the magical independent contractors of The Network, getting called in for favors when there's arcane work to be done for clients. As the ones who directly interact with clients, they're the most well known part of The Network, though clients are never let in on how exactly they complete their requests. They also tend to appear at syndicate social functions, though discreetly, mainly just observing who's there talking to whom. When they need to be identified, they go by titles, such as the Lord of Creation, Lord of Sleep, ect.
The Adepts are the least well-known part of The Network, as they are never seen or talked about outside the organization itself. They act as the information arm of The Network, though on the surface, they appear to simply be professional obsessive compulsives. They spend their days pursuing independent 'projects', with the full backing of The Network to help them. These projects include things like long-term tracking of the movements of a single penny, proofreading books in bookstores (and making corrections in red ink), and other typical crazy person activities. The Network lets/helps them do this because these activities bring them into contact with supernatural happenings with alarming frequency; they seem to perpetually be in the wrong place at the wrong time, for reasons seemingly unrelated to their actual tasks. Note that Adepts aren't actually trained in, well, anything, meaning that their mortality rate tends to be frighteningly high. They aren't even recruited, really; they are just ordinary people. They simply show up at a certain door of a Network owned building, out of the blue, and ask for orders. Some people think that the activities of the Adepts aren't coincidental at all, but that the Network simply has a godlike understanding of synchronicity. But that's impossible, isn't it?
The Fate (proper) are the mysterious leaders of the Network. Each of them worships a certain outer god, though only by proxy via Nyarlathotep. Their leader is Alzis, though he maintains complete neutrality vis a vis the Elder Gods. The Fate were originally formed in the 1930s, through a strategic partnership with the organized crime of the era. The bootleggers wanted magical assistance, and the magicians wanted a mundane front for their activities, so everyone won out of the deal. Alzis didn't come til after WWII, though he had been whispered about in arcane circles long before that. When he showed up in person, The Fate offered him everything, and he seemed ok with that. Alzis then created the system of Lords and Adepts, and thus the Network was born, and has been growing and thriving ever since. The Fate members are absolutely convinced Alzis is Nyarlathotep, even using his name interchangeably with the God's and performing rituals to him. Alzis continually denies this, despite the fact that it seems to only be working to his favor.
At the center of Alzis' life is Club Apocalypse, a trendy club built on top of New York's Doolittle Sinkhole. The club is mostly attended by shallow yuppies, though the private back rooms are reserved for, and populated by, a very strange mix of heavy hitters from the criminal underworld and the occult underground. It's in these rooms that the Lord's deals go down, and there's even a private bar/stage for their more high-class clientele. The lowest levels are old stone, and clearly predate the club, possibly even the rest of New York. This has led some to suggest that the Doolittle Sinkhole was just a ploy to keep New York developers from discovering what was beneath their feet. All that's known for sure is that very, very few people have access to the lowest levels.
The club's owner, as near as anyone can tell, is an uptight, quiet man by the name of Robert Hubert, or Belial, as he is known to the Fate. Nothing is know of his past, other than the fact that he doesn't appear to have aged since the 60's (which are simply the earliest records that exist of him). He handles the booking at Club Apocalypse, as well as acting as a go-between for Alzis. Though clearly the manager at least, most people still believe Alzis to be the true owner of the club (for whatever it's worth). Regardless, neither seems to have a problem with The Fate using Club Apocalypse as their base of operations.
I'll keep my ranting to a minimum, but as I've said, I find this to be the weakest part of the book. Aside from seeming like an odd fit thematically with all the 'government conspiracy' material we've had so far, I really think that the book pushes the 'Alzis is unknowable, The Fate is unstoppable, but ineffable' angle too hard. If nothing else, I know if I was a player, I'd see The Fate as a pretty obvious area to investigate, and I'd get pretty pissed if my GM stonewalled me, like the book seems to want them to.
That's gonna wrap it up for the corebook. There's several appendices following this containing material on government codewords, new manuscripts, and other small bits of fluff (and the only real crunch in the book), but nothing big enough to cover, I think. There's two adventures (the introductory scenario 'Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays', and the mini-campaign setting 'Convergence/The New Age'), which I'm going to skip for right now, though I'll do after I've done the rest of the books if there's interest in them (they are pretty long, especially The New Age, and I enjoy writing up the organizations much more). There's also an appendix with an exaughstive listing of federal agencies, which my edition notes is hilariously out of date post-9/11 (and promises an update to come...eventually).
So, if anyone has any other questions or comments, please let me know. Otherwise, I will shortly be starting on the first suppliment, Delta Green: Countdown , in which we learn about :
-The Insects from Shaggai!
-Delta Green's British analog, PISCES!
-The UK-based cult, The Army of the Third Eye!
-GRU-SV8, Delta Green's Russian analog (sort of)!
-The Russian-based cult of Shub-Niggurath, Skoptsi!
-Majestic 12's secret personnel testing arm, the OUTLOOK Group!
-Phenomen-X, a trashy late-night paranormal show that might know more than they realize!
-Tiger Transit, a...um...group of pygmies smuggling occult drugs!
-The Keepers of the Faith, religious ghouls and their homeless allies under the streets of New York!
-A new interpretation of the Hastur Mythos! By John Tynes!
-and some other stuff too, probably!
PISCESOriginal SA post
Countdown, Chapter 1 - PISCES
Before we can talk about the Mythos in England, we should first get a working knowledge of the Insects from Shaggai, aka the Shans.
The Shans are from the planet Shaggai (obviously), part of a binary system in the Andromeda galaxy. Shaggai has two noteworthy qualities; the first is that it followed a complex and eccentric orbit around its star, resulting in average temperatures varying anywhere from -80F to 900F. The other is the 'black sea', an 'ocean' made up of a complex organic compound (that may have even been a gigantic protoplasm), covering about 1/3rd of the planet's surface, and is where life on the planet started. It's here that the Shans first evolved, as well.
The Shans evolved a unique method to sustain themselves: they absorb electromagnetic radiation in a similar way to photosynthesis, except the Shans use the energy directly, without having to convert it to an organic compound as plants do. Shans also have an odd six-lobed brain, enabling them to maintain 3 separate trains of thought simultaneously. This allowed for rapid mental development, which eventually granted the Shans telepathy. Shans are also noteworthy for their longevity. Barring accident or violence, a Shan can expect to live 1500-1800 years easily. Partially as a result of this, Shans have no reproductive 'cycle', and will only reproduce when their is need for more Shans. Shans are hermaphrodites, and can fertilize themselves if necessary, but typically share genetic material to maintain diversity.
The Shans' modern history starts when they came out of the sea due to population concerns. Here, they quickly learned tool-making and technology, but also discovered the ruins of some long-dead civilization, which they co-oped as their new homes. It was in one of these pyramidal structures they discovered a portal which led them, unawares, to Azathoth, the Blind Idiot God. Being highly telepathic, the first Shans through the gate were corrupted by his influence, becoming the first priests of the god they would call Xada-Hgla, the Cradle of Chaos. Contact with the Elder God changed the Shans in several ways, the most immediate being an increasing of their understanding of the physical sciences, allowing them to go from combustion engines to nuclear power at a shocking rate. There also developed a caste system, which separated the priests and scientists from the rest of society (the Shans respected Azathoth, but also feared him). Finally, they found they had the ability to 'slide' their bodies through the electron shells of organic matter, effectively passing through it without harming either creature. Further study showed that, while phased into a creature, they could interact with its nervous system, even controlling some creatures.
In time, the Shans discovered that the 'temples' to Azathoth were actually interstellar spacecraft, which they used to set out exploring. Their first contact with another sentient race, though, ended with the Shans enslaving them, the start of a trend that would create an interstellar empire. While the Shans were searching for ways to expand their knowledge base, they had also found that telepathically connecting to the minds and nervous systems of sentient beings was a entertaining experience, which became the driving force behind much of their explorations. This continued for some time until approimately 592 AD, when much of the Shans empire was destroyed (for unknown reasons) by the Elder God Ghroth the Harbinger.
The Shans were forced to flee their system, eventually finding their way to our system, specifically Uranus, which was (is?) inhabited by metal cube-like beings. As these beings were made of inorganic matter, they were immune to all the Shans' weapons, so they simple set to co-habitate the planet. This worked for a time, until the elders discovered that a large segment of the newer generations were turning from Azathoth and instead to the much less involved worship of Lrogg, native diety of the planet. The elders attempted a coup against the priests of Lrogg, which failed horribly. Only 28 of the elders escaped the planet alive.
The elders arrived on Earth in 1643, accidentally materializing their ship partially underground, which rendered it useless. It wasn't long before they discovered that some element of our sun (apparently filted by the atmosphere of Uranus) was toxic to them, with more than an hour or so exposure being lethal. Some good news came later in the form of a group of Protestant refugees who'd fled into the Goatswood forest surrounding the crash site. The Shans took them over, and began hatching plans to spread their influence throughout the Severn River Valley, then the rest of England, and finally the world, all in the interest of building a dimensional gate that would allow them to travel again. This was cut short by the end of the English Civil War, which caused the remaining uninhabited Protestants to return to the cities, leaving the forest empty again. The Shans were left to kidnap woodcutters and hunters for new bodies. They found their next roadblock when the nearby town petitioned the government for help with the dissapearences, and were sent the infamous inquisitor Matthew Hopkins. Hopkins put 40 people to death for witchcraft, and surprisingly, was able to all 13 of the Shan's host bodies, even killing two Shans themselves who were unable to escape in time. This terrified the Shans, who assumed the primitive humans would be easy prey, though ironically, the same incident made the townspeople hesitant to ever ask for outside help again.
Following this, the Shans only launched a few small, tentative exploratory efforts which, outside of information gathering, met with little success. Until recently.
Next time: PISCES, Delta Green's British counterparts!
PISCES (Part 2)Original SA post
Countdown, Chapter 1 - PISCES (part 2)
Sorry for vanishing! For the newbies, the old DG posts are collected here , with the first part of this book specifically here (thanks to Syrg for his tireless archival work, as always). Without further ado, let's talk about England's answer to Delta Green, PISCES!
PISCES' origins can be traced all the way back to 1893, when the Admiralty first tried hiring seers and psychics for Project Delphi, an attempt to use 'unconventional' means to detect the position of enemy ships. The experiment was a near-total failure, with the notable exception of one Arthur Colby, who showed some impressive accuracy, and had worked with Scotland Yard on unsolved cases in the past. However, one success wasn't enough to justify the resources, and the project was shut down. Still seeing some value to be gained, a young Lt. Commander Fredrick Ramsey, a Mason and a spiritualist, continued the project on his own. His refusal to abandon the ideas from Delphi ended up ruining his career and set him off on a 7 year long journey around the world in search of others with extraordinary mental abilities. This ended with the founding of the Ramsey Institute for Psychical Education, a place where people could have their psychic potential tested, though Ramsey only ever found a handful of people with abilities worth noting.
In 1916, during the worst days of WWI, Ramsey was approached by Captain Mansfield Cumming , the father of MI-6. He was interested in resurrecting Delphi to help combat the threat of German U-boats. To that end, he gave Ramsey his own division, dubbed MI-13, where he gathered up the exceptional talents he'd found, along with the world's foremost neurologists and alienists, some scholars of eastern medicine, and a few from the budding science of psychology. From their temporary headquarters in Hampden Castle on the Scottish border, they quickly began to produce some surprising results, sometimes even predicting German troop movements before they'd happened. However, the information gleaned wasn't always actionable; the psychic's visions were often subjective and couched in metaphor, so the military was forced to get independent confirmation before they could act on anything. By the end of the war, Ramsey had been promoted to Commander, while Cummings (who was eventually knighted) continued to be MI-13's biggest supporter until his death in 1923.
Cummings' death resulted in an almost immediate gutting of MI-13's budget, forcing Ramsey to cut his staff of 70 down to just 20 of the strongest potentials, which he eventually had to demote to part-time contractors. Things went from bad to worse in late February 1925, when the potentials all reported having disturbing recurring dreams involving strange undersea imagery. These continued to ramp up in intensity until March, when they became so powerful that 7 of the potentials killed themselves. The survivors all made miraculous recoveries shortly after, and reported no more odd dreams. Ramsey was haunted by what'd happened, and his quest for answers led him to believe his worldview was missing a key piece of the puzzle. This was also what put him in touch with a Major David Cornwall in 1926. Cornwall had become a student of the preternatural after his time with the British Expeditionary Force, where his troop had been sent into No Man's Land in 1916 to clear out a nest of ghouls (officially identified as "shell-shocked cannibalistic deserters"). Cornwall knew full well the things he saw weren't human, but never spoke up publicly for fear of losing his position. When in 1926 Cornwall denounced several high-ranking Turkish officials as being members of an occult group called the Brotherhood of the Skin, he was forced into early retirement, where Ramsey found him. Together they spend the next 6 years searching for answers, a search that ended in 1932 with Ramsey's death by heart attack. While attributed to overwork, Cornwall always believed that it had been shock from finding out too much (indeed, Ramsey had in fact deduced what the potentials saw ).
World War II
At this point, MI-13 was on the verge of closure, consisting of little more than Cornwall and a few research assistants. This all changed with the outbreak of WWII, as MI-13's occult contacts made the invaluable for investigating the Nazi's mystical research. They were in fact the first to discover the existance and activities of the Karotechia . What really brought them to prominence was a vision by a former MI-13 psychic in May 1940 predicting an elaborate feint by the German army to allow them passage through the "impassable" Ardennes Forest. Since this seemed like an odd course of action, and since MI-13 had yet to produce any usable intel in the war thus far, this was dismissed outright. Cornwall realized that MI-13 was going to be needed again, so he came up with a plan: he put the prediction in a sealed envelope and left it in the office of Winston Churchill, with instructions to be opened on June 5th. When Churchill opened the envelope and saw that everything that had been predicted has come to pass , he immediately realized the potential MI-13 had. MI-13 was reorganized into an inter-agency task force working with MI-5, MI-6, and the SOE. They were also given a new name: the Paranormal Intelligence Section for Counterintelligence, Espionage, and Sabotage, or PISCES. They were also given their independence: PISCES reported directly to the Prime Minister, and had complete discretion over their funding and resources, meaning more often than not it was MI-5 and MI-6 getting tasked to work on PISCES projects rather than the other way around.
PISCES had a variety of resources to provide during the war. Their telepaths and empathics made excellent interrogators. Their clairvoyants could predict troop movements. At SOE's request, they even provided several psychics to act as communicators that couldn't be jammed. Needless to say, PISCES didn't have an abundance of personnel to provide, but those that they could proved to be immensely useful. PISCES also ended up running into several supernatural enemies during the war, most notably Karotechia; PISCES ended up being instrumental in discovering and stopping a number of Karotechia's more apocalyptic plans during this period. Other groups they tangled with included the Black Ocean Society (an ultra-nationalist group in Japan with ties to the Yakuza), the Thuggee (a revolutionary secret society in India), and SMERSH (a Russian counter-intelligence group with occult aspirations). Regarding Delta Green, PISCES wasn't introduced immediately, as neither side was eager to broadcast a belief in the paranormal (they did, however, notice each other's agents by way of their interest in certain obscure files). It wasn't til 1942 that the groups were formally introduced, but their shared findings quickly inspired a working partnership. Their first joint operation was against a Deep One colony off the south of France; they used a spell to summon the Deep Ones, then obliterated them en masse with depth charges to great success. The partnership was broken after the war with the disbandment of Delta Green. Though DG was later reformed, PISCES worried that another breakup could cause the leak of sensitive information, and the US government saw England as a haven for soviet spies. The only relationship going forward was informal and under the table, though to this day the old guard from both groups continue to share the occasional piece of intel.
In order to keep relevant during the Cold War (and to allow him to continue with his off-the-books investigations into the Mythos), Cornwall was up front with PISCES' findings and activities during WWII to incoming Prime Minister Clement Attlee. PISCES presently believed that the breakup and unofficial reformation of SMERSH was a sign that they'd found something big, and would need to be kept under watch. The British government were indeed worried about the Soviets, but wanted Cornwall to go further: they insisted that PISCES begin officially studying the 'alien' sciences that SMERSH and Karotechia had been experimenting with. Cornwall was not at all pleased with this (knowing what that power could do), but had little choice. He did, however, insist on relocating to an island in the St. Kilda archipelago, where hopefully any research disasters could be contained.
PISCES vs the Mythos
PISCES' operations against Karotechia in WWII had only cemented what they'd already known about the greater supernatural threats lurking on the fringes of the world, and it didn't end with the close of the war. In 1948, they discovered a splinter group of the IRA worshipping a fertility god known as The Green Man. During the 1954 Malaysian Emergency, PISCES found themselves tracking a tiny ethnic minority group called the "Chau-chau" that exhibited a flair for cannibalism. Cornwall continued to lead the group through this period up til his retirement in 1955, and he continued to act as a consultant up til his death in 1961. His insistance that PISCES always focus on the 'other war' regardless of whatever else they were tasked with was an enduring legacy which eventually led to what became known as the Severn Valley Campaign.
Brigadier Charles Balfour had been investigating the paranormal in England for almost 2 decades, and when he became director of PISCES, he was eager to go after what appeared to be a hotspot for anomalous activity: the tiny village of Goatswood. Taking cues from the US raid of Innsmouth, PISCES raided Goatswood and burned it to the ground, later claiming the entire area under a Ministry of Defense issues Compulsory Purchase Order. Surviving members of the tower were initially housed on an abandoned WWII era carrier scheduled for demolition. Despite calls to let the demolition happen on schedule, Balfour ordered the prisoners moved to their research island, which continues to hold hundreds of Goatswood prisoners to this day. PISCES would return to Goatswood several more times over the years, including investigation of an avatar of Y'golonac in 1974, and the draining of Brichester Lake to research an alleged meteor impact in 1987.
PISCES continues to operate today, though few have heard of them outside of the offices of the Prime Minister and the chiefs of MI-5 and MI-6. Many of the lowest ranks of PISCES are even under the impression they work for a super-secret branch of MI-5 nicknamed "the Section". Though they continue to fight the paranormal, they've greatly reigned in their operations and now work almost exclusively within the borders of the UK. However, they've become quite effective at stopping cult activity; the GCHQ gives them access to wiretaps, and the SAS and SBS can be deployed for 'extralegal rendition' of any cultists that are found. England may not know it, but they have a protector in PISCES.
A final note
But forget all that. PISCES is fucked.
During the raid on Goatswood in 1968, several PISCES agents became host to the Shan , who began slowly spreading their influence and working their way up the chain of command. By 1988, a Shan was inside the PISCES director. They found it easy! As with many intelligence agencies, agents were hesitant to place suspicion on their own members; surely these people, who they've known for years, would have no reason to turn, right? Additionally, the Shan used their knowledge of the mythos to ensure their hosts' fieldwork was superb and highly successful, allowing them to easily move up the ranks. At present, the Shans control about 10% of PISCES, but it's the 10% that counts. They have a controlling share of the top executives, they run the Internal Investigations Division, and they handle recruitment and training of new hires. PISCES' prime directive now is to keep the Severn Valley hive safe. Perhaps fortunately, the Shan are religious bigots, hence why they continue to root out and destroy other cults across the UK (this of course helps maintain their cover, as well). They've been slowly working to lower the profile of PISCES, all while reaching out to place more Shan into different government agencies. And you thought Delta Green had it bad.
Next time: the terrorist cult The Army of the Third Eye
The Army of the Third EyeOriginal SA post
Countdown, Chapter 1 - The Army of the Third Eye
The Army of the Third Eye is a religious cult with a terrorist bent. Founded in 1989 by a young American tourist named Lee Coleman who suffered a severe psychotic break while on holiday in England, which caused him to drill a hole in his head to 'destroy the demon possessing him'. Afterwards, he went on a spree, kidnapping numerous people and attempting to remove their 'demons' as well. Botched surgeries resulted in a high number of casualties, but strangely, the survivors appeared to fall in line with his beliefs. Luckily, in 1996, Coleman and 5 of his followers were captured, and Coleman is serving 4 consecutive life sentences in prison.
You're not buying any of this, I hope, are you? Good.
The truth is, Coleman's backpacking trip through England had the bad fortune of taking him to the Severn Valley, right into the middle of a PISCES operation to unearth the Shan templeship . PISCES took him into captivity and held him until eventually making him a Shan host. Coleman then woke up at the edge of Goatswood Forest, seemly unharmed, with PISCES nowhere to be seen. He attempted to move on with his life, but immediately found himself experiencing missing time and sleepwalking episodes. He was even more confused when a voice in his head revealed itself to be his new puppetmaster, and threatened to drive him insane with blasphemous images if he tried to fight back. For a time, he yielded. Two months later, he was at his wit's end, and with an insane burst of willpower, broke into a machine shop and drove a drill press into the center of his forehead. The light that entered the hole terrified Coleman's Shan driver, and it fled. The police eventually found him in a coma, which he stayed in for six weeks. Upon waking, he made the horrible mistake of trying to explain everything that'd happen, earning him a trip to a psychiatric hospital. However, he escaped, and he had a plan. He still remembered things from when the Shan had been controlling him, in particular the names and faces of other Shan hosts. He quickly tracked down Richard Rowland, a contractor for the Ministry of Defense, and attempted to drill into his head too. Rowland survived, and the Shan fled, giving Coleman his very first recruit.
Coleman's plan was one of caution. He'd track down a Shan host and begin observing them. If they appeared to have been possessed for too long, or if they appeared to have been willingly infested, they would be assassinated quietly. If, however, there seemed to be internal conflict, the victim would be kidnapped and trepanned . But, as stated in the public story, Coleman's lack of medical knowledge was a huge barrier: of the first 6 kidnappings, only 1 survived without severe nerve damage (4 of them didn't survive at all). Coleman decided to change tactics a bit by kidnapping a neurosurgeon named Karen Carter, who he forced to perform the next trepanning at gunpoint. She had no choice, but watching a basketball-sized insect fly out of the victim's head made her an instant believer. Carter brought about several changes in the budding Army: first, her skill allowed the next 13 procedures to go off without a hitch. Secondly, she begin making the incision in the back of the skull, where the hole could be made bigger, but could later be covered up easier with hair. Thirdly, she began teaching the technique to other recruits, so that hopefully they could take over should anything happen to her. And finally, she laid down an ultimatum: regardless of her belief, she would no longer help if Coleman continued to assassinate any hosts. Coleman conceded the point, but reserved the right to change his mind should circumstances change.
With membership mounting, the Army started taking more direct action by harassing PISCES personnel in the Severn Valley region by leaving road spikes on trails, making threatening calls to workers at all hours, and committing minor acts of vandalism against their camps, always spraypainting "THE ARMY IS COMING" as they went. While obviously not fatal blows, they were too afraid to attempt an assault on the templeship, reasoning that if they were captured, the Shans would figure out what they were up to and launch a massive campaign to hunt them down. They even started carrying vials of potassium cyanide around their neck to ingest in case of capture by the enemy. While this was going on, they also launched a completely unsuccessful publicity campaign. Scotland Yard wouldn't take their calls, footage of the trepannings was dismissed as bogus by news stations, and the Shan's nasty habit of evaporating on death made real evidence impossible.
By 1995, the Shans had figured out something was going on, and were starting to panic. Over 20 hosts had been captured or killed. PISCES had been doing its best to cover these up (fearing that Scotland Yard would look for a connection between the victims and connect the dots back to Goatswood Forest), but they couldn't stop every case from leaking to the press. PISCES decided it was time to find out who was behind all of this, and so they set up a trap for the Army. They infested a Milton Parsons, an employee at Severn Aerospace (PISCES' front shell company), who then began acting strangely in a very open manner, drawing the attention of his friend and family, then doctors and eventually the media. This was too temping for Coleman; he knew something was going on in Goatswood, and an employee of Severn Aerospace could finally get him the access he needed. When the Army showed up, PISCES was waiting, with a full squad of SAS. In the ensuing firefight, Coleman, Parson, and another Army member were killed, and the two other members present killed themselves with their cyanide vials. The Army had lost their leader, but PISCES had lost their only lead on the Army. Humiliated, PISCES covered up the event by abducting several vagrants and framing them as the Army. They still sit rotting in jail, catatonic from heavy, constant doses of sedatives.
Today, the Army has stopped trying to rescue Shan hosts (they simply can't risk walking into another trap). The new Army, led by Carter and consisting over a little over a dozen members (supported by around 80 'friendlies' who are not former Shan hosts), is currently focused on mapping out the Shan's influence across England. The investigation is extremely slow moving and focused mostly on publicly available information to protect the members. What to do with this information is the subject of great debate: some want to go to the press (though in England this would likely result in a D Notice at best). Others want to take their evidence to the government (but who can be trusted?). Regardless, they continue their underground work, as the only hope PISCES (and England) has of salvation.
Next time: Russia's answer to Delta Green, GRU-SV8!
GRU-SV8Original SA post
Countdown, Chapter 2 - GRU-SV8
GRU-SV8 is Russia's counterpart to Delta Green, except where Delta Green exists, but unofficially, GRU-SV8 is officially sanctioned, but barely exists.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. GRU stands for Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravlenie ("Chief Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff"). It was originally created in 1918 by Lenin at the urging of his head Commisar for War Leon Trotsky, and was originally known as the Registered Directorate of the Workers and Peasents' Red Army. GRU acted as the intelligence service for the Red Army, acting as a central storehouse for all front-line intelligence. Unlike most of the other Soviet intelligence services at the time (such as the Cheka), GRU had no mandate to police the citizens of the USSR, and in fact looked down on the spies that did as spineless lackeys of the Communist Party. This led to some tension between the groups, though GRU always remained subordinate to the others (due to political maneuvering).
SV8 specifically has its roots in 1921, when fighting the Czech Legion in Siberia. A young Red Army lieutenant named Gregor Studnikov was assigned to put down an outbreak of cannibalism, ostensibly caused by the Great Famine . This proved to be problematic, as the cannibals didn't appear human, and those that began subsisting on human flesh appeared to turn into something less than human with surprising speed. Studnikov and his men wiped out all the creatures they found as well any who may have been partially 'changed', then burned all the bodies in a communal pit and set up guards around the local graveyard, apparently stopping the threat (though in reality doing nothing to the actual ghoul colony living under the town). Studnikov then wrote a report that left out anything out of the ordinary, and tried to move on with his life. Life had other plans, as he found himself tangled up with a pagan cult while assisting with disaster relief following the Blizzard of 1927. His work here brought him to the attention of the GRU and got him hired on.
In 1928, engineers excavating under the Kremlin and Red Square broke into a previously unknown set of catacombs with contained, among other things, the lost library of Ivan the Terrible, rumored to contain a treasure trove of books of occult significance. Stalin immediately made moves to cover up the discovery, ordering all maps of the area redrawn, and having all workers at the site rounded up and shot. The library materials were then handed over to the NKVD for study, with predictably disastrous results (detailed in the long out of print Call of Cthulhu adventure "Secrets of the Kremlin". Seriously.) However, the program did manage to net Stalin a Greek version of the Necronomicon, along with a partial translation and enough curiosity to be dangerous. During this time, the disastrous experiments brought the attention of the GRU, who decided to create a unit with the (incredibly dangerous) task of keeping tabs on Stalin's occult explorations; the unit was off-the-books, but internally designated Spetsialni Viedotstvo 8 (Special Department 8).
From 1931 to 1937, SV8 carefully watched NKVD's work with the Necronomicon, and were relieved to find they were getting nowhere. While they were prepared to wipe out the research team should the safety of the motherland fall into question, they were more than willing to bide their time, knowing that this would be suicide not just for SV8, but for the entire GRU. While the GRU did a commendable job of laying low during this period, they were eventually caught up in the Stalinist Purges in 1937. Every GRU officer above the rank of Colonel was killed, and 34 of the original 40 members of SV8 were purged (not because Stalin discovered their activities, but simply because they weren't his lackeys), including Studnikov. SV8 was abandoned, and the GRU would spend the next several years rebuilding.
With the outbreak of WWII, GRU found themselves back in business. Through the Red Orchestra , GRU became aware of the Nazi's burgeoning interest in the occult, which led to the decision to reactivate SV8. No one left in the GRU truly knew what SV8 had been before, so they set it up as a think tank to produce propaganda and psychological warfare against the Nazi. However, during the restaffing the surviving members of the original SV8 were brought back, and they fully intended to use SV8's resources to fight the horrors they suspected were growing within Nazi Germany. Sure enough, it wasn't long before they discovered Sonderkommando H , and the fact that they may be toying with real power. In 1942, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, and SV8 struggled to stay active through the horrors of the Nazi advance. During the Siege of Leningrad, reports came in of cannibalism, along with isolated sightings of subhuman beings. SV8 recognized this from Studnikov's encounters in 1921, and were able to send in a team to destroy the creatures and cut off the ready supply of corpses.
In 1943, the Soviet spy agency SMERSH broke off from the NKVD to become an independent organization reporting directly to Stalin and tasked with investigating the nation's own citizens for signs of spies, traitors, and deserters. However, they had a second, top-secret agenda: continue the NKVD's research into the occult. During this period SMERSH issued orders to capture any ghouls (classified as 'necrophagists') and hand them directly to SMERSH. SV8, knowing SMERSH's origins, was suspicious to say the least. They were unable to determine SMERSH's motives, but decided regardless to execute an assassination policy against the ghouls for fear of anything mythos-tained falling in to the wrong hands.
Also in 1943, SV8 became aware of the newly rechristened Karotechia, through the odd rerouting of 'undesirables' to camps simply designated for 'test subjects'. From a Soviet POW, they heard an unbelievable story of prisoners that were herded into a cave and attacked by 'fish-men', only to be saved by French freedom fighters working together with a team of men who appeared to be American. They had trouble believing the tale, but knew if it were true, the Germans were close to something big. By 1945, the Soviets were pushing almost uninterruptedly into Germany, and more and more SV8 started to encounter Karotechia's use of dark magics on the front line. Several commanding officers fell to unexplained bouts of insanity. A squadron of Sturmovik attack fighters were nearly wiped out by 'bat-winged creatures'. But worst of all were what were termed 'resuscitated casualties'. First sighted in 1945, these walking corpses provided a huge hit to Soviet morale. SV8 was eventually able to locate and destroy the factories where Karotechia produced the chemicals used to make these, but they estimated in total 100,000 abominations were set loose, and there was likely more of the formula still in the wild. After the end of the war, SMERSH was ordered to find and capture any remaining abominations for study; Stalin was intrigued by the idea of a weapon that could create fearless inhuman monsters wherever he chose. It was around this time that Delta Green launched operation SUMMER BREEZE to make sure none of the Nazi's occult research survived. When they penetrated into the USSR chasing Nazi ex-pats, SV8 used the opportunity to launch their own attacks against SMERSH, using Delta Green as the cover story.
Next time: the Cold War, the fall of the USSR, and modern day GRU-SV8
GRU-SV8 (Part 2)Original SA post
Countdown, Chapter 2 - GRU-SV8 (Part 2)
In 1947, news circled the globe of a downed 'flying saucer' allegedly recovered in Roswell, NM, USA (but of course, you've heard this one before ). Just one day later, the US Army issued a retraction, and the story was quickly forgotten by most. Most, but not Josef Stalin. Stalin was currently throwing every resource available to him at finding out US nuclear secrets, and to that end he had spies all over the US, including near the nuclear-armed Roswell AFB. The story caught his interest immediately, and his agents were ordered to investigate. They were able to get little in the way of concrete information, but what little they did learn deepened the mystery: the craft was definitely not American, and the army had no idea what it was. Stalin needed to know more, but currently was losing trust in Lavrentiy Beria , current head of the NKVD (and also head of Stalin's occult research projects at SMERSH). Consequently, the operation fell to GRU, currently headed by General Sergei Shtemenko . Shtemenko loved his country, but distrusted Beria and hated Stalin. With Roswell, he saw an opportunity to create real change for the good of the country. He suggested the creation of a new unit to study the crash, answerable only to Shtemenko and Stalin, and 'disguised' as the unit Shtemenko ran from 1946-1948: SV8. Stalin agreed, and SV8 was given complete discretion to run clandestine operations. While SV8 never learned much more about the crash, their new compartmentalized system allowed them to hide their budget and operations from the NKVD and SMERSH, as well as allowing them to keep running in total secret following Stalin's death.
In late 1952, Delta Green launched Operation SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS, a strategic op to send a ten-man team (six agents and four guides) deep into the USSR to locate the SMERSH lab that was using Karotechia's 'resuscitated casualties' technology for Stalin's life-extension research, and to destroy the lab along with all their work. The insertion went off flawlessly, but some 200 miles north of Novosibirsk, the team encountered a Spetsnaz unit on maneuvers, and a firefight ensued. Two guides were killed, one soldier was wounded, and the survivors were handed over to the GRU. At the time, inter-agency competition was at an all-time high, so the GRU decided to keep their prisoners a secret until they were able to learn more. One week of brutal interrogations later, and the GRU learned all the details of DG's plans. At the time, the GRU was being headed by General Mikhail Shalin, who had served with SV8 during WWII and had witnessed the 'resuscitated casualties' firsthand (and thus took the idea of an undying Stalin very, very seriously). He came up with a plan: the DG survivors would be re-equipped, smuggled into Novosibirsk, and allowed to complete their mission. Shalin assumed that the SMERSH agents guarding the research facility would kill most of the team, but SV8 would position snipers outside should any DG agents attempt to escape upon completing their mission. Two months later, the DG team was successful in penetrating the facility, killing the lead scientists, and destroying all of the chemical-producing equipment. SV8 shot and killed two DG agents as they fled the facility, but after sifting through the rubble, one was left unaccounted for (a US Army colonel who successfully fled the country and later filed a report concerning the strange behavior of his captors). Deprived of the facility's life-extending chemicals, Stalin died in 1953. While this was a relief to Shalin, during the subsequent confusing at the Kremlin, Lavrentiy was able to search Stalin's personal effects and take possession of his partially-translated Necronomicon.
The reshuffling of departments following Stalin's death offered an opportunity for SV8. Using repurposed Spetsnaz units and personnel lists stolen from Stalin's personal effects, SV8 launched a highly successful campaign to wipe out SMERSH for good. All told 282 agents were executed, 740 were captured, and only 7 were never accounted for. SV8's first priority was 'justice': the 656 captured SMERSH field agents were herded to an open field, marched into mass graves, and summarily shot (the SMERSH agents, having come up with this procedure, put up little resistance). What was left was 84 researchers, which SV8 was interested in re-purposing to their own ends, a concept which quickly proved problematic. Surveying the team, they found again and again that anyone who spent any time working with the Necronomicon ended up insane or dead. In the end, Shalin made the call to execute the remaining researchers and banned further study of the alien sciences known as 'magick' to ensure SV8 was never corrupted as SMERSH and Karotechia were.
Through the 1950s and 1960s, SV8 turned back to their 'holy grail': Roswll NM. A decade later, they'd learned almost nothing new, and lost 16 agents in the process. This was because MJ-12 had become aware of the Soviet's interest and used their counterintelligence arm (Project GARNET) to brutally deal with any agents that got too close. However, MJ-12 saw a possibility for a more permanent solution in 1972, when Project REDLIGHT's attempt to reactivate the craft nearly destroyed the facility in a catastrophic explosion . MJ-12 correctly guessed that the Soviets would have noticed the explosion, as well as the large-scale cleanup effort that followed. The final piece of the puzzle was Henry Watts, an aerospace engineer at nearby Nellis AFB. Over the course of the next two years, Watts was 'allowed' to learn a variety of false information about Roswell, then fired with a black mark on his record and a ruined credit rating. SV8 had no trouble finding Watts who, now disgrunted and drinking heavily, was eager to 'get back' at his former employers. Watts told SV8 that the only craft MJ-12 possessed had been destroyed in the explosion, and lacking a research project, MJ-12 had been disbanded. Watts had no proof to offer, but two days later, he turned up dead in an apparent CIA hit; SV8 was convinced. To this day, SV8 believes that the US has ceased its extraterrestrial research, and that MJ-12 is no more (ironically, SV8 also never learned of the official dissolution of Delta Green, and still believes them to be a legitimate government organization).
The end of the Cold War and the breakup of the USSR meant hard times for SV8. Decreasing international tensions meant a dramtic slashing of GRU's budget, crippling SV8. It's been 8 years since SV8 hired on any new members; most of the existing members were let go due to budget cuts, and the few remainders often go months at a time without seeing a paycheck. SV8's modern intelligence and field capabilities are pitiful, with most of what they're able to successfully accomplish owing to favors from retired officers that still hold some political clout. About the only thing SV8 does have going for it is its vast Mythos-related library, seized from Stalin, SMERSH, and later the vaults of the KGB. This does NOT include Stalin's Necronomicon; while SV8 successfully retrieved it during SMERSH's liquidation, it was lost in 1944 when it was naively used as bait to trap a group of Russian mobsters who were looking to purchase it. Retrieving the Necronomicon remains SV8's largest standing operation. Aside from that, their mission remains as it always was: protect Russia from the paranormal threats they don't even know exist.
...And that's about it. No dark secret at the heart of the organization this time, just a bunch of actual do-gooders who are now on the verge of vanishing due to budget cutbacks and the continued need for secrecy.
Next time: Russia's own occult threat, Skoptsi
SkoptsiOriginal SA post
Countdown, Chapter 3 - Skoptsi
This sacred texts of the Skoptsi say their history begins with a man named Semyon, a christian monk spreading the faith in what would later be Kiev sometime around 1200 AD. Semyon had the bad fortune to run into a Mongol expeditionary force, who torched and pillaged the village Semyon was staying in, and crucified him as a 'joke' on his faith. Semyon hung on the cross in the ruins of the village for two days before being visited by a monk in black robes. The monk started a religious debate with Semyon, arguing the village massacre disproved God's love, and after a day Semyon relented and accepted the monk's offer to accept a new faith. The monk taught Semyon to summon the Magna Mater (who you might know better as Shub Niggurath), who devoured Semyon and rebirthed him, completely insane and reborn as one of her chosen. After seeking out and taking revenge on the Mongols who nearly killed him, Semyon ventured into the Caucasus Mountains, where he established a temple to the Magna Mater.
For the next four centuries, the Caucasus Mountains would be the center of a number of kidnappings from christian and muslim enclaves in the surrounding areas. The Persians and Ottomans sent various expeditions into the mountains to root out the supposed cult there, but all either returned empty handed, or didn't return at all. By 1650, there was enough outrage over this to form an unprecedented alliance between the Cossacks, Ottomans, and Persians, who sent a combined 10,000 warriors into the mountains to end the threat permanently. They burned every building, tree, and living creature they found, even salting the earth behind them. They found the temple and (at the cost of more than half their number) killed nearly all the cultists, put down a Dark Young they'd summoned, and captured the insane 450 year old Semyon. Semyon was sentenced to be drawn and quartered...and when that failed to kill him, he was burned along with the bodies of the other cultists. Unfortunatly, the few cultists that escaped took the Black Icons, their religious text, with them, and went into hiding, disguising themselves as an esoteric, reclusive christian sect known as the Skoptsi ("the castrated"). The apparent beliefs of the Skoptsi revolved around the belief that all sex (yes, all of it) was a sin in the eyes of god. Thus, members participated in a "baptism of fire" (read: self-castration) to purge themselves of their sin (women could also participate; I'll leave you to guess how). Actual worship of the Magna Mater was contained in the group's inner circle, with new members only being brought into the true faith seconds before the Baptism.
In 1779, the cult's then high priest Kondratji Selivanov journeyed to Moscow, where he was introduced to Czar Alexander I via a German baroness who worshiped another manifestation of Shub Niggurath. Czar Alexander I had an interest in mysticism and found Skoptsi's apparent extreme christian piety inspiring. He forbade their persecution, patronized the cult with money, set Selivanov up with an extravagant mansion in Moscow, and inadvertently turned several influential members of the royal court to the cult. The cult enjoyed a place of luxury and power until Selivanov had the bad luck (possibly encouraged by enemies) to die in 1832 while out and about; when he was to be washed prior to burial, the hideous deformities from his rebirth were discovered, and his body was burned straightaway. Starting in 1840, Czar Nicholas began a pogrom against Skoptsi, arresting and deporting their members by the hundreds. However, this only served to spread the cult to new regions as members fled to various locations in eastern europe. During this period, Czar Nicholas' secret police were able to seize the Black Icons, a fact that frustrated the cult until 1901, when they were successfully able to bribe their way to their return.
The October Revolution in 1917 was nearly the end for the cult. There was a crackdown on all religious sects at the time, but the Skoptsi, with their secretiveness and perceived association with Czar Peter III, were treated particularly harshly, with the Bolsheviks maintaining a "shoot on sight" policy towards them. The purge was extremely effective, and outlying Skoptsi communities realized they'd need to flee if they wanted to survive. They made their way to Vladivostok, where they were able to convince the American occupying trooops there to smuggle them back to the US as "oppressed christians fleeing godless communism". A casualty of this period was the Black Icons, which ended up in private hands and have been scattered and passed from auction house to auction house ever since.
Skoptsi first arrived in Los Angeles, where they were able to remain concealed for some time. At least, that is, until they attempted to send emissaries back to the USSR. The emissaries never returned, and the group's high priest was killed by vigilantes who discovered their true worship. The group scattered once again and remained fragmented until 1935, when they rejoined and settled down in an unincorporated district on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. Today, Skoptsi is about 360 members strong, all of whom have been indoctrinated into the worship of the Magna Mater, and all of whom do their best to project the image of a hardworking immigrant community.
Subtlety is a lost art
Skoptsi as an organization always faced one major issue: recruitment. Castrated members didn't tend to have many children, after all. Where in the past they had turned to kidnapping, the Land of Opportunity offered a new route: adoption. In 1948, the group founded Families without Frontiers, and orphanage with the stated intention of rescuing orphan children from behind the Iron Curtain. Set on a 200 acre farm, the property both gives the image of pastoral peace to outsiders, and affords the privacy the group needs to conduct their business. There are typically about 20 orphans on the farm at any given time. Conversion of the children is done by physically and mentally abusing the children constantly, with the group's matron (and fanatical worshiper) Yalena Kalamatiano acting as their 'savior', while teaching them of the Magna Matron. Those who follow her teachings are rewarded with treats and reprieves, and eventually, should they choose to take the Baptism of Fire, they are placed with a family within the cult. Those that refuse are sacrificed to a Dark Young the group keeps bound.
More recently, the cult has been forced to face the consequences of losing the Black Icons. Their loss meant the loss of the incantation for the Ritual of Rebirth, which summoned Shub Niggurath and provided the old guard their immortality. Without it, they have begun to wither and die in their extremely advanced age. The cult is presently working with the Russian Mafia in the hopes they will be able to locate the Icons and rejuvenate the cult.
Next time: The OUTLOOK Group, MJ-12's secret testing facilities.
The Outlook GroupOriginal SA post
Countdown, Chapter 4 - The Outlook Group
Dr. Albert Yrjo isn't a well known name, though there's a few within the field of behavioral sciences that would recognize it. In the early 60's, he began a series of behavioral experiments patterned after the now-famous Millgram experiment : in Yrjo's, he simulated high-stress situations (including building fires, elevator failures, news of presidential assassination, and news of an impending nuclear strike) to see if there were any patterns that could be determined. This was brought to a halt when, in 1964, amidst a simulated alien first contact, a subject suffered a psychotic break and murdered two other test subjects before he could be restrained. NYU immediately withdrew his tenure and halted all his funding. He spent the next several years writing manuscripts about his theories and experiments, but his inability to find a publisher drove him deep into debt. He did, however, begin work on what he considered his greatest work: SRT (Stress Reaction Testing), a set of testing protocols that would determine just how much stress an individual could withstand before cracking. It was just theoretical, and again, he had difficulty finding a publisher...until the Air Force heard about his work. Yrjo spent the 70's working with the Air Force to refine his experiments (now classified under codename SOMA), refining them into a set of 'personality models', which could, to some degree, predict the actions and reactions of subjects with similar personalities.
In 1978, Yrjo was introduced to Dr. Albert Ringwood. Ringwood was the director of MJ-12's PLATO project, and was currently attempting to prepare for the first face-to-face with the Greys. Ringwood told Yrjo that if he worked with him, he'd have unlimited funding and zero ethical oversight (though Yrjo wasn't actually told the nature of the work he was to do). Yrjo eagerly accepted, and was relocated to a re-purposed think tank in Maryland called the OUTLOOK Group. There, he was given a narrow, specific mandate to continue his tests, but with scenarios focusing on themes of alien incursion and first contact situations. With unlimited funding, Yrjo's simulations grew more and more realistic, though he grew suspicious as to what end he was working towards. In reality, all his test subjects were actually MJ-12 personnel, who Ringwood was testing for the mission with the Greys. Ringwood found his testing to be extremely accurate, with his personality models sometimes being able to predict unstable members without the need for testing at all.
The facility itself covers nine acres of land, and appears to be a lightly secured office building (in reality, the 'rent-a-cops' outside are all former NRO DELTA, and some of the most highly trained killers in the world). The apparent building actually hides a series of sub-basements where the elaborate experimental scenarios are carried out, and all Yrjo's records are kept under heavy security. The facility has a regular staff of about 66 people, around 40% of whom are the doctors and nurses who oversee the testing (though almost none know the real purpose of the tests, and those that get suspicious tend to get their own 'treatments').
As a nod to the project's success, a secondary OUTLOOK facility was set up in Puerto Rico in the early 90's, where Yrjo relocated as his health began failing. This site is a storehouse for the most highly-classified of documents (pertaining to the actual Greys themselves), as well as housing Yrjo's new experiments. After relocating, Yrjo was finally inducted into MJ-12 and given full top-secret clearance. With access to the Grey's Cookbook, he's now started a new line of inquiry, codenamed RICOCHET, into mind-altering drugs that can help manipulate and control subjects. These include:
"Red" - Ramps up the body's threat responsive, throwing the subject into an uncontrollable, violent rage.
"Orange" - Causes timed blackouts of up to 12 hours wherein the subject is fully aware of events, but will not be able to recall them later
"Yellow" - Causes full paralysis while the subject remains completely conscious and aware.
"Green" - A powerful hallucinogen that typically causes a violent reaction in subjects. Untraceable.
"Blue" - Causes cardiac arrest, even in strong, healthy subjects. Untraceable.
"Indigo" - Continuous usage causes slow, but irreversible (and eventually fatal) brain damage.
"Violet" - Causes a cascade of failures among the body's normal funtions; food isn't properly digested, waste isn't normally filtered and excreted, ect. Death is inevitable and agonizing.
Yrjo's prior research into stress has been completely standardized into a series of general scenarios, rated from 1.0 to 10.0 correlated to increasing stress put on the subject. To name just a few:
1.0 - Subject informed of the death of a beloved relative and given doctored photos and documents as proof. Subject is cut off from outside communication to prevent verification.
2.0 - Subject is accused of treason and told he'll be tried in a military tribunal (the exact crimes are never specified). Subject is provided with a defense lawyer who is outwardly hostile and clearly believes the subject's guilt.
3.0 - The subject is awoken, given a full breakfast, then led by military officers to a courtyard. Subject is tied to a post and faced with a firing line (soldier's guns are loaded with blanks).
4.0 - Subject is given a paralyzing agent and told he is being recruited for a 'special mission'. Subject is shown a series of photos featuring places the subject has never visited and people the subject has never met while the administrator goes on at length about the subject's exemplary assassination record. At the conclusion, the administrator shows the subject a photo of the president, his 'next target'.
5.0 - Subject is given a paralyzing agent and moved by fake Greys to a fake alien ship, where he is given an intrusive medical examination. He is then returned, unconscious, to his quarters.
6.0 - Subject is given a paralyzing agent while he sleeps. Upon waking, he watches as a team of doctors appears to give him a full autopsy.
7.0 - Subject is rushed into surgery, given a local anesthetic, heavily restrained, and then watches as doctors appear to amputate both of his legs.
8.0 - Subject is drugged while sleeping and transported and subsequently abandoned naked on an uninhabited island in the Bikini Atoll.
9.0 - Subject is shown a doctored video showing the violent execution of a loved one. No explanation is given.
10.0 - Subject awakens in a holding cell with no knowledge of the prior 24 hours. Subject is told they are responsible for a car accident that has killed a loved one, and shown explicit (doctored) photos as proof.
10.1 - Subject is forced at gunpoint to hold a gun to the head of a loved one. Sujbect is given a 3 count and told that if they do not fire, they will be killed. Both guns carry live rounds.
The chapter concludes with a wide variety of ways to work OUTLOOK into a Delta Green campaign. I think my favorite is the PCs being captured (and compromised) but released with no idea they were ever held, only realizing later by odd changes in their behavior and flashbacks they can't explain.
Next time: Phenomen-X
Phenomen-XOriginal SA post
Countdown, Chapter 5 - Phenomen-X
Remember Sightings ? That's Phenomen-X; a trashy, little watched, late night broadcast show about ghosts, aliens, demons, Elvis sightings, black helicopters, and whatever else they think might grab the attention of whoever's still up (the book actually calls Sightings a "knock-off", which I found cute).
The show was first started in 1990, intended to have the seriousness of 20/20 mixed with the unbelievably of the Weekly World News. Despite shabby research and a pitiful budget, the show did well (for it's 1am slot, anyway) and became something of a fixture, running for a total of 130 episodes before things went off the rails.
In 1997, the show aired the story "Take Me To Your Cracker", about UFO sightings in Groversville, Texas. It was the same garbage they usually aired: blurry lights in the night sky, dumb rednecks talking about alien abduction, ect. Yet in the week that followed the show's airing, nearly every member of the crew that shot the story came down with flu-like symptoms, then died inexplicably. The only survivor was field producer Frank Carincola, who left a cocky, arrogant hollywood type, and came back a haunted man, having seen many things in Groversville that didn't make it to air. After that, Frank was more motivated than ever to find out what was out there, but was forced to watch as the show fell apart over the next several months. One by one, all of the key members of the production staff left for better paying jobs (often without looking for them), and the production company considered just shutting the whole thing down. However, they allowed Frank to take over the show, and he's been trying to hold things together ever since. Today, the show is staffed by a skeleton crew (compared to its former glory). Everyone working there is either fanatically dedicated to Frank's quest, or completely unqualified to be working anywhere else. Frank manages to keep things moving, though, mostly due to a series of recent anonymous tips that have taken him to some very promising leads.
The Phenomen-X studio, located just outside of Los Angeles, used to be a storehouse for movie props, and now, after a shoestring renovation, is little more than a tin shack with bad A/C and worse toilets. Very little work actually goes on in the studio, though, as most of the work is done on the road by crews on-location hunting for stories and footage. At present, they have a staff of approximately 26, though many of those are just researchers or unpaid interns. Of these, only Carincola and a very few people have actually had real encounters with the paranormal, but they've all been changed by it, and are careful who they send out to some investigations.
So what happened at Groversville, you might be wondering? That's actually a callback to "Convergence", the starter campaign scenario from the Delta Green corebook. I'll try to write it up sometime, but the short version is the Mi-Go were using the entire town as a testing grounds into the human psyche. When Delta Green busted up their operation, they attempted to cover their tracks by activating a virus they'd been dumping into the town's water, which the Phenomen-X crew had all drank during their week-long shoot (save Frank, a health nut who brought his own bottled). While an entire town dying of the flu should have been national news, MJ-12 did a very neat job of keeping it under wraps .
And those annonymous tips? Oh, those are the best part. Half of them come from none other than Delta Green themselves. After bumping into Phenomen-X in Groversville, DG has been using them as a litmus test to see if an incident is worth their time. If Phenomen-X starts investigating, and camera crew start dying, they'll send in a team to neutralize the threat. Otherwise, hey, they'll get some footage out of it either way. And the rest of the tips? Why, those are from MJ-12! Yes, they're also using Phenomen-X. In their case, if MJ-12 suspects DG is nosing around somewhere, they'll tip of Phenomen-X in the hopes that their cameras and inquisitive reporters will hamper, harass, or possibly even expose the DG agents, all while keeping a healthy level of separation from MJ-12 themselves. And no one at Pheonmen-X has any idea about this, except Frank, who feels pretty sure his sources are coming from "deep within the government". Poor thing.
The chapter ends with the incredibly rad idea of running a campaign as a Phenomen-X crew, and even includes new rules for Videography and Video Production skills.
Next time: TIGER TRANSIT
Tiger TransitOriginal SA post
Countdown, Chapter 6 - Tiger Transit
Tiger Transit is a smallish international shipping company. But of course, you've watched TV, so you know anyone in the 'import/export business' is likely up to no good. Boy howdy, you have no idea.
Alright, let's start with the CIA. The CIA has always been a fan of creating front companies to operate under the guise of civilian business, and when they formed Tiger Transit in 1965, it was no exception. Tiger was operated and (legally) owned by two ex-CIA agents, Vincent Bisagne and Ronald Toddhunter. The company was used to move goods of questionable legality, from aid supplies to embargoed countries to weapons and ammunition to foreign warzones. Following the fall of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, the CIA needed to scale back it's budget, and sold off Tiger Transit to then-CEO Joseph Berg, who continued operating as a private shipping company. The CIA would still occasionally ask Berg to run operations off-the-books, and in return, they looked the other way for whatever Tiger happened to be shipping privately (which, at the time, included mountains of drugs from South American Contras). Today, Tiger has offices in 6 major cities across the US, with Chicago's Midway Airport being used as it's primary hub. About 94% of their present business is legal, but Tiger keeps kickbacks flowing to the US Customs Service to cover the rest. Tiger has become a trusted name in the (secret) black books of the government, private corporations, and organized crime, all of whom rely on Tiger when they absolutely need something unique shipped behind the backs of officials. The CIA, though, hasn't used Tiger for almost a decade. This is likely because the CIA doesn't want to be associated with the kinds of people Tiger now regularly does business with. Of course, it might also be because of the Tcho-Tchos.
I should probably back up a bit. The Tcho-Tcho are a nationless race, tainted through-and-through by a history of cannibalism and Mythos worship. Their precise origins are unknown, though records of them exists from as far back as 128 BC; the Greeks called them the Tochoa, and Chinese knew them as the Yueh-chih. While the greatest concentration of Tcho-Tcho today can be found in Communist Asia, the Red Cultural Revolution forced many to relocate. A large group of them fled to the US under the cover of "fleeing communist oppression" and set up shop in Chicago, where the current population is mostly second generation. The INS lists them as "Chauchas", an obscure Malaysian tribe. The few older residents of various Asian communities that know who they really are tend to keep that to themselves. The Tcho-Tchos community is currently centered around the worship of Shogoran, an avatar of Nyarlathotep, and lives in the shadows of New Chinatown.
In the late 1980s, the Tcho-Tcho made a play to wipe out all those that remembered who they were (or found out that they still practiced cannibalism) by summoning hideous creatures known as the Children of Shugoran. This eventually brought the attention of Delta Green, who dropped the hammer on their entire cult. Nearly every adult Tcho-Tcho was either killed or 'deported' to Malaysia, while the naturalized children were placed in orphanages. But of course, they missed one: an ancient shaman named Huong Xan. Xan had used cannibalistic rituals to keep himself alive for centuries, but had been mortally wounded in a DG attack, and knew that going to a hospital would merely draw a DG cleanup crew straight to him. Instead, he arranged for one of his direct descendants, Cho Chu-tsao, to perform the permanent version of the Consume Memories spell on him, devouring his brain and gaining his knowledge. Xan's plan was for Chu-tsao to find a Tcho-Tcho man of great will and devotion to the Elder Gods, teach him the Consume Memories spell, have him devour HER brains, and use Xan's knowledge to lead the Tcho-Tcho to a new beginning. Chu-tsao decided that sounded like bullshit, and set about using Xan's wisdom to reunited and rebuild the Tcho-Tcho in Chicago on her own. Chu-tsao imagined a future where the Tcho-Tcho ruled the American Triads and Tongs with their own occult power, and to that end, reorganized the Tcho-Tcho as a sort of occult mafia under the name Tong Shugoran. But she knew she'd need help. Which led her to Joseph Berg.
Berg's connection to the Tcho-Tcho came from the Vietnam war. While working with Air America in Cambodia, his plane was shot down, and he ended up living with a Tcho-Tcho tribe for several months (where he was also tainted by their exotic drugs). Upon his return, Berg told the CIA that the Tcho-Tcho were fighting back against the communists (which was true; the communist regime had destroyed one of their holy sites near Ho Chi Minh city, and they were pissed about it), and suggested the CIA provide them weapons and aide, a suggestion they eagerly took. They also sent Green Berets to train them, though that didn't go as well after the troops found the Tcho-Tcho using the CIA's arms to slaughter neighboring tribes (the CIA ignored their reports). Delta Green became aware of the situation and tried to stop it, though in the end, they had to result in forging a set of orders, resulting in the 'accidental' carpet bombing of the Tcho-Tcho village. After the war, Berg became and obsessive collector of all things Tcho-Tcho, but didn't think he'd ever be able to experience what they'd shown him again until Chu-tsao found him. When Chu-tsao showed him that she knew how to make the drugs he'd experienced in Vietnam, he was all hers. Berg began hiring all the Tcho-Tcho he could, even sending them to trade school to learn to fly and service aircraft, eventually pushing out nearly all non-Tcho-Tcho workers. Then, Berg handed power of attorney over to Chu-tsao, and drifted off into a drug-addled haze somewhere. With Berg's assets, Chu-tsao was able to track down some more 'native' Tcho-Tchos and get the raw materials to start making their traditional drug in bulk. Why? To dilute the hell out of it and sell it on the streets as a new drug, Reverb. Reverb has the effect of distorting the user's perception of time and also, in higher doses, sending the user's conciousness back through time (though not nearly to the degree the original product would). It's also, of course, accompanied by a general feeling of euphoria, and is already making inroads in the club scene.
Tiger Transit gave Chu-tsao the clout she needed, so she started moving upwards. By making the company available for use to the Chicago mafia, she gained both their protection and their muscle (particularly important since some in the Tong have found out about the Tcho-Tcho's less savory habits and wouldn't mind doing the world a favor if they found one). With Tiger Transit being primarily used to build alliances, Reverb has become the cult's main source of income (though again, they find themselves primarily selling to whites in the suburbs, since anyone in town who knows of the Tcho-Tcho stay the hell away). And, as with any good gang, they've started opening up a series of 'legitimate businesses' all over Chinatown to help launder all their newfound riches.
The party ground to a halt in 1996, when Chu-tsao recieved word that the Malaysian Tcho-Tchos were cutting off her supply of Black Lotus, the primary ingredient in Reverb (they found out their sacred drug was being used to get teenagers stoned, and were pissed ). Chu-tsao needed a plan, and she needed one before her supplies ran out. Unfortunately for her, the Black Lotus was a very finicky plant, and would be difficult to impossible to cultivate stateside. Wracking Xan's memories for ideas, she hit upon something involving Shub-Niggurath. She would draw forth the 'milk' of Shub-Niggurath and use it to nurture the plants, which she believed would make them grow hardier, faster, and far more potent than before. But Chu-tsao would still need someone to cultivate the plant. For that, she prayed to Nyarlathotep to show her the path. What she saw was one of Tiger Transit's clients: Genetic Agricultural Products, Incorporated.
GAP was formed in the late 1980's to market GM crops; a swiftly growing field, but one they could never quite get in front of. The company struggled until it crossed paths with one Cynthia Dexter. Dexter was a higher up in a hippy new age self-actualization program called the Brotherhood of New Potential, which, of course, secretly worshiped Shub-Niggurath. The Brotherhood was, in fact, the new, friendlier face of a pagan free-love sect from the 60's called the True Love Study Group. The TLSG inducted dozens with their human-sacrificing rituals until half their leadership was locked up for murder in 1977. Twelve years later, several former memebers reformed the group as the Brotherhood, using the front of new-age medicine (this was California we're talking about) to hide their more unsavory activities (and to fund them). It was through these fronts that Dexter found Matthew Lewis, then CEO of GAP. Lewis was deeply depressed over GAP's financial woes, and was thus easy for Dexter to manipulate. Dexter saw similarities between the gene modifying work GAP did and the horrendous mutations caused by Shug-Niggurath's milk, and saw a way to help them both. In return for a share of the company, Dexter provided Lewis with a sample of the milk. GAP was confounded (and somewhat terrified) of what they found. It was a mutagen that was also a growth hormone, and while its effects were measurable, the mechanism it worked on was inexplicable. The staff took every precaution, but against the literal mana of an Elder God, that meant absolutely shit, and before long, the whole lab was seeing things the Brotherhood's way. And what did they eventually come up with? A new strain of tobacco they called Fumo Loco.
GAP had been looking for a way to make low-tar cigarettes without lowering the nicotine content, but for that, they needed a strain of tobacco with a high nicotine content to begin with. Shub-Niggurath's milk made that happen, as well as cutting growth time from five months to five weeks, and enabling it to grow in just about any climate. GAP partnered with the Manly-Heath tobacco company, who then used Tiger Transit to export tons of the Fumo Loco seed to Brazil for cultivation. There, the tobacco stalks grew over twice as high as regular plants; M-H stood to make a fortune. But after a scandal where the USDA took down a different tobacco firm for exporting seed, M-H got cold feet and backed out, leaving GAP holding the bag. GAP knew they had the next big thing, but they needed a partner less encumbered by the law. Right about here, coincidentally, was when Chu-tsao showed up. Lewis, growing desperate by now, was all too eager to trade cash for cultivated Lotuses. Chu-tsao was set...at least until demand for Reverb went into orbit. The new Reverb, nurished on Shub-Niggurath's milk, was, indeed, even more potent, with the side effect of being as addictive as crack cocaine.
Come 1998, Chu-tsao was looking to move up to the bigtime by partnering with some of Tiger Transit's old drug cartel contacts south of the border. With the cartel cultivating the Lotus in huge fields and selling to eager South American markets, the Tong would be rolling in cash. What Chu-tsao brought to the cartels she called Coca Loco: a coca-Lotus hybrid that had double the cocaine content with only half the growing time required. The logistics were impressive: they'd be able to cut farming overhead down to a quarter, and smaller amounts with higher potency would be much easier to smuggle. The families were excited, but wanted one final test: a test field was planted, and if its potency is as advertised, they'll buy in in a big way. If this happens, it will be a matter of months before the US is drowning under cheap, high-potency, Mythos-tainted cocaine.
This is the point where our old friend Berg tripped out on milk-fed purestrain Tcho-Tcho drug and royally pissed off a Hound of Tindalos.
SHAFT IN HARLEM!
See, the pure drug (Liao) sends your conciousness back in time. When Berg mistakenly took some of the milk-fed Liao, he get thrown all the way back to the formation of the Earth, where he accidentally caught the attention of a Hound. Berg snapped back immediately, but he had an inkling the Hound would come for him, so he begged Chu-tsao for help. This was extremely inconvenient for Chu-tsao; Berg was still the majority stakeholder of Tiger Transit, and if he got himself eaten, his shares would be willed to his relatives. Changing his will to benefit Chu-tsao would just raise a lot of suspicion. Chu-tsao had no idea how to get permanent control of the company, but she would need it (desperately) to get Coca Loco across the border very soon. In the meantime, the Hound would need to be stalled. Using Xan's knowledge again, Chu-tsao discovered that Hounds manifested from angled surfaces. So, she put up Berg in a custom designed manor where every surface and furnishing was made into a smooth curve. Now, the Hound can't manifest in the house, and it's unwilling to do so in the open outside, so as long as Berg stays put, he should be safe. While the Hound is lying in wait, though, it's noticed the temporal shenanigans of the Reverb users around town, and has begun hunting them to bide its time. At this point, there's enough Reverb users that even killing Berg likely wouldn't cause the Hound to leave. This, however, isn't quite a perfect situation: Chu-tsao can't really have her customer base getting slaughtered, but she doesn't have powerful enough mojo to get the thing to leave. She's reached out to Stephen Alzis ( you remember him ) for help, but what he'll do, and at what cost, is anyone's guess.
"But what does all this MEAN?", you cry out in desperation, drowning in words. Well, what we've got here is something pretty unique. It's a mythos cult, sure, but not nearly as old and powerful as most Delta Green might run into. It's a mythos organization, but one big and complex enough that it could support a full campaign as a team tries to unravel all the links and plots. It's got lots of ins, depending on how your group rolls, and hey, it's even easy to adapt for an alternate campaign (Phenomen-X: Live from Chicago!).
Next time: the Keepers of the Faith, religious ghouls trying to keep it together in Manhattan.
The Keepers of the FaithOriginal SA post
Countdown, Chapter 8 - The Keepers of the Faith
In 1636, the Dutch island of Manhattan became the unwilling host to a Mr. Morgens Dekker, along with twenty six of his followers and several chests of gold. Dekker was fleeing the Holy Roman Empire; apparently, they weren't too fond of people claiming they were messiahs. Dekker had managed to elude them long enough to get to the New World, where he used his wealth to set up an estate for himself and his followers before picking up where he left off (studying the occult, of course). Dekker's experiments required a large number of corpses, but he was loathe to sully his now-clean name, so his followers set out to build an elaborate system of tunnels, allowing him to move freely and unnoticed between his compound and several nearby graveyards. This worked swimmingly; the nearby people assumed they were some sort of religious scholars fleeing persecution (it was the 'in' thing to do at the time), and choose to leave them alone, referring to them as the Keepers of the Faith.
In 1665, with the War of Independence on and the British occupying the island (having renamed it to New York), Dekker became increasingly paranoid, and repurposed nearly all his followers to dig more and more tunnels, with the entire operation relocating below ground in the increasingly elaborate tunnel system. This was assisted by Dekker's new found followers, which numbered around 200 by 1700. The group was so secretive at this point that almost no one outside the compound had any contact with them - which was fortunate, since they might have started asking why none of them appeared to be aging. In 1701, Dekker and a select few travelled back to Europe, and returned 3 years later with a trove of strange artifacts, and a few friends - ghouls.
The ghouls and Dekker had a lot in common, really. Dekker needed the ghouls to further expand his tunnel systems. The ghouls wanted a steady supply of corpses to feed on. And both of them were all about worshipping the Great Old Ones. Hence, a business partnership. By 1740, the tunnel system ran under almost all of Manhattan, with some branches stretching as far as Brooklyn and New Jersey. The next 20 years were very productive for all involved, ending in 1766, when Dekker led the entire cult in a procession down the shore of New Jersey as the culmination of all their arcane research; no one knows what they were trying to accomplish, nor what actually occured, only that they were never heard from again. This left the tunnels to the ghouls, who were pretty much set by this point and simply continued on with the lifestyle they'd grown accustomed to underground.
The start of the 20th century saw the ghouls living in their deepest tunnels. With the advent of sewers and subways, the ghouls were forced to collapse or flood several surface tunnels to avoid detection. Additionally, the bulk of the population had moved out to Long Island and New Jersey, as few people were still buried within New York city limits anymore. An...unfortunate incident at Red Hook nearly exposed them, but they were again able to cover up their tracks. However, Red Hook caused a schism in the community: the more moderate ghouls felt they should flee Manhattan as the others had to avoid further risk of discovery, while the religious zealots among them were certain that any time now the Great Old Ones would obliterate New York and they would rule the island. In the end, nearly all of them left, collapsing the tunnels out of the city behind them, with only a few devout (along with a handful of human followers of Dekker's teachings) left behind. Today, the ghoul cult (now also called the Keepers) are few, growing only from the occasional kidnapping and conversion of the homeless. With existing graveyards picked clean and no new graveyards being built, the ghouls are starving (albeit slowly and strangely, due to their supernatural nature), with only their devotion to their faith keeping them from seeking live prey.
However, not all of the younger ghouls had so much fervor, and indeed, they did start attacking and eating subway travelers and homeless around the city. When this brought the attention of the police, the religious ghouls decided to expel the so-called Heretics. They now roam the back alleys of New York, hunting. At present, they can still mostly pass as humans, but it's only a matter of time before their heritage catches up to them. A note about the religious ghouls is that they are incredibly naive about the outside world. Many of them have never left the caves since they originally arrived in the 1700s, and they regard stories about things like cars, TV, and planes as either human superstition or strange magics unknown to them.
As a last note, in more recent history (1941 specifically), a sinkhole at a New York construction site accidentally uncovered a major ghoul byway. The ghouls attempted to scare away the builders via sabotage, but accidentally caught the wrong kind of attention; specifically, our old friend Stephen Alzis . Alzis summoned the ghouls and told them he was going to build over the sinkhole, and they were going to give him full access to their tunnels, and in return, the highest-ranking in the cult would periodically be provided with fresh bodies. The ghouls refused, but after Alzis killed their leader, they figured out he was serious, and agreed to his terms. And thus, Club Apocalypse came to be.
Next time: John Tynes rewrites the Hastur Mythos.
John Tynes' Hastur MythosOriginal SA post
Got distracted again, but had to come back to at least cover one of my favorite bits of the series. Previous posts are collected
Chapter 9: John Tynes' Hastur Mythos
John Tynes posted:
Buildings shift, paintings change, lights flicker, statues mutate, but only in the presence of those Hastur has touched. Around them, Order is the jester and Chaos is the king.
This chapter starts off with a big sidebar explaining that this ain't your daddy's Mythos . But seriously, this is just meant to be how John Tynes interprets Hastur and the associated parts of the mythology. As such, much of this doesn't line up with what's in the other Call of Cthulhu books, or, in some cases, outright contradicts it. This isn't even technically Delta Green canon; it's just a set of concept you can optionally use for DG (or CoC, or whatever, really). Having said all that, let's look at how things are in this version:
- Hastur isn't a Great Old One, nor does he have sentience, or personality, for that matter. Hastur is the archaic name for the force we now tend to call 'entropy'. Seeing as how entropy is one of the fundamental forces of the universe, this does make Hastur pretty powerful, but also understandable. We know Hastur is destructive, but Hastur is also subtle. While there are, of course, cults to Hastur, this doesn't affect anything, any more than worshiping gravity allows you to fly. In play, one of Hastur's primary targets is the human mind. As it degrades, the chaos of the insanity left behind can foster a greater understanding of Hastur, though it's still the perspective of a madman.
- The King in Yellow actually is a diety of sorts, some sort of manifestation or avatar of Hastur. By name, he is the ruler of the lost city of Carcosa, but since he never speaks, little else is known about him. Some believe he was once a man who gained a transcendent understanding of entropy. Others think he was willed into existence by the belief of Hastur's followers. No one knows for sure.
- Carcosa is a strange ghost city that consumes other cities that become overtaken by paranoia and melancholy ('social entropy', if you will). Reality, as we understand it, doesn't apply here, so getting from point a to point b can be very tricky. Overall, the city has a Victorian appearance, though wandering around, you'll eventually encounter all kinds of incongruous styles. The city is dead quiet, but visitors constantly feel surrounded. It's unknown where Carcosa is, exactly (another planet? Another dimension?), but it's always night there, the sky is always an ashy grey, and the 'stars' are jet black.
- The Phantom of Truth is a strange entity wearing a robe and a "mask that is not a mask". His task is to possess the body of someone in a city on the brink and determine by his experiences whether the city will be absorbed into Carcosa or not.
Actually pretty creepy
- Yhtill was one such city that was absorbed into Carcosa. The city was ruled by a king, and turmoil over the end of the line of succession attracted the Phantom of Truth, who judged the city in the midst of a grand masquerade ball. All that remains now is the castle, which sits on the far side of Lake Hali. Inside, it's always midnight; the ball is always in full swing, and the Phantom is forever passing judgement. The events seem to reply whenever someone walks inside the caste.
- The Yellow Sign is old, old enough that no one is quite sure where it came from. All we know is that it's related to Hastur, appears to move if watched, and can unhinge the mind of anyone who views it.
- "The King in Yellow" is a play about the fall of Yhtill, written sometime around 1918, most copies were believed destroyed by the French government, but a handful survive today and seem to find their way into the hands of creative people. Reading the script drives the reader insane (or at least seriously disturbs them) and has the odd effect of drawing in others who have been touched by Hastur.
This is probably sounding awfully different from everything else Delta Green thus far, so the next section is all about how to work Hastur into an (existing) campaign in stages.
Stage 1 is Themes, where you subtly work in all the things Hastur represents. These include alienation (a PC being driven apart from the rest of the group), surrealness (inexplicable, dreamlike imagery), creativity (a PC being driven to create, or constantly coming across specific creative images), and aesthetics (familiar places taking on Victorian trappings).
Stage 2 is Manifestations, where stuff starts getting really weird. Some examples including a PC driving at night seeing white, glowing faces looking out of every window (which others in the car don't see), a PC seeing ghostly children playing in the midst of a pitched gun battle, and a PC finding an elaborate invitation to a masquerade ball while searching a location.
Stage 3 is Scenarios. Once the players figure out the weirdness is all related, it's time to run a scenario to start bringing things to a head. The book recommends Night Floors , an excellent scenario (now free online) which I will try to cover later. Any scenario run here will involve the players in direct opposition to Hastur and his agents. This is to give them a chance to learn some things about Hastur before...
Stage 4 - Carcosa. One of the PCs is absorbed into Carcosa, and the rest of the team have to try to get him back. The PC basically just up and disappears after an op, and searching for him just leads to more and more signs of Hastur's involvement. Once they figure this out, they'll need a way to Carcosa, which can be accomplished via spell, certain artworks made under Hastur's influence, and (of course) via a door in Club Apocalypse.
Carcosa will prove to be a confusing place, because it's reality isn't consistent, it's relational. In our world, a door is a door is a door, but in Carcosa, a door might be different if you get near it, or if you're angry, or if you just ate a hot dog. Its definition is based on the things around it, and, in turn, Carcosa's state subtly manipulates all things (and people) within it. This is all based on perception, meaning that watching something tends to make it somewhat more stable...but you can't watch everything all the time (and someone else watching something could make it stable for them, but not for you). Put simply, if you walk to the end of a street in Carcosa, then walk back, you'll find your starting place may have changed greatly, and repeating the process could change it again and again. This will make navigating very, very difficult.
One notable location the players may run into is the Whisper Labyrinth , a darkened maze under the streets of Carcosa. It is completely dark in here, and any investigator that loses sight of the others is immediately lost; even tying a rope around each other won't help, as it will simply be found looped around itself. In every wall of the Labyrinth are alcoves containing small opaque bottes. There appear to be tens of thousands of them throughout the Labyrinth, each noticeably different from the others. All of them, however, bear someone's name, and are sealed or corked in some manner. None can be opened, though, except by the person whose name is listed (3% non-cumulative chance per hour to find it). Should a PC find and open their bottle, they will hear a whisper that tells them something important about their past or future, and then, they will alsmot immediately find the exit to the Labyrinth. Attempts to take other bottles out will result in the PC going in circles again and again back to the alcove they took them from.
The Gallery of Shades is one of the largest buildings in the city, an enormous art museum whose layout and displays are ever-changing. All the artwork featured has one thing in common: it was all produced by an insane mind touched by Hastur, and will slowly have an effect on anyone viewing it. Any PC who botches a Luck roll will slowly start losing Sanity points, having gained a deeper understanding of the works held there. If the group attempts to leave, he will resist, violently if necessary. If the PC is taken out by force, they will become quiet and near-vegetative until the group escapes Carcosa. Should he be left in the Gallery until his SAN hits 0, a group of hooded figures will appear and the PC will leave with them, never to be seen again, while the rest of the group watches on, frozen and unable to act.
The Lake of Hali is one of the city's larger and more notable landmarks. The lake's size and shape change subtly over time, and occasionally, its water will be replaced by a cloud-like substance (that nontheless rolls and drifts like water). Strange lights can sometimes be seen pulsing beneath the surface. When the lake's water is replaced by clouds, it's actually possible to travel under the lake, simply by taking a boat out and tipping the bow downwards. Under the 'mist', visibility is about 15 feet. PCs will periodically hear the rumbles of the ocean, and sometimes see enormous shadows passing nearby them. About 80 feet down, the PCs will see massive spires in the distance, and, should they not turn back, they will eventually see more and more buildings, until they at last touch down on solid ground. Should they get out and walk around, eventually, the fog will clear away, revealing...they are back in Carcosa, with the lake, once again water, just in the distance.
The final goal is the Palace of Yhtill, where the PCs will find their lost member amidst the strange and sad proceedings.
And that's about all for this book. The rest consists of a King in Yellow themed tarot deck, an appendix on psychic powers, a series of scientific papers on Mythos topics to be used as seeds/handouts, a couple of adventures (A Victim of the Art, the aforementioned Night Floors, and Dead Letter), and an enormous, comprehensive, and tragically out of date listing of major international security agencies. And that's that for Countdown, my favorite DG book. I don't have a copy of Eyes Only in PDF, so for convenience sake, I'll likely to the newest book, Targets of Opportunity, next, unless people would rather hear about some adventures.