For the third mystery of the series I wanted something that twisted the pattern of the previous cases and deepened the feelings of paranoia and control. I needed a session where they could start to see the shape of the overall plot. To do that I would deliberately put them into a smaller urban environment where they would be constantly under threat and surveillance. There's a little of that in the original Delta Green “Convergence” scenario. There the PC arrive in a small town and have potent force available, but they’re almost immediately on edge and under suspicion.
If you're interested in the scenario sketch which followed, you should skim the mission briefing here. Early on I had a strong idea about which formed the cornerstone of this adventure. I wanted something novel which would also hint at paranoia and uncertainty within Delta Green on two levels. First would be the idea that someone would is feeding information to enemy assets. Second, and more subtle, would be the detail that one of the slain DG agents was, against regulations, recording the mission briefing. I didn’t dwell on it but left it an open question.
I had pretty thoroughly sketched out the parameters of the previous two investigations; coming in with a sense of plot hooks, directions, and order of events. But here I went with an impressionistic approach. So my notes are more sketchy; they're more a set of ideas and notes for me to improvise from. By this point I had a lot of stuff already in my head that I didn't need to set down to paper. This becomes even more true with the final mystery but I'll come back to that at the end of the post.
Where the previous two posts might be useful to adapt for other GMs or work into their own games, I suspect what I'm present here is less directly useful. Instead it is more illustrative of my approach to planning for open world play. I should also mention that between the last investigation and this one we had a session mostly made up of home life play and deepening questions of allegiance, duty, and trust.
INVESTIGATION #3 NOTES:
May 2016/years ago. Delta Green team follows up on something involving a private military company which went belly up. Investigation will reveal some links to the Nevada group. Past history and such. In any case, Company sites divested from, but actual fate of them uncertain. That and some other incidents led DG to dispatch a team to the county.
The OLD TEAM vanished, but this happened in early 2016 and things got lost in the immediate shuffle. We’ll come back to exactly what happened to the team in a minute.
Team shown footage and given details. AGENT from the Old Team interrupts the briefing of a DG team. Agent kills members of the team, three in the building and one in the parking lot. Agent is seemingly wounded and leaves the scene. One of the OP TEAM, contrary to protocol, had a body cam. DG will provide the tape to the PCs with the audio redacted. Allow them to review the footage and possibly draw more info from it.
Leadership/handlers won’t reveal Op Team’s mission parameters—explain that others will deal with that mission. However, with some pushing they can find out that they were being dispatched to look into the Nevada cult.
Realize this: players will also want satisfaction about who tipped off the Agent to the meeting. Will need to figure out how to provide a useful, interesting answer.
- Location of Agent’s last, unfulfilled mission—though exact details may be unknown. Piecing things together.
- Names of the other team members.
- General details of mission sent on
- Operational Goals:
- Find out Fate of team
- Determine connection to Agent’s actions
- If connected, how and why
- Sanction agent
- Confirm and complete earlier mission parameters.
ELEMENTS I HAVE IN MIND
- Distribution center—or better yet a disposal center for returns. Not salvaged, just destroyed. Theft being heavily punished.
- Local controlled small hospital and medical center—no private practices. Insurance requirements make that onerous. Larger than you would expect plasma donation center. Painkiller/OxyContin addiction.
- No one does anything out of kindness. No donations—all sales. Private post office.
- Idea of a place where folks never have to drive long distance for the wealth and are restricted by culture from driving by the system. .
- Originally I was thinking shanty town, but now I’m thinking just a question of accessibility. One road in and out. Small private airport. No rental car office, one car dealership, outside the radius of delivery services. Police control the major arteries. No rental vehicles allowed in town. No public transport. Back trucker roads which are watched. No trains. Truckers doing deliveries never actually see the town. No buses, no taxis, no Uber except local.
- A folk-rock band, ala Mumford and Sons. At the top of the food chain. Mansions on the hillsides. They’re involved with occult bs. They are big sponsors of the Medical Marijuana facility. This is Hills are Calling (Lost in Thought at the Junkyard, Pulling Out the Copper, We Played Until Dark). BAND MEMBERS: Rick Craft, Donnie Horton, Rex Lindley, and Greg Ball)
- I like the siege energy from The Void.
- Military contractor owned a prison and a training city. There’s a separate marijuana grow facility run by local elites. The sites have been repurposed as an online sales reclamation facility. Fines and punishment can be worked off here. In one part of the place, immigrants held hostage here as workers. Hunting?
- Stuff from Silent Legions: Terrible Pact, Exploitative Industry, Breeding Program, Entrenched Poverty.
- Should hint at Shub, but then twist that.
- The atmosphere and feeling should be one of creeping economic unease and distress. Things happen which cost money to fix. Things are expensive and also shitty and cheap. Local taxes on internet sales are regressive.
- Historical notes: avoidance by Native American tribes. Has a mound builder civilization mound—unusual. Matching sites in Binger, OK and a location in Deacon, Nevada (close to the cult compound). Find what archaeologists call the early NA tribal civilizations. Name for the related mounds.
- The location is at the far end of the Appalachia’s—northern Alabama.
- So what is going on here—I’d like to tie it into the Underground folk and the new god. A worship center for one of their gods—the new god, a feeder. It is the god of hierarchy, control. Dominion, exploitation. Can echo the cult of Nyarlethotep in the sourcebook. Exploitation within a system of exploitation.
- Everything should lean into that: enforcement, liens, traffic tickets, internet. Refills aren’t free. Internet should be spotty and throttled. Fake cell towers.
- Absence of Yelp reviews in many places.
- The extra challenge here should be the need to maintain a low profile. Previous mission and general feeling play into this.
- People tied to other people. Rotting. Burn marks. Some kind of in-group membership. Pact which binds these people together.
Casefile: Valedictory Sunrise
Elements of the city: no corporate run, all franchises, all prices higher.
Hoachapoka (name of place and county)
Feeling of Economic Tension: Charging for everything, even refills. High prices for shitty food places (transport costs). No library, only newspaper is the Penny Saver. Extra roaming charges on phone—data plan minutes used up. Cards declined. Losing money, losing credit cards. Leaking gas. Food going bad. Small aches and injuries.
- Corey Stonecipher: late 30’s mayor of Hoachapoka.
- Rick Craft: Cultist, forest and mound ceremonies. Leader of Hills Are Calling.
- Ken Petkovsky: Former DG CIA, fully turned. Currently laid up in a hospital bed hidden away. Car has been stashed.
- Linda Mize: Brainwashed and lost among the victims at the plant.
- Cortez Noragula: DG agent being worn down by the towns feeling of distress and tension. May have put some drop markers—but they’ll lead to a place he’s left.
- Mandy Fuller: One of the People. Too perfect.
- Darryl Hand: Sheriff
- Cindy Sellers: City Councilperson
- Mick Crowley: Physical Services
- Philip J. Rice: Grow lab manager
- Moira Harless: Priestess
- Nolan Tate: Roads and traffic
- Jennifer Ruiz: Current host for Noragula
- Marco “Marky” Reveltuas: Former firebrand, now trapped here.
- Diana De Lugo: Panicked about where her cousin’s family is.
- Eduardo Vicario: Desperate informant on his fellow underclass peoples.
- Town: Dollar general. Local drugstore. Wendy’s. McDonalds. One former chain restaurant. Family Video. The buses which arrive early in the morning to transport folks out to the site. Much less car traffic—cars are all several to many years old. Payday Lending stores. Large OctoPharma blood donation center for profit.
- Motel: The Starway Motel
- Ways into Town—north and south entryways, tight and easily blocked. Subroads are badly managed. Google maps here is willfully incorrect.
- The Mound: Out in the woods, below the ridge. Sacrifices made—others brought here as witnesses. Some made into vessels for the Golden Mead which can be produced in people subject to the intervention.
- The Growhouse: Clean and modern vibe. Scared workers—highly regulated.
- The Ridge: Private accessways from the airport as well as a special delivery route which doesn’t connect with town. Live In Servants. All ethnic and marginalized.
- The private airfield
- The Training Facility
- The Prison
- Pre-2000s: Born in Binger, OK—now a distant suburb of Oklahoma City, Harris Perkins serves as a low-level consultant during the first Gulf War. That experience changes him for the worse. Using family money, he begins to build up Remility, becoming known for being willing to take on the most questionable activities and jobs.
- 2000 The People utilize their powers to recreate the fallen god Y’glonac using their own worship and elements of the Mi-Go Protomatter. It is a god of hunger and the perversion for domination, but not necessarily in a sexual way. It is a god of for the new century, hierarchies, and predatory capitalism.
- Early 2000s: Harris Perkins begins to have visions. He finds himself on the fringes of several cults, courting him for his wealth. He is visited by a representative of The People who binds him to their new god. Eventually he is put into contact with Art Stanley. Stanley has money of his own, but also draws on his money. Perkins begins to quietly buy up land in Hoachapoka with the ultimate aim of creating a worship center for the new god. He constructs a training center and begins construction of a for-profit prison.
- The person on site is a native born person, the youthful politician Corey Stonecipher. He makes arrangements and slowly begins to bring the town under his sway, starting from the time he turns 18. In 2007, he begins to see that Perkins is starting to crack up—spending money on wild relics, flirting with other cults, demanding more and more Golden Mead. The following year, Stonecipher, despite some things not being fully in place has Perkins killed. He moves to continue the cult using money siphoned off, financial assistance from agents of The People, and the bits and pieces already established.
Timeline of changes and growth.
In late 2014 and 2015 forensic accounting picks up on some unusual transactions related to Hoachapoka. A training facility located there has fallen off the books without being depreciated. A construction project seems to have been halted, but there’s no record of what happened to the lot. As well a couple of slush funds seems to have vanished tied to the location. This happens around the time of Perkins suicide, both before and after.
DG flags this low priority since Perkins’ connection to the occult is unconfirmed, but given the money involved, it is worth sending folks to look into the situation. The team is
- Ken Petkovsky
- Maurice Craft
- Linda Mize
- Cortez Noragula
They arrive on site, originally hoping to act in paired cover as an EPA Inspection team and Park Service Documentarians. Communication quickly becomes spotty. Noragula, the tech person, begins to look into this, trying to figure out what’s happening. His partner Petkovsky begins to walk the area, looking for things. He realizes the carefully cultivated isolation of the region, but then he comes upon the Mound. Observing an apparent folk ceremony involving the sacrifice of the underclass, he is captured. Stonecipher calls a representative of the people who drag him under and begin to turn him.
At the same time, Craft and Mize, proceed from the approach of EPA inspectors. They go through official channels and immediately begin to hit stonewalling. In particular there’s a strong litigious streak and city lawyers push back against them. They cite local regulations and rights. The pair become aware of the wealthy upper class on the mountainside.
By this point they have lost contact with the other pair. Noragula manages to get them a message that communications have been compromised. They opt to at least try to make a recon out to the construction site. There they find a city duplicate, an urban environment made for training security services. From there they reach the prison and discover it is operational. It is half immigrant prison camp and half local workhouse and punishment facility. Mize is captured and put to work. Craft escapes, is chased through the cityscape and eventually killed by an Avatar of the Flesh.
Noragula destroys everything electronic he has. He tries to get out, but rapidly realizes just how insular and dangerous this place is. He manages to find refuge with some of the locals. Their fear and despair makes them vulnerable to manipulation. He uses this to move from house to house, kind of couch surfing. He doesn’t realize how much the atmosphere here is changing him.
- Chicken processing plant
- Burned out town: ethnic cleansing? Maybe too much. Talk about Sundown towns though.
- Idea I’m probably dropping: flooding. Burying a town. Maybe flooded and then unflooded.
CASEFILE COMBUST REFLECTOR
The third mystery above took more sessions than usual, leaving us with just two sessions for the final case. I wanted to give the players the idea that they would be finally dealing with the threat behind the scenes. The would strike at the foe they had gotten information about throughout the campaign. But I wanted to subvert that. At the end of session 10 where we case number three, I immediately provided them a briefing document for their next assignment. You can see that here. Casefile Combust Reflector.
I wanted to give them a chance to chew on that between sessions and get excited about what they were going to do. We started the next session with the player downtime, continuing with the assumption that this was the mission. Then when we had the PCs together for the full meet up and briefing,I presented them with this:
STAND DOWN FROM CURRENT OPERATION
YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN COMBUST REFLECTOR HAS BEEN SUSPENDED
NEW CASEFILE—WITH IMMEDIATE ATTENTION—FOLLOWS
CASEFILE ZEPHYR CUNEIFORM
After several incidents and interventions, Midwestern distribution of an Unnaturally-tainted drug (Code Names Broadcast, Janus, Hyperion) was disrupted, particularly from key centers in Chicago and Ohio. Reports indicated connections between South Asian ethnic enclaves, Latin American Cartels, and several US Agribusiness Start Ups. Delta Green has continued to monitor the situation for flare ups and persons attempting to fill the gap.
Colodane is a coastal Louisiana former town. While it remains a settlement on former marsh borderlands, it lost its town charter in the early 2000’s thanks to redistricting. Damage from hurricanes and two separate oil leaks devastated the local environment. Corporate payments allowed some people to relocate, but many remained. Large sections of the area have been fenced off and abandoned, purchased by corporate interests for “reclamation.”
We have indications that a new group is using Colodane as an entry point, bringing a new Unnatural substance into the country. We are currently trying to ascertain the nature of the substance. For the moment we are using the Codename Catalyst.
48 hours ago a satellite photo showed a moderate vessel, likely a barge moving into the area. On a secondary pass and follow up, the vessel had vanished. We suspect this is a recent delivery, possibly from Latin America, possibly from Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Travel to Colodane and survey the situation
- Locate trafficking site for Catalyst
- Recover data on connections to other parties (persons, corporations, or the like)
- Recover and deliver sample of Catalyst
- Destroy trafficking operation
I wanted to offer a difficult choice: would they follow orders and take on this new mission or would they follow their instincts and try to carry out the original mission without permission, backup, or support. I complicated that in a couple of ways. First, during the downtime I had a key NPC warn one of the agents that historically Delta Green agents had two ways out: either cracking up and retiring or going off mission and getting themselves killed. Second, one of the PC's did not receive the countermanded mission orders. This was the agent who had been put in the care of a handler from a rogue DG agency. This forced that character’s hand a little and he had to reveal what had been going on with him.
I honestly went in uncertain about which direction the players would jump. I said that very explicitly to them once the problem was presented. I wanted them to know they didn’t have to second-guess me: whichever route they chose, we would go down it.
It ended up as a really fruitful exchange between the players about what their characters wanted. For a bit, I thought they would take the new mission. But after several swings back and forth they opted to ignore the new orders and try to carry out the mission they’d been originally assigned. They would not have access to resources and support, but at least had operational info. After this briefing, most of the rest of session 11 focused on drawing on all the resources that they had: calling on friends, using Agency, spending Network. We ended session 11 with them about to go in on the raid. And then session 12 was the raid.
I don't have any notes typed up on that. I had some sketches but they were very much just prompts for what I had been thinking about. As for the mission that they decided not to go on, I’m keeping that in my back pocket for a future session.
I've written these posts for several reasons First, because the players asked if they could see the notes which is unusual. Second, because I think at least the first two missions have enough to them that somebody else could run or remix them. Third because I’m actually very proud of how this played out. It was a really strong campaign. Some of that came from my GMing, some from the system, some from my the choice of time and atmosphere, and a good chunk came from just having a great table of players.