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Delta Green: Agent's Handbook
by Alexander L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/27/2016 22:52:53

There is a reason Delta Green is a classic in the TTRPG world. This new Agent's Handbook updates much of the technology and other details of the setting, but it doesn't take away from the "classic" feel of a decades-long conspiracy and and courage at the brink of madness. It's been a while since I last played Delta Green, this is the perfect excuse to jump back in.


The most compelling part of the game (for me) is the ever-present focus on the Lovecraftian themes of madness and cosmic horror. Yes, other games have the sanity mechanic, edge, guts, etc... but few are as central to your character as it is in Delta Green. Even set in the 20th and 21st Centuries, this is still the biggest threat to humanity, and getting too close to the truth is only going to drive you over the edge and into a straightjacket or worse. When you're playing a PC with that much responsibility and that much to lose, and the game keeps reminding you of that at every turn, it makes for an unique gaming experience. I've played only a few games over the years where the players were so upset by the setting that it affected the way they normally play. It gets intense. And the fact that this current DG Handbook is filled with so much new gear and evolved backstory makes it an easy choice for a group looking to get into something detailed that isn't "standard".


The layout is solid as well, the font size and style are easy on the eyes (something that actually makes a huge difference when you read as many corebooks and TTRPG books as I do.) The art is terrific, I just wish there was a bit more, but that is no reason to take away stars on a review. Glad to see the agents of Delta Green are still carrying on the fight in 2016 and beyond! Go, go, Delta Green!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Agent's Handbook
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Monsters and Other Childish Things: Completely Monstrous Edition
by Alan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2016 12:32:03

I really love this game,


Silly kids with silly monsters in a gloomy setting set up so many fun opportunities for short super fun little games. My favorite to date was a Monsters Redo of the Breakfast club, where the characters had to fight a bunch of school and 80s monsters like the Duo of Office Maxx (who shot staples from his face and had staple remover claws for hands) and ZeRocxx, the Copy machine that turned into a bird that Shot bad copies at the group, dive bombed them with broken ink cartridges and sonic attacked them with PC Load Letter error alarms. Best of all was the confrontation with Maxx Hedrome....I will leave that one to your imagination. Its a super great premise and it is well done and easy to implement. I recommend every one try it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters and Other Childish Things: Completely Monstrous Edition
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Delta Green: Need to Know
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/05/2016 12:36:53

After a slightly disorganised start (you have to wade through the product blurb, a page of densely-written copyright notices and the Open Gaming Licence before you actually get to the contents!) we start off with Welcome to Delta Green, which explains what the game is all about - fear. Fear and having the courage to stand up against horrors no matter what. Then there's a brief explanation of what role-playing is and how to play, including the terminology: the Game Master is called the Handler and players take the role of Agents (of Delta Green), and adventures are known as Operations. To play, you'll need dice (or a die roller app), with percentage dice playing a major role. There's a whole page on 'How to be a Player' which covers the basics like describing actions, speaking as your character and not holding things up... and of course working with the other members of the party. There's another page for the Handler (with some ominous blood-splatter on it) and an example of play. A scary one...


The next section is titled What is an Agent? This goes through the character sheet explaining what everything is and how it is used in the game. This leads into a section describing how to create an agent. The assumption is that characters are Americans employed by one of the 'Alphabet' agencies, but it's quite easy to see how to extrapolate to other nationalities or professional affiliations. The basic professions available (which suggest the skills that you have) are Federal Agent, Anthropologist/Historian, Computer Scientist/Engineer, Physician (i.e. medical doctor), Scientist or Special Operator (i.e. someone with military training). The way everything is put together helps you build a rounded individual with friends and some personal history, and a reason why he's in Delta Green and doing what he's doing. There are six pre-generated characters which can serve as examples, get customised or just used for play... there are outline notes and full character sheets for each.


Then comes a section called Game System. This explains the game mechanics in a straightforward (if slightly patronising) style. It covers general task resolution and combat, then goes on to discuss damage, death and sanity. Like Call of Cthulhu (which these rules resemble), hanging onto your sanity is well-nigh impossible in this game. This leads on to rules for insanity... and, fortunately, some notes on ways to preserve your character's sanity. The bit about going to see a therapist is quite amusing: do you lie about what you've experienced or sound really delusional by telling him... and risk him going a bit mad as well? A lot of this is a cut-down version of what's in the Core Rulebook, it says, but even this is pretty comprehensive.


Finally we have the operation (adventure) Last Things Last. In this, the party is despatched to check the home of a recently-deceased retired Delta Green agent to make sure no incriminating evidence is to be found (remember that Delta Green regards keeping the existance of supernatural horrors completely secret as important as actual defeating them). It's a fairly simple mission that serves just to demonstrate a little of the system and give the group an inkling of what to expect...


Unless you are completely new to role-playing you may feel that you are being talked down to a bit in some of the explanations, but apart from that this provides a good introduction to the game, bringing out the flavour well. The adventure is rather too basic and is aimed at complete novices, Handler as well as players, but can be used to whet the appetite for more... provided the agents don't completely lose their sanity over what they have to do! Support for a novice Handler is good, however, and there's the potential to make it quite atmospheric. There are a couple of good handouts... but the purely illustrative page that follows could have been used to provide more resources to lead to further adventures if the items there weren't piled on top of each other quite so much.


That said, this work does give a good feel for the game and ought to enable you and your group decide if it's for you (or not). I'll be looking out for more...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Need to Know
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Monsters and Other Childish Things: SkyMaul
by William C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2016 16:10:44

This is a wonder, fun module that is great of introducing new players to the game and to roleplaying. The premise is simple.


You are child. You have best friend who is a monster. He travels around with you. People usually don't see him. You and your class flying in a plane on a fieldtrip. The plane secretly is planing on eating the children. What do you do?


It's a straight foward problem that must be met head on and cannot be wiggled out of. As the characters are children or monsters, their decision making process can be ridicioulous and conveluted, which is perfect for new time players.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters and Other Childish Things: SkyMaul
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Delta Green: Extraordinary Renditions
by David M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2015 10:04:38

For those unfamiliar with Delta Green, I would say that they collect the bleakest, darkest, most soul-eroding windows into modern Lovecraftian horror. Unsanctioned tradecraft in a never ending war against the unimaginable horrors that lurk behind the corners of reality, trying to hold back the tide, one sanity breaking battle at a time. Needless to say, agents never survive unscathed, if they survive at all.


"Extraordinary Renditions" is the fruit of the Kickstarter for the previous Delta Green story collection, "Tales From Failed Anatomies". The Kickstarter was so successful, that it gave birth to two story collections. "Tales From Failed Anatomies" was outstanding, but I have to say that "Extraordinary Renditions" felt even better. Or worse, if you are the characters held within its pages.


With a massive collection of amazing writers like Adam Scott Glancy, Dennis Detwiller, Kenneth Hite, Greg Stolze, Shane Ivey, Cody Goodfellow, and more, each story gives us a glimpse to different moments in time for Delta Green, from the old days, through the cowboy years, to modern day. Something that made it stand out from previous collections was that it also portrayed the post PATRIOT ACT 911 Delta Green, and the schizm between the old guard and the new blood that has been returned to the fold of government black projects. Stories like the spectacular "Passing The Torch" exemplify this beautifully (or horribly, if you happen to be an agent).


Mind-expanding, terrifying, fascinating and hard to put down.


I would certainly hope that Delta Green and Arc Dream decide to publish subsequent collections in the future. If they would release one of these a year, I would be a happy (and possibly less sane) man.


Also, I would gladly be a backer for another Delta Green story project. Count me in, until the angles take me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Extraordinary Renditions
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Better Angels: No Soul Left Behind
by Jason S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/25/2015 18:20:05

This book is everything my black heart ever desired and more.


I listened to the original playtest campaign over at RPPR--Role-Playing Public Radio--and was instantly jealous of all the hilarious shenanigans the players got up to. As someone who sidestepped the crucible of student teaching by majoring in Literature instead (Winning move there!) but had a front-row seat to the trials of his roommates, who did not, this campaign book is exactly the kind of creative expression of pent-up frustration and nerdrage my friends need. It's absolutely stuffed with content, from fun writing to fantastic artwork to extra rules and powers and aspects...and then, of course, there's the actual ten-part campaign (Which, with the enormous number of optional sideplots provided, could easily double in length at the table!), which includes scenarios (And suggestions on making them one-shots) characters (Everything from Brighter Futures students and staff to rival Hellbinders to angelic singing bodybuilding Christian superheroes) and an overarching plot that can only be described as "Stokesian" in its fiendishness.


If I had to narrow down the book's greatest strength, however, it would be the aforementioned writing. As a wannabe scenario writer myself I've read a lot of RPG campaign books, and many of them suffer from dry and lifeless tone that attempts to present information to its readers as clinically and detached as possible. The author of this book, thank God or whomever else you worship, does not. He's colloquial. He's conspiratorial. He's funny. This is not a book that came off an assembly line--it's one dude's passion, and rather than try to hide that with dull word choice and bland sentences he owns it. It's like he's reading the damn thing to me over a couple of beers, stopping to let me laugh and shake my head every so often before continuing for more. It brings a life to the book that fits the tone of the parent game so perfectly, which is absolutely critical for something like Better Angels. If the GM isn't feeling the magic, then neither will their players.


I dropped twenty bucks for the pdf of this, but I'm already kicking myself for not ordering the digital/physical combo instead. As soon as I finish this review I'm out the door to my local game store to see if they'll take a special order.


Buy it. FOR THE KEEDZ.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Better Angels: No Soul Left Behind
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The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man: A Dreamlands Campaign for Call of Cthulhu
by Steven R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/27/2015 19:49:39

I must say that this is not only a solid campaign for Call of Cthulhu, but it presents some much needed addendums to the rules to make the Dreamlands of HP Lovecraft more than just a setting. Detwiller takes pains to differentiate the mechanics of the Dreamlands while fleshing out the both landscape and its denizens. I would recommend this book not only to use as a campaign, but also as supplemental materials to run your own scenarios set in the Dreamlands.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man: A Dreamlands Campaign for Call of Cthulhu
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Wild Talents: Essential Edition
by Jasper C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/27/2015 12:20:43

Ran this for a group of friends who are mainly newbies or used to freeform RPGs. They picked it up in minutes, and we had a great time. If you're looking for a game with a fun mechanic and a lot of internal flexibility, this is it. If you're looking for a simulation or something with lots of realistic benchmarks, look elsewhere though. The actual results of play feel realistic enough, but I had some trouble getting one friend to accept the softer bits. I like using the ORE, especially if I'm homebrewing something, since it's so easy to create complexity without getting bogged down.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wild Talents: Essential Edition
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Delta Green: Tales from Failed Anatomies
by Casey R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/10/2015 04:34:41

For those wondering what the "Multiple Formats" are, they are: PDF, MOBI, EPUB, and AZW3



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Tales from Failed Anatomies
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The Unspeakable Oath 24 - ARC6007
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/16/2014 06:42:01

Originally published at: h-
ttp://diehardgamefan.com/2014/07/16/tabletop-review-the-unsp-
eakable-oath-issue-24-call-of-cthulhu-delta-green/

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Man, I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since issue #23 of The Unspeakable Oath. I love this magazine but I do wish it would come out more regularly. This is only the fifth issue to come out since July 2011, but what gaming magazine DOES come out on a regular basis these days? Pathways and White Dwarf. It’s just the way the industry is these days. Still, ANY time a new issue of The Unspeakable Oath comes out, it is a time for Cthulhu oriented gamers to celebrate as they get a ton of new articles, adventures, story seeds and other fun content for less than ten dollars. Issue #24 gives us fourteen new articles (all for Call of Cthulhu Delta Green to peruse. If you haven’t picked it up yet (AND WHY NOT?), let’s take a look at what awaits you inside…


First up? “The Dread Page of Azathoth,” which always contains some fun wisdom. In this case, it’s about how hard running an adventure or even a full campaign in the Dreamlands can be, especially since it is so different from the usual Mythos bits that are out there. It’s only a page long, but well worth reading.


The next two articles are “Tales of Terror,” which are story seeds with three possible explanations for each. Black Eyed Children is pretty self-explanatory. Children can be pretty creepy to begin with and when a host of them demand entrance into your home for whatever reason, well that just ups the weird factor. Out of the three possibilities presented, the third is by far the best. The first is the usual “blame Nyarlathotep” well everyone seems to run to on occasion. The second is fairly good but also requires the most work from the Keeper to make work. The other “Tales of Terror” is The Hidden Passage and you can pretty much guess what this is about from the title. All three possibilities here are pretty awesome and you can easily make a full-fledged adventure out of each one. In fact, they are so different from each other, you might as well make all three.


After this comes “The Eye of Light and Darkness,” which is always the weakest section in the magazine. These are various reviews of Mythos oriented products. Usually I find this to be the worst part of the magazine because they are reviewing things that have been out for years instead of letting the readers discover new pieces, and because the lowest rating anything ever seems to get is a 7/10, which basically makes these more product placement than actual reviews. Well, they’re getting better. We start off with a review of True Detective which takes up a full page and is extremely timely, especially for TUO. Then it’s followed up with Masks of Nyarlathotep, which has been around since the mid 1990s and the most recent update/errata’d version came out in 1984. So tit for tat. I’d have preferred to see a newer release for Call of Cthulhu here, especially Tales of the Crescent City, Secrets of Tibet or some Achtung! Cthulhu bits. Still, that is made up for by reviews of No Security, which is a series I’ve been raving about for years now. It was also great to see some lesser known non-rpg stuff get reviewed. There are books like Southern Gods and Where’s My Shoggoth? and even a review of the Welcome to Nightvale Podcast/radio drama. Honestly, this is the best “The Eye of Light and Darkness” piece I’ve seen in an issue of TUO in terms of selections. There still isn’t a piece with a score under 7/10 though. Remember, it’s okay to give negative reviews. I do it all the time.


“The Mardler House” is this issue’s big adventure and I’m still not sure how I feel about this. I love the idea of the adventure as it is pretty unique and is designed in such a way that it works best as a slow burn throughout a campaign. You put bits of this adventure into other adventures or the between time Investigators have. Then you unleash the core of the piece allowing players to pick up the pieces and realize they’ve been in this adventure all along and just didn’t know it. The problem is finding a Keeper that can run “The Mardler House” the way the writer intended, or barring that, one that can run this without turning it into a complete disaster. I mean, I’ve been playing Call of Cthulhu for over twenty years now (Oh man, I’m old). I don’t think you can just throw Investigators into this adventure like a lot of published pieces. It works best when characters have history or even live/work out of the house. A lot of the creepiness and revelations about the piece will be lost if you just take the adventure in one large chunk. Unfortunately, this means you need a Keeper that can break “The Mardler House” up into smaller pieces, keep things subtle and keep track of what parts they have thrown at players and what parts they haven’t. So you have to be pretty organized to really make this adventure come to life. I love the characters, plot, background and flow of the whole piece, but I think more Keepers that not will become frustrated trying to run this as it requires a lot more work than most pre-packaged adventures. In the hands of a good and experienced Keeper, “The Mardler House” will be a very memorable experience. Without one, it’s better off read than played.


So I should probably tell you what “The Mardler House” is about. Well, it’s a haunted house, but not really. The ghosts aren’t the usual incorporeal boogeyman you think of when we mention ghosts, especially in Call of Cthulhu. These ghosts are more warped echoes of the past. Shadows of the people but not entirely accurate ones. Of course, the longer players stay in the house, the more they will discover why this is and that inside “The Mardler House” truth and reality are very different things than when you are outside it. Again, this is such a great concept. I’d pick up this issue of The Unspeakable Oath just to read the adventure, but I would think twice about running it unless you (and your friends) are confident in your GM-fu skills.


Now we have three “Shotgun Scenarios” for Delta Green. A Shotgun Scenario are short little adventures that can be played in a single session or expanded into a more detailed adventure if the Keeper so wishes. It’s also worth noting that these are for the OLD version of Delta Green and not the new one currently in playtesting. These adventures could easily be converted for those of you with the alpha version of the game.


First up is, “Agent Purple’s Green Box Blues,” which is a fairly complicated affair where agents from A-Cell have to help the last survivor of P-Cell, Agent Purple. Agent Purple need the Investigators help in taking down a gang known as the White Snakes, which appears to be a front for a much larger, more insidious group. Of course, the reality of the adventure is VERY different, and the players will be thrown a very realistic but entirely unexpected curveball. “Holding Cell” is for a single character and it has them descending into an underground room containing five very different items. There they await orders which can lead to one of three different endings (Keeper’s Choice), all of which are pretty dark yet entertaining. Finally we have “Secret Shopper” where a small mom and pop bookseller goes nuts and decides to enact revenge on a large chain bookstore, via Cthlhuoid means of course. All three of these are fantastic and even if you don’t play Delta Green, these can fit into a regular modern era Call of Cthulhu campaign with only a little work. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.


“The Cult of A” is the feature article for this issue and it’s bound to be a controversial one. It’s about eating disorders, specifically anorexia, and a Mythos cult that exists around it. While some people will no doubt be offended by the article turning a mental illness like this into CoC fodder, I don’t have a problem with it. After all, every other mental illness from hoarding to agoraphobia makes it into the game, so why not an eating disorder? Besides, it’s not saying that every sufferer from this disease gets turned into a mythos style cultist but rather that the Cult of A preys on these people the same way the Needle Men prey on doctors.


“The Cult of A” is exceptionally detailed and I think it might be the most comprehensive article to ever appear in an issue of The Unspeakable Oath. It takes up a whopping twelve pages and discusses the nature of the cult, how its members tend to only affect themselves as compared to other Mythos cults whose actions affect everyone, and how the cult has made exceptionally work of the Internet, especially forums. You get to see how someone joins the cult and what eventually happens to them, along with various manifestations of A. There are even a few new spells and tomes to add to your game. I can’t express how well done “The Cult of A” is and how much I think you should read it for a very outside the box and original take on a Mythos cult. That said, I do realize that eating disorders are more of a trigger for some people than say, mi-go or nightmares caused by psychic emanations from things beyond our imaginations, but the piece is not done with any disrespect or mockery to those that suffer from anorexia. If you think you’ll be offended or squicked out by this article, don’t read it. I don’t read every article in Bloomberg Buisnessweek or Organic Gardening. The rest of TUO #24 is excellent enough that you can still enjoy it even if anorexia is a sore spot for you.


Our next article is “The Chosen of Eihort,” which introduces a new creepy antagonist for characters to encounter. It’s pretty gross, but befitting Eihort as we know it. After this we have a third “Tale of Terror,” but I’m not sure why this is off on its own instead of with the other two. This one, entitled Smuggling is meant for Delta Green and it is about a cargo box filled with human remains. Why? That’s up to you. Pick one of the three possibilities as always. I personally found #1 to be the best. Sometimes the mundane choice is the best choice.


This issue’s “Directives From A-Cell” for Delta Green is about smaller conspiracies and more mundane investigators. Going off of the popularity of True Detective, the piece talks about how sometimes federal agencies and Delta Green itself don’t need to be involved in an adventure, especially with smaller cases like a single strange death or a weird house. Usually these will be handed by run of the mill local cops and these protagonists will do their best to make the evidence around them fit a more plausible real world scenario rather than something like ghouls or shan being the cause of local disturbances. This is not that they refuse to believe these things exists, but rather that they have no encountered them, so they are extremely unlikely to make huge jumps in logic like that. The article then discusses what a campaign of nothing but local cops would look and feel like and how very different it would be from the standard Delta Green campaign. It’s a well written article but I have to admit, almost every adventure or campaign of Call of Cthulhu I’ve ever played in or ran has started with characters who were unaware of Mythos creatures, so I’m surprised that this is almost an alien/foreign concept to the author.


Our penultimate article in this issue of The Unspeakable Oath is a “Mysterious Manuscript” piece. This is all about a macabre bible whose author has hidden bits of the Necronomicon within it in the form of codes, ciphers and artwork. It’s an interesting idea and I love the background for the book. However I’m not sure how many people will actually find a use for the Simeon Bible and/or bother to craft an adventure around it.


The final article is the usual “Message in a Bottle” one page piece of fiction. I normally don’t care for these, and this issue was no exception. It’s written in the form of emails, text and a RSS feed about two parents and their kid. It’s neither well written nor interesting. A poor way to end the magazine, but this is par for the course with TUO.


Overall, the latest issue of The Unspeakable Oath is a very good one. There’s only one article I really didn’t care for and it’s the same bad fiction that is in every issue. Otherwise the magazine is jam-packed with excellent story seeds, adventures and ideas that will make your Call of Cthulhu or Delta Green campaign all the weirder. The content is top notch and the price tag is low enough to consider this a definite steal and/or bargain. Whether you grab the digital or dead tree edition of The Unspeakable Oath, you won’t be disappointed. Cthulhu fans, pick this up ASAP.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Unspeakable Oath 24 - ARC6007
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Delta Green: Tales from Failed Anatomies
by Martin A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/21/2014 05:05:12

A worthy addition to the Delta Green library! All of the stories are interesting and exciting and add something to the Delta Green universe. More of this, please!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Tales from Failed Anatomies
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Delta Green: Tales from Failed Anatomies
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/30/2014 06:40:14

Originally published at: http://-
diehardgamefan.com/2014/05/30/book-review-delta-green-tales--
from-failed-anatomies-call-of-cthulhu/


Tales From Failed Anatomies is the second Kickstarter Arc Dream Publishing has done for their (Originally Pagan Publishing’s) Delta Green – a modern setting for Call of Cthulhu. The first Kickstarter, Through a Glass, Darkly raised $27,000 from 346 backers. The newest one saw 1,085 backers raised thirty thousand dollars. It also went so far beyond the original goal, that Arc Dream was able to fund a second book, entitled Extraordinary Renditions via the same Kickstarter! That’s pretty impressive. While Extraordinary Renditions will be an anthology by multiple authors, Tales From Failed Anatomies is a collection of (lucky) thirteen short stories by Delta Green Co-Creator Dennis Detwiller along book ended by two pieces from Robin D. Laws. I’ll admit I took part in the Kickstarter primarily to get playtester access to the new upcoming Delta Green RPG that appears to be shedding its Basic Roleplaying roots. However, I was more than pleasantly surprised by Tales From Failed Anatomies. The book was not only top notch from beginning to end but it’s currently the best tabletop related fiction I’ve read this year, displacing Troy Denning’s The Sentinel and Richard Lee Byers’ The Reaver. Of course it might help that I’m a big fan of Delta Green, but as I think you’ll see from this review, Tales From Failed Anatomies is a book you can enjoy if you’re a longtime fan of Delta Green or if this is your first foray into this Call of Cthulhu spin-off.


As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Tales From Failed Anatomies consists of thirteen lightly connected short stories showcasing the history (and eventual future) of the Delta Green program. The phrase Delta Green isn’t used that often, which is a nice touch. Same with other references to the history of the game setting like MAJESTIC, but for the most part the book’s references to the myriad incarnations of the tabletop game are subtle. The book is exceptionally friendly to newcomers, all though this is partly due to the writing style of these stories, which is both inviting and yet esoteric. This ensures that all readers get a strong sense of what the story is about, while leaving aspects of the bizarre and incomprehensible left to the imagination of whoever is reading. In many ways, I found the stories in Tales From Failed Anatomies to be a mix of European Existentialism and a twisted version of Mexican Magical Realism (American Science Cthuluism?) which will leave the reader with a sense that there are two tales being told with each short story – the general one of a human encountering what its puny insignificant brain was not meant to understand, and another one that is only hinted at because of man’s incapability of properly understand what it unfolding before it. Detwiller’s writing style ensures that readers will find the tales eerie and more in-line with the origins of the Cthulhu Mythos than most modern takes which unfortunately come down to “blowing up Lovecraftian horrors with guns and bombs and other weaponry.” I always find a good Mythos tale to be one that leaves just as much unsaid as is explored in the written word, and each piece in Tales From Failed Anatomies hits the mark in this regard.


The first three stories in the book (“Intelligences,” “The File” and “Night and Water,” are all about the WWI to WWII era. As such, all three focus on Innsmouth and the Deep Ones. Delta Green gets its origins from The Shadow Over Innsmouth after all. Again, you do not have to be familiar with the Delta Green roleplaying game in the slightest to enjoy or appreciate these stories as you get a cursory look at the roots of the organization with this triad of stories. Perhaps because they are the core of what causes Delta Green to be, these three stories take up a full third of the book, but perhaps Dennis just really liked Deep Ones. I know a lot of Mythos authors do! “Intelligences” is many ways is yet another take on The Shadow Over Innsmouth‘s core twist, but it’s done in a very interesting way. “The File” is a wonderful look at Innsmouth from a not-so rank and file government employee’s point of view. While “Intelligences” and “The File” are both heavily centered around the events that went on in Innsmouth, “Night and Water” is only vaguely connected to the Deep Ones and is more a WWII story about Nazis using a hybrid of mad science and occult magics to create…well, something horrible anyway. Still, the Deep One connection has me group it with the other two. These first three stories are tremendous and by the time you are done you’ll have a hard time putting Tales From Failed Anatomies down.


“Dead, Death, Dying” gives you a look at a scientist forced to examine something horrible brought back from an excursion into the Soviet Union. “Punching” tells the tale of a Delta Green agent who has little to no sanity left and his trip back to Harvard for a class reunion. “The Secrets That No One Knows” is a foray into a more conventional and yet somehow Kafka-esque Mythos story. Everything is spelled out and yet nothing is ever truly said in regards to what is actually happening. I loved it.


“Coming Home” is a look at the horrors and metal issues plaguing many that returned from the Vietnam War and our other excursions into Southeast Asia. In the case of the story’s main character, this is compounded all the more by the pivotal events that shook out Delta Green in 1970. “Coming Home” is perhaps the least accessible to newcomers as there is lot alluded to from the tabletop game that is never expressly mentioned in the short story, but I think newcomers will still be able to enjoy it for what it is and will take the vague mentions the same way they do all the others in the collection – sinister allusions to something not said.


“The Thing in the Pit” is the story of a hapless IRS agent that gets in over his head. What starts off as a routine inquiry into fraud turns out to be far more than he ever expected. It also features what appears to be a husband and wife Shoggoth Lord tandem, which makes for an interesting tale. Usually I hate stories and adventures involving these creatures because they are done so poorly, but “The Thing in the Pit” is the best I’ve seen that uses them. Of course they might not BE Shoggoth Lords as they are never called that, so hey.


“Contingencies” gives us a look at the Russian equivalent of Delta Green, GRU-SV8 and one agent’s hapless foray into a strange machine known only as the Mironov device. This is a wonderful story that really looks at the fallacies of reality. What starts off as a story about mathematical equations ends up becoming a stark look at what existence really is…or is not. It’s a hard story to describe without piling on spoilers, so let’s just say that you never know what is taking place in the core reality of the tale and what is taking place in a splinter version.


“Drowning in Sand” is a look at an old, probably insane scientist and his reflections at MAJESTIC in what may or may not be Area 51. “Philosophy” looks at the “forced retirement” of a long running Delta Green agent. It’s also a look at how underground Delta Green is by this point in time (pretty close to the original release date of the game version).


The last two stories in the book are the weakest and by far my least favorite in the collection. While still entertaining in their own right, they are a bit lackluster compared to what came before them in the collection. I think this is because both stories take place in the near future. One very near (2015) while one in the latter half of the 21st Century (20XX). “Witch Hunt” apparently shows “Delta Green” being exposed to the American public at large and the cover-up that goes into it while “After Math” is the apocalypse of sorts. They definitely are the weakest in the collection and it’s sad to see the collection end on a down turn, but hey, I loved the first eleven stories in the collection, so it had a pretty good run. They can’t all be winners after all, and even if I didn’t care for these two, this was still the most I’ve enjoyed tabletop related fiction this year.


You don’t have to be a Delta Green fan to love Tales From Failed Anatomies. You don’t even have to be familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos at all. Newcomers will walk away from this short story collection wanting to know more about this agency that is almost as shadowy as the things it fights. Perhaps that will lead people to purchasing other Delta Green Fiction, but hopefully it will make them want to try the Delta Green roleplaying game, be it the original version or the new upcoming take. Either way, for $9.99, you’re getting a wonderful short story collection and it’s one you’ll be able to devour regardless of your prior knowledge of the setting. These days most tabletop fiction releases assume you are intimately acquainted with the world and/or characters in the novel and make no attempt to draw in newcomers. That insular style of writing only serves to push casual readers or newcomers away. Thankfully Tales From Failed Anatomies does the exact opposite. Pick it up, even if you’ve never heard of Delta Green before this review. Once you’ve read it, there is a whole wide world of horror for you to explore.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Tales from Failed Anatomies
by Scott B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/21/2014 05:42:37

Some great, dark short stories that spans the entire lifespan of the Delta Green conspiracy, including a couple from different perspectives.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Unspeakable Oath 18
by Michael D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2014 10:23:20

Unspeakable Oath returns!!!! Huzzah!!!!


If you are a Cthulhu Cultist/GM this magazine consistently delivers high quality. Never a turkey. At least ONE brilliant idea per issue... usually many more.


Scenarios... always exciting, thought provoking, and true to CoC.


If you love CoC, and often find yourself at a loss... try this magazine out.


You will not be disappointed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Unspeakable Oath 18
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GODLIKE: For King and Country
by Dave T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/15/2013 16:02:47

Excellent scenario, going to run this as soon as possible.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GODLIKE: For King and Country
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