Hacking Delta Green into Cthulhu Dark


Anyone familiar with Delta Green (DG) and Cthulhu Dark (CD) will immediately see the tension of cobbling them together: DG is a very intricate, skill based system about competent federal agents while CD is a bare bones ruleset about protagonist from the fringes of society. DG is about the procedural work of professionals to uncover the unwelcome truth, CD is more like a tunnel of horror that moves you past the misery to the bitter end.
Although both groups of protagonists will eventually come to the realization of the cosmic horror that lies beneath reality, I see at least two areas that need to be addressed: Insight and Exposure.
Insight: In CD PCs can reduce Insight once it reaches 5 by suppressing Mythos knowledge. That doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense in the context of DG because that is what they are supposed to do anyways. In DG they try to keep their sanity by chain-smoking, alcoholism and using antidepressants or illegal drugs. Also sanity loss is affecting the relationship to their loved once; they have bonds that they can use to regain sanity points between missions (meh) or they can project sanity loss onto their bonds, straining the relationship in the process until it breaks. How should the agents reduce Insight? Do they get a number of bonds, or 1 bond and a “strained” condition for the bond? How do you mechanically account for drug abuse? Escalating in 4 steps from recreational drugs to opium or just narratively?
Exposure (a suggestion by the author) is another die like Insight that starts at 1 and goes up whenever the agents do something reckless that could draw attention to the mission. I assume that there is just one die per cell (instead of per PC) but I’m unsure if it should just be a pacing mechanism / tension meter like Impending Doom in Dungeon World or whether the PCs should be able to reduce it when it reaches 5 by doing something morally dubious like killing witnesses.


When I’ve run Delta Green a very important aspect of the story telling for ME has been the downtime scenes and activities. I feel that’s where agents have the opportunity to reduce insight.

That said, I don’t see agents lasting more than one or two missions in Cthulhu Dark as is. Do you have any plans to change how insight is tracked or accrued?


Yeah, I love the small vignettes in DG of players describing a scene with their bond, but I don’t think it works with CD where bringing down your Insight should come with a cost (of obsessively destroying evidence of the Mythos), that’s why I think straining or “burning” a relationship would be more fitting.
For ongoing campaigns the author, Graham Walmsley, suggested in a podcast to just reset Insight to 1. What the PCs keep is their “scars”, their memories, addictions and broken relationships. I was considering adding +1 Insight per session played but I don’t think it makes much sense because the beauty of the probability curve of Insight is that it goes up quickly in the beginning but slows down once it reaches 4 or 5, so starting with a high Insight doesn’t give you the creeping horror of seeing it rise.


What if you have two trackers? One for mythos insight and another for more mundane horrors. Insight could turn your character into an NPC if it fills and the standard Cthulhu dark rules could apply (acting like an occultist delays your transformation into an NPC for a bit).

The other tracker would be DGs sanity equivalent in that you could accrue traumas lr debilities if it refills, maybe with a cap of three or four. Your previous debilities could even increase the floor of the roll (so for your third debility you start at three Terror, or what have you).


By the way, as someone who loves running Delta Green but would enjoy a simpler system to design scenarios for, I would be more than happy to talk with you one on one about this.


Delta Dark was hack of Cthulhu Dark I saw passed around before the updated Delta Green rules came out. There is a terrible JPG of the pdf on RPGGeek. I wasn’t able to find a decent link to the official release of the pdf. I may have it floating around on my hard drive if you would like to take a look at it.


Looks like a pretty straight forward translation of the simplified Cthulhu Dark rules. I’d love to see a more in depth version ala something like Trophy, personally.


@Dissonance Awesome, I’d love a one on one chat - maybe in the weekend as we are in different time zones. I’ll send you a PM on the Slack.
@get2joe This looks rad. Not sure about the skills - because adding too many dice to the roll could be an issue - but the harm die (which seems to be explained on a following page that is sadly missing) is very intriguing. If you can find the pdf that would be sweet.


here is the pdf https://www.dropbox.com/s/y18twq4vm1w0gbq/delta-dark.pdf?dl=0


@get2joe Cheers, mate. You rock!


To me, the most clever thing of all the clever things in the new DG rules are motivations. Maybe striking them out could be the cost of a reset here?


@Julian Shane Ivey just released a random table :sparkling_heart: of motivations. It’s glorious!


I like that! And maybe that’s how you accrue disorders.

One important thing to think about for a DG game: in DG, agents CAN sometimes solve issues with violence. Is that something we’d want to retain?


Definitely. While in CD the characters are powerless by definition, in DG the agents have almost too much power - at least when dealing with human threats. There is the moral dilemma of fighting existential threats without being held accountable for your actions, the question of how much collateral damage are you willing to cause and how you adapt to violence once it becomes routine (maybe losing previously held beliefs as @Julian suggested).
Personally I’m more interested in the horror that can’t be fought with violence like the corruption of a meme spread by Hastur or the realization that nature is deterministic but I do want to see agents unloading their high powered weapon into a writhing mass of tentacles or blowing up a whole street because there is something in the sewers. I think it is much more interesting if it is not excluded a priori by the rules that these measures are effective.


I watch with interest, as I love both systems and styles of play. One thing I will add though is that DG agents do recover SAN from fulfilling their mission - you get a certain amount of SAN for destroying the unnatural, for stopping their plans, etc. Usually less than what you lost in the first place!


I’m running 4 sessions of Achtung! Cthulhu Dark for the Gauntlet in May and would recognise the issues raised at the top of this thread. Broadly I’ve extended the means by which a character can reduce their Insight to include hacks of some of the moves that Cartel uses to allow characters to reduce ‘Stress’. It mechanises ‘Being a bastard to someone’, ‘Beating someone up’, ‘Getting drunk’, ‘Injecting morphine’, ‘Confessing to a priest’, ‘Indulging in casual sex’, and the original ‘Destroying a text or artefact that caused Insight to go up’. The proof of the pudding will be in the playing, but each of the options creates opportunities for complications and consequences which I hope players will enjoy. Will report back at the end of May.


Given the wartime setting Achtung! Cthulhu Dark will allow SOME things to be addressed/overcome with violence. The CD rules as they apply to the Mythos remain ‘describe how you die’, but in confronting the minions of the Mythos (agents of the Reich) &/or their supernatural creations (Nazi zombies & SS Werewolves come to mind) I’ve worked up some ‘combat’ rules that build out from the use of the RED Failure die in CD. The proof of the pudding will be more apparent by the end of May, but I have high hopes.


I will steal this idea, because it is genius! I’m running “Delta Dark” in May as well, maybe we can compare notes afterwards. Also interested in how you deal with combat …


Absolutely. I’ll probably still be hacking the text until the session but once it feels stable let’s exchange hacks.


Just out of curiosity, did any of you consider doing a Blades in the Dark hack of Delta Green? That would seem to allow for the the longer term play, has downtime moves involving vices to remove stress, and has a definite downward spiral built in.