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Author Topic: [DitV] Delta Green in the Vineyard  (Read 15651 times)
mgrasso
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« on: September 09, 2004, 02:13:34 AM »

It just came to me as I thought of campaigns to run when I return to Boston.

Delta Green/Call of Cthulhu... run using the Dogs in the Vineyard system.

It's not even that far off from the Dogs suggested settings. Dark, lonely crusaders against darkness. The prelude system could focus on not Dog initiation, but the Mythos contact that led to the agent joining Delta Green. Sanity could be a set Trait (or a pair of existing Stats or an extra, new Stat) and you could actually roleplay the conflict that happens when someone loses some Sanity. What goes through a PC's mind when they see a Deep One? Lovecraft always told us; that's what's so wonderful, in my opinion, about his prose. The DitV conflict system would allow for that. The PCs could use Relationships as an anchor to reality and Sanity in some cases. Psychotherapy (using drugs as Equipment, using their quality as the Rating, or even Relationships in some particularly powerful therapy sessions) could also be played out using Conflicts to "heal" a PC's Sanity. Each Mythos beast would have a Insanity rating that would directly conflict with Sanity ratings, and so would certain situations (finding the serial killer's oubliette, reading unspeakable tomes, etc.). Fallout would be applied to Sanity in most cases (to replicate the "slippery slope" from traditional Call of Cthulhu) or possibly to Traits, Relationships, etc. in other cases as fitting. Town creation would be "mission creation," giving the agents a new "Night at the Opera" to solve as a cell in each gaming session. Demons are the influence of the Mythos on everyday life (within the missions), whether actual Mythos beasties or possessed/insane cultists.

The Relationships ratings would really get at what I've been talking about with some of my friends with regard to wanting to run Delta Green with an eye towards the agents' interior lives, insofar as "what do the DG agents do in their day jobs? How about their families and friends? How much of that will they sacrifice to protect all of us sheep from the Mythos?"

Questions? Thoughts? Suggestions? (especially on how to implement Sanity)
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2004, 07:54:37 AM »

Here's my take on Sanity.

You know how Ceremonial Fallout works? Make a similar list, but for Madness-inducing experiences.

Encountering another's madness, d4s.
Encountering another's violent madness, d6s.
Encountering Forbidden Knowledge, d6s.
Participating in another's madness, d6s.
Participating in an effective ritual, d8s.
Internalizing Forbidden Knowledge, d8s.
Participating in another's violent madness, d10s.
Performing an effective ritual, d10s.
Being possessed, d10s.

Like that.

Player: Dang, I don't want to do this, but I open the book.
GM: Bwa ha ha. [Reaches for dice.] What's at stake?
Player: Do I learn the secret name of the Oppressor?
GM: Cool.
[They roll dice.]
Player: [Raise] Mr. Sadiq, God rest him, told me what page it's on. I flip straight to that page.
GM: [See: Block or Dodge] The pages are all ragged-cut, you can't just riffle through. [Raise] On the page you first open to there's a diagram...
Player: [See: Taking the Blow] Aaii! I jerk my eyes away, but even the one glimpse unnerves me! [Raise] From now on, I stare fixedly at the page numbers.
GM: [See: Taking the Blow] Okay. [Raise] As you flip through, the little decorations beside the page number? They're moving, like a flip book, like a little coiling worm...

Then the player just chooses Fallout Traits that are sanity-related. "Whenever I read Aramaic, I stutter. 1d4." "I suspect that my little sister's eyes have been replaced by perfectly-matched cameras. 1d4."

Another possible approach - compatible with the above, mix and match - goes like this:

GM: Okay, you find and copy down the Opressor's secret name, no problem. I'm calling for a conflict, though. What's at stake is: does reading the book make you go home tonight and eat all of the meat in your fridge, raw, and then lick all the mirrors and windows in your apartment, leaving bloody raw meat tongue smears?

-Vincent
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mgrasso
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2004, 07:59:38 AM »

Quote from: lumpley
Here's my take on Sanity.

*snip*


Ceremonies. I knew I was missing something. :)

Yeah, makes sense. One can't say that the Delta Green folks AREN'T tempted to use the knowledge they come across, if the fiction and NPCs in the original book are any indication. I like it a lot. When I get back to Boston, this is the campaign I'm floating to the group. This is a pretty cool idea. And you got down exactly how I want to do the Sanity loss. Excellent. :)

I'd be interested to hear what other people think of the idea of Call of Cthulhu using Dogs.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2004, 02:48:53 PM »

I don't see why this would work, but the judgement element is what's missing here. What side are the PCs on? This is a tactical, "don't let them get us" thing, whereas Dogs is about healing the fundamental problems of the town. Add in this element and I think this will work great. Certainly entertainingly.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
MajorKiz
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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2004, 03:03:54 PM »

Quote from: nikola
I don't see why this would work, but the judgement element is what's missing here. What side are the PCs on? This is a tactical, "don't let them get us" thing, whereas Dogs is about healing the fundamental problems of the town. Add in this element and I think this will work great. Certainly entertainingly.


Well, Delta Green assumes that your PCs are working to protect humanity from evil, alien forces.  Judgement in Delta Green would generally lie in deciding whether or not the humans involved in the problem (the bad guys almost always have human accomplices, unwitting or not) can and/or should be saved.
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mgrasso
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2004, 06:16:11 PM »

Quote from: MajorKiz
Quote from: nikola
I don't see why this would work, but the judgement element is what's missing here. What side are the PCs on? This is a tactical, "don't let them get us" thing, whereas Dogs is about healing the fundamental problems of the town. Add in this element and I think this will work great. Certainly entertainingly.


Well, Delta Green assumes that your PCs are working to protect humanity from evil, alien forces.  Judgement in Delta Green would generally lie in deciding whether or not the humans involved in the problem (the bad guys almost always have human accomplices, unwitting or not) can and/or should be saved.


That was my idea absolutely. Made especially more difficult by the fact that the DG agents all have "day jobs" of some sort in federal law enforcement or intelligence. DG agents often have to use lethal sanctions that their normal law enforcement roles aren't permitted. This creates the central conflict in their Relationships; knowing things and fighting entities that no one else sees or believes in. The only difference between Dogs and DG agents is that Dogs in their setting are well-known by everyone and have authority. More often than not, DG agents will take on other cover identities for ops.

Sometime this week I hope to post an example of a "town" in Delta Green in the Vineyard; in DG terms, an op or a "Night at the Opera." I think the existing town generation system will work with very little difficulty for setting up DG ops.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2004, 05:44:35 AM »

Just to be clear, I was trying to say "I don't see why this wouldn't work."

That is, mechanically, it makes sense to me.

But what's missing is the personal morality element. There's no chain of sin inherent in summoning Cthulhu, except maybe a Frankenstinian desire to look where Man was meant to not, and even that's kinda ambiguous.

But if you figure out the relationship stuff, and how, perhaps, it sequentially violates increasingly important standards of humanity, I think you've got something there.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Rob MacDougall
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2004, 10:01:36 AM »

Quote from: nikola
But what's missing is the personal morality element. There's no chain of sin inherent in summoning Cthulhu, except maybe a Frankenstinian desire to look where Man was meant to not, and even that's kinda ambiguous.


I think that might be less true of Delta Green than vanilla Call of Cthulhu.

In the DG books, many (though probably not all) of those involved in the Mythos have other vices or crimes that are all wrapped up in their Mythos involvement: sexual perversions, drug habits, etc.  to the point that it's difficult to parse out whether people are in bed with the Mythos because of their vices, or indulging their vices because of the Mythos.

Of course, these may not be "sins" in the DitV sense, because the idea of sin sort of requires a God or at least some kind of objective good to sin against, and obviously that's not part of the Cthulhu cosmology. Vast, uncaring universe and all that.

So, Mike, I agree with Nikola that you might want to think about ways in which the Mythos could be made more personal, its component beasties more interested in actively corrupting humanity. Which I think is the direction you're thinking already anyway.

Rob

ps Somewhere around here there's a thread about using Sorcerer to run Ken Hite's Madness Dossier where we kicked around some similar ideas.
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lumpley
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« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2004, 12:33:43 PM »

Even in straight Dogs, God forbids them because they're sins, not vice versa. They'd be sins even without Him. Notice, for instance, that the Dogs just do not care what you do until you create Injustice.

So I don't think that the godlessness or uncaringness of the universe will cause any problems there.

Building a progression of community breakdown might be hard anyway, though. Aren't most cultists loners? Maybe here's what I'd try. I'm not a big Mythos guy - I haven't even read Delta Green - so I won't take it hard if I'm like totally off base.

A guy has a habit he enjoys.

Indulging his habit, over time he becomes jaded and curious.

Because he's curious, he becomes progressively prone to extremity. Extremity is measured in how much human harm it causes to others than himself.

Because he's jaded, his habit becomes increasingly baroque and ritualistic.

There's some threshold of ritualistic extremity over which he crosses. Some combination of ritual and human harm attracts the attention of some nightmarish thing.

The advantage of crossing is that it gives you access to nightmarish resources. Beetles that live in your ears and tell you which people want to kill you. Cultists with their eyes sewn shut. Books of that sort.

The purpose of the nightmarish resources is to make his indulgences even more ritualistic and extreme.

Once it gets so that to indulge his ritualized, extreme habit he has to kill, he gets real power.

Real power is: there are normal human people who will do what he tells them to. Including fight and die for him. Not because they love him or he's broken their will, but because he'll do unbearable things to them if they don't.

Real power is also: his depraved rituals are opening doors to those who'd destroy humanity.

Enter the Dogs! Dogs, you have to deal with people who will fight and die to protect this monster, who are his victims.

So here's a guy:

He likes to tip well.

Over time, tipping becomes boring and he starts to wonder what a waitress will do for a good tip.

He starts to construct increasingly bizarre scenarios to find out. At first it's play-acting. Then threats and force. Eventually he's kidnapping waitresses and forcing them through bizarre situations that're all about money and sex and power before he lets them go.

Imagine a scenario where, trapped in this labyrinthine ritual and under intense pressure, a waitress I dunno cuts off her own ear for ten dollars.

Now the guy has crossed. He finds that if he touches a waitress's hand, she'll tell him her phone number. If he steals her nametag, her life - especially her finances - will collapse around her - she'll be bankrupt, divorced, desperate within the week. Ten-legged spiders live under the seat of his car and tell him where to eat lunch each day. Waitresses who fight back die in terrible impossible accidents, suffer disfiguring disasters, lose their children and loved ones.

Waitresses, their friends, their families, diner owners, cooks - they're scared of him. They can't act against him, he could destroy people they care about.

Eventually, under the right baroque and ceremonial circumstances, who will a waitress kill? For how little money? Herself? Her family?

And now a) he's performing - with these poor waitresses' help - rituals that threaten the future of humanity, plus b) he's got dozens of people who hate him but who'll cover for him and protect him and they're so scared of him that they'll fight you.

That's kind of fun!

-Vincent
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2004, 01:00:29 PM »

Yeah, V., I think you've cracked it there. That sounds like a good story in a Clive Barker vein.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
mgrasso
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Posts: 10


« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2004, 04:53:21 PM »

Quote from: lumpley

*snip again*

That's kind of fun!

-Vincent


Very fun. :) And I don't think you're off-base at all. Cultists might be loners, but I prefer a situation where you have lots of lost souls who come together for whatever horrible reason, whether it be the case of inbred backwater towns full of ghouls/Deep Ones, corporate cultists in the penthouse suite, or even clueless teenagers summoning Y'Golonac using an encoded Nigerian spam email. A Delta Green op may not necessarily be a "town"; but it will definitely involve a person or people who affect their community with their sin.

It occurs to me that Majestic-12 in the DGverse would be a great analogue for the rogue Dogs everyone seems to be crazy about.

Mike

Mike
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lumpley
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« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2004, 10:14:59 AM »

I'm having so much fun with my waitress-eater that I'm'a keep going.

He poses no moral question. You're going to shoot him, right? The world woulda been a better place, unequivocally, if someone'd shot him already, right? He's like the Death Star: not the point.

The point of him is, how do you treat his victims?

So we use Relationship dice:

Every NPC in his power is in his power because of a "weakness." A "weakness" is a normal, good human emotion that he's preying on: I love my daughter, I'm loyal to my friends, I'm afraid to die. For each NPC, quantify how much power the guy has, via her or his weakness, in d10s. I'd start with 3d10 and go up. 1d10 and 2d10 for people outside of but touching his circle of victims. Adjust according to playtesting.

Whenever the PCs are in conflict with one of these NPCs about him, roll those d10s. I'd make it clear and explicit, by choosing distinctive black d10s and using them only for his power over them. When the players see those black d10s, they know what they're dealing with, though the PCs might not. Anyhow whenever you're trying to get at him through an NPC in his power, the NPC gets all her usual dice, plus those 3 or more d10s.

Consequently, to win the conflict, you'll probably have to escalate.

And that's the question: where do you escalate to? You're questioning a waitress to find out where he is. She's protecting him because she loves her daughter, and what, you're going to threaten her? Hit her? She won't tell you willingly where he is - and she has that ugly 5d10 Relationship with him to back it up. What do you do?

Not to mention that her fear for her daughter's life and safety is justified. The spiders under his seat can probably tell who betrayed him, or he'll read it on her face, or he'll open his book and discover that her name's been obscured by dried blood. You know that line in every movie ever made where we're not playing games here?

So! That seems like it might work. Add in the sanity stuff from earlier in the thread and I want to try this variation pretty bad. It sounds like getting hit in the head with a brick fun.

-Vincent
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mgrasso
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« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2004, 10:17:48 AM »

Quote from: lumpley


So! That seems like it might work. Add in the sanity stuff from earlier in the thread and I want to try this variation pretty bad. It sounds like getting hit in the head with a brick fun.

-Vincent


The irony being I can't get anyone to bite (no pun intended) out here in the et in arcadia ego gamers paradise of Boston. Yet. At least I've got the basics down right now. But Relationships with cult higher-ups/Entities for NPCs... brilliant, again.

Mike
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mgrasso
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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2005, 03:18:00 AM »

I know this is a bit of thread necromancy, but I'm finally running a Delta Green/Dogs one-shot tonight and I need to ask something:

Would it be outrageous to use Heart + Will as the dice pool for Sanity conflicts?

Mike
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lumpley
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2005, 06:20:17 AM »

OUTRAGEOUS! CRAZY! INSAAAANE!!

-Vincent

Nah. Sounds fine.
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