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Monday, December 29

Chapter 29: Convergence - Introduction

This scenario is as good as action horror gets. I don't know if I can top this: a creepy plot that builds, alien interactions that truly feel alien, players willing to role-play inter-party tension, a surprise twist, and a horrible revelation. And oh yeah, a giant blob wielding a crucifix as a weapon.

I was unhappy (as I always am) with the scenario outline. There's a communicable disease (protomatter), but the reveal that one of the character is infected is left up to the GM. There's an amorphous shape shifting ooze that never actually makes an appearance unless the agents actively seek it out. There's an alien conspiracy and a cover-up, but it's not entirely clear to the GM as to the state of the conspiracy.

As usual, rather than the investigation-focus, I shifted the timeline along so things in town are much, much worse and stole liberally from Dean Koontz’s Phantoms. The protomatter spawn shifted from hiding under a government building to a megalomaniacal being that thinks it's a god. I shifted the other aliens’ plans from business as usual (odd, since their protomatter spawn is raging out of control) to actively trying to help the agents kill their Frankenstein monster. And since the agents are Majestic-12, there's no competition with Delta Green. As Jeremy put it once, "horror is having all the military force in the world at your disposal…and it still doesn't help you." That's what happens here.

The other moment is what I call the "Detwiller" moment. Dennis recently explained that A-Cell in Delta Green isn't trying to "win" the war against the Mythos. They're just trying to staunch the wound. Individuals mean nothing: the greater good means all. If there's a decision between an innocent's life and the spread of the Mythos, the innocent loses every time. That was dramatically demonstrated in this scenario in how Hammer (Cowboy) and Guppy (Crackpot) approach the conspiracy.

I combined descriptions from Dean Koontz' book with some of the action-oriented elements added by the movie. For the record, I saw Phantoms in the theater and thought it was dreadfully boring. But as a book it's much more terrifying. It helps that the protagonist is trained in forensics, which provides plenty of mystery for the agents to investigate what happened to the town's victims.

Even better, Guppy, Hammer, and Jim-Bean created their own role-playing tension in both relationships and how they handle (or don't handle) the conspiracy.

Defining Moment: Hammer, faced with a Saucerwatch leak that might spread the truth about the Mythos, plugs the hole…with a bullet. [MORE]


posted by Michael Tresca at 7:55 PM

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  • Still reading and enjoying!

    I liked Phantoms (the film, haven't read the book) - it really tread the line of "is this scientifically explainable or not" and wiggled back and forth across it well. Especially if you have characters with a variety of worldviews and can split them over rational vs superstitious response to the problem.

    By Blogger mxyzplk, at Sunday, January 04, 2009 11:42:00 AM  

  • Thanks! It's great to hear from someone who reads my blog. Also, thanks for linking to it as well!

    This particular scenario hit all the right marks. I really do recommend the book if you've seen the movie; it is chock full of forensic details that couldn't be expressed in a two-hour movie and also includes an alien invader angle that I used as well.

    By Blogger talien, at Sunday, January 04, 2009 11:58:00 AM  

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