Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gameline Overview: Delta Green

Delta Green is one of those settings that most people have heard of. A setting for Call of Cthulhu, Delta Green came out of the old days of Pagan Publishing and has proven to be far and away the most popular works they've ever produced.

For those who don't know, Delta Green is about an illegal conspiracy within the US Government of agents who work for a common cause fighting the forces of the Mythos. The activities of Delta Green are not sanctioned by the US Government, and are certainly not funded not even as a black project. While it was originally a government agency, Delta Green was officially disbanded in 1969 following a disastrous operation in Cambodia (the details of which are still sketchy today.) It now operates as a rogue element hiding behind fake identities, false accounts and a cell structure based on terrorist groups in order to remain hidden.

Set mainly in the 1990s, Delta Green fight the entities of the Cthulhu Mythos, help keep magic off the streets and investigate the mysterious Greys that the US Government has signed treaties with through the Majestic-12 agency. It's agents are knee deep in horror, and usually only end their duties in a violent fashion or through insanity. More than one agent has chosen their own way out of the world in order to escape the horrors they've seen.

While I could continue trying to describe it I refer you instead to a famous fiction piece written about it based on the famous Choose Life opening from Trainspotting. Unfortunately I don't know the original author.

Choose federal law enforcement. Choose the military. Choose NASA or the CDC. Choose lying to your superiors. Choose to ruin your career. Choose no friends. Choose divorce. Choose life through the bottom of a bottle. Choose destroying evidence and executing innocent people because they know too fucking much. Choose black fatigues and matching gas masks. Choose an MP5 stolen from the CIA loaded with glasers, with a wide range of fucking attachments. Choose blazing away at mind-numbing, sanity-crushing things from beyond the stars, wondering whether you'd be better off stuffing the barrel in your own mouth. Choose The King in Yellow and waking up wondering who you are. Choose a 9mm retirement plan. Choose going out with a bang at the end of it all, PGP-encrypting your last message down a securely laid cable as an NRO Delta wetworks squad busts through your door.
Choose one last Night at the Opera.
Choose Delta Green.

While Delta Green may seem similar to a very popular conspiracy show involving aliens and the supernatural from the 1990s, Delta Green first saw print in the acclaimed magazine The Unspeakable Oath #7 in early 1993, a full year before the release of the X-Files.

While Call of Cthulhu is usually a dark horror game, the publishing for Delta Green has generally concentrated on an even darker side to the horror, mostly concentrating more on the horrors that men do rather than some mysterious monsters. This helps drive the game home into a much more personal horror than Call of Cthulhu on its own generates.

The main setting book Delta Green was published in 1997, and won the Origin's Award that year for best roleplaying supplement. Delta Green: Countdown, a supporting setting supplement, was released in 1999. At 426 pages I believe that at the time it was the largest RPG supplement published in English to that point (it has since been beaten many many times, and in Cthulhu publishing is only beaten by the monster Beyond the Mountains of Madness campaign.) These two books represent possibly the finest RPG supplements ever produced for any game, and are a must have for any gamer.

After Countdown three mini supplements were released concentrating on various areas of the setting, but were never circulated through stores. I believe they were only available direct from Pagan Publishing. As a result they have become collectors items. These three books, Eyes Only volumes 1 & 2 were published in 1998 while volume 3 came out in 2000. The first volume, Machinations of the Mi-go underwent a revision and slight enlargement in 2000 (I think, I don't own a copy.)

While Delta Green is still very popular, publishing for it has been sporadic. After the release of the Eyes Only books there were no more official supplements for the setting, outside some magazine articles, until the main rulebook reprint with D20 stats in 2007. 2007 also marked the year that the Eyes Only compilation, with additional information, was issued.

2010 saw the long delayed release of Targets of Opportunity containing all new material plus a revamp of Greg Stolze's long awaited Cult of Transcendence write-up.

No more official supplements have been forthcoming since Targets, however under Arc Dream's publishing umbrella things are looking up for the setting. A new version of Delta Green is in the works and there are promises of further support for the line.

Despite the few releases, Delta Green fans are a patient lot. Every single release is more than worth the wait, and with the quality so high we'd rather get quality rather than quantity.

As of the time of writing, several of the books are available for electronic purchase. See the bibliography below for the links for these books.


RPG Books


For more information visit


  1. I've never seen a reference to a second version/printing of Machinations Of The Mi-Go. Do you have any more information about it?

  2. Certainly. I was just in contact with Dennis Detwiller about it to confirm what I vaguely recalled. It was indeed re-released as a second edition, again only available direct from Pagan, with the adventure A Night On Owlshead Mountain included. There was no scenario in the first edition. Hope that helps.