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Saturday, 21 November 2020

In-Line & In-Country


Delta Green: Kali Ghati is a scenario for use with Arc Dream Publishing’s Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game which can be played using the roleplaying game’s full rules or those from Delta Green: Need to Know. It is set in Afghanistan, so shares parallels with ‘Night Visions’ from Control Group: Horrifying Scenarios for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game and concerns the fate of a missing Agent, so shares parallels with the scenario  ‘Last Things Last’, from Delta Green: Need to Know. It comes with six ready-to-play Agents, so it can be run as a one-shot, as a convention scenario, as an introduction to the Unnatural—as the Mythos is called in Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game—and Delta Green a la Control Group, or simply added to an ongoing campaign.

Delta Green: Kali Ghati opens with the Agents in-country, having been sent to Forward Operating Base Turner in Patika province, in the eastern part of Afghanistan, close to the border with Pakistan. The base has been the process of shutting down and being handed over to the Afghan National Army, and only sixty U.S. Army soldiers posted still there. Unfortunately, a CIA clandestine services officer named Tim Ellis, also stationed there, has gone missing and the last thing that the U.S. Army wants is news breaking out of another American citizen having been captured by the Taliban. Worse, Tim Ellis is actually a Delta Green agent and the organisation does not want him—or the esoteric knowledge he has acquired over the years—falling into the hands of the Taliban either. The player character Delta Green Agents are sent in to locate him, retrieve him, and if unable to do that, make sure that he does not fall into the wrong hands.

Delta Green: Kali Ghati is essentially divided into three acts. In the first act, the Agents will investigate Ellis’ activities at F.O.B. Turner, dealing with the officers and soldiers who had dealings with him, as well as an interpreter and the members of the Afghan National Army. They are a mixture of helpful and reluctant, but with some careful roleplaying, the Agents will learn that Ellis was fascinated by the strange tales of a nearby village that go back to the nineteenth century, and more. They are likely to also be given warnings not to go to the village, but duty demands that they do. The second act consists of the drive to Kali Ghati—and here the action hots up as attempts are made to prevent them getting there. This is a big scene and will need careful staging from round to round, almost like a wargame.

The third act takes place at the village of Kali Ghati and sees the Agents learning the secrets that the villagers are hiding. They will very likely also discover the whereabouts of Tim Ellis. As plotted, once they discover the secrets of Kali Ghati, all hell breaks loose and the best they can probably do is get the hell out…

Delta Green: Kali Ghati is a problematic scenario. Its issue is that it is linear and does not allow a high degree of player agency. In the initial scenes where the Agents are investigating Ellis’ activities and interactions, they have plenty to do, but in later scenes, there is less and less that they can do. Should the players want their Agents to push harder and harder at the constraints of the plot, the more effort that the Handler will have to make to accommodate their actions. The scenario is also more combat focused in comparison to other scenarios for Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game, which will put Agents with fewer or limited combat skills at a disadvantage. Of course, replacement characters abound in the form of other U.S. Army soldiers, but the likelihood of having to replace the Agents—either early in the scenario or at the climax, undermines players’ roleplaying. Essentially, the combats are all but unavoidable, and the second combat is likely to become something of a grind, likely to be preceded by a grind of dice rolls to get to that second combat…

Physically, Delta Green: Kali Ghati is nicely produced. The maps are clear and the artwork excellent as is usual. The six pregenerated Agents, including a CIA Officer, an FBI Agent, CIA Consultant, a biohazard specialist, and two U.S. Army soldiers, are for the most part, decently done. They have a few details missing, but these are not pertinent to the scenario and can be easily made up by the Handler or the player. 

Delta Green: Kali Ghati is linear and is tightly constrained in terms of storytelling. In fact, to the point that it feels more like a film than a roleplaying game—indeed, the scenes in the village of Kali Ghati are reminiscent of the film, The Man Who Would Be King. The short length and the straightforward, narrow nature of its plot means that Delta Green: Kali Ghati is best suited as a one-shot or a convention scenario, especially for players looking for action rather than investigation.

2 comments:

  1. Well that's my cover blown! ("a serious-looking, clean-cut and
    fit Caucasian man about 40 years old" can only refer to me surely - I mean both "Caucasian" and "man" are 100% accurate!)

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    Replies
    1. Utterly reprehensible of the Delta Green team to blow your cover like this, but hey, fame at last?

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